48, Ann Arbor, MI
Date Posted: 2012-12-15
Tolkien Fan Level: 6
Film Format Seen? 3D 48 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes
Peter Jackson has done it again. He has managed to create something that I simultaneously enjoyed and found deeply annoying. I will first discuss what was enjoyable, then I will address the not-so-great aspects of the film.
The arrival of the dwarves at Bag End and the following sequences are a delight. We get to see more of the wonderful set that the Art Department (Alan Lee, John Howe, and Dan Hennah) have created. The colors, textures, and choices of set dressings and props are rich and varied and really pull you into the world of the Shire. Martin Freeman is great as Bilbo, as are Ken Stott as Balin, Graham McTavish as Dwalin, and James Nesbitt as Bofur. Of course, Ian McKellan truly is Gandalf, and a more fun version at that! The scenery of New Zealand never looked better, with some particularly beautiful views of craggy rocks jutting from green hills with water flowing through. Radagast the Brown was an unexpected delight. His role was woven into the existing story with some subtlety and a good deal of humor. The Riddles in the Dark scene is very good (though it is far too well lit, and that's a bit distracting). Rivendell looks even more beautiful than in FOTR. I really thought the White Council chamber was fabulous and all of the Wise (hugo weaving's Elrond, Christopher Lee's Saruman, and particularly, cate Blanchett's Galadriel) are in top form once again. The arrival of the eagles and the following flight to the Carrock is uplifting and rapturously well-done. The final image of the eye of Smaug was perfect. I found that the 3-D drew me in and made the experience very immersive (this was a surprise). The score of howard Shore had some real moments of beauty and grandeur. Now for the negatives: Rather expectedly, the film was a typical Peter Jackson affair. Meaning that there was a good deal of violence and many of over-the-top action sequences. The opening of the film was marred by a particularly poorly crafted prologue. The battle sequence in the prologue was unnecessarily complex and unbelieveable, as well as having been edited at a break-neack pace. Although it was nice to see Dale for a few seconds, and a tantalizing glimpse of Smaug in action, the majority of the scene could have been more effective as a fireside story without visuals. I am not a total Tolkien purist, yet, nevertheless, I found myself wishing that someone had pulled the screenwriters aside and insisted that they curb their tendency to excess. There were very few quiet moments in the film. Jackson seemed to be bent on pummeling his audience's ears into submission with excessively loud sound effects that trump the already dramatic music of Howard Shore. Time and again he indulges in upping the ante on the drama and the visual complexity, until one cannot take any more. There were too many decapitations and the whole Goblin City sequence went on far too long. I did not care for the character of Azog.
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