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Old 12-31-2013, 08:50 AM   #121
Kuruharan
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So we can expect Kili to die not before the gates of Erebor, but at his wedding-feast which is actually a cynical ambush plotted by Thranduil......
Pretty much.
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Old 12-31-2013, 02:28 PM   #122
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I thought some parts of the film could have been done really well, such as the scene with Beorn (which was so charming in the book) and the famous escape from the Elvenking's Halls. For me, those were two scenes that could have made the movie. Overall, though, I found the film hastily-done and just plain tacky. It was as if PJ was trying to capture the epic scale of LotR in a story as short as TH, with the result of crowded action, little substance, and ill-timed laughs from the audience.

The absolute worst was all the focus on Kili and Tauriel. It was positively cringe-worthy, especially with Legolas acting as if he were jealous of the two. I thought I was watching a heavily funded fan-fiction whose script was written by a hormonal fifteen-year-old. "He is tall for a Dwarf", "Do you think she could have loved me?", "Enter Sindarin (or Quenya? Pardon my ignorance) babbling here". *Throws up*.

I think Thranduil was kind of cheesy with the slow speech and zoned-out voice, but overall I liked his image. I actually liked –*yes, I liked –*Legolas (minus his weird thing for Tauriel). I remember him being quite a deadpan snarker in the LotR books ("Then dig a hole in the ground"), so to me he was quite funny. It was delightful seeing that dry sarcasm (I'd have liked more of his wit, though) in the movie.

On Tauriel herself. I shouldn't start, else I might never stop. Suffice to say she made me facepalm. Several times.

Basically, I went to the cinema expecting little, and even that was not fulfilled. The only point I felt remotely charmed like I did with the book was when Bilbo stuck his head out of the trees, saw the butterflies, and laughed.

I know a lot of people liked and even loved the film, but I don't think I need to feel sorry for disliking it. I'm under no obligation to heap praise on PJ.
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Old 12-31-2013, 03:04 PM   #123
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Thanks to Aganzir review. I was leaning towards not wasting time on Hobbit Ii and III after seeing the awful Hobbit I. PJ continues his devolution.
I actually gave FotR, upon reflection, an A- (despite some silly and unnecessary changes/omissions), TTT a C+, RotK a C-, Hobbit Part I an F. Hobbit actually wasn't awful until up until the trolls, then PJ got sillier and sillier. Instead of a believable book tale of Gandalf turning lights out, slaying the Great Goblin, and being a reguard with Thorin for the escape you had the absurd Goblin sizes, rediculously overblown Goblintown, impossible escapes of Thorin and Co....
No need to waste time and money on PJ's failed Hobbit. I'll stick with the 1977 Rankin/Bass version until a reasonable production of The Hobbit is done.

(From Wikipedia):
Quote:
The film was produced and directed by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass of Rankin/Bass Productions and was adapted for the screen by Romeo Muller, with Rankin taking on the additional duties of production designer. When interviewed for the film, Rankin declared that he would add nothing to the story that wasn't in the original. The New York Times reported that The Hobbit cost $3 million...

The story's hero, Bilbo Baggins, is voiced by Orson Bean, backed up by noted Hollywood director and actor John Huston as the voice of Gandalf. In supporting roles, the comedian and performance artist Brother Theodore was chosen for the voice of Gollum, and Thurl Ravenscroft performed the baritone singing voices of the goblins. The gravelly voice of the dragon Smaug was provided by Richard Boone, rounding out the cast of primarily American voice actors...

Jules Bass primarily adapted Tolkien's original lyrics for the film's musical interludes, drawn primarily from the songs that feature prominently in the book. He also assisted Maury Laws, Rankin/Bass's composer and conductor-in-residence, in the composition of an original theme song, "The Greatest Adventure (The Ballad of the Hobbit)", sung by Glenn Yarbrough as the sole original song written for the film. This folk ballad came to be associated with Yarbrough, who reprised it in the soundtrack to The Return of the King (1980).
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Old 12-31-2013, 04:26 PM   #124
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I finally forced myself to sit through it a few days ago.

I liked Stephen Fry as the master of Laketown.

That's about the only positive thing I can think of to say about it.
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Old 12-31-2013, 05:18 PM   #125
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Originally Posted by Tuor in Gondolin View Post
No need to waste time and money on PJ's failed Hobbit. I'll stick with the 1977 Rankin/Bass version until a reasonable production of The Hobbit is done.
The R/B film has some issues, and unquestionably left out some scenes from the book, but at least there was no "love triangle" to needlessly cloud the original plot.

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I finally forced myself to sit through it a few days ago.

I liked Stephen Fry as the master of Laketown.

That's about the only positive thing I can think of to say about it.
I told myself if I ever saw AUJ, it would be after it came out on satellite, so I could avoid (directly) lining PJ's pockets. It's been available all this month and I still haven't yielded, and I'm confident that will continue when DOS appears.
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Old 01-05-2014, 12:57 AM   #126
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I finally went and saw this with my roommate. I will say I liked it much better than the first movie overall, but that doesn't say much.

Pros:
-It was a bit cheesy, but I actually liked the scene between Thorin and Thrainduil.
-Beorn for the few minutes he was in the movie
-I liked Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman, but he did look a bit like Orlando Bloom's character Will Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean
-Stephen Fry is generally fantastic

Cons:
-Beorn only got a few minutes
-Kili/Tauriel what the heck? I feel like it cheapens the friendship Legolas and Gimli have
-What did PJ do to Bard's character?
-Dol Guldur, enough said
-Whatever was going on with the forge at the end. I'm not really sure what Thorin and Co hoped to accomplish
-A handful of dwarves are left in Laketown?

Since Orlando Bloom is now closer to 40 than to 20 it does make Legolas look like he has the Benjamin Button disease and I thought about that almost the entire movie. So I pretty much came away from the movie believing elves must age backwards.
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Old 01-07-2014, 09:53 PM   #127
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I went to see The Dissipation of Smaug this evening. As I have staunchly refused to give Peter Jackson any more of my money, I fortunately went free, as my daughter received a theater gift card from one of her aunts for Christmas.

I will perhaps write a longer critique later, but for now I will only say that the movie was absolutely the most dreadful melange of poorly penned subplots and derivative nonsense that I have ever seen. This in no way is The Hobbit; this, my dears, is fan-fiction gone amok, and Peter Jackson -- with his enormous, pendulously hanging goiter of an ego -- has completely lost his flippin' mind.

As opposed to Jackson's previous forays in destroying and reassembling Middle-earth a CGI brick at a time, I didn't even enjoy the cinematography this time around. Everything looked fake and everything was completely over-the-top.
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Old 01-08-2014, 07:10 AM   #128
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I went to see The Dissipation of Smaug this evening. As I have staunchly refused to give Peter Jackson any more of my money, I fortunately went free, as my daughter received a theater gift card from one of her aunts for Christmas.

I will perhaps write a longer critique later, but for now I will only say that the movie was absolutely the most dreadful melange of poorly penned subplots and derivative nonsense that I have ever seen. This in no way is The Hobbit; this, my dears, is fan-fiction gone amok, and Peter Jackson -- with his enormous, pendulously hanging goiter of an ego -- has completely lost his flippin' mind.

As opposed to Jackson's previous forays in destroying and reassembling Middle-earth a CGI brick at a time, I didn't even enjoy the cinematography this time around. Everything looked fake and everything was completely over-the-top.
Dinna hold back, man.
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Old 01-08-2014, 10:51 AM   #129
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As this movie was a Peter Jackson film, with a book he was stretching into three films, I went in with low expectations and therefore was able to enjoy it. The only thing that really irked me was the scene with the spiders.

Bilbo was supposed to save them there, that was his big scene when HE felt that he earned his way into the company, and that was taken from him. That really irritated me, because the whole first movie revolved around getting the dwarves to accept him, so they should have left the scene where he accepted himself.

Also, the RAMPANT CGI. There were scenes where NOT A SINGLE THING WAS REAL. (Okay, maybe this was the big turn-off for me.) And really, what they did with Azog and Bolg was terrible.

The gold scene was a little ridiculous, but I'm able to excuse that when I picture Benedict Cumberbatch twirling in a motion-capture suit, so...
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Old 01-08-2014, 12:02 PM   #130
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As this movie was a Peter Jackson film, with a book he was stretching into three films, I went in with low expectations and therefore was able to enjoy it. The only thing that really irked me was the scene with the spiders.
Jackson, Boyens, et al are simply inept screenwriters and would be flayed alive if they wrote fan-fiction on some of the writing sites I have submitted work on. Bilbo, ostensibly "The Hobbit" as the film title implies, has been so minimized and shunted from his status as main character that scenes like the spider attack and his dialogue with Smaug were so modified as to make them virtually unwatchable.

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Bilbo was supposed to save them there, that was his big scene when HE felt that he earned his way into the company, and that was taken from him. That really irritated me, because the whole first movie revolved around getting the dwarves to accept him, so they should have left the scene where he accepted himself.
Crucial points in the book, like the spider and dragon scenes were completely denuded of the humor inherent in the story, and that is a literary crime. Bilbo did not get to insult the spiders, nor, as you made clear, actually "save" the Dwarves, that was kept for the character-insert Tauriel and her beau Legolas (who behaved in such a Matrix-like fashion that someone in the audience yelled out "Neo is the one!"). The dreadful Mirkwood set (the worst fake trees in movie history) only took about 5 minutes to get through (add 10 for the spider fight), and skipped the poisonous river sequence, sleeping Bombur, the white hart and deer, the silvan feast and other points of interest just so that Jackson could belabor the story with his own inane plotpoints.

In addition, the movie completely ignored BASIC TOLKIEN: DRAGONS 101. What does one never do with a dragon? Never maintain eye contact! Bilbo stupidly kept taking his ring on and off and revealed himself to the dragon. What a stultifying idiotic turn. Let's not even mention the entire dialogue between Smaug and Bilbo was lost in tobogganing around on mile high piles of coin (which were actually the billions of skulls left over from the City of the Dead scene in Return of the King painted gold), and then a half an hour worth of more insipid chase scenes around Erebor culminating in pouring molten gold (enough to fill the Nile from the Sudan up to the Suez Canal) on a dragon with a furnace for a belly.

Dumb. Just plain dumb. What a waste.
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Old 01-10-2014, 03:13 AM   #131
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I have a whole bunch of reasons why I hated DOS, but everyone else pretty much summed up my thoughts so I'll just say something else I haven't seen-

While the LOTR movie trilogy wasn't perfect, by far, I felt it captured a more 'real' feel to it. The antagonistic characters felt like they were an actual threat and not just movie magic, and I personally think its because of the practical effects used in the original trilogy vs The Hobbit soon to be Trilogy.

The monsters seem so much more.. heavy and actually there. It makes the combat feel harrowing, because its real people interacting with one another instead of painted over actors with Cgi.

The Hobbit's choreography may seem more flashy, but to me, its fluffy garbage. Adversaries are dispatched with such ease that the real weight of it is lost, it feels like a hack and slash videogame cutscene. The heroes never look to be in any danger and that kills it for me. Battle should be heavy and gruesome and terrible, not whimsical and fun!

And just a minor gripe, if I'm remembering correctly- Do all the other river-guarding elves just straight up die in Bolg's attack during the barrel scene? It seems really crap to me to have these ancient warriors die in like 2 seconds of screentime, and I would have liked to see an interpretation of what soldiers would have done in that situation. Would they have grouped together and tried to form a wall? A wedge? Retreated? I dunno about you others, but ancient battle tactics really tickle my fancy and it upsets me that PJ, a majority of the time, seems to think that amounts to running around solo and swinging wildly.

Also, if Tauriel is Captain of the Guard you'd think she'd have a lot more compassion for ElfGuard1 and ElfGuard2 who she maybe has known for a few hundred years and definitely has known longer than Hunk!Dwarf.

Captain of the Guard, indeed! Elfguard3 just got his nose bitten off by an orc but our responsible captain is too busy chasing tail and getting the prince into mortal danger to manage her own guard.

Also, I started playing a game called "spot the LOTR moment". An example in DOS is when Kili is shot with a "morgul shaft". The same exact effects happen in this scene and the Boromir death scene from FOTR, it actually made me laugh because its so spot on it almost feels like a parody.

And my concluding thing- even the design feels radically different and unimpressive compared to LOTR (and again I think that is in part to the lack of practical effects) Could you imagine like, Boromir standing next to The Goblin King from AUJ? Or Aragorn next to just a human character like Alfred from DOS? I can't. Its like LOTR and TH are separated by a thick line of Cartoony-ness and CGI overuse that pervade choreography and art direction and it just ruins it utterly- For me.

(Ps. Long time Lurker, first time poster!)
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Old 01-10-2014, 08:30 AM   #132
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:51 PM   #133
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Boots And now to brighten your day...

How the Desolation of Smaug Should Have Ended.
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Old 01-17-2014, 07:09 AM   #134
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Thanks for posting the link, Kuruharan! I have to say that it makes more sense than the original.

0.34-0.57: So Tauriel fell passionately in love with Kili once he talked about what was down his trousers? That makes sense, particularly as she didn't then forget her duties and release him.

1.18: 'YOU HAVE BIRD POO!' I wish someone had told Radagast that...

1.44: So Thorin was sensible and asked for a lot of black arrows, just in case? Good for him.
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Old 01-17-2014, 09:22 AM   #135
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I have to say that it makes more sense than the original.
How It Should Have Ended almost always makes more sense than the original.
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Old 01-30-2014, 03:44 PM   #136
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A Necessary Balance

If someone else has already posted this link, then I apologize for the redundancy. Still, for something like this to appear on The One Ring fan site does merit notice, I think.

http://www.theonering.net/torwp/2014...tion-of-smaug/
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Old 01-30-2014, 06:20 PM   #137
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Michael Murry, thanks for posting the link!

I found it well-written, as it puts into words what I've felt.

More interesting is the comments, which, I guess, are necessary to balance out all of the anti-PJ feelings here.
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Old 01-30-2014, 08:11 PM   #138
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More interesting is the comments, which, I guess, are necessary to balance out all of the anti-PJ feelings here.
I can only imagine that the comments would be less vituperative if the article had not made assumptions about the nature of the film fans. Indeed characterising the film's biggest fans as basement-lurking neckbeards seems a bit out of touch. Perhaps he's not aware of tumblr. That being said, I did think the review was appropriately hostile towards the Hollywood establishment, which I think is the true villain here.

Apologies for shilling my own stuff, but my (very long) review, and follow up to the first one, is here if anyone would care to read it (although be warned, there's a touch of light swearing for comedic effect as my blog reviews tend to be a bit more rambunctious than my posts on the Downs):
http://opinionscanbewrong.blogspot.c...-of-smaug.html
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:12 PM   #139
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I thought the stereotyping of fans was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, in line with the satirical tone. And the comment section, if anything, has less flaming than I would have expected on TORN.
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Old 02-01-2014, 08:08 AM   #140
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Old 02-01-2014, 04:09 PM   #141
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Notes on terminology

From Wikipedia, a note on the term, "punter" :

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A British, Australian and Hiberno (Irish) English colloquial term for a paying guest or customer, especially

a patron of a public house
a patron of a brothel
a customer of a prostitute
more recently, a paying attendee of a festival or other event
Also from Wikipedia, a few notes on the equivalent American English term, "sucker":

Quote:
"There's a sucker born every minute" is a phrase often credited to P. T. Barnum (1810–1891), an American showman. Though this phrase is often credited to Barnum, it was more likely spoken by David Hannum, who was criticizing both Barnum and his customers. It means it is simple to con people out of their money.

When Barnum's biographer tried to track down when Barnum had uttered this phrase, all of Barnum's friends and acquaintances told him it was out of character. Barnum's credo was more along the lines of "there's a customer born every minute" — he wanted to find ways to draw new customers in all the time because competition was fierce and people could become bored easily.

Some sources claim the quote is most likely from famous con-man Joseph ("Paper Collar Joe") Bessimer, and other sources say it was actually uttered by David Hannum, spoken in reference to Barnum's part in the Cardiff Giant hoax. Hannum, who was exhibiting the "original" giant and had unsuccessfully sued Barnum for exhibiting a copy and claiming it was the original, was referring to the crowds continuing to pay to see Barnum's exhibit even after both it and the original had been proven to be fakes.
Crowds of punters (i.e., suckers) continuing to pay good money to see proven fakes. Yes, I think that fairly characterizes something the reviewer wanted to say about these films and their target audiences. My sincere thanks to The One Ring for publishing the aritcle. It does seem a bit out of place among their usual commercial advertisements for tie-in toys and such, but all the more welcome for that.
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Old 02-01-2014, 05:14 PM   #142
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Some dwarves and elves and orcs and a few wizards and a hobbit and ...

Aside from the satirical treatment of Bilbo Baggins as the put-upon punter in his own fake exhibition, I found the following passage from the review pretty much the heart of the matter:

Quote:
The title of the trilogy is ‘The Hobbit’, and yet Bilbo is barely the central focus, and when he is it often feels contrived and arbitrary. When he does play an active and necessary role his action is then rendered redundant by the events that follow. He rescues the dwarves from the spiders, but then the elves appear and do the same thing; he helps them escape the elves, but then Kili opens the second gate in a far more heroic manner; he has the bravery to confront Smaug, but then all the dwarves do the same. Indeed, much as in the first film, there is simply no sense of who the primary protagonist is supposed to be. The dwarves get more screen time than Bilbo. Bard – a tertiary character – gets more scenes than virtually any individual dwarf. Legolas, a character not even in the book, gets arguably more than Bard. And Tauriel, who is not only not in the book but also not in any Tolkien, gets more than Legolas. Who exactly is this film about?
This business about the differnece between the definite article "the" in the movie title versus the indefinite article "a" in the movie content reminds me of a scene from the Tom Cruise movie, Jack Reacher, wherein the eponymous leading character says to his lady-lawyer employer: "Drop me off at the auto-parts store." When she asks him "which one?" he patiently explains that he had said "the" auto-parts store, not just "any" auto-parts store. Then he asks her which local hardware store stands out in her mind as "the" most obvious one, whereupon she gets it and takes him to the aptly named "Default Auto Parts" emporium. In a similar fashion, given the plethora of secondary and teriary characters vying for screen time (and audience recognition) in these films, I can easily see someone asking to see The Hobbit and getting the perplexed reply: "which one?" And with only one hobbit actually appearing in these films, transforming Bilbo Baggins from a "the" to an "a" took a bit of doing, to say the least, not to mention half-a-billion dollars.

The first of these fan-rip-off films ruined things for me last year. I have so far not had much of a desire to experience the same -- or worse -- level of disappointment this year. So I will wait for the DVD rental to appear in a few months. Or perhaps, I will wait another month or so for for the HBO Asia programs on television here in Taiwan. I don't know. Just the thought of another stupid and vainglorious Peter Jackson cameo -- popping up to ruin things at the very beginning -- makes me want to skip the whole thing.
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Old 02-01-2014, 05:35 PM   #143
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I still haven't seen either movie, but a particular line in the TORN article seems to say it all.

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Hollywood is the Mirkwood of the 21st century, a dark rising force ruthlessly in pursuit of the money to be made in unoriginality and bloat: adaptations, sequels/ prequels, remakes and the splitting of films into twos or threes.
Spot on. And my opposition to not only TH, but the LOTR films over ten years ago was founded upon that nugget of knowledge. I saw that any cinematic treatment of the films would be very hard pressed to avoid pandering to Hollywood cliches that would blot out whatever of Tolkien had the good fortune to be left in.

Thanks indeed, Mr. Murry, for the link.
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Old 02-04-2014, 06:02 PM   #144
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ToRN really is a cult isn't it?
No, it's more like the court of Louis XIV, full of sycophants, courtiers, poseurs, courtesans, pet monkeys and decorative chamber pots...

Except no one wears powdered wigs. And no one writes like Molière or Racine.
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Old 02-06-2014, 04:34 AM   #145
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Interestingly, the article author made a comment of his own (which can currently be found by loading the first lot of additional comments below the ones showing up immediately beneath the article at present).
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This is the author, Thomas Monteath. I've just been reading the comments on this article. Thank you to everyone for posting. They make fascinating reading. This review seems to have triggered a debate - which was in part my intention - about the nature of the TORn community. What does it mean to call oneself a 'fan', as opposed to someone who enjoyed the books/ movies? What is the difference between a 'fan' of Tolkien and a 'fan' of Jackson (bearing in mind this is after all a site dedicated to the works of Tolkien not Jackson)? Is there a difference between being a 'fan' of what is put on screen and a 'fan' of the people putting it on screen, and if so, does that effect how we judge what is put on screen? As a social scientist in real life, I find the manner in which the discussion is being conducted here absolutely fascinating. It's very interesting how the responses are almost wholly polarised - I'm either an 'arrogant, pompous troll' or a 'brave, courageous truth-teller'.

The meta-commentary on the 'fan-base' (as those who self-identify as part of it call it) in the review was made precisely to stir up a reflexive discussion on the nature of 'fandom'. I find it curious that many people who self-identify as 'fans' appear to engage with Tolkien's work as a community exercise, rather than a private imagined one. For me, and for most people engaging with most literature and cinema, its consumption is a private experience. Yet in the case of these wholly and vividly imagined alternative/ fictional worlds - star wars; potter; tolkien; star trek; game of thrones - there tends to grow a community. And like any community, it tends to trend towards an exclusive consensus, and tends to try and censor. Where that fails, censure occurs. The community begins to act as a hive mind, and individual critical faculties tend to be suspended in the context of that community. This is widely noted characteristic of communities everywhere, particularly where the community is defined around a central idea, principle or precept. Or in the case of fansites, a legendarium.

One of the more interesting characteristics of such communities is that disagreements that challenge things from which people derive or on which people assert or by which people associate their identities end up being ad hominem (I should note that ad hominem - personal - attacks are ones directed at an individual. In my review, I do not attack any individual 'fan', but rather gently mock - and it was clearly done somewhat tongue in cheek by the way - a caricature of a 'fan' that was general in nature, not specific. It is extremely interesting that, despite the set up of a caricatured archetype, there is clearly a tendency for some people to slot themselves into it, despite it being a overly-simplistic caricature. So before anyone says I 'insulted' the fans, please note that there is a huge difference between insulting an individual and lightly mocking a caricature, especially when it is done as part of a broader and largely absurd satire, largely written for the mischievous fun of it). Thus it is especially interesting to see some of the ad hominem comments made about me - an individual, not a type of person, remember - in the comments. In light of the hostile comments, I expected to receive similarly hostile private emails. Instead, what is interesting is that in direct email, I've received 9 that are extremely supportive (often phrased in relatively strong terms, with asides about not wanting to comment on the article itself for fear of being 'flamed' by other commenters), and only one that was disagreeing with me, and that one was very polite. Comparing the public and private responses the article has received has been fascinating, and says something about the culture of how we interact on the internet in public forums.

The one mildly hostile email I've received did, however, make some interesting points. The correspondent self-identified as a fan, and went on to implicitly claim to speak for other 'fans', and then chided me for 'hating on their movie' (by which the correspondent implicitly meant 'our movie'). This is one of the curious things about the 'fan communities' that appear around these sorts of stories. For the Hobbit etc is, of course, not their/ your movie; it is just a movie. It is precisely this sort of community-based conformity, where the world is organised into 'likers' and 'haters', that is curious and arguably quite distasteful. It is a barrier to dispassionate discussion. Where, in my review, I talk of 'fanatics', it is precisely this sort of binary thinking that I'm addressing.

I therefore would not describe myself as a 'fan' of the books or the films. What I am is someone who has thoroughly enjoyed the Hobbit and LotR since I first read them as a child, and thought the first trilogy was a largely brilliant (if often tonally and thematically flawed) attempt to bring the LotR to the screen. I had extremely high hopes for this new trilogy, as evidenced by articles I posted to theonering.net in July-Dec 2012, largely focused (optimistically) on the possible way the films could be structured over three films.

However, no matter how much I wanted the new films to be wonderful, in the end I am sorely disappointed. I then found myself thinking why that might have been the case. What was wrong with them? And that process is what has led to the review. You have an intuitive response to a piece of art; you try and put it into words and give it a structure to communicate it; and then you disseminate it. Fiat justitia ruat caelum - do justice and let the skies fall. The point of a review is to state an opinion, and to eschew caveating it for the sake of not offending people. An opinion is not an opinion if it is watered down simply to avoid the ire of people don't both disagree with it and are emotionally invested in the thing being opined upon. Is the reviewers job to say what they think, or is it to tell people what they want to hear? Which has more integrity as a review?

Having read a lot of the other reviews of this film on TORn, I was aware that a lot of writers were careful to caveat or downplay or balance their criticisms. While this possibly to give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt, I suspect it was in part to avoid being 'flamed' in the comments, which can actually be upsetting when it gets personal. Writing any article is like standing on a stage in front of an audience you can't see, but who can heckle you anonymously. I can fully sympathise with the tendency to couch and caveat and water down negative reviews in such a forum as the theonering.net. And this is why I decided to go with the reflexive comments on the nature of 'fanatical' followings. I was well aware that those paragraphs would be like poking a nest of hornets (I'm not saying people are like hornets - that was just a metaphor, relax folks). But I think the goal - beyond reviewing the film - of sparking a debate about the nature of 'fandom' on sites like TORn has been achieved. How should the community here define itself? What is the community? What are it's basic points of consensus? These are valid and interesting questions. I'm glad the review has triggered a discussion.

One final point: my point about the 'fanatics' not seeing the light of day was, as with much of the first section of that review, clearly satirical, tongue in cheek and mildly teasing. It is a stereotype - the tolkien 'geek' who never leaves their bedroom. People should lighten up and not get so sensitive. I'm a regular reader of Tolkien myself, and I am given a friendly ribbing from many friends as a consequence. It is important in life to be able to laugh at oneself. And also to be able to see a running gag when it sprints past you.
I think the author raises some interesting points about consensus. This is why, as a general rule, I think fandom can, in its own trivial way, be a dangerous thing. The establishment of a consensus which drowns out critical discourse and motivates outrage and hostility based on nothing more than differing opinions is surely an unhealthy thing. The kind of 'aggressive consensus' that things like internet comments (as opposed to discussion forums) and like/dislike ratings have given rise to make serious discussion virtually impossible.

Then again adopting an 'us and them' philosophy is a deeply ingrained human trait, and I despair of any way of our society as a whole escaping it. Yet it seems so utterly absurd when applied to enthusiasts of Professor Tolkien's work. What would he think of the desire for us to all walk in step?

EDIT: (Addendum) I think even a change of vocabulary would help. Instead of people saying something was "good" or "bad", saying that one "enjoyed" or "didn't enjoy" something would probably be helpful. Everyone knows opinions are subjective, but they still don't like opinions being phrased as objective truth (even though the assumption, generally, is that it's just the opinion of the person making the judgement).
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Old 02-06-2014, 01:31 PM   #146
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An interesting comment, Ziggy; thanks for posting it. He does seem to have used a ruse to stimulate debate.

I don't think that discussion boards are immune to some of what he says. I remember at one point being subjected to a barage of complaints from fellow Downers when I dared to suggest that certain aspects of Tolkien's writing style were questionable. No one actually tried to refute my claim (I have later found some good points which do) so much as to descry how I could have the temerity to attack The Professor. There is a wee bit of hagiography involved in Tolkien fandom

*ducks*
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Old 02-06-2014, 07:34 PM   #147
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EDIT: (Addendum) I think even a change of vocabulary would help. Instead of people saying something was "good" or "bad", saying that one "enjoyed" or "didn't enjoy" something would probably be helpful. Everyone knows opinions are subjective, but they still don't like opinions being phrased as objective truth (even though the assumption, generally, is that it's just the opinion of the person making the judgement).
I think it's best, generally, that people try not to be too abrasive when expressing their views on films (or whatever); however, if you're thinking of the comments to that article... well, "he doesn't say it's just his opinion" is one of the stock fanboy "arguments" used to dismiss any negative reviews or comments. That is, according to such people even professional critics should have to qualify their every statement with, "in my personal opinion..." and "...of course, this is just how I happen to feel..." etc, etc. That would get tedious pretty fast.

Besides, it wouldn't make any difference to your real fanboy types, like the TORNites- they have a whole arsenal of "arguments" they can use in place of that one.
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Old 02-06-2014, 07:43 PM   #148
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I don't think that discussion boards are immune to some of what he says. I remember at one point being subjected to a barage of complaints from fellow Downers when I dared to suggest that certain aspects of Tolkien's writing style were questionable. No one actually tried to refute my claim (I have later found some good points which do) so much as to descry how I could have the temerity to attack The Professor. There is a wee bit of hagiography involved in Tolkien fandom.
Oh yes; I can think of worse examples than that, actually.
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Old 02-07-2014, 11:08 AM   #149
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EDIT: (Addendum) I think even a change of vocabulary would help. Instead of people saying something was "good" or "bad", saying that one "enjoyed" or "didn't enjoy" something would probably be helpful. Everyone knows opinions are subjective, but they still don't like opinions being phrased as objective truth (even though the assumption, generally, is that it's just the opinion of the person making the judgement).
So, saying "it absolutely sucked" is right out?
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Old 02-07-2014, 09:13 PM   #150
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So, saying "it absolutely sucked" is right out?
Heh.
I suppose having to couch all of your opinions in clarifying language is potentially stifling. Probably what we really need is for people to stop over-identifying with their hobbies so that they don't feel personally threatened when something they like is criticised.
My distinction between comments sections and discussion boards is that I feel like boards more let everyone have their say whereas in comments sections someone can blurt out a statement and disappear, then get bumped up to the top due to having the most "likes" or what have you, which makes it seem like there's some kind of "party line" to be towed.
I like to think that on the Downs at least, while the majority of people probably have varying degrees of objection to the films, there is room to manoeuvre. From what I've seen trawling through old posts from before my time the majority of exasperation with pro-film arguments is when they are arguments like:
"I'd like to see you do better."
"Peter Jackson tried really hard and deserves our respect."
"They did the best they could."
"Tolkien wasn't perfect either."
"At least try to see the positives."
Which are all pointless and lead discussion nowhere. In terms of actual discussion of the films though I think we're quite open to different opinions though, and lack the worst thing of all, which is probably snarky and thinly-veiled personal attacks on people with different points of view in lieu of discussion, something I think pervades other forums quite a bit.
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Old 02-13-2014, 09:10 PM   #151
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Personally I tend to pick up on posts where I think the poster has said something incorrect, and point it out. Not a good trait, perhaps. Yet I honestly feel gratitude when someone has convinced me that I am wrong. I’ve learned something, and owe that person.

What many posters don’t realize is that often, when an argument is serious, the winner may only emerge months later when the quarrel has been forgotten and the apparent winner may have had more time to think about the matter and then change his or her mind. Also, if I am totally right in my argument, then I may be convincing many others who are not taking part in it openly.

Again, as I have mentioned, I don’t see a great deal of difference between academia and fandom. Academics also include a large percentage of people who most consider to be nuts. And that includes some that I mostly respect. Often they may, like many non-academics, be perfectly sane in most matters but have particular areas where they are irrational.

The critic Harold Bloom some years back created a list of 1,524 books which he believed everyone should read and this list is now often known as Bloom’s Canon. It contains a lot of books which have Stories or Poems or Plays in their titles so this covers many more works than its numbers show. For example, Shakespeare is represented by one book only: Plays and Poems.

For the complete Bloom Canon list see http://home.comcast.net/~dwtaylor1/theocraticcanon.html .

J. R. R. Tolkien is not included because Harold Bloom hates Tolkien, as did such a significant number of other academics that he didn’t feel compelled to include him. He, nevertheless, was pressed into producing a book of Tolkien criticism which most think laughable. See the reviews at http://www.amazon.com/J-R-R-Tolkien-...owViewpoints=1 .

Bloom also wrote a fantasy novel, A Flight to Lucifier: A Gnostic Fantasy which was a sequel to David Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus which Bloom puts in his canon. Fair enough. Tolkien (and C. S. Lewis) also thought highly of A Voyage to Arcturus though they very much disliked the writer’s philosophy, in which Pain is the sole ultimate truth, and so the ultimate good. But though A Flight to Lucifier: A Gnostic Fantasy got mostly good first reviews, Bloom decided to disown it as garbage and it seems to have also sold poorly. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Flight_to_Lucifer . Possibly those reviews were by the kinds of fans you mention who are over-identifying with what they think is their side.

For a freewheeling and mostly polite discussion of Bloom and Tolkien see http://sacnoths.blogspot.ca/2011/03/...ien-again.html .

But is an academic like Michael D. C. Drout any better? Drout is an English professor who specializes in Old English, loves Tolkien, is co-editor of Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review and is editor of the J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Yet a recent talk which was recommended to me by another Downer I think also to be utter nonsense.

Supposedly Drout is attempting to explain why some readers can’t enjoy Tolkien. But he doesn’t. He shows quite well one feature of Tolkien’s writing and says, without any presented evidence, that this is the reason. I don’t think it is, though I don’t know what is, or if any one thing is.

Drout says a few other things about Tolkien and about stories related to Beowulf and gets his facts wrong, more than I showed in my answer to Drout which I posted at http://wormtalk.blogspot.com.au/2013...ture-from.html and at http://forum.barrowdowns.com/showpos...6&postcount=52 because the answer box limited the number of words I could use.

That no-one here has commented on my post suggests that you may be right, that no-one feels they are allowed to join in to criticize a famous Tolkien scholar like Drout or perhaps they don’t want to criticize me.
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Old 02-13-2014, 10:24 PM   #152
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That no-one here has commented on my post suggests that you may be right, that no-one feels they are allowed to join in to criticize a famous Tolkien scholar like Drout or perhaps they don’t want to criticize me.
Well I know for my part that I didn't comment simply because I don't have anything to contribute. I wouldn't feel any reluctance to criticise Drout simply because he's famous.
Regarding Bloom, I'm aware that he's voiced similar objections regarding the Harry Potter books. Now regardless of whether or not one likes Harry Potter, what baffles me is why on earth serious academics waste their time writing and publishing on why books are "good" or "bad" or "should" or "should not" be read. These are pointless subjective criteria which can't be proved. It's the same case with Drout trying to explain why some readers don't "like" Tolkien. Who cares? Or if people do, surely it's a matter for psychology and cultural studies, not English scholars. I feel like academics (myself included) should be exploring new ways of thinking about texts, ways of reading them and so on, a myriad of scholarly activities other than going on about subjective appreciation.
But I suppose that's the kind of sensationalism that gets articles written about it (and irritated forum posts like this) and sells books.
On my blog I review TV shows, books, films and so on, but in an informal way, because I don't think matters of taste are a really a very scholarly issue. I didn't really enjoy Ulysses when I read it and I find the works of Henry James rather tedious. It doesn't mean I'm going to write a thesis on "why What Maisie Knew" is boring or how "people who like Ulysses are wrong." It'd be absurd.
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Old 02-14-2014, 06:34 PM   #153
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As a film, even as one that sits in the middle of a trilogy, it is just a bad film, with a lazily conceived focus and structure, poor editing, dialogue and an injudicious use of effects.
Sadly, this sums it up for me. Peter Jackson made a wonderful trilogy of films that weren't quite Tolkien's LotR, but captured the spirit and were nevertheless great films. These films largely fail to capture the spirit of The Hobbit and TDoS is, unforgiveably, just a plain bad film.
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Old 02-14-2014, 06:46 PM   #154
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Still, the fact remains that academics often do try to show that a particular work is better or worse objectively than another work. Whether they should do this is another matter. Fans, who are not very academic, often do the same.

Tolkien seems to try to avoid it, but at least comes close. In the introduction to his translations in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo Tolkien says on page 13: “But he was a major poet of his day; ...”, this of a poem known only from a single manuscript. He appears to agree with the general opinion that Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is the best surviving Middle English poem, or at least one of the best. On page 21 Tolkien writes of the poem “Pearl”: “The reality of the bereavement will not save the poetry if it is bad, save to those who are in fact interested, not in poetry, but in documents, whose hunger is for history or biography or even for mere names.”

In short, a critic who does not care whether a work of literary art is good or bad is very rare, or is looking at the work in some nonliterary way. If it were not so, should not one just as well teach one of Terry Brooks’ novels or one of E. R. Eddison’s books? The situation is that those who loathe Tolkien mostly dislike these others far more.

People, whether fans or academics or those who claim to be both do have differences of opinion about what they read. They do disagree in public. They sometimes do this politely, and sometime do this with great anger. And they have always done so as far as I can see.

And they sometimes misunderstand the work that they claim to explain. Bloom obviously thinks he understands Tolkien, and Tolkien is not worth bothering about. Drout thinks he understands Tolkien but his talk to me shows someone ignorant both about Tolkien and about Beowulf because he makes gross factual errors. Or maybe I don’t understand Drout and am being the fool, but no-one shows me where my understanding that Drout is the fool is wrong.

I see no difference between a fan who follows a particular line and an academic who follows some particular line, save, as you point out, literary academia is an area where one can’t prove anything, unlike pure mathematics. But I see an academic named Drout who it seems to me doesn’t know the basic facts of his own discipline, like discovering a modern physician is completely unaware of penicillin.
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Old 02-14-2014, 11:07 PM   #155
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Sadly, this sums it up for me. Peter Jackson made a wonderful trilogy of films that weren't quite Tolkien's LotR, but captured the spirit and were nevertheless great films. These films largely fail to capture the spirit of The Hobbit and TDoS is, unforgiveably, just a plain bad film.
Saucy's back! Folks have been wondering when you might return to comment on the Hobbit movies.

How's life and the young ones?

I still have not seen DoS yet. It's still showing at one cinema here, so I suppose there's still a chance.
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Old 02-15-2014, 12:32 PM   #156
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I still have not seen DoS yet. It's still showing at one cinema here, so I suppose there's still a chance.
There is a high probability that you haven't seen two warthogs mating. There is still a chance to see such an event, I suppose, but why the hell would you want to?
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Old 02-15-2014, 12:42 PM   #157
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There is a high probability that you haven't seen two warthogs mating. There is still a chance to see such an event, I suppose, but why the hell would you want to?
Ha! Yes indeed. I have yet to become aware of any compelling reason I should subject myself to any further PJ "visions".
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Old 03-09-2014, 08:26 AM   #158
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I forgot to mention here that I have seen the movie some time in January. But I have nothing to tell really , all the numerous flaws that irritated me, have been discussed here at large. I really did try to suspend my disbelief, but failed miserably! (Whereas I had been able to enjoy at least some parts of "an unexpected party") What is the use of all the visually stunning imagery when the changed plot is just ridiculous?
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Old 03-13-2014, 10:06 PM   #159
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Boots Podcast Episode

Dear everyone...

it has come to my attention that we are in almost-if-not-complete agreement on the reception of this second film. As a fan of the original material, like all of you, it took me days, days to consider referring you to two little things I, my brother, and our cousin are going through with the alleged "hobbit trilogy". I was the most staunchly opposed of the three even years before the first film came out, and very quickly both of my colleagues dropped out from being even faintly hopeful for the next installment...

however... we have decided to watch and record commentaries on the films once each of them came out on video (including Extended Editions) for the very first (and last) time. I would love to invite you to watch our highlights commentary video of us three watching "Unexpected Journey", the Extended Edition for the first time ever.

if the pain is too much, or the videos get too long, I would also adore it if you would set aside some time to listen to our podcast episode where we discuss (or just rant) about "The Desolation of Smaug" immediately after watching it. - I am aware it is epochally long, but I sure hope it will bring at least a little bit of entertainment.

I originally wanted to post this as a new thread, but I felt that would be too pigheaded and interrupting. In any case, since we're completely in the same mindset about these new films, I figure you would find it at least - well - agreeable. I apologize if I interfered for a shot at a shameless plug.

Can't wait for next December to record the last one!
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Old 03-14-2014, 09:34 PM   #160
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Dear everyone...

it has come to my attention that we are in almost-if-not-complete agreement on the reception of this second film. As a fan of the original material, like all of you, it took me days, days to consider referring you to two little things I, my brother, and our cousin are going through with the alleged "hobbit trilogy". I was the most staunchly opposed of the three even years before the first film came out, and very quickly both of my colleagues dropped out from being even faintly hopeful for the next installment...

however... we have decided to watch and record commentaries on the films once each of them came out on video (including Extended Editions) for the very first (and last) time. I would love to invite you to watch our highlights commentary video of us three watching "Unexpected Journey", the Extended Edition for the first time ever.

if the pain is too much, or the videos get too long, I would also adore it if you would set aside some time to listen to our podcast episode where we discuss (or just rant) about "The Desolation of Smaug" immediately after watching it. - I am aware it is epochally long, but I sure hope it will bring at least a little bit of entertainment.

I originally wanted to post this as a new thread, but I felt that would be too pigheaded and interrupting. In any case, since we're completely in the same mindset about these new films, I figure you would find it at least - well - agreeable. I apologize if I interfered for a shot at a shameless plug.

Can't wait for next December to record the last one!
While I appreciate your willingness to suffer for the rest of us (O the humanity!), I can't see myself watching an extended version of DOS, which would be like watching a mortician sew appendages on to a bloated corpse.

I kid. I'll watch your assault this weekend.
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