REVIEW SYNOPSIS: Despite a relentless pace and impressive effects, most notably bringing to life the impressive dragon at the heart of the tale, part two of Peter Jackson’s adaptation seldom engages and often bores.

MY REVIEW:

SYNOPSIS: The hobbit Bilbo Baggins and a pack of dwarves continue their quest to liberate dwarvish treasure hoarded in the Lonely Mountain by the dragon Smaug.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: The dragon Smaug, arrestingly realized by CGI and voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch; well-realized renditions of the Elf Kingdom and Lake-town; winning if hammy performance by Stephen Fry as the Master of Lake-town; impressively staged action sequences…
CONS: …that go nowhere for most of the movie; needless chases that serve little purpose; blending of elements from both Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Silmarillion that fit together too unevenly; forced love story between elf Tauriel and the dwarf Kili; dialogue and character development that sit poorly with the action sequences.

In a niche in world letters there lived The Hobbit.  Not an unknown, unobserved niche filled with the trite borrowings of second-rate hacks and uninspired tales palely reflecting J. R. R. Tolkien’s much-loved children’s book, nor yet a dry, bare, desiccated niche where fantasy fans sucked dry the marrow of their favorite genre: it was The Hobbit, a groundbreaking work that, despite countless imitators (and outright theft), still holds the power to enthrall readers of all ages today.
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The Unauthorized Lord of the Rings

I bought my first copy of The Hobbit at a library sale in Quechee, VT when I was a kid. At the time, I remember noticing that the cover was graced with an ‘The Authorized Edition’, and it’s been something that I’ve noticed over the years. A couple of months ago, I wrote a column on Ace Books and their double novels, and came across the reason for the words: Ace had published an unauthorized version of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, citing a publishing loophole and sparking a publishing row that had some pretty profound implications on the fantasy publishing field.

There’s the common narrative that the book was stolen outright, but digging a little deeper finds that there’s quite a bit more to the story than Ace’s edition.

Go read The Unauthorized Lord of the Rings over on the Kirkus Reviews blog.

Mythgard Institute has posted the schedule for their Spring 2013 courses.

They include the following juicy programs for genre lovers:
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Tuesday Tune: Christopher Lee (Saruman) Sings Treebeard´s Song

A tip of the elf hat to The Great Geek Manual for finding this recording of Christopher Lee (who played Saruman in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings) singing “Treebeard’s Song”, a track from At Dawn in Rivendell: Selected Songs and Poems from The Lord of the Rings.

This nearly brought a tear to my eye. And by “tear” I mean “beer”. And by “eye” I mean “lips”…
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I have oddly fond memories of this animated treatment of Tolkien’s classic. Ralph Bakshi’s presentation may be a truncation of the trilogy, but for its day, the animation was fantastic. Watch and see for yourself…

[via Kevin Maher]

SF Tidbits for 8/25/09

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