Posts Tagged ‘J.R.R. Tolkien’


Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu,” “Tolkien,” “Wine Country” and the documentary “Hail Satan?”.

Watch the whole thing HERE!


A weekly feature from! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu,” the cutest crime noir film, “Tolkien,” a standard look at a man who is anything but ordinary and “Wine Country,” Amy Poehler and Company’s trip to the Napa Valley.

Listen to the whole thing HERE!



Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Marcia MacMillan have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the video game flick “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu,” “Tolkien,” a biopic of the “Lord of the Rings” author and “Wine Country,” Amy Poehler and Company’s trip to the Napa Valley.

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu,” the cutest crime noir film, “Tolkien,” a standard look at a man who is anything but ordinary, “Wine Country,” Amy Poehler and Company’s trip to the Napa Valley and the religious freedom documentary “Hail Satan?” with CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.

Listen to the whole thing HERE!


Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk the new movies coming to theatres including “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu,” the cutest crime noir film, “Tolkien,” a standard look at a man who is anything but ordinary and “Wine Country,” Amy Poehler and Company’s trip to the Napa Valley.

Listen to the whole thing HERE!


Dragons in the movies: From J.R.R. Tolkien’s Smaug to How to Train Your Dragon

2014_how_to_train_your_dragon_2-wideBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

The Hobbit author J.R.R. Tolkien described dragon Smaug as “a most specially greedy, strong and wicked worm.” The Flight of the Conchords have a song called Albi the Racist Dragon, and on Dragon Day at Cornell University, an effigy of one of the giant beasts is burned while students shout and dance.

They can be fiery, fearsome creatures. “Noble dragons don’t have friends,” writes Terry Pratchett in Guards! Guards! “The nearest they can get to the idea is an enemy who is still alive.”

It’s not hard to understand why the folks on Game of Thrones are wary of Daenerys Targaryen’s (Emilia Clarke) brood of the beasts when she spouts off lines like, “When my dragons are grown, we will take back what was stolen from me and destroy those who wronged me! We will lay waste to armies and burn cities to the ground!” Then there’s Bryagh, the serpentine villain of The Flight of Dragons who not only insults the movie’s heroes before dispatching them, he also gobbles up the eggs of other dragons!

Maybe if characters in movies paid more heed to the advice given by author Steven Brust — “Always speak politely to an enraged dragon” — then movies and TV wouldn’t have to offer up such a wide array of ways to rid the world of dragons. Look on IMDb, there are dozens of titles containing the phrase “dragon slayer.”

The 2010 animated hit How to Train Your Dragon begins in a remote Viking village where killing a dragon is “everything.” It focuses on Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), a kind- hearted boy who captures one of the flying behemoths and discovers two things: One, he can’t bring himself to kill it, and two, that dragons aren’t the fearful monsters everyone thinks they are. He becomes a Dragon Whisperer and the movie shows the serpentine creatures in a different light than the abysmal brutes usually seen on screen.

This weekend, How to Train Your Dragon 2 adds to the list of cinematic dragons who are more misunderstood than actually evil.

The 1941 Disney flick The Reluctant Dragon features a dragon that would rather recite poetry than cause havoc. “You’ve got to be mad to breathe fire,” he says, “but I’m not mad at anybody.”

In the live-action DragonHeart, a fire-breather must team with a dragon-slaying knight (Dennis Quaid) to end an evil king’s rule. When the giant serpent is accused of eating an adversary, he is indignant. “I merely chewed in self-defense, but I never swallowed.”

Eddie Murphy lent some comedic relief to the 1998 animated movie Mulan as the tiny, blue-horned Mushu. He may be the size of the Geico gecko, but don’t mention it. “I’m a dragon, not lizard. I don’t do that tongue thing.”

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG: 4 STARS. “big handsome movie to get lost in.”

movies-the-hobbit-desolation-of-smaug-dwarvesIf the title “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” immediately conjures up images of hairy footed hobbits and fearsome dwarves battling a fire breathing dragon, then this movie is for you. It beautifully captures and continues the world Peter Jackson began with the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and followed up with “The Hobbit” films.

If it doesn’t mean anything to you then maybe you’ll want to brush up on your J. R. R. Tolkien before shelling out for a ticket. It took a lot of backstory to get to the fifth film based on Middle Earth and its inhabitants and you don’t want to go without knowing your Shire from your Sauron or your Skin Changers.

Picking up where “An Unexpected Journey” left off, hobbit-burglar Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) join with Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and his army of twelve fearsome dwarves. Their goal is to traverse Mirkwood, Esgaroth and Dale to locate and battle the fire-breathing dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch in fine serpentine voice) who hoards the wealth of the Lonely Mountain. On the way they battle giant spiders (a sequence that will certainly make arachnophobes grin), make a deal with Bard the bowman (Luke Evans), the descendant of the original Lord of Dale, and some helpful and not-so-helpful elves (including a good lookin’ and deadly She-Elf played by Evangeline Lilly).

Got it?

Wait! There’s more, something to do with the White Council and the Necromancer but I’m still reeling from plot overload from actually watching the movie let alone trying to unfurl the complicated story in print.

But despite the sense of mild confusion I felt as I tried to piece the story together, I really enjoyed “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Peter Jackson has crafted a great action adventure movie that fits in perfectly with the preceding films. There’s a remarkable consistency of tone, style and spirit that runs through the “LOTR” and “Hobbit” movies. They feel like story shards chipped off the same block.

There’s a Richard Attenborough old school epicness about them. They are about good and evil without troubling nuance or antiheroes. Perhaps because Englishman Tolkien penned these action adventure stories during the Second World War when evil was clear-cut, his books are ripe with allegory but straightforward in their approach to morality and good vs. evil.

And luckily the films work because they fully embrace Tolkien’s vision. There’s no shortage of story threads, of hard to remember names but Jackson weaves it all together seamlessly—with some “Walking Dead” style battle scenes… lots of arrows in the head—and has made a big handsome movie to get lost in.

From epic fantasy to B-movie horrors, elves are hot in Hollywood.

elfBy Richard Crouse Metro – Canada

When we think of elves at this time of year visions of Santa’s helpers fill our heads.

The cute, industrious and diminutive creatures from the North Pole can be seen everywhere in December in Christmas TV specials, greeting cards and movies like Arthur Christmas and Santa Claus: The Movie.

One of the most famous movie elves is Buddy, played by Will Ferrell in the neo-classic Elf.

“You’re not an elf,” says Leon the Snowman. “You’re six-foot-three and had a beard since you were fifteen.”

So technically he’s not really an elf, just a human raised by elves but he has more Christmas spirit than Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen put together.

This weekend, just weeks before December 25, Buddy is joined on the big screen by a very different kind of elf.

“She’s slightly reckless and totally ruthless and doesn’t hesitate to kill.” That’s how Evangeline Lilly describes the 600-year-old “she-elf” Tauriel from this weekend’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

The bow-and-arrow wielding character is new to the J.R.R. Tolkien movie franchise, created by director Peter Jackson and his co-writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.

“She’s our redhead,” says Boyens. “We created her for that reason. To bring that energy into the film, that feminine energy. We believe it’s completely within the spirit of Tolkien.”

Buddy and Tauriel are just two of the many kinds of movie elves.

Elves, or (Gelfling as they’re called in the flick), are the main focus of the Jim Henson film The Dark Crystal.

Dobby the House Elf was voted the No. 1 favourite magical creature in the Harry Potter series by and Thor: The Dark World featured Dark Elves, an ancient race of dangerous beings whose spaceships are powered by black holes.

The cheeseball b-movie Elves features the tagline, “They’re Not Working for Santa Anymore.” Well, if not Santa, then who? Nazis, that’s who.

Finally Tom Cruise consorted with an elf named Honeythorn Gump in Legend, the Ridley Scott film The New York Times called “a slap-dash amalgam of Old Testament, King Arthur, The Lord of the Rings and any number of comic books.”

Swiss actor David Bennett played the feisty elfin sidekick who not only is the protector of the world’s last two unicorns but, along with elves Screwball, Brown Tom and Oona, helps Cruise’s character save the world from the nasty Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry).

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug brings Evangeline Lilly out of retirement


By Richard Crouse Metro – Canada

The show Lost propelled Evangeline Lilly from unknown model to television star.

For six seasons she played Kate Austen on the hit series, earned a Golden Globe nomination, numerous Sexiest Women in the World titles and became the face of L’Oreal Paris.

But the trappings of fame didn’t sit well with the Alberta-born actress. “I’m a small town Canadian girl,” she says. “It just doesn’t jive with me.”

So instead of looking for the next big thing following Lost’s 2010 finale, she took a step back.

“My resolve to retire came when I realized it was actually the job itself that was killing me. I’m a very undramatic woman. I keep my life very simple. I don’t have a lot of emotional energy to spend. I don’t argue with my spouse. I don’t make drama where there doesn’t need to be any. I don’t have girlfriends who are dramatic. I just can’t stomach it.

“Having a job that required that I be at the height of drama emotionally for 14 hours a day, all day, every week for six years running was doing bad things to my health, to my psyche. I wasn’t in a good place. I really believe if you’re not happy, get out. It doesn’t matter how much someone is paying you or how famous you’ve become, it’s not worth it if you’re not happy and you’re not healthy.”

It took Peter Jackson and a plum role in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug to bring her out of self-imposed seclusion.

“When they asked me I was three months out of giving birth to my first son,” she says. “I thought I had retired to a life of writing and motherhood. I thought I was done with acting. And then he called. I thought, ‘This is too huge of an honour. I can’t say no to this. This is something I had dreamed about since I was a little girl,’ so I took the job.”

In the action-adventure she plays Tauriel, a 600-year-old wood elf created specially for the film. She says the character is “driven by her desire to help the vulnerable and the weak.”

We’ll see her again as Tauriel next year in The Hobbit: There and Back Again and after that, who knows, although she says, shooting The Desolation of Smaug in New Zealand was “such a positive experience that it has actually changed my mind about my profession.”

On powerful females

Evangeline Lilly likes the soft side of her current role. “One of the things I struggle with, with powerful female roles in the media right now, is that often they are associated with male violence. If a woman can kill and slaughter like a man then suddenly she’s a powerful woman, which I actually think diminishes her power. I don’t think that makes them powerful. I like that this character is a softhearted compassionate elf driven out of her need for justice and her seeking of the truth. I think that is more a distinct female power. I think in the past vulnerability and compassion have been associated with weakness and I think they give a woman her power.”