Thread: The Desolation
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Old 12-11-2013, 04:53 PM   #5
Legate of Amon Lanc
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Question Personal review: How Legolas Was The Best Part Of The Movie

This is another review, reflecting my personal perception of the film. By the time I'm writing this, I haven't yet read Agan's above (even though we've talked about the movie a lot yesterday), so apologies for some repetition, but you can take it also as a completely different, unaffected perspective. So...

...Let me start with reminding that I actually liked the first Hobbit movie. Yes, yes, I did, strangely and puzzlingly enough, while otherwise I am a strong enemy of the movie adaptations, as can be seen if you look at posts which I have made in this subforum (and there are very few of those). But, I had expected the first Hobbit to be crap, and it wasn't, it was at least as good as FotR, probably even the best of all the PJ movies. Because aside from ridiculous sliding stunts a la Ice Age in the goblin-town, it was pretty faithful to the book. Not atmosphere-wise - but in my opinion, that's what movies cannot be anyway - but in its own right... and knowing PJ. He managed to really do pretty well there, for himself.

Now I must say I had expected the second Hobbit to be worse than the first, in the same pattern as Two Towers was suddenly full of made-up nonsense (Aragorn's death...) and facepalm-worthy things (skating Legolases). In some way, I was right. PJ does exactly the same thing he did in TT: skipping important events (or, skimming over them in a couple of seconds) and filling in his own rubbish. Even though, here actually, and this is the strongest impression I brought back with me from that movie, PJ's invented scenes are actually better than the scenes which are taken from the book. Truly. (Except for a few exceptions, such as the start of dialogue with Smaug, which is pretty much from the book and is quite decent.)

In other words, I believe Peter Jackson has succeeded to show that he is a better writer than Tolkien. At least to an unknowing audience it must seem that way, because the scenes from the books are usually utterly ridiculed.

***

Now, let me make a short comparison of what is good in the movie, and the rest. The parts in the movie which I have enjoyed are:

- The scenes with Master of Lake-Town. There are three in total, the actor is of course brilliant, it is fun, but not in the silly way, there is some nice background, and even though my image of the democracy in Lake-Town was different, it's still nice: this is what I call good, inventive adaptation. Even though these scenes aren't really in the book like that (one of them not at all), it is a good adaptation.

- Actually, the scene where Tauriel and Legolas are talking to Dwarves when locking them up/when they are locked up. The eyebrow-raising romance aside, it is decent, a joke made by Legolas about Gloin's family is funny, and so is the dialogue. These moments have more characterization than 99,9% of the whole movie, or even of the first movie. That's also why Tauriel and Legolas (yes, I will say it again: Tauriel and Legolas) are possibly the two characters I liked the most in the movie. Yes, you heard right. Now think what it says about the rest of the movie.

- Thranduil is also pretty good, even though very, very, very different from the book. But he has a clear personality of semi-baddie, or semi-arrogant posh isolationist, not to mention pretty cruel, and I am fine with that. I am. Much more characterization, and much more entertaining than, say, Thorin, who is mostly just cycling around a few repetitive "epic" quotes with no substance (in the style "I have the ONLY right", "it is our ONLY chance", "this is the ONLY way", and so on), and would have spent the whole movie posing and chewing bubblegum, if he apparently hadn't run out of bubblegum. Still regarding Thranduil, I was not even that much disturbed by some very strange, vague hints that Thranduil is apparently a hero of the First Age, or coming from Gondolin (and so is Legolas, since the swords seem to belong to him by right) - that's maybe not so uncanonical, since originally Thranduil was, obviously, some sort of wannabe-First Age-maybe-Thingol-esque-figure, when Tolkien still wasn't sure what he's actually writing, or that he's writing in the same mythology. Likewise, Thranduil's weird intimidating moment where (my interpretation) an illusion on his face covering wounds made by some Glaurung briefly disappeared, only made me curious about whether there is some deeper idea behind this (if I'm not too demanding of PJ) and whether this will still be explained (one of the reasons for me to go to see third movie, perhaps).

And then a couple of what are rather small moments:

- PJ actually putting there the Bree "chance meeting", even though I enjoyed like the first few seconds of it - of the realization that it is there - and the rest was crap.
- Bilbo looking from top of a tree with butterflies flying around. Very beautiful scene, very well done - shows some geography to the viewer; also, I think for movie purposes, it's perfectly OK that the Dwarves disappeared when Bilbo was up there. Makes sense, good way to cut stuff. If only along with it 99% of the Mirkwood wasn't cut out as well.
- one of the drunk Elven jailers being actually called Galion.
- Bilbo realising (canon!) that he's too late to join his friends in the barrels.
- Lake-town looking nice.
- the Dwarves' tear-eyed entering into Erebor. Well acted.
- some of Smaug's dialogue with Bilbo.
- that's about it.

Worst moments:
Too many. There are not really "moments", you see. It's the whole movie, with some parts of it providing momentary relief - those I named above. Maybe I should rather mention some things which caused my greatest puzzlement. If so, I would shout out these questions:

- WHY bother with Beorn whatsoever, if he's there just to actually BE there (maybe a way to avoid the Tom Bombadil accusation, "Why wasn't Tom in LotR?" This way, PJ can't be accused by "Why wasn't Beorn there?" because he was, but he has like one line, looks like a werewolf from some 1920s movie, and ). Also, WHY to discard a perfect opportunity to explore the Dwarven characters deeper by making them come two by two, like in the book, and even possibly EXPANDING the dialogue (hear that, PJ?), so that we get some more characterization. The best opportunity to make more differentiation between 13 otherwise alike bearded guys, wasted.
- WHY skip ALL of Mirkwood? Aside from the fact that it's ugly and grey and not looking like Mirkwood at all (too light) - but that may be personal visual preference, fine; but WHY reducing to none great, adventurous journey... beats me.
- Why doing the "Dwarven metalurgic miracle aka how to battle the Dragon with technology for ten minutes" (and I half-expected the Dwarves to animate a gold golem there, it really looks like that at certain moment), and then copying the ending of Alien 3... (personal puzzlement, rather for those who know the movie)

***

Final score: minus nine out of ten. I would give minus ten out of ten, but I really liked the Master of Lake-Town. And even his mini-grima, who at least provided him a nice dialogue partner. And, oh! One really, really bright moment in the movie. How happy was I when I heard that one of Bard's kids, the boy, is actually called Bain! Isn't that great, to be happy about such thing in a three-hour movie?

All in all: How would this movie fare better? I believe it could be a very succesful general fantasy movie, if a few changes were made. Actually, pretty simple. Remove all reference to Tolkien and pretend that it is a stand-alone fantasy movie. Removing all reference to Tolkien would be difficult, you say? No, I don't think so. Simply change all the characters' names. If it weren't for that, and the movie's title, I bet many people wouldn't even recognize that it is based on The Hobbit.

That's All, Folks.
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"But it is not your own Shire," said Gildor. "Others dwelt here before hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out."

Last edited by Legate of Amon Lanc; 12-11-2013 at 05:17 PM.
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