51, Palo Alto
Date Posted: 2014-01-12
Tolkien Fan Level: 6
Film Format Seen? 2D 24 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes
Finally saw the second installment. This time, I decided to see the 2D-24fps first since it wouldn't distract by the clarity/lack of depth of field of the 48fps.
When I compare these movies to LOTR, I always yearned for more in LOTR - things happened so quickly, character development had to be brief etc. And since so much had to be left out or simplified, the constraints generally forced the screen-writing to stay true to, the spirit of Tolkien. Interestingly, there were so many characters to like and get emotionally engaged with. The challenge was doing justice to them. With the Hobbit movies, I went in accepting that I would see a movie with a whole lot of expanding, but what I want is that it simply be true to the spirit of Tolkien and provide a similar engagement with the characters. Because the source material was so thin, and inconsistent with the LOTR version (e.g. the elves of rivendell), there was a much higher possibility for the screen-writer's limitations to show through. It was going to be a tricky balance between capturing the charm/whimsy of the book and the more serious tone of the movie LOTR. So after hearing about the controversy over Tauriel/Kili etc I found myself surprisingly ok with the character additions (I liked Tauriel). My read of Tauriel/Kili is not of a budding love affair but rather a discovery of goodness and shared love of the world by "youth" of differing races. I like the depiction of Bard, and of Thranduil. Of the dwarves, Balin remains a fond grandfatherly image and shows signs of being a true leader. I would have liked to have seen a bit more Bofur. I have nothing but praise for the cinematography, and depiction of the many settings - Dol Goldur, Erabor, Laketown, Mirkwood, the Elvish Kingdom. So many worked very hard to turn these fantastic places into reality. Smaug is wonderfully created. You don't spend a second thinking he isn't real. The screen-writing/plot is where the movie has its flaws. Compared to the effort to create the visual world, only 4 people made the spoken. First, I don't think PJ understands whimsy - the sexual connotation in this movie and the toilet/drug humor of AUJ (troll snot, bird poop, weed, mushrooms) all seem cheap substitutes. Tolkien is not Cheech and Chong. The part that disappoints is when the action goes beyond what suspension of disbelief allows. Middle earth allows magic yet follows its own rules of reality. I found the dwarf fight with Smaug taking me out of the movie (what the h**l are they doing now???) with all the gravity defying scenes. Same thing happened with Goblin-town in AUJ. Generally, LOTR didn't do this. I also think the fighting scenes happen too often - they all look the same. The orcs are grossly incompetent at killing anybody it seems - all bark and no bite. We all know that by number 3, the orcs are going to seriously up there combat skills and do some serious killing. I also feel that in a movie that pads so much, there was little reason to miss the enchanted stream, and the chance to employ whimsy with Beorn was lost. Again maybe whimsy just isn't PJ's thing. So I come out of this movie having generally enjoyed it (better than AUJ) but think it would be better if shorter or scenes better distributed. Ironically because it was more loosely based on the novel, I was curious about what would happen next. I just think they have to work harder at retaining the spirit of Tolkien, and there are signs it will head this way. It is becoming clear that Greed will be the driving theme of there and back again.
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