JSalvador, LootCrate, Jason, Etc.

Recently, thanks to LootCrate, I was introduced to the work of a pop artist known as JSalvador who does a line called Super Emo. Here is a framed Jason missing his mommy:



And here is my latest T-Shirt that I wore to The Hobbit marathon



And here is The Walking Dead print I gave to my daughter:

Walking Dead

Curse You Peter Jackson!

In my opinion, Peter Jackson’s adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings novels are unequivocal masterpieces. Simply put, Jackson worked magic with the wonderful natural locations in New Zealand, an incredible cast, top notch special effects, and, of course, did proper justice to the source material. I would happily watch these again and again. These have become my younger daughter’s Star Wars (and quite frankly they are better but they have had decades of film work on which to build).

The Hobbit

I was thrilled when it was announced that Jackson would be adapting The Hobbit. I was a little less thrilled when it was announced that Guillermo del Toro would direct and that the book would be broken into two movies but I could still envision it. There is an awful lot of action in The Hobbit so two movies would be stretching but perhaps better than trying to overcrowd a single film.

I simply could not understand the decision to adapt the single book into three movies, and not three short movies but three epic length ones. I was hopeful when Jackson announced that it was so that additional material from Tolkien could be added.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey came out. It was not a terrible movie by any means but it was very disappointing. Here’s my summary: “We’re walking, walking, walking, RUN!, walking, walking, walking, RUN!, repeat until nearly three hours are done”. Rather than a finely prepared meal with thought given to how all the ingredients interact with each other, we were given a random hodgepodge of things meant to appeal to various fanbases.

Instead of carefully paced and choreographed action sequences, we have scenes that look more at home in a videogame, particularly the extra-long mine sequence. Jackson chose his cast quite well and Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis naturally reprise their roles as Gandalf and Gollum respectfully. Genre favorites Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are cast from Sherlock as is Sylvester McCoy from Doctor Who.

That apparently was not enough so he shoehorned in more cameos from Lord of the Rings than you could shake a staff at. He added a framing piece so that he could feature Ian Holm as old Bilbo and Elijah Wood as Frodo. He then added a council meeting so that Christopher Lee (Still going strong at 92!) could return as Saruman, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, and Hugo Weaving as Elrond.

Hobbit Marathon

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is essentially the same, a wonderful world of Middle Earth, somewhat spoiled by lengthy videogame sequences, and characters shoehorned in. This time fan favorite Orlando Bloom has returned as Legolas. He is joined by Evangeline Lilly as female elf/superhero Tauriel. I applaud the sentiment as there aren’t enough women in the story but it was poorly handled.

Hobbit Marathon

In spite of all these complaints, here I sit at the Regal Biltmore Grande, prepared for an entire day of The Hobbit. Despite all the shortcomings, The Hobbit series presents a wonderful world and if you haven’t seen it at the high frame rate, you certainly should.

The Return of the King (Extended version)

Okay for the last day of Sword and Sorcery week, we have Peter Jackson’s masterpiece The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King extended version. Only this third film in the trilogy is available on Netflix instant play.

The Return of the King

WATCH: The Return of the King (2003) – Rated PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and frightening images

“Accompanied by the duplicitous Gollum (Andy Serkis), hobbits Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) continue their mission to obliterate the One Ring of power in the final chapter of director Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Meanwhile, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) must confront his destiny and lead the fight that will determine Middle Earth’s future. This fantasy tale for the ages bagged 11 Oscars”

Finishing off Sword and Sorcery week with The Return of the King was a no-brainer. The Fellowship of the Ring captured 4 of the 13 Oscars it was nominated for. The Two Towers got 2 of the 6 Oscars it was nominated for and was royally snubbed. It received no nomination at all for costume design, cinematography,  makeup, or any of the performances. Oscar’s tepid response to the first two films in the trilogy was worrisome. An Oscar should not be a popularity contest (though by definition it is) but a recognition of the pinnacle of excellence by one’s peers. Sadly it has always been very hard for genre material to be taken seriously by the Oscars.

Thankfully the people voting decided to recognize Peter Jackson’s achievement with The Return of the King. On the other hand they may have gone too far because The Return of the King swept the awards winning all 11 Oscars that it was nominated for (though still no acting awards). Still it was nice to see a fantasy movie so feted at the Oscars.

There’s really not much to be said review-wise about this movie. If you have not seen The Fellowship of the Ring or The Two Towers, not only should this not interest you but it would be far too confusing to watch. If you have seen them then this movie concludes the story quite well.

Clocking in at well over 4 hours, this version is quite bloated. In fact the denouement seems to go on forever (and they still leave out the scouring of the shire from the book). If you have seen the regular version and wonder whatever happened to Saruman, that question is answered here. That is my favorite added scene and not just because Christopher Lee, one of my favorite actors, is in it. Many other small scenes flesh out the epic storyline but the ending which was too long in the theatrical version is even longer here.

As might be guessed at from the Oscar awards, all the technical aspects of this film are incredible. The music is inspiring – dire, rousing, or uplifting as needed and cued in perfectly. Cinematography has to have boosted New Zealand’s tourism by an amazing amount. Makeup, costuming, and special effects all make this seem real.

The performances, while ignored by the Oscars, are pitch-perfect for the most part. You can really tell and feel that Sam loves Frodo, that Gollum and Frodo are both tormented, that Aragorn is noble and determined, and that Merry and Pippin are frightened and committed.

In short, this film is still amazing some 6 years down the road. We think our children will always think of this as the trilogy and that it will hold up over time even more so than Star Wars did for my generation.  By the way while Frodo is most often thought of as the hero or protagonist of the story, our family is in agreement that Sam is the actual hero.

People Watch: Look for Fringe’s resident eccentric genius Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) in excellent form as Denethor