Archive for the ‘Fun Things’ Category

Game of Thrones Season 5

March 16th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The new season of Game of Thrones will screen in this country at exactly the same time as it does in the United States and in many other countries around the world.

That means the first episode of season five will be on Sky TV channel SoHo at 1pm on Monday, April 13, Sky head of publicity Lisa Franklin said in a statement. 

I will be busy every Monday afternoon from 1 pm to 2 pm.

As well as the early-afternoon screenings, SoHo will repeat each episode in New Zealand at 8.30pm the same day.

Great move by Sky to show it simultaneously. People don’t want to wait half a day during which they read reviews.

Game of Thrones maker HBO said simultaneous screenings would take place in 170 countries and territories.

Good on HBO for also making the access rights available.


US politics cartoon of week 9.3.15

March 9th, 2015 at 3:46 pm by Lindsay Addie

I haven’t had the time to keep up with has been going here at Kiwiblog but I imagine the topic of the cartoon has been discussed already.

Hillary Clinton’s email server at her home is now a real problem for her as Gary Varvel observes.


© Gary Varvel – Found at Real Clear Politics

Now I’m not a Clinton hater and think that Bill Clinton despite his obvious faults was a better POTUS than G W Bush and Barack Obama. But that said the Clinton’s would have to be the equal of Richard Nixon when it comes to playing dirty, tricky, sneaky political games to keep ahead. If a GOP Secretary of State did what Hillary has done and set up their own email server they would have been crucified by the US media.

As for Hillary as a presidential candidate, she looks more and more like in political terms she’s over the hill. If I was a Democrat I’d be concerned.

Tags: ,

Help the Kiwis win

February 26th, 2015 at 11:45 am by David Farrar

Artist Signal has a contest for a band to win $10,000. The lead keeps swapping between two bands – Remedy Drive from Nashville and Into The East from Invercargill.  Locals tell me they are very talented, crazy and funny.

If you want to help a Kiwi band win, follow the link and take ten seconds to vote.


No tag for this post.

US politics cartoons of the week 23.2.15

February 23rd, 2015 at 5:53 pm by Lindsay Addie

I’ve been rather tied up by ‘real life’ to read any of the goings on here at Kiwiblog over the last week let alone post but here are couple of cartoons that tickled my funny bone.

The first relates to the US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf saying that one issue with the ISIS terrorists is that they’re unemployed. They do have a job, it is killing anyone who doesn’t agree with their fanatical ideology.


© Michael Ramirez: found at Real Clear Politics

The second cartoon is about Vice President Joe Biden getting over friendly with the new US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter’s wife at an event in Washington DC last week. Whatever his motivations this did have a bad look.


© Gary Varvel: found at Real Clear Politics

Tags: ,

I predicted this

February 19th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Bondage movie Fifty Shades of Grey has been dominating the Kiwi box office.

The film, depicting a sadomasochistic relationship between the two central characters, took $1.41 million on its opening New Zealand weekend, which is a record for any R-rated film.

Once Family First called for a boycott of the film, I predicted it would be a box office success. They really should be paid commission!

Internationally, Fifty Shades of Grey banked US$172m (NZ$229m) on its opening weekend, breaking box-office records for the month of February, for a movie made by a woman, and for an R-rated movie.

The film has a 26% average rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It will probably be the most widely watched yet critically damned film in history.

Tags: ,

US politics cartoons of the week: 16.2.15

February 16th, 2015 at 2:34 pm by Lindsay Addie

Whilst the standing down of Brian Williams from NBC continues to tickle the funny bone of the US cartoonists I’ve chosen one cartoon about Obama’s Iraq policy and the other about Jeb Bush.

The first is by Michael Ramirez and highlights an issue with Obama’s foreign policy and the lack of properly defined endgame. The word overcautious comes to mind.


© Michael Ramirez: found at Real Clear Politics


The other cartoon by Andy Marlette makes fun of Jeb Bush’s strategy of seemingly trying to win the GOP presidential nomination by hoovering up the big $’s early on from the key GOP donors. He hasn’t as yet convinced me that his policy ideas are winners. He is a winner in the piling up the campaign funds contest though.


© Andy Marlette: Found at Real Clear Politics

Tags: ,

US politics cartoons of the week – 9.2.15

February 9th, 2015 at 11:52 am by Lindsay Addie

Plenty of topics for the US cartoonists to choose from, anything from the US debt, to ISIS, the measles and Brian Williams!

The first cartoon I’ve selected is about the massive US debt and Obama’s attitude towards it.


© Gary Varvel: Found at Real Clear Politics

The other cartoon is for all the Cheney haters out there! It compares Brian Williams to Dick Cheney re Iraq. I’m not a Cheney hater but I can still see the funny side of this one.


© Nick Anderson: Found at Real Clear Politics

Tags: ,

A terrifying sight in London

February 8th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar


From Matthew Steele on Twitter.

Patrick Gower has gone global and viral for the Waitangi Day pub crawl in London. I love it.


Garner’s story

February 7th, 2015 at 10:05 am by David Farrar

Duncan Garner writes:

The event reminds me of something that happened to me in my first year at Parliament in 1996. I had the unfortunate (or fortunate) experience of being involved in something similar – without the social media fallout.

I wasn’t the bar patron that night. I was one of two people in the fishbowl.

It was after a National Party “caucus event” (code for a boozy night). In those days these shindigs went into the wee small hours and most people got well and truly liquored.

As I recall I left the party with a (girl) friend and ended up rolling around on the floor of a junior Cabinet minister’s office in Bowen House, next to Parliament.

It was late, the lights were on but it was dark outside. I couldn’t see out – so I had a false sense of security.

As we left the office we went past the patient cleaners in the corridor who were waiting and I jumped into the lift and went home. When I arrived at work the next day my boss Linda Clark pulled me aside and laughed in my face.

“Garner,” she cried, “I know everything.”

How could she possibly know what I had got up to last night? There was no social media then, our cellphones didn’t send photos and the internet barely worked.

But she’d got a phone call from Parliament’s chief pigeon – Kiwiblog’s David Farrar.

He knew everyone and news had travelled fast. He couldn’t wait to tell my boss.

Heh, Duncan’s story is correct, except for one detail.

I didn’t call Linda. I called Duncan to give him a friendly hassle and Linda answered his phone. I said I’d call back when he was in. Linda asked if she could help. Her assumption was that I might have some political news for them for a possible story.

I replied to Linda that I was just calling to hassle Duncan, and Linda put 2+2 together in a millisecond and exclaimed “Farrar, what is her name?”. I laughed and declined to confirm or deny but then Linda did several minutes of her famous interrogation style and eventually I folded, she got the details out of me, and yes poor Duncan arrived at work to have Linda loudly proclaiming knowledge of what had happened.

So guilty to telling Linda, but only because she answered Duncan’s phone as he wasn’t in yet!’

Tags: ,

Auckland Council pays $200,000 for a cock and balls

February 6th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar


Photo (c) Nick Reed, NZ Herald

The Herald reports:

A $200,000 public sculpture being installed in Auckland is causing a stir with locals, who say it resembles a penis.

More than resembles I’d say!

The Auckland Council-commissioned Transit Cloud has been created as part of a project to breathe new life into traditionally working class New Lynn.

Will Mayor Len Brown launch the sculpture? That would be a photo op!

“What the hell is that? It’s certainly not a cloud. It looks like a penis,” said Joy Dale, of Mt Roskill.

She said the sculpture was a waste of ratepayers’ money and the council would be better spending the money on more security and patrols in the area.



Beware the monster slide?

February 4th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Press reports:

A giant slip n slide event which drew 3000 people to Sumner yesterday descended into chaos as unhappy customers spent up to two and a half hours queuing to get a turn.

Concerns about safety were also raised and a 54-year-old man was taken to Christchurch Hospital by the Westpac rescue helicopter  with suspected spinal injuries after being knocked over by another slider at the bottom of the 250-metre slide.

The Christchurch Monster Slide event was the first of a series being held around New Zealand, with another one scheduled for Nelson today. 

Ticket prices varied from $15 for three slides up to $99 for 10 slides and special lane access.

Waiting two and a half hours for a go is not anyone’s idea of fun. It should not be difficult for them to work out the maximum number of tickets to sell, to ensure that queues are manageable.

Also the ticket prices are misleading. I purchased tickets for the Wellington event and on top of the advertised fee, you also have to pay a booking fee, compulsory insurance and a credit card fee. That increases the price by a staggering 50% or so.

Half of the Christchurch event’s 40 volunteer slide marshalls had not turned up which Templeton said had put a lot of pressure on the existing staff.

He was considering employing marshall volunteers for future events.

You’re raking in money from selling tickets/ Damn right you should hire staff rather than depend on volunteers.

No tag for this post.

Bring back Romana?

February 3rd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A former Doctor Who actor says a woman should never fill the role but he’s OK if the time lord’s ethnicity changes.

The fifth doctor, Peter Davison, who has been a public supporter of UK Labour and once voiced an election ad for the party, wants the character to remain male.

“My instinct as a viewer is that the Doctor is a male of the species even on Gallifrey (Dr Who’s home planet) and probably shouldn’t undergo a sex change”, he told a reporter in his Sydney hotel room.

I agree. Doctor Who is a male Gallifreyan. There is a difference between changing appearance and changing gender. Having said that, the Master appears to have changed.

Though Davison doubts a woman in control of the Tardis would be appropriate, he says he’s sure the character will one day be non-Caucasian.

But, the actor to break the mould will have to do so completely on merit, he said.

“Whether or not you have a black or ethnic actor playing Doctor Who is entirely down to the best actor for the role,” he said.

“I don’t think it should just be about `let’s pick a black actor just for the sake of doing it’.”

Now they have got rid of the limit of 12 regenerations, I’m sure there will be one also.

The actor, who was cast in Law and Order UK after his Doctor Who stint, says he’d like female time lords other than the doctor to play a bigger part.

I agree. Time to bring back Romanadvoratrelundar!


Famous in a bad way

February 2nd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar


Stuff reports:

A late-night romantic encounter in a Christchurch insurance office on Friday night  that was witnessed by bar patrons across the road could cost the couple their jobs.

The Marsh Ltd employees, who left the lights on in the Papanui Rd building, were filmed and photographed by patrons at the Carlton Bar and Eatery who posted images on Facebook and Twitter.

The photos have attracted thousands of likes and hundreds of shares.

“The whole pub knew about it and was watching, while they were totally oblivious to it. And afterwards celebrating with wine,” one man posted. 

The wine afterwards is a classy touch.

“They should have turned the lights out,” said another. 

Indeed. Or gone to someone’s home, or a hotel.

The Herald also reports:

Many people took photos and posted them on social media, which have attracted hundreds of likes and comments. The band playing at the Carlton stopped playing and let everyone in the bar watch, some posters said online.

“There were about 150 people watching at one point. It was awesome,” one poster said.

The band couldn’t compete with this entertainment.

Marsh Ltd chief executive Grant Milne found out about the incident this morning after the images surfaced on social media.

He confirmed that the two people were Marsh employees.

I hope they don’t lose their jobs, as the embarrassment will be punishment enough. They will have to live with:

  • Constant jokes from their colleagues
  • The knowledge 150 people watched them at it
  • Near inevitable publication of their names

UPDATE: I hear the gentleman involved in married with kids. If this is correct, then much less funny, and very sad for the family. All the more amazing they didn’t turn the lights off!


US politics cartoons of the week: 2.2.15

February 2nd, 2015 at 2:29 pm by Lindsay Addie

There was a wide variety of topics to keep the cartoonists busy this week. The Obama administration and Mitt Romney have been selected this week.

The first by Michael Ramirez mocks the Obama administration’s bad habit of falling over their words in regards to who is a terrorist and who isn’t.


© Michael Ramirez: found at Real Clear Politics.


Mitt Romney and on-again off-again 2016 presidential campaign.  ‘Deflategate’ refers to the New England Patriots NFL ball tampering scandal by Steve Benson.


© Steve Benson: found at Real Clear Politics.

Once it dawned on Romney the financial backing and grass roots support wasn’t there from inside the GOP he wisely decided to give it away.

Tags: ,

US politics cartoon of the week: 26.1.15

January 26th, 2015 at 1:15 pm by Lindsay Addie

Most of the cartoons from the US have been about the  New England Patriots and the “deflate-gate scandal” or Obama’s state of the union (SOTU) speech. This weeks cartoon is about the latter.

The illusion to the President as Robin Hood refers to his idea of taxing the rich to give to the middle class. It was amusing to observe John Boehner sitting through most of the speech with look of a man who thought he was being fed rotten fish and was trying to hide the fact.


© Gary Varvel: Found at Real Clear Politics

Sadly the SOTU has become a spectacle that is nothing more than a campaign stop for the White House incumbent. It has been like this for a number of years. The Economist has an op-ed on the SOTU and reminds readers that in an earlier time for example under Nixon the speech was an effective way for the President to attempt to advance policy goals and start an intelligent policy debate on issues of the day.

For a bit of context, it is useful to revisit the reception of old state of the union addresses. I’ve been watching and reading a few by Richard Nixon who, as a Republican president from 1969 to 1974, faced some similar hurdles: an endless and dispiriting war; a mysterious and haunting foreign foe; a sluggish economy; a Congress dominated by the opposing party. Interestingly, Nixon’s speeches promoted some similar priorities.

The result was progress.

But in fact many of his ideas became policy, even with Democrats controlling the House and Senate. The new Congress that had just been sworn in that January 1971 could have found it useful to make Nixon look like a failure, with a presidential election ostensibly lurking around the corner (though two years back then were far longer in politics than they are now). But in fact they passed a lot of landmark legislation that continues to benefit Americans today.

The article ends with these words.

One can’t help but feel wistful for an era when a president’s ideas might’ve been debated on their merits, and when lawmakers took their job of making law seriously. It has become hard to remember a time when truculence wasn’t the surest route to political power, and when policies weren’t simply dismissed as “partisan” before being thrown away.

I don’t expect the current divisive mind-set in Washington DC to change anytime soon.

Tags: , ,

US politics cartoons of the week: 19.01.15

January 19th, 2015 at 1:28 pm by Lindsay Addie

There have been two topics this week that have kept the US cartoonists occupied. One is terrorism and those Charlie Hebdo cartoons. The other has been the US 2016 presidential election. With Mitt Romney making noises again about standing for the third time he has been on the receiving end more than once.

The first cartoon shows Romney as a Chameleon.


© Matt Wuerker: Found at


The second by Lisa Benson has the GOP and Democrats playing cards.


© Lisa Benson: found at RealClearPolitics

Both Romney and Clinton have the same problem which is they have been around for a long time so no matter what they’ve achieved they’re both big targets when opponents indulge in the inevitable negative campaigning. Kerry in  2004, McCain 2008 and Romney in 2012 all suffered from this problem.

Neither should be discounted though as both could be formidable. Hillary may not have a lot of competition in the Democratic primaries which would mean she won’t put under too much pressure prior to the general election which may also reveal she isn’t ‘match fit’ when the actual campaign arrives in 2016. As for Romney, he had his chance in 2012 and couldn’t get the job done so his time may have past.

My guess is that the GOP will go for a candidate who has experience at Gubernatorial level and who hasn’t been around forever like both Hillary and Mitt.

Tags: ,

A Completely Dumb Brilliant Marvel Movie (with a Racoon and a Talking Tree)

January 6th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by Kokila Patel

by John Stringer (


I pretty much like anything Marvel, except this stupid comic (1969- ; self-title 1990). I have a pretty good collection of early 1960s Silver Age Marvel comics to prove it and DaughterofAwesome (aka Cypher) has met Stan Lee (so she’s on the quirky Xmas card and presents list). Comics can be a great investment. See here: $100k Comic Found in Wall.

The recent comic-to-movie transitions have been mostly successful following the travesties of the earliest Spiderman movies (1977). Iron Man, Cap. America, Thor, The Avengers, the two parallel Spiderman franchises (Tobey Maguire/Sam Raimi from 2002) are all pretty good interpretations propelling Marvel to a whole new level and empowering a completely new genre and creating a new audience. These reboots will replace the comics over the next generation, along with computer games and new media. Comics will become vestiges of collectible nostalgia for Baby Boomers and Gen. X and historic oddities for Gen. Y.  Who reads comics anymore, apart from the video store guy in The Simpsons or the Fatso pony-tail guy?


And so, having recently watched Guardians of the Galaxy on dvd at the insistence of WifeofAwesome and wondering WHY this Marvel comic was ever made in to a movie, I present the Guardians of the Galaxy Honesty Trailer. Because we need this. (I actually really enjoyed this 2014 movie, it was extremely watchable and really entertaining. I just hated the Racoon. Too Disney!). But, let the Honesty Video speak…

Guardians of the Galaxy. was one of the biggest (unexpected) movie successes of 2014, snobbed by reviewers, loved by fans at the box office. Of more interest, was that it was a genius departure from the Marvel cinematic universe. And the give-away about what was really going on with this movie, was the final scene, after the credits, when Howard Duck makes a cameo appearance (heralding a forthcoming movie? Please, no!).


Howard was a socially satirical cigar-smoking anthropomorphic duck from New Stork City on the planet Duckworld. He was a 1970s Marvel anti-hero superhero, a tongue-and-cheek lampoon of Marvel itself by Marvel.  A mash of Donald Duck, Daffy Duck and Marvel all-in-one, demonstrating that Stan Lee (and creators Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik) have great self-awareness and a robust sense of humour.

Guardians Of the Galaxy is pretty different from Captain America: The Winter Soldier and is perhaps ‘high’ on its own power but has the same tongue-in-cheek self-awareness and self-deprecating in-house jokes. In Guardians, one critic says Marvel is trolling its own world and “doles out middle fingers to the audience they know they have in the palm of their hands.” I’d agree with that. But the spaceships and vacuum of space wars are awesome.

You like superheroes? Well how about a movie that stars a stupid raccoon and a one-word speaking tree called Groot? (a rip-off of Tolkien’s Ent). Yup, that’ll work. The critic concludes, “And here’s the one finger salute, ‘the raccoon, the tree, the many-colored people and the white guy –who brings them together– made a metric crapton of money for Marvel.’ To which I say,

“People, it’s a movie based on a comic.  Just enjoy it. I did.  Immensely. A great holiday watch if you’re bored with the cricket.”

~John Stringer, Christchurch.

Tags: ,

US politics cartoons of the week: 3rd January 2015

January 3rd, 2015 at 9:21 am by Lindsay Addie

The US cartoonists have been particularly active over the holiday break so I’ve selected three cartoons.

The first makes fun of GOP leader Steve Scalise for allegedly giving a speech to a KKK audience in 2002. He claims he didn’t know. NB: toga party = costume party.


© Mike Luckovich – Found at Real Clear Politics


The second cartoon has Obama assessing the odds of Gitmo prisoners being a threat upon release.

© Michael Ramirez – Found at Real Clear Politics


Finally it wasn’t the Americans who busted the North Korean internet a couple of weeks ago…..


© Gary Varvel – Found at Real Clear Politics

[UPDATE]: Added the word ‘allegedly’ to the line above the first cartoon.


Merry Christmas

December 25th, 2014 at 12:01 am by David Farrar

Merry Christmas to you all.


US politics cartoons of the week – 22 December 2014

December 22nd, 2014 at 3:27 pm by Lindsay Addie

Most of the US cartoons this past week have been about either the normalizing of relations with Cuba or the Sony/North Korea spat. So I chose the possible Hillary Clinton vs Jeb Bush contest in 2016. Both cartoons speak for themselves without any explanation.

The first is by Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.


© Steve Sack: found at

The second cartoon is by Dave Granlund


© Dave Granlund: found at

I’m far from convinced either Hillary or Jeb would make a good POTUS. Two peas from the same pod.

Tags: , ,

Thunderbirds are go

December 22nd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Thunderbirds are go, again, with CITV commissioning another 26 episodes of the remake of the 1960s kitsch classic.

Wellington’s Weta Workshop and Pukeko Pictures, along with one of Britain’s biggest production companies, ITV Studios, will again work together on the show.

The announcement of the second season of the new-generation Thunderbirds series came before the first season even premiered on network television.

My favourite Thunderbird is Thunderbird 6, followed by Thunderbird 2.


Hobbit films longer than the books

December 21st, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Walt Hickey at Five Thirty Eight looks at lengths of movies compared to length of books they are based on.

The only movies which are longer than a minute per page (which you could say is average reading speed) are the three Hobbit films with the third one being 144 minutes of film for 72 pages of a book!

The closest to the Hobbit films is the Great Gatsby which is 143 minutes for 180 pages 0.79 minutes per page.



The Sony Pictures board of directors

December 20th, 2014 at 9:26 am by Lindsay Addie

This cartoon by Gary Varvel in my opinion perfectly sums up the Sony Pictures Entertainment board of directors.


© Gary Varvel – found at Real Clear Politics

Barack Obama today spoke about the decision by Sony Pictures.

“We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States. Because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don’t like or news reports that they don’t like,” he said.

The President is a 100% correct.

Tags: ,

Fact checking US politicians and Vladimir Putin

December 19th, 2014 at 9:22 am by Lindsay Addie

One of my favourite political blogs is Glenn Kessler’s at the Washington Post who awards Pinnochios (from one to four) for porkies and lies told by politicians’. Here is a sample of Kessler’s biggest whoopers from 2014.

They aren’t in any particular order.

Barack Obama: “I didn’t call the Islamic State a ‘JV’ team”

President Obama repeated a claim, crafted by the White House communications team, that he was not “specifically” referring to the Islamic State terror group when he dismissed the militants who had taken over Fallujah as a “JV squad.” But The Fact Checker had obtained the previously unreleased transcript of the president’s interview with The New Yorker, and it’s clear that’s who the president was referencing.

JV means junior varsity. He didn’t seem to be aware that ISIS (ISIL) were a major threat in the Middle East then told a porky about his previous comments.

Rand Paul: “John McCain met with Islamic State terrorists”

Intraparty slap downs are pretty rare, but Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have radically different foreign policy views. With no evidence but Internet rumors, some promoted by liberal groups, Paul declared that McCain unknowingly met with members of the Islamic State — and even had photographs taken — when he had slipped across the border with Syria to meet with rebel forces. But the claim was proven to be absolutely false. As we said as the time, “there are days when we regret we are limited to just Four Pinocchios.”

Paul clearly had a severe bout of foot and mouth disease on this one.

Barack Obama: “Republicans have filibustered 500 pieces of legislation”

President Obama former senator, got quite a few things wrong here. He spoke of legislation that would help the middle class, but he was counting cloture votes that mostly involved judicial and executive branch nominations. Moreover, he counted all the way back to 2007, meaning he even included votes in which he, as senator, voted against ending debate — the very thing he decried in his remarks. At best, he could claim the Republicans had blocked about 50 bills, meaning he was off by a factor of ten.

I’ll give the President the benefit of the doubt and opine that he was merely repeating what his researchers/speech writers told him to say. It is still a clumsy attempt though to a score political point.

John Boehner: “There’s been a net loss of people with health insurance”

Nope. Boehner added apples and then subtracted oranges. At the point he made the statement, it was clear that the net gain was in the millions.

Boehner was talking about Obamacare. As in the case of the previous lie, Boehner was using shoddy research to try and score a political point.

Vladimir Putin: “A referendum was held in Crimea in full compliance with democratic procedures and international norms”

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech announcing the annexation of Crimea that was full of whoppers, but none more so than his claim about the referendum. The referendum was rushed, political opposition was squelched, and the choices did not allow for a “no.” (The options were either joining Russia — what the ballot called “reunification” — or remaining part of Ukraine with greater autonomy, effectively making the region independent in all but name.) Moreover, the Crimea vote met none of the conditions for a referendum in the Ukrainian constitution. Clearly it’s time for a fact-checking organization in Russia.

This for me is the biggest lie on Kessler’s list. Putin would have real trouble convincing most people he’s a true believer in democracy and freedom of speech.

Note that Kessler provides web links to all the original stories. It is a pity that no one in New Zealand fact checks politicians on a regular basis.

Tags: , ,

Review: The Hobbit #3 (2014): Battle of Five Armies

December 18th, 2014 at 10:00 am by Kokila Patel

By John Stringer

For many of us, reading our first copy of The Hobbit, (published 1937) was seminal. It is still one of the most favourite children’s books of all time. CS Lewis comforted his recently bereaved adopted son with a copy inShadowlands (1993) while discussing The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (Tolkien led Lewis to the Christian faith. Both classics were written within the fraternity ofThe Inklings pub group) And for many of us, the magic never really left. (50-year-old men like me still mention this). I went last night to a closed premier with a group of male and female friends in their fifties. It was a great ride and a fitting climax to the trilogy prefacing the LoTR trilogy.  It was nice to see Bilbo back in the story, center stage where he belongs as the hobbit in The Hobbit.  He was a bit awol in Hobbit 2.

Thorin Oakenshield’s ‘dragon madness’ is also center stage, like “Achilles’ wrath, the direful spring of woes unnumbered” from the Iliad. Sir Peter Jackson has captured the personality and forces of this mania in Homer-esque fashion in-keeping with that epic meter.  Thorin’s driven lust for gold, home, and his ultimate redemption through killing Azog the Destroyer are central weaves to this tapestry.

Our premier was prefaced by a short intro from the actors and crew, opening with aTVOne News piece of the first production announcement. (Those nineties hairstyles and Richard Long’s moustache!).  They all thank New Zealand for hosting this long three-film production, reflect on their connections here, how much they all loved New Zealand (except Cate Blanchett who has a cheeky Aussie riposte.  Stephen Fry says, “Just like Australia, but without the boasting”). Not too cheesy and cringe-worthy.

For me, Peter Jackson’s greatest achievement is forever marrying LotR and Hobbit to New Zealand.  And this is his film, not the Tolkien Trust’s.  I was saddened to learn chief trustee Christopher Tolkien, who finished some of his father’s work, such as The Silmarillion, has declined to ever meet Sir Peter.

Jackson Divergences and Women Added.

So, we have some Jackson divergences in this movie:

1) the creation of Turiel and a female elf love triangle between Legolas Greenleaf and cross-cultural dwarf interest Fili.  I think this works.  Tolkien was an Oxford don and his appreciation of women was somewhat distant and worshipful. Jackson (well, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens I guess) provide an updated version with Turiel written in to the script.  I like her; she works, and modernises the gender appreciations we have now that were not present between 1937-49 when LoTR and Hobbit were written (no dwarf women-folk; and few heroic female characters). Without the update, a Jackson-Tolkien literal would already be outdated. It had to be modernised and I agree with Jackson on this (also deleting Tom Bombadil altogether).

2) Jackson also gives us Dune-esque “were worms,” who chew through the mountain and allow Azog’s army to ambush the squabbling Elvish, Dwarfish, and Man armies.  This was brilliant and I liked them immediately, huge Dune worms with triple-lipped mouths like the diamond head of a tunneling mine drill.

3) He also gives us more of Radagast the Brown and his Disney bunny sleigh.  Didn’t like that in Hobbit 2, but he works here, and I really liked his link to bringing the eagles to the Battle of Five Armies (the fifth army: elves, dwarves, men, orcs, eagles).”The Eagles are coming!”  They always save the day, so heroic and clean amid all that orcish/troll scum filth. Radagast’s link here is an addition that fits with the spirit of Tolkien.

4) Dain Ironfoot II and his Iron Hills dwarf army of the north (near the Lonely Mountain, arrives on a kune kune pig and there are some mountain goats with large horns.  But I accepted this; it makes sense, and when Thorin and his hand-picked team of four hurtle toward the orcs, the horned rams make excellent mobile…well…batteringRAMS. They then pronk up the mountain side towards Azog’s command post. As a Jackson interpretation of Tolkien, I think that works very well. Dwarves delve in and love rock, mountain goats also, so that’s a symmetry that makes sense in Middle-Earth despite being absent in Tolkien. Movies are about interpretation and new layering.

5) In Jackson Legolas kills Bolg, but it was Beorn in the book.

But there the departures end. The rest is very faithful, even down to the book’s “Bolgers” at the Bag End auction, a nice hat tip to our former prime minister Jim Bolger. Jackson again cements this epic to New Zealand.

Empowering Women

This is not The Hunger Games, but there are lots of empowered women in this film (like Jackson/Walsh did with Rohan’s Lady Eowyn in LoTR). There’s Galadriel, Turiel, and a peasant woman in Laketown played by Sarah Peirse who was the murdered Honora Parker-Rieper in the famous true Christchurch murder Parker/Hume crime (see here: Parker & Hulme Pt 5 (Review: Peter Graham’s 2011 Book). That story was immortalised in Heavenly Creatures (1994) Jackson’s first ‘proper’ movie (the film that ‘found’ Kate Winslet) and really launched Jackson as a serious film maker.


Tags: ,