Living in New Zealand, and especially Wellington, it’s impossible for me not to be aware of and interested in Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth films.
I first came to New Zealand as a student the year that The Return of the King came out, and Wellington had its first international film premier. I really didn’t come for that – I was probably the only American student to come to NZ on foreign exchange that year who wasn’t madly interested in either LotR, extreme sports, or rugby. In face, I barely knew that any of those things were happening until I got on the airplane (the rugby and extreme sports were a bit of a nasty shock actually).
But in New Zealand I was constantly thrown in the company of students who had specifically come so they could visit all the LotR filming sites and attend the premier, so I travelled with them, and did all these things. And took lots of pictures, which I’ve illustrated this post with, because I’ve been really lazy and haven’t gotten good photos of any of the Hobbit stuff in Wellington this time around.
These days, living within walking distance of Weta Workshops and the Park Road Studios, and with everyone I know contributing to the films in one way or another, I pay attention. I know everyone from the embroider, to the candle-dipper, to sound technicians, to major art designers, to the glitter supplier. The studio has been really good about hiring locals, and it shows. Everyone’s played a part, but me. I haven’t tried to play a part – the hours are grueling and I like what I do.
Anyway, on Wednesday Shell (the really tall hobbit) and I went to see the first Hobbit film – at the theatre just down the road from the studio. I’m too lazy and not enough of a fan to have tried for a midnight showing, and I don’t like 3D, so we saw it at a very civilized 1 in the afternoon, without 3D, but we did get to see it at a the darling Weta designed theatre just down the road from where all the movie was made, so that was nice.
There is tons written about the movie, so I’m not going to give a full review, but are five thoughts:
- New Zealand looks amazing in the film – so gorgeous, but….we giggled every time there was a running/travelling scene and the group travelled from the middle of the North Island to the far South in a few steps.
- Wow. Dwarves can be HOT! I definitely do not remember that in the book! As long as you can get past the niggling reminder that they have the best excuse in the world for always looking at your bust, it’s quite entertaining.
If you like them dark and brooding you can swoon over Richard Armitage as ‘Thorin Epicsmolderingshield’ (as Cindy calls him). If blonde and cheeky is more your thing than Kiwi actor Dean O’Gorman as Fili is quite delicious (though, having seen him in lots of NZ TV shows, and particularly as Anders in the Almighty Johnsons, I couldn’t help snickering every time he spoke). On the sad/hot side, I was a huge fan of Aidan Turner in Being Human, and was a bit disappointed in his portrayal of Kili. It just seemed flat.
- Speaking of disappointment, the huge costuming low point were Galadriel’s dresses. They were just a little too white, and too literal – missing the bit of mystery and subtlety that made her frocks in the LotR films so effective. They looked like they were made for a Lord of the Rings themed ‘Miss America’ pageant. Also, I’m pretty sure you could see Cate Blanchett’s bra in some angles.
- Gollum/Smeagol = brilliant. Nuff said
- I’m looking forward to the next one! I can’t wait to see how the Necromancer storyline plays out, and more of Smaug, and to spend more time with the Dwarves. I guess that’s the best recommendation you can give a film, especially if it is 3 hours long.