June 19, 2022

LEGO Castle Mania: Limited-Time Special


Lion Knights' Castle 10305 | LEGO® ICONS™ | Buy online at the Official LEGO®  Shop CA

Some great news for fans of the Castle LEGO theme!

I won't go into the details (as the LEGO website offers great description and product images) though there is a big (nay, huge) set coming up in August: Lion Knights' Castle [10305]. This set is in celebration of their '90 Years of Play.'

Without a doubt, the most ardent of LEGO fans and collectors already know about this immense set. It is also quite pricey, though considering the size (piece count and amount of mini-figures) it is a great set and value for your money.

LEGO Forest Hideout (40567) GWP Rumored to Return in August - The Brick Fan

What was also just announced, and you may want to act fast on this one, is that on the LEGO site, the free promo if you spend $X (price varies by what region you're in) you'll receive a Forest Hideout [40567] set. Now, the amount that you'd to spend to get that promo set is definitely covered in the price of the Castle (it works out to be approx 1/4 of the Castle's price tag). This special is on for June 15 - 22 so act fast if you're interested in getting it. As you can see, the style of the mini-figures 'matches' that of the Castle. What I mean is, both include the Forest People faction, and the design style is identical.

To somewhat recap, here are the other Castle-themed sets that are currently being made and sold (as 'new', not via marketplace or other sellers, such as eBay).

Medieval Castle 31120 | Creator 3-in-1 | Buy online at the Official LEGO®  Shop US

Medieval Castle [31120], as part of the 3-in-1 Creator series

LEGO Ideas Medieval Blacksmith 21325 Toy Building Kit (2,164 Pieces) |  Walmart Canada

Medieval Blacksmith [21325], as part of the Ideas series (Note: this one is on back-order in some places. Unsure if they're restocking, or if it's approaching 'retirement') 

Fire Dragon 31102 | Creator 3-in-1 | Buy online at the Official LEGO® Shop  CA

Fire Dragon [31102], as part of the 3-in-1 Creator series (this one appears to be officially retired, though still may be found at the odd retailer here and there. If you see it, grab it!)

There are a few other sparodic appearances, such as some Castle-themed figures popping up in the mini-figure mystery bags over the years, as well as some previous LEGO website promo sets I've forgotten about.

Note: all photos in this post are copyright of LEGO themselves.

June 13, 2022

The Problem With The Fantastic Beasts Films



I was initially quite skeptical about the Fantastic Beasts franchise. It took a later trailer (the final one, I believe?) for me to actually get interested. I've reviewed the first two films, but recently I've seen the latest title, The Secrets of Dumbledore.

I'll give that a review, then break down why I believe the the franchise (not Harry Potter, not Wizarding World, just the Fantastic Beasts films) aren't quite working.

secrets-of-dumbledore-logo – Harry Potter Lexicon

The film picks up some time after The Crimes of Grindelwald. Because it's been a few years (for both the audience, as well as in the chronology of the films) we get somewhat-reintroduced to the characters, and brief recaps here and there as we catch up with familiar faces. Nothing from The Crimes of Grindelwald is flat-out 'retconned' per se, but all the multiple story angles and elements are somewhat down-played. The primary focus of the film is of Dumbledore (played very well by Jude Law) and Grindelwald (played by Mads Mikkelsen, who is.....filling in for Johnny Depp). Later in this post, I'll analyze and breakdown 'The Two Grindelwalds.' 

There is on element from The Crimes of Grindelwald that is completely ignored in The Secrets of Dumbledore: Nagini. The character is never seen nor mentioned. It almost makes her appearance in Grindelwald to be completely pointless, at this point in time. We never know: she may have a bigger role or come back in movie 4 or 5, should they exist. Also, likewise with Nicolas Flamel. In hindsight, that character didn't really serve much (if any) purpose. 

So, The Secrets of Dumbledore is better than The Crimes of Grindelwald. It's much less confusing, there's less things going on, and the narrative is more streamlined and focused. That's how it's a better film, though it still suffers some issues as The Crimes of Grindelwald, though this is due to the franchise, rather than it as a film. 

Now, I'll address the most obvious element: 'The Two Grindelwalds.'

Why Johnny Depp Was Recast As Grindelwald In Fantastic Beasts 3

Before I begin, I wish to state that I like Johnny Depp as an actor. He was tremendous fun in the Pirates movies, as well quite the capable actor (Blow, and Public Enemies quickly come to mind). That being said, from the get-go I always felt that he was wrong for the role of Grindelwald. Way before the debacle with Amber Heard took place. Look at the appearance of the character: he's far too.....manic. The way that he was presented...well, the best in-universe to offer a comparison would be Bellatrix. The character of Grindelwald as played by Depp feels more like a manic follower, or a crazed, high-ranking person below the main villain.

Another issue I have (and this mostly studios, producers, directors, etc) is that many people see Johnny Depp in a movie just because his name is attached. It's different than regular 'star power' or 'appeal' - they tend to see the actor first, the character second. As such, that's why we got the Jack Sparrow angle so much: post-Pirates, his Mad Hatter in the Alice films was quite similar, as was the wolf in Into the Woods.

To me, Mads fit the character (in regards to an actor playing a character, and the appearance) of Grindelwald much better than Depp did.


The screenshot posted above, wherein during a brief duel Dumbledore's and Grindeldwald's non-wand hands find each others' chests - nay, hearts - that scene would not have worked with Depp's Grindewald. It is just very unfortunate under the circumstances that Mads got the role of Grindelwald.

And the Adorable Award Goes To: Newt Scamander! | Newt scamander, Scamander,  Newt

Newt is a great character, as is the supporting cast of Jacob, Tina and Queenie. However, my main issue with the Fantastic Beasts franchise, is that it can't seem to decide what it wants it to be.

The first film, worked really well: Newt's creatures escape from his case, and the film is about tracking them down. This would've worked really well for a spin-off (yet 'sort of' prequel, due to the era) if the films were about Newt travelling the world, and getting his creatures back. Let's just assume that they go further beyond New York. Or, if that's too limiting from a story-telling angle, maybe have him explore the world and discover and learn about new creatures, possibly adding them to his case.

The other angle that the franchise could've taken, is that of an actual Harry Potter prequel. This would focus on the Ministry(ies) of Magic, seeing Hogwarts again, and the dynamic between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. Either angle would work very well...but on their own.

The problem, is having both occur at the same time. The Crimes of Grindelwald had a sort of un-eveness about Grindelwald, Dumbledore, and Newt and co. This was better handled in The Secrets of Dumbledore, however the arc with Newt and his creatures (ie: manticore dance) felt like it was kind of shoe-horned in. Almost if the filmmakers went 'oh right! This is a Fantastic Beasts movie! Gotta have the creatures! How about.....here!'

No matter which direction this franchise would take, I feel that a trilogy vs the projected five films would have worked better: three films about Newt and the creatures, or, three films focusing on Dumbledore and Grindelwald. Five with both mixed together feels.....odd.

So we'll see what happens next. There was talk of film 4 and film 5 happening if The Secrets of Dumbledore did well enough. I'm not certain if it did to green-light future instalments. It's possible that The Secrets of Dumbledore may be the last film in, not the entire Wizarding World franchise, but the Fantastic Beasts one. If 4 and 5 happen, it'll be interesting to see what unfolds. I'm also looking forward to seeing of Mads as Grindelwald, should future films happen.

April 30, 2022

Speculation: Matching Folio Society Limited-Editions of THE HOBBIT and THE SILMARILLION

The Folio Society's limited-edition of The Lord of the Rings has sold out in about 36 hours after it was announced. Sadly, I didn't get the chance to write about it here, as I often enjoy doing about new Tolkien books/editions.

In their catalogue, they've been publishing editions of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.

With the release of the limited-edition of The Lord of the Rings by Alan Lee, there's obviously been requests for matching editions of The Hobbit and The Silmarillion.


For The Hobbit, they have four artists they could go with to produce a similar edition which would match the recent Lord of the Rings.

john-howe-smaug | The hobbit, Smaug, Tolkien

First up, is John Howe, whose Smaug (above) is among my favourite Tolkien pieces. John Howe has sort-of-but-not-really illustrated The Hobbit before: he did the infamous pop-up book. This would be a wonderful occasion to include some of his newer pieces related to The Hobbit that haven't been published yet (aside from an occasional calendar), as well as create new work.

I have a slight bias towards this, as I believe no artist can do dragons like he can.

The Art of Alan Lee and John Howe — Smaug by Alan Lee

Alan Lee (his version of Smaug is pictured above) would also be a logical choice, as his illustrated Hobbit is as well known as his work for The Lord of the Rings. HarperCollins and Houghton Mifflin have oftentimes made the two titles match one another, so Folio Society may do likewise.

Smaug the Magnificent - Michael Hague

Michael Hague's Smaug is pictured above. Showing the dragon by all the artists to show their style and approach. Michael Hague illustrated The Hobbit in the 1980's. As you can see, his work and style has a kind of 'retro fairy tale' look to it. To see his work again alongside the exquisite Lord of the Rings would be a nice surprise. I also say this, because that's the only time he's done an illustrated Tolkien book, and only edition has existed. Well, in paperback and in hardback, from both publishers (HarperCollins and Houghton Mifflin.)


 Jemima Catlin (her Smaug above) would be my final choice for an illustrated Hobbit. in 2013, her artwork surprised the Tolkien community when her illustrated edition of The Hobbit was published. Her artwork is charming and whimsical, and perfectly matches the 'children's book' tone of The Hobbit, and makes it feel like a children's book....though, not in the negative sense, by any means. Should the Folio Society use her artwork, we'd all be in for a treat - again.

So those are my choices for an illustrated Hobbit to match The Lord of the Rings. They are in no order whatsoever, and any of them would definitely welcome.


There's only one logical choice when it comes to pairing a matching illustrated Silmarillion to a matching illustrated Hobbit and Lord of the Rings:

Maglor Casts a Silmaril into the Sea – Ted Nasmith

Ted Nasmith. Ted has been creating Silmarillion-based artwork for quite some time, as well as other Tolkien artwork. However, his work on The Silmarillion is the majority of his Tolkien portfolio. A very brief rundown on the various editions, as there's been 4 illustrated editions so far by HarperCollins.

The first one came out in 1998. It had about 16-20 (forget exact number) of illustrations, and was the normal amount for an illustrated Tolkien book to have. This went with the earlier Alan Lee-illustrated editions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, with regards to size and design.

The second, came out in 2004. This one had around 45 illustrations. This one matched later printings of The Hobbit by Alan Lee (due to the dustjacket being slightly re-designed), and a new 3-part illustrated edition of The Lord of the Rings (also by Alan).

The third, came out in 2008. This was an illustrated paperback, and featured about 16 illustrations. They came from the 2004 edition.

Finally, in 2021, we've got the newest and fourth one, in both hardback and slipcased format. This one has around 50 illustrations.

Ted has been done so much Silmarillion artwork, I've created an Excel document that lets one see which image has appeared in which edition(s)! In fact, there are some that have yet to appear in any illustrated edition!

Should the Folio Society persue a matching illustrated limited edition of The Silmarillion, I've got my fingers crossed tightly that it'll be by Ted Nasmith.

So, with luck, we should see limited-editions of The Hobbit and The Silmarillion in the near future. The recent Lord of the Rings has proven to be very lucrative to the Folio Society (1,000 copies at 1,000 pounds each). To make sure you don't miss it, subscribe to the Folio Society's newsletter, as well as follow them on social media (facebook, instagram....)

Note About Unfinished Tales

In 2020, for the first time ever, there was an illustrated edition of Unfinished Tales illustrated by Alan Lee, Ted Nasmith and John Howe. Due to when it was published vs the time I'm writing this post, its possible that HarperCollins and Houghton Mifflin may have exclusive publishing rights to the artwork. I'm not sure how it works, though the artwork may be too 'new' to be featured in another publisher's illustrated edition at this time.

April 3, 2022


 At long last, Robert Foster's incredible The Complete Guide to Middle-earth is being re-issued. Not only that, it'll match the new illustrated hardbacks published by HarperCollins in 2020 and 2021 of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. There are other books in that style, such as The Great Tales (The Children of Hurin, Beren and Luthien and The Fall of Gondolin), Tales From the Perilous Realm, and The Nature of Middle-earth. Note that Nature is not illustrated, though the style and layout of the dustjacket still matches the others.

Anyways, on with the information. It will be getting (re)published in both standard hardback and slipcased formats.


Complete Guide to Middle-Earth.jpg

ISBN: 9780008537814

A peerless A–Z guide to the names, places and events in the world of J.R.R. Tolkien, fully illustrated in colour throughout by acclaimed Tolkien artist, Ted Nasmith.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s works of epic adventure and fantasy, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion have delighted many millions of fans since they were first published, and are now more popular than ever before.

The Complete Guide to Middle-earth has been compiled to enhance the reader’s enjoyment of Tolkien’s books by bringing together in an A-Z sequence all the key facts and information about names, places, languages and events from The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.

Accompanied with numerous genealogical tables and a unique Chronology of the First Age, it will provide an indispensable aid to every reader’s discovery of Tolkien’s world.

The first, and definitive, encyclopedia, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth is now reissued to complement the illustrated hardbacks of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, and is lavishly illustrated with more than 50 full-colour paintings by acclaimed Tolkien artist, Ted Nasmith, with many appearing exclusively in this edition.

SLIPCASED EDITION (matches the illustrated slipcased editions of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales from 2020 & 2021)


First ever deluxe, slipcased edition of the peerless A–Z guide to the names, places and events in the world of J.R.R. Tolkien, fully illustrated in colour throughout by acclaimed Tolkien artist, Ted Nasmith, and featuring an exclusive colour foldout poster.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s works of epic adventure and fantasy, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion have delighted many millions of fans since they were first published, and are now more popular than ever before.

The Complete Guide to Middle-earth has been compiled to enhance the reader’s enjoyment of Tolkien’s books by bringing together in an A-Z sequence all the key facts and information about names, places, languages and events from The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.

Coupled with numerous genealogical tables and a unique Chronology of the First Age, it will provide an indispensable aid to every reader’s discovery of Tolkien’s world.

The first, and definitive, encyclopedia, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth is now available for the first time as a clothbound deluxe edition, housed in a fully illustrated slipcase, to complement the deluxe illustrated editions of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, and is lavishly illustrated with more than 50 full-colour paintings by acclaimed Tolkien artist, Ted Nasmith, with many appearing exclusively in this edition.

Parting thoughts:

It's great to see this (authorized!) guide finally re-appear. The previous edition from 2003 matched the previous illustrated editions. Those included: later printings of The Hobbit by Alan Lee (initially published in 1997, but as I mentioned, later printings), The Lord of the Rings 2002 boxed set by Alan Lee, and The Silmarillion 2004 edition by Ted Nasmith.

I already own the 2003 edition, so I'll be passing on this re-issue. However, I am glad for its existence, as it'll perfectly fit in and compliment the new illustrated hardbacks. So that's great for those that want to add another title to their collections of that style. For those that don't have the new illustrated editions, well, it's good to see this title finally back in print!

Both standard and slipcased editions are due in August.

New Edition of THE SILMARILLION Coming


Hot on the heels (and matching) last year's special edition of The Lord of the Rings comes a new edition of The Silmarillion illustrated by Tolkien himself. It will be arriving in the fall.

The ISBN is 9780008537890, and the official description follows:

For the first time ever, a very special edition of the forerunner to The Lord of the Rings, illustrated throughout in colour by J.R.R. Tolkien himself and with the complete text printed in two colours.

The Silmarilli were three perfect jewels, fashioned by Feanor, most gifted of the Elves, and within them was imprisoned the last Light of the Two Trees of Valinor. But the first Dark Lord, Morgoth, stole the jewels and set them within his iron crown, guarded in the impenetrable fortress of Angband in the north of Middle-earth.

The Silmarillion is the history of the rebellion of Feanor and his kindred against the gods, their exile from Valinor and return to Middle-earth, and their war, hopeless despite all the heroism, against the great Enemy. It is the ancient drama to which the characters in The Lord of the Rings look back, and in whose events some of them such as Elrond and Galadriel took part.

The book also includes several shorter works: the Ainulindale, a myth of the Creation, and the Valaquenta, in which the nature and powers of each of the gods is described. The Akallabeth recounts the downfall of the great island kingdom of Numenor at the end of the Second Age, and Of the Rings of Power tells of the great events at the end of the Third Age, as narrated in The Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien could not publish The Silmarillion in his lifetime, as it grew with him, so he would leave it to his son, Christopher Tolkien, to edit the work from many manuscripts and bring his father's great vision to publishable form, so completing the literary achievement of a lifetime. This special edition presents anew this seminal first step towards mapping out the posthumous publishing of Middle-earth, and the beginning of an illustrious forty years and more than twenty books celebrating his father's legacy.

This definitive new edition includes, by way of an introduction, a letter written by Tolkien in 1951 which provides a brilliant exposition of the earlier Ages, and for the first time in its history is presented with J.R.R. Tolkien's own paintings and drawings, which reveal the breathtaking grandeur and beauty of his vision of the First Age of Middle-earth.

So, a little bit of thought on it, in quick, point-form before I end the post:

~ there isn't a slipcased edition announced (yet). It's possible that there may not be one, as The Silmarillion is generally viewed as less popular (to the general public, that is) than The Lord of the Rings. Please note, that I am not saying that there won't be one, just that I won't be surprised if there isn't.

~ following how The Lord of the Rings was presented, we can expect:
- blue to be used where red was for The Lord of the Rings
- the page edges will likely be sprayed blue
- it'll likely feature a ribbon marker (also blue)
- it's possible that it may come in its own publisher-supplied shipping box (The Lord of the Rings came in a box featuring The Doors of Durin on it)

~ The Map of Beleriand and the Lands to the North will likely be included as a detached, folded poster (in two colours? Possibly blue ink instead of red....?)

I admit to being curious how the final product will look, and exactly how closely it'll match the special edition of The Lord of the Rings. I am also curious to see if any further Tolkien books will be published in this style. Can we expect The Hobbit? Unfinished Tales? We'll have to see what lies on the horizon!

December 19, 2021

The Lord of the Rings: My Proposed Ultimate Cut, With Commentary

 The Lord of the Rings Fonts Guide | Logaster

Many fans consider the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings films to be the definitive version. Peter Jackson, however, considers that to be the case for the theatrical editions. It makes sense - they are, after all, the versions that came out into cinemas and are 'finalized' because of that.

Some state that the theatrical editions have better flow and editing than the extended editions. Overall, I prefer the extended editions myself. They aren't just a 'longer' version of the movie, the stuff re-inserted usually has meaning.

That being said, there are some things that the theatrical editions does better, and some things that the extended editions do better.

In this post, in honour of The Fellowship of the Ring's 20th anniversary, I'm going to use both (and slight hypothetical editing on my part) to create the best version of the films as possible. Well, to me, that is. 

Now remember - what works on page doesn't always work on screen. These need to work as movies, first and foremost.

I will cover all three films, though I won't cover every change between the two versions - only ones that I feel are worth addressing or need altering. If I don't mention a scene, the assumption is that the extended version of that scene is the one I'd favour. 


Isildur's ambush. This works well in both the theatrical and extended editions.  In the extended editions, we actually see Isildur using the Ring and going invisible. Some may argue that this lessens the impact of Bilbo suddenly vanishing at his party. In the theatrical edition, that's the first time we ever see anyone vanish by using the Ring.
Verdict: tie. Personal preference, really.

- opening in Hobbiton. Here's the first noticeable change between both versions. In the extended edition, we get Bilbo writing his book, and other manners of 'concerning hobbits.'. In the theatrical edit, we jump straight to Frodo reading in the woods. My ideal version of the scene would be a mix of the two: open with Bilbo starting his book, telling us about hobbits, etc, HOWEVER - one element I liked from the theatrical edition of this scene is that Frodo and Gandalf's cart ride is continuous. In the extended edition, during the cart ride, we cut back to Bilbo fussing about possibly misplacing the Ring. I would leave this scene of Bilbo out, and have both the extended edition's Bilbo's book writing intro, however, once the time comes, having the cart ride uninterrupted.
Verdict: both together, but with some further editing. I'd also keep "The Shire....60 years later"

- Bilbo's party. Cut out the little scene of Bilbo hiding from the Sackville-Baggins', but keep in any other additional footage from the extended edition.
Verdict: extended, minus Bilbo hiding.

- The Passing of the Elves. Some may feel that we get our first look at an elf best (not counting the prologue) by meeting Arwen. That may be so, however I feel the extended edition showing Sam and Frodo seeing the elves sets up the whole 'the elves are leaving Middle-earth' arc of The Lord of the Rings.
Verdict: extended edition.

- Flight to the Ford. Sam doesn't actually need to say 'It's Mr. Bilbo's trolls.' The audience should spot that Easter egg on their own.
Verdict: theatrical edition.

- The Council of Elrond. We don't need to hear Gandalf saying the Ring verse in the Black Speech - it doesn't really add anything. Sure, it's a nice little nod to the book, but in the film it just seems odd - compared the theatrical version of the same scene, that is.
Verdict: theatrical edition.

And that's it for The Fellowship of the Ring! As you can see, I generally prefer the extended edition, though there a few very minor things that the theatrical cut does better.


- keep the Treebeard scenes the same in the theatrical edition. While an important part of Tolkien's world, I find that the extra Treebeard scenes in the extended edition really slow the film down. It would move a lot better if we didn't get more Treebeard scenes added onto what's in the theatrical edition.
Verdict: theatrical edition for Merry, Pippin and Treebeard scenes.

- Ent Draft. This is an example of what I was talking about above.
Verdict: removed.

- Flotsam and Jetsam. Because of my preference of the theatrical edition of the Treebeard scenes, that would mean that the quick moment of Merry 'measuring' himself against Pippin's height would be gone, as they didn't drink the ent draft earlier. This is when they find the store room.

Not many changes to the current extended edition of The Two Towers for me, as of all three, that's the film that truly benefits from these extended releases. Many ardent and serious fans of Tolkien had noped out of The Lord of the Rings films because of the theatrical edition that was released into cinemas. This was due mostly to the change in Faramir's character that they left. The biggest change for me would to not have any extra Treebeard scenes. As outlined above, not just because they slow down the pace; but also in that they pretty much bring everything to the table. 

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Movie Poster

- The Road to Isengard. Keep the same take/opening that was used for the theatrical edition, in regards to the dialogue between Merry and Pippin, prior to the rest of the Company reaching them. This is the scene leading up to confronting Saruman.
Verdict: theatrical edition.

- Return to Edoras. This scene flows much better in the theatrical edition. Also, keep the rendition of The Green Dragon drinking song from the theatrical edition without Pippin's pause and look to Gandalf. Also, while entertaining, the drinking game between Legolas and Gimli doesn't really add anything.
Verdict: theatrical edition.

- Meeting Denethor. The only aspect of this scene that I liked better in the theatrical edition, is after Denethor says "Rule of Gondor is mine! And no other's!" Gandalf and Pippin leave him. In the theatrical edition, their walk out is silent. In the extended edition, music was added. As much as I love Howard Shore's music, I found the silence to be more effective.

- Pippin and Gandalf talking during the night. I much preferred the take that was used in the theatrical edition: Gandalf didn't need to start choking on his pipe, and for Pippin to bring him water. That change doesn't really add anything, and was fine as-is from the theatrical edition.
Verdict: theatrical edition

- The Wizard's Pupil. This scene is great as is in the extended edition, however, I'd remove Denethor's 'vision' of Boromir.
Verdict: extended edition, with some minor editing.

- Scene between Pippin and Farmir about Pippin's Tower Guard outfit. A nice little scene, though it doesn't really add anything to the film.
Verdict: removed

- The King of the Dead. Here's another example of how, sometimes, the theatrical edition is better (in some aspects) than the extended edition. The extended edition for this scene is fine, except I would edit out the avalanche of skulls, and seeing the King of the Dead emerging from the mountain saying "We fight." This somewhat ruins the surprise later on when Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli arrive at The War of the Ring ("There's plenty for the both of us, may the best dwarf win!") End the scene with Aragorn falling to his knees in despair, and Legolas comforting him.
Verdict: extended, with some editing.

- The Corsairs of Umbar. As mentioned above, this ruins the surprise I mentioned. A good starting point for Disc 2 would be Merry talking with Eowyn instead.
Verdict: removed.

- Gandalf the White vs The Witch King. I want to talk about this. It is a great addition. Especially considering that earlier The Witch King states "I will break him." when he gets asked "What of the Wizard?" Not only that, seeing Gandalf's staff shatter explains why he grabs that spear in the tomb, and he only uses Glamdring at the battle of the Black Gates. so it's great for continuity.
Verdict: extended edition.

- The Mouth of Sauron. They get effort for trying. The MoS is just too....weird. That, and Aragorn would never kill an emissary. The scene of him challenging Sauron via the palantir could also explain The Black Gate opening' as Sauron would've been expecting them due to that.
Verdict: removed.

- With the Orcs. The scene of Sam and Frodo falling in line with some Orcs and pretending to fight really does not bring anything worthwhile to the table. "Look, they're moving off! Something's drawing his gaze." works equally well. Them dressed as orcs explains how they were able to make it further into Mordor in conjunction with the Eye's gaze being drawn to the gate.
Verdict: removed.

- Frodo and Gollum fighting at the entrance to Mount Doom itself. "You swore! You swore on the precious!" "Smeagol lied." wasn't needed, and the fight flows better in the theatrical edition with that dialogue.
Verdict: theatrical edition.

And that's it for The Return of the King! I prefer the extended (as with the other two films), however I found quite a few of the added scenes don't really contribute to the film as a film. Some of the same scenes that appear in both theatrical and extended editions have better 'versions' of those scenes from the theatrical editions.

I truly wish I was good at film editing and film editing software so that I could use both the theatrical and extended editions to create my 'perfect' version for my own personal use.

Overall, I prefer the extended editions, and would take those any day, however; the theatrical editions execute certain scenes, in a much better fashion.

It's tricky to find that balance of 'what works as a movie, and how well does it follow the book'. An adaptation needs to find that perfect balance of working as a movie (as that's the format the story is being told) as well as remaining faithful to the source material. 

October 24, 2021

DUNE: PART 1 Review + A Case For Soundbars


I got to see Dune. Or, Dune: Part 1 as it's called in the film itself.

I'll explain how that works.

The director has explained multiple times during the film's pre-production (and production) via interviews that the Dune film that opened in cinemas (and is now streaming on HBO Max) is not the entirety of Dune, the first book, by Frank Herbert. He's stated that he would need two films to accurately, and fully, tell the story properly. He also hopes to do a third and final film of his (the director's) Dune Trilogy, which will be based on Dune Messiah, a much shorter book than Dune. So, if each of these Dune films is 2 hrs 30 - 2 hrs 45, that'd be adequate to tell the complete journey of Paul.

Now that the background info is given, I'll talk about the film.

The scope of the film reminded me more of 2001: A Space Odyssey than it did Star Wars: A New Hope. This is due in part to long shots and takes, the scene changes, etc. Filmaking-wise, it seemed to have borrowed from that. But, by all means, not in a rip-off or copy-cat fashion. Once such shot comes to mind is of a huge ship in outer space, with a whole slew of smaller ships emerging from it. The shot is seen from very far away, and there's no sound effects as these ships exit it. So it's quite artsy in terms of how it was filmed.

What The Lord of the Rings has done for the fantasy book genre, Dune has done for the science-fiction book genre. The film was well-adapted and well cast. I personally enjoyed the cast, though I can understand some fans not being fond of some of the choices. I read the first book, Dune, about a year ago, so my memory of it isn't fully up to snuff to recognize what was left out, or what was changed. I was aware that this film would only be part of the that book; though of what that part covered, I didn't immediately notice any changes or things left out.

Everything was well-designed and the film had a great look to it. So that this review won't get over-long, I'll mention something which will segue into another of our senses. I was quite curious to see how they were going to do the ornithopters (called 'thopters often in the books). I wasn't sure what to expect of how they would visualized, as there are a few different ways to do it. I was pleased with the look. Segue into: sound.