JRR Tolkien

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

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I should probably own up and admit that I saw the second film in The Hobbit trilogy last month. Keen-eyed readers will have noticed that I didn’t publish a review of it, however, and may now be wondering why that is.

hobbitI did start to write one, but I ground to a halt midway through. I rather lost heart as well as interest in completing it – and I have to say, that mirrored my feelings toward the film as a whole. Having enjoyed the first film An Unexpected Journey more than I’d expected to (and more than the reviews of that instalment had suggested I would), my feelings about the second part proved significantly less upbeat. Even now with some distance I’m not entirely sure why that was: perhaps I didn’t manage my expectations properly going in and allowed myself to anticipate a better film than was possible in the circumstances; perhaps I was simply in a bad mood the day I went to the cinema. Or perhaps the film just wasn’t very good, despite the much better reviews it has received this time around.

In an effort to finally get through the review on the second attempt, I’ve broken down my problems with it to three general areas of concern. Read the rest of this entry »

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

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hobbitOr an unexpectedly long journey, as the wags have had it ever since the film premiered back in mid-December. It seems slightly superfluous to post something about a film that’s already been reviewed by everyone in the known universe already, but I come late to the party having been put off going to see it at the cinema after hearing that the slender original book (less than half the length of any one of the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings) was to be pumped up to a three-film trilogy which seemed outrageously excessive.

One normal-size film should be sufficient, surely, or at a stretch two – but three? And the first of them already clocking in at 169 minutes? Ridiculous. Sure enough, almost all the reviews jumped on the angle that the film was too strung-out, and they criticised how slow the first hour was in particular. My worst fears appeared to be confirmed. But such is my residual fondness for the LOTR trilogy and for its steward Peter Jackson that finally this week I succumbed and went to see the film before it disappears from the local screens. And what I found was genuinely most unexpected indeed. Read the rest of this entry »

Wagner: Die Walküre (Bayreuth 1992, Valencia 2008)

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So, Wagnerian opera is not exactly the pre-Christmas cheery post you were expecting, right? Or indeed opera of any description I’ll wager? But then, that’s exactly the sort of wacky eclecticism that you love about this blog. Erm – right?

I’m no opera fan usually, but I’ve been tantalised by Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle ever since I was a young boy when I caught glimpses of versions of it broadcast on the BBC over various holiday seasons. There was something about the subject matter (myths and Gods) and the resulting extraordinary stage designs and technical productions that was unlike anything else I’d ever seen. It made me want to watch more.

Sadly this was in the days when having more that one TV set in the house was a rarity, and an interminably long German opera would have been an impossibly tough sell to the rest of the household. Even so, I’ve always harboured a desire and intention to get around to watching it one day… Read the rest of this entry »