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Old 12-18-2013, 04:41 PM   #81
Alcidas
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Originally Posted by Diamond18 View Post

Also Legolas. My God. Jealous brooding love triangle glowering does not look good on him. What the hell was up with his eyes? They were brown in LOTR and now they’re a sickly shade of cataract covered blue. My boyfriend says this was on purpose to illustrate that the elves of Mirkwood are plagued by evil, and I guess that makes more sense than anything else. But it was still weird and unnecessary.

(Sidenote, I didn't expect a real answer to this on Tumblr but if anyone on the Downs knows, what actually was up with Legolas' eyes? Has Jackson made any comments about them?)
I noticed this as well when that trailer first came out - but when I asked about it online I was just swatted off by people saying that it was blue in the LoTR movies as well...
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Old 12-18-2013, 04:50 PM   #82
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(Sidenote, I didn't expect a real answer to this on Tumblr but if anyone on the Downs knows, what actually was up with Legolas' eyes? Has Jackson made any comments about them?)
I seem to remember reading, back in the days of the LOTR films, a statement that elven eyes change colour depending on their mood - hence Legolas's eyes went from blue (or grey, can't remember) to brown in the films. The real reason was that they'd blundered with Orlando Bloom's contact lenses, or even forgot to put them on.
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Old 12-18-2013, 04:56 PM   #83
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I seem to remember reading, back in the days of the LOTR films, a statement that elven eyes change colour depending on their mood - hence Legolas's eyes went from blue (or grey, can't remember) to brown in the films. The real reason was that they'd blundered with Orlando Bloom's contact lenses, or even forgot to put them on.
Bloom has brown eyes naturally. (Or at least I'm assuming he does because they were brown in Kingdom of Heaven, and I think they are unlikely to have asked him to wear coloured contact lenses for that film) - he had brown eyes in Troy as well - so if there was a blunder then its just that they went ahead and gave him blue eyes for DoS, forgetting that he had brown eyes in LoTR
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Old 12-18-2013, 05:04 PM   #84
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It is a little known fact that Peter Jackson was considering making the Laketown sequence a musical. Here is the libretto:

ACT II – The Esgarothian Threnody
(In which Bard, unemployed and unappreciated, bemoans his fate in back of the hall)

Personae:
Bard -- tenor
Bilbo Baggins -- piccolo tenor
Bombur –- basso profundo
Dumplin -- mezzo soprano/transgender dwarf in love with Legolas
Master of Laketown -- baritone
Dwarven chorus
Laketown choir

Bard: Is this a hero's life
In Middle-earth fantasy?
I play second-fiddle
To a Hobbit who's three foot three,
And dwarves I despise,
They don't realize --
I've ceased…to be…

I'm just a poor heir of long-dead Girion --

Laketown choir: He was the Lord of Dale, then he failed,
When Smaug the dragon whipped his tail.

Bard: Everywhere were flames blown,
Burning up a kingdom for me…for me.

Drama -- I crave a role,
An epic tale, a meaty part --
Shoot a dragon in the heart!
Drama -- stardom would be fun,
But now it seems I've missed the casting call!
Drama – Ooooooo,
The leading roles have passed me by,
If the script is not rewritten this time tomorrow,
I'll move on, I'll move on,
Because scripting really matters.

Too late, my crown is gone!
It would've looked good upon my head,
Now the dream is all but dead.
Goodbye to the pomp and panoply,
And all the nifty words that describe majesty.
Drama – Ooooooo,
I just want my rightful throne,
I sometimes wish I lacked a pedigree –

Master of Laketown: I see a little bitty shadow of a man!

Laketown choir: He's a noob, he's a boob,
he's not worth a bruised mango!
He's so uninviting, he is not exciting me.

Dumplin: Where's the mayo?

Bombur: Do you need mayo?

Dumplin: Where's the mayo?

Bombur: Do you need mayo?

Dumplin: Where's the mayo for my toast?

Bombur: I need more rolls!

Bard: I'm just an actor, nobody casts me.

Laketown choir: He's just an actor stuck in rehearsals,
Spare him a role in the next production, please.

Bard: Epics come, epics go, can I have a role?

Laketown choir: Scriptwriter – please, give the man a role!

Dumplin: Buttered rolls!

Laketown choir: Scriptwriter – please, give the man a role!

Dumplin: Buttered rolls!

Laketown choir: Scriptwriter – please, give the man a role!

Dumplin: Buttered rolls!

The Dwarves and Laketown choir: Please give him a role – buttered rolls,
Please give him a role – buttered rolls,
Please give him a role – buttered rolls --
No, no, no, no, no, no, no!

Bombur: Cotto salami!

The Dwarves and Laketown choir: He'll have salami with his rolls!
Morgoth Bauglir has a goblin put aside for me
For me, for me!

Bilbo: I can't believe I left the Shire for this!
I'll put on my ring and maybe I won't be missed!
O Gandalf! Why'd you do this to me Gandalf?
I've got to get out, get me the Hell out of here!

Bard: Scripting really matters
For actors such as me
Scripting really matters
Scripting really matters to me…

Dwarven choir: May we have more buttered rolls?
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Old 12-18-2013, 05:13 PM   #85
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According to Lommy I am missed around these parts. At her suggestion I'm going to reproduce something I wrote on Tumblr a few days ago, which was just my very off-hand comments and impressions about the film. As it was a really hastily written entry for my blog I apologize for lack of depth. Anyway....

I have to say I think that the movie was really, really awful.

It’s not that it digressed from the book. I loved the first Hobbit movie, and that certainly digressed from the book. It’s that as a film, it was awful. The action scenes were far too silly to fit the otherwise super serious tone of the film and overall, as a movie, it felt really bloated. Like, it felt like the rough first draft of something where you pour everything into it, before you go back and edit the great stinking pile into something decent.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy parts. I think the spiders were magnificently creepy and horrific (though I missed Bilbo actually, you know, taunting them) and generally the whole getting lost in Mirkwood bit was well done.

I genuinely loved Tauriel as a character and I appreciate the attempt to make The Hobbit less of a sausage fest by having her in it. But I disliked that the romantic subplot between her and The Hot Dwarf was so… badly done. I’ll hold off on having an opinion whether a Dwarf/Elf romance works outside of Gimli/Legolas fanfiction because that’s not really the case here. The Hot Dwarf made an inappropriate joke about his trousers and then they had a nice conversation about mothers and stars, and suddenly it’s “Do you think she could have loved me?” That line really put me over the top. I mean, let’s not have any subtlety at all. Just in case you were unsure that there was a romance subplot, DO YOU THINK SHE COULD HAVE LOVED ME?

Also Legolas. My God. Jealous brooding love triangle glowering does not look good on him. What the hell was up with his eyes? They were brown in LOTR and now they’re a sickly shade of cataract covered blue. My boyfriend says this was on purpose to illustrate that the elves of Mirkwood are plagued by evil, and I guess that makes more sense than anything else. But it was still weird and unnecessary.

(Sidenote, I didn't expect a real answer to this on Tumblr but if anyone on the Downs knows, what actually was up with Legolas' eyes? Has Jackson made any comments about them?)

I really liked Bard and his family. Beorn was awful. Smaug was fun to watch, but the entire sequence still suffered from the bloated, unnecessary, “we must stretch this into three movies” syndrome that Hobbit #2 suffers from far more than Hobbit #1 did.

I went to see An Unexpected Journey twice in theatres but needless to say I have no desire to watch The Desolation of Smaug again.
Hi Diamond!

I just posted the other day in the Memorial thread that it had been awhile since you had been around.
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Old 12-18-2013, 05:42 PM   #86
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so if there was a blunder then its just that they went ahead and gave him blue eyes for DoS, forgetting that he had brown eyes in LoTR
He definitely had blue eyes in parts of the LOTR films, and it's a better, more natural blue too than the sickly shade in DOS.
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Old 12-18-2013, 07:01 PM   #87
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Interesting about the eyes. I had done a quick Google image search and thought that they looked brown, but perhaps I was looking at some of the parts where they forgot to use the contact lenses. Seems like such a hassle to go through when Bloom looks better with his natural coloring and there's no reason why Legolas should be blond haired and blue eyed to begin with.

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Old 12-18-2013, 07:10 PM   #88
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John Rateliff did a 3-part review of An Unexpected Journey, which was quite positive from what I remember. Here's his considerably shorter Desolation review. He makes good points about trying to appease movie critics chomping for more action, and Tolkien fans saying there wasn't enough of The Hobbit, the barrel-riding scene, and the dwarves trying to kill Smaug.

http://sacnoths.blogspot.de/2013/12/the-desolation.html
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Old 12-18-2013, 07:17 PM   #89
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Interesting about the eyes. I had done a quick Google image search and thought that they looked brown, but perhaps I was looking at some of the parts where they forgot to use the contact lenses. Seems like such a hassle to go through when Bloom looks better with his natural coloring and there's no reason why Legolas should be blond haired and blue eyed to begin with.

Hi Kuru!
If memory serves me correctly, I think the book does describe Legolas as being fair-haired. But I m not sure. Anyone?
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Old 12-18-2013, 10:00 PM   #90
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I have always thought that as a Downs consensus, Legolas' true hair color is unknowable, one of the mysteries of the Tolkien universe, much like Balrog wings.

Of course my mind goes immediately to this classic thread.
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Old 12-18-2013, 10:21 PM   #91
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If I recall correctly, Orlando wore the blue contacts all through LoTR filming, except for three days when one of his eyes got infected and he nakedly (or blindly) went brown-eyed. I think they were supposed to "correct" those shots later and... forgot? So those scenes got extra press, as the fangirls chose between Legolas-blue and Orli-brown.
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Old 12-19-2013, 12:40 PM   #92
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If memory serves me correctly, I think the book does describe Legolas as being fair-haired. But I m not sure. Anyone?
No it doesn't. Thranduil is golden haired as are at least one of the Lorien marchwardens IIRC (though golden mark you not plutonium blonde as per films). There is a description of Legolas' head being dark, but this is at night so it may have just been shadowed.
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Old 12-19-2013, 08:29 PM   #93
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An illustrated illustration

1934 Pontiac:


1934 Pontiac, Purist restoration:


1934 Pontiac, Jackson restoration:
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Old 12-20-2013, 10:20 AM   #94
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On anoter note, this thought came into my mind after watching Puccini’s Turandot the other day. The story is just several paragraphs long, there’s hardly any character development, the musical themes are repetitive and the whole thing lasts about 2,5 hours. Yet no-one seemed to complain that the opera was dragged out. I thought it was quite excellent, actually, but maybe I’m just easily entertained.
Nobody goes to the opera for the plot (well, except Wagner maybe).
Well, after TT, I haven't gone to watch PJ's movies for the plot either. The story can be found in the books, after all, but what the books are missing are things like landscapes, costume design, score, hearing the characters talk... So WCH's term CGI opera is quite good actually, but I don't find it to be an altogether negative description.

Anyway, I can see that even though there were some parts that people generally liked in the film, the bad things weigh more in the debate, so I'm going to leave it at that.
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Old 12-21-2013, 06:12 PM   #95
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It wasnt absolutely terrible as the first one. It was clear from me it would be bad when I heard The Hobbit would be turned into three movies - I think it was allright apart from a few things. I agree with too Little Mirkwood (weird since he has been struggling to fill the 3 hours) and too Little Beorn.

The worst things are though

1: Kili gets shot by a Morgul Blade. This is so un-cannon it makes me cringe. First, Morgul blades (and arrows) are special special weapons, random orc footies just shouldn't have them - it's WRONG WRONG WRONG.

Kili seems to be absolutely fine at first. WRONG! He should fall immediately into a stupor and turn into a ghost within hours.

Tauriel cures him. NO NO NO she is a forest elf warrior, no special skills and all. In LoTR I think it is stated that only Elrond is able to cure such a wound.

The Morgul Blade has been degraded from a fearsome rare weapon to standard orc equipment. Sigh.

2: The Kili-Tauriel romance just sort of perverse and weird to me Like if Boromir fell in love with a hobbit girl lol.

Both things seemed completely unnecessary to me.

The orc could just have said "a poisoned arrow" and it would have been fine for the plot. It's weird PJ unnecessarily introduces stuff that doesn't even make sense as compared with his LOTR movies. (Where the Morgul blade is "special" as well.)

And the romance would work so much better between Tauriel and Bard, I accept he has to be one, Holywood and all + it was necessary to introduce a female character and given the plotline, it had to be an elf as the first people they meet are elves.

But WHY pick a DWARF as a romantic character when you have a character with a lot of potential as a romantic character. (His wife is dead, he has a dangerous slant to him, and one day he will be king.) Seeing he made so many changes already, it wouldnt have bothered him if Bard went to tye Mirkwood elves residence (not sure of it's name in fact). Maybe they had had a good eye to each other for years etc.

Thus, I find it weird that of the choices between a quite good romantic liasion and a weird one, PJ picks the weird one. Bad script IMO:

The walnut pillow - we talked about it even during the movie. It seems they just put Kili on some table, and there happened to be a bowl of walnuts on it. It looked weird visually, like they purposely put his head on a pile of walnuts so I dont get Again why PJ did that - but there's nothing wrong with it, it's just a bit weird
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Old 12-21-2013, 06:24 PM   #96
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Oh and the whole "let's cook Smaug in melted gold, this scene worked well in Terminator II and Alien III" come on!


Smaug should be this larger-than-life adversary that you can't outrun and dodge from. Several people said PJ made it more gloomy; I think the playing-cat-and-mouse with Smaug scenes heavily reduced the gloominess. The dragon seemed sort of inept in the end - I got the impression Smaug just gave up on killing the dwarves and left to attack a target he (she?) thought he (she?) could handle.
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Old 12-21-2013, 09:51 PM   #97
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Boots Just saw the movie...

...it was trite, childish, and vulgar. So…it was standard fare to expect from PJ. I am willing to give credit that there were no overt snot or fart jokes. There was the thing about coming up the toilet...but since the toilet just seemed to drop right into the lake, it didn't seem such a big deal.

I also want to credit Ken Stott's performance as Balin as I thought he did a good job with what he had to work with (and the writing wasn't his fault).

First major point: I can tell that Jackson did this film all wrong because he lost my wife and parents. Even they didn't think the movie was very good, my wife in particular.

Second major point: At the showing I attended at the end of the film there was a loud chorus of groans and a smattering of boos from the audience at the way the movie ended.

Minor point: Nice to see that Jackson has added "murdering helpless prisoners" to "killing ambassadors" on the Things the Good Guys Do list.

Other minor point: Is aiming loaded weapons at each other a common elven greeting? Makes me glad I'm not an elf. Last thing I'd want on my tombstone is "Killed when greeting his grandmother because granny's hand isn't as steady as it used to be and her finger twitched." Seriously, anybody who has ever used a weapon for real knows that you never point a loaded weapon at something you don't intend to shoot! Admittedly a minor point but geeze.

Now, rather than go on an extended rant point by point about what was wrong with this movie, I'm going to discuss something that hasn't really been discussed by other Downers in this thread as for the most part the problems of this film have at least been mentioned already.

I thought the confrontation with Smaug was very poorly done. I'm not even talking about on the level of how it was so different from the book, that sequence was just bad film-making par excellence.

The writing and conceptualization of the sequence were beyond awful, I will break this down point by point rather than in one long paragraph.

The biggest problem by far in my opinion was that the pacing was bad. The first thing my wife said to me when we got in the car after the movie was, "The pacing when they were in the mountain really dragged." I completely agreed. The movie was in a mad rush to get to that point and then it just hit a brick wall of tedious, uninteresting action. Boredom set in when Thorin was dancing on Smaug's nose. (Personally I will start using the phrase "danced on Smaug's nose" in place of "jumped the shark" for the future...not that I didn't already think the film and indeed the series are irredeemably bad, it just amuses me.)

From a writing standpoint the dialogue was dreadful (that was the thing my Dad disliked about the film as a whole, and it’s the first time I remember hearing such a complaint from him). While the bits of dialogue retained from Tolkien in this sequence were partially let down by the poor performance of the actors (I will get to that below) the...alterations that Jackson made to the basics of the scene made everything just really strange. As an example, why did Smaug show such a marked reluctance to actually killing Dr. Watson and the dwarves? In particular, that Smaug could see Watson throughout almost all of their conversation and didn't kill him was just nonsensical. However, at least he was consistent because he showed the same overall tendency to not kill as soon as he'd started chatting with the dwarves. If only the dwarves and the Dalemen had started shouting zippy one-liners at Smaug the day he first attacked the dragon might not have taken the mountain in the first place.

Now I'm sure the answer to that is, "But, but Kuru, dragons love and can't resist riddling talk. Not only is it in the appendices that is in The Hobbit itself." Yeah...except that whole situation in the book was predicated upon (aside from obvious differences like the dwarves being absent) Smaug not being able to see Bilbo. In the film Smaug could see Watson almost the entire time and yet for some reason did not kill...even though he apparently knew somehow that the dwarves were coming for him and had known for some time. It just made no sense, except that Smaug couldn’t kill them, the script said so. One can only shake one’s head.

The computer animation: for Smaug it was good enough. The gold looked awful, awful, awful! I play video games that have more realistic images than that. What Jackson ended up doing was creating a set-piece that not only was absurd and not at all based on anything in the book, he didn't even have the tools at his disposal or maybe the artists with the ability (not sure which, could be either or both) to make said set-piece look anything approaching good or believable. The giant gold statue in particular looked laughably bad. I think part of the problem lies in that I've observed in CGI it is paradoxically easier to make complex things look realistic as opposed to simple things. I'm not sure why, it may have something to do with texture. However, that doesn't absolve Jackson from going down that path when there was nothing compelling him to do so.

Performances: I have to say that given how well he did in Sherlock, almost against my will, I wanted to see Freeman do well. Overall in the film he kind of faded from view in my opinion. I think the intent was that he was really supposed to shine in the confrontation with Smaug. Alas, I'm not certain why (I have a few theories) but I thought Freeman's performance in this sequence was terrible. I don't know whether he was just genuinely phoning it in or if the silliness of the situation just left him sort of flailing about but everything about his performance from his delivery, to his tone, to his physical movements just struck me as completely off kilter and just…bad. I also have a growing impression that Freeman basically plays the same character no matter his role and I kept on seeing him as Dr. Watson. However, Watson is the only other role I can remember seeing him in so that may be an unfair criticism of Freeman as an actor...but Bilbo and Watson sure don't seem that different.

Cumberbatch as Smaug...well, might be nice to see that in something more grounded in what Tolkien wrote. As it was, I couldn't get past the strangeness of Smaug's behavior. I think the material itself was so bad that the actor’s performance was irrelevant.

Thorin...umm...I gather the Arkenstone is supposed to have a similar effect to the Ring? Thorin was certainly...uneven. Was anybody else reminded of Treebeard seeing the destroyed forest in the scene with the starved dwarves in what I assume was supposed to be the guard post on Ravenhill?

Parting shot: My wife was reminded of the Little Engine that Could by Smaug's closing lines. She said it was like he was trying to give himself a pep talk. "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..." I thought her comment was hilarious because I’m pretty sure The Little Engine that Could was not an intended association.

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Old 12-21-2013, 10:43 PM   #98
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Another stupid thing ....

When they first think they failed to open the secret door into the mountain, thinking they are to late, they dwarves just give up and leave - and Thorin even tosses the key away !!!

Why the .... not just wait a year for the next Durin's day? Sure, it's cumbersome, but definitely doable to sit a year in Dale and wait for a year.

just dumping the key, the one and only chance for getting the mountain back after waiting that long, makes no sense at all - given PJs own portrait of the characters and the situation and all.

This I think is just lame Holywood over-emotionalism. Makes no sense to spent a lot of time protraiying the dwarves as being wiling to do everything to get that mountain - and then have them give uo so easily *shakes head*
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Old 12-22-2013, 01:46 PM   #99
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The Eye Addendum after seeing it FOR THE SECOND TIME

Owing to having many friends who want to see the film (my opinion nonwithstanding), I just had the chance to see it for the second time. This time, in IMAX 3D - therefore with really, really magnified visual experience. And I must say, it was really visually stunning (I have seen before only two or three other movies in 3D, and none of this scale). Though that, of course, is not saying anything about the movie specifically: any well-done 3D movie would have been equally visually impressive for the some reason. Still, what stood out here was already the first scene in Bree (the rain, very live, and making even PJ's carrot-eating much more atmospheric), chunks of ice floating around Bard's ship and house, the Mountain, the battle with Necromancer, and the gold of Smaug's (and Smaug himself).

So seeing this for the second time was about 500% better than the first time. Apart from the visual side, it was also supported strongly by the fact that I was no longer crushed by the awfulness of stuff like Beorn (though seeing his Wolf-man hairdo still made me wince) or other things heartlessly butchered or skipped.

Summary of impressions:

- 3D really makes much of the stuff much more enjoyable. Especially the otherwise dull long Smaug chase, and even the gold-rolling-over-the-floor interruptions to the dialogue before it.
- after reviewing the Master of Lake-Town's little assistant, I am solidified in my belief that actually he IS brilliant. I am taking back agreeing with Rune about the "little Grima". He is not, in fact; hardly at all. He is a very solid character, already in the scene with getting Bard through the customs.
- likewise, still strenghtened in the opinion that the Lake-Town (and its Master), Thranduil, Legolas, Tauriel, Balin and of course Bilbo are the best parts of the movie. Basically: all the made-up stuff is better than the book-stuff.
- the violence is seriously wrong, and what worries me the most (after seeing it in 3D) is really the moment when certain good guy is knocked out cold with a thick wooden pole. Such a hit would normally kill him, and this (with the portrayal it has here) makes me wonder whether kids watching this will get totally messed up idea about what it means to hit someone square in the face with a foot-thick sharpened stake.
- seriously thinking, cut all the book stuff and the Orcs and the whole Dol Guldur plotline (can keep the duel with Necromancer just for its visual beauty) and you have a quite enjoyable movie. Oh, and cut the horrible romance, too. Especially now, knowing what was coming, the line about love made me twitch beforehand, and wish to run away from the cinema with hands pressed over my ears.

I actually caught myself really looking forward to see how this will end. I am however worried that everything will take the turn for the worst (for instance, I'm pretty sure Dol Guldur will be emptied of all Orcs by the time the White Council guys, if they arrive in full strength at all, will arrive into an empty castle only to open a couple of cages and such - thus eliminating the epic conflict I've always considered the opportunity to see the Istari and Elven rulers in their full power - the only thing where exaggerated amount of lightnings, fireballs and all kinds of action nonsense would actually belong).
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Old 12-23-2013, 12:35 AM   #100
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Originally Posted by dancing spawn of ungoliant View Post
Well, after TT, I haven't gone to watch PJ's movies for the plot either. The story can be found in the books, after all, but what the books are missing are things like landscapes, costume design, score, hearing the characters talk... So WCH's term CGI opera is quite good actually, but I don't find it to be an altogether negative description.

Anyway, I can see that even though there were some parts that people generally liked in the film, the bad things weigh more in the debate, so I'm going to leave it at that.
Spawn, I wouldn’t want anyone feel they’re not *allowed* to say they like this film, or any film– I’ve myself enjoyed plenty of movies that most people can’t stand at all (or parts thereof, anyway). "Why I liked such-and-such” is not always the same thing as “Why you should like it” (or, “Why it should be considered a good movie”).

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The computer animation: for Smaug it was good enough. The gold looked awful, awful, awful! I play video games that have more realistic images than that. What Jackson ended up doing was creating a set-piece that not only was absurd and not at all based on anything in the book, he didn't even have the tools at his disposal or maybe the artists with the ability (not sure which, could be either or both) to make said set-piece look anything approaching good or believable. The giant gold statue in particular looked laughably bad. I think part of the problem lies in that I've observed in CGI it is paradoxically easier to make complex things look realistic as opposed to simple things. I'm not sure why, it may have something to do with texture.
Real objects not only have many tiny details and imperfections, they interact with light in a way that’s hard to reproduce fully, even now. You’re not seeing this stuff consciously whenever you look at something, of course, but it must register on some level. A complex model just has more to distract you from noticing anything “off”. Plus, unlike dragons, coins and statues actually exist, so you have some basis for comparison.

That said, what I’ve seen of Smaug really does look quite amazing. My guess is that they blew a large part of the fx budget on the dragon alone, and there wasn’t enough left to do the rest properly– or time ran out, or both. Certainly these movies have included some surprisingly cheap-looking CGI– and as far I know it was all done by Weta, so it’s hardly likely to be a matter of simple incompetence.
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Old 12-26-2013, 01:24 PM   #101
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This film was a lot less enjoyable than the first one. I wouldn't consider it an abomination, but then my expectations were very low.

Good stuff

- Smaug (visually).
- Bilbo and Balin (and Bofur is hilarious to me, too).
- Thranduil.
- Warrior-Tauriel.
- Scary Orcs

Bad stuff

Beorn looked and acted nothing like I pictured him. That whole scene could have been really fun, but they made it miserable.

Healer-Tauriel & Kili/Tauriel. Just blargh. I liked her as a warrior, thought it worked pretty well. But spare me these glowing elves! I didn't like their representation in LotR and now we have more of it. Especially when it comes to elves, I wish Del Toro stuck around to give us something different.

So many fight scenes. Who are they for? Basically, people who don't like The Hobbit

That whole Gandalf bit with Sauron. Terrible.

Bard and his family. Again, why? Bard's job is to kill the dragon. That's all we need him for. Don't give me more people to care about. Bilbo needs to be the priority but he's constantly side-lined.

The bit Juicy-Sweet just mentioned, where the dwarves throw away the key and give up. Utterly stupid.

But by far the worst part of the movie was the final half-hour where the dwarves enter the mountain. That was, I think it's fair to say, catastrophic. Why did the dwarves do half of the things they did? All this pulling levers and releasing melted I-don't-know-what: what was that actually for? A ridiculous use of time, and really dull. Juxtaposed with Gandalf being captured (why?) and more orcs and elves in Lake-town (why, why, why?) it resulted in an extremely unsatisfying conclusion. And that end-song was very jarring.

Bah humbug, indeed.
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Old 12-26-2013, 03:59 PM   #102
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Speaking of "desolation", that's a good way to describe my feeling on seeing this in a store today. Somehow I doubt that when the Professor was writing these wonderful stories, he ever imagined one day people would eat candy from Gandalf's head.

I doubt the reviews or merits of these movies will have any negative effort on the merchandising, though.
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Old 12-27-2013, 06:58 AM   #103
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I don't know what Peter Jackson is trying to achieve by taking away the dwarves' agency - I simply can't understand why he is portraying them as Gandalf's tools.
They were.

Read the Unfinished Tales chapter on the Quest for Erebor and you'll see his intentions are geo-political.
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Old 12-27-2013, 07:09 AM   #104
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Minor point: Nice to see that Jackson has added "murdering helpless prisoners" to "killing ambassadors" on the Things the Good Guys Do list.
Big turn off for me.

It taints the Elves as modern-day war-criminals. yes, in Medieval times normal, but I picture the Elves being noble. They took pity on Gollum and just held him prisoner. My heart tells me even Orcs/Goblins would be imprisoned if captured by Elves.

Kings don't normally conduct executions either. They have a 'King's Justice' for that.

A second one for me was literally 0% black blood. Pathetic! The did it again! They were willing to in TLotR films, but not The Hobbit films as well. Why?

While the last half hour re-writing inside the Mountain was interesting in one sense, stadier compliance with the book would have sufficed, as well as the rest generally.

I was also disappointing the enchanted river crossing part in Mirkwood was excluded. Come ON! That's like 5 minutes at most surely!
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Old 12-27-2013, 08:43 AM   #105
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They were.

Read the Unfinished Tales chapter on the Quest for Erebor and you'll see his intentions are geo-political.
Gandalf had motives other than helping Thorin, yes, and he was open about that in the chapter you mention. However, it was Thorin who sought out Gandalf for help, not the reverse. That's a critical distinction.
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Old 12-27-2013, 09:31 AM   #106
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The Desolation of Tolkien

(Apologies for how long this is!)

Well, I'm back.
I just returned from the cinema and it's bizarre already to consider that perhaps a third of the way into the film I was thinking "Am I going to be astonishing the members of the Barrow-Downs with a positive review of this film?" I was, to be honest, rather enjoying myself.

While there were numerous objectionable elements, taken on its own I could more or less switch off my purist outrage and enjoy it for what was there. I laughed at the Bombur barrel sequence and I felt like Bilbo was getting, to some extent, the attention he deserved. All in all I was finding it to be a dumb action film, and a fairly appalling adaptation, but nonetheless enjoyable in itself.
The feeling didn't last.

At some point in Lake-town I realised that suddenly the plot had splintered into pieces. Suddenly we have five protagonists: Bilbo, Thorin, Bard, Tauriel and Gandalf. This is a film where everyone is just a supporting character in someone else's story, a character house of cards. Unlike the films of The Lord of the Rings, these films are trying to extend the narrative rather than compress them, and so they completely lose focus. I was reassured to see the film regain some attention on Bilbo towards the end, but as a result I found the incessant cutaways to Lake-town and Dol Guldur increasingly exasperating. How many times did we need to see Bard squinting out of a window looking serious or Gandalf wandering around some ruins constantly repeating his +10 Energy Bubble of Reveal Magic? Then Thorin showed up in the Mountain and it just went on. And on. And on.

In The Road to Middle-earth, Professor Tom Shippey suggests that Professor Tolkien was "always a prey to two competing forces. One was the urge to escape mortality by some way other than Christian consolation: so far he was 'escapist'. The other was the total conviction that that urge was impossible, even forbidden." (372) An overriding irrationality in the human condition which Professor Tolkien identified with intense scrutiny was the vain desire for endlessness, changelessness, immortality - both figurative and literal. The great failing of the Noldor after the First Age was their impossible dream of building endless paradise in a fundamentally mortal world. The folly of the Númenóreans was that they could not accept the inevitability of their own deaths. The evil of the One Ring and its slave-rings, the Nine in particular, was that they caused to endure perpetually, in increasing weariness, that which should have changed or passed on. Nor even could rustic and sedentary Hobbits persist indefinitely in their own comfortable space. The greatest failing of these films is their blindness to this overriding theme of Professor Tolkien's work.

These films are obsessed with constant extension and repetition. Our heroes are assailed by interchangeable orcs on at least four occasions, none of which appear to serve any purposes whatsoever. These, especially the barrel scene and the attack on Bard's house, are stretched out far beyond the limits of credibility. Every time the orcs seem defeated more appear, usually for the sake of more stylised choreography from Orlando Bloom, portraying a character who was not even invented when the source material was written. How long does Kíli spend lying around moaning and groaning endlessly while James Nesbitt flounders about in a furry hat? In the Music of the Ainur, Melkor's discord was "loud, and vain, and endlessly repeated; and it had little harmony, but rather a clamorous unison as of many trumpets braying upon a few notes." This film's obsession with repetitive action set-pieces immediately evoked this situation to my mind. Yet at other times, scenes seem ridiculously throwaway. In the case of Beorn, an opportunity for some genuine action featuring orcs fighting bears is completely missed. Later, Gandalf travels to the "High Fells." He speaks briefly to Radagast, looks at some "Nazgûl tombs" and immediately leaves. There is material here which either requires validation and does not receive it, or simply does not need to be present, doing nothing more than inflating the film's exhausting runtime.

The most egregious example of this is the film's inexplicable fetishisation of Azog, an extremely minor character from Dwarven history transformed for no apparent reason into a figure whose importance to Sauron's plans and within his heirarchy seems to rival that of the Black Captain himself. He even argues with the Dark Lord, having approached him on a podium above a pit in a bizarre parody of Darth Vader's conversations with the Emperor in The Empire Strikes Back.
This is what "The Desolation of Smaug" feels like to me: a George Lucas film. But not Star Wars but rather Indiana Jones. Now I greatly enjoy the Indiana Jones films. Contrarian that I am, I even love Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and think that the frankly disturbing levels of hatred directed towards it are a horrifying exemplar of humanity's capacity for contemptible herd-mentality group-think. Yet I enjoy Indy for what it is: originally, homages to 30s adventure serials. In the case of the fourth film, a pastiche of 50s B-movie paranoia. Indiana Jones films also generally don't go for nearly three hours. Yet the world of Indiana Jones, with its face-melting McGuffins, despicable Nazis and indestructible hero is, all things considered, a far cry from Professor Tolkien's efforts to construct a plausible fantasy world. Yet Peter Jackson's Middle-earth is now, apparently, a place where characters can survive endless fifty-foot drops, where open barrels constantly deluged with water never fill up and risk drowning their inhabitants, who are perfectly capable of effectively fighting from within them, where it is possible for Thorin to ride a wheelbarrow down a river of molten gold. When Indiana Jones jumped into a lead-lined refrigerator to survive the detonation of an atomic bomb, unlike many viewers I found it to be a perfectly satisfactory escape - within the typical limits of Indiana Jones. What I don't expect to see in Middle-earth is, for instance, characters surviving obviously lethal flame just by standing behind a pillar or Thorin swinging on chains like a swashbuckling nightmare.

In this regard, the film doesn't even feel like a plausible prequel to Jackson's own adaptations of The Lord of the Rings. Despite a few ridiculous moments like Aragorn's plunge off the cliff, Legolas' shield-surfing and his later slaying of the mûmak, the action for the most part seemed reasonably, if not entirely, realistic. Now everything is stylised beyond belief, as if Jackson is parodying himself. The situation is only exacerbated by the film's excessive amount of CGI, eschewing the practical effects which lent the earlier films one of their strengths. Azog still appears to be made of white plastic. Bolg looks awful, and the replacement of his interesting red-bearded practical design with the new generic bald-headed substitute is disappointing. The golden statue also looked incredibly fake. I expect that so much of the budget was devoted to animating the dragon that everything else suffered.

As usual, the major changes to the plot generally served no purpose beyond, in the case of Tauriel and Kíli's ineffable romance, corporate four-quadrants box-ticking which, with inadvertent cynicism, completely contradicts the film's efforts to replicate the book's message about the dangers of greed. Boyens and Walsh's Frankensteinian hybridisation of Professor Tolkien's original dialogue, their own hapless attempts to pastiche it with glossing straight from the Big Book of Fantasy Cliché, and jarring modern idiom renders the tone utterly inconsistent. Armitage's Thorin is a tedious antihero who feels like a hybrid of film Boromir and film Denethor. Thranduil was accidentally comical in his speech and motions, bordering on pantomime. Orlando Bloom seemed to be treating the whole thing as a joke, appropriately enough. Martin Freeman is, unsurprisingly, effective in the humorous moments, but I felt less so at other times. Probably the funniest moment was simply the sight of him in the pointed Lake-town hat and ear-warmers. Ian McKellen to me seemed wasted with the CGI Dol Guldur nonsense. The shot constantly zooming into Sauron's head was particularly strange. Cumberbatch was adequate as Smaug, but he seemed inconsistently-portrayed, at times a ruthless killer and at others a bumbling fool.

I saw this film in High Frame Rate, which I hadn't experienced before. I often felt like I was watching the opening pre-rendered cutscene of an early 2000s video game, especially in the forge scene towards the conclusion. Incidentally, what an absurd suggestion - why on earth would the fire-breathing dragon be harmed by molten gold? The references to the broader legendarium were twisted beyond recognition to the point where including things like Girion of Dale and accurately naming Bard's son Bain bordered on meaninglessness. Unlike the earlier films, Sauron appeared and even spoke, but was characterised in a completely generic way. Having him manifest like that and even confront Gandalf completely flies in the face of his depiction in those films as well.

In conclusion I would have to express my thoughts on "The Desolation of Smaug" according to multiple categories. As a brainless action film? It would have been vastly improved by being forty minutes to an hour shorter. As an adaptation of Professor Tolkien's original novel? Predictably inconstant: surprisingly adherent on a very, very broad scale of general narrative progression, but discordant in the details, often in needless ways. This is a film which has no faith in its source material in terms of tone or narrative priority despite an adaptation of The Hobbit being, on a fundamental level, a product which would surely sell itself. Finally, as a component of Peter Jackson's own soon-to-be-hexalogy? By exaggerating the silliness established in "An Unexpected Journey" it feels very out of place with the films which put this entire project in motion in the first place.

I'm sure I'll think of other things in time, but I mostly feel disappointed because at the beginning I was enjoying myself. Adaptation aside, I'm just not convinced this worked in general. The Hobbit could, in the right hands, be a rollicking comedy-drama adventure about one person's journey of self-discovery in the company of a group of grumpy, greedy middle-aged men (or Dwarves as the case may be). As an epic, and as a trilogy, it is in my opinion simply not working. Perhaps, however, some time in 2015 at the end of it all there's a good chance some talented soul might be able to forge a reasonably enjoyable fan edit out of all this carry-on.
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Old 12-27-2013, 10:46 AM   #107
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I guess for those that REALLY hated the movie, like 90% of it, read the book afterwards, to make yourself feel better. I think I will in a week or so from now. For like the 10th time.
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Old 12-27-2013, 11:07 AM   #108
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Well, the film has had some positive effects, its brought a lot of old posters out of the woodwork...*
I didn´t have the same emotional investment in the Hobbit (as a novel) as I did LotR, so I can cope with lot more non-canonical nonsense, both with the first installment and this one.
But even given that, I was often irritated/bored/embarrassed during DoS, mainly during those endless action sequences. I felt like was looking over the shoulder of a teenager playing an interminable computer game. "Legolas, turn that thing off now, your Aunty Miriel is here and we´re all sitting down to dinner." "But muuum, you KNOW I can´t save the game when I´m in the middle of a battle!"

Low points - that giant golden dwarf, which reminded us all so much of the giant rabbit in Monty Python´s Holy Grail that we got the giggles.
The elf-dwarf fanfic romance. I felt like I was trapped inside a 13-year-old´s head.

I did love Laketown though.
*Just realised how big-headed that sounded. I was referring to spawn, Eomer etc, not myself...!
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Old 12-27-2013, 07:39 PM   #109
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We took the extended tribe (almost a dozen children) to see DoS. I agree mostly with what others posted more eloquently above. Some notes:
  • Hated how they took a 'chance meeting' and made the whole quest a set up by Gandalf.
  • No mention why the ponies should be returned and not taken into Mirkwood.
  • Are the Dwarves fighters or fools? One moment, they are taken captive by the spiders; then soon after, fight their way through them (with a little help). Same applies to Smaug...the Worm takes the whole dwarven city, but 13 dwarves (or however many; my head still hurts from the previews) can contrive to boot him out.
  • Is Bard related to Legolas? They look like brothers.
  • Saw nothing provocative when Tauriel was healing Kili; then again, I'm old and mostly dead.
  • Isn't Kingsfoil called 'King's foil' for a reason? Or is it generic healing plant for generic evil weapon wound?
  • You're going to use heat on a creature that produces heat - hot enough to melt magical rings. Genius.
  • Thought for sure that the golden statue was going to become a transformer or mech suit.
  • I'm no economist, but what's with all of the coins/horded treasure? Smaug may have gathered a bit of it together during the ransacking, but wasn't most of the coins already there?
  • Orcs should slide on steep rooftops, unless they are Moria orcs, which can stick to any surface.
  • Gandalf is caged by Sauron's minions? Just when I thought that being powned by the Witch King was the ultimate insult.
  • So when the movie faded to black, my youngest summed it up by saying, "What a ripoff!"
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Old 12-27-2013, 09:33 PM   #110
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Well, the film has had some positive effects, its brought a lot of old posters out of the woodwork...*

. . . .

*Just realised how big-headed that sounded. I was referring to spawn, Eomer etc, not myself...!

Gee, Lalaith, when I read that first line I thought you meant the movie reminded you of many old wall posters you had seen or owned in your youth--grandiose illustrations having little strong semblance to book descriptions.

And then to be so disabused by your last line!
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Old 12-29-2013, 09:30 AM   #111
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[*]Saw nothing provocative when Tauriel was healing Kili; then again, I'm old and mostly dead.
I must have a dirty mind because when I saw that scene the only thing I could think was how wrong it all looked.

I think Jackson did it on purpose as fodder for fan fic.
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Old 12-30-2013, 04:44 AM   #112
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Hated how they took a 'chance meeting' and made the whole quest a set up by Gandalf.
Actually, canonically speaking, the quest was a set up by Gandalf. After all, he did want to stop the dragon, and set it up so that Bilbo would come along. The difference is in that Thorin also wanted to reclaim the treasure, and the "chance meeting" was truly a "chance meeting" of two people who happened to have the same goal (resp. one wanted to get rid of the dragon, another wanted the treasure and revenge, but the quests were compatible).

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Is Bard related to Legolas? They look like brothers.
That's what I've been saying all along and nobody believed me.

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Isn't Kingsfoil called 'King's foil' for a reason? Or is it generic healing plant for generic evil weapon wound?
That made me realise - I am actually surprised I haven't thought of it earlier, but even more that PJ didn't think about it - they could have made Bard heal the wound, therefore proving the old "hands of the King are the hands of a healer" proverb... Given how many things they copied from LotR, really strange this didn't reappear. But maybe Tauriel is more important.
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Old 12-30-2013, 10:02 AM   #113
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I must have a dirty mind because when I saw that scene the only thing I could think was how wrong it all looked.
That's what I'm saying - that it looked wrong. Her face was facing a different direction - not to get too technical.

And you probably do.
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Old 12-30-2013, 03:27 PM   #114
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I thought you meant the movie reminded you of many old wall posters you had seen or owned in your youth--grandiose illustrations having little strong semblance to book descriptions.
Indeed - seven types of ambiguity....
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Old 12-30-2013, 04:22 PM   #115
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That's what I'm saying - that it looked wrong. Her face was facing a different direction - not to get too technical.

And you probably do.
Well...technically I don't recall that the camera ever showed how they were facing at all. All I remember is an increasingly uncomfortable set of close ups on their faces.
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Old 12-30-2013, 04:31 PM   #116
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Well...technically I don't recall that the camera ever showed how they were facing at all. All I remember is an increasingly uncomfortable set of close ups on their faces.
I was playing close attention to the scene, being forewarned, as I was wondering how much 'explaining' I would be doing afterwards to my children.

"Well, ya see, when an Elf is helping a Dwarf with a leg wound, it's common for said elf and dwarf to..."
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Old 12-30-2013, 04:38 PM   #117
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"When an Elfie and a Dwarfie love each other very much...."
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Old 12-30-2013, 05:24 PM   #118
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I was playing close attention to the scene, being forewarned, as I was wondering how much 'explaining' I would be doing afterwards to my children.

"Well, ya see, when an Elf is helping a Dwarf with a leg wound, it's common for said elf and dwarf to..."
Dynasties have been started in this way...and far be it from me to point out that Robb Stark's downfall was started by almost this exact situation.
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Old 12-30-2013, 05:29 PM   #119
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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......
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Old 12-30-2013, 06:29 PM   #120
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"When an Elfie and a Dwarfie love each other very much...."
That was the phrase I was looking for!

And, listening to the unabridged FotR, Gimli surely had the glowing hots for Galadriel. So much so that he was ready to murder Eomer, and was excited to get a message from her, even if it were about his death.
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