The Battle of the Five Armies

March 2, 2014

[SOM #62]

This is the first impressions review of The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. Next year we will be covering all three movies with a deeper focus on production in our Extended Edition podcasts. If you've just joined us for Digital Drift you can of course hear the reviews of the Lord of the Rings and first two Hobbits on the Digital Gonzo section of the podcast feed.  

It's been hard-going for some of us to say a last goodbye to the Weta films. The fact that they've divided audiences far more than the original trilogy exacerbates the isolation that comes with this. Experience the wrath and ruin of dragon fire. Watch an obscene amount of gold drive an essentially decent dwarf to insanity. Witness five pages of battle written by Tolkein get fully expanded into a war among the species' of Middle-earth. Feel the loss and grief of these events from the many perspectives beyond just that of Bilbo Baggins as the scope of this project hammers home. 

Joining Sharon and I are Chris Eason of GameBurst, who's been with us every step of the way on the Middle-earth series. Chris brings along his colleague James Batchelor, returning for the first time since An Unexpected Journey. Finally Drift community member Glen Watts returns for the first time since The Lego Movie.

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The Desolation of Smaug

March 1, 2014

[SOM #61]

Welcome back to the ninth part of the Middle-earth series of Gonzo podcasts. To any newcomers, the first episode was a prologue, focusing on the books and the animated films, the next six were two-part super in-depth reviews of the Lord of the Rings films, following that was a first impressions round-table of the then just recently viewed theatrical edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, a tone we will be reprising with its follow-up, and the eighth was a Sound of Gonzo celebration of the music of Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings scores.

If you are filled with apathy about these films or boundless spite towards their creators, these are not the podcasts for you. We like them.

With me once more are Chris Eason, of GameBurst and Sharon Shaw of Do Try This at Home. 

Next December, if Gonzo is still around we should bring you a theatrical edition podcast of film three: There and Back Again, and the following December at the end of 2015, after the release of the last Extended Edition Blu Ray we will potentially be covering the whole trilogy again with the depth and familiarity we possessed during the Lord of the Rings shows, having had years worth of access to the appendices and a full overview of the trilogy as a whole. If that's the case then you could count on a Hobbit Sound of Gonzo as well.

Fans of exciting prologues to epic book series' would do well to go to Gonzo Planet and download the audio drama of The Cartographer's Handbook.

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An Unexpected Journey

February 28, 2014

[SOM #60]

For the first time in our series we cannot look at the film we are delving into in retrospect of the entire trilogy or with the deeper familiarity with its creation that the extended edition extras grant us. So this is a first impressions round-table with as much as possible on what we thought about the inaugural installment in the new Hobbit Trilogy. 

For those who haven't heard the Digital Gonzo Lord of the Rings podcasts, I heartily recommend you go back and listen to the first seven shows. They're an incredibly in-depth and detailed exploration of a film series I place above all other cinema. For those looking for a negative review of the Hobbit, you'd better stroll on and search elsewhere. We do call the creators on the flaws we've found but this is pretty much a Weta love-in once again. Also this is the first of this series where we fulfill our voracious need to swear so those with little children listening, be warned. 

With me once again are Sharon Shaw of DorkCast and Chris Eason of GameBurst. Joining us from the Return of the King shows is Paul Gibson of Gonzo Planet, and making his first foray into the Middle-earth podcasts; Mr James Batchelor of MCV Magazine and GameBurst. 

We'll be back next week with The Sound of Gonzo: Lord of the Rings Edition which will round off this series until December when Show #9 will be an extended edition podcast focusing on An Unexpected Party with myself and my guests having seen the longer cut, watched the extras and being able to discuss matters in retrospect of the second film. The week after will be a theatrical edition round-table podcast on The Desolation of Smaug. 

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The Return of the King

February 28, 2014

[SOM #59]

The board is set, the pieces are moving and the final battle for Middle-earth begins. In this episode we discuss the thankless task of expertly performing Denathor, Arwen’s ultimate decision and some of the shakier moments in the trilogy. This final film was the product of an insane amount of high pressure, respite-free work for Weta and it is testament to their brilliance that this still became the box-office triumph of the series.

By far the most emotionally draining of all the podcasts in this series and maybe the most complicated editing process for a film podcast that I've undertaken. There were several occasions where I fell apart and had to pick myself up again here. The most epic battle of all time concludes and the ring-bearer reaches Mount Doom. I can only hope that myself and my team did these films an iota of the true depth of discussion they deserve. 

With me at the end of all things are Sharon Shaw of DorkCast, Chris Eason of GameBurst and Paul Gibson of Gonzo Planet. This is the last of the Lord of the Rings movie reviews but not the final podcast. We still have an Unexpected Journey to discuss as a new trilogy begins, followed soon after by a sound of Gonzo episode devoted to the wonderful scores by Howard Shore.

With me for the concluding film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy are Sharon Shaw of DorkCast, Chris Eason of GameBurst and Paul Gibson, web wizard of Gonzo Planet. 

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The Two Towers

February 28, 2014

[SOM #58]

The middle of a trilogy is always going to be a tall order. You can't start and you can't stop. What you're delivering is an episode and the best you can hope for is some great characterization and memorable events, broadening the scope of the world you've already introduced. The Two Towers, especially in its extended cut manages this and more.

Things get tense as the battle for Helm’s Deep begins. Merry and Pippin try their best to motivate the most boring creatures on Middle-earth and Frodo meets a character given entirely new depth and purpose by the film series. We learn about Theoden’s complex relationship with both shame and pride, and what moment really pushed Smeagol over the edge, never to return from the powerful grip of Gollum.

With me for more Lord of the Rings are Sharon Shaw of DorkCast, Chris Eason of GameBurst and Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse.

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The Fellowship of the Ring

February 27, 2014

[SOM #57]

The Lord of the Rings begins in earnest. Starting with an epic retelling of Middle-earth history we set out to balance the attention to detail of major fandom with critical analysis, discussions on character development and notable aspects of the production. Setting out from the Shire, this episode will take you all the way to Rivendell meeting Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf, Saruman, Strider, Elrond and Arwen along the way. The operatic scoring of Howard Shaw remains an emotional touchstone throughout. 

Continuing where we left off, the Ring goes south, over and under the Misty Mountains culminating at Amon Hen where the Fellowship is broken from within. Character discussions include Boromir and Galadriel and the epic confrontation with shadow and flame. 

With me are to continue the Lord of the Rings exploration are Sharon Shaw and Chris Eason of GameBurst.

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