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Lord of the Rings

Now We Know Why the Hobbit Movies Were So Awful ( 174 writes: Everyone seems to agree that the key to the success of Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings trilogy was years of careful planning before production ever began. Now Bryan Bishop writes at The Verge that in what can only be described as the most honest promotional video of all time, we find out why the Hobbit trilogy turned out to be such a boring mess. In the clip, Peter Jackson, Andy Serkis, and other production personnel confess that due to the director changeover — del Toro left the project after nearly two years of pre-production — Jackson hit the ground running, but was never able to hit the reset button to get time to establish his own vision. Once the new director was hired, the harried crew members had to scramble to redesign everything to suit Jackson's vision, but they could barely even keep up with the production schedule, let alone prepare anything in advance.

At some junctures in the process, Jackson found himself essentially having to improvise on set because there was nothing really prepared for his actors to do. "You're going on to a set and you're winging it, you've got these massively complicated scenes, no storyboards and you're making it up there and then on the spot," said Jackson. "I spent most of The Hobbit feeling like I was not on top of it."

But wait: "Peter has never made a secret of the fact that he took over the Hobbit directing job with very little preparation time remaining before shooting had to begin. It was a challenge he willingly took on. His comments are an honest reflection of his own personal feelings at times during the movie's production," says a spokesman for Jackson. "Somebody has decided to create this cut-down, using only the sections of The Gathering Clouds that discuss the difficulties faced, not the positive ways they were addressed and overcome – which are also covered in this and other featurettes."

Lord of the Rings

See the Sketches J.R.R. Tolkien Used To Build Middle-Earth ( 48

Esther Schindler writes: In addition to writing the story of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien drew it. The maps and sketches he made while drafting it "informed his storytelling, allowing him to test narrative ideas and illustrate scenes he needed to capture in words," reports Ethan Gilsdorf at Wired. "For Tolkien, the art of writing and the art of drawing were inextricably intertwined."

It's all coming out in a new book, but here we get a sneak preview, along with several cool observations, such as: "If Tolkien's nerdy use of graph paper feels like a secret message to future Dungeons & Dragons players, then so does his 'Plan of Shelob's lair.' Tolkien's map of tunnels stocked with nasties—here, a spider named Shelob—would be right at home in any Dungeon Master's campaign notes. He even marks the place for a classic dungeon crawl feature: 'trap.'"

Lord of the Rings

Why Scientists Love 'Lord of the Rings' 179 writes: Julie Beck writes in The Atlantic that though science and fantasy seem to be polar opposites, a Venn diagram of "scientists" and "Lord of the Rings fans" have a large overlap which could (lovingly!) be labeled "nerds." Several animal species have been named after characters from the books, including wasps, crocodiles, and even a dinosaur named after Sauron, "Given Tolkien's passion for nomenclature, his coinage, over decades, of enormous numbers of euphonious names—not to mention scientists' fondness for Tolkien—it is perhaps inevitable that Tolkien has been accorded formal taxonomic commemoration like no other author," writes Henry Gee. Other disciplines aren't left out of the fun—there's a geologically interesting region in Australia called the "Mordor Alkaline Igneous Complex," a pair of asteroids named "Tolkien" and "Bilbo," and a crater on Mercury also named "Tolkien."

"It has been documented that Middle-Earth caught the attention of students and practitioners of science from the early days of Tolkien fandom. For example, in the 1960s, the Tolkien Society members were said to mainly consist of 'students, teachers, scientists, or psychologists,'" writes Kristine Larsen, an astronomy professor at Central Connecticut State University, in her paper "SAURON, Mount Doom, and Elvish Moths: The Influence of Tolkien on Modern Science." "When you have scientists who are fans of pop culture, they're going to see the science in it," says Larson. "It's just such an intricate universe. It's so geeky. You can delve into it. There's the languages of it, the geography of it, and the lineages. It's very detail oriented, and scientists in general like things that have depth and detail." Larson has also written papers on using Tolkien as a teaching tool, and discusses with her astronomy students, for example, the likelihood that the heavenly body Borgil, which appears in the first book of the trilogy, can be identified as the star Aldebaran. "I use this as a hook to get students interested in science," says Larson. "I'm also interested in recovering all the science that Tolkien quietly wove into Middle Earth because there's science in there that the casual reader has not recognized."
Lord of the Rings

Ars: Final Hobbit Movie Is 'Soulless End' To 'Flawed' Trilogy 351

An anonymous reader writes: The final chapter to Peter Jackson's series of films based on The Hobbit debuted last week, and the reviews haven't been kind. Ars Technica just posted theirs, and it highlights all the problems with Battle of the Five Armies, a two-hour and twenty-four minute film based on only 72 pages of the book. Quoting: "The battles in Battle of the Five Armies are deadly boring, bereft of suspense, excessively padded, and predictable to the point of being contemptuous of the audience. Suspense is attempted mostly by a series of last-minute saves and switches. ... There are other problems. Everyone in this movie takes themselves way too seriously, which makes them even harder to sympathize with. Peter Jackson leans way too hard on voice modulation to make characters seem menacing or powerful. The movie's tone is still way out of step with the book's tone. ... There's one big thing that doomed these movies from the outset — the fiscally smart but artistically bankrupt decision to make a single, shortish children's novel into three feature-length prequel films." Other review titles: "Peter Jackson Must Be Stopped," "The Phantom Menace of Middle Earth," and "Lots of Fighting, Not Much Hobbit."

2014 Geek Gift Guide 113

With the holidays coming up, Bennett Haselton has updated his geek-oriented gift guide for 2014. He says: Some of my favorite gifts to give are still the ones that were listed in several different previously written posts, while a few new cool gift ideas emerged in 2014. Here are all my current best recommendations, listed in one place. Read on for the list, or to share any suggestions of your own.
Lord of the Rings

The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released 156

An anonymous reader writes: The first teaser trailer for the final installment of the Middle Earth saga, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, debuted at Comic-Con, and now Warner Bros have made it available online. While the trailer contains some nice shots on a visual level, very much in keeping with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, about 80% of the trailer's awesomeness is provided by the background music. Pippin's mournful song from Return of the King plays intercut with the doomed mission that Faramir leads on his father Denethor's orders.
Lord of the Rings

Historical Carbon Emissions From Dragons In Middle Earth 69

An anonymous reader writes "The climate of Middle Earth has recently been under the spotlight, with the current and future climate of Middle Earth simulated using the HadCM3L General Circulation Model. However, to the best of our knowledge, there has been little work investigating the historical carbon emissions of Middle Earth. Specifically, what impact has the demise of dragons had on carbon emissions? To shed some light on this question, we start by considering the carbon footprint of the antagonist, Smaug." Smaug is surprisingly environmentally friendly.
Lord of the Rings

The Climate of Middle-Earth 163

sciencehabit writes "One does not simply model the climate of Mordor; unless, of course, you are the University of Bristol's Dan Lunt, who has created a climate simulation of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Using supercomputers and a model originally developed by the U.K. Met Office, his study compares Middle-earth's climate with those of our (modern) and the dinosaur's (Late Cretaceous) worlds. The Middle-earth model reveals that the Shire — home to the Hobbits — would enjoy weather much like England's East Midlands, with an average temperature of 7C and about 61 cm of rainfall each year. An epic journey to Mount Doom, however, would see a shift in climate, with the subtropical Mordor region being more like Los Angeles or western Texas." The full academic paper is available in English, Elvish, and Dwarfish.
Lord of the Rings

Dotcom Alleges Megaupload Raid Was Part of Deal To Film The Hobbit 112

c0lo writes "Kim Dotcom alleges, in an 20 min interview with the Australian public television, that Megaupload was offered up by the New Zealand's PM 'on a silver platter' as part of negotiations with Warner Brothers executives for shooting The Hobbit in New Zealand. He promises that he'll substantiate the claims in court. He also says that the extradition case the U.S. government is weak and the reason behind the latest delay in extradition hearing (postponed from August this year to March next year) is an attempt to bleed Dotcom dry of his money. Also interesting, Dotcom says that the latest debacle of the massive scale online online surveillance by U.S. spy agencies has triggered an 'explosion' of interest in, the 'cloud storage' site with user generated encryption."

Interactive Tool Visualizes Tolkien's Works 33

dsjodin writes "Last year, LotrProject brought us extraordinary statistics on the population of Middle-Earth. Now, they have released an interactive tool for analysis of the Silmarillion, the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. With keyword frequency search, character mentions, sentiment analysis and network diagrams of character interactions it is a beautiful set of data visualizations and fascinating for fans and non-fans alike. The site can for example be used to find out that bacon is mentioned seven times in the Hobbit while only two times throughout the entire the Lord of the Rings."
Lord of the Rings

Why The Hobbit's 48fps Is a Good Thing 599

An anonymous reader writes "Last year, when we discussed news that The Hobbit would be filmed at 48 frames per second, instead of the standard 24, many were skeptical that format would take hold. Now that the film has been released, an article at Slate concedes that it's a bit awkward and takes a while to get used to, but ends up being to the benefit of the film and the entire industry as well. 'The 48 fps version of The Hobbit is weird, that's true. It's distracting as hell, yes yes yes. Yet it's also something that you've never seen before, and is, in its way, amazing. Taken all together, and without the prejudice of film-buffery, Jackson's experiment is not a flop. It's a strange, unsettling success. ... It does not mark the imposition from on high of a newer, better standard — one frame rate to rule them all (and in the darkness bind them). It's more like a shift away from standards altogether. With the digital projection systems now in place, filmmakers can choose the frame rate that makes most sense for them, from one project to the next.'"
Lord of the Rings

Tolkien Estate Sues Over Lord of the Rings Slot Machines 211

An anonymous reader writes "The Tolkien Estate has filed an $80 million copyright infringement lawsuit in U.S. District Court over the use of Lord of the Rings slot machines. The complaint hinges on a contract between the estate and Warner Bros. which allows the creation of LotR merchandise but not LotR 'intangibles,' like the experience of playing a slot machine game. According to the estate (PDF), 'Not only does the production of gambling games patently exceed the scope of defendants' rights, but this infringing conduct has outraged Tolkien's devoted fan base, causing irreparable harm to Tolkien's legacy and reputation and the valuable goodwill generated by his works.'"
Lord of the Rings

New Dinosaur Named After the Eye of Sauron 69

SchrodingerZ writes "95 million years ago, the dinosaur Sauroniops pachytholus roamed northern Africa. Fossils, originally found in southern Morocco, only consisted of the upper skull, which included the eerie looking eye socket which resembles the Eye of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings movies. Using skull comparison, it is theorized the two-legged meat-eater would have been 40 feet tall, challenging the Tyrannosaurus Rex in height. More fossils are needed for a full analysis, but so far it is very clear this dinosaur towered over many."

New Zealand Turning Hobbits Into Actual Cash Screenshot-sm 89

Curseyoukhan writes "With its economy struggling, New Zealand hopes to cash in on 'The Hobbit' by turning it into actual cash. The nation is releasing special commemorative coins depicting characters from J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved book. The coin release coincides with the premiere of the first installment in Peter Jackson's film adaptation of the book. It is also part of a publicity campaign aimed to rebrand the country '100 percent Middle Earth.'"
Lord of the Rings

New Hobbit Trailer Debuts Screenshot-sm 130

New submitter madmarcel tips news that a new trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has been released. "The new piece (seen above) is about the same length -- 2 1/2 minutes -- as the December trailer. But it cuts to the chase more quickly, leaving out the Frodo voiceover that sets up the Lord of the Rings follow-up. Instead we get the quick voiceover explanation -- 'the dwarves are determined to reclaim their homeland' -- before we meet up with Martin Freeman's Bilbo Baggins and set off. There's a slightly less self-serious tone to the proceedings this time around, though questers do 'enter the mountain' and play important games of riddles."
Lord of the Rings

Peter Jackson Announces Third Hobbit Movie 303

eldavojohn writes "Unless his Facebook account has been hacked, Peter Jackson has announced a third movie for The Hobbit series: 'So, without further ado and on behalf of New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Wingnut Films, and the entire cast and crew of The Hobbit films, I'd like to announce that two films will become three.' Other sites are confirming this while Variety notes that filming has been wrapped on the first two so doing a third film will require a restart to all of that effort including re-negotiations with rights holders and acting schedules. **potential spoiler alert** From Peter Jackson's announcement: 'We know how much of the story of Bilbo Baggins, the Wizard Gandalf, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur will remain untold if we do not take this chance.' How much of Middle Earth would you like to see on film?"
Lord of the Rings

Hollywood Acts Warily At Comic-Con 273

gollum123 writes "Peter Jackson wowed the crowd with 13 minutes of highly anticipated footage from the first of his two ultra-expensive Hobbit movies. But he also played it safe — very safe — by not so much as mentioning, much less demonstrating, the filmmaking wizardry at the heart of the project. That left big questions about the movie industry's future unanswered and added to a theme of this year's Comic-Con: Hollywood has come to fear this place. Mr. Jackson is shooting his two Hobbit movies, the first of which is to arrive in theaters in December, at an unusually fast 48 frames a second, twice the standard rate. But an estimated 6,500 fans did not have that experience when they gathered in Comic-Con's cavernous Hall H moments earlier to see the new footage. Still, Mr. Jackson, one of Hollywood's boldest directors, made the unexpectedly timid decision to present The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in a standard format here — it was not even in 3-D — because he feared an online outcry that could hurt box-office results."
Lord of the Rings

The Hobbit's Higher Frame Rate To Cost Theater Operators 710

kodiaktau writes "Film makers keep touting increased frame per second rate as improving viewing and cinema experience, however the number of theaters who actually have the equipment that can play the higher rate film is limited. It makes me wonder if this is in the real interest of creating a better experience and art, or if it is a ploy by the media manufacturers to sell more expensive equipment and drive ticket prices up. From the article: 'Warner Bros. showed 10 minutes of 3D footage from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at 48 frames per second at CinemaCon earlier this year, and Jackson said in a videotaped message there that he hoped his movie could be played in 48fps in “as many cinemas as possible” when it opens in December. But exhibitors must pay the cost of the additional equipment, and some have wondered how much of a ticket premium they would charge to offset that cost.'"
Lord of the Rings

Hobbit Film Underwhelms At 48 Frames Per Second 607

bonch writes "Warner Bros. aired ten minutes of footage from The Hobbit at CinemaCon, and reactions have been mixed. The problem? Peter Jackson is filming the movie at 48 frames per second, twice the industry standard 24 frames per second, lending the film a '70s era BBC-video look.' However, if the negative response from film bloggers and theater owners is any indication, the way most people will see the movie is in standard 24fps."