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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Post-Release - Page 5

post #201 of 963

Just saw The Hobbit in IMAX, and I have to say, I was let down. Aside from THORIN THE HOT DWARF, I could not tell you any of the dwarves' names or stories, as compared to Fellowship when I could tell you everyone's name and a defining characteristic. The movie meanders a lot, the extent of Gandalf's powers/abilities is incredibly inconsistent solely to suit the plot (he's a WIZARD, why isn't he using his powers to save them 24/7?), the 3D gets beyond blurry at times, Thorin constantly denigrating Bilbo was irritating, a guy walks around with bird poo on his head, and the score started to annoy me. It's not a terrible movie, but it's lacking something and it drags. This is what you get when you take one medium-sized book and try to make three 3-hour movies out of it. At least the Star Trek preview was good. And Thorin is seriously hot. 

 

And I just noticed that Gandalf says in a voiceover to Bilbo, "Home is behind you.  The world is ahead."  In ROTK, Pippin sings that song to Denethor which begins with the line, "Home is behind, the world ahead."  Cute.

post #202 of 963

Does Thorin go on your...

 

FUCKIT LIST?

post #203 of 963

I would gladly get tag-teamed by Thorin and Aragorn.   

 

I feel like I was merely observing this film whereas I was involved and immersed in the trilogy.  I don't know if prequelitis/knowing most of the characters' ultimate fates had something to do with this.

 

Another thing that drove me crazy that someone mentioned earlier: they're hanging onto the tree for dear life, screaming and yelling, and all that tension is immediately diffused by THORIN THE HOT DWARF doing the ol' slo-mo-walk-through-fire...right off the damn tree.  And then Bilbo hops off the tree.  And then everyone else hops off the tree.  So everyone in the scene looks like fucking idiots for standing around screaming in that tree.

post #204 of 963

It's definitely of those movies where after the fourth or fifth time you see EVERY SINGLE MEMBER OF THE PARTY survive impossible situation after impossible situation you stop feeling any sort of danger for them whatsoever. 

post #205 of 963

Yeah, holy shit you guys, I don't see how people aren't seeing the massive, massive pacing problems this film is boasting. Some say it picks up after they leave the Shire, but the time it takes to Rivendell really feels like even more of a slog, since it's mostly just a bunch of arch and droning conversations about things that have nothing to do with the task at hand. I'm a fairly big Tolkien nut, but I'm also more of a student of narrative, and this one's engine is dangerously close to throwing a rod. There feels like there's more setup and focused on Azog and Thorin than the actual quest, or the actual main character, Bilbo.

 

The White Council plays like a 20 minute fan service that should have been left on the cutting room floor (especially the Radagast sideplot--I know there's more to come but hell's bells, at least the setups in Lord of the Rings had clear established stakes), and it felt like half the movie was made up of long pauses in between dialogue. This was the same length as Fellowship, but Fellowship was packed to the gills with actual story-driven mechanics, everything in service to the greater goal. Mainly because this film, and the story it's built around, just can't hope to have the same dramatic push because the stakes aren't anywhere near as high as Lord of the Rings, but are being given the same gravitas and attention.

 

Weirdly enough, coming out of this I could see how PJ was once justified in splitting the story in two, but by reaching for three, he's overindulged his plot and overvalued the events in this one. All three entries in Lord of the Rings have clear character arcs and are also left in precarious situations, scattered to the four winds and unsure of their future. The Hobbit, there's only one destination the whole time, and other than the bumps along the way there's nothing diverting them from there. The book is episodic, yes, but part of the way the narrative works is that the whole way, the whole time, this company is constantly in the shit. If it's not goblins, it's orcs, or hostile Elves, or spiders, or a flipping dragon. They should be hounded and chased every step of the way, and yet, thanks to the languid pacing that keeps the plot proper from actually kicking into gear until after they leave Rivendell, when Thorin and Galdalf have the exchange "out of the frying pan and into the fire," what was supposed to feel like two comrades just stuck in disbelief at their rotten luck instead feels like a shrug, an exasperated sigh where an unbelieving shout should be.

 

The biggest sin is, despite the 40 minutes we spend in The Shire and the leisurely stroll this movie's pacing takes, we never get hooked on Bilbo as our surrogate; we don't invest in him because the movie treats him as just another member of the ensemble, rather than the central character. It's baffling to think this is the same Jackson who got so very well that amid the cast of dozens, Lord of the Rings was about Frodo and the toll the quest would take on him--think about it, we only divert to what another character is up to after Frodo has encountered them. He's the central character and our eyes and ears for the world in that story. That branching effect lets us spread far and wide and meet several extra characters along the way, but without Frodo as the spine, it'd become unmanageable due to how unrelated so many of the characters and events are. That problem is compounded here: the dwarves are largely just window dressing, and that'd be fine, but by putting every moment under a microscope we lose Bilbo in the mix as well.

 

Things improve once they get to the Misty Mountains (mainly because finally, two hours in, we're actually moving the story along) and Riddles in the Dark does wonders in finally making Bilbo the main event rather than just along for the ride, but it's a rough road before then. Thorin's beef with Bilbo doesn't surface until after the rock giant fight--it feels horned in and the payoff at the end means little, due to how little Bilbo and Thorin interact before then. And even then, it feels like small potatoes.

 

We spend three hours on first act stuff, so when the score starts sampling The Breaking of the Fellowship during Thorin's big slow motion face off with Azog, I was wondering just what in the hell we're meant to be rooting for--other than Thorin saying "hey, the little guy, he's alright," nothing of consequence happens in this movie, character wise. The question of whether Thorin can lead is never posited--the company is in awe of him after the story of Moria (question: if it's so well known that Moria is overrun with dwarves, why is Gimli and company so heartbroken and shocked in Fellowship when they discover, well, it's overrun?), so him standing up and facing Azog is a big "why is this getting this big of a moment?" That's a feeling that persists over and over again in this movie-- "Why are we focusing on this? What does this matter? When is this fucker going to get a move on?"

 

What drives me batty personally is I honestly enjoyed quite a bit about the film, especially when they let Bilbo be Bilbo in his own story, but the constant side stepping and slapdash editing just made the film as a whole feel interminable. I'm hoping the next film is more focused, because another film that takes two hours to actually build some momentum just might push me over the edge.

 

P.S.--Had a real problem with Bilbo making his first kill with the warg and the orc. It's undermined his ass kicking with the spiders, because now we've already seen him step up and pull their ass out of the fire. Way to hamstring your main character's arc, PJ.

post #206 of 963

Watching The Hobbit is a weird experience. It's like dating the sibling of the ex you once loved: You catch a whiff here and there of the real thing, but by and large, you're more struck by how the sib falls short by comparison, and you can't really judge the new one on its own terms.

 

The 48fps presentation both underwhelmed and overwhelmed. When you're dealing with substantially-artificial environs like the Kingdom Under the Mountain, the Goblin territory, and even Rivendell and the Shire, the extra clarity is a burden, because it really exposes the seams between what's real and what's fake.
 
On the other hand, the panoramic vistas that felt like a travelogue of New Zealand in The Lord of the Rings are even more spectacular in the clarity of 48fps. There's definitely something "off" about the movement, especially noticeable early on, but persistently standing out through the whole running-time.
 
That said, I was both surprised and delighted that they kept the lighter tone of The Hobbit on the page. Yet I was dismayed with just how evident the padding was, and how dragged-out the story felt. The book was a sprint, and this is starting to feel like a marathon. I didn't think they'd ever leave Bag End, and I felt like the movie overstayed its welcome at each step along the journey.
post #207 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Clark View Post

 

P.S.--Had a real problem with Bilbo making his first kill with the warg and the orc. It's undermined his ass kicking with the spiders, because now we've already seen him step up and pull their ass out of the fire. Way to hamstring your main character's arc, PJ.

 

He didn't hamstring Bilbo's arc, he accelerated it so it could fit in the movie. Which is a weird complaint to make considering "Nothing of consequence happens" was your previous one.

post #208 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Clark View Post

 

P.S.--Had a real problem with Bilbo making his first kill with the warg and the orc. It's undermined his ass kicking with the spiders, because now we've already seen him step up and pull their ass out of the fire. Way to hamstring your main character's arc, PJ.

 

With Jackson having upped the scale of the film, with orc baddies everywhere, having Bilbo kill one orc at the end hardly messes with his arc - he's going to achieve a LOT more in Mirkwood. Jackson changed the arcs of many characters in LOTR (Aragorn, for example) arguably for more dramatic effect. Bilbo kills one orc in this film after the dwarves kill hundreds - hardly an ass-kicker.

 

Bilbo's arc in this first film is going from a bemused hanger-on, to showing himself both irreplaceable to the party as per his 'contract' and being accepted by Thorin as a true believer in the personal importance of the quest. Granted, the pacing of this first film does it no favours, but I'll need to see it again before I pass full judgement.

 

Regarding Moria:

 

 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

As mentioned in the Council of Elrond chapter of FOTR, between the end of The Hobbit and LOTR Balin leads a group of dwarves to retake Moria (which is significantly emptied of orcs after the Battle of Five Armies). They are successful at first but then killed by orcs retaking Moria as Sauron returns to power. I hope they allude to this in the last Hobbit film.

post #209 of 963

I'm sure there will be a lengthy conversation or three about it.

post #210 of 963

I'm going to love this when a fan edits the two Hobbit movies together after the fact into a three hour movie. 

post #211 of 963

The AMC Theater at 68th and Broadway did not have...Any Trailers before The Hobbit!  One thing I was happy with was there was also...No 9 minute preview of the new Star Trek!  I saw the trailers, and will not be seeing that sequel.  I do hope we get to see the trailer to...The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug in front of The Man Of Steel in June!

post #212 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Clark View Post

Yeah, holy shit you guys, I don't see how people aren't seeing the massive, massive pacing problems this film is boasting. Some say it picks up after they leave the Shire, but the time it takes to Rivendell really feels like even more of a slog, since it's mostly just a bunch of arch and droning conversations about things that have nothing to do with the task at hand. I'm a fairly big Tolkien nut, but I'm also more of a student of narrative, and this one's engine is dangerously close to throwing a rod. There feels like there's more setup and focused on Azog and Thorin than the actual quest, or the actual main character, Bilbo.

 

The White Council plays like a 20 minute fan service that should have been left on the cutting room floor (especially the Radagast sideplot--I know there's more to come but hell's bells, at least the setups in Lord of the Rings had clear established stakes), and it felt like half the movie was made up of long pauses in between dialogue. This was the same length as Fellowship, but Fellowship was packed to the gills with actual story-driven mechanics, everything in service to the greater goal. Mainly because this film, and the story it's built around, just can't hope to have the same dramatic push because the stakes aren't anywhere near as high as Lord of the Rings, but are being given the same gravitas and attention.

 

Weirdly enough, coming out of this I could see how PJ was once justified in splitting the story in two, but by reaching for three, he's overindulged his plot and overvalued the events in this one. All three entries in Lord of the Rings have clear character arcs and are also left in precarious situations, scattered to the four winds and unsure of their future. The Hobbit, there's only one destination the whole time, and other than the bumps along the way there's nothing diverting them from there. The book is episodic, yes, but part of the way the narrative works is that the whole way, the whole time, this company is constantly in the shit. If it's not goblins, it's orcs, or hostile Elves, or spiders, or a flipping dragon. They should be hounded and chased every step of the way, and yet, thanks to the languid pacing that keeps the plot proper from actually kicking into gear until after they leave Rivendell, when Thorin and Galdalf have the exchange "out of the frying pan and into the fire," what was supposed to feel like two comrades just stuck in disbelief at their rotten luck instead feels like a shrug, an exasperated sigh where an unbelieving shout should be.

 

The biggest sin is, despite the 40 minutes we spend in The Shire and the leisurely stroll this movie's pacing takes, we never get hooked on Bilbo as our surrogate; we don't invest in him because the movie treats him as just another member of the ensemble, rather than the central character. It's baffling to think this is the same Jackson who got so very well that amid the cast of dozens, Lord of the Rings was about Frodo and the toll the quest would take on him--think about it, we only divert to what another character is up to after Frodo has encountered them. He's the central character and our eyes and ears for the world in that story. That branching effect lets us spread far and wide and meet several extra characters along the way, but without Frodo as the spine, it'd become unmanageable due to how unrelated so many of the characters and events are. That problem is compounded here: the dwarves are largely just window dressing, and that'd be fine, but by putting every moment under a microscope we lose Bilbo in the mix as well.

 

Things improve once they get to the Misty Mountains (mainly because finally, two hours in, we're actually moving the story along) and Riddles in the Dark does wonders in finally making Bilbo the main event rather than just along for the ride, but it's a rough road before then. Thorin's beef with Bilbo doesn't surface until after the rock giant fight--it feels horned in and the payoff at the end means little, due to how little Bilbo and Thorin interact before then. And even then, it feels like small potatoes.

 

We spend three hours on first act stuff, so when the score starts sampling The Breaking of the Fellowship during Thorin's big slow motion face off with Azog, I was wondering just what in the hell we're meant to be rooting for--other than Thorin saying "hey, the little guy, he's alright," nothing of consequence happens in this movie, character wise. The question of whether Thorin can lead is never posited--the company is in awe of him after the story of Moria (question: if it's so well known that Moria is overrun with dwarves, why is Gimli and company so heartbroken and shocked in Fellowship when they discover, well, it's overrun?), so him standing up and facing Azog is a big "why is this getting this big of a moment?" That's a feeling that persists over and over again in this movie-- "Why are we focusing on this? What does this matter? When is this fucker going to get a move on?"

 

What drives me batty personally is I honestly enjoyed quite a bit about the film, especially when they let Bilbo be Bilbo in his own story, but the constant side stepping and slapdash editing just made the film as a whole feel interminable. I'm hoping the next film is more focused, because another film that takes two hours to actually build some momentum just might push me over the edge.

 

P.S.--Had a real problem with Bilbo making his first kill with the warg and the orc. It's undermined his ass kicking with the spiders, because now we've already seen him step up and pull their ass out of the fire. Way to hamstring your main character's arc, PJ.

 

Agree with every single word of this. 

 

Also, am I the only one who got really irritated by the scrore, the dwarf song in particular?  Every time the group has a fight scene, we get that dwarf song.  OVER AND OVER.    I'm pretty sure we didn't hear the Fellowship's fanfare that much, and thank God for it.

post #213 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by HarleyQuinn22 View Post
The movie meanders a lot, the extent of Gandalf's powers/abilities is incredibly inconsistent solely to suit the plot (he's a WIZARD, why isn't he using his powers to save them 24/7?)

 

This part bugs me, can somebody explain the extent of Gandalf's powers and his limitations? What can he and can't he do? In this movie, it seems like the extent of his magic powers are just made up along as the plot moves.

post #214 of 963

From what i've read in the books, Magic in Middle Earth is a pretty low key affair. No D&D Style City Destroying Spells. It's mostly healing, warding and enchance weapon strength stuff.

 

Gandalf and the other Wizards aren't human actually. He's one of the Maia (I hope i spelled it right). Higher Level beings taking human form to guide people against evil. They're limited to their physical form and the basic magic stuff that it is avaliable to everyone.

post #215 of 963

Gandalf can pretty much go toe to toe against anyone but Sauron. They are both Maia. Tolkien's equivallent to angels. Of all the living beings on Middle Earth only Galadriel shares their status. All the wizards have been sent by the Valar, basically the gods of Olympus, to assist the people of Middle Earth against Sauron. They are not premitted to do that by showing off the extent of their powers because ultimately whether Sauron wins or loses must come down to the people. So they can influence here and there, set some events up, pull off some spectacular last minute rescue if needed but that's it. The eagles too, while they're usually hostile to indifferent to anything going on in Middle Earth are more sympathetic towards gandalf because they serve the same Vala, Manwe who rules the air.

post #216 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Clark View Post

Yeah, holy shit you guys, I don't see how people aren't seeing the massive, massive pacing problems this film is boasting. Some say it picks up after they leave the Shire, but the time it takes to Rivendell really feels like even more of a slog, since it's mostly just a bunch of arch and droning conversations about things that have nothing to do with the task at hand. I'm a fairly big Tolkien nut, but I'm also more of a student of narrative, and this one's engine is dangerously close to throwing a rod. There feels like there's more setup and focused on Azog and Thorin than the actual quest, or the actual main character, Bilbo.

 

 

For every Radagast-- whose presence here really does have nothing to do with Erebor, but rather with the return of Sauron (more on that later)-- there's a Dwarf/Orc war that, while irrelevant to the quest for the Arkenstone, does build up Thorin and flesh him out as a character. For every scene of Azog, there's a scene where Thorin scoffs at Bilbo and disdains his presence on the quest (and I'd argue that this first film is primarily about Bilbo coming to gain recognition and acceptance from the dwarves, and specifically Thorin). I don't necessarily disagree that there's a lot of non-Hobbit stuff here, but I think it's quite incorrect to argue that more of An Unexpected Journey is devoted to such material over Bilbo's story and the journey to the Misty Mountain, and I'd also point out that The Hobbit films feel a lot like they're intended as bridge films to establish continuity between the two trilogies while also spinning Bilbo's tale. 

 

I don't completely disagree about pacing-- the White Council scene is really, really, really stilted and needed to be trimmed, and the opening that occurs just prior to Fellowship should have been cut completely-- but if you want to talk about the characters getting on "the quest proper", well, look at the source material again. We're at chapter six (roughly) by the time the film ends, and they've only just gotten Erebor in their sights, but that's just a matter of their fortune, but we both know that. What I really think is incorrect is the assertion that the pacing disrupts that episodic structure in which one bad situation ends only to drop the heroes in another; here, they go from being troll food, to being chased by orcs, to being surrounded by armed Elves, to being helplessly caught in a battle between stone giants, to being captured by goblins, to being cornered by those same orcs from before. There's padding in between this, but it's minimal, character moments like Bofur wishing Bilbo well or the dwarves staring in disgust at green food in Rivendell. The majority of the film's bloat occurs in that opening forty five minutes/hour. I mean, really, once the company gets captured by trolls, there's not a whole lot of "stuff" filling the gaps in between each unfortunate event that befalls them-- apart from Gandalf and Galadriel eye-fucking each other or Radagst being wacky, though we agree that the former represents the biggest fan service of the film and I happen to think that the presence of the latter presents minimal interruption to the important stuff.

 

As far as stakes go, the film makes it really clear what's at stake for everybody involves here. For the dwarves, especially Thorin, pride and ancestry is at stake; Thorin's entire arc is predicated on his wish to reestablish "home" for his people and avenge his forebears, to the point where he says almost word for word that he doesn't have a choice in the matter. For Bilbo, his reputation is at stake; he's a halfling, not one prone to adventure but one with an adventurous heart who forces himself into a dangerous enterprise with much hardier, more experienced travelers and adventurers. Here, he's questing after acceptance and personal worth. For Gandalf, everything is at stake; he's the guy quietly greasing the wheels here, and if the venture ends fatally, he'll be to blame. More than that, the safety of Middle Earth's peace is at stake, and he's basically the only person in the entire world who realizes as much (aside from Radagast, who everyone thinks is a nutter, and Galadriel, who has too much propriety to tell Saruman to suck it during the White Council meeting even though she basically knows Gandalf is totally right). There isn't one, big, unifying "thing" at stake as in Rings, but there are smaller, more personal, more intimate things at stake, and I'd say that that's appropriate for The Hobbit-- a book and a story that really shouldn't be compared to Rings no matter how much it informs that series' events. 

 

I'm also not sure how we're not given enough time to invest in Bilbo. We spend more time with him than any other character in the film. We see him make his decisions both to join the company and to attempt to depart, we see him gaze in wonder at Sting the first time he holds it in his hands, we see him struggle at every moment to make himself valuable to a group of worldly, battle-tested dwarves (at least, they're more worldly and battle-tested than Bilbo), we see him take in every bit of scenery around him with the same wonder we accord the setting as the audience. It's not as though we're being short-changed in Bilbo Time here. This movie is almost entirely about him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stelios View Post

 

He didn't hamstring Bilbo's arc, he accelerated it so it could fit in the movie. Which is a weird complaint to make considering "Nothing of consequence happens" was your previous one.

 

I had it in my head to say something along these lines. Greg, didn't you opine that the film wouldn't give Bilbo a full arc if it didn't end with the spiders in Mirkwood? All that Jackson's doing here is providing Bilbo with precisely what he needs, a complete transformation from beginning to end. That's not his arc being hamstrung. That's his arc being honored and kept intact. 

 

One note regarding Thorin and the flaming slow-mo tree walk: everyone's up a tree screaming out of fear of death because it really kinda seems like they're fucked here. If Gandalf wasn't in that tree with them, they probably all would have been cool as cucumbers, but with their resident wizard stuck up shit's creek (tree?) with them, they don't have any outs. So they're all experiencing that lovely pants-shitting terror one experiences before they die, because they probably all think they're going to die.

 

So Thorin takes a walk. What else is he going to do? Hang out in a tree and plummet to his doom? He can either die with his enemy's head in his hands, or he can die being crushed against a ravine while that same enemy's head remains attached to his shoulders. I know which one sounds more attractive to me, and Thorin clearly thinks like I do, therefore he tries to kill Azog instead of just laying down and dying. 

 

Everything that follows should make plenty of sense if you've ever watched a movie about men on a mission before: Bilbo, desperate to prove himself to Thorin (because every other dwarf basically digs Bilbo at that point), saves the prince's life. The rest of the dwarves, inspired by Thorin's bravery and Bilbo's heroism, rush out to die with their axes in their hands. And then Jackson puts a bird on it, and eagles kill orcs. It's sword-and-sandals fantasy 101. 

post #217 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by felix View Post

From what i've read in the books, Magic in Middle Earth is a pretty low key affair. No D&D Style City Destroying Spells.

 

 

This is totally what Gandalf is all about. He is not about spells and fireballs (that's more Saruman's domain). He's more about people. His chief role in Middle Earth is to inspire others to battle evil (in fact he actually wears a Ring of Power, the Elvish Ring of Fire, to "ignite the fire in the hearts of men"). He inspires and aids the dwarves in their quest not because he wants a share of the adventure or the treasure, but because he feels for the dwarves and wants them to defeat Smaug despite knowing the odds are against them. So even when he does use magic in the Hobbit, it is just to 'even the odds', as he sees it. 

 

In FOTR he keeps his magic low key because he knows Saruman is watching them and could track them through detecting his magic. When he busts out the moves in Moria it's because he realises that his foe is a Balrog, the equal of him, so he needs to step up.

 

When he returns as Gandalf the White he still doesn't really use magic, as he knows the best use of his powers is as a commander and inspiration to the men of Gondor and Rohan.

post #218 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Freeman View Post

I'm going to love this when a fan edits the two Hobbit movies together after the fact into a three hour movie. 

It wouldn't be hard to do, since there's maybe an hour's worth of relevant content in this movie. Running ramshod with the appendices and the outright invention lofted onto the story is this movie's killing stroke. Everyone finding excuses for it is just looking for a reason to stay in Middle Earth longer, and that's nostalgia, not narrative.

 

As far as hamstringing his arc, well, what's so special about the spiders now? Bilbo's already popped his hero's cherry, so him saving them from the spiders is now at the beginning of film two and will not come as any great surprise or triumph when he starts saving their asses. Which true, he needed to do this film, but that goes back to my larger point about this bloated (yes, bloated) plot--there's no reason this is going to take three films other than Jackson can't cut anything out, especially all the crap he's added. Which blows my mind, since I know there's already another half hour of filler waiting for us on DVD just for this one movie.

 

The more I think of it, the more the time at Rivendell annoys me more than the half hour dinner, because not only do we spend a ridiculous amount of time listening to a Greatest Hits compilation of characters fro Lord of the Rings talk about things that won't matter until Lord of the Rings and do so in a context that only makes sense if you've SEEN Lord of the Rings, it drops Bilbo from the narrative altogether to do so. Think about it: Bilbo does nothing in Rivendell, does no soul searching, no contemplating, no reflecting about this wondrous city he's beholding, which would never have seen if he'd never left his hole (y'know, one of the main parts of his character). He doesn't even have any lines after they arrive! He doesn't interact with any of the elves! For half an hour, Bilbo gets shunted to the side of his own story, and why? Because this isn't The Hobbit, this is Hey Everyone, Remember How Much You Loved Lord of the Rings?! grafted around The Hobbit's skeleton. When he's just trotting along with the dwarves after they sneak out of Rivendell, he almost appears anonymous.

post #219 of 963
post #220 of 963

I'm with Greg and Harley. I'm surprised so many people are enjoying this. Not that it's bad, really, but it isn't very good and for a movie rendered on such a large canvas, the stakes seem minuscule. It's like an orange of a short story that's squeezed to nothing but a messy pulp. There's so much bloat and fat that a better movie seems to be peaking out of every other cut and camera pan, but Jackson is too in love with this universe to let any of it go. He's become his own worst enemy; the obsessive fan who pours over every inch of the LOTR Extended Editions and still complains about things being left out. If this were the same director who set out to make the Rings trilogy years ago, I'm not sure he actually could have gotten it done. It might take nine movies.

I mean, you could probably read the Hobbit in the time it takes to watch this movie. And it only gets through the first few chapters. 

The high frame rate is jarring too. The special effects are incredibly detailed and often very beautiful, I'll grant you that, but the problem is that the human actors get short changed and often the mixing of the two feels like you're watching two different movies. When the human actors are in a CGI canvas, they look weightless, like cartoons. That escape from the Goblins feels like a video game and when the bridge collapsed at the end I was expecting a big GAME OVER to pop up on the screen. They, Jackson cuts from a wide shot to a medium shot and I was wondering "Why aren't they all dead?" It seemed like I was often watching two different movies all the time.

There are tonal issues too; this movie can't decide if it wants to be as grimly epic as the LOTR trilogy or light and fluffy, so it's often both. You've got the Goblin-goiter king cracking wise right after his guts get split open in the same movie as Thorin facing down his albino-Orc nemesis with the epically serious score from the beginning of Lord of the Rings when the King of Men faced down Sauron playing for some reason (clearly Jackson doesn't intend to suggest the two seems have similar stakes, so what gives?) Gandalf always arrives just in time, the Dwarfs and Bilbo seem like they should be constantly dead (how did they survive that Rock'em Sock'em Mountain encounter?) and I'm sick of the Deux Ex Eagles always showing up right on time (and did we really need our heroes hanging off the last tree on earth...suspended over a cliff...with everything on fire? Come on). There are way too many callbacks to the other trilogy, so this thing never feels like a story of it's own, just a massive (too long) set up for what we've already seen. And seeing Gandallf political maneuvering behind the scenes doesn't help and just adds to the tonal issues. But stuffing in all that extra material makes it seem like Jackson wants a LOTR redo and it just doesn't work, he can't contort this lovely little novel into something that it's not, as hard as he tries. 

post #221 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Clark View Post

Everyone finding excuses for it is just looking for a reason to stay in Middle Earth longer, and that's nostalgia, not narrative.

 

Seriously? We're playing this game now? Should I accuse the film's detractors of finding excuses to complain just so they can complain? First it's a crime for the spiders not to appear in the film because that leaves Bilbo with an incomplete arc. Then it's pointed out that as things are, he has a complete arc. Then it's a problem of the spiders not being significant enough in the next film. I mean, sorry, this is just silly.

 

Frankly, I find this sort of obtuse thinking incredibly tiresome to argue around. Of course some of us are being nostalgic. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if your resistance was informed by some degree of nostalgia as well. We all have an attachment to Middle Earth either because of our exposure to the films or our love of the source material or both. But I think it's disingenuous and lazy to just chalk up the love the film is receiving to a matter of nostalgia, rather than genuine appraisal (not to mention slightly insulting, and I say that as the guy who describes himself as being "predisposed to love this film"). There is a cohesive narrative here, for the two major moments of bad pacing and needless bloat and the handful of minor Extended Edition scenes; it sprawls, it towers, it saunters along at a leisurely pace, but I expect that sort of languid grandiloquence from the guy who made the Rings films (which themselves aren't exactly paragons of the "include only what is necessary" rule). And just as with those films, I'd say that the fat here more often than not enhances the stuff that is necessary.

 

(Minor aside: we also live in a Game of Thrones world, where the narrative is fractured into thousandths and there are ten times as many characters whose names, personalities, motivations, and desires we need to be aware of. An Unexpected Journey might be about both the book's primary thrust and also about the creeping darkness worming its way back into the world (though frankly, the book is about that too, just less so), but that's hardly a major infraction of the narrator's code, is it? I guess you could argue that it makes the movie not very much like The Hobbit, but we all knew Jackson intended to draw on the Appendices to expand the story, so I guess with that expectation in mind I'm not all that fussed by the non-quest stuff.)

post #222 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Clark View Post

 

The more I think of it, the more the time at Rivendell annoys me more than the half hour dinner, because not only do we spend a ridiculous amount of time listening to a Greatest Hits compilation of characters fro Lord of the Rings talk about things that won't matter until Lord of the Rings and do so in a context that only makes sense if you've SEEN Lord of the Rings, it drops Bilbo from the narrative altogether to do so. Think about it: Bilbo does nothing in Rivendell, does no soul searching, no contemplating, no reflecting about this wondrous city he's beholding, which would never have seen if he'd never left his hole (y'know, one of the main parts of his character). He doesn't even have any lines after they arrive! He doesn't interact with any of the elves! For half an hour, Bilbo gets shunted to the side of his own story, and why? Because this isn't The Hobbit, this is Hey Everyone, Remember How Much You Loved Lord of the Rings?! grafted around The Hobbit's skeleton. When he's just trotting along with the dwarves after they sneak out of Rivendell, he almost appears anonymous.

 

The stuff at Rivendell is setup for the next two films in this trilogy, not LOTR. Jackson is expanding the story beyond just Bilbo. I don't really see that as a bad thing.

 

Edit: I also have to echo the sentiment of finding statements like "Everyone's finding excuses" and "I'm surprised so many people are enjoying this" as more than a little denigrating and adding nothing to the discussion. This isn't IMDB.

post #223 of 963

Regarding the point Greg and others make about the audience knowing what happens already, I'm glad Jackson seems to have gone for the 'don't make it assuming no-one's seen LOTR' approach, and I hope he keeps it up (although the Bilbo/Frodo intro was still unnecessary). I think it's wrong to try and make a prequel for people who've never seen the originals, Lucas tried and it failed miserably. I see The Hobbit as more of a companion piece to LOTR, something that relies on familiarity and yes, nostalgia but tries to forge it's own path (hence, making the story about more than just Bilbo, who we know survives). I think it succeeds and I think accusations of coasting on LOTR are unfair (but we'll see how it pans out). The White Council scenes are important to the story of The Hobbit Jackson wants to tell, and are not just pandering in my opinion. 

 

Nothing exists in a vacuum. Future generations don't need to watch these films in order. For better or worse we live in an era of franchises, sagas, sequels, prequels, remakes and reboots. This isn't Jackson's fault. People are enjoying The Hobbit because it combines their love of LOTR, Jackson's filmmaking, Tolkien's world, action, fun and (yes) a narrative that is obviously there and has a lot of potential. Or it could all go to crap, who knows.

post #224 of 963

Yeah, the more I think about the Frodo/Bilbo opening, the more I dislike it. It's just pointless. THAT'S fan service. And also needless hand-holding. "Hey guys, look! It's the origins of the party business sign!"

post #225 of 963

I'd argue that despite obviously being the first of a trilogy, An Unexpected Journey feels more like a complete film unto itself than The Fellowship of the Ring did. Bilbo finding his courage and earning the trust and respect of the Thorin offers more personal closure (if not plot closure) than anything in Fellowship, which just kind of fades out beautifully at the end with an invisible "To be continued ..." That doesn't mean I think Journey is actually better overall than Fellowship -- I don't -- but I don't get these arguments that Bilbo's arc is somehow botched. It's not. It's the strong spine of the entire film.

 

Now, whether some of the alterations they made to the overall story to make this happen comes back to bite them when we get to the next film and the spiders ... I don't know. But it seems incredibly silly to criticize this film for things that may or may not be a problem in the next movie.

post #226 of 963

Poor spiders. Always getting pushed to the next film instead of the end of the prior one.

post #227 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by agracru View Post

Yeah, the more I think about the Frodo/Bilbo opening, the more I dislike it. It's just pointless. THAT'S fan service. And also needless hand-holding. "Hey guys, look! It's the origins of the party business sign!"

 

The party sign actually got a surprisingly big response from my crowd at the theater. People like shit like that.

post #228 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by zak chase View Post

I'd argue that despite obviously being the first of a trilogy, An Unexpected Journey feels more like a complete film unto itself than The Fellowship of the Ring did. Bilbo finding his courage and earning the trust and respect of the Thorin offers more personal closure (if not plot closure) than anything in Fellowship, which just kind of fades out beautifully at the end with an invisible "To be continued ..." That doesn't mean I think Journey is actually better overall than Fellowship -- I don't -- but I don't get these arguments that Bilbo's arc is somehow botched. It's not. It's the strong spine of the entire film.

 

Now, whether some of the alterations they made to the overall story to make this happen comes back to bite them when we get to the next film and the spiders ... I don't know. But it seems incredibly silly to criticize this film for things that may or may not be a problem in the next movie.

 

I completely disagree. The fact is it takes nearly three hours for Bilbo to find acceptance and for the Dwarfs to accept him as a companion. At the end of Fellowship, Frodo is not only accepted, but the Fellowship itself breaks apart under the power of the ring. And despite that, Frodo insists on continuing with what he needs to do, first alone, then with Sam. That's a huge arc, not just for one character but for several, including Sam, Aragorn and Boromir. 

If Bilbo's arc is the spine of the entire thing, than this motherfucker has scoliosis. It should have been Bilbo's arc, but it's only Bilbo's arc when it's convenient for it to be a real movie telling a real story. I feel like it's only that at the beginning and at the end. Even Bilbo's motivation to go with them seems rushed. I get what Jackson was going for with the empty house, but it never felt real to me. It felt like he was just slowing things down for a few minutes only to get on with the next thing. And after that, it becomes about the Dwarvs, Gandalf, the bad guys, the Necromancer, Bird-poop Wizard and his Magic Rabits and anything but Bilbo until the end in the caves. 

post #229 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by D.T. View Post

 

The party sign actually got a surprisingly big response from my crowd at the theater. People like shit like that.

 

People like a lot of dumb shit.

Are we meant to think that Bilbo wrote all of The Hobbit in one day? The same day that the adventures of Lord of the Rings begin? And that he spent most of his time smoking his pipe? 

post #230 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by D.T. View Post

The party sign actually got a surprisingly big response from my crowd at the theater. People like shit like that.

 

Yeah, but that doesn't save it from being what it is: nostalgic pandering. I enjoyed seeing it as well, as did my audience, but that doesn't mean it was necessarily a good idea. See Parker's less polite response below.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

People like a lot of dumb shit.


Are we meant to think that Bilbo wrote all of The Hobbit in one day? The same day that the adventures of Lord of the Rings begin? And that he spent most of his time smoking his pipe? 

 

And they say Old Toby makes you lazy.

post #231 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post


Are we meant to think that Bilbo wrote all of The Hobbit in one day? The same day that the adventures of Lord of the Rings begin? And that he spent most of his time smoking his pipe? 

 

I hadn't even thought about that. That's pretty fucking funny, actually.

post #232 of 963

One last point regarding the length, or "bloat". After King Kong many labelled Jackson as a director who couldn't cut stuff from his movies, and they have a point, but I really think the 'bloat' in The Hobbit is more a case of Jackson knowing his audience, knowing that anyone who's seen LOTR will be expecting at least a pretty decent length film. They expect it to be an immersive and transporting experience. I do remember thinking after I watched The Hobbit that the side of me that loves filmmaking was screaming "get on with it!" while the Tolkien and Jackson geek side of me was loving every minute (because, yes, virtually all the 'bloat' was from Tolkien's own writings). Strange feeling. I guess we'll see whether audiences will like it in the long run.

 

Either way, I'm picking the next two films will be much quicker paced (but hopefully just as long). 

post #233 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

Are we meant to think that Bilbo wrote all of The Hobbit in one day?

 

 

Not only that, but when Gandalf arrives mere minutes later Bilbo's complaining about finding somewhere quiet to finish writing it!

post #234 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

I completely disagree. The fact is it takes nearly three hours for Bilbo to find acceptance and for the Dwarfs to accept him as a companion. At the end of Fellowship, Frodo is not only accepted, but the Fellowship itself breaks apart under the power of the ring. And despite that, Frodo insists on continuing with what he needs to do, first alone, then with Sam. That's a huge arc, not just for one character but for several, including Sam, Aragorn and Boromir. 
 

 

They're different stories that move at a different pace. When you're breaking things down into minute-by-minute comparisons with another set of films then you're taking it beyond the realms of reasonable film analysis.

post #235 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

I completely disagree. The fact is it takes nearly three hours for Bilbo to find acceptance and for the Dwarfs to accept him as a companion. At the end of Fellowship, Frodo is not only accepted, but the Fellowship itself breaks apart under the power of the ring. And despite that, Frodo insists on continuing with what he needs to do, first alone, then with Sam. That's a huge arc, not just for one character but for several, including Sam, Aragorn and Boromir. 

If Bilbo's arc is the spine of the entire thing, than this motherfucker has scoliosis. It should have been Bilbo's arc, but it's only Bilbo's arc when it's convenient for it to be a real movie telling a real story. I feel like it's only that at the beginning and at the end. Even Bilbo's motivation to go with them seems rushed. I get what Jackson was going for with the empty house, but it never felt real to me. It felt like he was just slowing things down for a few minutes only to get on with the next thing. And after that, it becomes about the Dwarvs, Gandalf, the bad guys, the Necromancer, Bird-poop Wizard and his Magic Rabits and anything but Bilbo until the end in the caves. 

 

There's definitely more going on in Fellowship -- which makes it a more complex (and thus perhaps more rewarding) experience, I'll grant you -- but a lot of it isn't paid off until the later films. You're right that Bilbo's arc in Journey is a simpler affair, but, to me, it felt complete ... and enough to hang a pretty great movie on.

post #236 of 963

Thing is, of the LOTR films I generally enjoy Fellowship the most because it's the least epic, most 'light-hearted' of the trilogy. The other two are excellent but they're fantasy war films, filled with darkness and last stands and speeches about the end of the world. These are the reason why the trilogy did so well with audiences not accustomed to fantasy - because they gradually moved away from the fantasy elements and made it mostly about humans. But Fellowship is a true fantasy quest film, and a briiliantly made one at that. It has a small, almost intimate scale, and almost all of the characters are non-human. To me, it was a far greater achievement to pull the first film off than the others, which have the benefit of massive battles and more connection to our own mythology.

 

So I see The Hobbit as just a great big extended version of Fellowship, without the 'epic stakes' (which are overrated in my opinion) and darkness but with an old-fashioned adventure story that is a lot of fun. We'll see if I still share that view after a second viewing.

post #237 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

I get what Jackson was going for with the empty house, but it never felt real to me. It felt like he was just slowing things down for a few minutes only to get on with the next thing. 

Funny, this scene really worked for me. I liked that it came as a surprise to Bilbo, realizing that he actually LIKED the company of the dwarves. And as cheesy as it is, it's a nice reminder that we need others for a full life. Bilbo thought he had everything he needed, but his spirit's yearning for adventure and companionship was awakened; something that had been tempered and suppressed through years of Hobbit life. And coming on the heels of he and Gandalf's conversation, it worked. For me, anyway.

post #238 of 963

I liked that scene too, because it reminded me of similar moments in my life.  My parents often invited relatives in Korea to come stay with us for extended periods of time (vacation, international schooling) and for that time, the house felt like it bustled with activity (relatively).  As much as I enjoyed the company, sometimes it was just a hassle and an obligation.  Like Bilbo, I was sometimes short with them and resented their presence.

 

But then they'd eventually leave.  And the house felt so barren.  A sad feeling that would go away with time, of course. 

 

I thought that moment worked.

post #239 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

If Bilbo's arc is the spine of the entire thing, than this motherfucker has scoliosis.

I want this to be on the masthead of the site, I love it so much.

post #240 of 963

Maybe I'm just a little more comfortable being alone. When they were all gone and not doing annoying singing and dish throwing, all I could think was "good."

post #241 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

I completely disagree. The fact is it takes nearly three hours for Bilbo to find acceptance and for the Dwarfs to accept him as a companion. At the end of Fellowship, Frodo is not only accepted, but the Fellowship itself breaks apart under the power of the ring. And despite that, Frodo insists on continuing with what he needs to do, first alone, then with Sam. That's a huge arc, not just for one character but for several, including Sam, Aragorn and Boromir. 

If Bilbo's arc is the spine of the entire thing, than this motherfucker has scoliosis. It should have been Bilbo's arc, but it's only Bilbo's arc when it's convenient for it to be a real movie telling a real story. I feel like it's only that at the beginning and at the end. Even Bilbo's motivation to go with them seems rushed. I get what Jackson was going for with the empty house, but it never felt real to me. It felt like he was just slowing things down for a few minutes only to get on with the next thing. And after that, it becomes about the Dwarvs, Gandalf, the bad guys, the Necromancer, Bird-poop Wizard and his Magic Rabits and anything but Bilbo until the end in the caves. 

 

That's Fellowship, though. Fellowship makes Sam, Aragorn, Boromir, Gimli, and even the board of wood they cast to play Legolas into central characters with real arcs. Here, the characters are much more static, as they are in the book. It's Bilbo and Thorin who go through significant changes in the span of the running time, and it's on Bilbo and Thorin that most of the film's focus falls. 

 

And the film never stops being about them. An Unexpected Journey is all about Bilbo's journey toward self-actualization and self-empowerment whether he's examining Sting in bewildered wonder, bumbling his way through a stall tactic with a bunch of trolls, talking to Balin about Thorin's history, or just generally trying to fit in with the dwarves in quieter moments, doing whatever he can to endear himself to them. And it's all about Thorin's drive to take back Erebor, from the minute we first meet him at Bag-End to when he finally embraces Bilbo as the Misty Mountains loom in the distance. Sure, the film cuts away to other moments-- those moments which serve the story's secondary bent-- but it's not as though these elements disappear into the background for two hours and only have presence in the beginning and the end. 

 

Bilbo's at the forefront here. He's sharing the screen with a lot of other characters, true, but none of them are ever as prominent as he is, and few of them influence the plot as much as he does. I don't know, I don't get this notion that Bilbo just sort of flits around at the film's edges; he's front and center at nearly every turn. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post

 

People like a lot of dumb shit.

Are we meant to think that Bilbo wrote all of The Hobbit in one day? The same day that the adventures of Lord of the Rings begin? And that he spent most of his time smoking his pipe? 

 

See, this is why I think that opening bit is dumb. It's great when it's just Bilbo narrating, and we have no sense of when he's writing all this down. When Frodo appears, Jackson's hitting us with a sledgehammer. It's completely unnecessary. 

post #242 of 963

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. 'Thank goodness!'"

 

The Hobbit, as written by Parker.

post #243 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post


Are we meant to think that Bilbo wrote all of The Hobbit in one day? The same day that the adventures of Lord of the Rings begin? And that he spent most of his time smoking his pipe? 

Well, once he decided Radagast, the elves, and Saruman weren't germane to the story he was telling and left them out, it ended up being a very shortish book.

post #244 of 963

Without leveling any accusations of apologism, I do think the nostalgia argument bears some consideration in understanding the varied reactions to the film. For instance, my girlfriend is a huge horror fan and genre fan in general, but she never cared much for LOTR, and she had a much tougher time with this than I did, a casual LOTR fan. The fan-service stuff really lost her, I feel like it would have worked so much better for her if that stuff had been omitted because she's open to this sort of thing in general (she's dying to get into Game of Thrones, for instance.) I just think that it's too bad that this story, which by design should be an easy access point for the non-fan, is being treated as very much the opposite by Jacskon and crew. 

post #245 of 963

I would argue, though, that there are really only two moments of fan service in the entire thing-- the moment with Old Bilbo and Frodo at the beginning, and the White Council meeting roughly halfway through. Even the people who loved the movie, like myself, think the former belonged on the cutting room floor and the latter needed to be seriously trimmed down and re-edited for better pacing. If there's nostalgia to be read anywhere here, it's on Jackson, because the people that stuff is aimed at (at least, the ones represented in this thread) are for the most part rejecting those bits of fan service. 

 

Because boy does that opening suck.

post #246 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Samurai Mike View Post

So I see The Hobbit as just a great big extended version of Fellowship, without the 'epic stakes' (which are overrated in my opinion) and darkness but with an old-fashioned adventure story that is a lot of fun. We'll see if I still share that view after a second viewing.

 

The potential was certainly there for it be comparable in quality to Fellowship, but Fellowship had the benefit of being the first film out for Jackson, forcing him to make a relatively tight narrative and focus on the central theme of the book.  If Fellowship were to be remade in the same environment, it would be split into 3 films, and then require additional villains and plot beats to keep the stories from imploding.  Bombadil would not only have been in the film, but would have had a 20 minute epic battle with a new 10th wraith as a finale.

post #247 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun H View Post

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. 'Thank goodness!'"

 

The Hobbit, as written by Parker.


The Hobbit, by Richard Stark.

"When the small, dumb guy opened the door, Parker shot him in the face and stole all his food." 

post #248 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post


The Hobbit, by Richard Stark.

"When the small, dumb guy opened the door, Parker shot him in the face and stole all his food." 

The Hobbit: Point Blank. 

 

Lee Marvin is Gandalf. I don't need to cast it any more than that.

post #249 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by agracru View Post

I would argue, though, that there are really only two moments of fan service in the entire thing-- the moment with Old Bilbo and Frodo at the beginning, and the White Council meeting roughly halfway through. Even the people who loved the movie, like myself, think the former belonged on the cutting room floor and the latter needed to be seriously trimmed down and re-edited for better pacing. If there's nostalgia to be read anywhere here, it's on Jackson, because the people that stuff is aimed at (at least, the ones represented in this thread) are for the most part rejecting those bits of fan service. 

 

Because boy does that opening suck.

 

My point is that those two moments are bigger detriments to the non-fan then they are to the fan. They're long fucking sequences, Rivendell in particular. I could feel my GF checking out at that point, and sure enough I was right. They're movie killers to the non-fan. 

post #250 of 963
Did the infamous diet coke review ever get reposted?
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