Archive for the Tolkien Category

Release Dates: 2017 Edition

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Books, Games, Lists, Movies, Music, Street Fighter, Tolkien, Uncharted on March 3, 2017 by slateman

The usual ‘post so I can check back and remember’ release-date listing! This is for my interests only, really. I should mention it’s been a good start, with a great Kreator record and a solid outing for Overkill. RE7 was a spectacular game as well. However, I’ll be honest, I don’t see 2017 as being a tremendous year. There’s no major music on the horizon and movies??? That’s kind of frustrating. Surely something will be announced at E3, right?

Today: The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
07 Mar: The Americans (Season 5)
29 Mar: Proof Set 2017
14 Apr: Dimmu Borgir – Forces Of The Northern Night
16 Apr: The Leftovers (Season 3 – Final Season)
26 May: Bloodline (Season 3)
30 May: House Of Cards (Season 5)
01 Jun: J.R.R. Tolkien – The Tale Of Beren And Lúthien
23 Jun: Emperor/Slayer in Norway
30 Jun: Vintersorg – Till Fjälls Del II
xx Jul: Wintersun – The Forest Seasons
22 Aug: Uncharted 4: The Lost Legacy
19 Sep: Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite
31 Oct: Stranger Things
15 Dec: Star Wars: Episode 8 – The Last Jedi

Other Records
–A Perfect Circle
–Arch Enemy
–The Black Dahlia Murder
–Dimmu Borgir
–The Haunted
–Satyricon
–Skeletonwitch?

Other Shows?
–Taboo (Season 2?)
–Westworld (Season 2 – 2018)
–The OA (Season 2 ordered)

Tolkien: The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun – Not Bad!

Posted in Blog, Reviews, Tolkien on November 6, 2016 by slateman

tolkien_aotrou_itrounI’ve read all of the recent publications of the now-deceased-for-43-years author. And while I buy each and every one, that isn’t to say I enjoy them all. I actually found Beowulf nigh unreadable and The Fall Of Arthur a chore to read. The latter was only made easier by my experience with the tales. So, another entry into what formed Tolkien’s brilliant legendarium will be consumed, whether I like it or not. However, while the $25 purchase was read entirely on a Sunday morning, I found this one a likable and highly-readable lay. Much like his poems in The Lays Of Beleriand (of which, clearly, The Lay Of Leithian is the greatest, more on this below), this is a fun read which took me back to my first time reading Tolkien’s work. In fact, it’s possibly superior to the rather generic, “Such power, strength like a tower” portions which plagued some of his other lays. The Lay Of Aotrou And Itroun, steeped in British and Celtic folklore was a colorful read, albeit brief, and one which I would return to (unlike The Fall Of Arthur). I should also add that his take on Kullervo last year was likely my favorite of the recent releases.

Next year will mark 44 years since my beloved author’s death, but fear not, yet another entry into my library will inevitably be purchased. The Tale of Beren and Lúthien shall sit upon my shelf, next to this lovely copy of Aotrou And Itroun. While this tale has been told, both in my most-revered novel, The Silmarillion but also in the aforementioned The Lay Of Leithian. I suspect nothing new will be presented here, nor will it feature an overhauled made-for-novelization form like The Children Of Húrin did a decade before it. But return I must, to perhaps the most epic tale of Tolkien’s canon: The story of Beren the One-Handed and his nightingale Tinúviel. Just tell me where to place my money. And then tell me what Tolkien releases for the 45th anniversary of his death.

Release List: 2016’s Final Quarter

Posted in Blog, Books, DoDon Pachi, Games, Music, Resident Evil, Tolkien on October 21, 2016 by slateman

I had this as part of my first post in Sweden, but it keeps growing and I thought a separate post would do. This is a quick list of what’s coming out throughout the remainder of 2016 (and a little beyond). What was initially a rather lackluster year has turned out to be quite exciting, for music at least. Insomnium and Alcest just released stellar records and some promising ones are on the horizon. Gaming, however, seems a bit stagnant. Anyways, here’s the list:

Oct 11 – Rise Of The Tomb Raider
Oct 13 – Rez Infinite
Oct 14 – DoDonPachi: Daifukkatsu
Oct 23 – The Walking Dead (Season 7)
Oct 28 – Testament: Brotherhood Of The Snake
Oct 31 – Council Estate Electronics: Arktika
Nov 03 – J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
Nov 04 – Dark Tranquillity: Atoma
Nov 11 – In Flames: Battles
Nov 18 – Metallica: Hardwired…To Self-Destruct
Nov 18 – Lamb Of God: The Duke
Nov 23 – Alcest @ Pustervikbaren
Nov 25 – Einherjer: Dragons Of The North XX
Nov 25 – Witchery: In His Infernal Majesty’s Service
Nov 29 – Anne Rice: Prince Lestat & The Realms Of Atlantis
Nov 29 – Final Fantasy XV
Nov 30 – Vikings (Season 4 – pt 2)
Dec 16 – Amon Amarth @ Lisebergshallen
Jan 01 – Sherlock (Season 4)
Jan 15 – Homeland (Season 6)
Jan 24 – Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Feb ?? – Overkill: The Grinding Wheel
Mar ?? – Nintendo Switch
May 04 – J.R.R. Tolkien: Beren and Lúthien
Autumn – Red Dead Redemption 2

Kullervo – More Money

Posted in Blog, Books, Tolkien on August 16, 2015 by slateman

Kullervo
By the time Kullervo is released in 2016, it’ll have been 43 years since my beloved JRR Tolkien passed away. I can say his best work was posthumous; The Silmarillion is my favorite book of all time. However, every year I’m duped into buying something…and Kullervo will prove no different. Christopher Tolkien’s last two publications, The Fall Of Arthur and Beowulf were both short on content, long on essays and neither were particularly compelling reads. They look great on my bookshelf. I enjoy having them in my collection, but I don’t love either and I never finished The Legend Of Sigurd & Gudrun. Now, The Children Of Húrin is great, but I’d read most of it in both my favorite book and in Unfinished Tales.

So, while Kullervo’s concept sounds nice, we cannot forget it was written 100 years ago. Tolkien’s works from that time, such as The Book Of Lost Tales (1 and 2) are not my favorite. I’ll admit I look forward to this tragic tale. However, I’ll keep my expectations in check.

The Pros & Cons Of The Hobbit Trilogy

Posted in Best / Worst, Lists, Movies, Reviews, Tolkien with tags , on December 30, 2014 by slateman

307252id1L_TheHobbit_TBOTFA_Teaser_27x40_1Sheet.inddNow that The Hobbit is done, we can look back at the trilogy that is a miracle to even exist. I recall the promise of it coming out being squelched by lawsuits. Now that the trilogy has ended, there is plenty to mull over. The verdict has come and it isn’t pretty. Rotten Tomatoes lists the finale as the worst of the three movies. I’ve heard of at least two comparisons to Episode I – just about the worst analogy a multi-part film could receive. It’s not quite so bad, but some commentary is needed.

The most important part of an article such as this is to preface the entire lot by saying this trilogy was no LOTR. The book, the lighthearted feel, even the way it was filmed differed. Comparing a children’s tale to the “if we don’t destroy the ring, the entire world will cease to be” feel of LOTR would be utterly foolish. Having said this, by the conclusion of the series, I found this tone, the colors, the presentation to be a charming alternate to the darkness found in the first film trilogy.

Nothing is more exemplary than the barrel scene from the second movie. If you read the book, you’ll remember it was a consistent, silly tale of “Aww shucks, we’re in trouble again – Oh look at that! Bilbo saved the day!” Contrast that to, “OMFG darkness, Nazgûl, Sauron’s gonna kill everyone.” The movies’ entire atmosphere is representative of this.

Letting go of this comparison allows for a better appreciation, so just do it.

The Good

The Dwarves
The variation of the Dwarves in the book was limited to color and some simple personality traits. The film does a good job in at least visually differentiating each. Time is limited, clearly, so by the third movie, there were some whom I couldn’t name whatsoever (Bifur and Nori, for instance.) I feel Jackson did a splendid job at making a colorful cast work well in the constraints presented by film. I did quite appreciate the fact that Glóin looks like his son, Gimli.

Out-Of-Control Action
It’s safe to say that some scenes were almost ‘comic-book’y. Yes. Just in case you were forgetting already, This Isn’t LOTR. Read the book again to get a feel of how silly it all was.

Three Films
In the recent weeks, reviews have slammed Jackson and his expansive Hollywood rendition of the timeless 200-page book. Most state that two films (the original vision) would have sufficed. But let me say this…in the original book, Thorin, Fíli and Kíli were all killed in three sentences. The nephews were relegated to saying they died defending their uncle. A film translation cannot introduce main characters and kill them without some weight and gravity. And Thorin’s death would come how? By the hands of a normal Orc? By a stray arrow?

hobbit-azog

Enter Azog & Bolg
In the books, Azog was slain by Dáin after killing Thrór. In the extended version of The Desolation Of Smaug we’re given information about Thrór’s death by the hands of the orc-chieftain. While Azog’s involvement in The Hobbit trilogy was greatly expanded, it presented us with a very important nemesis.

I didn’t like the idea of Azog originally. Another CG character – but think about it…Tolkien created Azog and while his backstory isn’t fleshed out (much like countless other characters), his purpose in the book is legitimate. And Thorin has a genuine interest in him. Who is the main antagonist in the story otherwise? Peter Jackson took an underused enemy, beefed him up and gave the trilogy a veritable (though not the most innovative) main enemy. It had to be done and while it’s far from canon, it ties in well.

Oh, Bolg was Azog’s son. He fought in the final battle and was slain by Beorn. In the movie, Legolas took care of him, but that’s OK. I guess Legolas needed to have some purpose (more on that below).

Extended Editions
We still wait for the last film’s extended version but I look forward to Alfrid dying! I liked the first movie’s extra footage but the second’s was far more powerful. It included much more about Thrain and Thrór. The potency and overarching importance of the magic rings is played out. Beorn has his time in the sun and seeing him next to Gandalf next to Bilbo was a cool height comparison!

Seeing the the Witch-King of Angmar’s burial grounds, the added scenes in Mirkwood and even the naming of Bilbo’s sword Sting were all nice touches that added to the fidelity of the motion picture as well as effective tie-ins to the LOTR trilogy.

The Bad
I positively hate how Galadriel handles things in Dol Guldur in the last movie. However, in The Silmarillion, details are given about the White Council, though few they are. Essentially, while Galadriel is part of the council in some form, she wasn’t there for the actual event. All that’s told is that Saruman, Gandalf and Elrond “assailed Dol Guldur and drove Sauron from his hold.” You can understand Peter Jackson’s desire to include this portion in the films. It ties this trilogy with LOTR and also gives Gandalf something to do. That is why he left the party at the edge of Mirkwood after all. So, having this is ok, but man, I hate the weird magic they give to Galadriel (but it’s not much different than what she was like in LOTR. And, having that meeting in the first Hobbit in Rivendell with Saruman, Gandalf, Galadriel and Elrond is pretty cool.

hobbit-tauriel

Tauriel
I don’t know of a single reader of the book who enjoys Tauriel’s presence in these films. Her acrobatics were entertaining. Many cite Tauriel as one of the worst decisions of the movies but I’ll just say one other name. Arwyn. I still haven’t a clue how it was the she was dying in the LOTR trilogy. As a purist, I hated her entire storyline and Tauriel is no better. She is Hollywood’s love story and as dreadful as it was, I understand the need to have this type of character.

Legolas
I realize time doesn’t pass the same way for Elves but it’s hard to hide the 10 years of age in Orlando Bloom’s face. To counter this, some film tricks have been used but he looks less natural. Visuals aside, my biggest issue with him was his lack of purpose. The entire second film just made him seem like a whiny boy slighted by his true love.

The WTF?

Thranduil’s Goodbye
Really? Go find Strider? That’s absurd, ridiculous and unnecessary.

Gandalf Knows?
I look forward to the extended edition to tell me more about this. I’m guessing he may think Bilbo has one of the Dwarf rings of power. This was another unnecessary attempt at a tie-in to LOTR.

Worm Things?!?!
I guess the Orcs need a way to travel. I don’t remember any worm things…

Alfrid
He kept getting screentime in the third movie but never died! Perhaps the extended edition? He was annoying but the comic relief was appreciated by one of my daughters. I expect this was the goal, but like Tauriel, readers groaned at his inclusion and recurring appearance!

It’s Over
Regardless of what you think, we’re done. The Silmarillion will and can never be made into a film so let’s not even pretend there’s hope. So, that’s it. Two trilogies that were dreams in the first place have been issued and while The Hobbit will never receive critical fame, I thought all three movies were fun. I enjoyed them all in some fashion and each has its own merits. I can’t wait for the extended finale. While most will disagree with all of what I wrote above, I’m a reader. I’ve read everything at least three times. I love my stuff and was highly entertained by the motion pictures. For me…that’s good enough!

Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor – GotY?

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Tolkien on October 12, 2014 by slateman

Middle-earth™: Shadow of Mordor™_20141011222550With this year’s Album of the Year likely coming out this month (Exodus or At The Gates), it’s fitting that the year’s potential Game of the Year is an autumn release as well! As my first purchase for the PS4, (Well, I sold Killzone) I didn’t know what to expect. At more than 24 hours into this title, I’m sold. This game is the shit.

And, rather than go through all its pros, I’ll just give one example. I’ve just begun a one-on-twenty battle with a Warchief, the game’s premiere enemy. This guy is tough and I’m beating down orcs left-and-right as I struggle with this guy. What happens next? Another Uruk Captain emerges, then a second. My fight is now against three big-time enemies and I’ve been brought to the brink of death. A life-saving effort keeps the fight going and then…? A THIRD Captain arrives. My hands are sweating and I notice, for the first time in what seems like years, my heart is racing. It’s pounding so hard as I try to attack, parry, vault and put death finishers on the lesser orcs. One captain dies, another flees and the third succumbs with his head severed. I watch it float in slow-motion, a haunting mess of blood and glory. The Warchief weakens and I’m on my last legs. Perfection is required. He attacks, I parry, and another floating head is my trophy, alongside an epic rune.

The dust settles and I realize just how intense that was. It was friggin’ hard! How many games have gotten you in a panic in recent years? It was spectacular and I was convinced – this is one of the best games I’ve played in years! Now to 100% that bastard! Might actually go for a platinum on this one…it’s that good.

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug Poster

Posted in Blog, Books, Movies, Tolkien with tags , on June 16, 2013 by slateman

hobbit2-posterWhile The Lord Of The Rings was truly a cinematic event, I find The Hobbit films to be more of a fun jaunt. I’m psyched about the remaining two, but they certainly don’t have that epic grandeur that the LOTR films did. That’s OK, because the book was just a fun, lighthearted adventure. So, I’m quite looking forward to the film this December and here’s a poster for it. Sorry for no updates in a long time. Not like anyone is reading anyways!

Incredible Tolkien Art!

Posted in Artwork, Best / Worst, Blog, Downloads, Tolkien with tags , on January 9, 2013 by slateman

Jian Guo aka Breathing2004 has published some of the most amazing art I’ve ever seen. His newest piece, dedicated to The Hobbit, tells the tale from an interwoven tapestry look and is nothing short of stellar. He had several other pieces of art devoted to The Lord Of The Rings and all are spectacular. I am so impressed, I’ll be considering purchasing some prints of this remarkable work. Each really needs a few moments of reflection; take a minute to look at these, they are so awesome!!!

A Long, Long Adventure

A Long, Long Adventure

Birthday Party Of Baggins

Birthday Party Of Baggins

Deep Into Moria

Deep Into Moria

Gates Of Argonath

Gates Of Argonath

Grey Havens

Grey Havens

I Am No Man

I Am No Man

Lament Of Evening Star

Lament Of Evening Star

Night Of Planning An Adventure

Night Of Planning An Adventure

Palace Of King Theoden

Palace Of King Theoden

Rest In Gildor's Forest

Rest In Gildor’s Forest

Welcome From Lothlorien

Welcome From Lothlorien

Review: The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey

Posted in Books, Movies, Reflection, Reviews, Tolkien, Video with tags on December 28, 2012 by slateman

poster-gandalfIn the 1990s I started reading Tolkien. In the 2000s, we were given the spectacular film conversions of The Lord Of The Rings. In the 2010s, we have another epic journey to embark upon.

I was so excited about this movie. In fact, no movie since Return Of The King had me so compelled to plunk down my cash and spend hours in a theater. Of course, in the ’90s I was young and now I’m riddled with responsibility. I think that’s what makes this more profound for me. Tolkien’s masterpieces follow us through our own epic journeys.

Perhaps this is all too dramatic, but as the New Line logo came and went, Howard Shore’s familiar tunes entered my ears and I returned to Middle Earth, it was so reassuring to see certain images on the screen precisely as I have seen them in my head for 15 years. It was all too amazing to see Erebor’s hoards of gold torn directly from the images my imagination conjured up.

While very few of the Dwarves really did the same for me, I loved their diversity (something hardly addressed in the book) and it was wonderful seeing Thorin change his opinion of Bilbo. Spanning three movies, I expected it to be slow. Martin Freeman’s portrayal of Bilbo was spot-on IMO, blundering yet innately brave, he was amazing. The scene with Gollum was another essentially identical to what I’d envisioned. I felt sadness for Smeagol, his pain and suffering. The meeting of Elrond, Gandalf, Galadriel and Saruman was total fiction, but for those of us who cared, it carried such weight. Thousands of years of knowledge, wisdom, power (and rings! All three elven rings, to be precise) all together in one meeting! And such a meeting in Rivendell for that matter! Again, it warmed my heart to return to this imaginary place. That may make no sense at all, but it was a remarkable feeling.

Dol Guldur, Radagast, Hobbiton, it was all great. I thought the Goblin King was too cheesy; I don’t understand the need to make him so goofy.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is no LotR. That’s quite fine by me. It is not without flaws but in so many ways it was exactly what I wanted…and needed. The Misty Mountains song was amazing and I’m posting Neil Finn’s version of Song of the Lonely Mountain below because it was so phenomenal.

I can’t wait to see it again…to see The Desolation Of Smaug in a year…to feel the sadness to leave Middle Earth like I did at the Grey Havens back in 2003. To say this is all more than just a movie, more than a book, more than just a passing interest would be to lie. And it’s all just begun. :D



The Hobbit: Trailer #2 – Getting Psyched!

Posted in Blog, Books, Movies, Tolkien, Video with tags on September 21, 2012 by slateman

This has been a pretty good week. The Yankees are playing last-place teams, which gives the sense of great success. I’m currently joy puking my face off. The Resident Evil 6 demo hit (thoughts soon) and a new trailer for The Hobbit has surfaced. I’m rather thrilled about all of these things but of course, I’m exceedingly excited to see what Peter Jackson has done with my beloved J.R.R. Tolkien novel.

I picked up Lord Of The Rings in the late 90s after a lifetime of desiring to read it. Considering my collection is massive (I should take a pic), it’s safe to say I love his stuff. I love the LotR film trilogy. Obviously I’m looking forward to The Hobbit.

The new trailer is exciting and gives a real glimpse of the light-hearted nature of the book. I’m curious to see Radagast, though through all my readings, I know (and care) rather little. The only real downside is knowing there are two other films, so Smaug and the massive Battle Of Five Armies aren’t shown. However, it also means that those two things should be given proper attention and not glossed over at all. Man…I’m even more psyched now that I got thinking about it! Definitely re-reading this soon, or, in the very least, listening to the audio book on the way to work. Less than three months!!!