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With Christmas vacation quickly approaching, odds are members of your family are going to want to take a trip to Middle Earth. Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is now in theaters, and it features some incredibly gorgeous creatures. Designer Andrew Baker posted a whole bunch of the original concepts and designs of the film’s characters such as Smaug, Beorn and more. Check them out below. Read More »

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DaveDevindra, and Jeff Cannata from Newest Latest Best discuss the scourge of Shia LaBeouf plagiarism, praise the mystery of the Interstellar trailer, and evaluate Peter Jackson’s newest Hobbit film.

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Also, like us on Facebook!
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Peter Jackson‘s fifth J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation and second Hobbit film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, is now in theaters. It picks up right where 2012′s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey left off, with Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Thorin (Richard Armitage), Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and a company of Dwarves en route to the Lonely Mountain to defeat the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) and rightfully reclaim Dwarven fortune and lands.

The Desolation of Smaug not only continues that storyline, but introduces a ton of new characters and also considerably ups the level of action, giving Jackson plenty of room to play with special effects. Characters like Bard (Luke Evans), Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), Thranduil (Lee Pace) and Legolas (Orlando Bloom, reprising the role) add even more scope, but also more story for the film to work through.

There’s lots to talk about in regards to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and here’s where you can do it. I’ve weighed in with my review but we want to hear yours. Did you think the film improved on An Unexpected Journey? Which format did you see it in? Was the effect of high frame rate any different this time out? How about the IMAX? What did you think of the additions and computer graphics? All spoilers are allowed below. Read More »

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With the next 2.5 hour iteration of The Hobbit (see Germain’s review) now hitting theaters amidst a wave of non-stop publicity and hype, it’s easy to forget how awe-inspiring Peter Jackson’s original Lord of the Rings trilogy was, both critically and commercially. Back in 2003, Return of the King scored a whopping 94% on Rottentomatoes, made over a billion dollars at the box office and won all 11 Academy Awards for which it was nominated,

This week, as I crammed myself into an outlandishly packed screening of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, I realized that for me, and for a few other critics, these films have lost their feeling of wonder and anticipation. And I began to think: why did this happen? I try to explore this in this week’s video essay reviewing the film. Check it out after the jump.
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Minor spoilers for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug follow.

Orcs have always been a primary obstacle to progress in Middle Earth. As Frodo travelled to Mount Doom, Orcs kept trying to kill him and his friends. The same goes for Bilbo in The Hobbit. The disgusting creatures are all over the lands of Middle Earth, with a thirst for dwarf and hobbit blood. In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the Orc leader was Azog the Defiler, a particularly large, treacherous white Orc brought to the screen with computer graphics.

As The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug begins, Azog is given a new task and his son Bolg takes over the job of tracking down Thorin Oakenshield and the dwarves company that is en route to the Lonely Mountain. Bolg is also CG, but his foot soldiers are practical, just like the Orcs of Lord of the Rings.

That’s the backstory; now to get to the point. In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, both Azog and Bolg are CG while the others Orcs are actors in practical makeup. But director Peter Jackson originally filmed Bolg in live action on set, and a photo has now shown up online. Check it out below. Read More »

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Right around the time of Comic-Con 2012, Peter Jackson and his team decided The Hobbit was going to be three movies instead of two. Originally, the movies were called The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There And Back Again, but when another movie was added the third movie took the title of the second and the second one was named The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. It’s in theaters now.

Obviously a third movie completely changed how Jackson and fellow writers Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh had to structure the films. Jackson has now revealed where the initial split between the two films would have occurred. Read More »

The Hobbit Desolation of Smaug

The second of Peter Jackson‘s trilogy of films adapting The Hobbit, The Desolation of Smaug, both improves on the previous film, and regresses from some of its achievements. In 2012′s An Unexpected Journey, Jackson stretched the story of The Hobbit to a breaking point. Sequences that were mere blips in the book became much longer, hurting the pacing immensely. At the start of this second film, Jackson picks up the pace considerably and, in just over an hour, our characters are at their final destination: The Lonely Mountain. Unfortunately, there’s still an hour and a half to go (plus another movie) which means that briefly improved, upbeat pace comes to a screeching halt. Plus that rushed first hour glosses over some of the most famous scenes in J.R.R. Tolkien‘s book.

Besides the major pacing problems, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has lots of good things going for it, including more rousing action, great performances by new characters, and several beautiful new settings. But all of those don’t save the film from being considerably divisive.

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Considering there’s another film set for release in 2014, it’s no spoiler to reveal The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug ends on a massive cliffhanger. It also ends very close to the end of J.R.R. Tolkien’s narrative of The Hobbit, which means unless There And Back Again is 20 minutes long, it’ll be stuffed with new narrative linking Peter Jackson‘s current trilogy with the Lord of the Rings.

Recently, one of the film’s stars teased the press by saying the character of Legolas (Orlando Bloom) would be the main link between the trilogies. Jackson also explained how he justified putting that character, which isn’t in The Hobbit novel, into the film by giving a brief Tolkien history lesson. Read More »

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