A is for Action

In the beginning, Richard Armitage made scores of fans – and he keeps on making them! Welcome to the first day of FanstRAvaganza 3. A is for Armitage is proud to kick off the freeform chain in the excellent company of White Rose: Sincere and Simple Thoughts and FunkyBlueDandelion.

For my own contribution to this year’s event, I took a cue from the name of this blog and reasoned that a single letter to describe such a diverse & talented actor like Richard Armitage simply wasn’t enough. The man ought to have his own alphabet and what better occasion to launch the Armitage Alphabet than the illustrious FanstRAvaganza 3?

I’ve always enjoyed watching Richard in action, so to speak. On the small screen he wielded a sword and handled a longbow as the tragic but lusciously leather clad Sir Guy of Gisborne. Who could resist!

As the gorgeous and enigmatic MI5 agent Lucas North he kept us safe in our beds for years by chasing terrorists and other nation-threatening thugs around London, taking them out with his Glock 17 or some good old-fashioned hand-combat techniques.

As the marvelously muscular John Porter he toted some seriously big guns in Chris Ryan’s Strike Back only to come to a sticky end in Project Dawn (which I still can’t bring myself to watch!).

Richard’s move to the silver screen seems pretty action packed too. Heinz Kruger may have taken less than 5 minutes to fail in his attempt to assassinate Captain America, but he packed a lot of action in that small slot. Gun fights, a car chase, hostage taking, a submersible escape, a near drowning and a suicide. Phew! I get exhausted just thinking about it!

And as we speak, Thorin Oakenshield may well be strapping on his heavy armour and picking up his mighty blade to reclaim the treasure and his kingdom from Smaug the dragon.

I’m being slightly facetious of course, but I do think Richard plays these action parts so very well. I’m not one for gratuitous violence on screen (or in real life for that matter!) but what sets his performances apart is the fluency of his actions and the credibility of his characters. From what I can gather, he meticulously prepares for his roles and likes to do his own stunts. If it was just guns and muscle I really don’t think I would have been this impressed but by fully immersing himself into the world of his characters, Richard manages to really get his head around what makes them tick.

To prepare for the part of John Porter he trained with ex-SAS soldiers and it really shows. Not just in the physical aspect – although the muscles are indeed very impressive – but with regards to the psyche too. What makes John Porter work for me is that he really moves like a trained soldier. The fighting scenes are fluent and instinctive. When he has to kill, he doesn’t hesitate and his movements have the agility and efficiency that comes with years of training and experience.

What makes this character credible though is that Richard gets the emotional part right as well. John Porter doesn’t go back to fight for the sheer hell of it. He fights to win back his family. He fights for love. These are the things that are not directly written into a script. There is no text to tell an actor what his character is all about. He’ll have to ferret it out for himself and, more importantly, get it across to the audience in action, not words. And that’s the kind of action acting I admire so much in Richard Armitage.

All of this had me wondering though. With so many great action scenes under his belt and following the example of the ever popular Little Guy, isn’t it time Richard Armitage was given his own Action Man figure? Perhaps it could even be marketed as Armitage Man?

For more freeform contributions to FanstRA 3, see my partner’s post at White Rose: Sincere and Simple Thoughts and FunkyBlueDandelion. Tomorrow, the freeform tagteam continues at Melanie’s Musings, An Obsessed Fanatic and Do I Have a Blog?. All FanstRAvaganza 3 links can be found here.

[Screencaps courtesy of RichardArmitageNet. The ‘Armitage Man’ artwork is my own and is based on a screen cap from an Action Man review – source unknown]

The Hobbit: Anybody getting excited yet?

Ah, that difficult second post! I’ve bitten the bullet, taken the plunge, threw myself headlong into the blogosphere on the first day of the New Year – and there wasn’t even any alcohol involved! – but now I’ll need to put my money where my mouth is. So what’s next? As I was traveling to work this morning after a lovely extended Christmas break I couldn’t help wondering if Mr Armitage is already on his way back to New Zealand to resume his own, and infinitely more exciting journey of filming The Hobbit.

I left my head in Wellington? (hum to the tune of ‘I left my Heart in San Fransisco’) 

I love J.R.R. Tolkien’s work. I devoured ‘Lord of The Rings’ when I was a teenager and must have read it a dozen times. As I recall, I had a mad crush on Aragorn. I endlessly doodled his figure in the margins of my exercise books when I should have been paying attention in class, which probably explains why I so miserably failed my maths. And what’s not to love? An epic quest, ancient elves, evil orcs and small people with hairy feet and/or long beards… everything a good novel needs. I also adore Peter Jackson’s LOTR films. It took courage and vision to take on such an ambitious project and he pulled it of magnificently. I have to admit though that I was sceptical to start with and went to see that first film with some trepidation. Seeing an all-time favourite translated to the big screen isn’t always a happy experience and part of me feared it might not live up to the images I had created myself and nurtured over all these years. I need not have worried. Peter Jackson had done a brilliant job and the casting was spot on! In fact, I went to see all three films so often, I ran out of friends to drag along to the cinema! Yes, not all events in the book made it to the screen – it was, after all, quite a hefty tome – but those that did were captured beautifully. Yes, It did at times get a little frivolous and/or sentimental, but in a three-hour film with some pretty dark themes you need a little light relief, like you need some light to show the shadows. And, like so many others, I was bowled over by the beautiful cinematography of these films. Panoramic views of a gorgeously, spacious and rugged New Zealand landscape made me want to pack my bags and move over there straight away. And I’ll admit, having Viggo Mortensen in the role of Aragorn didn’t hurt either!

I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking ‘The Hobbit’ is going to be even better. Not just because of its great cast, with Richard Armitage playing Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the company of dwarves – although that in itself would be enough to convince me, of course – but also because of the 3D production. We know from LOTR that Peter Jackson can deliver a cracking film in 2D, so just think how much better he’ll be when given a third dimension to play with! Now, I’m not normally all that keen on 3D movies. I’m currently in the Luddite camp that thinks the whole 3D thing is terribly over-rated. Most films simply don’t seem to have the kind of action or scenery that calls for a 3D environment, so you end up paying a lot more for only a little gain. But if The Hobbit is going to be anything like LOTR, 3D may actually add quite a lot to the viewers enjoyment of this film. I’d love to feel like ‘I am there’ (especially if ‘there’ means being near to Richard Armitage!), running up those beautiful craggy hillsides, wielding those gorgeously decorated swords. Wouldn’t you?

I’m not quite sure how any of the other films that have been released in 3D have been filmed, but I for one was quite impressed with the Red Epic 3D cameras Peter Jackson was showing off in his production video. I also loved the explanation of how make-up and wardrobe all had to be adapted to take this new technology into account. Maybe it’s just Jackson’s enthusiasm (honestly, if this film thing doesn’t work out for him he could go sell sand to the Arabs!) but it filled me with excitement overall and the confidence that it would be worth the extra bob or two to see this film in 3D.

Coming back to most exiting part of The Hobbit, and the subject of this blog, there’s a really nice quote from Peter Jackson about Richard in The Hobbit: The Complete Guide hosted on the TotalFilm website;

“Richard is one of the most exciting and dynamic actors working on-screen today and we know he is going to make an amazing Thorin Oakenshield,” says Jackson. “We cannot wait to start this adventure with him and feel very lucky that one of the most beloved characters in Middle Earth is in such good hands.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

With grateful thanks to my Facebook friend Fritha Malcourone who shared the link to ‘The Hobbit: The Complete Guide’ with me earlier this week. The Thorin Oakenshield screencaps are courtesy of RichardArmitageNet. The Aragorn screencap is my own and I’ll be damned if I can remember where I nabbed the Peter Jackson screencap from.