Date Posted: 2014-04-26
Tolkien Fan Level: 7
Film Format Seen? 3D 48 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes
As a fan of Tolkien and the LOTR films I eagerly waited for the Hobbit films to be made. Sadly, I feel that Jackson has take too many pages from George Lucas' book on how to ruin a prequel trilogy, instead of taking pages from the actual source material (and for those who will say, "you just need to read the appendices!" don't bother, I have...and he even got that stuff wrong). My qualms with the first two Hobbit films are twofold: 1. Deviation from book, 2. Lower quality of filmmaking.
First, I recognize the need change some aspects of the story, to translate from a written story into a visual and compelling narrative. However, some of the deviations are pointless and have no grounding in Tolkien whatsoever. Two examples, the new narrative of the Witchking, and the tension between Fili and Tauriel. The witchking is now believed to have been killed and buried, and resurrected by Sauron. But in the appendix, all that is said is that he fled the battle and wasn't seen or heard from for many years. No need to waste time with Gandalf and Radaghast wandering through tombs. This new narrative adds NOTHING to the story of Bilbo and the Dwarves (and don't get me started on Azog...cause he was DEAD!!). Second, Fili and Tauriel. I have no real qualms with Tauriel as a character. But if they wanted a strong female character, why did they simply resort to using her as a writer's crutch to fall for the bad boy who is off limits? She seems rather cliched and unoriginal. Also, the banter between the two feels contrived and out of place in Middle Earth. Plus, it's just another time waster that does absolutely nothing for the main story, except provide a character to mourn the loss of at least one of the dwarves who doesn't survive the battle (which I'm sure will be a drawn out dying monologue with a teary eyed Tauriel holding Fili in her arms and whispering sweet Elvish nothings as he passes beyond the world). Now, for my second problem-the quality of film making. The LOTR trilogy was groundbreaking for its time. The use of special effects was astounding, with a combination of miniatures, cg elements, matte paintings, live action set pieces, etc. All was done to create an environment of realism, and for the most part they accomplished this goal. For some reason, Jackson (or maybe the studios) have decided to take the opposite route and turn the film into a teaser for an upcoming ride at Universal Studios. The cg effects are overused, and abused! I appreciate the foray into 48 frames 3D. But shooting digital (rather than on film) has decreased the natural physical quality of the look of the films. Also, many shots and angles are clearly contrived to serve the effect of 3D instead of the story. This makes many scenes feel more out of a video game cut scene, than a feature film. Also, the action pieces are so ridiculous that the "willing suspension of disbelief" is drug out into the street and shot dead. The worst example is the Barrels Out of Bond sequence that takes nearly 10mins of screen time, and includes and bouncing Bombur who turns into a barrel-tank and defies the laws of physics. The films seem to be more interested in pandering to the action and thrills seeking, ADD audiences of 12-14year olds (but I've even met 14year olds who didn't like them!), than telling an epic story. I could continue for hours (which I have done), but I shall leave my ranting at that. I'm not arrogant enough to say that I could have done better, but if that's all that I could do...I wouldn't have done it.
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