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RE: Top-draw cinematic joy - 14/12/2013 12:24:26 AM   
demoncleaner


Posts: 2340
Joined: 3/10/2005
From: Belfast
quote:

ORIGINAL: elab49

I wonder what they've changed. Articles last year indicated they'd gotten the biology wrong - the eye might see it but the brain didn't process at that rate. Hence the poor visuals where characters stood out against backgrounds and the blurring.


Apparently the Normal 3D was making people car sick last year. We have Jackson in the Guardian talking about this. And the HFR was a known anti-dote. The HFR last year was so photo-real (almost silent cinema Brownian motion that made it look like a surreal regional news programme...and someone upboard quite-rightly talked about stacatto movement). Apparently Jackson has sorted both out this year.

< Message edited by demoncleaner -- 14/12/2013 12:27:16 AM >

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 31
RE: Top-draw cinematic joy - 14/12/2013 12:40:43 AM   
Gazz


Posts: 872
Joined: 30/9/2005
There's certainly no denying that Desolation of Smaug is overlong and features a good few unnecessary characters and scenes, but despite these issues it's hard to resist being swept up in the great adventure of it all. Middle Earth is again realised with the high level of creativity and imagination we're used to from Peter Jackson and crew, with each locale bursting with it's own particular brand of beauty. Speaking of those new locales, Desolation benefits a great deal from the fact we're exploring new ground in the series, adding a freshness that many felt was lacking from An Unexpected Journey. Despite a handful of awkward stops in the narrative that primarily serve as set up (Beorn), DOS moves at an exciting pace towards a finale that feels both a treat (Smaug is jaw-dropping!) and a bit of a cheat (you're ending it THERE?!).

Sure DOS isn't airtight but it's very often too exhilarating to notice.

4/5

(in reply to demoncleaner)
Post #: 32
RE: - 14/12/2013 1:37:31 PM   
ArseOfSauron


Posts: 46
Joined: 30/9/2005
THE HOBBIT II: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

Once I would have defended it against all comers (in an Osgiliath way), and declared myself grateful to spend as much time in that world as possible. But there was always a caveat, unrealised before now, that the filmmakersí originality and imagination wouldnít run out. This is the first LotR film that I havenít given 4/4. It is diverting, but ultimately unsatisfying, and suffers visibly from deliberate convolution.

It uses standard tricks to fill gaps Ė action, subplots and inflation of meaningless characters Ė that arenít worthy of a master like PJ. It has none of Part Iís musical interludes or scenes that comb together humour and danger (stone trolls, Riddles in the Dark).

No doubt Tolkien has consistent themes, but the film is hamstrung by its attempt to reprise past glories. Thus we have Thorin tempted by power/gold as Faramir/Boromir were by the ring; Gandalf leaving the company to fight evil by himself, much as he did in the Two Towers; the set-design of Erebor adding little to Moria; and Taudriel (see also Eownyn/Arwen) saving men smitten by weapons as well as attraction.

Taudriel is the red-headed bit of Elven eye-candy gracing all the posters, introduced for the purpose of a love triangle subplot involving Kili and Legolas. It is nice to see Legolas, but his character bears no relation to that which he played in the LotR trilogy. He essentially follows the Company around, arriving a little too late but conveniently in time to mop up some remaining orcs.

He reprises his skateboard stunt from TT in the escape-in-barrels sequence, which is well-realised. It is good to see the elves as warlike and cold, rather than simply one's pacifist homoerotic fantasy. Having orcs invade the Elven kingdom is chilling. Itís not something that happens in LotR and brings home, as it were, the threat of contamination of beauty (read: good) with ugliness (read: evil). However, Lee Pace (Thranduil) is underused (in terms of talent, not in terms of screentime) whilst Stephen Fry is overused (both in terms of talent and screentime).

And that is not to say that there arenít incidents of what made the original trilogy special. The beautiful, horrifying image of Smaug showering molten gold as he thrusts into the night sky, echoing the swirling smoke that is Sauronís current embodiment; Ken Stott (Balin) so moved when the door to Erebor finally opens that all he can say is, ďThorinÖĒ; Bard challenging Thorin about being king of Erebor: "You have no right" and Thorinís contemptuous, "I have the only right."

PJís usual cameo in Bree is comforting, and the town of Dale is well-rendered. Smaug is just as I imagined, although I am not sure about the more articulate Smaug as opposed to the reasonless destroyer Ė the malicious as opposed to the natural disaster. Indeed, one of the filmís heavy-handed tactics is to ramp up the foreshadowing. The tactile, delicate beauty of The Hobbit is that it is a boys' adventure, the young Bilbo's quest - touched only from time to time by a fleeting personal danger rather than the faceless, disenchanted war for humanity - and fully understandable only with hindsight and old age. The audience know the shit won't hit the fan yet, so trying to give the impression it might is disingenuous filmmaking.

Finally, Howard Shore, normally reliable, is just not particularly noticeable. And Ed Sheeran? Really? (Although I forgave TT for ĎGollumís Songí)

The Hobbit kept me warm last winter. I spent many happy bicycle rides in Oxford just thinking about it. Today Iím struggling to remember last nightís rather average film.

The last shot of the film is Bilbo saying, ďWhat have we done?Ē This is perhaps something WBís executives should ponder.

(3/4)

_____________________________

I ... hate this place; this zoo, this prison, this ... reality. Whatever you want to call it. I can't stand it any longer. It's the smell. If there is such a thing. I feel ... saturated by it. I can taste your stink.
Post #: 33
RE: RE: - 14/12/2013 3:02:59 PM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77053
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
You need to post more, AOS! After leaving the cinema yetserday I would have agreed with quite a bit of your post, I even said myself that's it's the first of Jackson's Middle Earth films that won't get full marks from me. After a night's sleep and a good deal of pondering, I still agree with much of what you say but have decided that everything I like an awful lot outweigh the apsects that didn't sit well with me.


< Message edited by Gimli The Dwarf -- 14/12/2013 3:03:07 PM >


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to ArseOfSauron)
Post #: 34
RE: RE: - 14/12/2013 4:47:18 PM   
ArseOfSauron


Posts: 46
Joined: 30/9/2005
Gimli, my one reservation before posting my review was that you'd feel let down But, having read the other reviews in this thread, it appears that Middle Earth doesn't need me to defend it - so my conscience feels clearer.

Everything looks better after a good night's sleep

I'd be interested to read what you thought.

_____________________________

I ... hate this place; this zoo, this prison, this ... reality. Whatever you want to call it. I can't stand it any longer. It's the smell. If there is such a thing. I feel ... saturated by it. I can taste your stink.

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 35
RE: The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug - 14/12/2013 9:03:47 PM   
R W

 

Posts: 319
Joined: 23/6/2006
Itís been one year since Peter Jackson made his return to the fantasy realm of Middle-earth with the first instalment of his three-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkienís prequel to The Lord of the Rings. An Unexpected Journey which though was an enjoyable spectacle featuring a great performance by Martin Freeman who continues to shine as the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, it suffered from its lengthy running time, high frame rate of 48 frames per second and a plot that at times felt plodding. While there will always an issue of these films that drag on, part 2 does have the appearance of a dragon.

Continuing the quest to reclaiming the Kingdom of Erebor, Bilbo, the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and the thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) travel their way fighting giant spiders, the elves of Mirkwood and an Orc army that continues to rise. There is also a small case involving the dragon called Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) living under the Lonely Mountain.

While An Unexpected Journey awkwardly followed the path of The Fellowship of the Ring such as establishing everyone before the action kicks in, The Desolation of Smaug Ė like The Two Towers Ė jumps right into the action from the start as Bilbo and co are being chased by the villainous Orcs from the previous film and then encounters Beorn, a man who can assume the appearance of a great black bear. In two hours and forty-one minutes Ė a few minutes shorter than its predecessor Ė the pace is quick, given the amount of plot throughout with characters being split off into multiple groups as well as new players.

While it is still a surprise to take a rather slim book and split it into three film (originally two), and yet this middle chapter manages to tackle numerous subplots with near-perfect success, such as the inclusion of Orlando Bloom reprising his role of Legolas and Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel who was conceived specifically for the film, while both these bad-ass elves are part of a touching love triangle with Aidan Turner as the sexy drawf Kili; all of which is seen as an attempt at replicating certain aspects of the original trilogy. In Tolkienís book, Gandalf does not appear for the majority of the story, whilst in the film we do see his sole quest to Dol Guldor and despite not having much screen time, this while section is a big set-up for what it is to come in the final instalment.

However, anytime we get back to Bilbo and the dwarves, the film is at its most emotional and character-driven, particularly with the former and his conflict with the One Ring, with Martin Freeman being really the heart and soul of the trilogy. The main themes of the book is loss of innocence and greed, which is evoked in this film showing a dark side to not only Bilbo, but also Thorin Oakenshield whose obsession with Erebor and its treasure creates conflict with our hobbit hero. If there is one character that is truly defined by greed, is the eponymous dragon who Ė in the filmís finest sequence Ė intimidates his little guest Bilbo and his size and growly creepy voice (performed brilliantly by the always-brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch).

As always Peter Jackson knows how to provide the spectacle as we get to see new lands of Middle-earth such as the spider-invested forest of Mirkwood in which Jackson is returning to his horror roots, while the elves led sinisterly by Lee Paceís Thranduil are a bit nastier. With more action this time, featuring set-pieces that have funny slapstick (i.e. a fairground ride-styled sequence featuring wheel barrels) whilst feeling more like Rimgs, with surprisingly a lot of Orc decapitations. Once we get to the climatic fight with Smaug, Jackson is in top form when it comes to monster-basking, following his previous set-pieces such as the Balrog from Fellowship and the triple T-Rex fight from King Kong.

While The Hobbit will never be up there with the masterpiece that is the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug is not only a major step-up from its predecessor, but a spectacular middle chapter which benefits with more action, a quicker pace and the addition of a dragon. Now we will have to wait a full year for There and Back Again.

(in reply to Empire Admin)
Post #: 36
Desolation of Smaug - 15/12/2013 12:20:49 AM   
Alistair

 

Posts: 2397
Joined: 1/10/2005

HUGE SPOILERS:

Repetitive. That's the one word that has stuck in my head since seeing it. I enjoyed An Unexpected Journey very much. It has obvious shortfalls, but I forgave them as I enjoyed it so much. But as the credits rolled on Desolation I just didn't feel enthused about the film. I was willing to hope that Jackson could actually spread one small book over three films, but it's apparent with this film that he's failed to do it. Far too much filler, and far too much unnecessary stuff. Why exactly is Legolas in this film? The addition of the character added nothing. The most interesting sub-plot (taken from the appendices of the books) is Gandalf going off to discover Sauron, which is very brief in the film. They could have cut some of the rubbish with the Elves and concentrated on this kind of stuff instead. And I was actually hoping there would be a little more explanation about Sauron taking on the form of an eye, but I feel even more confused after watching Desolation. Is he a bit of black smoke? Is he a man? Is he an eye? What the hell is he?!?!.

Smaug himself is a superbly realised character, but I felt that even his scenes went on for too long. I quite liked the very ending, as frustrating as it was to have to wait a year. I assume that the final film will open with Smaug's attack on Laketown, which will be something to behold I'm sure.

There's a lot of good in this film and I did enjoy it, but I don't know if Jackson has become a lazy director. There's just too much CGI. In and of itself I don't have a problem with CGI, but when entire sequences are crafted from it - it looks dodgy as hell. It looks lazy. And it will age very badly.

6/10.

_____________________________

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift...that's why they call it the present.
Post #: 37
RE: RE: - 15/12/2013 7:00:17 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77053
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo

quote:

ORIGINAL: ArseOfSauron

Gimli, my one reservation before posting my review was that you'd feel let down But, having read the other reviews in this thread, it appears that Middle Earth doesn't need me to defend it - so my conscience feels clearer.

Everything looks better after a good night's sleep

I'd be interested to read what you thought.



It's a bit of an incoherent ramble.


In the cinema last December, as "The Hobbit" appeared on the cinema screen I settled myself down and prepared for an almost three hour film. What seemed like half an hour had passed and the film had ended. It flew by. It flew by the second time I watched it at the cinema and it flew by two days ago on DVD. Time also seems to vanish whenever I watch the LOTR films. But with The Desolation of Smaug, Middle-Earth did, for the first time, occasionally feel ponderous and slow and I came out of the film severely dismayed that Jackson's Middle Earth may have, for the first time, not be worthy of 5 stars.

My memory of the film is that it consisted of about nine main sequences - Beorn, spiders, elvish prison, Gandalf's wanderings, barrels, Bard, Laketown, keyhole, Smaug. At least one felt pointless (Beorn), one went on for far long (barrels) and two more (prison, Laketown) had moments that I wished would just end, and, most of them involved Taurlel, Legolas, Kili or Stephen Fry. Such feelings are new to me when it comes to Middle Earth. Admittedly, way back in 2002 in a time before even Fellowship was my favourite film, my first viewing of The Two Towers had me kinda hoping for a little less Treebeard (foolish me!), wishing the film to get back to the main thrust of the story. Of course, by the time the film ended and we'd seen The Last March Of The Ents, the earlier scenes seemed much better suited than I'd first expected. With this film ending on a very definite, and quite brilliant cliff-hanger(a moment which really does make mw wish next December was already here), there was no chance for an "aha!" moment in which everything slid into place and There and Back Again will have a tremendous job to do to make that happen. And I'm not sure it can because inter-species love triangles between elves and dwarves do, as it turns out, bore me rigid. As good as it was to see fan-fave Legolas (who was a right moody bugger when younger) back again and as much as I liked both Tauriel as a character and Lily's performance their entire story just seemed poorly handled. I couldn't care less that these were gargantuan changes from the book - The Hobbit is an absolute favourite novel of mine, but Jackson and co. could have chucked in lightsabre-wielding gingerbread men and I wouldn't have minded had it been done a worthwhile fashion (and it's not as if An Unexpected Journey didnít have drastic changes either) - but they just felt wrong. I can't describe how or even why. Maybe it's just because a lot of it felt very much like scenes from LOTR, or maybe the moments were just too distracting and out of place, certainly with Stephen Fry's scenes that did seem to be the case.

And it's really annoying because the bits I really didn't like are now, in my mind, seeming to have taken up more of the screen time than they actually did. And now I'm thinking about all the stuff that I did like, so much stuff, then surely I'm just exaggerating the prominence of the flaws?

Because the prologue and Mirkwood and the meeting with Bard were just great. And even though it went on for too long and featured too much Elvish gymnastics, the barrels ride was actually a lot of fun. When Stephen Fry (it should be noted that I like Stephen Fry and I liked his performance in this, I'm just not entirely such scenes were needed) wasn't about I loved the Laketown scenes too. And Gandalf on his own little quest was just pure perfection for me. I'd happily watch a film of McKellen's Gandalf darning his socks, so when he's visiting the burial chambers of the Nazgul or deliberately placing himself in harm's way by removing spells from an orc-infested stronghold and doing battle with smoke, I'm all giddy with excitement watching scenes that equally match the very best of LOTR. And then there's Samug, a truly magnificent sight to behold, wondrously voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch and taking centre stage in a thrilling final forty minutes sequence. And then, as ever, the design and the visuals all just worked, And the music, Shore's worked magic again. Performances to adore from McKellen, Freeman and Stott, an impressive Luke Evans, ditto for Evangeline Lilly, Armitage perhaps evens better in the role than first time around.

So actually, yeah, I really, really, really did love an awful lot of the film. And if it wasn't the fifth entry in a series that I hold in such high regard I'd have walked out of the cinema proudly declaring it a five star gem. And I think after I've mulled it over for twelve hours I can say that it is. But a little bit less of a gem than the previous four films.

Roll on next December!


_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to ArseOfSauron)
Post #: 38
RE: Desolation of Smaug - 15/12/2013 10:34:01 AM   
ArseOfSauron


Posts: 46
Joined: 30/9/2005

quote:

ORIGINAL: Alistair


HUGE SPOILERS:

And I was actually hoping there would be a little more explanation about Sauron taking on the form of an eye, but I feel even more confused after watching Desolation. Is he a bit of black smoke? Is he a man? Is he an eye? What the hell is he?!?!.



I think that's the point.* But I agree with most of your review.

*Gandalf is trying to assess whether The Enemy has returned and if so, how strong he is. You see him in the latter film as just the Necromancer, black smoke. Now he is stronger, and briefly appears in forms he takes in LotR - the smoke is now a cover rather than a sign of his weakness.

quote:

And if it wasn't the fifth entry in a series that I hold in such high regard I'd have walked out of the cinema proudly declaring it a five star gem. And I think after I've mulled it over for twelve hours I can say that it is. But a little bit less of a gem than the previous four films.


Not quite an Arkenstone, shall we say?

Gimli, Rick_7 told me you'd become an excellent reviewer. He is always right.

I'm interested that you thought Armitage was better this time round. In fact, I felt he had watched the original trilogy and was deliberately modelling himself (or had been coached to act like) Aragorn/Boromir. One of the problems of this film, I felt, was that it devoted its energies to incidental characters rather than the main Company, who remained at the sidelines and were not developed beyond Part I.


_____________________________

I ... hate this place; this zoo, this prison, this ... reality. Whatever you want to call it. I can't stand it any longer. It's the smell. If there is such a thing. I feel ... saturated by it. I can taste your stink.

(in reply to Alistair)
Post #: 39
RE: Desolation of Smaug - 15/12/2013 11:50:08 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77053
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
I think Armitage just filled out the role bit more. AUJ had more of Aragorn about him than in this film, I felt he'd become more of his own character. I do agree about sidelimng the company. Many had less to do than last time and that was little enough.



_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to ArseOfSauron)
Post #: 40
RE: Desolation of Smaug - 15/12/2013 11:54:47 AM   
Alistair

 

Posts: 2397
Joined: 1/10/2005
quote:

ORIGINAL: ArseOfSauron
I think that's the point.* But I agree with most of your review.

*Gandalf is trying to assess whether The Enemy has returned and if so, how strong he is. You see him in the latter film as just the Necromancer, black smoke. Now he is stronger, and briefly appears in forms he takes in LotR - the smoke is now a cover rather than a sign of his weakness.


Nevertheless, it's confusing. I hope that Gandalf has a conversation with Galadriel or something in the final film, explaining what he saw and why this is. The concept of a large flaming eye is a bit...bizarre (Tolkien's doing, I know). I don't think it helped that Jackson chose to show a glimpse of Sauron in the armour he wore at the beginning of Fellowship. That literally makes no sense other than to explain to stupid people who this actually is. But in doing this it adds more confusion as to Sauron's actual form. If he can move around at will and attack Gandalf with such power, then why didn't he just float on over to Mount Doom when Frodo was about to chuck the ring in to the lava?

P.S - I like your username

< Message edited by Alistair -- 15/12/2013 12:04:39 PM >


_____________________________

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift...that's why they call it the present.

(in reply to ArseOfSauron)
Post #: 41
RE: Desolation of Smaug - 15/12/2013 12:43:12 PM   
ArseOfSauron


Posts: 46
Joined: 30/9/2005
I'm not sure I quite understand your logical objection, although I do sympathise. One way that you can interpret what is shown is that it is a display of Sauron's strength, a firework display to scare Gandalf, like a hallucination/premonition of what Gandalf had seen and what was to come.

Firstly, I do not think Sauron can move around at will at the stage of The Hobbit - Gandalf is in his stronghold, Dol Guldur. Second, I am not clear whether, as I say, Sauron could actually shift shape at this stage, or at any stage.

quote:

If he can move around at will and attack Gandalf with such power, then why didn't he just float on over to Mount Doom when Frodo was about to chuck the ring in to the lava?
Firstly, the attack of the armies of Middle Earth was to distract him from that very purpose ("For Frodo!") Secondly, in theory, he may be able to; alternatively, it may be that committing himself to solid form at Barad Dur (the flaming eye atop the tower) means that he cannot shift shape any longer. Quite a lot is made of Beorn (skin-changer) so one might think that if Sauron had this power, it would have been mentioned.

_____________________________

I ... hate this place; this zoo, this prison, this ... reality. Whatever you want to call it. I can't stand it any longer. It's the smell. If there is such a thing. I feel ... saturated by it. I can taste your stink.

(in reply to Alistair)
Post #: 42
Desolation of Smaug - 15/12/2013 12:50:12 PM   
Alistair

 

Posts: 2397
Joined: 1/10/2005
Oh dear, I've gone cross-eyed!

I've always found Sauron a difficult concept to understand. Why does he become an eye? I was hoping for some form of clarification, but then I don't think we're going to get one. Tolkien certainly didn't explain it. It's just a abstract idea that I suppose is easier to accept in print than in a film. Sauron can clearly move about, as he flees from Dol Guldur eventually and sets up home in Mordor where he is safer.

Sauron is ghost-like in 'An Unexpected Journey' when Radagast sees him as a black figure in the shadows, and yet in Desolation he's all over the shop!

_____________________________

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift...that's why they call it the present.

(in reply to ArseOfSauron)
Post #: 43
RE: Desolation of Smaug - 15/12/2013 1:13:41 PM   
Dpp1978


Posts: 1150
Joined: 2/4/2006

quote:

ORIGINAL: Alistair

Nevertheless, it's confusing. I hope that Gandalf has a conversation with Galadriel or something in the final film, explaining what he saw and why this is. The concept of a large flaming eye is a bit...bizarre (Tolkien's doing, I know). I don't think it helped that Jackson chose to show a glimpse of Sauron in the armour he wore at the beginning of Fellowship. That literally makes no sense other than to explain to stupid people who this actually is. But in doing this it adds more confusion as to Sauron's actual form. If he can move around at will and attack Gandalf with such power, then why didn't he just float on over to Mount Doom when Frodo was about to chuck the ring in to the lava?

P.S - I like your username


Tolkien made it clear in his later writings that Sauron had a physical humanoid body by the time he took residence at Dol Guldur. He had lost his physical form at least twice: once at the fall of Numenor (where he lost his ability to assume a fair form) and after the loss of the One Ring. But again he was able to re-assume a physical presence. The only image of Sauron Tolkien drew was of a black human-like figure (that is charred black) and Gollum talks of him having four fingers on his black hand.

The idea of the eye being his actual form pre-dated the films, but it is the films which cemented it in the minds of public. It is probably now the de facto visual image of Sauron: even for those who read the book.

This confusion is perhaps compounded by the fact the image of the lidless eye was used both metaphorically to describe Sauron's near omniscience, and literally in Frodo's vision in Galadriel's mirror and during his glimpse at Barad Dur during his journey to Mount Doom. It creates no small amount of debate among fans (although probably less than the question of whether Balrogs have wings).

For what it's worth I don't mind the change and am fine with the eye being Sauron's form in the films. It makes for a striking visual image and effectively coveys the menace and power of Sauron in a way a giant in a suit of armour might not have. It is also consistent with, and goes some way to expain, how and why Sauron is a hands off commander without a lot of additional exposition.

The major issue I had was having Sauron in his armour during the forging of the One Ring when he should have looked like an Elven lord. But even then I am happy to let it go as it would have been confusing to have him in a third form for only one shot.

I haven't seen the latest film so can't comment on how he is handled here.

(in reply to Alistair)
Post #: 44
Desolation of Smaug - 15/12/2013 1:27:34 PM   
Alistair

 

Posts: 2397
Joined: 1/10/2005
Great post - Thanks for that! This is where it gets even more confusing for me - So Tolkien wrote of Sauron as having a physical form, yet he is also a large eye. Argh!

SPOILERS FOR THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG:

The latest film portrays Sauron as black smoke that speaks to Azog, and then later in the film he appears to Gandalf as several things: smoke, flames, the eye, and at one point he assumes the form of the armour he wore at the beginning of Fellowship.

_____________________________

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift...that's why they call it the present.

(in reply to Dpp1978)
Post #: 45
RE: Desolation of Smaug - 15/12/2013 3:30:26 PM   
AxlReznor

 

Posts: 1623
Joined: 2/12/2010
From: Great Britain
Haven't had time to fully form my thoughts into a review yet, but I loved it. Literally everything about it is about ten times better than An Unexpected Journey (which I also loved, but was and still is the only Middle-earth film to not get full marks from me).

I was sceptical of Tauriel's existence, but when I actually saw her in action my only thoughts were, "Tolkien may not have created her, but he bloody well should have!". Every scene with her and Legolas was fantastic... especially the barrel escape scene which if just transferred from the book exactly as it was would have been incredibly dull to watch.

The scenes with Gandalf investigating Dol Guldur may have been brief, but I always assumed that most of that storyline was going to be saved for the latter half of There And Back Again (which with the Necromancer battle, Smaug's attack on Laketown and the Battle Of Five Armies looks to be even more full of spectacle than the first two films).

Quite importantly, unlike An Unexpected Journey, you never feel the film's running time. When it came to the - disappointingly abrupt - ending, I still felt like there was at least half an hour of movie left as the time had whizzed by so fast. And that ending is pretty much the only thing about the film I didn't like. I know it's just part two of three, but none of the other movies have ended in such a manner. It almost makes me wish that part three wasn't delayed from July to December, because we now have an entire year left to wait.

It's not as good as any of the Rings trilogy, but it comes a lot closer to it than An Unexpected Journey did.

(in reply to Alistair)
Post #: 46
RE: Desolation of Smaug - 15/12/2013 4:03:15 PM   
Giant Green Rabbit


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I saw it in HFR last night and thought it was pretty good. Not really close to the first two LOTR films but certainly a lot better than the last two films set in Middle Earth.

The strength of the movie, just like Unexpected Journey, lies mostly with Martin Freeman's performance as Bilbo. It has real heart and pathos - just about enough to keep it from descending into a soulless CGI-blockbuster. It takes high-quality acting to keep the sometimes mis-stepping from feeling too cliched. Freeman, like Ken Stott, Ian Mckellan, Aidan Turrner and to some degree, Richard Armitage manage to imprint some uniqueness onto the characters they portray, obscuring the predictability of the lines they have to speak. The same cannot be said for Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lily or Lee Pace, whose depiction of 'Wood-elves' seems to be far too literal.

Unfortunately, much like England's opening batsman, Peter Jackson has let his success undermine his discipline. This film sprawls - and this doesn't necessarily mean that that pacing is too slow, unlike the first movie, which was very baggy in the middle hour and a half. Instead PJ increasingly lacks the discipline to spend the time necessary to stitch together his various sequences, and nor does he give himself the space to imbue tension into his imaginative action set-pieces. The visual magnificence of the barrel sequence for example is undercut by a lack of emotional investment in the characters. The effect is one of detachment, more akin to watching a cut-scene in a computer game: impressive rather than immersive. Potentially the love-triangle between Killi, Tauriel and Legolas was an interesting twist but the writing skill required to pull it off isn't quite there. Indeed this might also be because Jackson's rather broad interpretation of what constitutes 'The Hobbit' means less time is allowed for audiences to become attached to the central characters, let alone those on the periphery.Similarly, nor is there enough time to build tension and a sense of foreboding as Jackson managed to do, for instance, in large parts of the Fellowship of the Ring or before Helm's Deep in the The Two Towers. On the other hand, Smaug, which could have been a disaster in less skilled film-making hands is somehow (and I'm not really not sure how), brilliantly rendered.

A note on HFR - it's the first time I've seen a High-frame rate movie and my impressions of it were not favourable. It's simply too accurate in it's wide slower shots to whisk you away into another world. Sets and props are exposed for what they are, and even the subtle flaws in the actors performances rise to the surface of the skin. Each deliberate twitch of the face, forced stare from the eyes and a considered furrowing of a brow are uncovered in cold, digital light, as performance rather than reaction. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that Freeman's naturalistic, uncertain performance seems to suit the screen more than the simpler, conventional rhythms of movement and speech we see from other actors in the movie. The cinematography too suffers from all the sharp rendering - film-making is often about what directors choose not to show you, and it seems as though without the need to focus an audiences attention on the most important elements of any particular shot, the background is allowed to bleed into the foreground, and the visual accuracy seems to distract or even overpower the narrative which we are meant to be investing in.

Though I tried to not allow my opinion of HFR colour the judgement of the movie as a whole, inevitably it had the effect of chipping away the mystique of visual fantasy fiction. My impressions nonetheless are that of a good adventure film being eroded by an unfocussed director and a too sharply focussed lens.

< Message edited by Giant Green Rabbit -- 15/12/2013 4:06:18 PM >


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Post #: 47
RE: Middle-Earth Is Back, But Not Entirely For The Bett... - 16/12/2013 4:27:39 PM   
londonnut

 

Posts: 24
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THIS < sums up why I just can't connect with The Hobbit so far .

I am so over TRYING to like these films; seeing DoS at the weekend finally killed it for me. LOTR on the big screen is still my most exhilarating cinema experience (with only Gravity coming close since) but The Hobbit films may as well be fully animated (thinking about it, it probably would've been a better way to go).

Wheras LOTR was rooted in real environments, practical sets, bigatures and genuinely played 'for real', The Hobbit world is mostly a bit of over-lit set for the actors to stand on and strangely flat backgrounds (even in 3D). The NZ landscape doesn't even look real anymore. No wonder Ian McKellan nearly quit; he saw which way it was going (though his Necromancer clash is possibly the best bit of DoS 'cos it feels like a character might actually be in danger for once).

To rush thru Beorn & Mirkwood but dwell for an interminable amount of time in Laketown with a totally out of place Stephen Fry and inconsequential characters is baffling. Even AUJ had a sentimental joy and innocence to it but DoS has NO wamth, depth or emotional resonance whatsoever. Yes there's brilliantly inventive action which sh*ts over any other 'blockbuster' but there's no risk, no danger and no realism. Smaug?! Incredible build and reveal (and final shots) but in-between PJ seems to be daring himself to go as far a he possibly can in believability (Thorin standing on his teeth?! Really?! And didn't we see that in King Kong?!).

Realism in a fantasy film is an odd thing to ask for but the genius thing about the way PJ approached LOTR was that he wanted viewers to feel like it could be a real place. So when stuff like the Lighting of the Beacons or Gandalf's ride into Minas Tirith happened it was jaw-dropping and spine-tingling. The Hobbit is so far removed from feeling real it's actually joyless and I'm gutted with what he's done just to keep WETA fully staffed (I genuinely believe that's the reason, it can't be creative).


< Message edited by londonnut -- 16/12/2013 5:38:09 PM >
Post #: 48
RE: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - 17/12/2013 12:36:57 PM   
Ref


Posts: 7461
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From: Leicester
Well I loved most of this film, The 2 1/2 hrs flew by and the acting by everyone was top notch. Smaug was just simply stunning in every single shot - the voice was superb. I like how they padded out Thranduil's character more than the book and possibly explained why he is the way that he is. Bombur, I reckon, got best kill with Legolas coming a close second in the barrel scene Loved the scenes with Freeman and Armtiage - such great acting chemistry. I am very much looking forward to the final film and their scenes together.

Things that I weren't overly fond of:
1) The Kill/Tauriel/Legolas love triangle - never find love triangles entertaining.
2) The music. I normally love Shore's compositions, however there are no new themes that I like. It's just 'scary' music for all the fighting/chase scenes (which there are many).

Overall 4.5/5 stars for me.

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Post #: 49
RE: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - 17/12/2013 2:15:03 PM   
No Diggity

 

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Joined: 16/1/2013
Just WHY...and i cant understand how a film with so many flaws is rated as 5 stars....its entertaining in parts, but you come out of the cinema feeling let down and swindled...

1: S. Fry. Goodbye
2: Needless padding. (something that rhymes with padding, and is amusingly scornful)
3: An earlier post summed it up: walking, spiders, prison, barrels, gandalf walking, talking in foggy town, walking side of mountain, dragon talking, dragon chasing...very little progression to core story. borey

Boom, knocked it out of the park with that one

3/5


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Post #: 50
RE: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - 17/12/2013 2:53:31 PM   
elab49


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What do you think the core story is? (Given it was set up as a journey to reclaim the dwarf kingdom and they progress to the dwarf kingdom to do that).

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Post #: 51
RE: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - 17/12/2013 3:50:27 PM   
The Red Avenger

 

Posts: 36
Joined: 20/12/2005
So many conflicting reports.

It Whizzes by - never noticed the running town
It hardly stops
It's never boring
It's too slow
It's ponderous
It's slow and boring.

So which is it?

Seems you can't please all the people all of the time. There is also a difference in opinion on whether it is better than the first movie (AUJ) some feel it's a lot better, some feel it's worse (although they seem few and far between).
I'll admit I had several problems with AUJ myself but these weren't of the story or execution they were more of a perspective. I felt the flow of the film was wrong, it jarred too much. However the extended cut fixes most of this for me. Only 13 minutes more but it's how its used. Lots of tiny edits in the action scenes, A much better Rivendell sequence inckuding a much better segue into the White Council scenes. IT's just a better film for me.
So it's all subjective in the end.

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Post #: 52
RE: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - 18/12/2013 1:33:06 PM   
Nature_Boy

 

Posts: 1
Joined: 2/5/2008
I did feel like we lost poor Bilbo a bit in this film. For LotR, the story starts small and then unfolds ever outwards, encompassing more and more players as the whole of Middle-Earth becomes involved in the fate of the Ring.

For a film called "The Hobbit", we really need to focus more on Bilbo - too many times we were taken away from him, what with the Dale scenes, Gandalf's quest and over-indulgent Legolas screen time.

That said, I enjoyed the film a lot, but more as a spectacle, rather than a fine piece of cinema. I felt that the beginning was rushed (Beorn was poorly served) and the end Smaug battle was too drawn out,

Edit - most haven't read the book, DO NOT refer to occurrences in a film not released for another year again please

< Message edited by elab49 -- 20/12/2013 9:41:42 AM >

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Post #: 53
RE: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - 18/12/2013 5:01:01 PM   
jonson


Posts: 8919
Joined: 30/9/2005
quote:

ORIGINAL: Nature_Boy


Edit. Sorry this now looks odd Jonson, but removing the spoiler means removing the spoiler


And for those of us who haven't read the book, well tough shit, doesn't matter now

< Message edited by elab49 -- 20/12/2013 9:42:13 AM >


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Post #: 54
RE: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - 18/12/2013 5:49:08 PM   
AxlReznor

 

Posts: 1623
Joined: 2/12/2010
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quote:

ORIGINAL: jonson


quote:

ORIGINAL: Nature_Boy





And for those of us who haven't read the book, well tough shit, doesn't matter now


The book was published in 1937... there's got to be a cut-off point for potential spoilers. It's not like no one's had enough time to catch up.

< Message edited by elab49 -- 20/12/2013 9:42:30 AM >

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Post #: 55
RE: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - 18/12/2013 6:49:32 PM   
TheMightyBlackout


Posts: 197
Joined: 28/4/2012
From: Oxford, UK
quote:

ORIGINAL: AxlReznor
quote:

ORIGINAL: jonson
quote:

ORIGINAL: Nature_Boy
and.

And for those of us who haven't read the book, well tough shit, doesn't matter now

The book was published in 1937... there's got to be a cut-off point for potential spoilers. It's not like no one's had enough time to catch up.


Given Jackson's form so far (with both series of films), I wouldn't put hard cash on the outcome either way :p

< Message edited by elab49 -- 20/12/2013 9:42:50 AM >


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Post #: 56
RE: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - 18/12/2013 9:06:20 PM  1 votes
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3824
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At the Prancing Pony Inn in Bree, Gandalf the Grey persuades Thorin Oakenshield to obtain the Arkenstone to unite the dwarves, and suggests that a stealthy burglar may be needed to steal the jewel back from the dragon, Smaug. One year later, Thorin and his company are being pursued by Azog and his Orc party. After Bilbo informs the group that a bear is also tracking them, Gandalf ushers them along to the nearby home of Beorn, a skin-changer who has taken the form of the bear. The following day, the company reaches Mirkwood where Gandalf discovers Black Speech graffiti imprinted on an old ruin, and abruptly leaves without explanation. He cautions them to remain on the path and wait for him before entering the Lonely Mountain, but they lose their way and are caught by giant spidersÖ

How has it come to this? Just over a year ago, I was writing a stupidly lengthy article for this here website praising to the skies the Lord Of The Rings film trilogy. Now, I sit here at this computer and feel thoroughly disheartened because Iím going to struggle to say much that is good about the second film in director Peter Jacksonís prequel trilogy The Hobbit. Even before seeing An Unexpected Journey I was very unhappy at the decision to expand J.R.R. Tolkienís book to three films. No matter how much you take and expand upon from the writerís Appendices, which may fill gaps and connect his stories better but were mostly written after the fact, it didnít seem that there was enough material to fill three films which, of course, knowing Jackson, were going to be over two and a half hours, and the whole concept smelt of being more of a commercial than an artistic endeavour. Coming out of An Unexpected Journey, it seemed that my suspicions were correct. The film was enjoyable, but it was all ridiculously bloated and Jackson seemed to be turning into George Lucas in more ways than one. This second movie has some very good moments, but there are times itís far worse than the first one, and it saddens me to say that a director Iíve loved right from Bad Taste is turning into one Iím beginning to hate.

I guess how much you enjoy The Desolation Of Smaug in part depends on whether youíve read or liked the book, though I think itís a badly flawed film even if taken on its own. For me personally Ė well, Iím not going to go on about my childhood being violated- but I certainly felt similar such emotions watching this film. This film is NOT The Hobbit. Its elements from a few chapters of The Hobbit augmented by a load of other stuff, but worse than that, it prefers to skip portions of the book in favour of material that isnít in Tolkien at all. It prefers to have a bloody love triangle, bloody Stephen Fry reprising his role from Blackadder, and bloody irrelevant action scenes that donít actually have barely any bearing on the main plot. I would say at least a third of this film is totally invented. I certainly donít believe that films should be totally accurate to their sources Ė itís my belief that there are some ways in The Lord Of The Rings films where Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens improved on Tolkien Ė but The Desolation Of Smaug is just ridiculous in this respect. Itís a total travesty of an adaptation and shows, even more than An Unexpected Journey, that Jackson and co. stretching the book into three films is being done strictly because of greed.

Taken on its own, The Desolation Of Smaug is a reasonably entertaining fantasy adventure for much of the time and its first hour is actually rather good, but it still has problems and soon after that it goes downhill quite fast. An early sequence of Bilbo and company battling big spiders is nice and intense and will probably make anyone afraid of spiders feel very uneasy, but the next big action scene where the team are escaping the Elves in barrels on a river in the middle of a battle between Elves and Orcs shows only a flash of the technical and film-making skill that was constantly on offer in The Lord Of The Rings. Itís especially hampered by overly fast cutting, some really bad water shots which look like they were done on a normal video camera, and excessive use of CGI which is sometimes quite bad. In fact, there are shots in this film of Orcs on Wargs [wolf-like creatures] which are really embarrassing for a production with a budget like this, and why on earth did Jackson think that computer-generated Orcs look better than live-action ones? His love for what CGI can do has resulted in laziness and a sterile feel to some of the proceedings. One of the things that was so great technically about The Lord Of The Rings was its great and varied use of traditional techniques as well as CGI, but thereís far less evidence of that here. And anyway, is it me or is CGI in some respects getting worse?

The Desolation Of Smaugís pacing is way off. Even if you havenít read the book, itís obvious that much of the first half is rushed and much of the second half dragged out. It takes forever for them to get inside that darn mountain and find Smaug, and, while the big climactic action scene is certainly exciting, itís constantly ludicrous, with characters able to fall hundreds of feet and get up again and balance on a dragonís head. I know The Lord Of The Rings films had a bit of this stuff, but it was only here and there and resulted in some great ďHell YeahĒ moments, while much of the rest of it still felt somewhat grounded. Here, nothing seems to have any reality to it. Smaug the dragon moves quite convincingly but looks so much like a certain other film dragon that I kept expecting Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy to show up, and heís a thorough idiotic dragon too, though at least heís a good character. The result of constantly taking the attention away from Bilbo and the Dwarves Ė the folk we should care about most Ė means that the hobbitís relationship with his co-adventurers is now barely a relationship at all, because the filmmakers would rather show us Super Legolas killing fifty orcs. And that love triangle, I mean for Godís sake. Maybe it was put in a sop to female viewers [as well as make up for Jackson not having achieved his wish of having Arwen kick arse at Helmís Deep], and I will admit that Evangeline Lilly certainly looks good and provides some eye candy for the fellas, but actually itís getting annoying that every female lead character in a film, however tough they may be, still seems to need a love interest.

The Desolation Of Smaug often looks great, with the varied landscapes of New Zealand again being put to great use, and some of the scenes involving Gandalf and a certain deadly peril bring in some welcome darkness, but this particular subplot, despite being in Tolkienís Appendices, is given short shrift [the film would rather waste time on other stuff], its scenes coming across as an interruption when they shouldnít be, and they canít even seem to work out what the villain here looks like. Elsewhere a great deal just seems like rehashes of bits and pieces from The Lord Of The Rings [not the fault of the screenwriters in every case, I know], with even some Ďtempted by powerí stuff, but it mostly feels like a pale shadow of what weíve seen before [even if it actually happened afterwards, if you know what I mean]. And then the thing just suddenly ends. The first movie and indeed the first two Lord Of The Rings films may have finished with the story obviously not over, but they still felt like completed films in their own right and had good final scenes. This one appears to just stop mid-scene.

The cast mostly play their parts well and Ian McKellen can still make the tackiest of dialogue sound like the best of Shakespeare but poor Martin Freeman just doesnít get much of a chance to shine here. Howard Shoreís music provides reasonable dramatic backing but is thoroughly unmemorable and only really shines when bits of Lord Of The Rings themes are heard. I suppose they shot themselves in the foot by not filming The Hobbit first, which I still think they should have done, and as one film and without all the Appendices stuff. Then, the move on to the epic that is The Lord Of The Rings would have been thrilling. What we have instead is Jackson and co. trying to make The Hobbit like The Lord Of The Rings and struggling to recapture their past glories. The Desolation Of Smaug is not, overall, a terrible film, hence the not-too-bad rating for a film Iíve spent ages criticising, but itís decidedly messy, only actually gets good in occasional fits and spurts, and remains an insult to its source material. What a shame itís come to this.

Rating: 5/10


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Post #: 57
RE: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - 19/12/2013 2:52:48 PM   
jonson


Posts: 8919
Joined: 30/9/2005
quote:

ORIGINAL: AxlReznor

quote:

ORIGINAL: jonson


quote:

ORIGINAL: Nature_Boy




And for those of us who haven't read the book, well tough shit, doesn't matter now


The book was published in 1937... there's got to be a cut-off point for potential spoilers. It's not like no one's had enough time to catch up.


I would still imagine the majority of cinema goers haven't read the book, not most as the original poster said.
I haven't read Lord of the Rings, so when Frodo was dangling at the end, I seriously thought he might die. It was a nice surprise when he didn't.
I'm glad literary snobs weren't around then.


< Message edited by elab49 -- 20/12/2013 9:43:11 AM >


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Post #: 58
RE: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - 19/12/2013 3:19:36 PM   
horribleives

 

Posts: 4976
Joined: 12/6/2009
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quote:

ORIGINAL: AxlReznor

quote:

ORIGINAL: jonson


quote:

ORIGINAL: Nature_Boy


and the end Smaug battle was too drawn out, given most of us have read the book and know that their efforts will ultimately be in vain.


And for those of us who haven't read the book, well tough shit, doesn't matter now


The book was published in 1937... there's got to be a cut-off point for potential spoilers. It's not like no one's had enough time to catch up.


I think l it sort of is like that - we haven't all been around since 1937 have we? And some of us might just, y'know, not want to read it.


< Message edited by elab49 -- 20/12/2013 9:43:23 AM >


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Post #: 59
RE: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - 19/12/2013 3:37:20 PM   
AxlReznor

 

Posts: 1623
Joined: 2/12/2010
From: Great Britain
The point is, when a story is over 65 years old, complaining about spoilers is a bit dumb. And the fact that it's older than most of us, and it's the sixth highest-selling book in the world make it even dumber. But if I were a literary snob, I'd probably hate the film rather than love it.

PS: The Titanic sinks, and Romeo and Juliet die.

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Post #: 60
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