FILM: The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug
CAST: IAN McKELLEN, Martin Freeman, RICHARD ARMITAGE, BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH, Evangeline Lilly, LEE PAC, LUKE EVANS, STEPHEN FRY, KEN STOTT, JAMES NESBITT, Orlando Bloom
DIRECTOR: PETER JACKSON
From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’, the second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular novel ‘The Hobbit’, by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The three films tell a continuous story set in Middle-earth 60 years before ‘The Lord of the Rings’, which Jackson and his filmmaking team brought to the big screen in the blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar-winning ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’.
‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, on an epic quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.
Having survived the beginning of their unexpected journey, the Company travels East, encountering along the way the skin-changer Beorn and a swarm of giant Spiders in the treacherous forest of Mirkwood. After escaping capture by the dangerous Wood-elves, the Dwarves journey to Lake-town, and finally to the Lonely Mountain itself, where they must face the greatest danger of all — a creature more terrifying than any other; one which will test not only the depth of their courage but the limits of their friendship and the wisdom of the journey itself — The Dragon Smaug.
Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, with Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins, and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield.
‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’, the first film in ‘The Hobbit’ Trilogy, was released in late 2012 and became a billion dollar success worldwide, inspiring fans from every generation and spawning renewed interest in the timeless masterpiece by J.R.R. Tolkien on which the Trilogy is based.
“The world of Tolkien is so rich,” says filmmaker Peter Jackson. “It’s almost like you’re turning the page of a history book, going back into that world to a new chapter and seeing new characters, creatures, and places that you haven’t been to before.”
In adapting ‘The Hobbit’ into three fully rounded motion pictures, Jackson and his screenwriting collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, along with Guillermo del Toro, found they had the freedom to avoid having to cut or condense the narrative of the book while also incorporating material from the 125 pages of appendices that Tolkien included at the end of ‘The Lord of the Rings’. With these extensive notes about the environment and politics of Middle-earth during the time of ‘The Hobbit’, Tolkien provided vital connective tissue between Bilbo Baggins’s journey and the ultimate struggle for Middle-earth chronicled in ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
For the filmmakers who a decade ago brought that three-volume opus to the screen with ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy, ‘The Hobbit’ Trilogy presented them with an irresistible journey of their own: to fully explore the mysteries and dangers both hinted at and fully described in both the appendices and ‘The Hobbit’, while not compromising the tone of what was essentially written as a book for young people.
“The challenge of making these films is remaining true to the spirit of the book while also transitioning to the flavour and style of ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ and we were very aware of the tonal differences,” notes screenwriter and producer Fran Walsh. “‘The Hobbit’ is a much more playful book, but in the latter half of the novel, some of the heavier and darker themes that Tolkien developed in the later trilogy are really coming into play — the nature of power and courage, of greed and sacrifice. So it felt natural that the second film would have that slightly darker tone.”
FILM: THE FIFTH ESTATE
CAST: BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH, DANIEL BRÜHL, ANTHONY MACKIE, DAVID THEWLIS, ALICIA VIKANDER, PETER CAPALDI, CARICE VAN HOUTEN, DAN STEVENS, STANLEY TUCCI, LAURA LINNEY
DIRECTOR: BILL CONDON
In 2010, a website dedicated to protecting whistleblowers released an avalanche of classified US documents that triggered a new age of high-stakes secrecy and explosive news leaks. Now, in a dramatic thriller based on real events, ‘The Fifth Estate’ reveals the quest to expose the deceptions and corruptions of power that turned this Internet upstart into one of the 21st century’s most fiercely debated organization.
The story begins as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl) team up to become underground watchdogs of the privileged and powerful. On a shoestring, they create an online platform that allows whistleblowers to anonymously leak covert data, shining a light on the dark recesses of government secrets and corporate crimes. Soon, they are breaking more hard news than the world’s most legendary media organizations.
But when Assange and Berg gain access to the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in U.S. history, they find themselves at odds as they struggle with a defining question of our time: what are the costs of keeping secrets in a free society — and what are the costs of exposing them?
“It may be decades before we understand the full impact of WikiLeaks and how it revolutionized the spread of information,” says director Bill Condon.
“With events still unfolding, this film does not aim to be the conclusive statement on the topic. Instead, we set out to create a drama that explores the challenges of transparency and that, we hope, enlivens and enriches the conversations WikiLeaks has provoked.”