While a minor production of a fantasy novel was being knocked together some years ago in the misty and rainy hills of New Zealand some were messing about with cameras. The good nature displayed throughout just about nails the heart and feeling that came pumping out the cinema screen along with Orc blades and arrows.
As expected, Sir Ian McKellan reveals himself as the fool of the set, grabbing the close-ups whenever one is mentioned. But in real terms every thing in this low res video apparently shown first on an NZ news channel only reinforces the heartwarming creativity and sense of fun and camaradarie that made the Fellowship what it was. Whatever, it’s funny!!
It’s been a year of showing off for the rapidly expanding UK convention circuit with mega cons old and new all duking it out to put on the best possible event for fans. Next week is the turn of one of the veterans of the scene, The London Film and Comic con and if the guest line up is anything to go by LFCC intends to come out of the corner swinging.
LFCC All Stars (left to right): Gillian Anderson, Karl Urban, Charles Dance, Alex Winter, Gates McFadden, Adam Baldwin
LFCC always have an impressive line up and this year is no different. Fans will be able to meet like likes of Alex Winter (Bill & Ted), Karl Urban (Lord of the Rings, Dredd), Gillian Anderson (X-Files) and about half the cast of Game of Thrones and Star Wars. They also have a real life Batmobile and the usual army of dealers who will be happy to sell you everything from light sabers to figurines.
The exciting thing for us however is that for the first time LFCC is hosting a dedicated comic book section, complete with signings, industry experts and (naturally) a certain Moon headed detective. Beyond The Bunker will be at LFCC for all three days so feel free to come and chat to us about comics, the creative process or whatever you fancy really. We’ll have some new badges and our fine selection of prints for sale as well as the award winning comic itself! As always, there’s a free badge with every copy so if you know anyone who doesn’t own Moon yet, drag them along and badge them up!
No copies of Moon #2 just yet but ask us about the impending Moon Launch Party for some insider info.
LFCC is next weekend at the London Olympia Grand Hall. Tickets can be bought on the door and cost a mere £6 (for regular entry)
We’ll admit we don’t watch much TV at Beyond the Bunker (we tend to catch this stuff on DVD – which this year would’ve led to reviews of Firefly and Battlestar Galatica) but we’ll try to make sure we keep up next year as best we can. Or review DVDs we’ve seen. Or get rid of it completely. Never-the-less here’s an attempt at the Best series of the year awards 2011 based on the buzz and our own personal choices.
Denied Winner – Game of Thrones (Season 1)
According to popular buzz surrounding HBO’s blood and thunder epic Game of Thrones, featuring LOTR’s Sean Bean, Conan’s Jason Momoa and Tesco’s ad’s Mark Addy in various roles we know nothing about, it’s an absolute corker and the best thing out this year. However, because of delays in releasing the DVD – causing online bloggers all over the web to declare that they’ve been left with no choice but to pirate it to get their fix in spite of wanting to support their favourite TV programme – we haven’t seen it. But we hope to. Oh yeah.
Based on George R.R. Martin’s epic series of novels the series has an enormous following and from what we’ve heard – rightfully so. As seven families fight to control the mythical land of Westeros, political and sexual intrigue is pervasive. In all of this chaos, clear and entertaining characters are struggling to gain increasing amounts of power – through savagery, skullduggery and sexual manipulation. Sounds great.
Winner – Sherlock (Season 1)
In spite of the fact that the decision by the BBC to produce a modern day turn for the world’s most famous detective, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as the titular detective and his now unwilling partner, Watson generated some concern regarding the dumbing down of a British classic, Sherlock proved to be one of the best series released in recent years for a number of reasons.
It proved itself so slick, challenging and interesting that even die hard fans of the original Sherlock were brought on board. Initially, a three episode series, Cumberbatch’s depiction of an ostrasised and maligned genius detective being followed by a beleagured and bemused hobbled war veteran turned journalist through his first set of cases wooed audiences and made Cumberbatch a household name, previously restricted to period costume and theatre performances that while no doubt engaging failed to reach so wide an audience.
Combining assured and intelligent scriptwriting by Dr Who and (in one one case) League of Gentlemen scribes Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss, BBC’s primetime production values and an award baiting turn from relative unknown Andrew Scott as Sherlock’s new found nemesis Moriarty – the game is very much afoot for Series 2.
With Season 2 starting on New Years Day on BBC1, now would be a good time to familiarise yourself with the return of the great detective in this assured, intelligent and gripping series.
Frank Darabont’s translation of Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead serialisation has been happily consistent with it’s source material. The bravery of focussing on the assembled survivors allows such a series to be created but the sense of scale that is realised – particularly in the devastation of Atlanta in the opening episode of Season 1 – gave the feel of the piece a much bigger scale than most American series. This was continued in Season 2 from the very first episode, featuring a debilitatingly tense scene involving ‘a herd’ and a plot point unexpectedly introduced from further through the comic book series.
It is a careful adaptation, using large swathes of detail from the original series – both following Sheriff Rick Grimes, his wife, child, best friend and a host of disparate survivors through a world now overrun by Zombies. But it darts and diverts from the original, allowing any devotees of the books guessing as to what is happening next an excellent and original experience. Developing its own storylines it remains rewarding both when it diverges from and converges on moments from the popular series.
The effects work is fantastic, easily on par – or beyond – work previously seen in various Zombie Movies. The presence of the Zombies is never lost, keeping tension in scenes where otherwise there may be none. This is also fuelled by the camerwork as the stark cinematography is deliberately sparse and simple, constantly making the viewer aware that empty space has the possibility of being occupied but most poignantly emphasising the isolation the central figures have found themselves in.
Effectively a survivors epic it has the added joy of the wandering undead to liven things up should the action become too leaden as it can at times in other long running series. Season 1 was only 6 Episodes long but with season 2 considerably longer it will allow central characters to develop in a way that will make the inevitable loss of them even more effective.
Epic scale narrowed to engaging character plots and the possibility of Zombies at every corner. The promise of this series based on events in the original books is potentially phenomenal and this series has to be seen.
Best Non-geek Series – Fresh Meat (Series 1)
The series follows a group of six students about to embark on the most exciting period of their lives thus far University (yawn, right?)! Away from home for the first time, on the brink of adult life, they are about to discover who they really are. From the moment they ship up as freshers at their shared house, their lives are destined to collide, overlap and run the whole gamut of appalling behaviour and terrible errors of judgement.
Sounds like every coming-of-age college series there is but this one proves itself different. The assembled characters move well out of their archetypal characteristics like students at their first university stand-up gig. Where similar series have relied on stereotypes and presumed reactions to arriving at university this one takes each individual and offers them realistic and familiar situations which they deal with in the way anyone else would. Quite badly.
The expected central figure Kingsley (Inbetweeners Joe Thomas) is sidelined pretty swiftly to share room with all his fellow housemates, in spite of a fantastic central plot involving a burdgeoning mutual attraction to fellow housemate Josie (Kimberley Nixon) which somehow always ends with them discovering the other has slept with someone else – sometimes hilariously audibly through their shared partition wall (while drunkenly arguing with each other at one point). Add to that the socially awkward Howard (Greg McHugh) who is pursued by a borderline psychotic classmate he developed a brief friendship with, straight talking hard-living Vod (the incredible Zawe Ashton) and Oregon (Charlotte Richie), desperate to be cool and terrified of being boring and you have a great mix.
But bizarrely, it’s Jack Whitehall’s character JP that walks away with the crown. A public school boy with an over inflated sense of entitlement, Whitehall manages to instill enough humanity into the prat that you do understand why the rest put up with him.
The jaunty and intelligent script bounds away through numerous scenarios, both realistic enough to be occuring but wild enough to be entertaining and the incredible cast bring it both harmoniously and raucously to life. An excellent series and well worth a look.
Most anticipated DVD – Star Wars: The Clone Wars Seasons 3 and 4
Unseen as yet and as I understand it ongoing at present – Clone Wars Season 4 is the continued influence of Star Wars on kids TV channels. Less engaging than the original 2 Dimensional seasons directed by Genndy Tartakovsky but offer more plot and development to the whole saga. With each season the CGI improves and more worlds are revealed in higher detail. Still 2 seasons behind at present however I (Steve P) have to put this on my guilty pleasures list because it expands the Star Wars Universe and is occasionally noticably created by true die hard fans who jump at the chance to develop part of the SW universe.
Most Cause for Concern – Dr Who (Season 6)
Matt Smith is an excellent Doctor, Karen Gillian is a great sidekick and we know that Steven Moffat is a great writer. However, somehow, indiscernably, the last series of Dr Who has lacked the pathos and light hearted touch that previously won it so many fans. No doubt a deliberate intention by Moffat to darken and broaden the Who, it appears to be beginning to lose it’s grip on plot this season. In spite of an introduction of The Silence, the scale and adventure wasn’t as bedded down in character and engaging emotional situations as it has been in previous seasons.
Upping the sci-fi quota, scripts have become slightly convoluted and less involving as a result. Matt Smith, while entertaining as the lithe and slightly dotty Doctor lacks the strength that the more seasoned Doctors had and while, initially, the scripts played with this they have now put perhaps too much emphasis on a young actor to imbue wonder and concern at every turn every time a ‘tree whispers’. Somehow less surprising than previous series, the science babble has gone up, the lunatic and dastardly alien beings have gone down and the geek wish fulfilment is beginning to become too visible.
I have loved Doctor Who but I am concerned that continuity is beginning to fray and that it needs a rest between seasons before it collapses under it’s own weight of expectation. Still excellent, it is however less excellent than it was, seemingly relying overly on emotional resolutions to tie up convoluted plots and slightly unoriginal concepts.
However, still excellent. Hopefully Moffat et al will see the slight error in their ways and get behind an excellent Season 7. God knows the BBC wants it!!
What does an iconic peace-loving protester and easily the most hated man in all of human history have to do with each other? They’ve been included in Geekosystem (where I found this piece) and one wrote to the other July 23rd, 1939 asking if it would be possible to avoid starting a little fight now popularly known as the Second World War. Sadly unheeded, this little number may well have been the difference between a conflict consuming millions of lives and Hitler learning to play the sitar and moving to the himalayas to find his inner peace.
One of life’s great opportunities missed. Wonder if he even read it….
If I’m totally honest, I was a Streets of Rage man back in the day but that doesn’t mean that I’m not familiar with the fine work of Mayor Haggar when it comes to the noble art of thug punching. In a world where Gordon Freeman and Commander Shepard have their own music videos it’s high time that the H man himself was given a showing, and this does the good Mayor proud! Hortyortposted this up a week or so ago and it’s already (deservedly) becoming an internet sensation.
Epic doesn’t even begin to cover it.
2. THE TALE OF CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW – NEW LONELY ISLAND ALBUM HAS DROPPED (MAY 10, 2011)
I know this isn’t strictly geek related but it is both comedy and pirate related so I think it counts. The new album from Grammy-nominated fake rap group The Lonely Island comes out today. It’s called Turtleneck & Chain and it’s well worth a download. For the uninitiated, Lonely Island are a three piece rap group who began life on Saturday Night Live and have since gone on to work with everyone from Justin Timberlake to Natalie Portman. They’ve also been known to be on a boat.
Lonely Island’s shtick is basically to do funny rap songs with massive production values and big name guest artists and in that regard Turtleneck delivers. I can’t decide yet whether it’s better than Incredibad or not but I’m leaning towards ‘probably not’. The Rhianna track is basically just a rehash of the joke from the Jack Black song on the last album and there are a couple of tracks that are longer than they need to be but on the whole the good far outweighs to bad. Plus, who doesn’t want to own a song in which Michael Bolton professes his love for Captain Jack Sparrow?
1. COMMANDER SHEPARD MUSIC VIDEO MAY BE THE BEST THING ON THE INTERNET (MARCH 23rd, 2011)
Sent to Dan by a mate, Dan was understandably excited by this video. As a Mass Effect fan that’s understandable. However, this went further. I have never played Mass Effect and was entirely unfamiliar with the characters or plot lines in it until I saw this video. Yet I can honestly say I’ve watched it maybe 30 times since it appeared on BTB in March (mostly in March). Frankly, Commander Shepard is rock and the universe needs him interfering.
Nori (Jed Brophy), Fili (Dean O' Gorman), Dori (Mark Hadlow), Bofur (James Nesbitt), Gloin (Peter Hambleton), Dwalin (Graham McTavish), Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), Balin (Ken Stott), Oin (John Callen), Bombur (Stephen Hunter), Bifur (William Kircher), Ori (Adam Brown) and Kili (Aiden Turner)
Thorin Oakenshield stands at the centre of his Merry Band, a set of Dwarves set on a quest many would never face. In response to the reaction to public reveals of theHobbit Warner Bros have revealed the complete Dwarf set. In response to a great many public reedits of the assembled dwarves as they were revealed in sets of of two’s and three, Peter Jackson has released his own collective image of the assembled band. Equipped with weaponry, food packs and instruments they are set on their journey to face Smaug and the Battle of the Five Armies. Not all will return but very few can remember who.
Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage)
Bombur (Stephen Hunter), Bofur (James Nesbitt) and Bifur (William Kircher)
Oin (John Callen) and Gloin (Peter Hambleton)
Balin (Ken Stott) and Dwalin (Graham McTavish)
Fili (Dean O' Gorman) and Kili (Aiden Turner)
Check the rest of our Hobbit coverage of our full breakdown of events in Hobbiton and Middle Earth (Wellington, New Zealand) as things have taken place.
Finally, after an extended time – we are beginning to see the images from the set of The Hobbit. Warner Bros. are being understandably coy in releasing any extensive images (steadily releasing small parts of the whole). 5 of the Dwarves have now been released and the designs and make up work is extensive. Two characters however that required the least amount of attention are two old friends, together at the start of a strange old adventure that will ultimately consume all of Middle Earth. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and Gandalf the Grey (one day to be Gandalf the White) have both been released by WB.
These are no surprise. The casting of Freeman was a nigh unquestionable piece of casting. He looks to have populated the character perfectly, originally played as his older self in LOTR by Ian Holm. It is with a steady heart that fans of LOTR have taken Freeman on board and these pictures confirm a harmless and fairly seamless continuation of the story of the most famous resident of Bag End.
McKellen of course reprises his role as Gandalf the Grey and WB have offered up a suitably relaxed image of the old wizard reclining at the base of some old tree. The question is this, while mainstay characters originally developed in the original LOTR films remain simple and conscise in appearance – how, when Jackson and his costume and make up department know that the globe will be watching, will they maintain a steady and even hand in the Dwarf design? All too easily expectation can lead to over working basic concepts. Will we see an overworked principle cast as SW I, II and III? Hard to say at this stage – but here is Dori, Nori and Ori and Oin and Gloin in full uniform. You judge….
There have been some pretty groovy hacks of the X-Box Kinect since the device hit the shelves last year and with Microsoft moving to a stance of supporting developers rather than penalizing them, it looks like we’re set to get even more before all’s said and done.
In this video the guys at The Technology Studio have combined the Kinect with a Pufferfish spherical display unit to create this rather creepy bit of Middle Earth fandom.
Since 1937 it is a book that has captured the imaginations of millions and introduced literary characters such as Bilbo Baggins, Smaug, Thorin Oakenshield and Gandalf. It spawned a broader, darker tome named The Lord of the Rings and in the early 21st Century it represented the basis for a set of films that were and are the epitomy of seamless storytelling and cinema and a benchmark in special effects technology making an audience forget that Middle Earth doesn’t exist. It revolutionised the tourist trade of an entire nation off the coast of Australia and and made JRR Tolkien and Peter Jackson household names.
I am very pleased to announce that initial filming on The Hobbit: There and Back Again has begun and that the cast and crew have already begun to express their genuine happiness at the beginning of what has been, at times, a project that may never have seen the light of day. Following disputes over royalties, threatened film studios, being potentially helmed by two genius directors, a union dispute, a major operation and an Earthquake finally, Bilbo Baggin’s journey has begun again for an entirely new generation. Collected below are the first photos to be sent from the set, including an old cast member, a new cast member and everyone’s favourite Director.
A very different Peter Jackson walks in to Bagend (Bilbo’s home in Hobbiton – still intact from the first film) after a long road back to the Director’s chair.
Peter Jackson at the seat he sat at so many years before at the beginning of the production of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (below).
…. and finally, the star Ian McKellan (Gandalf the Grey) posted the photo below (with James Nesbitt) from rehearsals with the caption ‘Bofur and Gandalf at our first Rehearsal.’
Beyond the Bunker will try to keep pace with the production as it goes on and bring you any major highlights over the next year and a half of filming before the release of the first installment some time in 2012 (hopefully Christmas).
Jackson’s assistant, Matt Dravitszki, told New Zealand’s Sunday Star-Times that production will last through 2012.
“We will be filming in our studios in Miramar, [Stone Street Studios at] Wellington, and in locations throughout New Zealand,” he said.
McKellen provided more specifics, writing that he found himself “in various places which are all the same place.”
“I was on flat land the Maori called Whataitai until renamed in 1872, Miramar, or ‘Behold the Sea,’ which is indeed nearby,” he wrote on his blog. “I was in Stone Street Studios in the heart of a modern suburb, with some light industry.
The first installment of “The Hobbit” is expected in December 2012, and the second will be released in 2013. According to online sources New Line Cinema has reportedly registered the following two titles:
The Hobbit: There and Back Again and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
… and so a very much intended and yet slightly unexpected journey begins. We’ll keep you posted as it goes.