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Old 12-30-2012, 07:28 AM   #121
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Originally Posted by davem
And yet, and yet.... what about the niggling little feeling that when you watch Dain on screen the actor is thinking "I can't believe they're paying me to do this rubbish! Right, now am I a ****** Gink or a ****** Gonk?
I think it should be as nothing to the niggling suspicion that you've taken the bait exactly as he intended.
Ha, ha, they should have got him to play one of the trolls.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:20 AM   #122
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I think it should be as nothing to the niggling suspicion that you've taken the bait exactly as he intended.
Ha, ha, they should have got him to play one of the trolls.
I'm not sure-it's similar to a lot of other things I've heard him say in the past. And why assume it's trolling on his part-many non fans feel exactly that way about Tolkien?
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:24 AM   #123
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I'm not sure-it's similar to a lot of other things I've heard him say in the past. And why assume it's trolling on his part-many non fans feel exactly that way about Tolkien?
Huh? I didn't mean it wasn't his actual opinion of Tolkien, and fans thereof.
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Old 12-30-2012, 03:30 PM   #124
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I've not read all the comments yet and I'll compile my own thoughts soon enough, but did anyone notice the bearded dwarf women fleeing Erebor at the start
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:02 PM   #125
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They looked unbearded to me, but there was only a quick look at them and it took me a second to realize they were supposed to be dwarf women.
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:19 PM   #126
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They looked unbearded to me, but there was only a quick look at them and it took me a second to realize they were supposed to be dwarf women.
Lommy claims they had sideburns (which, I think, would be a very nice compromise). I didn't see them properly either, but we're going to see the film again some time this week and I'll do my best to pay special attention to them.
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Old 12-30-2012, 06:15 PM   #127
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There does - or am I imagining it? - seem to be a much greater level of agreement about this film than there was about the LotR films.
I saw it today - in full 3D HFR IMAX glory. I squealed when Gandalf threw the fiery pine cone. Overall I liked it, more than I expected to given my reservations about PJ turning it into a trilogy. I liked the things most of you liked, and disliked the things most of you disliked. (Too damn long, suffering from King Kong-itis)

What I would like to gripe about however is - given how much back story they stuck in, could they not have remained more true to the real back story? The Quest for Erebor was always one of my favourite things in Tolkien. This part I could quote almost verbatim:
" Weeping, Nßr fled down the Silverlode; but he looked back once and saw that Orcs had come from the gate and were hacking up the body and flinging the pieces to the black crows.
Such was the tale that Nßr brought back to Thrßin; and when he had wept and torn his beard he fell silent. Seven days he sat and said no word. Then he stood up and said: ôThis cannot be borne!ö That was the beginning of the War of the Dwarves and the Orcs, which was long and deadly, and fought for the most part in deep places beneath the earth."

It would really have been quite something to have seen all that translated onto the screen - culminating in the head of Azog, on a stake, the purse of money stuffed into its mouth. So much more haunting than the psycho albino stalker we got instead.

Ok, so they didn't do Azog properly. What I would like to see at some point in the trilogy, backstory-wise -
*Gandalf's discovery of the broken, half-witted Thrßin in the dungeons of Dol Guldur.
*Any reference to the Ring - meaning the last of the Seven.
*And that wonderful line of Gandalf's: "A chance meeting, as we say in Middle Earth."
I wonder if we will get any of it?
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Old 12-30-2012, 06:35 PM   #128
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Originally Posted by davem
Which got me wondering whether Billy is the odd one out, as all the other actors/production team have been praising Tolkien, the fans & the books to the skies, but surely, for most of them its first & foremost a job & they may not have any time at all for the book/fans.

And actually, should we care whether they like the book or not, or whether they think the fans are a bunch of sad geeks who can't get a girlfriend/boyfriend? Not everyone is going to like Tolkien, & isn't the most important thing that they play their part well & give the audience a good time? And yet, and yet.... what about the niggling little feeling that when you watch Dain on screen the actor is thinking "I can't believe they're paying me to do this rubbish! Right, now am I a ****** Gink or a ****** Gonk?"
I think Cumberbatch also doesn't particularly like Tolkien, it's just a 'job' to him. But I'm not objecting to him being involved. Personally speaking Connolly does my head in, his comedy seems to consist of a good joke surrounded by hours of shouting, but he should in theory make a good Dwarf. He's good at acting, I'll give him that. Nerwen is right that he probably wants to stir people up a bit, that's the kind of person he is. But the irony is that he's quite close to turning into one of those 1970s gonks anyway...
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:26 PM   #129
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Lommy claims they had sideburns (which, I think, would be a very nice compromise). I didn't see them properly either, but we're going to see the film again some time this week and I'll do my best to pay special attention to them.
Thanks. This is obviously an issue that requires prompt resolution!!!

I will say that bearded dwarven women are one of my least favorite parts of Middle earth.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:29 PM   #130
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So I finally saw it a few days ago. I went in with very low expectations indeed, and they were basically met. Maybe my judgement was affected by my being a bit under the weather at the time, but I'm afraid I found it rather a bloated, mis-shapen thing. Part of that, I'll readily admit, is me being a purist about the book (all right, so hang me). But part of it is, just as surely, dissatisfaction with it as a film, on its own terms. And where those intersect, there's the strong suspicion that many of the defects it has as a film could have been remedied by following the book more closely.

There were some things I liked, to be sure. A few that come to mind:

- Hobbiton and particularly Bag End were, of course, lovely; the latter possibly even more so than in FotR.

- Much of the prologue was good. I very much liked what we saw of Dale. Smaug's attack was quite well done, even if the coyness of not letting us get a good look at him was a bit obvious. Thror was good.

- On the whole, the Riddles in the Dark scene was done well. I could have done with Gollum a shade more menacing, but that's getting picky.

- Goblin town was utterly different from the way it comes across in the book, but I must say it was visually very appealing.

- The music was good. Others have complained that it recycled too much from LotR, but to me the amount of recycling didn't seem that different from other franchise films scored by the same composer.

- The 3D was not overdone. I have mixed feelings about 3D in general; I think it works for some films but not for others. It worked here, perhaps in part because it was (quite surprisingly, from Peter Jackson!) not done too blatantly. At times I almost felt like I was watching a 2D movie; at other times, it added a certain definition to the settings. It wasn't an immersive experience in the way that, say, Avatar, was, which I think was the right choice for this movie.

- I quite dug the Dwarves' singing.

So, you see, I'm not entirely a curmudgeonly, critical, grouch. Trying to bear that in mind, a few items from my long litany of complaints:

- It was too long. I'm not opposed to long movies in principle, but as I see it a film that's in the 150+ minute range needs to justify its length. The Lord of the Rings movies, whatever other criticisms of them I might have, did that. They were long, but only because that's how long it took to tell the story. AUJ could have been an hour shorter and told exactly the same story, if the action set pieces hadn't been allowed to run amok, and if things had been better paced. Cut out the unnecessary Dol Guldur/White Council stuff, and you're probably down to 90 minutes or so. All of which is simply to say what was already obvious: The Hobbit can't sustain three movies. It should have been one, maybe (maybe!) two.

- It was loaded with unnecessary action and false drama. The first point is really a corollary of this, for this is largely the reason that it was so long. Jackson never misses a chance to turn a minor incident into a major one (e.g. the stone giants), or a subtle point into a blatant one (e.g. Gandalf's little sermon to Bilbo when he hands him Sting). And when did it become mandatory to have a huge, spectacular, action set piece every fifteen minutes?

- Many of the Dwarves, of course, didn't look like Dwarves. They didn't act like Dwarves either, much of the time. At least, not like the Dwarves of The Hobbit, who were quite polite when they came to Bag End, and certainly didn't go raiding Bilbo's pantry and taking his food without permission. As far as their looks are concerned, it's regrettable that the prettification of, chiefly, Thorin, Fili, and Kili is the sort of thing that film-makers think (rightly or wrongly) is necessary. But it also results in a film-world that is very mixed up in its portrayal of Dwarves. Here, they (at least, many of them) look like Men, or perhaps Hobbits, particularly when you've got a company of thirteen of them and the forced perspective tricks lose much of their power. The look of the Dwarves was something I thought Jackson had gotten right in LotR, which makes it especially disappointing here.

- Thorin's character, quite apart from his appearance, deserves its own heading. Essentially, in my view, movie-Thorin and book-Thorin have nothing whatsoever in common, beyond superficialities. Book-Thorin was a proud, stubborn, often self-important and pompous, yet noble king, mostly virtuous (though also capable of great greed), and inclined to a certain stiffness and long-windedness that sometimes rendered him a bit silly. He was an interesting, well-drawn character. Movie-Thorin is a Hollywood trope; he has no personality of his own.

- I have mixed feelings about Martin Freeman's Bilbo. I like Freeman; I think he's a very good actor and is wonderful in Sherlock. But I can't help feeling he was a bit miscast here. His flat, perpetually put-upon affect works well when Bilbo's in difficult situations (e.g. the riddles), but it also gives one an impression of, I don't know, joylessness, for lack of a better word. For one thing, this starts things out on the wrong foot with the story proper. In the opening scene of the book, Bilbo is happy. It's a beautiful morning to just sit outside after breakfast with a pipe and blow smoke rings until you get hungry again. It's not until Gandalf mentions an 'adventure' that he becomes a bit perturbed. Freeman, on the other hand, seemed quite perturbed from the very beginning, and only got more and more so as the story went on. I sensed very little of the love of life, so to speak, that Bilbo seems to have in the book.

- Radagast. I admit, I'm probably even less objective than usual here, as, for reasons I don't entirely fathom, I've always been peculiarly fond of and intrigued by the Brown Wizard (hence the screen-name). So it probably goes without saying that I did not enjoy his portrayal in the film. With one exception: I did actually rather like the rabbit-sled.

- Others have said this, but: why have Azog still alive? Why not have him killed as in the books, have the story of Azanulbizar told as it is in the film, and use it to set up Bolg's enmity for part 3? Then you have a tighter part 1 (not that that's something Jackson apparently cares about), the set-up to reveal a great new villain in part 3, and a nice symmetry of vengeance-seeking between Azog-Bolg and Thror-Thorin. The quintessential example where staying closer to the book would have made for a better movie too.

- Maybe I missed something, but if no one knew until now that there was some guy calling himself the Necromancer in Dol Guldur, then where and when did Gandalf get Thrain's key and map? And, more importantly, why didn't Thorin ask him how he'd gotten them?

- Gollum with Dissociative Identity Disorder is a valid, reasonable interpretation of him in LotR. But not in The Hobbit. Again, it seems to me that this is detrimental to the movie on its own terms as well, since Gollum's split personality is quite extraneous to the story.

- Okay, so this is both a very minor complaint and a very old one, but I continue to hate the design of Elvish blades in the films - all sinuous and curved and pretty. Glamdring, for some reason, doesn't look like that, and it's great. But, alas, Orcrist does. Which bothers me further since it fails to make sense that they would look so different.

- Another really minor one: In the film, there's nothing to suggest that Gandalf doesn't intend, at least initially, to go the whole way with them. Which would seem to make them a company of fourteen already and obviate the need for Bilbo as the lucky number.

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Old 12-31-2012, 02:30 PM   #131
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I saw it in 3D IMAX this weekend, and it is my favorite of the 3 different ways I watched it. My least favorite was 3D 24fps, it was too blurry around the edges. 3D 48fps was nice and clear, but the huge IMAX experience was just better (IMHO).
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Old 01-01-2013, 06:20 PM   #132
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Thanks. This is obviously an issue that requires prompt resolution!!!

I will say that bearded dwarven women are one of my least favorite parts of Middle earth.
We saw it again tonight and yes - the dwarven women do have sideburns, and it looks really cool! They could have botched it but I'm happy they didn't.

Overall I liked the film better on the second time. When you know what to expect, it's easier to ignore the parts you don't like and pay closer attention to the details. I still think the beginning is immensely better than the action parts and the end though, and even though I'm still not too bothered by the lack of beards, Thorin's short facial hair disturbed me more this time. The younger dwarves not so much because, well, they're young - but they would be better with longer beards too.

Also, we spotted Peter Jackson! I'll let Hookbill tell more about it though because it was him who saw him.
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Old 01-01-2013, 07:02 PM   #133
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I want to intervene by arguing always having Dwarves with medium sized beards is too old or overused, in my view. Having younger & variety portrayals helps ensure realism.

Beards are a fashion, obviously not all Dwarves will cooperate with it.
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Old 01-02-2013, 10:07 PM   #134
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We saw it again tonight and yes - the dwarven women do have sideburns, and it looks really cool!
The mystery is resolved.
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:33 AM   #135
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Dwarves also age very slowly in the physical sense. So even after they reach adulthood, for human standard appearance, it's logical many will look like teenagers for us long after they pass 30. It's after they reach 250 they 'rapidly' age;

Quote:
Dwarves on average live to be 250 years of age. A 30 year old Dwarf is very much considered a young stripling, having not yet reached full adulthood. Thus it was considered very remarkable when the young Dain Ironfoot slew Azog the Orc chieftain of Moria, at only 32 years old. Once a Dwarf has reached maturity, he will stop aging almost entirely, remaining in prime physical condition, or perhaps middle-aged at the most, for over two centuries. However, when Dwarves reach 240 years old, they will begin to age very rapidly and their physical condition drastically worsen, essentially condensing the aging process that Men experience from 40 to 80 years of age into only ten years.
http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Dwarves#Nature
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Old 01-04-2013, 12:14 PM   #136
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But even Fili and Kili, who are the youngest, are around 80 at the time of the quest and should therefore be fully grown. Also I seem to remember a passage in The People's of Middle-earth that claims dwarves are born bearded (even though it's arguable you can't use it as a canonical source). Anyway thanks for posting the quote, Rhod - being reminded of Azog's death makes me happy.
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:09 PM   #137
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Not meaning to be rude, but the resurrection of Azog by Sauron is no doubt intended as a plot device to imply a spookiness about a Necromancer in the background bringing people back to life, which I found was good for a film. The "He's dead! I saw him die." Like in the Doctor Who episode of the Android Invasion, if film makers are careful it has a nice spooky effect on the mind about a hidden danger growing that may be a great danger to the characters in the future, PJ got it perfect, at least for me.

Better than the overused theme of 'I am your father', etc. The 'back from the dead danger' is mostly badly used, like with Zombie movies. If it has a mystery about it and only used for one or two characters, like in Hobbit P1, ooooooooo, it feels good as a movie goer as a plot device.
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:35 PM   #138
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Not meaning to be rude, but the resurrection of Azog by Sauron is no doubt intended as a plot device to imply a spookiness about a Necromancer in the background bringing people back to life, which I found was good for a film. The "He's dead! I saw him die." Like in the Doctor Who episode of the Android Invasion, if film makers are careful it has a nice spooky effect on the mind about a hidden danger growing that may be a great danger to the characters in the future, PJ got it perfect, at least for me.

Better than the overused theme of 'I am your father', etc. The 'back from the dead danger' is mostly badly used, like with Zombie movies. If it has a mystery about it and only used for one or two characters, like in Hobbit P1, ooooooooo, it feels good as a movie goer as a plot device.
But Thorin did not see Azog die in the film (another annoying thing about Jackson's movie). In fact, if I recall correctly, in the film Azog never left his feet after combat with Thorin. Azog's arm was severed below the wrist and he was carried off bellowing by other Orcs into Moria. He was not laying comatose on the field; therefore, Thorin claiming later "He's dead! I saw him die!" is patently absurd even with PJ's illogical scripting.

Losing a hand in battle is not necessarily a death blow. The greatest concern is infection later. But plenty of soldiers have survived the loss of an arm or a leg, so was movie-Thorin plain dumb or was he wishfully thinking?
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:51 PM   #139
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but the resurrection of Azog by Sauron
When was it implied that Sauron resurrected him?
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:54 PM   #140
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While Orcs have medicine, material insight doesn't seem to indicate it's much beyond energy boosters. It's up to the watcher to decide if it's reasonable to assume that a major injury to Orcs with cultural deprivation of serious medicine die afterwards. It didn't click as incoherent in my mind when I saw it, but that's just me, lol.
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Old 01-04-2013, 05:11 PM   #141
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While Orcs have medicine, material insight doesn't seem to indicate it's much beyond energy boosters. It's up to the watcher to decide if it's reasonable to assume that a major injury to Orcs with cultural deprivation of serious medicine die afterwards. It didn't click as incoherent in my mind when I saw it, but that's just me, lol.
Cultural deprivation? A warlike race like the orcs might not have delicate surgical procedures, but they would know enough to cauterize a wound. Even the most barbarous tribes had the wherewithal to staunch the most serious wounds. Thousands of years afterward, surgery in the American Civil War was basically a saw and perhaps some alcohol. If it was a clean wound and didn't get infected, you survived. Thousands did survive after amputations.

And if I recall correctly, the Uruk-hai had a salve they slathered on Merry's head that proved quite effective in healing his wound.
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Old 01-04-2013, 05:54 PM   #142
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Old 01-04-2013, 05:58 PM   #143
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Peter Jackson noted the Orkish cordial and salve in The Two Towers.

Therefore, even in the LotR trilogy PJ adheres to the abilities of Orkish medicine, but then has Thorin make a claim that is absurd, given the turn of events in the film itself. Thorin did not and could not see Azog die. So, if there is going to be some questionable plotpoint about a necromantic resurrection, has PJ once again shot himself in the foot with bad editing?
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Old 01-04-2013, 06:16 PM   #144
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Therefore, even in the LotR trilogy PJ adheres to the abilities of Orkish medicine, but then has Thorin make a claim that is absurd, given the turn of events in the film itself. Thorin did not and could not see Azog die. So, if there is going to be some questionable plotpoint about a necromantic resurrection, has PJ once again shot himself in the foot with bad editing?
I'm not sure there is one. From Googling "Azog + resurrection", it looks like it's just fan-speculation, and may have begun as a purely figurative use of the word ("I hear they're going to resurrect Azog for this film" etc.).

Here's hoping, anyway.
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Old 01-04-2013, 06:19 PM   #145
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Probably, yes. Unless a scene will be given showing the Necromancer reviving him after he dies in a cave or intervening to prevent death or something like that.

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When was it implied that Sauron resurrected him?
The juxtaposition of the rise of a Necromancer & the re-emergence of an Orc leader Thorin assumes he killed in battle. That implies Souron revived the Orc at some point, to help create trouble in the Wilderland, etc. Hopefully PJ ensures more coherency on this issue in Hobbit P2, etc.

The same with the reference in the White Council meeting that the Witch King was *killed* & buried, despite the inclusion of Glorfindel's prophesy of him not killable 'by any living Man' in the Return of the King film
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Old 01-04-2013, 07:08 PM   #146
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But even Fili and Kili, who are the youngest, are around 80 at the time of the quest and should therefore be fully grown. Also I seem to remember a passage in The People's of Middle-earth that claims dwarves are born bearded (even though it's arguable you can't use it as a canonical source). Anyway thanks for posting the quote, Rhod - being reminded of Azog's death makes me happy.
The horror. Imagine having to give birth to, clean up and feed a baby with a bristly face...
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Old 01-04-2013, 07:22 PM   #147
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Not meaning to be rude, but the resurrection of Azog by Sauron is no doubt intended as a plot device to imply a spookiness about a Necromancer
Don't worry - I don't consider opposing arguments rude. Anyway I don't think either that Azog has been resurrected, it seems more likely that he just survived getting his hand chopped off and the insertion of the fork.

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But plenty of soldiers have survived the loss of an arm or a leg, so was movie-Thorin plain dumb or was he wishfully thinking?
Ah but if he believes something hard enough, it will come true! Arrogant bastard, and that's the way we love him.

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The same with the reference in the White Council meeting that the With King was *killed* & buried, despite the inclusion of Glorfindel's prophesy of him not killable 'by any living Man' in the Return of the King film
Grr! I didn't even notice the fallacy in the film! There's nothing special whatsoever about ╔owyn killing him now if he's been killed before. Grumble.

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The horror. Imagine having to give birth to, clean up and feed a baby with a bristly face...
Aww but maybe it's soft and fluffy baby beard! Like hair.
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Old 01-04-2013, 07:44 PM   #148
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Better than the overused theme of 'I am your father', etc. The 'back from the dead danger' is mostly badly used, like with Zombie movies. If it has a mystery about it and only used for one or two characters, like in Hobbit P1, ooooooooo, it feels good as a movie goer as a plot device.
Aw, c'mon. Not overused? Whenever I see an obviously significant character supposedly killed in the opening sequence, followed up by other characters making confident assertions about what a severe case of death this person is suffering from– I do this:
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Old 01-04-2013, 08:40 PM   #149
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Aw, c'mon. Not overused? Whenever I see an obviously significant character supposedly killed in the opening sequence, followed up by other characters making confident assertions about what a severe of death this person is suffering fromľ I do this:

Indeed I tend to think well I wonder When I'll see them again
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Old 01-05-2013, 05:23 AM   #150
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Hang on....Azog was killed? Really? I got the impression right away that he wasn't dead and Thorin was mistaken. Why would chopping a hand or limb off kill you, presuming the blood loss was staunched? We've all heard colourful tales about farmers and hunters who have crawled for miles to safety after losing a limb, so a hand isn't that much of a big deal.
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:18 PM   #151
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We get that impression because we expect such medical absurdities from movies. Losing a limb like that needs instant cauterisation and restoration of the amount of blood volume he is clearly shown losing in the scene. Neither occurs. Thorin is perfectly correct to assert with confidence that Azog is dead, he would be in real life without modern medicine.

Now I'm not sure about any necromancing, but Rhod is entirely correct in noting that the scene discussing the necromancer feeds directly into our reveal of an alive Azog. It's pretty strong evidence actually, since that how PJ edits.
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Old 01-05-2013, 04:50 PM   #152
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We get that impression because we expect such medical absurdities from movies. Losing a limb like that needs instant cauterisation and restoration of the amount of blood volume he is clearly shown losing in the scene. Neither occurs. Thorin is perfectly correct to assert with confidence that Azog is dead, he would be in real life without modern medicine.

Now I'm not sure about any necromancing, but Rhod is entirely correct in noting that the scene discussing the necromancer feeds directly into our reveal of an alive Azog. It's pretty strong evidence actually, since that how PJ edits.
Plenty of medieval soldiers suffered terrible injuries on the battlefield and lived - and medical care certainly wouldn't have been easy to find at say Towton or Tewkesbury. This Azog character is also presumably made of sterner stuff than a man. However, I can see that Thorin might think he had met his end, as Orcs and Goblins can't have had a reputation of caring for their sick and injured (and yet Azog clearly was in command of lesser goblins who were eager to help him, even at risk of their own lives, as seen by his treatment of his war band in the scene where he confronts Thorin in the trees). He probably rightly assumed he had crawled into a hole and died. But I didn't assume that.
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Old 01-05-2013, 05:55 PM   #153
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Or maybe it's purely psychological. Thorin wanted him dead so badly that he hoped and convinced himself that Azog gave him the Ring for his birthday... erm, I mean, that he died of his wounds.
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:49 PM   #154
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Or maybe it's purely psychological. Thorin wanted him dead so badly that he hoped and convinced himself that Azog gave him the Ring for his birthday... erm, I mean, that he died of his wounds.
Now, I know you're having a joke but.....it's possible that it was done to show how stubborn Dwarves can be?

...No, probably not. I'm very much down on the Azog thing, so it was probably just clumsily done
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:54 PM   #155
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Now, I know you're having a joke but.....it's possible that it was done to show how stubborn Dwarves can be?

...No, probably not. I'm very much down on the Azog thing, so it was probably just clumsily done
What I have heard is that the entire Azog subplot is a very late addition, even that it wasn't thought of until after filming had begun- which might explain why it doesn't seem to make much sense.

As for the "zombie" business- that, as I said, appears to be just a fan theory. I certainly hope so, as it would be one of the stupidest things I've ever heard of.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:39 PM   #156
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What I have heard is that the entire Azog subplot is a very late addition, even that it wasn't thought of until after filming had begun- which might explain why it doesn't seem to make much sense.
I've read this as well. What continues to baffle me is why Bolg could not have served this purpose. He would certainly have more motivation - avenging the death of his father; although would that make an Orc too sympathetic? The film tells us that Azog "swore to wipe out Durin's line" but never tells us why. I can only see it making much sense if it is somehow resolved as having its origins in Sauron's efforts to recover the last of the Seven, although I can't imagine that being handled especially elegantly. Indeed some of the invented/altered action scenes (Azog's hunters in Eriador, Azog rather than the Orcs of the High Pass in Out of the Frying-Pan Into the Fire) seem suggestive rather of the misfortunes which afflicted Thrßin in his efforts to reclaim Erebor one hundred years earlier: "as soon as he was abroad with few companions he was hunted by the emissaries of Sauron. Wolves pursued him, Orc waylaid him, evil birds shadowed his path" etc, i.e. a series of directed attacks rather than the generally unrelated accidents which befell Thorin and Company for the majority of their journey.
I don't know, the whole Thorin plot in the films leaves me feeling rather depressed to be honest. I can't help but shake that feeling that the film would be so much more refreshing if we'd received the amusingly pompous and long-winded but ultimately good-if-you-don't-expect-too-much Thorin of the novel over the Hollywood stereotype we ended up getting and largely eliminated this Azog business which was one of the contributing factors to my impression of the film being rather overstuffed.
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Old 01-05-2013, 10:14 PM   #157
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Now, I know you're having a joke but.....it's possible that it was done to show how stubborn Dwarves can be?

...No, probably not. I'm very much down on the Azog thing, so it was probably just clumsily done
I did turn it into a joke, I just couldn't resist... but I was serious. Or at least partially so.

I suppose it does come down to being clumsily done, and if anyone wants they can pick any version of why it is so just to, you know, watch the movie without ruffling their own feathers... I prefer the psychological one.
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:27 AM   #158
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What I have heard is that the entire Azog subplot is a very late addition, even that it wasn't thought of until after filming had begun- which might explain why it doesn't seem to make much sense.
I suspect as much - it has hints of the nonsense over the Elves turning up at Helm's Deep. And I suspect they hadn't even got a name for 'Azog' until late in the day as the Lego set "Attack of the Wargs" has him with the name of 'Yazneg'.
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:59 AM   #159
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Been to see it again and my first impression was just how packed the cinema was for 11.30am on a Monday morning! We were lucky to find a decent seat - lots of small boys came in and sat near us and were engrossed in it all, gasping at Gollum.

It was even more enjoyable the second time around. One reason is we saw it in plain old 2d. It really doesn't actually need any tricksy stuff like IMAX, 3D and 48fps. I'd only bother with those things if they are to your particular taste. And the other reason is of course all the tension of "What will he have done with this?!" is taken away and you can just absorb everything. I picked up on so much more of the detail this time, and that's one of the things I do particularly enjoy in Jackson's adaps - I think with even more repeated viewings I'll find yet more to see.

One plot point that did come through stronger to me this time was how Thorin wants to keep his mission secret because he suspects others will also be keen to raid Erebor and the treasure there is his. There was also a very distinct impression that now there are signs Smaug has 'gone' (Oh how wrong they will be) not all the Dwarves are willing to show brotherhood - Dain refusing to help was mentioned, and Thorin underlines throughout how his group is loyal. I sense traitorous Dwarves on the horizon. That also helps understand why Thorin is so intolerant of the unwilling Bilbo (he is not as loyal/keen as his Dwarves) and unwilling to seek the help of Elrond or the Elves in general.

I also got more of an impression that the reason Saruman and Elrond don't give a backing to Thorin's mission is that they do not want to break an uneasy peace. Putting this with the message throughout the film that these Dwarves actually do not have a home, and their situation comes across as quite tragic.
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Old 01-07-2013, 03:59 PM   #160
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Dwarf Trek: The Wrath of Azog

So I finally saw this the other day. Having completely missed out on the latest trailers, rumours and speculations (due to criminally neglecting the Downs for the last half year or so) I like to believe I entered the cinema as unprejudiced and open-minded as I could possibly be. Some small part of me may even still have hoped to see an adaptation of Tolkien's book rather than LotR Episode I: The Dragon Menace, and that part wasn't wholly disappointed, although it largely was.

In roughly chronological order:

The opening scenes with Bilbo and Frodo linking the story to Bilbo's farewell party weren't really necessary but nice to watch; the sight of a careless young Frodo still unscathed by the martyrium waiting for him was - well, not exactly poignant, but a wee bit touching, I'll admit that. From the creators' view though, it was probably meant to tell reluctant viewers who had been dragged into the cinema by their significant others, "See, this is the prequel to that other movie about a ring and the dude who would be king." I guess somebody might have missed that otherwise.

It was also nice to see Dale, although I almost didn't recognize it because the buildings looked strangely reminiscent of renaissance Italy to me, I'd expected something more northern. The transition from the toy dragon to the attack of the real monster, and the attack itself, was well done - which is probably not surprising; PJ as I understand him is at heart a monster movie maker, and I expect that talent of his to shine once we get to see Smaug (the Mirkwood spiders too).

What I reeeally liked was the panoramic scene where the wandering tribes of the Dwarves set out from the ruins of Erebor, setting up the theme of Dwarven homelessness; that had an almost biblical touch to it in light of Tolkien's statements comparing the Dwarves to the Jewish people in terms of living in diaspora among other peoples, preserving a secret tongue etc. That homelessness theme was brought across well in the movie, indeed harped on a bit too much for my taste.

Now, Azanulbizar. I've always loved that story, so obviously I'm not complaining to see it included; I'd have loved even more to see it in full - "This cannot be borne", Dßin leaping up the steps after Azog with his axe, Azog's head on the stake, "Beyond the shadow it waits for you still: D˙rin's Bane" - , but I get that it would have taken too long for a flashback setting the scene for the main story, so I'm OK with cutting it. What I'm not OK with is Dßin not slaying Azog - which, together with what we hear about Dßin refusing to support Thˇrin's enterprise, doesn't bode well for his portrayal in parts II and III- , and I'm even less OK with Azog not being slain at all but made into the film's main villain. More of that later.

Bilbo - oh, wait, no: Thranduil, I almost forgot Thranduil. Thranduil on an elk - not exactly canonic IIRC, but cool. Not so cool that they made him a jerk - at least I think that's how he must look like to viewers who aren't aware of the whole Elven-Dwarven backstory, and even so. Meh.

Bilbo was great, hands down. Martin Freeman is perfect for the part, and while some of the script he was given wasn't exactly flawless I found his performance very enjoyable to watch.

The whole opening scenes in Bag End suffer from a deplorable lack of manners, both on Bilbo's side towards Gandalf and on the Dwarves' side towards Bilbo, but honestly, it was such a sentimental pleasure to see them at last that I was ready to overlook that. The Dwarves' song is gorgeous, and making it one of the main musical themes was a very good decision by Mr Shore.

The Dwarves - meh, a mixed pack. Balin was great, and the developping friendship between him and Bilbo was portrayed well, I think (it should have been him who caught Bilbo trying to sneak away!). Fili & Kili were OK too except for being beardless - in one or two scenes where Thˇrin reprimanded them they reminded me of Merry and Pippin, but there was also that sense of a strong bond between them and Thˇrin. As for the others, I had a hard time remembering which was supposed to be which (except for Bomburix who was sort of obvious; and the lumberjack, was that Bofur or who?), and the silly hairdos didn't help.

Thˇrin's main fault was that he wasn't Thˇrin. That brooding, darkly handsome hero would never have written the casuistic contract Bilbo signed (although I could imagine Balin doing that for him). Also, when he told Bilbo "you don't belong to us" it seemed as if he was trying to spare Bilbo instead of dratting and confounding the goodfornothing burglar, as the real Thˇrin would have done. You know who he really is? T˙rin! T˙rin Turambar! Maybe the scriptwriters got confused, the names being so similar and all?

The three trolls - great scene, all in all (and in the German version we even got the equivalent to burrahobbit, so there!). The end was a bit half-assed, like they wanted to show Bilbo showing brains and doing his part but were reluctant to lose the Gandalf ex machina moment, which is actually understandable as lots of people would have complained otherwise, so nevermind.

Radagast - reminded me a lot of Catweazle, which isn't at all bad. I see he has his own thread, so I'll give my full opinion on him there. As for the Rhosgobel rabbits, they would have fitted in very well if PJ & Co. had filmed the children's fairy tale Tolkien actually wrote, not so well in the action adventure they did make.

I suppose this is the point where I must deal with the Rutger Hauer orc, otherwise known as Azog, and that silly vendetta between him and Thˇrin Turambar, or vice versa. If he had to survive at all, why not save him for the Battle of Five Armies? Well, yeah, people might forget who he was, or not have seen the first movie at all and wonder where he comes from; and I suppose they needed a main villain for the first movie, with the Sauromancer probably playing the part in the second and Smaug in the third, but you know what? I don't care. That whole nemesis/vendetta thing is sooo old (see post title), especially when it happens for no other reason than because the scriptwriters decree it so. I mean, what does Azog have to seek revenge from Thˇrin for? Yeah, the loss of a hand. How original.

So let's move on to more pleasant matters. The White Council was very nice to see, and I loved the osanwe between Gandalf and Galadriel, you could see the special understanding between them - after all, she originally wanted him to head the Council, didn't she? On the other hand, they made it seem as if he was somehow beholden or subordinate to her, which is stupid, although consistent with PJ's general diminishment of Gandalf's stature; but as the latter has been and apparently still is discussed at great length elsewhere on these Downs I'll say no more of it here. While I'm talking of Galadriel though, I adore Cate Blanchett (especially her smile*swoon*) but I could have done with less angelic poses that made her scenes look like commercials for cosmetics or haute couture.

The mountains. I admit I squee'd at the first hint of stone giants, but what followed was plain ridiculous. Please, please, pleeease Mr Jackson, couldn't you spare us further scenes like that and remake Godzilla instead? (Or has he already? Well, remake Son of Godzilla then.)

Bilbo trying to sneak away - that was the "Go home, Sam" of this film, and let's leave it at that.

I'd have loved to hear "Down, down to goblin town" and being spared the silly laundry chute. I liked the Great Goblin though, if only because he veeery vaguely reminded me of the illustration of him in my German edition of TH. Bonus for recognizing Beater and Biter.

The escape from goblin town was where the film lost me. Those scenes felt like Matrix Reloaded Reloaded, and I didn't like that kind of CGI materialschlacht back then; not to mention that all those wholly unbelievable falls and swerving camera dives were nauseating to watch in 3D.

The Riddles in the Dark Scenes, on the other hand, were done well, except that Gollum was too cute and they overdid that split personality thing, both mistakes repeated from LotR; but you could sense how meeting Bilbo made SmÚagol remember his long-forgotten life in the sunlight and the games of his youth from centuries ago, the rapport between two hobbits, although they couldn't be more different. Nice acting by Freeman and Serkis.

The burning pines in the night were visually glorious - pure visuals are something which PJ mostly gets right. Don't know why the Gandalf-butterfly-thing from LotR had to be rehashed - I mean, couldn't we have Landroval receive a croaked report in subtitled Eaglish from Gwaihir and decide to look into the matter? After all, we got enough subtitled fake Orcish, so... ? Well, maybe not, but still: a butterfly? Lazy.

I don't really have to write down what I think of turning that scene into a showdown between Azog and Thˇrin and Bilbo saving Thˇrin's life, do I? If you turn Bilbo into a heroic fighter and have Thˇrin apologize and wax all warmhearted towards him (which made me yell at the screen, "You're supposed to do that on your deathbed, you idiot!"), what development do you have left for the next two films? Couldn't Fili and Kili have done that instead of Bilbo? And couldn't they have killed Azog dead for good so we can have Bolg in part III?

(Yesyesyes, I do get that Bilbo had to level up and be accepted by the Dwarves to round the film off dramaturgically or some such. I'd have preferred them to achieve that by making two movies instead of three, with the break after Barrels out of Bond - I mean, is it a law of nature that movies about hobbits and rings have to come in trilogies? But I also get that three movies make more money than two.)

I'm not saying it wasn't entertaining (apart from the parts that were simply nauseating, see above); there were parts I enjoyed a lot, and parts I might have enjoyed if I hadn't known it was supposed to be The Hobbit. I don't regret the money, but I don't think I'll pay to see it a second time, not even to dissect it better. I'll probably watch the other two parts out of curiosity, although, remembering Jackson's LotR, I have a bad feeling it's going to get worse from here.
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