Reviewed! – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Trailer


Who would have thought back when The Fellowship of the Ring came out in cinemas, how popular and how far-reaching that movie series would become? Who would have thought that a movie based on a book written in the 50’s about elves, dwarves, magic rings and wizards would have struck such a chord with modern audiences? And, most of all, who would have ever expected that Peter Jackson could one day return to that world and adapt Tolkien’s earlier work, The Hobbit, into another trilogy of movies?

Certainly not me. And not you either (no fibbing)!

Let’s get down to the trailer, then. There was an early trailer released a while back for this movie, but it pales in comparison to this new one. What we’re greeted with here is shots of the band of dwarves who scoop up Bilbo for an epic treasure hunt, wise old Gandalf the Grey, some nice scenes of Rivendell and Elrond and tons of goblin/trollage.

The first thing that strikes me from watching this trailer is how different this trilogy is going to be from The Lord of the Rings. Where LOTR focused on the hopeless, desperate fight against Sauron, this movie looks like it’s centred on adventure, high jinks and mystery. It seems to have a great sense of humour, too; something LOTR also had in a poignant sort of way. Of course, you’d need the movie to have that humour, with a band of dwarves and a hobbit driving events.

Not just any hobbit, mind you. This one’s played by the fantastic Martin Freeman, well loved in the UK for his roles in The Office and Sherlock. This man has a natural talent for bringing warmth and a sense of reality to his characters. His face conveys every emotion known to man and he has a really likable “every man” kind of way about him. He’s going to do this character justice and it looks like he’s managed to still keep Ian Holm’s older Bilbo appearance from LOTR relevant and believable.

Now, onto the internet’s favourite Hobbit-related topic… Gollum returns! But wait, it’s not just the old CGI Gollum as you once knew him! This one’s… the precioussssss.

That’s right, Peter Jackson/WETA have ensured Gollum looks his absolute best for this movie, while not detracting from his LOTR look. Somehow, in this trailer, Gollum looks like more of a part of the world, rather than an obvious CGI creation. He has more detail in his face and seems to inherit even more personality from his real-world counterpart, Andy Serkis, who is in my view a fantastic actor. What’s more, we’re going to encounter Gollum just as Bilbo originally did and witness him within his own domain, rather than lost and worn down in the harsh world of LOTR.

With great things promised for this series, including the fantastic Benedict Cumberbatch as the dragon Smaug (who should naturally play off Martin Freeman), the Battle of Five Armies and expanded storylines following Gandalf and Legolas facing off against the Necromancer (A.K.A. Sauron Mk.I), this promises to be an unmissable trilogy of movies.

Now, if they can just develop a tie-in video game of the quality of the highly addictive Return of the King, I’ll be a very happy bunny.

Watch the full trailer on Youtube here.

Have you seen the new trailer yet? Let us know what you thought!

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It’s Spider-man Friday!

You heard the title, it’s Spider-man Friday! Yes, I am deadly serious… it is.

You will probably not know one thing about me: I’m a huge Spidey fan – he’s my favourite comic-book character, closely followed by Gambit, Magneto and Vulture. You’ll probably not know a whole lot of other stuff about me, but that’s beside the point. I thought I would hit you all with some Spider-man goodness this Friday and share some good stuff:

  • My really quick review of The Amazing Spider-man
  • My thoughts and progress in The Amazing Spider-man video game (Xbox 360)
  • A brand new Incredibly Awesome Superheroes episode featuring… Batman! Well, I’d be stupid not to cash in on the Dark Knight Rises mania, wouldn’t I?

WARNING: There may be some spoilers, but nothing major in this post. Just please be aware.

The Amazing Spider-man Really Quick Movie Review

 

Amazing Spider-man

These scores are out of 5. I know what you’re thinking: why didn’t I get snatched up to be a professional movie critic already? It’s something I ask myself every day…

Story – 4

Uncle Ben’s death was done perfectly, Peter’s cool-geek existence is believable and his father’s mysterious past is intriguing.

Characters – 5

You really sympathise for Doctor Connors and feel fear and tension whenever the Lizard is around. Spider-man himself is brilliant and blurts out the trash-talk just how he always should have been doing.

Web-slinging – 5

This movie really shines in the web-slinging department. You get a lot of 1st person camera shots which make you feel like you’re Spider-man. Plus a sequence near the end with some cranes really stands out.

Oscorp Sinister-ness Rating – 4

Everyone talks about Norman Osborne and his illness, but you never see him. Oh sure, there’s a shadowy silhouette of him on a big screen and the Oscorp building just screams “there’s evil stuff brewing here”. Really hope they keep the tension building and only reveal Norman in the third movie.

Overall – 4.5

One of my favourite movies of this year. The best Spider-man movie I’ve seen, hands down.

The Amazing Spider-man Video Game

You’d expect a video game based off of a movie to be terrible, right? Not this time, web-heads. This is one of the first movie-based games I’ve played that didn’t suck.

amazing-spider-man-screenshot-video-game-cityscape

The graphics are great on Spider-man’s suit (and unlockable suits), on the Manhattan vista and perhaps only suffer when talking about ordinary human characters like Gwen, Doctor Connors etc. The city’s buildings close-up are nothing to write home about, but everything fits together so nicely and the city itself has a lot of life and bustle about it. The sounds as you swing around and touch ground are fantastic – there’s epic, movie-style music, you hear sirens and honking of horns if you’re running around the streets and the rushing of wind in your ears as you fling yourself about and whip through the air.

One of the things I particularly love is when you let Spidey fall from a great height and he starts skydiving towards the ground, gathering more and more speed as he falls. You can’t get hurt from fall damage (he always shoots a web to stop himself being crushed) but the thrill and danger is still always present. Shooting webs at enemies, yanking them towards you and weaving them into fights is effortless. Spidey shoots his webs like a cowboy toting a pair of pistols and always has something to say when he takes down an enemy. In addition, his web-shooters flash red whenever they shoot a web and Spidey will regularly reload them with fresh cartridges every so often.

Amazing Spider-man

The indoor sections are perhaps the best part of the game for me. Forget Arkham Asylum/City, this game is where true superhero stealth is at. Ok, you can’t set up traps or detonate devices when you please, but Spidey can crawl on any surface (and the camera is perfect) and stalk his enemies like a true predator. Silent takedowns can be executed from the ground or a ceiling/wall and the enemy will always be taken out of sight and webbed to the ceiling so his buddies aren’t alerted. I’ve cleared many areas with about 10 enemies in it with finesse and satisfaction and without being detected the whole time, simply because its so fluid to control Spider-man.

The web rush feature is really good too. Every Spider-man game from now on NEEDS this feature! It’s so simple, yet so effective. Basically, you can tap the shoulder button when you’re aiming at a distant surface/platform/wall/ceiling/anything and Spidey will zip there in the blink of an eye, showing off his moves as he does so. You can also rush at enemies using this mechanic and it’s used for distant silent takedowns. Other cool features include: ability to web-shot enemies to walls, a fantastic swinging mechanic that’s easy to use and rewarding to master, Spidey’s costume ripping when he takes damage, the presence of classic Spidey villains and hints at others, ability to collect and read entire Spider-man comics (both new and old) and a changing, organic city environment (that’s never as frustrating to navigate as Web of Shadows/Prototype when it’s infected).

Amazing Spider-man

In summary, this game seriously rocks and any Spider-man fan should buy it. Swinging and exploring never gets old and you can replay completed sequences to play around with the combat system, collect pickups and unlock new costumes.

Incredibly Awesome Superheroes #2: “Batman”

Batman

It took me a while to draw those villains – click on the image for a close-up on their costumes!

Learning From “A Game of Thrones”

English: Part of the A Game Of Thrones board g...

Who would have thought not having the internet at home would be so limiting? Roll on next week so I can get my posting back on track! Anyway, today’s post is going to take two forms: a quick review/update on the book, A Game of Thrones, as I now near the halfway mark and a few points about what I’ve been able to take and learn from it.

The Review

When I first starting reading A Game of Thrones, I was a little apprehensive. I’ve read a lot of badly crafted fantasy over the years, interspersed with some absolutely brilliant fantasy. More often than not, I abandon reading a novel if I don’t feel a connection or reason to keep reading – it’s a bad habit and it’s one I’m working on breaking. Why? Because every piece of writing has the power to teach me something about my own and even bad writing is worth reading. The reason I was apprehensive to read Martin’s (George R. R.) book is because I feared it wouldn’t draw me in and I’d be abandoning it in short order, forever tarnishing me as The One Who Never Finished A Game Of Thrones. I’d be very likely torn apart, chewed up and spit out by every fantasy community on the internet.

It’s lucky, then, that I now find myself… addicted!

Why am I finding myself unable to stop thinking about Martin’s world? Is it because his plot keeps delivering and taking on new twists when you least expect it? Perhaps. Is it the rich lore and history that he’s weaved into the fabric of Westeros? Maybe. Is it the characters, with their very human ambitions, fears and secrets? Definitely.

I suppose it comes from the author having been a screenwriter, but I find his dialogue is also one of the main things that I’m impressed with. It’s not like reading a book (you know, on paper and stuff), but it’s like listening to a really good audio book. All the dialogue feels so natural and each line fits perfectly. There’s no obvious infodumps or monologues. These people are as real as you’d want and they’re just speaking how they would if you met them. This is the mark of a good author – the ability to make everything seem so natural and un-forced that you leave the real world each time you read and actually inhabit the fantasy world itself.

Hopefully I’ll make steady progress through the last half and then I’ll share my final thoughts. I’m 99.9% sure it’s going to be all positive.

The Lesson (In Summary)

  1. Direwolves hate dwarfs
  2. Dothraki are all sex, sex, sex
  3. Arya Stark is more interesting than she first appears
  4. Jon Snow shows great potential
  5. The Lannisters cannot be trusted

Here’s a list of the book’s viewpoint characters, from my favourite to my least:

Tyrion Lannister

Jon Snow

Bran Stark

Arya Stark

Daenerys Targaryen

Ned Stark

Sansa Stark

Catelyn Stark

Come on, let’s hear who your favourite Song of Ice and Fire character is!

Review: Throne of the Crescent Moon

My Score: 4/5

When I started off reading Throne of the Crescent Moon, I assumed it was going to be part of an ongoing trilogy (though I understand more standalone books are planned). It was a thin novel for the genre but this was one thing that told me this book was going to be a little different to my standard fare.

All the characters are likable and real. Doctor Adoulla Makhslood is the star of the show, though I did find myself irritated by him later on in the story because the other characters around him started to shine. Raseed and Zamia were both characters that I instantly warmed to and I particularly loved their awkward interactions as the story progressed. Litaz and Dawoud, the fourth and fifth viewpoint characters, were OK but didn’t particularly draw me in as much as the others.

I did start to lose steam as I neared the halfway point of the novel. There is a definite slow-down on the action at this point and I felt that I wasn’t as concerned with finding out how the story ends as I should have been by this point. As I read on into the final third of the story, however, all the stops really came out and the fantastic climax arrives just as you are settling in for a longer ride. I almost wished I could read on or delve deeper into the world. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a second book in this series coming soon.

All in all, a fantastic romp through an original fantasy world with some interesting characters along for the ride. Would have liked more emotional investment, but the finale didn’t fail to disappoint. Recommended for any fantasy fans.

Review can also be found on the book’s Amazon page here.