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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 12:51 am 
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So I haven't watched any of TH movies since Battle of Five Armies' release. I guess I generally soured on the project as it went - as they came out I watched AUJ three times in theaters and once at home, DoS twice in theaters, B5A once. I will say that while Battle of Five Armies had its strong points, the dual Legolas/Thorin boss fights largely superseding the interesting and highly filmable battle in the books really soured me on the entire trilogy. I never saw the EEs.

Well, having rewatched the LotR movies and following the hype for Amazon I guess I'm in the right mood, so I watched AUJ EE for the first time and enjoyed it enough that I will be watching the others.

I might post a more detailed review later. My short impressions are that the first and third acts are solid (besides one major scene), and actually spectacular in their best moments. The second act, however, is really bad and honestly a case study in sloggy aimless storytelling.

Overall I suppose I am a transcendentalist with revisionist sympathies regarding the LotR movies, so I could take the good with the bad, though I will probably skip through much of the middle third in the future. The extended scenes are minor, but almost all help the movie.

I unfortunately can't find any way of watching the EEs of the other two for cheap or free, so I will need to order them (the library only has AUJ EE and doesn't do interlibrary on DVDs, and I can't find the EEs for rent anywhere). I might also reread The Hobbit and Durin's Folk before continuing the rest.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 2:05 am 
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kzer_za wrote:
Overall I suppose I am a transcendentalist with revisionist sympathies regarding the LotR movies ...


I'm happy to see the term "transcendentalist" to continue to get used!

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:27 am 
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Like you, kzer, I had only watched the Hobbit movies once or twice. They weren't worth more than that IMO. But a couple months ago I watched kind of the opposite of EEs - a fan edit that tried to seemlessly cut out a lot of the worst, most bloated or obnoxious parts of the movie. It turned AUJ from a movie I found largely dull and tedious to a movie I solidly enjoyed. The increased focus of Freeman's wonderful Bilbo made for something genuinely good.

Unfortunately, the edits could not, IMO, save the next two movies, despite the editor's best intentions. It turns out that if you remove most of the obnoxious or unnecessary stuff from the latter two movies, what's left is still kind of a mess, and there's no kind of edit that's going to make the final battles something worth enduring.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 6:58 pm 
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I have a tendency to be long-winded, but here is my attempt at a "brief" review of AUJ EE:

First Act:
  • Almost everything in the prologue is great. The main "almost" is Frodo's awkward inclusion, which I have never liked.
  • The fireworks are a beautiful addition and make the prologue flow better.
  • The party and everything in the Shire is great (enjoyed the new market scene). The extension of the Misty Mountains song, one of the best parts of the TE, is welcomed.
  • Azanulbizar is the final high point before the movie falls apart, at least for awhile.

Second Act:
Boy, what a disaster...
  • I remember not minding Radagast but man, is he annoying (though I do like the visuals at Dol Guldur).
  • The troll scene is painful on many levels - the book version is probably unfilmable, but PJ's really overdoses on the gross-out humor. And combined with missing ponies before and the cave after, it just drags on and on and on. On a less purist note, it's the easiest chapter to cut too - it's very hard to film as written and the only real story payoff is Sting.
  • The chase is a drag and Radagast's part is ridiculous - maybe it could have worked in much shorter form.
  • Rivendell is good in parts but maybe not as a whole. I like Bofur/Frodo's song, Bilbo's conversation with Elrond where he says Frodo's "elves...will say yes and no", and a few other bits. Bathing dwarves are too much. The white council is a real drag, even if it's nice to see Lee and Blanchett again.

After setting up Bilbo and Thorin nicely in the first 50 minutes, the movie's momentum completely stalls and it wastes an hour on rabbit trails and subplots. Much of which is non-book padding, but also not knowing what to cut from the book.

Third Act:
  • After a bad stone giant fight, Bilbo's conversation with Bofur is a turning point in the movie, after which it gets markedly better with one exception.
  • This might be controversial but I liked the additional Goblin King material, including the song, and I laughed at "Second Age? Couldn't give it away!" It gives Goblintown some much-needed personality beyond the setting for a dumb action scene.
  • And yes, the Goblintown escape is quite bad, PJ at his worst. Though Gandalf's initial rescue is great.
  • Riddles in the Dark and the Pity of Bilbo are of course excellent scenes. "You don't have a home" is a lovely character scene.
  • And then Out of the Frying Pan and the Eagle rescue is the best action sequence in the movie and a good ending. I'd even say the best scene - I was surprised to find that the Eagle rescue, not Riddles or the Party, is my favorite part. It's simply beautiful, and there are shots that are pure cinematic poetry.

General:
  • I remember liking Thorin and especially Balin more - they're fine, but get less moments than I thought. Perhaps it was more in the later movies.
  • Shore's soundtrack is good, but really not on the level of LotR, and the Erebor theme's overuse and lack of variation is grating. However, the eagle song is incredible.
  • I don't like Necromancer/White Council but am undecided on Azog at this point.

I remember the acts basically breaking down for me like this but the bad parts were worse than I remembered, while some of the good ones were better. Overall, the EE is a slight improvement.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 7:10 pm 
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I pretty much agree with everything you say, with one exception. I think a reasonably faithful troll scene could have been done with a deft touch, and I dearly would have loved to have seen a rendition of Gandalf throwing his voice in order to trick the trolls into facing the sunlight.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 7:17 pm 
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That one scene where one dwarf is hanging off another dwarf that's hanging off the staff that Gandalf is holding while hanging on a tree that's hanging off a cliff.....bleck, I hate that scene! :nono:

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:07 pm 
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yovargas wrote:
Like you, kzer, I had only watched the Hobbit movies once or twice. They weren't worth more than that IMO. But a couple months ago I watched kind of the opposite of EEs - a fan edit that tried to seemlessly cut out a lot of the worst, most bloated or obnoxious parts of the movie. It turned AUJ from a movie I found largely dull and tedious to a movie I solidly enjoyed. The increased focus of Freeman's wonderful Bilbo made for something genuinely good.

Unfortunately, the edits could not, IMO, save the next two movies, despite the editor's best intentions. It turns out that if you remove most of the obnoxious or unnecessary stuff from the latter two movies, what's left is still kind of a mess, and there's no kind of edit that's going to make the final battles something worth enduring.

I wonder if a fan edit that condenses the entire trilogy into one book-sized film would work. Or does such a thing already exist?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 12:20 am 
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Jude wrote:
I wonder if a fan edit that condenses the entire trilogy into one book-sized film would work. Or does such a thing already exist?


The one I watched condensed it into two films and while that sounds like a great idea, I found a lot of the second film really awkward and sloppy storytelling-wise. Lots of weird jumps in story and weird segues and rushed transitions. I think trying to condense it to down further to 3 hours would make it unwatchable.

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Last edited by yovargas on Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:34 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 12:21 am 
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I loved 'The Hobbit' as a book. It's what lured me into reading Fantasy. 'The Hobbit' as a movie ('Trilogy') was disheartening and disappointing, to say the least.

I'll be heading to the Hobbiton lands Down Under (waaaay down under). I don't know if anyone here might be interested in seeing photos? (if I can get wi-fi/figure out how to post photos from my phone.)


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 12:31 am 
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Are you saying you're going to New Zealand????

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 12:45 am 
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Rose did mention recently that she is going New Zealand (and asked for advise from Túrin, who had been there not long ago).

So no, this is not poppycock! :P

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 2:04 am 
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Yup. NZ bound. I've also contacted Ax (Axordil) & his lovely wife, L..., who have been there as well as Tiggs, who lives in NZ. I'm hoping we've planned a good trip. It's a bit shorter than we'd have liked 'cause we're not likely to ever make it back that way... but can't have everything, I guess. (what a long flight!) :shock:


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2019 5:09 am 
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The next two EEs are in the mail. In the meantime, I watched the Rankin-Bass Hobbit for the first time since childhood, and didn't really enjoy it.

The animation is mostly quite poor. The songs are cute in small doses but quickly become overbearing - I thought "The Greatest Adventure" was charming as the opening credits song but it's so overused that I even said out loud "shut up"! And while it's very literally faithful (though with Beorn and the Arkenstone cut), everything just feels so episodic and disjointed that it's hard to feel any real connection or build any plot momentum. The dwarves' transformation into warriors is so abrupt, for example, and then Thorin's alliance with Thranduil even more so. Two very bizarre, though fairly harmless, changes toward the end are killing half the dwarves off for no reason and having Gandalf hint that he knows about the One Ring (???).

While simple bad execution with the animation and other things is a big reason the movie doesn't work, it also shows the dangers of an overly literal adaptation I think. It captures very little of the book in spirit for me.

The Erebor flashback is good and the Smaug scenes (where I think they spent most of the animation budget) are decent. Besides that...meh. Gollum and Riddles in the dark is a catastrophe. Even judged as a children's cartoon, it hasn't aged well. They make a decent stab at developing Bilbo's character, but almost everything around him feels so thin that it isn't very compelling.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:33 am 
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I despise the Rankin-Bass Hobbit.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 02, 2019 2:26 pm 
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My tl;dr of Desolation of Smaug EE for now: a near-great movie marred by a cataclysmically stupid ending (there are a few other things I quibble with too, but mostly the last 25ish minutes). It is frustrating how easily it could be fixed, though there were a lot of parts I liked or loved and I don't regret buying the Blu-ray.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 2:43 am 
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So here's my much-too-long review of DoS.The EE really does make it a much better movie, though it still has serious issues with its ending.

Good:
  • First of all, the narrative that the Hobbit movies are just CG fests is just not true. While there are CG scenes I will complain about below, these movies have many wonderful sets on par with LotR such as Laketown, the Carrock, and Woodland Realm. And The Hobbit movies might even surpass LotR in beautiful landscape shots.
  • The movie's central theme of "is this quest really worth it?" and the gradual descent of Thorin's character is done well, such as his interactions with Bard, Balin, and Fili.
  • The performances are generally great all around. Even people who hate these movies praise Freeman, but it's much more than that. I will especially note Stott's Balin as a great supporting character.
  • I like the Prancing Pony opening, and the following (beautifully lit) scene of avoiding the hunt.
  • I like Beorn, especially the new greeting scene and that beautiful twilight shot of his transformation. Both him and Mirkwood were rushed in theatrical; extended lets them breathe. The butterfly scene is really beautiful and cathartic with the extended material.
  • Thrain is a great addition who really should not have been cut, at least not entirely. He both strengthens the movie thematically and makes the Necromancer plotline much more coherent.
  • The Woodland Realm is more uneven than previous scenes, but it still gets more right than wrong. The visuals and music are beautiful and the barrel escape (as opposed to the chase) is great. Thranduil shows the less noble side of the elves and would fit right into the Silmarillion.
  • I love Laketown. The lighting and set are so beautiful (the colors of the tapestry shop, or that scene with the snow falling in the torchlight!), I like the Italian city-state vibe, and overall it's the most fully realized city in all six movies except the Shire. Even Alfrid, while bad in B5A, is fine in this movie, and I like how there is clearly an undercurrent of contempt to his sycophantry with the Master.
  • Bilbo vouching for Thorin is important and another thing that should not have been cut.
  • Bilbo's conversation with Smaug is amazing, both the performances and visuals. And the Erebor scenes leading up to it are great too.
  • The feast of starlight scene is really quite lovely, understated, and feels very Tolkien. If they had kept the Kili-Tauriel connection to this and a few meaningful glances, it would have been fine.

Okay/mixed:
  • The barrel chase is creative and kind of fun and I even like bouncing Bombur, but it just doesn't have much reason to be there, especially with Bolg as the villain. Well, it does lead to the healing scene, so I guess for setting up that cinematic masterpiece it was worth it. I can understand putting an action scene at that point, but I think a shorter more dwarf-centric scene with the elves in a peripheral role would have worked better there.
  • I have mixed feelings about the Necromancer storyline. You do need to show why Gandalf keeps leaving in a film, so something had to be done. Good: Adding Thrain does a lot to improve it, the Dol Guldur visuals are great, and especially the big Gandalf showdown feels like something out of The Silmarillion.
  • Bad Necromancer stuff: The Nazgûl don't really have any reason to be here (a classic example of what I would call "prequel-itis"), these movies try a little too hard to connect Sauron to everything, and the endless proclamations of "WAAAAR is coming" reach self-parody.
  • The Ring. I like the visual effects and little moments with Bilbo, especially "mine!" and Bilbo's subsequent reaction in Mirkwood is a great scene. But having Smaug know about it is too much.
  • Tauriel's character is frustratingly a missed opportunity, because you can still see the potential. I can tell what they were going for is her openness vs. Thranduil's isolationism, combined with elf "class" divides, and then the studio forced a romance.

The bad:
  • I don't like Bolg at all. I think keeping Azog alive was a legitimate cinematic change to have a continuous villain with a connection to one of the protagonists, and Azog has some real menace. But then Bolg, who is kind of a non-entity and should be a tertiary antagonist like Gothmog's skull-wearing lieutenant, is supposed to carry two action scenes, and then be Legolas's arch-nemesis. Also his design is dumb.
  • Too many CG orcs.
  • That one Kili line after capture, so out of place.
  • And yes, Legolas, already my least favorite LotR film character or at least bottom two, is in these movies WAY too much. A small cameo is fine, I don't even mind a fanservice stunt or two like spider-surfing. But they just keep piling it on and on, and then they even give him his own villain? Come on!
  • The orc attack on Laketown and healing and too much Legolas. "Do you think she could have loved me?" Ugh.
  • The dwarves' encounter with Smaug is terrible. Interminably long, full of really stupid action beats, and badly weakens Smaug as a villain, making him look stupid and incompetent. I actually don't mind the golden statue itself (it's great visual symbolism, sometimes that trumps logic), but everything leading up to it is awful. If you want to have the dwarves briefly meet Smaug directly, fine, but it should be BRIEF and Smaug should clearly have the upper hand and be toying with them.

I like the movie, in some parts love it. But the Laketown attack, healing scene, and dwarves vs. Smaug really do hurt it quite a bit. I'm not sure whether it or AUJ is better.


Last edited by kzer_za on Sun Mar 03, 2019 8:39 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:42 am 
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I think you just convinced me to actually give the extended editions a try...

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 2:50 pm 
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Thanks for reminding me how annoyed I was by that damn melting gold statue. :P

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Last edited by yovargas on Sun Mar 03, 2019 4:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 3:09 pm 
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The "damned golden statue" was one of the most brilliant things that Jackson came up with in all six of the Middle-earth films that wasn't actually in Tolkien's books.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:15 pm 
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Yeah, I think the golden statue is a strong symbolic image of the problems that afflict Thorin's family, and then you see "Smaug the golden." It fits the story's themes quite well.

The silly and drawn-out sequence leading up to it is the movie's biggest flaw, but I like the statue itself.

I watched Battle of Five Armies EE and, controversial as this may be, it might be my favorite of the trilogy. But I want to finishing rereading the book and possibly rewatch the movie before I say more.


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