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    •  
      CommentAuthorApep
    • CommentTimeNov 29th 2014
     

    Yeah, and three-foot tall teddy bears using stone age tech shouldn’t have been able to take down people with energy weapons – what’s your point?

  1.  

    You are proving my point. It’s a fantasy movie and drawing arbitrary lines declaring THIS thing which would be super dumb IRL okay but THAT thing that would be super dumb IRL to be something that ruins the verisimilitude of the story is itself super dumb. There is no such thing as a “practical” lightsaber design and it’s really just people who dislike the dumb crossguard trying to legitimize their subjective opinion on it with some kind of tangible, objective metric.

    •  
      CommentAuthorApep
    • CommentTimeNov 29th 2014
     

    Just because it’s a fantasy movie doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be some degree of rational thought involved. Yes, the lightsabers are an inherently dangerous, poorly designed weapon. But we accept it because, dude, it’s a sword with a blade made out of a laser-beam, and that’s awesome. We also accept that a lightsaber can cut through just about anything. And that second bit causes some problems when it runs up against common sense, especially when the only motivation for certain design choices seems to be Rule of Cool. And adding what might be a pair of smaller lightsaber blades perpendicular to the main blade is, at the very least, skirting close to doing just that.

    Admittedly, it’s not the stupidest/most dangerous design for a lightsaber I’ve ever seen – that’s a toss-up between the lightwhip (because that sounds like such a great idea), and the lightsaber-bola. I wish I were making those up.

  2.  

    But it’s not any less practical than a regular lightsaber! You know how the dude doesn’t cut himself with it? He uses the Force, just like everybody else.

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2014 edited
     
    bq. The problem with that, is that even that has brought on criticism since it’s Disney.

    That right there should tell you something about the public's affection for Star Wars. Disney owns Marvel and has let them do their thing with the MCU to phenomenal success... and the people are _still_ worried.

    bq. I disagree. A movie isn’t just the work of the screenwriters....

    There's simply too little I'm willing to take for granted with comic book movies, especially now they're being run by a committee of producers that's dictating story terms. It's almost like ghost-writing. You know who takes the lion's share of credit for Marvel's continued success? Joss Whedon? Robert Downey, Jr.? Nope - none other than Kevin Fiege. In fact, given Marvel's phenomenal ongoing success, I'm no longer impressed to see actors like Robert Redford, Thomas Kretschmann, or Sir Ben Kingsley attached to these films. It's par for the course now, since Marvel movies are all but guaranteed to be massive paydays for all involved.

    I just don't care about any of it, and it irritates me to see it proliferate to ever higher degrees. I'm tired of seeing trailer analyses wherein commentators can point to this comic book, or this story arc, or this "era" of a character's publication history. The mystery is _gone_. We're all paying Marvel and DC to show us what we already know, to check off boxes on a list of information we've collected _years_ in advance of its actual release date. I watched one such analysis of the Age of Ultron trailer and got an earful about _the one solitary shot_ of Andy Serkis' character, and those morons blathered on about his haircut and beard, and unspooled their knowledge about the character he resembles, and linked that to another prominent Marvel hero, thereby confirming he may get his own movie down the line, which was already confirmed by Marvel's *pretentious and utterly stupid* launch schedule that runs up until, what, 2020?

    Contrast that with the trailer for _The Force Awakens_. No names. No locations. No explanations for weaponry. No actor or face for the snow-treading baddie. No plot for the movie spoiled by decades-old source material, nor _future_ plotlines stripped of mystique and anticipation because Character A looks like Comic Book Villain 32 from Story Arc Epsilon of That Other-Other Irradiated Superhero. No one could even decide on whether or not that was Benedict Cumberbatch or Andy Serkis narrating the trailer. You get glimpses of some familiar sights, but you're left to wonder about it all. You can call me whatever names you like for my entire tirade against comic book movies in defense of Star Wars, but _that_ movie is getting my money because it doesn't make me want to put my fist through its artwork, unlike all the ubiquitous, unsurprising, uninspired, cookie cutter superhero movies that seem to have replaced oxygen .

    bq. I don’t see how that helps the design even slightly. It’s still the same problem: in that view it’s a source of heat that close to the hand. The whole design, regardless of what it is, or what it’s doing there is a bad idea. *You don’t want something that powerful close to your hands when a simple mistake can lead to losing something.* At least the one from the actual books had a more practical design, the wielder’s hand didn’t have to necessarily be near it.

    No, no, no. Forget trees and forests, you're missing the planet for the dirt. I genuinely don't want to devolve into any kind of petty name-calling, but are you at all familiar with Star Wars? We're talking about a character that is very clearly a Sith Lord, one who is driven by strong emotion to pursue the accumulation and use of *power*. That can manifest as Force choking (Vader), Force lightning (the Emperor), or a dangerously overpowered lightsaber. Because what matters isn't safety or logic - what matters is power.

    Over the pit in Cloud City, Vader told Luke he didn't "know the _power_ of the Dark Side!"

    bq. ...especially when the only motivation for certain design choices *seems* to be Rule of Cool.

    In other words, you have no idea and could be entirely wrong and wind up eating all those words you just posted.
    •  
      CommentAuthorPryotra
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2014
     

    Contrast that with the trailer for The Force Awakens. No names. No locations. No explanations for weaponry. No actor or face for the snow-treading baddie. No plot for the movie spoiled by decades-old source material, nor future plotlines stripped of mystique and anticipation because Character A looks like Comic Book Villain 32 from Story Arc Epsilon of That Other-Other Irradiated Superhero. No one could even decide on whether or not that was Benedict Cumberbatch or Andy Serkis narrating the trailer. You get glimpses of some familiar sights, but you’re left to wonder about it all. You can call me whatever names you like for my entire tirade against comic book movies in defense of Star Wars, but that movie is getting my money because it doesn’t make me want to put my fist through its artwork, unlike all the ubiquitous, unsurprising, uninspired, cookie cutter superhero movies that seem to have replaced oxygen .

    Frankly, that’s the very reason I’m only tentatively interested in the Force Awakens. I don’t like ‘mystery’. I find it annoying when people try to make things mysterious and hide the plot. If we’re going to fall into sheer opinion, I find the superhero movies far more interesting since I get to guess what they’re going to use from the comics and what they’re not. It’s like an adaptation of a book that was sparce enough that they can use more information from it, but at the same time add new and interesting things themselves. The Winter Soldier was both very similar and it’s own thing, and that was interesting. The Force Awakens was the opposite. The most that I can say for certain is that there’s more continuity with the tech, and the lightsaber looks impractical enough to shake me from the experience. It reminds me of those stupid monster movie trailers were everyone refuses to actually show what’s happening but still expect me to give them money.

    We’re talking about a character that is very clearly a Sith Lord, one who is driven by strong emotion to pursue the accumulation and use of power. That can manifest as Force choking (Vader), Force lightning (the Emperor), or a dangerously overpowered lightsaber. Because what matters isn’t safety or logic – what matters is power.

    The Sith are supposed to be smart. Their weapons are supposed to be dangerous, cold, a step ahead of everyone else and usable. This thing is not. Darth Maul’s two bladed lightsaber was incredibly dangerous, but it was also something that was completely Sith. It was over powered, but it was also something that, with a great deal of training and understanding (which the Sith do have of the Force in their weird way) could be used to deadly effect.

    This isn’t.. And, frankly, even if they do publish a big thing on how it works, it’s still a poor design. It doesn’t matter if that was exhaust, blades, or little lasors so that this guy could see better. It’s not a good design.

    This seems to be getting to the point where we’re not really getting anywhere. I’m a mild fan of the series, but not anywhere near as much of one as you, and you have very different things that you like from movies and trailers than I do. I suppose we should probably agree to disagree.

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2014 edited
     
    bq. I don’t like ‘mystery’. I find it annoying when people try to make things mysterious and hide the plot.

    It's one thing to "make things mysterious" and quite another to reveal just enough information. But it sounds to me like you prefer your movies spoiled to the nth degree before sitting in a theater. Do you read the scripts beforehand? I simply don't understand how someone can derive any sort of enjoyment from a movie, a story, when there are no surprises.

    But, fine. Whatever. Sounds like Disney's getting our money either way, and I doubt Abrams will be crying if he never sees yours, nor Whedon if he never sees mine.
    • CommentAuthorWiseWillow
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2014 edited
     

    Ok. Personally, I only somewhat like the original trilogy, and the prequels blow. I didn’t like the Abrams Star Trek movies very much either. However, I love Marvel. That is my entire stance.

    The rest of y’all have wayyyyyyyyyy too much time on your hands.

    •  
      CommentAuthorPryotra
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2014
     

    I simply don’t understand how someone can derive any sort of enjoyment from a movie, a story, when there are no surprises.

    And I don’t really get how someone could consider something that doesn’t give away so much as who the protagonists are as revealing just enough information, but I don’t get overly offended by those who seem to.

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2014 edited
     
    I've been inching closer and closer to swearing off comic book movies altogether. Most of them keep reusing the same "megalomaniac acquires great power, attempts global/galactic domination/genocide, plucky/snarky/conflicted superhero(s) must save the day". I'm glad Nolan and others have left that niche business behind.

    bq. ...when the entire extended series is inspired by Japanese aesthetics and weapons?

    Except it isn't. The most prominent rank/title for the Jedi is "knight", and the prequels established a ruling council assembled in a circular chamber, alluding to the Arthurian round table. Also not sure what you mean by "entire extended series". The Jedi, the Force, and many early storytelling techniques were derived via Eastern influences, but the smugglers, bounty hunters, cantinas, and low-slung blasters were uncannily drawn from the American West, while everything about the X-Wings and their pilots, not to mention the Millennium Falcon and its quad turrets, were inspired by aircraft from the two World Wars. I mean, the AT-ATs from Episode 5 were inspired by the Martian vehicles from War of the Worlds.

    bq. I didn’t like the Abrams Star Trek movies very much either.

    Three words: Kurtzman and Orci. Terrible (film) writers who can talk some lofty ideas and concepts, but fail to deliver on almost every front. Mission: Impossible III, both Star Trek films, the first two Transformers films, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

    Anyway, to close off my part of the argument, I'm posting my favorite moment from the teaser.

    !http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--hUG7XDkc--/iodkab42u7jhoasbhlth.gif!
    •  
      CommentAuthorswenson
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2014
     

    @Willow – couldn’t agree more…

    Some people think it looks cool, some people think it doesn’t, everybody’s entitled to their own opinions.

  3.  

    On the topic of things not Star Wars or Age of Ultron, Interstellar was a bit of a let down. Could have really used some pruning to help the movie keep its focus and avoid dangling plot threads that didn’t lead anywhere. None of the characters were really that engaging either.

    •  
      CommentAuthorTakuGifian
    • CommentTimeDec 1st 2014
     

    I’ve heard that Interstellar’s sound was terrible, as well. Like, loud whistling over top of quietly whispering actors at the pivotal reveal scene. Did you find that a problem, organic?

    •  
      CommentAuthorpugbutter
    • CommentTimeDec 1st 2014
     

    “dangerously overpowered lightsaber”

    what

    •  
      CommentAuthorFalling
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2014 edited
     

    I’ve heard that Interstellar’s sound was terrible, as well.

    I dunno. I watched it in an IMAX, which was amazing for the sound system alone. I didn’t really know what to expect from the film, except I knew people were split on the ending. I personally really enjoyed the film.

    re: Star Wars trailer. I was thrown off by the first half- the sudden pop-up, close screen, followed by the soccer ball droid had an amateur film feel though I’m not sure why. I liked the second half of the teaser… except that dang lightsaber design. I know ya’ll have already hashed it out, but I don’t think it works on any level. I find it contradictory within the context of the universe’s own rules- there’s no stopping power because the actual cross-piece is not a light saber, and would therefore cut through, if the material is lightsaber proof, it would make more sense to make a real hilt out of THAT material.

    As it stands there is no hilt, just two mini-chainsaws really, really close to your hands, and swinging right in front of your chest. And then Rule of Cool… I think it looks silly, not cool. So I personally can’t make it work on any level, but hopefully everything else about the film is good. I’m excited for my x-wing vs tie fighter battles. I love that era even if they purged Thrawn, Karrde, bel Iblis, and Jade :(

    •  
      CommentAuthorPotatoman
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2014
     
    PONYO IS SUCH A GOOD FILM OH MY GOD
    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2014 edited
     
    bq. I find it contradictory within the context of the universe’s own rules.

    Not sure how. The acrobatic Darth Maul used a lightsaber akin to a bo staff. The master duelist Dooku used a single lightsaber with a curved hilt. This new guy, he's an inexperienced berserker. He won't be twirling anything like prequel-era Anakin and Obi-Wan, he's using that lightsaber as a bludgeon.
    •  
      CommentAuthorApep
    • CommentTimeDec 17th 2014
     

    Saw the final Hobbit movie. Very much enjoyed it. Y’all should see it.

    Now, some specific thoughts:

  4.  

    They obviously kept Smaug around so that he could do that awesome promotional interview on the Colbert Report.

    •  
      CommentAuthorTakuGifian
    • CommentTimeDec 25th 2014
     

    Saw The Hobbit: 3 today.

  5.  

    ^ Yeah, I didn’t understand why this one was the most critically reviled of the three. Not saying that I love any of The Hobbit movies, but this one moved along at a good clip at the very least, compared to the first one. (Although the fight scenes were too video-gamish for my taste.) The scenes with Bilbo and Thorin were great as always, but now I wish that they had spent even more time developing that relationship in the other movies. Martin Freeman is such a perfect Bilbo that it makes me sad that he often gets lost in all the surrounding noise of BATTLE and IMPENDING DOOM.

    On a less positive note, I’m just continually pissed with what the studio did with Tauriel. I never objected to inserting an original character- as long as you’re padding the story out, you might as well – but to make the new female character nothing more than a love interest in a shittily developed love story is a perfect illustration of Hollywood sexism. It just leaves a sour taste in my mouth, in addition to sucking up valuable time in the movie that could have been devoted to Bilbo or Thorin, the actual protagonists.

    I’m just waiting for the fan-edit that gets rid of all the extraneous nonsense, because there’s a good 4 and a half hour movie in there somewhere.

    •  
      CommentAuthorTakuGifian
    • CommentTimeDec 26th 2014 edited
     

    Oh yeah, that reminds me, SWQ, I was extremely pissed off when

    •  
      CommentAuthorFalling
    • CommentTimeDec 26th 2014 edited
     

    Honestly, I almost thought we had a potentially powerful moment. Maybe because I’m in the middle of Anna Karenina, but I’ve been thinking about what happens when you abandon everything for the one you love… and then you lose your love. Where do you go from there? The execution was shaky with Kili and Tauriel, but I was willing to forgive if the pay-off was decent. Then Tauriel got exiled, effectively cutting her off from everything she ever knew. We got a rather nothing scene going up to Gundabad.

    I didn’t care for snow-boarding Legolas in the Two Towers or even his Oliphaunt antics in Return of the King, and so while I support Legolas being included in The Hobbit, I don’t really like HOW they included him, which essentially was more and more of the very moments I disliked so much from the original trilogy. However, even forgiving Legolas-antics, there is a tonal problem. Legolas pirrouettes works in the barrel scene in Hobbit 2 (in theory) because it’s all comedy and we’ve somehow stumbled into some kind of madcap Jacki Chan or Stephen Chow adventure.

    I felt they dropped the ball in either the third film or else the set-up in the second, but it wasn’t an issue of departing from the book so much paying attention to their own story.

    I did enjoy the movie and I have been a big defender of Jackson’s Hobbit films because I think they are much more thoughtful adaptations than people give him credit. In fact, they may be more thoughtful adaptations then the Lord of the Rings (However, Lord of the Rings are the superior films.) But I think they stumbled before the end, which retroactively makes it harder to defend the shakes along the way.

    I think the Smaug attack was great- the parlay between Bard and Thorin was also good. From beginning to end, Martin Freeman was the perfect Bilbo.

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeDec 28th 2014
     
    bq. I’ve heard that Interstellar’s sound was terrible, as well. Like, loud whistling over top of quietly whispering actors at the pivotal reveal scene.

    There are no issues with the sound. None. And that's coming from someone who _had_ to admit Bane was only intelligible maybe 60% of the time he was onscreen in _The Dark Knight Rises_. Even Zimmer's (long, empty) score is used sparingly and to largely appropriate effect. If you're citing a specific example someone else gave, then they simply can't cope with silence in movies longer than two seconds. The sound was incredibly dynamic and immersive, and used to great dramatic effect.

    bq. None of the characters were really that engaging either.

    I disagree, especially with McConaughey's character.
    •  
      CommentAuthorTakuGifian
    • CommentTimeDec 29th 2014
     

    That’s not suspiciously defensive at all, Rocky. I’ve heard that there are issues with the sound from a wide variety of sources, including professional film critics/journalists.

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeDec 29th 2014
     
    Defensive, yes, but honest nonetheless.

    I don't recall have _any_ trouble understanding what was being said. There were moments where the music was blaring and borderline oppressive, but I didn't miss anything. I do genuinely wonder if a lot of people, critics and otherwise, were simply itching to complain about something.
    •  
      CommentAuthorTakuGifian
    • CommentTimeDec 29th 2014
     

    There were moments where the music was blaring and borderline oppressive

    There are no issues with the sound. None.

    lol

    If you didn’t miss (or struggle not to miss) any of the dialogue, you are apparently in the minority of the Internet.

  6.  

    I love Legolas antics. When he hopped up falling rocks to kill an orc, I just burst into hysterical laughter. But then I have a pretty absurd sense of humor. Out of the things to come out of The Hobbit movies, the best are:

    1) Thranduil, period.
    2) Benedict Cumberbatch’s mo-cap facial expressions
    3) Martin Freeman as Bilbo

    Also, everybody’s ears are different, nbd.

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeDec 29th 2014 edited
     
    bq. If you didn’t miss (or struggle not to miss) any of the dialogue, you are apparently in the minority of the Internet.

    I genuinely don't understand the complaint. I didn't struggle catch the dialogue, even with a "blaring and borderline oppressive" score. Speaking of which....

    bq. blaring

    A hallmark of many a composer's work. John Williams has written blaring, bombastic music. That doesn't mean the dialogue is automatically buried.

    bq. borderline oppressive

    Clarification: the score has portions dominated by pipe organ, which made it "oppressive" in the dramatic sense, not the sonic.

    For those who haven't seen it: this is one of the best-looking movies I've seen in some time and easily the best-looking high profile film of the year. It also has two of the most intense sequences I've seen from Nolan, who seems to have a knack for wringing every drop of tension from a cinematic situation.
    •  
      CommentAuthorFalling
    • CommentTimeDec 30th 2014
     

    I didn’t realize people were having troubles with the Interstellar sound.
    I saw it in Imax and thought the sound was amazing- it’s one of the things that stood out and I commented on when driving back home. It has such a huge range from dead silence in space to almost overwhelming sonic flood at especially intense moments. I went in knowing that people were conflicted on the movie, particularly the ending, but personally really enjoyed the film.

    •  
      CommentAuthorTakuGifian
    • CommentTimeDec 30th 2014 edited
     

    Opinions will always be subjective, so I think we should leave it at “some people like the sound, some people didn’t”.

    I now know two people who liked the sound (Rocky and Falling), so I can no longer say “everybody I know who has seen it had a problem with the sound.” So there’s that.

    Anyway.

    Big Hero 6.

    Go see it.

    •  
      CommentAuthorPuppet
    • CommentTimeDec 30th 2014
     

    I also saw it in IMAX and thought the sound was spectacular. I think most of the complaints have to do with non-IMAX showings. It’s entirely possible that the film’s sound was “optimized” for IMAX theaters but otherwise left as is for standard showings. As Falling said, there’s a huge range of sound throughout the film, from the complete silence of space to the entry of the atmosphere, and for the latter I can totally see how the sound could come out as “muddled.”

    •  
      CommentAuthorFalling
    • CommentTimeDec 30th 2014
     

    I agree, I really liked Big Hero 6, even if

    I really, really enjoyed it- I laughed so much throughout the story. It was a great film that didn’t feel like Pixar or a Pixar wannabe- it was legitimately its own thing. The very ending was an ‘oh of course’ but I hadn’t thought of it in the moment.

    •  
      CommentAuthorPryotra
    • CommentTimeDec 30th 2014
     

    1) Thranduil, period.

    Yes. Very much so. Honestly, I’m not the biggest fan of the movies (I feel that Jackson is kind of reveling in his grit) but Thranduil is amazing. And Benedict Cumbersmaung.

    Even if he’s a wyvern for some reason.

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeDec 31st 2014
     
    Psst, Willow: "you're in the minority":http://insidemovies.ew.com/2014/12/30/star-wars-most-anticipated-2015-movies/.

    :P

  7.  

    There is no way that Star Wars is not more highly anticipated than Avengers in the general, mainstream movie-going population. Both will make a metric shit-ton of money (unless something goes very seriously wrong) but Star Wars has two generations’ worth of fan nostalgia and major pop-cultural recognition that comic book movies outside of Batman and Superman just don’t have.

    (Yes, I realize that the prequels don’t have good nostalgia as movies, but I recently realized that The Phantom Menace was released when my brother was in utero. I have fond childhood memories of going to see those movies, and I’m probably not the only one.)

    • CommentAuthorWiseWillow
    • CommentTimeDec 31st 2014
     

    I’ll admit, I saw A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back yesterday and today. They’re pretty awesome. But the prequels sucked (with tiny glimmers of awesome just to make it suck more), and I don’t like JJ Abrams. So… yeah. I recognize I’m probably minority here. But… AGE OF ULTRON OH MY GOD.

    •  
      CommentAuthorTakuGifian
    • CommentTimeDec 31st 2014
     

    They’re pretty awesome

    Understatement of the decade?

    Personally, I’m looking forward to the inevitable announcement of the Peter Jackson Silmarillion ennealogy adaptation. Or maybe Children of Hurin.

    •  
      CommentAuthorPryotra
    • CommentTimeDec 31st 2014
     

    Peter Jackson Silmarillion ennealogy adaptation. Or maybe Children of Hurin.

    Oh please no.

    •  
      CommentAuthorTakuGifian
    • CommentTimeDec 31st 2014 edited
     

    Could be worse. I’m still waiting for the theatrical release of Maradonia and the Poorly-Planned Manuscript, written, directed, produced by, and starring, Gloria Tesch.

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeDec 31st 2014
     
    bq. Personally, I’m looking forward to the inevitable announcement of the Peter Jackson Silmarillion ennealogy adaptation. Or maybe Children of Hurin.

    Inevitable is actually inaccurate. The Tolkein Estate still maintains the rights to everything outside The Hobbit and LOTR, and judging by their reaction to Jackson's adaptations, they won't be selling them to him if he offered the solar system.

    bq. ...and I don't like JJ Abrams...

    I just want to throw this out there: Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the two writers with whom Abrams has worked most frequently, who wrote both Star Trek reboots and Mission: Impossible 3, along with other classics such as Transformers 1 and 2, Eagle Eye, Cowboys and Aliens, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, are *not* working on The Force Awakens.

    That's a pretty big game changer, as far as Abrams is concerned.
    •  
      CommentAuthorTakuGifian
    • CommentTimeDec 31st 2014
     

    judging by their reaction to Jackson’s adaptations,

    This is news to me. Did the Estate not like the adaptations? Why did they approve a Hobbit trilogy if they didn’t like LOTR?

    •  
      CommentAuthorswenson
    • CommentTimeDec 31st 2014
     

    I don’t want either a bad Children of Hurin movie or a good one… either way you’re going to sit there crying for three hours and go home and be depressed for the next six months.

    My word, that book is depressing.

  8.  
    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeDec 31st 2014
     
    bq. This is news to me. Did the Estate not like the adaptations?

    No, "they most certainly did not":http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/nailbiter111/news/?a=72375. It may be more accurate to say Christopher Tolkien himself is the non-fan, but I'm not sure the degree of control he maintains over the properties. I'm assuming all of it (apart from what's been adapted, obviously). I mean, he and his family were invited to meet Jackson and they outright refused. And this isn't just on the basis of the Hobbit trilogy, but both trilogies.

    Given the fact the third Hobbit entry became subtitled "The Battle of the Five Armies", I have a hard time forming an argument against his statements.

    bq. Why did they approve a Hobbit trilogy if they didn’t like LOTR?

    I can't answer that. The rights might have been bought many years in advance and never quite reverted. I haven't researched the "why".
    •  
      CommentAuthorFalling
    • CommentTimeDec 31st 2014 edited
     

    I’m conflicted on my views of Christopher. On one hand, I am deeply indebted to all the material he has carefully compiled to make available every writing that Tolkien committed to paper, even if it was on a napkin. On the otherhand, I believe he is over protective of his father’s legacy. The books stand on their own as works of art, as all books should. I strongly believe books should enter the public domain shortly after the death of the author- I’m not sure it’s the job of the descendents to hang on to the work.

    But I believe they lost the film rights on the Hobbit and maybe the Lord of the Rings in the early days, or at least they didn’t have ultimate control. There was this real jerk of a guy Saul Zaentz that somehow got a lot of the rights and jealously defended them, shutting down many different things like Lord of the Rings roleplaying games, etc.

    I can definitely see how many of the themes of Lord of the Rings are completely missed or contradicted by the Jackson films. However, they are adaptations and they are very, very good films. I stand by early statement that The Hobbit is in many ways are more thoughtful adaptations (ignoring craaaazy action), but was not nearly executed as well and as a whole the far inferior films. That is, I like many of their ideas in The Hobbit adaptations, I just don’t necessarily care for everything we got.

  9.  

    I can definitely see how many of the themes of Lord of the Rings are completely missed or contradicted by the Jackson films.

    See, I actually thought the adaptations did a remarkably good job of keeping the main ideas intact. Sam’s speech at the end of The Two Towers alone speaks to that fact. There are changes that I didn’t like (making Frodo way more of a jerk in RotK, his rupture with Sam, and changing Faramir in TT) but those only heightened the powers of the Ring, as well as the possibility that Frodo wouldn’t be able to make it – which is a huge issue in the book. The Quest was always a massive risk, and the point wasn’t that Frodo had the Ring because he was the most qualified to carry the Ring. It came to him, and he was obligated to deal with it as best he could, and that’s a kind of heroism in itself.

    Denethor was much less nuanced, but that was balanced by a much more interesting Theoden. Aragorn was made substantially more unsure of himself and his right to rule, but I don’t see that as invalidating Tolkien’s larger point about good and evil. Yes, there is more of an emphasis on big battle scenes (Helm’s Deep, the Ents in Isengard, etc.) but come on – visually speaking, those were adjustments that had to be made. The reason that the LotR films generally succeed where the Hobbit fails is that there are characters like Sam who provide genuine heart.

    •  
      CommentAuthorPryotra
    • CommentTimeDec 31st 2014
     

    I think the real problem with themes and being contradicted comes in the Hobbit movies.

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2015 edited
     
    bq. ...I completely agree that they were a more careful adaptation than the LotR....

    I really, really, really disagree. I mean, in part 2, Smaug goes from smelling the scent of dwarf on Bilbo to completely not noticing a pack of dwarves sneaking just a few dozen feet below him. The entire cat-and-mouse chase through Erebor just neutered so much of Smaug's menace built up in the conversation between he and Bilbo. It's chilling when he recognizes the smell of dwarf, and then they can slink past him - recall, only a few cinematic days before, those dwarves were crawling up through Bard's toilet.
    •  
      CommentAuthorPryotra
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2015 edited
     

    That’s exactly one of the things that I thought that it did wrong. The scene with Smaug, while cinematic, did nothing to really show Smaug’s menace or the build up. It was too busy showing how awesome their CGI was and the fact that the Ring was evil, which was really, really was annoying. Think about it, if the Ring was semi-sentient, why would it want to be hoarded by a dragon for the next couple hundred years?

    At the same time, it hits a lot of the major plot points, since as Beorn (even if they really didn’t do anything with him) which they hadn’t done in LotR, so it’s a more careful adaptation, but still an inferior one.

    •  
      CommentAuthorFalling
    • CommentTimeJan 1st 2015 edited
     

    Exactly, Pryotra.
    My qualification was the crazy action. But in the case of Beorn, considering they did nothing with him, they should have actually cut the character entirely rather than hew close to the book.

    An example of w hat I mean by thoughtfuly adapation is consider the set-up of the book. 13 dwarves and a hobbit set out to a dragon’s horde with not a single weapon on their person. Thorin fights the trolls with a branch he pulled out of the trolls own fire. And even after the trolls, they only have two swords and a dagger. So they didn’t come to kill him, but they have a burglar- what was Bilbo supposed to do? Smaug actually mocks Bilbo on this point

    “I don’t know if it has occurred to you that, even if you could steal the gold bit by bit – a matter of a hundred years or so – you could not get it very far? Not much use on the mountain-side? Not much use in the forest? Bless me! Had you never thought of the catch? ...But what about delivery? What about cartage? What about armed guards and tolls?”

    So what was the plan? I’m not saying the Hobbit book is bad, quite the opposite- I think it works perfectly as it is. But I don’t think you could adapt it for the screen exactly like that and hope by handwave people won’t notice they are very poor planners.

    But the movies started down a very interesting plan. 1) They moved the prophecy stuff to the beginning of the story (all the king under the mountain prophecy stuff, I believe, Tolkien only thought of towards the end, around when they hit Laketown, so that get’s integrated from the start.) 2) They have a plan. The Arkenstone supposedly has some sort of kingmaking property, more than simply a crown which is only a symbol and has no power on its own. I wondered exactly how the Arkenstone make one a king and had hoped the third film would explain. The first two films, but especially the second really emphasize this point. Steal the Arkenstone and the Dwarves will unite, presumably then they can fight the dragon with their armies. So then they need a burgler- why a hobbit? Why they included some of Tolkien’s later musings about Hobbits being very quiet and that Smaug wouldn’t recognize the smell of Hobbit.

    The problem is when they hit the third film the Arkenstone suddenly reverts back to simply a jewel like in the book. By going back to the book at the end, they undercut all their thoughtful planning and we are left with an inherent contradiction. Either the filmmakers misled us in the first two films and they had no better plan then the book, or else the third film faltered and failed to deliver. The fact that the Arkenstone simply vanishes and becomes of no importance to any of the dwarves, but especially the new dwarves is hugely problematic.

    But they had some very interesting ideas for Thorin’s plan.

    You also get the consistent theme of the corrupting influence of evil- we get the the visual turn of Greenwood to Mirkwood as the direct result of Sauron moving into Dol Guldor.

    I will agree the forges fight undercut the grandeur of Smaug- I was onboard for the entire Smaug-Bilbo sequence- I thought it was very well done. I would’ve preferred if he had just smashed the back entrance, trapping them in and head off to Laketown and end scene. I understand their reason for wanting to trap the dwarves, give them a chance to fight back, but fail, thus angering the dragon- I don’t like the end result, but I don’t mind the intention.

    I also think because they had started with the LotR’s that necessitated the tone of The Hobbit to shift towards the LotR’s, else it would feel very disconnected. There were problems with that too- many of their comic moments didn’t really work (Goblin King’s death, for instance). But they tried very hard to mix the light-heartedness of the Hobbit with a shift towards the seriousness of the LotR’s. That’s thoughtful adaptation. It’s also failed art because what they intended didn’t transpire properly on screen, but it wasn’t thoughtless failure.

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeJan 3rd 2015 edited
     
    But you still have the uphill battle of justifying not only the Hobbit film adaptation as a trilogy, but also as a trilogy of movies each _three hours_ long. I'm sorry, but there's not justification for that when you consider the book is only 370 pages. Even if you want to take the screenplay rule of thumb that "one page = one minute of screentime", you'd still only wind up with an adaptation near four hours long, not nine. The theatrical runtime is already longer than Nolan's films (and that's saying something), so when they have the plodding nonsense with Tauriel and Kili, and the non-suspense of Legolas dueling with Azog's kid, it makes me headdesk when the extended versions contain material _from the book_, i.e. the enchanted river in Mirkwood. It's understandable when LOTR had so much ground and detail to cover; it makes no sense when you're dealing with such a brisk novel.

    All I can say is this trilogy of Hobbit movies went all Ungoliant and ate itself through the endeavor.
  10.  

    I went to see Hobbit again because my brother wanted to go with my dad (for some reason) and really wanted me to come too (for some reason). On a second viewing, I appreciated the build-up between the dwarves, elves, and men but once the battle actually starts, everything goes downhill. Everything with Legolas is completely unnecessary, and as much as I love Thranduil, we got more than enough of him in the build-up to the battle. Nobody cares about Legolas’s mom, except Legolas and my brother. :P

    •  
      CommentAuthorPuppet
    • CommentTimeJan 4th 2015 edited
     

    I didn’t really go in expecting it to be very good, but I was pretty disappointed with the Hobbit. I didn’t mind the frame rate, but it did seem to make the makeup/CGI more apparent (especially the elves ears.) I’m sure that’s something that the industry will adjust for as more films begin to get shot in higher frame rates. As for the film itself, there were a couple of things that bothered me:

    1) Why are the Orcs so soft? They’re Arnold Schwarzenegger versions of Elves that are literally bred for war, and yet they get destroyed by tiny Dwarves and Hobbits and untrained villagers. They spent the first half of the movie hyping up these “beasts of war” only to have them run around like headless chickens for the rest of the movie.

    2) Bilbo is actually an Ewok? Going off of 1, one of the things that really annoyed me was the scene where he kills a handful of Orcs with tiny rocks to the head. I mean come on.

    3) Legolas has always been a stupid character, but the rock jumping scene was probably the stupidest segment of film I saw all year. I’m pretty sure Legolas could jump in a falling elevator the second before it crashed and survive because the laws of physics don’t seem to apply to him.

    My biggest annoyance was how 70% of the film was dedicated to fighting and yet the fighting was completely boring and lackluster. They didn’t even show any gore! There were multiple times people were stabbed straight through the chest and the blade somehow ended up clean on the other end or with just a tiny splatter on the tip. The “a group of [insert good guys here] runs straight into a group of Orcs” scene got old after about the 50th time. There was no actual fighting, they literally just bodypiled into each other and struggle-snuggled each other to death. Bilbo’s feet are scarier than the Orcs in this movie. At least in the original trilogy the Orcs were semi-brutal with their war paint and face-gnawing tendencies. These Orcs, which are supposed to be better than the Uruk Hai, were like cuddly teddy bears. Absolutely useless.

    The only reason I’m annoyed is because I paid $16 for my ticket. I wasn’t expecting it to be good, but I was expecting it to be at least worth my time. I’ve seen very few films in the theater that have made me completely lose interest, but the Hobbit was definitely one of them.

  11.  

    My biggest annoyance was how 70% of the film was dedicated to fighting and yet the fighting was completely boring and lackluster.

    THORIN VS AZOG. I have never been more irritated by a fight scene. Azog is supposed to be this scary, competent orc, but he tries to whack Thorin on a lake of ice using a giant mace? I was actually really tickled by the idea that Azog would go down because of his own need to crush Thorin like a bug, no matter the circumstances, while Thorin just stands aside and allows the weight of the mace to take him down. The stillness of that moment and the strangeness of seeing Azog’s face beneath the ice was actually really well-done in my opinion, both creepy and haunting.

    And then it was all ruined by the need to add a cheap thrill. I get that Thorin can’t win the fight, but I really hate that kind of emotional manipulation. It’s absolutely unnecessary.

    •  
      CommentAuthorPryotra
    • CommentTimeJan 5th 2015
     

    And then it was all ruined by the need to add a cheap thrill. I get that Thorin can’t win the fight, but I really hate that kind of emotional manipulation. It’s absolutely unnecessary.

    I kind of agree. I honestly would have had Thorin win the fight and get taken down by some random orc during the battle at the mountain. Bringing the original narrative back into play, and also allowing that moment of victory. Then again, I kind of thought that Azog himself was kind of a pointless addition. Apparently killing the Great Goblin just wasn’t enough to get an orc force to mobilize.

    •  
      CommentAuthorswenson
    • CommentTimeJan 5th 2015
     

    In swenson’s continuing journey to get caught up on all the movies everyone else saw twenty years ago, I watched Mission: Impossible II tonight. It was a fun enough movie, once you got past the incredibly boring romance subplot, but the one word that best characterizes it is contrived. I enjoyed it, but the entire time, I was like “why are you assuming that? Why are you doing X instead of Y? Wait, where even are we and how did we get here? Why did that even happen?” It’s like fractal plot holes.

    Also, what is up with Tom Cruise’s hair… I want to throw up every time I see it…

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeJan 6th 2015
     
    I'm pretty sure the second Mission: Impossible flick is the worst of the bunch. And given the fact Kurtzman and Orci wrote the third one, that's saying something.
    •  
      CommentAuthorswenson
    • CommentTimeJan 6th 2015
     

    We’ll see if the third one’s any better. I genuinely enjoyed Ghost Protocol, as far as I recall, and of course the first one I liked.

  12.  

    I’m pretty sure the second Mission: Impossible flick is the worst of the bunch. And given the fact Kurtzman and Orci wrote the third one, that’s saying something.

    “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to get some guy’s MAGIC BLOOD.”

    •  
      CommentAuthorpugbutter
    • CommentTimeJan 7th 2015
     

    1) Why are the Orcs so soft? They’re Arnold Schwarzenegger versions of Elves that are literally bred for war, and yet they get destroyed by tiny Dwarves and Hobbits and untrained villagers. They spent the first half of the movie hyping up these “beasts of war” only to have them run around like headless chickens for the rest of the movie.

    The same reason Stormtroopers can’t hit anything and their armor is pierced by teddybear clubs.

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeJan 7th 2015
     
    bq. We’ll see if the third one’s any better.

    Phillip Seymour Hoffman is the bad guy. Plus one.
    Michael Giacchino wrote the score. Plus two. (Seriously, "the music pretty much makes the movie":https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwzyveUAS80)
    Simon Pegg is in it. Plus three.
    Laurence Fishburne is in it. Plus four.
    Kerri Russell is in it. Plus five.
    Tom Cruise has short hair. Plus six.

    Downsides? It's not as good as Ghost Protocol. Or quite as much fun. And there's no equal to the whole Dubai sequence.

    bq. “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to get some guy’s MAGIC BLOOD.”

    Holy tuna on rye, THIS.
    •  
      CommentAuthorFalling
    • CommentTimeJan 7th 2015 edited
     

    @Rocky

    Execution is everything. Based on what they provided, I think two films would have been ideal, then three films, and one film would have been the greatest travesty unless it was Novecento length. I don’t dispute that this particular iteration was less then ideal, but I think there are interesting ideas that could’ve taken up three films more easily- the unabridged audio book is 11 hours long.

    To create a story arc that matches the tone of the LotR’s, I think two films could have done it. To capture the original tone of The Hobbit, I think something like an eight part mini-series would work better. Just split them adventure by adventure. I don’t think the issue is lack of content so much as how they used the content.

  13.  

    Yo, The Hobbit is a tiny-ass book, you could do it in one movie easily if you had any self-discipline and were not motivated by the desire to make 3x as much money.

  14.  

    you had any self-discipline

    Admittedly, you would have to have a lot of self-discipline.

  15.  

    Okay, fair.

    •  
      CommentAuthorFalling
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2015 edited
     

    @sansafro

    I disagree that it would make a very good film in one- or at least I don’t think you could do the book justice. What did you think of Ender’s Game adaptation? The book is of comparable length to The Hobbit and feels super truncated- and I’ve seen that reaction from reviewers who had never read the book, but said it felt like there was a whole lot more that was probably missing. It simply felt incomplete.

    •  
      CommentAuthorsansafro187
    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2015 edited
     

    Never read Ender’s Game so I can’t say. I can say this, though:

    That shit ran 77 minutes, hit most of the high points, and was about a billion times more faithful to the spirit of the book. If you had 3+ hours you could do it easily. It just requires some discipline and not falling into the trap of making dull 15 minute action setpieces and inventing boring side-plots.

    And before you say it, who cares that they left out Beorn.

    •  
      CommentAuthorFalling
    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2015 edited
     

    I actually think, based on how they used Beorn in the third film, they should have cut him entirely. That’s a case where they went partially by the book, but either should have gone full book or no book. Either choices would have been superior. Drop by Rhosgobel, give some of his lines to Radagast and be on your way.

    Are you talking about the Rankin Bass film? That felt like a break neck pace, and I didn’t enjoy the pacing of that at all nevermind how poor the film stand simply as an entertaining film. I enjoy animated films and I would not watch that again by choice.

  16.  

    Rankin-Bass Hobbit owns, haters vacate.

    Regardless of what you think of the pacing, you could make it twice as long and it would still be shorter than the individual installments of the new trilogy. You just have to make it about a hobbit getting swept up into an adventure with some treasure-hunting dwarves and getting out of some jams, instead of THE PALE ORC and THE MYSTERIOUS NECROMANCER and HOT ELF ON DWARF LOVING and LAKETOWN POLITICS and LEGOLAS NONSENSE. Who gives a shit about any of that shit, for real.

    Disclaimer in that I still haven’t seen the third one yet(might go tomorrow, if only out of basest obligation) but I thought the second one turned into straight-up dogshit.

    •  
      CommentAuthorFalling
    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2015 edited
     

    “You just have to make it about a hobbit getting swept up into an adventure with some treasure-hunting dwarves and getting out of some jams”

    That is one way to adapt The Hobbit, I agree. And it would make for a very good film. Another way is to connect it to the LotR’s narrative, making use of Tolkien’s own ruminations. I think that also could make for an interesting adaptation. I don’t think the film fails in its intentions, but in its execution. Because they made LotR’s first, it made more sense to make those connecting points, to try and give a sense of how The Hobbit fits in a larger context.

    For animated films, I’d love to see what Don Bluth could have done with The Hobbit in his heyday. In the 80’s he had a very strong storytelling sense. Prince of Egypt caught a sense of grandeur that many live action epics fail to capture. A dozen Disney animated films I could watch repeatedly. But I have no love for Rankin-Bass’s version of The Hobbit. The best I can say is that it was better than Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings adaptation (even if it was innovative with its rotoscope.)

  17.  

    As long as we’re not going for Bluth after the 90s. I have no idea what happened between Dragon’s Lair 2 and Rock-A-Doodle, but it must have been bad.

    And how was the rotoscoping even remotely innovative? Like, did they do something different than what they did in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves?

    •  
      CommentAuthorPryotra
    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2015
     

    Rankin-Bass Hobbit owns, haters vacate.

    This. And the music was amazing. While it was a little rushed, I think it stayed true to the tone of the book a lot better than Jackson’s, being more or less light. Though I do wonder why the wood elves looked as weird as they did in that version.

    •  
      CommentAuthorApep
    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2015
     

    While I don’t hate the Rankin-Bass Hobbit, I do think the Jackson movies have one advantage – they didn’t include every damn song from the book. Everyone sings, and it gets really annoying after a while. There is one song that actually served a purpose in the book, and Jackson & co. did include a truncated version of that (which also pissed me off, because that would have been a great way to explain the dwarves’ backstory).

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2015 edited
     
    See, I can't applaud their mimicry of the tone established in LOTR. It robs from the immediacy and wierdness of the source material. From a storytelling standpoint, I would've preferred a segregated adventure set in Middle Earth. Why burden the narrative with the threat of Sauron and the One Ring? That's what LOTR is for and it dimishes the effect of the scene in Bag End where Gandalf learns the magic ring, the one Bilbo had with him throughout the entire Quest for Erebor, is the one every dark creature has been pursuing for thousands of years.

    I've beaten the Mirkwood horse into reincarnation by this point, but it's my main arguing point. Book Moria and movie Moria shared a distinct connection in their tone and atmosphere even if content didn't match—movie Moria _felt_ like Moria. Mirkwood didn't feel at all like the established environment. That's not due to timeframe or the hallucinogenic air or the lack of one or two details. Tolkien described that forest in such simple, clear detail I can say without doubt they simply aren't the same apart from the inclusion of spiders and the Elven Kingdom at the other end. That's it.

    There's also so much CGI in this, I don't see the big deal in hyping up the filming in New Zealand. Compare Laketown to Edoras. They could've shot in British Columbia, Patagonia, or Kazakhstan and no one would've been the wiser due to all the CGI and set work.

    And, while I'm thinking about it: Smaug the Wyvern. Frankly, I don't care that they changed his leg count; what I don't like is _why_. It's like if they'd just made Aragorn a paraplegic because the actor they'd rhetorically hired had prosthetic legs. Yeah, I get that Cumberbatch had to alter his physiology to protray Smaug, but that's no enough to justify changing a character's appearance produced not only by Tolkien's imagination, but also by his own artwork. Jackson and Co. gave much more convincing and considered justifications for giving the Balrog wings, or not even showing Tom Bombadil, or pushing the encounter in Shelob's Lair to ROTK.

    That's a pretty big reason I can't accept this trilogy as careful even in its intentions.
  18.  

    Why does it matter how many legs Smaug has? Why does there need to be a reason to change how many legs he has? They’re just legs, it’s not like they have plot significance or character development or a big impact on the overall aesthetic of the movie.

    I agree with you about excess CGI and the over-reliance on LotR as a tonal crutch, but there are some details that really don’t matter. The dragon looked awesome and you hardly ever saw his legs in any case.

    •  
      CommentAuthorTakuGifian
    • CommentTimeJan 10th 2015
     

    I actually appreciated the attempt to tie the Hobbit into the LOTR trilogy. As much as it is “just” a story about a hobbit and some dwarves going on an adventure, the story of the hobbit exists within the wider context of the third age of Middle Earth, and that context is indelibly marked by the early signs of the second rise of Sauron. Tying the Hobbit adventure into and situating it within this wider context was a good move in terms of the story, but the way they handled it was obviously quite ham-fisted. Gandalf’s ignorance about the Ring in Fellowship was made nonsensical by the inclusion of clear and demonstrated evidence of Sauron’s spirit having endured and returned to Mordor. If they had made that part more subtle, or not handed the spirit of Sauron the idiot ball (really, revealing himself directly to his four most dangerous enemies before he’d even gained enough strength to face them was just stupid), then it would have tied the trilogies together much more neatly. I did like what they did with Mirkwood, to an extent, but they should have extended that scene further and really explored it much more deeply. It was such a prominent part of the book that their treatment of it in the movie just felt rushed and ill-planned.

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeJan 10th 2015
     
    bq. Why does it matter how many legs Smaug has?

    Did you seriously just read up to "Smaug the Wyvern" and jump to conclusions?
  19.  

    Why does it matter how many legs Smaug has?

    The wyvren thing actually kind of bothered me, but for kind of petty reasons.

    The visual design feels different to me. Whenever a wyvren is on their fours, they feel like they’re kind of scrabbling around, like they’re something that’s struggling, closer to a bat trying to wiggle it’s way across the ground. Their chest position is even down so they feel like they’re kind of scrunched up and on the defensive and their over all design looks more like a chicken than a bird of prey. A dragon though, with their four legs and powerful stances, they feel like predators, like something that’s almost always looking down on you. Even when they’re crouching, they look more like they’re prowling than scrabbling around and thrown off. It’s a minor detail, but it makes a big difference in my mind.

    •  
      CommentAuthorPryotra
    • CommentTimeJan 10th 2015
     

    The visual design feels different to me. Whenever a wyvren is on their fours, they feel like they’re kind of scrabbling around, like they’re something that’s struggling, closer to a bat trying to wiggle it’s way across the ground. Their chest position is even down so they feel like they’re kind of scrunched up and on the defensive and their over all design looks more like a chicken than a bird of prey. A dragon though, with their four legs and powerful stances, they feel like predators, like something that’s almost always looking down on you. Even when they’re crouching, they look more like they’re prowling than scrabbling around and thrown off. It’s a minor detail, but it makes a big difference in my mind.

    This is basically the reason I didn’t overly like Smaug the Wyvern. That, and I didn’t see a reason for changing it from Tolkien’s original vision in the first movie (where he clearly has four legs). I think he would have been even more threatening with all four legs, since he was as much of a killer on land as in the sky, where the wyvern design didn’t have the land factor as much.

  20.  

    Did you seriously just read up to “Smaug the Wyvern” and jump to conclusions?

    No, I read the whole thing and seriously still didn’t understand why the reason for changing the number of legs mattered. To be honest, I watched each of the films with Smaug twice and I didn’t even notice that he had anything but four legs. Maybe I’m inattentive or unobservant or whatever you want, that just wasn’t my priority as a viewer. Oh well.

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeJan 10th 2015 edited
     
    It just struck me as a choice made with the same attitude that shoehorned Azog, Legolas, and Tauriel into the story, or the pointless Laketown politics, or the whole firing up the forges climax of part 2. I guess it's more of a pet peeve than I realize, but even well-executed decision, if made with flimsy justification, can still very much rub me the wrong way. I think I mentioned earlier I found it easier to buy their portrayal of the Balrog with wings, or moving Shelob to 'Return of the King', based on their reasoning. Making Smaug a wyvern, in difference to Tolkien's artwork, struck me as lacking in conviction. The actual execution of it was otherwise superb.
    •  
      CommentAuthorsansafro187
    • CommentTimeJan 10th 2015 edited
     

    I don’t think giving the dragon extra legs has anything to do with the need to fill more screentime by stretching a short book into three movies. I have no idea why they did that, but I also don’t care, because who cares how many legs the dragon has.

    @Taku:

    No. They didn’t need to have three movies of “context of the story in the history of Middle Earth” or whatever. That shit’s not in the book and the book works fine and the story structure of the book is not designed or able to accommodate all that extraneous crap and a movie can’t do it either. You know what is? An encyclopedia. Here’s a good way to tie The Hobbit to LotR:

    1) Bilbo meets Gollum and gets the Ring
    2) The ring seems kind of sinister maybe
    3) Make the movies look alike visually
    4) That is seriously all you need

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeJan 10th 2015
     
    bq. I don’t think giving the dragon extra legs has anything to do with the need to fill more screentime by stretching a short book into three movies. I have no idea why they did that, but I also don’t care, because who cares how many legs the dragon has.

    They did it because of how Cumberbatch altered his physicality to embody Smaug during the mo-cap sessions. He was down on all fours and craned his head low, which left his elbows pointed high above his back--much like a wyvern, or bat, looks when on all four with its wings closed. That was their reason.
  21.  

    That seems okay to me? Like it literally has no bearing whatsoever on whether the story works. It’s not at all on the same level as the second movie closing out with a dumb noisy chase scene that gets duller with each passing minute.

  22.  

    Anything that Benedict Cumberbatch does in the name of mo-cap must be acceptable.

    •  
      CommentAuthorpugbutter
    • CommentTimeJan 11th 2015
     

    Winged creatures don’t have 4 legs anyway. Smaug’s current design is superior.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/23/Desmodus_rotundus_feeding.jpg

    •  
      CommentAuthorTakuGifian
    • CommentTimeJan 11th 2015
     

    @sansa, I said I appreciated the attempt, not necessarily the execution.

    •  
      CommentAuthororganiclead
    • CommentTimeJan 11th 2015 edited
     

    Winged creatures don’t have 4 legs anyway. Smaug’s current design is superior.

    And dragons are completely unsustainable in an modern-earth-like biology (no matter what you actually have them eat) and shouldn’t actually be able to fly given his tiny wing-to-body ratio. In fact, using biology Smaug should be suffering from some muscle atrophy after not using his for over 100 years. This is a fantastic creature that has no business existing by our world’s rules, using biology arrangements is pretty moot unless you feel like trying to explain away the other biological issues a sleeping dragon brings up.

    Also, that vampire bat is adorable. Look at him, just kind of scrabbling around, sometimes hopping because his big, gangly won’t move as fast as he wants to. They’re freaking adorable when they’re on the ground.

    •  
      CommentAuthorPryotra
    • CommentTimeJan 11th 2015
     

    Winged creatures don’t have 4 legs anyway. Smaug’s current design is superior.

    It doesn’t have to be realistic. It’s a dragon.

    And frankly, it doesn’t matter if it’s more a nitpick, it took me out of the story, there was no reason for the change when one movie had it with 4 and the other didn’t. The change was pointless, and annoying. Besides, it made the pointless chase seen even stupider because there it made me think more about the fact that he was scrabbling about and thus kind of stupid looking (particularly in the Bath of Gold scene) rather than looking dangerous.

    •  
      CommentAuthorFalling
    • CommentTimeJan 11th 2015 edited
     

    I watched the behind the scenes stuff for the extended Hobbit 2 and I don’t recall them changing the four legs to two legs based on Cumberbatch’s performance. They had a LOT of different designs, and the one that had four, I thought it was just Jackson that wondered what it would look like with the front two off. It might have been someone else, but felt more like an iterative process, trial and error until they found something they liked.

    I’m perfectly fine with that, but whether it was because of Cumberbatch or whether it was the iterative design process, to me that seems rather irrelevant. What matters is was it a good dragon design that wound up on the screen. . .and I think yes it was. The forge fight is a separate issue from the dragon design and doesn’t effect my view of the design itself. Yes, I imagined him with four, but then again, I never imagined Agent Smith as Elrond either, or that madman who replaced the stern Lord Denethor.

    As for Mirkwood. . .I mean I guess. But then again, I had a HUGE problem with their Rivendell set in Fellowship- it was always described as the Last Homely House, so I imagined a series of connected and multi-tiered longhouses/ lodges/ great halls rather than a fortified castle. I got over it, but that sort of differences in imagination doesn’t bother me so much any more.

    •  
      CommentAuthorResistance
    • CommentTimeJan 16th 2015
     

    Just watched Black Swan with Natalie Portman. The dancing, and the acting, was of course, absolutely amazing.

  23.  

    I have a soft spot for that movie. Yes, it’s sort of lurid and ridiculous, but Natalie Portman did an incredible job. She totally deserved her Oscar, in my opinion. I loved the score as well – I watched the actual ballet a few months ago and was familiar with a lot of the music, which just made the experience more fun.

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeJan 17th 2015 edited
     
    bq. I watched the behind the scenes stuff for the extended Hobbit 2....

    I think I'd read it from an outside interview. Let me see if... ah, "here we are":http://www.mtv.com/news/1719502/smaug-hobbit-fx-explained/. It's just under the embedded video.

    bq. or that madman who replaced the stern Lord Denethor.

    Heh. I have my own separate criticisms for both The Two Towers ("He's twitching because he's got _my_ ax embedded in his nervous system!") and The Return of the King. None of the movies are perfect, but a peculiar nosedive took form in the second movie, imo.
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      CommentAuthorFalling
    • CommentTimeJan 17th 2015 edited
     

    A friend of mine just finished reading the Return of the King and so each time we’ve watched its movie counterpart.
    The Lord of the Rings films are really on another level. Even if most of the extended scenes in Return bug me. I’m not sure what Return gets so right that The Hobbit gets so wrong. Because there are some appalling changes to the story if you think about it- Arwen’s life is somehow tied to the Ring? How did that happen? The description for Valinor gets co-opted for hobbit heaven, the nonsensical horse charge into Osgiliath… but in the case of the latter two, it’s done so well that I don’t even care about the horrendous liberties. Both scenes are filled with such emotion. (Again execution is everything.) And it’s some of the smallest scenes that stick with me- the moment before the storm between Pippen and Gandalf. People complain about the length of the Return, but Jackson was not afraid of taking these small moments to take a pause with two characters and create a little space with these scenes.

    I’m sure such scenes exist in The Hobbit films, but they don’t stand out near so much- but some of its stand out scenes comes down to two characters: Gollum vs Bilbo and Smaug vs Bilbo.

    This got quoted in my facebook feed and I think is relevant:

    I told Miyazaki I love the “gratuitous motion” in his films; instead of every movement being dictated by the story, sometimes people will just sit for a moment, or they will sigh, or look in a running stream, or do something extra, not to advance the story but only to give the sense of time and place and who they are.

    “We have a word for that in Japanese,” he said. “It’s called ma. Emptiness. It’s there intentionally.”

    Is that like the “pillow words” that separate phrases in Japanese poetry?

    “I don’t think it’s like the pillow word.” He clapped his hands three or four times. “The time in between my clapping is ma. If you just have non-stop action with no breathing space at all, it’s just busyness, But if you take a moment, then the tension building in the film can grow into a wider dimension. If you just have constant tension at 80 degrees all the time you just get numb.”

    I’ve lent out my Hobbit 2 extended so I can’t rewatch the behind the scene right now. But I’m quite it’s a different story on the film. That is Cumberbatch’s performance influenced Smaug movements, but the 2 vs 4 leg was much more to do with the iterative creative process.

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      CommentAuthorPuppet
    • CommentTimeJan 17th 2015
     

    Cyberbully

    Weow. 10/10. Best movie I’ve ever seen.

    •  
      CommentAuthorApep
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2015
     

    Saw Into The Woods last night with my family. Overall, it was a good adaptation, but some of the changes bugged me.

    While I get removing the Narrator, and even giving all his lines to the Baker, I’m bothered that there’s actually more narration than in the stage version. I don’t need what’s going on with Cinderella explained, guys – I know the story. Everyone in the audience does; and if they don’t, why are watching this? I’m also not happy that they almost completely removed the Baker’s father.

    I kinda want to smack the costume/make-up department for being lazy with Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp. Streep’s “ugly witch” looks like she just needs a shower, and the less said about Depp’s “wolf” the better. The Red Riding Hood story and songs have enough creepy undertone as it is – I really don’t need to be going “stranger danger!” during those songs/scenes.

    But I’m mostly upset by the songs that got cut, and what that does to the story. There’s no real time-skip, so “So Happy” and the reprise of “Into the Woods” got cut, so Cinderella and Rapunzel running off makes no sense, and we don’t get to see that “happily ever after” didn’t last all that long. Worse, they cut the reprise of “Agony”, so we don’t even see that the princes really aren’t that great (and we don’t get to see Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen trying to out-ham each other).

    Still, the performances were pretty good all around (I thought Jack’s accent was a bit aggressively British at times, but that might just be the actor), and if this leads to further interest in the stage version, I won’t complain.

    • CommentAuthorDave
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2015
     

    Saw American Sniper tonight . . .

    Not sure what to say other than go and see it.

  24.  

    @Apep I agree with most of your complaints about the Into the Woods film but overall I loved it. I’ve seen it twice already and probably will see it at least a third time. Meryl Streep was fucking amazing though omg. The Baker and his wife were super adorable and had great chemistry. Also, I loved how in the ball scene the music they are dancing to is the Night Waltz from A Little Night Music, one of Sondheim’s other works.

    he Red Riding Hood story and songs have enough creepy undertone as it is – I really don’t need to be going “stranger danger!” during those songs/scenes.

    Yeah, but that’s in the original production as well. I mean look at the wolf’s costume, even (hidden bC nsfw I guess):

    I think it comes across as creepier in the movie because an actual kid is little red and Depp is creepy as fuck.

    and re: Jack’s accent yeah that’s the kid’s actual voice. It’s the same boy who was Gavroche in the Les Mis film.

    What pissed me off most about the film was cutting the subplot with the Baker’s father/the mysterious old man. “No More” is one of my fave songs (and always reduces me to Very Manly Tears) and I’m super bummed they cut it.

    •  
      CommentAuthorApep
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2015
     

    Yeah, but that’s in the original production as well.

    I know, but at least that version actually looks like a wolf, rather than some creepy guy (then again, the stage version usually has some actors playing multiple parts). And yeah, having an actual kid playing Red and Johnny Depp being, well, Johnny Depp doesn’t help matters.

    It’s the same boy who was Gavroche in the Les Mis film.

    Yeah, my brother mentioned that. I was really glad when he died in Les Mis.

    And yeah, cutting the Baker’s father/mysterious old man bothered me, too. I know it’s not a major part, but it’d be nice to get more closure than “he just disappeared”.