All posts tagged orcs

The Hobbit’s Final Chapter

Published January 5, 2015 by vfdpixie



The Hobbit:  The Battle of the Five Armies

(2014, 2 hrs 24 mins)


Bilbo Baggins has endured goblins, stone giants, trolls, giant spiders, elves, Orcs, and the lure of a magical ring to end up at the end of his journey in The Hobbit:  The Battle of the Five Armies (originally called The Hobbit: There and Back Again).  The culmination of his struggles was well worth it, as the finale and epic battle neatly tied up his story and brings us to the doorstep of the LOTR trilogy.

The final chapter in the hobbit’s journey starts where the second film ended:  Smaug the dragon (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), who occupied the Lonely Mountain, has been awakened in the quest for the Arkenstone and promises plenty of fire and brimstone for the people of Laketown in retaliation. He lays waste to the town, but Bard (Luke Evans) escapes and kills him with the legendary Black Arrow.  He is now the leader of the surviving townsfolk, and takes them to the Lonely Mountain for shelter, which has been reclaimed by Thorin (Richard Armitage), the next in line to be king of the Dwarves.  Thorin has been mesmerized by all the gold, which has the curse of the dragon, or “dragon sickness”, making him mad with greed and mistrustful of everyone around him.  The Elven army comes to claim their share of the dragon’s treasure, and when they are denied, an ultimatum is set in motion.  Negotiations are plentiful and deals are broken, but all is forgotten as the Orcs’ massive monster army comes to decimate them all.  Throw in the continuation of a romance between dwarf Kili (Aiden Turner) and elf Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), a struggle between the evil team Sauron and the Nazgul versus the powerful alliance of Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Elrond (Hugo Weaving), Gandalf (Ian McKellen), and Saruman (Christopher Lee),  plus a bus-load of action, and you have a truly fantastical and gripping battle film.

My review of the second film was not exactly a glowing one, but I am happy to report that there was plenty of redemption in this last film.  The pacing was excellent, the monsters abundant, and the heart returned as we see characters fight, triumph, part ways, and gain each other’s respect and loyalty in Middle-earth.

I was surprised how much I like the more touching moments with Bilbo, but I enjoyed the battle scenes the most.  The CGI was seamless and I really loved the Orc battle giants as the smashed and crashed their way into battle.  I will say that I wished The Hobbit trilogy came out first.  I felt like I was going backwards with all the LOTR action happening after Bilbo and his journey.  I also thought that the CGI was almost too perfect looking at times, especially with skin texture, and the overall glowy, soft focus quality that seems to be a signature Middle-earth look.  I know they worked long, long hours to perfect the computer effects, but sometimes imperfect isn’t so bad either.  This pixie needs some graininess to her cinematic experience (yes, I’m weird like that).

I thought Richard Armitage did a great job becoming a mad dwarf king; there were scenes where you could see him physically transform in seconds from a kind leader to a crazy, suspicious king.  I also enjoyed the characterizations of my favourite but nasty dragon Smaug, Tauriel the elven riot grrrl, Alfrid the weaseling Laketown counselor (Ryan Gage), and Azog, the evil Orc leader (Manu Bennett).

Although it may have taken some liberties with the Tolkien story to create a cohesive film, The Battle of the Five Armies was a satisfying and exciting final adaptation to a book I remembered from my childhood.


Favourite scene:  I haven’t done this in a long time, but I had to mention one scene in particular.  There is a very wide shot of the Laketown survivors on the shore listening to Bard as he instructs them to head to the mountain.  Around the lower left-hand corner of the screen is a dirty little dog, who doesn’t look distressed in the least.  Instead, it seems he is looking at what I imagine to be hundreds of crew members as they film this scene.  It is an unexpected cute moment that of course I, as the crazed animal lover, would notice.


Face Off Season 6 Episode 6: Orcs and Creepy Cryptids!

Published February 20, 2014 by vfdpixie

This episode, Cat congratulated her sweetheart Niko on his win.  She was worried about being on the bottom and wanted to prove that she had what it took to succeed in this competition.

For the next Foundation Challenge for immunity, the gang had to create a lead Orc and 9 of its warriors.  I love Orcs!  They are nasty, short-tempered and lots of scary fun.  BAFTA and Emmy award-winning makeup artist Howard Berger was the guest judge and he wanted to see great detail, attention to design, application and to make sure that the orcs were nasty looking.

In teams of two the artists got to work.  Chloe and George, Matt and Corrine, Graham and Tyler, Rashaad and Cat, and Niko and Daran all worked quickly to get their orcs finished.  Berger really like what Chloe and George did, as well as Matt and Corrine.  In the end, he chose Matt and Corrine as the top team because he thought they worked well together and the looks were film ready.  Corrine won immunity because of her paint scheme which lead the way for the entire concept.  After, the Orc clans charged the lot of them!

For the Spotlight Challenge, mysterious creatures, or cryptids, like Big Foot and the Loch Ness were the topic.  Once again in teams of 2, the artists had to choose location coordinates where a cryptid has been sighted, and bring it to life.  Their guest judge for this challenge was Doug Jones, creature actor extraordinaire! With films like Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth under his belt, his advice was to make sure the makeup was organic, felt natural, and easy to move and perform in.

Graham and Rashaad picked Australia’s Bunyip.  With tusks, feathers, flippers and a man’s body, they had a mixed bag of parts to work with.  They worked well together and did well with their time.  Doug thought that the concept worked.  With so many elements, the judges thought it came together cohesively and they exhibited great sculpting, as well as a great paint job and profile.  Glenn liked that they chose their elements well, calling it a “cool exercise in picking and choosing everything”.   They also liked the creature’s multiple rows of teeth and this put them in the top looks.

George and Niko picked Russia’s Vodyanoy.  With frog-like features and a fish body, the guys went aquatic all the way.  They scrambled to finish, battling a tough mold that everyone helped them open.  I still think this is one of the best bunch of artists for courtesy and good nature.  The guys incorporated Barracuda teeth for a cool, vintage looking creature.  The judges liked that there were details that had a reason, like the finned forearms.  Doug liked how the fins were consistent and the whole makeup looked balanced, and they all loved the “gorgeous” shapes on the head.

Chloe and Tyler created my favourite creature.  Hailing from the Amazon, the Mapinguari is an ape-like creature with one eye, red fur, and, wait for it, a mouth in its stomach.  Tyler had some fun and took a picture of Rashaad’s tongue for reference.  They really went for it and created something cool!  Glenn said he wanted to see Captain Kirk fight this monster.  He was so right!  This makeup also had a vintage feel that just worked.  The judges liked that they took ridiculous elements and made them believable. Doug loved the mouth and though it would perform well and Neville liked that the creature’s nipples implied eyes in relation to the stomach mouth.  Ve liked that the fun fur was matted, and they all loved the paint job in the mouth and tongue, in fact, Glenn thought it was the best ever paint job period.  They were in the top looks.

Daran and Cat worked on Mexico’s Chupacabra.  This dog-like creature has a snake tongue and leathery skin.  This paring was a mistake.  From the get-go, they had problems seeing eye-to-eye.  Cat had trouble getting her point across as Daran basically ignored her input and treated her like his assistant.  I had a little crush on him, but now he’s out in my books. He was borderline offensive, and Cat regretted not speaking up more.  Their makeup was not so great.  The judges thought it was sloppy and the spine was off-center.  The proportions were off, and the facial structure looked bad.  Doug also said there was limited mobility for the actor, and Glenn thought it was profoundly uninteresting and not creative. They were in the bottom looks.

Corrine and Matt got New Jersey’s Jersey Devil.  I’m not sure what happened, but it seemed like Corrine took it easy because she had immunity.  I think it was unintentional sabotage as Matt isn’t the strongest artist in the bunch.  He had trouble sculpting the animal features of the dog-like, part-man, part-kangaroo, winged creature.  She ended up taking over the sculpting, and while Matt wanted to do more with the makeup, Corrine decided to go more minimal, but she did manage to make a large set of fabric wings.  She hoped they would be safe, but the judges were not pleased with the results.  They thought there was too little done compared to the other designs, and that the wings looked like drapery, creating an unscary,”curtain winged demon”.  It also didn’t read dog-like to them.  They found themselves in the bottom looks.

The winning team was Chloe and Tyler.  The judges loved that the makeup was funny but believable and that all the elements came together to create something balanced.  Tyler won for his fantastic belly mouth.

In the end, Matt and Corrine were the ones in the hot seat.  Matt went home because he didn’t step up to create a signature element in the makeup.  The judges liked how he thought and wished him the best.  I couldn’t help feeling bad for him even though I wasn’t a huge fan of his.  I felt that he was left to flounder while Corrine took over with a half-hearted attempt that sent him home.  Oh well, I’m sure he learned a lot from the show and that he is fueled to carry on in the industry.

View From the Dark

Reviews and essays on genre film from a WOC perspective

Professor Chireau's Academic Hoodoo

a research blog on Africana Religions

Cinema Axis

Where All Things Film Converge


burke –verb (used with object), burked, burk·ing. to murder, as by suffocation, so as to sell the corpse to medical science

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

grotesque ground

Promoting the grotesque in cinema and literature.


Movies, thoughts, thoughts about movies.


A ranting woman's mind

The Tyranny of Tradition

Lamentations and Jeremiads 25 Years After The End Of History

What Are You Doing Here?

A Black Woman's Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.