There and Back Again
December 8, 2013 1:37 PM   Subscribe

 
For me, understanding Tolkien's work hinged upon the horror of the Somme.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:16 PM on December 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


To reproduce Middle Earth's climate, Dr Dan Lunt, an expert on past climate change, traced one of Tolkein's famously detailed maps, and then effectively "scanned" that into the university's supercomputer.

He did that because he'd already solved global warming.
posted by Metro Gnome at 2:27 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's what annoyed you? Not the fact that whoever wrote that put scare-quotes around "scanned"?
posted by Jimbob at 2:30 PM on December 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


He did that because he'd already solved global warming.

No, he did that so he could have a kick ass campaign for his D&D group. ;)
posted by usagizero at 2:33 PM on December 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


I really, really wanted to like the first Hobbit movie. I went in all excited and ready to have a blast. And I'm well aware that you have to make changes from one medium to another- even the best movie adaptations, like The Princess Bride, Fight Club, or John Dies at the End will make a bunch of changes because what works in one medium won't work in another.

But I found the changes made in The Hobbit to be completely unacceptable, because they committed one of the most egregious flaws you can in an adaptation, which is replacing the protagonist with somebody else entirely. Leaving aside all the nonsense about the huge orc and the effort to tie things more deeply into the Lord of the Rings movies, the real fuckup is what they did to Bilbo.

Two scenes exemplify this. First, the scene where Bilbo and the dwarves are captured by trolls, get trussed up in sacks, and have to endure the trolls discussing how to kill and eat them. The trolls start arguing amongst themselves, daylight comes, they turn into stone, oh hey it was Gandalf perpetuating the argument the whole time, awesome. In the movie Gandalf gets cut out of the picture- it's Bilbo who comes up with the plan, and does it right out in the open where the trolls can see him. The trolls in the book are stupid, but the ones in the movie are practically suicidal, and it's less satisfying when the plan goes off.

The other bit is at the end of the escape from the Misty Mountains, where the party is trapped up pine trees as the orcs and wargs circle and threaten beneath. Thorin falls out of the tree and Bilbo jumps down to stand between him and the big antagonist that was made up for the movies. Now, any of the other dwarves wants to do that, I'm a-okay. They're seasoned folks who seem not at all uncomfortable in a fight. But Bilbo? It's just not at all in his character. The common thread between these two incidents (and more, I'm sure, that I'm forgetting- I saw it once in the theater and didn't want to see it again) is that for some reason the creators of the movie have decided to portray Bilbo as a hero. And while he eventually gains the courage to do some clever, brave things, that is absolutely not something he's up for this early in the story. And considering that his character arc in the book has him going from a fussy sort who wants no trouble and balks at the idea of going on an adventure to a brave, clever person who's grown not only emotionally but physically to represent it, I've no idea where they can go with Bilbo as a character in the second and third films- they've already got where Tolkein was taking him.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:36 PM on December 8, 2013 [76 favorites]


for some reason the creators of the movie have decided to portray Bilbo as a hero. And while he eventually gains the courage to do some clever, brave things, that is absolutely not something he's up for this early in the story. And considering that his character arc in the book has him going from a fussy sort who wants no trouble and balks at the idea of going on an adventure to a brave, clever person who's grown not only emotionally but physically to represent it, I've no idea where they can go with Bilbo as a character in the second and third films- they've already got where Tolkein was taking him.

Completely agree. Book-Frodo and Book-Bilbo are completely different protagonists, but I felt like PJ is trying to develop the LoTR - Hobbit analog by making Bilbo the same type of protagonist as Frodo.

Which is, IMO, a huge shame, because the differences in their characters and how they react to the ring are part of what makes the stories so interesting to read and compare.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 2:42 PM on December 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


For no good reason other than it tickles me, here's Team Fortress 2's Soldier trying to get the names of LOTR characters right and failing.
posted by JHarris at 2:47 PM on December 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


He did that because he'd already solved global warming.

It's all the dragons with their fiery breath. I mean, everyone knows that.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:50 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


My main problem with the first Hobbit movie can be summed up in three words: Too. Much. Fighting. I found the endless CGI fight scenes boring. I have no expectation that this will change in the other movies, and thus I have no enthusiasm whatsoever for seeing them.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:52 PM on December 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


Sometime in the future when I've got a bit of free time (well a lot)... I'm def going to try and video myself reading the book of the Hobbit with Hobbit trilogy playing in the background. I'm pretty certain I can beat it.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:57 PM on December 8, 2013 [18 favorites]


I thought the first movie was a fantastic spectacle of modern fantasy filmmaking, even if the story suffered from weak pacing at points. I challenge you to name anyone currently making fantasy films of better quality. Also, the "Smaug is about nothing" reviewer is clearly grinding an axe, which is his prerogative, but it's not very professional. I can certainly appreciate negative reviews about things I enjoy, but whatever this is probably does not serve moviegoers very well.
posted by Brocktoon at 3:00 PM on December 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I finally got around to seeing the first Hobbit movie last week and completely agree with Pope Guilty. It's baffling to me to read the fawning reviews--it's one of the most lifeless and soulless movies I've seen in a while. Jackson somehow managed to vacuum all the charm out of Tolkien's story. And despite the film's interminable length, it didn't feel like anything of substance was addressed.

For example: Thorin's had a tough life so we understand that he's grouchy. But he clearly hates Bilbo's guts for 95% of the movie and we're given nothing to show why. Is Thorin just a jerk? The other dwarves seem to like Bilbo. Except for the troll scene there's hardly any screen time of the dwarves and Bilbo interacting during their journey. We need character development, not just of Bilbo, but to turn the dwarves into something more than an undifferentiated mass of short guys with beards. The only dwarves I can think of off the top of my head are Thorin, Balin, the fat one, and Jimmy Nesbitt. Jackson guts the main story of the film to do...what, exactly? Show us the White Council? I was expecting Saruman to start flipping through PowerPoints.

Also, the fight sequence with the escape from the goblins looked exactly like a game of Sonic the Hedgehog. The use of CGI in LOTR was far more judicious. What happened?
posted by orrnyereg at 3:04 PM on December 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


I really think the Jackalopes pulling that land sled deserve their own movie.
posted by sammyo at 3:06 PM on December 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


I challenge you to name anyone currently making fantasy films of better quality.

I would rather watch Trollhunter twice back to back than sit through the first Hobbit movie again.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 3:08 PM on December 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


I love found footage movies all out of proportion to the level of quality that is actually evident in most of the movies themselves, and other than maybe [REC], Trollhunter is way out ahead of everything else in the genre.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:13 PM on December 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


At this point I should admit I could only make it 20mins into the first movie. I don't think it had got as far as the point where the book version of The Hobbit actually begins.
posted by Artw at 3:13 PM on December 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am waiting for all 3 movies to come out and then fans recutting it for a 100 minute long fan edit distributed on the shadow internet that strictly adheres as closely to the original Tolkien as possible
posted by Bwithh at 3:17 PM on December 8, 2013 [38 favorites]


Also, the fight sequence with the escape from the goblins looked exactly like a game of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Now I really want Peter Jackson's Sonic the Hedgehog, if only because it would make the internet literally, physically explode.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:17 PM on December 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


I didn't mind the first one that much and I don't think I'll have any serious problems with the upcoming one, really. Admittedly my main interest is seeing what Jackson does with the dragon scenes, as I really want him to make the Temeraire movies.
posted by elizardbits at 3:18 PM on December 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Special Collapsed Edition will probably be quite good.
posted by Artw at 3:18 PM on December 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


> "I challenge you to name anyone currently making fantasy films of better quality"

Alfonso Cuaron? Spike Jonze? Terry Gilliam? Guillermo del Toro? (Well, I suppose he was involved with this.) Jean-Pierre Jeunet?

Should I include animated films as well?
posted by kyrademon at 3:18 PM on December 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


Also, is it just me, or did Elijah Wood have a growth spurt between Return of the King and the Hobbit? He looked almost too tall for Bag End.
posted by orrnyereg at 3:20 PM on December 8, 2013


I didn't mind the first one that much and I don't think I'll have any serious problems with the upcoming one, really. Admittedly my main interest is seeing what Jackson does with the dragon scenes, as I really want him to make the Temeraire movies.

I'm not 100% happy about it, but a movie that actually includes Beorn? And LotR-quality CGI for Smaug? What am I going to do, not watch it at least once?
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:20 PM on December 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thorin sits down and starts singing about gold.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:27 PM on December 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Mmmm. Mmmm.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:34 PM on December 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh and the best thing about the Hobbit are the jokes in the recent Peter Davison Dr Who spin-off thing
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:36 PM on December 8, 2013


I challenge you to name anyone currently making fantasy films of better quality.

I don't watch a lot of fantasy films, but anyone NOT making films with a 1980s Dr Who with bird shit on his face and magic rabbits has got to be in with a shot.
posted by biffa at 3:37 PM on December 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


Well I hope it's good because I will almost certainly be seeing it with my father on Dec. 22, which is his birthday. And that will probably be the last time I see him before he confronts the first anniversary of my mother's death on Dec. 27. It's difficult for us to get together because of the drive but for much of the last year movies have been a focal point. The last was Thor 2 which we both thoroughly enjoyed. He did like the first Hobbit, and I suspect he'll like Smaug.
posted by localroger at 3:38 PM on December 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


But he clearly hates Bilbo's guts for 95% of the movie and we're given nothing to show why.

It's obvious why. If he didn't, they wouldn't be able to eventually have a big change-of-heart scene, with swelling music and a tear in everyone's eye.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:42 PM on December 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


I really hated Thorin in the movie, yeah. He went from "hugely self-important dwarf" to "bro-warrior," just like every male human character in LOTR -- I wouldn't even have known he was a dwarf if the characters hadn't told us.
posted by JHarris at 3:56 PM on December 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


the real fuckup is what they did to Bilbo.

Beyond what you point out about the escape from the Misty Mountains scene, the real tragedy is that they had Bilbo kill someone. In the book, Bilbo doesn't kill anyone (other than the spiders, which don't count in my opinion). In fact, he's more or less a steadfast pacifist to the end (e.g. not killing Gollum, opposing and then walking away from the Battle of Five Armies). It completely changes his character and makes very little sense. Bilbo is supposed to be a more morally pure person and that's why he can resist the influence of the Ring for so long. It's hard to square that with Bilbo the Goblin Killer.
posted by jedicus at 3:56 PM on December 8, 2013 [42 favorites]


I can't find a clip just now, but my principal, foremost, and primary memory of the first Hobbit film was the unexpected dinner party scene. Talk about the road goes ever on and on.
posted by datawrangler at 3:58 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


At this point I should admit I could only make it 20mins into the first movie.

Same. It has an unwatchableness to it.
posted by bleep-blop at 4:00 PM on December 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I really hated Thorin in the movie, yeah.

Oh god yes. Compare the book's and the movie's treatment of Thorin being brought before the Goblin King. In the book he tries to grovel his way out of it (entirely reasonable in the face of such overwhelming force). In the movie he's the same as he is in virtually every scene.
posted by jedicus at 4:02 PM on December 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Is Thorin just a jerk?"

Funny - my partner recently read The Hobbit for the first time (she's read LOTR a few times over the years), and her one consistent comment over most of the book was "Thorin's an arsehole to Bilbo for no reason, isn't he?"

"The only dwarves I can think of off the top of my head are Thorin, Balin, the fat one, and Jimmy Nesbitt."

You're forgetting Mitchell and Anders...
posted by Pinback at 4:05 PM on December 8, 2013


You're forgetting Mitchell and Anders...

JOE DON BAKER IS IN THIS??
posted by orrnyereg at 4:07 PM on December 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


Is there anything MST3K can't fuck up for everyone else?
posted by Pinback at 4:25 PM on December 8, 2013


First, the scene where Bilbo and the dwarves are captured by trolls, get trussed up in sacks, and have to endure the trolls discussing how to kill and eat them. The trolls start arguing amongst themselves, daylight comes, they turn into stone, oh hey it was Gandalf perpetuating the argument the whole time, awesome. In the movie Gandalf gets cut out of the picture- it's Bilbo who comes up with the plan, and does it right out in the open where the trolls can see him. The trolls in the book are stupid, but the ones in the movie are practically suicidal, and it's less satisfying when the plan goes off.

In the movie, it's still entirely Bilbo's idea. He spots Gandalf running around after he's started his delaying tactic. All Gandalf does is bring the sunshine a little earlier.

I've already watched the extended edition three times since it came out and can't wait for DoS to come out this coming weekend. I learned in LoTR to accept the changes Jackson and Co. choose to make (even the Faramir character assassination) and went with the first Hobbit movie without too much fuss. For the most part, Jackson gets more things right and in an enjoyable manner than those things he gets wrong, by choice or not. For that, I'm thankful, because I generally love his vision of Middle Earth.
posted by Atreides at 4:29 PM on December 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


jedicus: It's hard to square that with Bilbo the Goblin Killer.

Very much this. Goes back to comment #1 and Tolkein trying to write about the horrors of WW1 and what he saw as the loss of older, gentler ways of living.

bleep-blop: It has an unwatchableness to it.

Me too, except I just paid $52 * 4 for the 48fps 3D version. It was tough going at first, just because the resolution is so unfriendly, but that got better with time. Unfortunately, a lot of the 3D looks like fore/middle/background all the time, which was also annoying. I kind of liked the movie, although I could do with more Tolkein and less Jackson & Co. But for $52/ticket you get very nice comfy seats and a great sound system, and that makes some of the dumbth less noticeable.
posted by sneebler at 4:32 PM on December 8, 2013


"Thorin's an arsehole to Bilbo for no reason, isn't he?"

There is a reason: class (and possibly race). Thorin feels himself to be royalty (son of Thror son of Thrain, King under the mountain, and all that) and Bilbo is the hired help and a burglar, not exactly an exalted occupation, though necessary in the circumstances. Thorin always stands on his dignity; being overly friendly to an employee wouldn’t fit his self image.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 4:45 PM on December 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


I finished watching the Extended Edition and all the Making-Of discs, and I think it's given me a somewhat better appreciation for the first Hobbit film. But not so much that I think it was a good idea to make one book into 3 3-hour films. I agree with Brocktoon that it still remains excellent fantasy cinema. I also think it made it obvious what the whole trilogy would bring in terms of story - lots of cool looking scenery and monsters, and about 20-30 seconds of "meaning". But I would say if films like this existed when I was in high school, my D&D campaigns would have had a lot more of this sort of imagery (and middle earth weather patterns) than dark-and-stormy-night dungeon crawls.
posted by Metro Gnome at 4:48 PM on December 8, 2013


Now I really want Peter Jackson's Sonic the Hedgehog, if only because it would make the internet literally, physically explode.

Surely there's some part of New Zealand that's a perfect match for Green Hill Zone.
posted by radwolf76 at 5:10 PM on December 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


"His attention to detail is certainly precious: there are even translations of his paper for Dwarvish and Elvish readers."

Apparently they're not actually in Dwarvish and Elvish, just in fonts designed to look like them (scroll down to the update).
posted by homunculus at 5:14 PM on December 8, 2013


> My main problem with the first Hobbit movie can be summed up in three words: Too. Much. Fighting.

My problem was the same, and it all took place down in the goblins' domain during the party's escape. Almost exactly as long (FOREVER) as the mine train/rollercoaster sequence in Raiders 2. No, not quite all, the wargs chasing the party down the mountainside until they were cornered also took way too long. And I hated that they turned Radagast into a figure of fun and had yet another way-too-long long chase sequence featuring him.

And yet. There's so much good stuff there. As soon as all three parts are out and and I get a chance to whack at them with VirtualDub or whatever's considered good at that time, I'm gonna have one Hell of a (considerably shorter) Hobbit.
posted by jfuller at 5:32 PM on December 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


As someone who really adored the LOTR trilogy, I haaaaaated The Hobbit. For me, it was because they couldn't decide what movie they wanted to make, and thus veered erratically between scenes as thematically dark and gritty as would match LOTR... and stupid shenanigans more befitting a kid's movie (extended racing bunnies and bird poop jokes, I'm looking at you). Oh, and that absolutely laughably bad shot of Galadrial whirling around as if she is literally mounted on a pedestal. Also, all of the scenes where someone stared soulfully off into the horizon while someone else narrated. And then rather than being about Bilbo's growth, as someone upthread pointed out, this movie was instead Thorin's Very Special Lesson about Being Less Judgy.

I will totally see Desolation of Smaug, but I am not expecting good things.
posted by TwoStride at 5:42 PM on December 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


My main problem with the first Hobbit movie can be summed up in three words: Too. Much. Fighting.

Same here. Too much fighting and chasing. I'd have had a better experience if I'd left the theater after Bilbo got out of the goblin caves.

I'm on the fence about the next one. I'd like to see Beorn and Smaug, but I don't particularly want to sit through more bloated battle scenes.
posted by homunculus at 5:57 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've already decided that this is the canonical version of the next film. Thorin v. Thranduil the embarrassing dwarf-racist party dad!

All aboard the Party Elk!
posted by orrnyereg at 6:06 PM on December 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


For me, it was because they couldn't decide what movie they wanted to make, and thus veered erratically between scenes as thematically dark and gritty as would match LOTR... and stupid shenanigans more befitting a kid's movie (extended racing bunnies and bird poop jokes, I'm looking at you).

Did you see Dark Shadows? It's like they couldn't decide if they were making a horror film, a drama, or a farce, so instead of blending these elements they just shot each scene in one of those three modes and strung them together. It really feels like the movie's cut together from three different films.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:07 PM on December 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


My problem with Jackson's Hobbit is that it's completely broken in every way. The casting of Martin Freeman is fine, but otherwise it's just fucked up in every respect; not just OTT action, but everywhere you look: in terms of narrative, themes and tone, just massive breakage on every level. The Hobbit is a terrific book that doesn't deserve what Jackson's doing to it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:10 PM on December 8, 2013 [3 favorites]




So we're well past the five hour mark with no end in sight. I've actually read the Hobbit out loud as a bedtime story and it only takes six hours or so in total. It's a blast! Try it on your kids. For that matter, try it on your significant other - he/she will get a good laugh out of you doing the voices.

You know what I'd pay good money to see? A trilogy consisting of six hours of Ian McKellan sitting in a chair reading the Hobbit.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:30 PM on December 8, 2013 [40 favorites]


Links 1 and 2 are worth a read if you want a refresher on what made the books good.
posted by Artw at 6:32 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty, I sort of already assume that any Johnny Depp/Helena Bonham Carter movie will suffer from that problem.
posted by TwoStride at 6:39 PM on December 8, 2013


A trilogy consisting of six hours of Ian McKellan sitting in a chair reading the Hobbit.

Rob Inglis' audiobook version of The Hobbit is really good. He sings all the songs! He does LOTR too.
posted by winna at 6:41 PM on December 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yes, that io9 Smaug essay is really good.

The main Hobbit movie problem for me was the wildly varying tone that TwoStrides mentioned: in one moment, serious portentous business, in the next WAIT WHAT did you just do a balls joke? Also INTERMINABLY LONG. Also STUPID RABBIT SLED.

But I too would like to see Beorn. And I would also like to see the Mirkwood spider scenes done well because that chapter always scared the willies of of me as a kid.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:43 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Personally after watching the first Hobbit movie(!) I'm of the opinion that Peter Jackson should be making a movie of Bored Of The Rings - he might get that right.

The Power almighty rests in this Lone Ring.
The Power, alrighty, for doing your Own Thing.
If broken or busted, it cannot be remade
If found, send to Sorhed (the postage is prepaid)."

posted by BillW at 6:55 PM on December 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


You know what I'd pay good money to see? A trilogy consisting of six hours of Ian McKellan sitting in a chair reading the Hobbit.

Follow it up with Christopher Lee reciting the text of LotR, from memory.
posted by radwolf76 at 7:06 PM on December 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


And then we could all fall asleep during chapter one of The Silmarillion!
posted by JHarris at 7:10 PM on December 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Alfonso Cuaron? Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I assume. That was only 10 years ago, but I guess it can count.

Spike Jonze? Where The Wild Things Are? Please.

Terry Gilliam? The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus? Ummm OK.

Guillermo del Toro? Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Excellent movie.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet? Huh?

Should I include animated films as well? Would that help you to hate The Hobbit more? In any event, I would say no. The film making challenges are not nearly comparable.

I don't watch a lot of fantasy films, but anyone NOT making films with a 1980s Dr Who with bird shit on his face and magic rabbits has got to be in with a shot.

Is that a no, you can't?
posted by Brocktoon at 7:11 PM on December 8, 2013


A trilogy consisting of six hours of Ian McKellan sitting in a chair reading the Hobbit.

Silently, to himself, except for occasional nods and murmurs of appreciation as he comes to his favorite parts.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:15 PM on December 8, 2013 [27 favorites]


I am waiting for all 3 movies to come out and then fans recutting it for a 100 minute long fan edit distributed on the shadow internet that strictly adheres as closely to the original Tolkien as possible

I own the LOTR extended Blu-rays but yeah, I also obtained the Sharkey Purist editions. Whereas for LOTR I enjoy the original and fan versions, for The Hobbit, I may overwhelmingly prefer the fan recut that whittles down the 7 hour epic into a "lean" 140 minutes.
posted by linux at 7:16 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


And then we could all fall asleep during chapter one of The Silmarillion!

What, with all that singing?
posted by ersatz at 7:26 PM on December 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Guillermo del Toro? Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Excellent movie.

Del Toro walked off of The Hobbit, FWIW. We didn't get Mountains of Madness out of it, but hey, at least we got Pacific Rim.
posted by Artw at 7:30 PM on December 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Love the book, liked the movie. The only thing I didn't like about the movie was the design of the hobgoblins - it seemed like a leftover from Guillermo del Toro and didn't really look like a Peter Jackson creation.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:51 PM on December 8, 2013


"‘Smaug’ is about almost absolutely nothing".

Middle Earth Seinfeld.

This needs to become a thing...
posted by schmod at 8:45 PM on December 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is that a no, you can't?

Thor: The Dark World was more entertaining than The Hobbit. So, whoever made that.
posted by FJT at 8:49 PM on December 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


About the io.com article:

1. This is a magnificent article.
2. Now I'm wondering how much thought Jackson & Co. put into the literary and fantastical roots and merits of The Hobbit, or of the aspects Tolkien made sure to put in there for a reason. It was easier for them to reflect those things in The Lord of the Rings, since that novel has them out on open display, the more so as the story progresses. The Hobbit is much more allusional and, functionally, has a very different focus of being a bedside tale.
3. This magnificent article, had I but read The Hobbit as a child, would have ruined my childhood with one paragraph near the middle. As it is, Professor, I really would not have expected it of you, but I... think I approve? (It's the paragraph that begins with "It's appropriate that not just Smaug's speech...")
posted by seyirci at 8:51 PM on December 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


After falling in love with Jackson's Fellowship, Two Towers dismayed me with its major changes, especially the disaster of ruining Faramir (my favorite character). I saw the RotK once, which left out the essential coda of the Scouring of the Shire, amongst other issues. It all left me sad at what could have been, especially with all the damn "expanded director's edition" crap.

Boycotted since, including all filmic Hobbitses. Nothing I've read about them have convinced me to renege on that, apart from the cast lists. Perhaps when they're all out on Netflix or whatever, just because I adore all of the cast members, the art design, the attention to detail.

But that right there is what grinds me the most -- one of their orc's swords can be the most "authentic" down to the last detail, but they screw up the important *story* points again and again.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:25 PM on December 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Echoing appreciation for the io9 article, it's very good.
posted by JHarris at 9:28 PM on December 8, 2013


Del Toro didn't so much as walk off The Hobbit as the long drawn-out wind down of the MGM bankruptcy forced him to decide to wait around and not work for an unspecified amount of time or move on to other projects that he could complete. It's not like he didn't WANT to do it, and there were elements of his work during pre-production that survived (the dwarf and goblin designs specifically, and
the mountain giant sequence seemed to have his fingerprints all over it).

I still think Del Toro's version would have been better than Jackson's, if for no other reason than Del Toro's lack of connection to the LOTR films wouldn't make The Hobbit feel so beholden to the LOTR. I enjoyed Jackson's Hobbit but it suffers from a huge dollop of prequelitis rather than being allowed stand on its own merits.
posted by KingEdRa at 9:46 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


We ended up calling the movie "loosely based on the works of Tolkien". Jackson's movies are fine for mediocre gory cgi action fantasies. They completely miss enormous amounts of the critical aspects of what makes Tolkien's works masterpieces and even deeply inspirational. All of the many aspects of character, of a rich and varied and compelling and meaningful meditation on what it means to be alive, all of that is reduced to modern angst and overdone action. It's a travesty, of course, but some of it's nice to look at. But just imagine if Joss Whedon had done them...
posted by emmet at 10:00 PM on December 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh what a pile of purist nonsense. They cleave just about as closely as conceivable to an incredibly complex accumulated body of lore, dropping in hundreds of clever little references for fans and scholars. But they have to do this while also creating a set of billion dollar blockbusters, which requires finding a way to incorporate character arcs and action peaks and troughs that Prof Tolkien did not.

None of them are perfect movies, far from it, but it is naiive in the extreme to assume that any element of the written text was discarded or modified without long and pained consideration.
posted by Sebmojo at 10:08 PM on December 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


incredibly complex accumulated body of lore

The book is fucking tiny and as tight as can be.
posted by Artw at 10:16 PM on December 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


The book is fucking tiny and as tight as can be.

And jamming in a bunch of stuff from Tolkein's other works is totally being faithful! Specifically, to shareholders.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:22 PM on December 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's hard to square that with Bilbo the Goblin Killer.

It's also hard to square that final scene with what we know of the rest of Thorin's party. Fili and Kili are his sister's sons; Dwalin and Balin are, at least, close relatives. And yet all the Dwarves hide cowering in the trees while Thorin gets the shit kicked out of him? Seriously?

That scene not only undercuts Bilbo's character development, from frightened grocer to wiley burglar, but also undercuts the importance of Thorin himself. He's the chief of the Longbeards, a direct descendant of Durin himself: the most important Dwarf in the world. Thorin Oakenshield, son of Thrain, son of Thror King Under the Mountain: his companions would (and do) die to defend him.

Bilbo is heroic, but he's not a classical hero: that's not his role. Heck, it's not even Thorin's role: he's wealthy because he's a skilled craftsman and trader, not a warrior. Jackson's failure to understand that really disappointed me.

But I could live with that all if the next movie had only 40% as much fighting, and no rabbit-drawn sleigh going in circles for thirty minutes at a stretch...
posted by suelac at 10:29 PM on December 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


The book is fucking tiny and as tight as can be.

It's also in many places very, very silly.
posted by Sebmojo at 10:41 PM on December 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


God forbid the prequel to Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings be polluted by silliness from some book.
posted by Artw at 10:43 PM on December 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I... don't know what we're arguing about anymore?
posted by Sebmojo at 10:45 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The comments on that film review are feral. So much anger!

My thoughts (such as they are) are this - people who love the Hobbit movies play a lot more video games than they read books. And they read big fuck-off Tolkien-lite fantasy epics that hit all the familiar beats to the exclusion of anything a little more challenging, or you know, different.

They can handle the endless fights with CGI orcs 'cos that's how they spend their free time anyway. It's like superbowl for fantasy geeks.
posted by misterbee at 11:09 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want someone to make the Temeraire movies. I'm not entirely sure I want it to be Peter Jackson, but I will take it and be glad.
posted by dogheart at 11:15 PM on December 8, 2013


My thoughts (such as they are) are this - people who love the Hobbit movies play a lot more video games than they read books. And they read big fuck-off Tolkien-lite fantasy epics that hit all the familiar beats to the exclusion of anything a little more challenging, or you know, different.

That's a little sneery and dismissive, IMO. The Hobbit is a childrens' book that has to mesh up with a nerdy grown-up epic: it's a difficult line to walk, and Jackson managed to get about 60% of it right with AUJ and sounds like he's closer to 80% with DoS.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:16 AM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's a little sneery and dismissive, IMO

Christ, you sound like my wife! Yeah, fair call.

However, I sat through the last Hobbit movie and found myself thinking at times, "this is a bit like watching someone else play World of Warcraft". I didn't feel that way with LOTR - particularly Fellowship of the Ring. I came out of that just completely blown away.
posted by misterbee at 1:42 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The first Hobbit movie was pretty marginal, though it got some things very right (the dinner at the beginning, Thorin's kingliness, Gollum/Bilbo).
posted by Sebmojo at 1:50 AM on December 9, 2013


I

In a hole in the ground lived a Hobbit -
Then Gandalf and his dwarvish mob hit!
"Bilbo, jump on our wagon:
We're meeting a dragon,
And need your assistance to rob it".

II

Met Goblins and wolves and whatever,
And some trolls (who weren't too clever)
In the dark, thanks to Sting,
Made off with a ring! -
Bet Gollum now hates us forever.

III

Made a dragon upset, stole from Thorin,
Accidentally set five armies warrin' ...
Should I really aspire
To life outside the Shire?
Oh well. At least my life ain't borin'.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:02 AM on December 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


As an avid book fan, I liked the movie just fine. But I never really compare book adaptations to the original books, they are separate things to me.
posted by Pendragon at 3:11 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ugh, the irony of writing, "what a pile of purist nonsense," then turning around and complaining that someone else is being "sneery and dismissive". Not every criticism hinges on the movie(s) being unfaithful to the book. I think the first one was plenty shitty and boring completely on its own, without reference to any other work.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 4:56 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bilbo's Coda

The burglar long nursed a desire
A young, furry hobbit to sire
He wanted to screw
But that was taboo
Only nephews allowed in the Shire.
posted by ersatz at 5:47 AM on December 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


What of Radagast - man! That guy stinks!
I can't stand his unfunny "high-jinx".
His stupidest habit
Is transport by rabbit -
He's this film's Jar-Jar fucking Binks.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:40 AM on December 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


No discussion of the upcoming Hobbit movie is complete without a mention of the fact that Stephen Colbert and his entire family have bit parts as citizens of Dale.
posted by elizardbits at 7:19 AM on December 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


"Thorin's an arsehole to Bilbo for no reason, isn't he?"

There is a reason: class (and possibly race). Thorin feels himself to be royalty (son of Thror son of Thrain, King under the mountain, and all that) and Bilbo is the hired help and a burglar, not exactly an exalted occupation, though necessary in the circumstances. Thorin always stands on his dignity; being overly friendly to an employee wouldn’t fit his self image.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 7:45 PM on December 8 [7 favorites +] [!]


Interesting point. Another aspect: Thorin is a disgraced king - a king with no kingdom. Bilbo is an aristocratic land-owner who lives a life of dalliance, but is not a king. I think it's reasonable to ask - who really is the higher class? Bilbo and Thorin probably both have their own ideas about that, but either way there's definitely some class-based tension.
posted by rebent at 7:20 AM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bilbo is petite bourgeoisie all the way.
posted by Artw at 7:28 AM on December 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


i learn something new every day!

But upon reflection, are you stating that all of hobbiton is petite bourgeoisie? Originally they were indeed subjects of the King of Eribore, but once that kingdom fell, they more-or-less became self-sustaining.
posted by rebent at 7:33 AM on December 9, 2013


And yet all the Dwarves hide cowering in the trees while Thorin gets the shit kicked out of him? Seriously?

Most of them were hanging off the end of Gandalf's staff (which is why he doesn't step in either) or otherwise engaged in fighting the Big Bad's mooks. I thought Jackson actually did a pretty good job in that scene finding a way to make Bilbo the only 'available' character to help at that juncture.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:40 AM on December 9, 2013


I saw the first Hobbit movie with lowered expectations, which were not exceeded, and I'll see the second with ditto. And that's fine with me; I didn't expect more than I got. The fact is, Tolkien's The Hobbit is a much thinner book than LOTR. It's a children's book, mixing comedy and adventure with a light touch à la Winnie the Pooh or Peter Pan but with less depth than either. So Jackson had two choices, either be faithful to that superficial playfulness and produce a boring bon bon of a movie; or inject conflict and material from Tolkien's extensive backstory plus lots of CGI to bring the punters in. I expected him to do the latter, and he did. So I feel about this one the way I feel about the re-booted Star Trek movies. No, it's not faithful to the original. But it'd actually be a worse movie if it were.

The fact is, the LOTR movies were brilliant. Jackson/Walsh captured the LOTR Weltanschauung so amazingly well that we readily forgive the changes from the books. But with LOTR they had a Welt the size of Jupiter whereas with Hobbit? Pluto.
posted by mono blanco at 7:42 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought Jackson actually did a pretty good job in that scene finding a way to make Bilbo the only 'available' character to help at that juncture.

Yeah, I guess your "good job" is my "contrived".
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:54 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Originally they were indeed subjects of the King of Eribore

No, the hobbits obtained permission from King Argeleb II of Arthedain to settle in the region.
posted by Pendragon at 8:01 AM on December 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


My 6 year old loved listening to the books at bedtime (currently we are about halfway through RotK), and then he loved the Rankin and Bass cartoon, and now he loves the Jackson adaptation. It has been fun going through it all with him and explaining how and why people decide to change things when they adapt a story to a different medium.

For myself, I was listening to The Tolkien Professor a lot before the AUP came out, and he pretty much nailed where they were going with the movie with his predictions, so my expectations were well prepared.
posted by history_denier at 8:07 AM on December 9, 2013


Bilbo is petite bourgeoisie all the way.

Very much so in the Shire, but that’s not his relationship with Thorin. He is hired as burglar, a decidedly un-bourgeois occupation.

That’s part of the whole joke of the unexpected party; the comic tension between Bilbo treating it like a social occasion and the dwarves behaving like it is a combination of a business meeting and a visit to an inn.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 8:09 AM on December 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


The Shire is basically this weird anachronistic lump of Middle England that's dumped into the middle of Fantasy Land that Bilbo has to shake himself free of to have an adventure.
posted by Artw at 8:56 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I guess your "good job" is my "contrived".

Indeed. My argument is with Jackson's choice in the first place to have Bilbo do the big warrior save, not how he chose to do it. Bilbo isn't a natural warrior, and it shows by way of how contrived the situation had to be in order to get him into that posture.

By which I mean: If you have to jump through so many hoops to set up a situation for a character to act in a certain way, it just might be because that's not an appropriate action for that character to take. He's pushing the stone uphill.

And having Bilbo fight Goblins at this early stage reduces the growth shown and heroism expressed in his fight with the spiders later, IMO.
posted by suelac at 9:59 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Shire is basically this weird anachronistic lump of Middle England that's dumped into the middle of Fantasy Land that Bilbo has to shake himself free of to have an adventure.

Specifically Worcestershire. Protected by the Rangers - that's the only reason it can still exist with all the darkness brewing.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:04 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I skipped a ton of comments to excitedly post my own after I read this in the Perez review from the post, "… a pointless digression with a shape shifter that hates dwarves, …" That means that Beorn is in the movie. I had presumed he'd be cut out. Which is exciting to me despite the fact that the entire exercise, including the LotR movies, took all the charm and nuance out of Tolkien leaving nothing but the dreary, fatalistic, depressing remnants of his stories.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:08 AM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


The book is fucking tiny and as tight as can be.

In that it keeps tight focus on Bilbo throughout, yes.

But the stuff going on around Bilbo does get a bit sprawly. It is quite a long unexpected journey; there is quite a lot of background mythology going on, even without shoehorning in the LoTR backstory; and the scope of the action surrounding Bilbo keeps increasing up to the huge scale of the Battle of the Five Armies.

And thus the temptation: the book feels tidy because it follows Bilbo so closely, but if you're filming it there's SO MUCH CINEMATIC STUFF happening around him that you've just got to show it all, right?

It'll be interesting to see how closely they follow the book's narrative of the Battle, which [trying to avoid explicit spoilers here] does neatly sidestep having to describe most of it.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:39 AM on December 9, 2013


The game of thrones TV series pretty blatantly stole that bit for Tyrion's first battle.
posted by Artw at 11:48 AM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I want to boldface and underscore winna's recommendation of Rob Inglis as a reader of Tolkien. The gold standard for reading Tolkien aloud is of course the fragments we have of Prof. T. reading his own stuff, wonderfully well. Inglis is streets and streets ahead of any other reader I have ever heard besides the author, and IMHO actually comes in a couple of lengths ahead of JRRT himself. Inglis has done the unabridged LOTR as well as The Hobbit (both still available from Recorded Books) but not, as far as I can tell, a Silmarillion. Damme, damme, damme.

> And then we could all fall asleep during chapter one of The Silmarillion!

I would not fall asleep just on the book's merits (about which there is so much controversy and flamage; I myself read it all the way through and enjoyed it). And I certainly would not fall asleep during an Inglis reading, if only there were one. There is a performance by Martin Shaw which I have not heard. Can anyone who has heard this give it a thumbs up or down?

However much I would like to sweep it under the rug, honesty compels me to mention that there is also a full reading by Christopher Tolkien. As grateful as I and all Tolkien geeks and fen-persons must be to CT for the massive amount of work he has done to edit JRRT's mountain of notes into readable things--roughly what Deryck Cooke would have to have done if he had had to make performing editions not just of Mahler's unfinished tenth symphony but all of them--Tolkien the Younger's reading of the Silmarillion is not good. Flat, inexpressive, instant sleeping pill. If you see it for sale and have an impulse to pick it up, save your money. It can also be found on bittorrent but is not worth the torrenting time it takes to d/l it, except maybe for crazed ultra-completists.
posted by jfuller at 12:28 PM on December 9, 2013


In the Red Letter Media - no stay with me - review of the first film they talk about the previous film version, in particular the barrel scene and there's a great moment when they postulate just how over the top Jackson is going to do it
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:34 PM on December 9, 2013


The screenwriters who squeezed each of the successively longer Harry Potter books into films that vaguely make sense (until they broke and split Hallows) must look at Jackson with utter contempt.
posted by Artw at 12:39 PM on December 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I want to boldface and underscore winna's recommendation of Rob Inglis as a reader of Tolkien

The sun shuhn down on many happy yeeaa-uhhz.
posted by bleep-blop at 1:45 PM on December 9, 2013


Artw, as you said The Hobbit is incredibly tight - the HP books have a lot more waffle (as does LOTR for that matter, it's like 43%/vol weather and poetry). I can see the Hobbit fitting into two films, but it would be pretty hard squeezing it into one without major cuts.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:22 PM on December 9, 2013


> And thus the temptation: the book feels tidy because it follows Bilbo so closely, but if you're
> filming it there's SO MUCH CINEMATIC STUFF happening around him that you've just got to
> show it all, right?

Bets on how many parts the Peter Jackson Silmarillion will be?
posted by jfuller at 4:08 PM on December 9, 2013


I think maybe that is what The Hobbit is.
posted by Artw at 4:08 PM on December 9, 2013


Bets on how many parts the Peter Jackson Silmarillion will be?

Seriously, speculatively:

Part I: the creation of the Elves, the journey to Valinor, the Trees, Fëanor, the Silmarils, the Darkening, the Oath, the Kinslaying, the arrival back in Middle-Earth. Finale is the first battle with Morgoth; the Elves win but Fëanor dies.

Part II: Thingol and Melian; Beren and Lùthien.

(WE SKIP Tùrin Turambar, although it's a great story, because it is the biggest downer ever. Unless Tom Hiddleston agrees to play Tùrin, in which case all bets are off.)

Part III: Tuor and his quest; Gondolin and its fall. Ends on a positive note with Tuor and Idril leading the refugees to safety.

Part IV: Civil war among the Elves as the sons of Fëanor seek to fulfil the terrible Oath. Out of despair, hope: the journey of Eärendil. Final battle: Valar, Elves, Men and Dwarves unite to defeat Morgoth; the Silmarils are lost but the world is saved; THE END.
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:51 PM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


It'll never happen; I can't see the Tolkien estate selling the movie rights to the Silmarillion. That said, I like Pallas Athena's scheme, but as a miniseries rather than a group of films. Part I, by itself, would last for HOURS.

Also, I see Hiddles as an Elf. Thingol, maybe?
posted by orrnyereg at 7:58 PM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stephen Colbert and his entire family have bit parts as citizens of Dale.

ThreatDown: Beorn!
posted by homunculus at 8:44 PM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know what would be great ? Hayao Miyazaki's version of Lord of the Rings.
posted by Pendragon at 1:49 AM on December 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


(WE SKIP Tùrin Turambar, although it's a great story, because it is the biggest downer ever. Unless Tom Hiddleston agrees to play Tùrin, in which case all bets are off.)

Should the Valar be kind, Park Chan-wook's Tùrin Turambar.
posted by ersatz at 2:20 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously, speculatively:

OK, but we need you to put those four parts in limerick form.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:06 AM on December 10, 2013


Let's sing of the downfall of Gondolin!
Where many poor Elf boys, so blonde-of-chin,
Had their beards (and heads) severed
'Til Eärendel endeavored
To save them. That's why they're so fond-of-him.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:01 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


That Túrin's a tragic ol' mister:
The son of a Morgoth-resister.
He killed some good friends
By "mistake". Oh, and then,
He polished his "sword" in his sister.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:10 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know what would be great ? Hayao Miyazaki's version of Lord of the Rings.

Already covered! It's called Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and it's marvelous.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:01 AM on December 10, 2013


Pinback: "Is there anything MST3K can't fuck up for everyone else?"

WINNER: All-Time Most Misguided Metafilter Comment
posted by Chrysostom at 9:29 AM on December 10, 2013 [4 favorites]




Sorry, Damian, I can't hear you over the roar of Dreamcatcher having been the worst film of all time.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:43 PM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]




In fairness (and slightly OT) I think Dreamcatcher being so awful had a lot more to do with Stephen King than with Damian Lewis.
posted by localroger at 4:52 PM on December 10, 2013


Damian Lewis was perfectly good in Dreamcatcher, but he still has no business stirring up unearned nastiness with the likes of Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart. McKellan and Stewart are great actors who also star in successful blockbusters. Damian Lewis would do better than to have a sour grapes reaction to their success.

Put another way, even including all of his obligations to Peter Jackson and the X-Men franches, McKellan still has a full-throated acting career, and that's not even counting his decades of work before then. His popular work just plain does not detract from his theater work, etc.

Damian Lewis is a talented actor, but he can go piss up a fucking rope.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:17 PM on December 10, 2013


Put another another way, if your career is going to include mega-budget extravaganzas, it's better to be in a movie like LOTR, or even The Hobbit, than it is to be in a flick like Dreamcatcher. Whatever the flaws of The Hobbit trilogy, you cannot seriously say that these movies are in any way worse than Dreamcatcher, which is a project that Lewis apparently had no problems signing onto.

Lewis might rationalize Dreamcatcher as the kind of cack that he had to do in order to have a career, but if he were more mature, he'd realize that not all big budget movies have to be terrible, and that no actor is ever - ever - "too good" for big budget movies. It just sort of sounds like he has sour grapes, with regard to the fact that his big budget experience was with an infamously horrible movie, whereas McKellan has had terrific success playing key parts in mostly beloved popcorn movies. Even crummy movies like X-Men 3 have had no negative impact whatsoever on McKellan's career, in large part because McKellan always gives his all, and he never has any condescending or pretentious attitude towards his projects. Whether it's for Pinter, Beckett, or Ratner, McKellan approaches acting as a profession. Lewis would do well to keep his nose similarly clean.

And that's not even getting into the overt homophobia of the word "fruity".
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:26 PM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Getting back to The Hobbit, I saw ten minutes of the first Hobbit movie - the riddle scene with Bilbo and Gollum - and I just couldn't shake the feeling that I wasn't watching a movie that was excited to be a movie. It felt like an encyclopedic revue of Hobbit-ness, if that makes sense, as opposed to a story about characters who do things.

I had resisted the LOTR trilogy, but I wound up eventually enjoying it very much. I'd love to enjoy the Hobbit trilogy, but I have a bad feeling about what I've seen.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:29 PM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like Damian Lewis so I am going to pretend I did not read what he said.
posted by Justinian at 5:45 PM on December 10, 2013


"So he feels sorry for me, does he? Well I'm very happy, he needn't worry about me."

That is how to be awesome.
posted by Artw at 5:48 PM on December 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't know what the deal is with these irritating B list actor whippersnappers taking shitty tedious shots at the likes of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan but it is a combination of sad, obnoxious, and hilarious. It was even worse when it was the ghastly Benny Crumbles because of his frighteningly rabid Sherlock fandom.
posted by elizardbits at 5:57 PM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


He's probably just frustrated with how much Homeland is treading water.
posted by Artw at 6:04 PM on December 10, 2013


I saw ten minutes of the first Hobbit movie - the riddle scene with Bilbo and Gollum - and I just couldn't shake the feeling that I wasn't watching a movie that was excited to be a movie.

Yeah, that. It was a short story told at by-the-pound novel length, even if told with great technical virtuosity. I'm glad to see the reviews of Hobbit II seem to be coming in a lot better since I'll be seeing it with my father in a couple of weeks, on his birthday, three days before Christmas, and five days before the first anniversary of my mother's death.

Well known famous people make snark about other well known famous people all the time. When they can tell me what to tell my Dad on what would have been his 51st wedding anniversay next year I'll take a listen, thanks. Meanwhile I need a good movie. Preferably in 3D. He really likes the 3D.
posted by localroger at 6:10 PM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was even worse when it was the ghastly Benny Crumbles because of his frighteningly rabid Sherlock fandom.

Who did what?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:10 PM on December 10, 2013




Who did what?

Back during the filming of the latest Star Trek movie, Crumplehorn Bandersnatch jerkishly approached Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner in a restaurant where they were dining together and asked Stewart if taking a Star Trek role would ruin his career, presumably inferring that Stewart's career was ruined.

also his face is terrible and i hate it
posted by elizardbits at 4:47 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nobody worries if poor old Brent Spinner might have a career.
posted by Artw at 4:53 PM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey, Brent Spiner was great in Independence Day.
posted by localroger at 5:15 PM on December 11, 2013


He was great on an episode of Cheers.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:47 PM on December 11, 2013


And in a recurring role on Night Court.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:56 PM on December 11, 2013


And all that wonderful wonderful music
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:45 AM on December 12, 2013




I loved Brent Spiner in 1776.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:05 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


LBR, I'm only in this for Stephen Fry's comb over.
posted by Sara C. at 10:05 PM on December 12, 2013


My hetero-life-mate saw the movie tonight. His report, "To put it simply, I have been betrayed."
posted by ob1quixote at 12:40 AM on December 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


also his face is terrible and i hate it

I'm glad to know there's someone else out there who doesn't find Benedict Cumberbatch's face remotely attractive. He does nothing for me, though I must admit he's a real clotheshorse who can rock a dandy look. And if that approaching Patrick Stewart story is true, he's a douche.

Shameless self-promotion here, but I just wrote a post on Hobbit-themed knitting for the U.K. based site LoveKnitting.com that any Hobbit fans who knit might like to check out. Hey, some of these projects will take less time than watching the trilogy.;-)
posted by orange swan at 7:42 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm glad to know there's someone else out there who doesn't find Benedict Cumberbatch's face remotely attractive.

His face looks like a half-cooked meatloaf.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:28 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


He looks like an otter.
posted by homunculus at 9:31 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another review: The Desolation of Tolkien
posted by homunculus at 12:21 PM on December 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I saw it last night and I was seriously, seriously underwhelmed (probably a bunch of spoilers here). They criminally underused Martin Freeman, who's basically been singlehandedly carrying the entire series as far as I'm concerned, and aside from the fantastic dragon scene, all he really got to do was make tortured Frodo-y Ring faces whenever it seemed like there wasn't enough manufactured drama happening. The Tauriel/Kili subplot was ridiculously forced and made me want to murder someone, adding Legolas was completely unnecessary and smacked of pandering fanservice, and they cut the Beorn scene so short it felt completely pointless. I loved Smaug and thought Cumberbatch was a perfect choice for the voice (and you can even tell he did the motion capture!), but the whole last section with the dwarves in the mountain seriously felt like playing through the Zelda Water Temple for the forty-fifth time - "ok, get dragon to light furnace, flip lever to start metal flow, go down to the next floor, shoot the crystal switch, move the blocks, light the torch..." yadda yadda yadda. Ugh. Even the soundtrack felt really forced and trite this time.

On the positive side, Stephen Fry was utterly delightful as the Master of Watertown, Martin Freeman is still history's greatest hobbit, and the scene with Bilbo and Smaug was nearly perfectly executed. And yay, fun scary dragons! But ultimately I just can't get over all the unnecessary liberties they took with the plot. I'm no kneejerk purist - I haven't even read the Hobbit in years, honestly - but they cut out a lot of the best, most charming parts to make room for all this manufactured drama (the Necromancer, Tauriel/Kili [UGH], Legolas being there at all, a bunch of drawn-out brooding about Thorin's man-angst, Bilbo making constipated Ring-haunted faces, etc). In summary, I guess it was still decently fun to watch fpr a generic blockbuster, but it was really quite disappointing as a Tolkien fan.
posted by dialetheia at 1:49 PM on December 13, 2013 [4 favorites]






From fearfulsymmetry's link:

Warner Bros, which oversee The Hobbit films through its New Line offshoot, said in a statement: "This is about one of the great blunders in movie history. Fifteen years ago, Miramax, run by the Weinstein brothers, sold its rights in The Hobbit to New Line. No amount of trying to rewrite history can change that fact. They agreed to be paid only on the first motion picture based on The Hobbit. And that's all they're owed."

Easily discarding the ludicrous attempts to pose the affair in the minds of the reader, this statement makes it a lot more obvious that the reason The Hobbit was made into three movies was less artistic and more an attempt to keep more of the profits at Warner Bros.
posted by JHarris at 4:44 AM on December 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


There was also probably a gamble that making three movies instead of one would multiply the profits, in general. I won't say triple, because Warner Brothers execs aren't that stupid, but releasing three huge holiday event movies gets you a lot more money than just releasing one. It also saves money because, rather than developing two other movies to fill those slots in the release schedule, they're making two more movies with the same team and cast.

The Hobbit trilogy is really a perfect case study of Pauline Kael's horror at film studios being run just like any other widget-selling business.
posted by Sara C. at 8:04 AM on December 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I saw it yesterday and walked away with a satisfied feeling. It definitely starts out rough, in the middle of things, which was done much better in Two Towers. The Beorn scenes were tragically short and I had the feeling there will be much more to them a year from now when we see the extended edition. It's not a terrible movie, it's not a bad movie, it just isn't a great movie. It's a good movie with great moments, but those moments aren't enough to lift it above itself.
posted by Atreides at 12:28 PM on December 15, 2013


I saw it yesterday and walked away with a satisfied feeling.

Like a good BM?
posted by JHarris at 1:38 PM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Saw it at the IMAX in 3D last night, and I thought it was fun. I feel like the high frame rate and all the actiony stuff just play better on a 60' x 80' screen.

If short-term memory serves, the first thing you see in the film is Peter Jackson, which is just odd as hell and hilarious. I mean, really? (But I laughed.) In fact I laughed a lot, come to think of it—sometimes at the melodramatic intensity of the stares of an aging, heavily made-up Legolas, and sometimes it was because the material was just really dang funny. There's a lot to like about the movie.

Word to the wise, however: if you suffer from vertigo, or if you're terrified of heights, I'd consider maybe a smaller screen. The woman behind me got pretty sick from all the dangling over ledges and the spinning cameras. I loved it and thought it added a lot to the film, but probably only because it doesn't make me so dizzy I barf.
posted by heyho at 1:51 PM on December 15, 2013


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