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. So. Hobbit #2.

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer
I knew exactly what to expect as I walked into this thing. And I got it, in spades.

So, then, okay. The good the bad and the ugly.

The good - ah, Smaug my love. I went in for the dragon, dammit, and the dragon was wonderful. Except- stretching into the Jacksonesque overkill once more - themolten statue WTF? And didn't anyone watch that scene from Game of Thrones where Khal Drogo pours molten gold over his new brother-in-law's noggin, and it kills him, and Daenerys says dismissively, "he was no dragon"? Don't you know even without that piece of evidence that dragons, um, are fire and heat beasts and in particular GOLD LOVING beasts, and gold plating one would just make it mad, not hurt it...? (I WAS a tad disaappointed in themuch-vaunted Cumberbatch voiceover. The voice was so filtered and altered that i really had to fight to remember who was talking. WHich was annoying, just a tad, because it was kind of awesome to have Sherlock Dragon and Dr. John Burglar yapping at each other in the golden hall. My different fandoms, colliding. Also, the good - the usual. The visuals. But yet once more I have to point out that New Zealand is UTTERLY PHOTOGENIC and it would be hard to screw THAT up - I think I know EXACTLY where he shot Laketown, actually - but - well - they're starting to blur just a little, they are, all those vaulted halls with arching lipless bridges over the void - wait a sec, are we inside a dwarf hall, a goblin city, or an elven throne room, again...? And, um, at least he appears to have learned a LITTLE bit aoout the qualities of a king in the intervening period. Although THorin doesn't always wear his royalty well... at least he wears it, arrogance and all, which is more than an Aragorn was ever given. Are you seriously telling me that Thorin "knew" mor about being a King than Aragorn did, both after years of exile in the wilderness, so to speak? Why? And how come it didn't reduce HIM to Aragorn's hand-wringing "I am not worthy" persona of the LOTR movies?..

The bad - the things that were MISSED. I wanted to see that scene of arrival at Beorn's shown, where Gandalf had the dwarves arriving in dribs and drabs to keep Beorn sweet. They just didn't seem to think that was an essential keystone but it was... of the ORIGINAL HOBBIT. Perhaps the goddamn CGI bear was just too important to... but more on CGI below... Also, the spiders. As it stands the whole spider scene (a) comes more or less out of absolutely nowhere and (b) dammit, just because you need to introduce Legolas the Badass somewhere and drop another extracurricular ninja girl-elf character in there just for kicks, yanno, that doesn't mean that the ELves have to take over here. The dwarves really come off rather acted-on than acting, if you know what I mean. THe small tiny question of protagonisting and agency and all that. There are moments but they are separated by looooong half hours and there are not nearly enough of them, as it were.

The ugly... several things. One, Jackson LOVES him his orcs, doesn't he? He lingers so lovingly on their twisted visages, so tenderly on their dismemberment, so keenly on their grunts and growls, and let us not forget the obligatory Jackoniana of Orcish and Goblinish hordes in funky armor massing for bloodshed marching in lockstep in their thousands until the ground verily shakes underneath them all. WHich leads into Two, Jackson and his extracurricular whackfests. What was that business with Legolas stomping on dwarwish heads in the Battle of the Barrels? And really, watching him go all ballistic Yoda Action Figure in the streets of Laketown with a clutch of evil goblins - well - nice try, Jackosn, but we KNOW he survives because yanno LOTR so we know he isn't in any real danger. So close but no cigar. Also, just to have it on record, I am bracing myself for what Jackson will do in teh wholesale mayhem of the Battel of Five Armies in #3. It will be something to weep over, I suspect. LOTS of dead goblinses. Loooooots. Three. CGI Overkill!!! GODDAMIT!!! That whole "Sauron" thing. Really, Jackson. REALLY. Just stop it. If you want to do a cartoon go and do one somewhere else. I MEAN IT. Unfortunatelyhe seems wedded to this. And some of the stuff is just plain BAD. The aforementioned Sauron manifestation. Beorn's bear form (he looks... mishappen... as the bear. The first time we saw him I thought he was a stray and rather large Warg, actually. When you can't tell your goodies and your baddies apart it begins to be largely irrelevant as to who's doing the dying in the whackfests. Four - just WTF with the elf/dward miscegenation? We all know it ain't going anywhere. It's just sleight of hand and misdirection. If you absolutely cannot conceive of a Tolkien story without the injection of romance, why not stick to Legolas's unrequited affections towards the "she-elf" (really? a she-elf? that's the best you can do?)? The whole dwarf romance subplot is... just... cringeworthy. Five, while we're on the Elves, did anyone else kind of want to know what happened to the intermittently working Universal Translator? I mean, Legolas and Tauriel would switch between English and Sindarin WITHIN A GIVEN CONVERSATION with no warning and no particular reason - perhaps just to show off the Elf Pretty Talk. But then they drop into English again because, hey, over here, that's what your audience speaks (with the possible exception of a few die-hard geeks who went to Sindarin evening classes when they were young...) Six, Jackson can't resist showing off and insists on "pre-shadowing" stuff - the whole kingsfoil/athelas thing - that was kind of Aragorn's claim to fame. Here, well, it's just an excuse for (a) more off-kilter grafted-on "romance" and (b) more CGI of course. I really don't know what it is about Jackson and his CGI worship. Maybe that's why these movies cost so much.And seven, dammit, he's changing stuff that didn't need changing again. Just because of the silly stupid "romance" he DENIES THREE OF THE DWARVES THEIR RETURN TO EREBOR.Listen here, Peter Jackson, *buddy*, that just isn't fair. And it ain't in your power to give or withhold. In the story you're maing a movie of, they were there. In the story you're making a movie of, Fili and Kili DIE protecting Thorin in the final battle. Just how are you going to accomplish THAT, pray, given that you just pulled them out of the Mountain? And what was your reason for it? So that one of the pretty dwarves gets to live, and moon forever over an unattainable elf-maiden with whom he could NEVER have had any kind of a semi-lasting encounter of the romantic kind? Sorry. Smoke curls from my nostrils, Smaug-like. Argh.

Overall... TOO LONG, too much time given to things that are invented or irrelevant at the expense of things that should have been included and were necessary to be true to the vision of "The Hobbit", suffering, perhaps, from the classic middle-instalment sag that many second outings in trilogies are prone to (and which could have been helped, very easily. If he HAD to make multiple movies, this could have been two movies. SImply by excising extracurricular headchoppings which are filmed just to give the viewer a "pacy" offering. And please God why bring in the Dol Guldur plot in so much detail at all in here? Just because you could show off another pretty fortress with arching bridges and picturesque ruins and populated, of course, by orcish armies which seem to be in a race as to which one of them is uglier and more mishappen than the next?

So, then. I went for the dragon. I got the dragon. The rest... well... I'll just shut up now, shall I.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
j_cheney
Dec. 28th, 2013 04:32 pm (UTC)
The first time we saw him I thought he was a stray and rather large Warg, actually

I thought the same.
mizkit
Dec. 28th, 2013 07:23 pm (UTC)
Me three, with the added bonus of having read THE HOBBIT only once, thirty years ago, and having absolutely no clue that it was *supposed* to be a bear of some sort. My husband, who knew who it was supposed to be, looked at me with great shining eyes of anticipation and I was all like "...so that's not a warg, then, eh?"
lenora_rose
Dec. 29th, 2013 04:03 pm (UTC)
Yes. The question whether any of the CGI animators have even seen a bear came up. I think it's a valid question. GO to a zoo, people. LOOK at the animal.

When Miyazaki wanted his animators to show Chihiro pushing a pill down a dragon's throat, he took them to a vet to show how the procedure is done on a dog. I get the impression Jackson just says, "Do your best, mates. Oh, that looks cool. Good enough."
bunsen_h
Dec. 29th, 2013 05:45 pm (UTC)
I watched the first Hobbit movie a few weeks ago, at home, and was disappointed in the ways that I expected. I may do the same thing for the second, when it becomes available. I expect that my reactions will be much like yours; I don't have your analytical skills but I think we think in much the same ways about Jackson's work.

Did they bring in athelas as a cure-all here? I always assumed that it was called "kingsfoil" for a reason: it only became truly effective in the hands of a true king. If it was really powerful for anyone to use, its use wouldn't have been forgotten.
anghara
Dec. 30th, 2013 12:02 am (UTC)
"Did they bring in athelas as a cure-all here? I always assumed that it was called "kingsfoil" for a reason: it only became truly effective in the hands of a true king. If it was really powerful for anyone to use, its use wouldn't have been forgotten."

Apparently in Laketown it's a weed they feed to pigs... until someone just KNOWS about it and wowit's pure elvish magic from that point on.
lenora_rose
Dec. 30th, 2013 05:38 am (UTC)
I think the interpretation is that it's the only cure for Morgul blade stabbing, not a cure-all for any other injury, but yeah, they completely removed the context of "In the hand of the King".
bunsen_h
Dec. 30th, 2013 04:07 pm (UTC)
It also was used to cure Faramir, who was suffering from the "Black Breath" as well as a relatively minor wound from a Southron arrow.
lenora_rose
Dec. 30th, 2013 04:14 pm (UTC)
Good point.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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