This week I was invited to the premiere of The Hobbit, a prequel to the Lord of the Rings, designed at great expense to stretch a short, children's book into three epic Hollywood blockbusters. I agree with most critics: the movie is way too long, the plot too plodding. Peter Jackson seems to have gotten a case of Lucasinitis, when Ego gets in the way of good filmmaking. One aspect that does shine, much like it did in the LOTR trilogy, is the location. New Zealand is beaming, especially in the immersive new 48 frames per second format, where the 3D visuals take a clarity never before seen at the theatre. You may cringe at the artificial sheen on the make-up and props, but prepare for the "wows!" at the mountains, glaciers and forests of the South Island. A couple years ago, I went on a Lord of the Rings jet boat and horse riding tour outside Queenstown, visiting locations seen in the movies. Granted, CGI added all sorts of landmarks that don't exist in the real world, but seeing the ram's head above - at Dart River Stables overlooking the Misty Mountains - it was easy to channel my inner Frodo. Some movies make us want to visit places, some make us want to escape. The Hobbit might not always work as a film, but Middle Earth (aka New Zealand) never looked better.
Facts from the making of The Hobbit
Please come in. Mahalo for removing your shoes.
After many years running a behemoth of a blog called Modern Gonzo, I've decided to a: publish a book or eight, and b: make my stories more digestible, relevant, and deserving of your battered attention.
Here you will find some of my adventures to over 100 countries, travel tips and advice, rantings, ravings, commentary, observations and ongoing adventures.