The Hobbit

Getting the real Kiwi experience

As some people know I went to New Zealand this summer, traveling with the Kiwi Experience all over the Northern Island. The Kiwi Experience is a hop on hop off bus tour that gives you the option to visit many cool places you might now have seen as a more casual traveler. Of course since my main interest of NZ comes from the Lord of the Rings movies and scenery, it was a goal for me to see as much of “Middle Earth” as possible. Some people might have already seen my post about Hobbiton.

Coromandel, Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove

Our first stop with the bus was the North East of the Island, were we stayed at Hot Water Beach in Coromandel. This is a region with windy roads, much green scenery and beaches. Too bad it was winter and a bit too cold to take a bath.

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cathedral-cove_7Some might remember Cathedral Cove from the second Narnia film.

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dsc_0477You know it’s a windy bridge when it says “Max 10 persons at the time”.

Waitomo Caves

A village with a cave system that’s a famous tourist attraction. From here you can also visit the glow worm caves, which looks simply stunning.

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waitomo-glowworm-caves-1We were not aloud to take pictures troughout the boat trip (that was all quiet) inside the caves, but it looks as stunning as on this promo picture.

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Rotorua

One of the most cultural places we visited was Rotorua. Here we got to see some pretty neat volcanic areas (which NZ has a lot of!), eat and hang out with the native Maori people and this is also were we stayed the night when we visited the Hobbiton set in Matamata.

rotorua_64One of the Geysirs in a geothermal park called Te Puia. This geysir can blow up to 30 meters high several times a day.

rotorua_27The Maori people cook some of their food in ground hot pools. This awesome lady made us some boiled eggs and showed us around the Te Puia site.

rotorua_50The Maori people I met were both kind and awesome. They told us they love it when their culture are shared around the world. We got to take some photos with a couple of guys painted in traditional war tattoos. Some of the tribal tattoos around the world has their heritage from here.

rotorua_8The longest name I’ve seen. I recorded our guide pronouncing it!

rotorua_7At the Te Puia site they have a school were people can study traditional Maori hand craft, like wood working. It’s amazing how much time and thought that is put into these figures.

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Boiling mud pools. The town of Rotorua smells like sulfur, no wonder why!

rotorua_35At night time some of the hot pools looked pretty mystical. I’m just waiting for a fantasy creature to stick it’s head up from the water.

rotorua_58Dinner served by the Maori people, cooked in ground hot pools. Look at the size of those mussels!

Taupo

Taupo is a town located in the mid part of the Northern Island, alongside the Great Lake Taupo, which is in fact not only a lake but a huge volcano. Even though it’s a very quiet town, it had something sweet about it. This is also were I got the best view from my hotel room; Mount Ngauruhoe, or Mt. Doom as us Lord of the Rings fans call it.

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Tongariro National Park

After staying in Taupo looking at “Mt. Doom” we actually got to visit the surrounding area Loads of people from the Kiwi tour went up to see it close up. Since it was a 7-8 hour long tour in pretty cold weather it wasn’t for me. I also catched a cold the day before. The tour in the surrounding area was 2 hours long, and even though I was still sick it was amazing!

tongariro_17Of course it had to be cloudy this day…

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tongariro_12Chateau Tongariro which opened in 1929.

Tawhai Falls

We did a short stop at Tawhai Falls, or the Forbidden Pool as Lord of the Rings fans know it by. This is were Faramir and his men was threatening Gollum while he was fishing and singing.

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River Valley

On or way down to Wellington we stopped at a little holiday lodge called the River Valley lodge. Here we ate a nice dinner with sweet potatoes (kumara as it is called in NZ) and lamb. They also had a bar serving mulled wine, and we stayed up listening to music, playing cards and hanging out. There were no WIFI here, which was actually quite calming. Some of the tour group went rafting and horse riding in the morning.

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Wellington

My favorite place visiting must be Wellington, New Zealand’s capital. It’s such a beautiful city, not bigger than Bergen in Norway. It lies by the sea. The only negative thing is that it’s pretty windy here all year around, which gives some famous flight landings (that you can look up on youtube AFTER you have traveled here). This is also were the first Lord of the Rings premiere was and many of its locations. I also had a blast visiting the Weta Cave.

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wellington_60Hiding from Nazguls at Mount Victoria.

wellington_19…. more Lord of the Rings scenery. Where the Nazguls ride through from the Shire.

wellington_8Weta has worked with MANY great films, not only Lord of the Rings. Some of their other work is the Hobbit, Narnia, Xena; The Warrior Princess, Thunderbirds are Go, Planet of the Apes, World of Warcraft, King Kong, Kingdom of Heaven, Zorro, the Last Samurai, Mad Max: Fury Road and Tintin. You can imagine how fun this was to experience!

wellington_44One of the best moments from the trip was when I got to hold one of Saruman’s staffs (they have several of course) at the Weta Cave. Felt like a child with the biggest ice cream ever! It’s pretty easy to see how tall Christopher Lee was from this.

wellington_42A frightening Uruk Hai inside the shop.

wellington_46I got to see tons of costumes and props from Middle Earth. We weren’t aloud to take photos inside the workshop though, because they are working on new material there. Imagine anyone taking pictures and spoiling new film.

wellington_41Me and one of the trolls Bilbo met on his adventure in the Hobbit. Life size.

wellington_35Azog, the pale orc.

Auckland

New Zealands biggest city is Auckland with a population of about 1,4 million. This was my last stop for two days before leaving the country. I stayed at a hotel called Crowne plaza which was pretty decent. Decided I had to try out some luxury before leaving.

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auckland_11I took a visit to the War Memorial museum in the city, which had so many interesting section, both cultural and historic. Such a huge place. Free for the city inhabitants, but not too expensive for other visitors as well.

Why visit New Zealand?

It’s probably one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and as far as you can get from Norway as possible. This country has everything, from huge mountains and volcanos to long beaches, green forests and parks, along with exciting cities and town. The country has less people than Norway in it, about 4,5 millions..

wellington_30This furball is the national bird of New Zealand, the Kiwi… Now you probably know why the people here are called Kiwis, right?

ruakuri_9The Kiwi Experence tour bus! I recommend doing this, especially if you are travelling alone. You meet so many nice people, mostly around the age of 18-30.. and the bus drivers are also pretty cool (at least the ones we had).

161 magical minutes of Middle Earth

I usually stay away from reviews for movies that I like, especially if they get 4 out of 6 or under. These scores probably come from a hipster movie review guy who think he’s too intelligent to like anything besides “Schindler’s list” or European B-movies with woman showing their breast for the sake of art .

The_Hobbit_The_Desolation_Of_Smaug_New_Banner_Oficial_g_JPosters“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” has received very varied critique from different sources. Some say it’s too long and blabla, because the book is in reality short blablabla. There are those who think it’s too much CGI (more about that later). Then there are those who are angry that Jackson has made up his own characters (more about that also). Then there is me who loves all of Tolkien’s work, aswell as Peter Jackson’s way of directing and how he brings out the visual moments with a little extra action on top of it.

First of all one have to remember that hitting the big screen makes up for some new challenges than writing a book, also the audience is a bit different. I would say that a viewer is a bit more impatient than a reader. A viewer loves to see good scenery, nice costumes and of course a lot of fighting, a reader might appreciete more backstories, depth and detailed descriptions. Tolkien did not write very detailed war descriptions, but he made sure to explain how important they were. Peter Jackson on the other hand has a wonderful opportunity to make some really great action shoots. Instead of using big words, he uses visual effects and dramatic scenes to play out the story.

Anyway, there’s lot to say about film vs. books when it comes to Tolkien and Jackson, but this review will mainly be about “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”, as so far it’s the one movie that is less similar to the book, but in my opinion still great and not harming Tolkien’s work in any way.

Review of The Desolation of Smaug (Spoiler alert!)
Compared to the first movie in the Hobbit-series, TDOS is filled with a lot more action and characters. Since not everyone is together at all times, we get several character driven plot lines. The most noticeable are Thorin and Bilbo’s encounter with Smaug, Thranduil capturing the dwarfs, Bard’s tale, Kili’s little thing with Tauriel, Legolas appereance and high speed action scenes, and of course Gandalf’s journey to Dol Guldur. The last three events didn’t happen in the books, and are some of the reasons why we get three movies out of one small book, and also why some people get a little “mad”.

First of all I want to mention the story about Kili and Tauriel (and a little Legolas). Tauriel is a female elf warden made up by Peter Jackson. She’s played by Evangeline Lilly, which I think is a great choice. She’s got this beautiful natural look going on, same as Liv Tyler, she’s a good role model for girls and she can play a bad ass girl easily. The reason behind her appereance is simply because of the lack of female characters in the Hobbit. I can see why it’s a bit important for girl’s to have someone to look upto in movies besides actresses in painful-to-watch RomComs.

What I do think is unecessary is dragging Legolas into a love triangle. I think a part of Legolas that is interesting is how he’s not falling into the fool-trap and is a bit “cold”, but yet caring. I do think it’s nice to have him in the movie on the other hand, and the fact that he is Thranduril’s son and one of the best elven fighters makes it 99 % plausible that he was around at this time, seeing he is 1000s of years old. As far as I remember there are no elves in Mirkwood, besides Thranduril, that is mentioned to be of importance. And it would have boring to watch a movie with less people to care about. It’s much more interesting to see Legolas and Tauriel, that we know and get to know, fight alongside each other and maybe in a fatal ending? Movies are supposed to bring feelings.

The other scenes that are added to the movies, but do not appear in the book, are made out of dialogue and extra material from the LOTR trilogy. In other words the events happened, at least in some form. The challenge here is for Jackson to make up new dialogue and action that fits into the story and do not seem rushed or a waste of time. Since we already know what’s going to happen later in the story (LOTR), there are also some scenes, like Gandalf’s meeting with the Necromancer that gives the story more sense when they are added and extended. For me this extended scenes simply give me MORE Middle Earth, so I take almost whatever I can get.

.. then. Kili, Tauriel. Need I say more? This is definately the most confusing plot in the movie. I don’t want to spoil anything from the last part of “the Hobbit” book, but I can say that I hope Kili will be the dwarf he is in the book and stand by Thorin’s side through the battle of the five armies. I’m a bit afraid that they will make him fight for Tauriel and let that be a big deal rather than fighting for Thorin and Erebor. One can just wait and see.

Last, a little summary of my favourite moments etc.

Best Scene:
Barrel escape! I really love scenes with a lot of energy, and this is definately one of those! Instead of keeping the dwarfs inside the barrels, like in the book, Jackson brings them out for much action and a pleasure to the audience.

Best animation/special effect:
SMAUG and all of his, and Cumberbatch’s awesomeness!

Best NEW character:Thranduil. Just like Elrond and Galadriel the king of Mirkwood is calm, almost a bit cold and looks perfectly mythical. I do like most characters in these movies, but there’s something about the elves that always draw my attention.

Negative parts (there’s few)!
There are 3 things that makes “the Hobbit” a little lesser film trilogy than LOTR for my personal taste.
1. Too much CGI at times. One thing that CGI can never replace is the natural way of a mvement, no matter how perfectly it looks visually. I found the orcs in the LOTR terryfing, simply because they had a small part of “human” in them. Smaug was AWESOME though.
2. The love trangle. It doesn’t really bring anything to the story, other than confusing and angry fans. I do love Tauriel as a character though and I hope to see more of her fighting scenes! It’s good for Legolas to have someone to “hang with” aswell, since he wont be much of a friend to the dwarfs in a long time still..
3. The character’s way of never getting hurt, even though they roll down a mountainside. Compared to LOTR these movies are more childlike and light headed. That’s how the book is, but for me the magic and art of LOTR is still on top.

 

Star gallery

Personally I prefer experiences over materialism anyday. A nice dress or a fancy pair of shoes makes you happy in the moment, but an experience last for a lifetime.

Those who have visited my blog before have probably seen some of the posts from movie premieres that I have attended while I lived in London last year. As the celebrity and movie freak I am I have been very lucky to be able to attend these events. It has given me some great memories, like the moment I met Helena Bonham Carter, one of my idols. Along with other great meetings with Andy Serkins and Dominic Monaghan from the Lord of the Rings + a lot more that would be worth mentioning! I’ve also been lucky (…economic) and able to attend several concerts these last years. Like Pink, Kiss, The Darkness, Ozzy, Motorhead, 50 Cent, Florence & the Machine to mention some…

I really recommend for people to take these oportunities if they are there. Many people say they can’t afford it, but I would much rather have traded those expensive jeans or that piece of unneeded piece of technology for a concert or travel experience. If you can’t afford a travel, but live in London or a similar city, I can assure you that it’s free to attend premieres outside of the cinema. It’s even a bigger chance that you will see or meet the actors if you are not on the guestlist, as they have to line up for the queue while other people are photographing or getting autographs