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The Hobbit 2: The Hobbit Goes To Some Places Where Sometimes More Shit Happens

tn_hobbit2Well, I guess waiting a month to see DESOLATION OF SMAUG shows you how excited I was for it. To be honest I still didn’t have any urgency but figured that since I did intend to see it eventually I wanted to see it while 3D was still available. It seems to me like the movie ended its brief flirtation with the public consciousness at least 2 weeks ago, but I heard a group of grey-haired gentleman in the theater questioning why it was mostly empty and there were no “young people wearing costumes.”

I learned my lesson from part 1 and skipped the High Frame Rate version playing at the Cinerama, usually my preferred theater. On Imax 3D there was some ghosting but it looked like an actual professional movie, an immediate advantage over my experience with part 1. For that reason it’s hard to really compare fairly, but I think I enjoyed this a little more than the first one, despite having the same flaws.

There’s no getting around that I think this whole endeavor is misguided. Paddingmp_hobbit2 out a short, simple children’s story with volumes of supplementary material to stretch it into a 9+ hour epic trilogy is a straight up bad idea that only a crazy person would do. The crazy person in question is Peter Jackson, director and actor who plays “Guy Eating Carrot” in the first shot of the movie. I don’t mean to get too down on him, because I’ve enjoyed almost all of his movies over the years and I think it’s useful to have obsessive guys like him, George Lucas and James Cameron always trying to go huge and to push technology forward. But it’s becoming more evident that Jackson’s not as good of a storyteller as either of those guys. What if just as an artistic challenge he tried to do a short, tight movie that includes all the necessary information and will not be part of a series or have an extended edition? I can’t really picture there ever being a disciplined Peter Jackson again. Or maybe there never was one. But at one time there may have been a Peter Jackson who was vaguely aware of the concept of “restraint,” and that is the Peter Jackson I would love to see making movies.

Think of the DVD extras, Peter. How are you gonna have deleted scenes if you don’t delete any damn scenes? Do it for the special edition.

So like the first chapter of THE HOBBIT this middle chunk is pieces of a funner-than-usual fantasy movie peppering a long slog to nowhere. The most obvious thing that should be cut the fuck out is the entire subplot about Gandalf. He splits up from The Hobbit to go on a journey to find out that he senses that there is some kind of war that is coming and… gee, I wonder how that will turn out. It’s like if the Star Wars prequels spent 20 minutes just on telling us that there was gonna be a Death Star in the later movies.

But accepting that that’s what this movie is, there are some fun parts. Martin Freeman returns as Bilbo “The Burglar” Baggins, owner of the magic crack ring that makes him invisible, going on a trip with a gang of dwarves trying to reclaim their homeland or a jewel or something from some prick dragon that lives under a mountain. Despite the title it’s not always clear if The Hobbit is supposed to be the main character, but at least I felt like I knew him better than most of his dwarf posse. Was there always a dwarf that looked like John Travolta? I don’t mean the one that looks like John Travolta in BATTLEFIELD EARTH, I mean the other one.

I don’t know that much about dwarves. I know they’re good at mining. I kept expecting them to whistle while they worked. Is that racist? Or is it just an observation about their culture? You tell me.

When last we left them they were on top of a mountain and still had to travel further to get to this dragon mountain. There are still some cool animated orcs following them, but mostly just watching and waiting to attack them later. In the woods there are not lions and tigers but there is a bear. Gandalf plays a funny prank on the dwarves and convinces them that the way to be safe from the bear is to break into his house and sleep there. You know how much bears love that. They want you to eat their porridge too. It turns out this bear is some kind of werebear and when he comes inside in human form I swear to Christ I know the exact math of how he was created:

beorn
Later they get lost in the woods and the hobbit pulls a classic rookie movie: he playfully strums a giant web, attracting the attention of an army of giant spiders who cocoon them all and try to eat them. This is one of the highlights of the movie, a battle suspended in the air, falling through webs, and with the creepy bonus of the spiders speaking English when he puts the ring on. That little hairy-toed fucker actually slays a bunch of the spiders mercilessly, going the extra mile to take off the ring and spook one of them before stabbing him to death. He also kills a baby! I honestly think this was a legitimate case of self defense, but they play it like he’s a drug fiend going too far because he dropped his precious and the baby stepped near it. Afterwards he’s all dirty and sweaty, his clothes all fucked up, just like a real street junkie.

And I don’t believe any of these dwarves who gave him so much grief in part 1 never fuckin acknowledge that he just saved every one of their tiny little asses.

There was a picture going around of Conan Stevens from TRUE LEGEND dressed up as the lead orc, and supposedly it’s terrible that they decided to go with an animated character instead. But to me this is not like I AM LEGEND where the effects are kinda distractingly fakey, these are AVATAR level characters. Stevens looks cool in the picture, I would’ve liked to see him in there, but we have hundreds of movies with slimy muscle dudes in boney armor swinging battle axes around. I gotta give this one credit for bringing the otherworldly beasts of fantasy paintings to life in ways we haven’t seen before. Unfortunately, this one makes a big entrance for a really cool new orc with a fucked up eye and then either they didn’t show him again or I just lost track of which one he was, because I didn’t notice him again.

Later our little guys get taken prisoner by the elves. This is different from the part in part 1 where they stayed with the elves or the part in one or more Lords of Rings where they also stayed with the elves, because this time they’re in jail cells. They’re convinced it’s gonna be a long bid and you know what that means: the dreamy dwarf who looks like Jimmy Fallon better watch his ass. But they go a different direction, they have him start flirting with a female elf guard, so it’s leaning more in the direction of an ILSA SHE WOLF OF THE S.S. type prison movie than an AMERICAN ME type deal.

You remember Legolas, the blond elf from the RINGS trilogy, he’s in this one and he has a bunch of good action parts but they portray him as a possessive asshole who stands around and gets pouty because his dad won’t let him date a lower class elf and she’s given up on him and has her eye on some little dwarf dick.

The other highlight is another action sequence where the dwarves escape elf prison by riding barrels down a river and then they get attacked by the orcs and then the elves also fight against the orcs. I’m actually kinda surprised at the praise the scene has gotten because it reminds me of the big chase nobody but me seemed to like in KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, but without as much of the ebb and flow and building to climaxes that Spielberg naturally oozes into a scene like that. But that’s forgivable because honestly these movies work best when they just treat it as THE HOBBIT: THE RIDE. In fact I kinda wished they had the Splash Mountain music playing during this scene. It’s fun because it’s very still_hobbit2stylized, cartoonish kinda action choreography, everybody knows exactly when to swing, when to duck, when to jump. Legolas stands on the heads of two dwarves, shoots one arrow through the heads of two orcs. Kinda reminded me of that old Jet Li movie FONG SAI YUK the way he runs around on top of people. There’s alot of different types of parkour in this one: dwarf-head parkour, forest parkour, mountain parkour.

By the way, it’s interesting that I kinda forget Orlando Bloom exists sometimes, ’cause he’s in several of the biggest movies of all time. He’s a star of the original LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and of the three PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movies that count. Plus he’s in both TROY and KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, so he’s no stranger to epics. They should put him in a STAR WARS or a FAST AND THE FURIOUS, make him give Ian McKellan a run for the money as king of all franchises.

Speaking of FAST AND FURIOUS, Luke Evans from FURIOUS 6 is in this as a middle earthling who helps transport and shelter the dwarves through a human village near the dragon’s place. Honestly when I heard he was in this one I assumed he was one of the dwarves in the first one and I just didn’t recognize him. Instead he’s kind of the token regular sized character and seems destined to kill the dragon in part 3. All I know is the dragon better not kill him unless he wants Jason Statham on his ass. Which would be the best reason to stretch this series out even longer.

still_hobbit2bThis guy lives in a little shack with a couple daughters, I feel so bad for them having to share that little place with 13 dwarves who arrived covered in dead fish and then hid submerged in piss and shit. I’m sure there’s a 15 minute singing and bubble bath scene that will be in the extended edition, but you can’t tell me they got all the smell out. Then that night the family gets home-invaded by orcs and then two warrior elves also come inside and join the battle. On one hand they’re gonna have nightmares until they’re 300 years old, on the other hand I’m sure nothing is open past 6 pm in this godforsaken village so maybe they appreciate some excitement.

You know who’s a dick? Fuckin Smaug. Or “Big Wyrm” I believe was his nickname on the block where he grew up. He’s that dragon they talked about in the first one who allegedly stole the dwarves’s gold and then he just lives in a cave. He sleeps buried in gold coins and treasure and shit. Not sleeping on a pile of money – actually completely covered in mountains of gold so you don’t even know he’s there at first. He doesn’t even spend the stuff. I don’t know what his deal is. Has he been hibernating since he stole it? If not what the fuck does he do with his time in there? It doesn’t seem like much. I don’t see any books around.

To be fair, hoarding wasn’t even defined as a mental disorder until the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 2013, so it would’ve been hard for him to get help. Also because he’s a fuckin dragon who attacked the village and killed a bunch of people.

Smaug is a cool animated character though. I know Guillermo Del Toro, when he wasted years of his life not making this movie, planned to do him with animatronics. That would’ve probly been pretty cool, but this works too. He has a smarmy look on his face and he slithers around and he kinds gestures with his claws.

The way the dwarves try to deal with Smaug is pretty cool. They’re working together to get this giant contraption started, and it seems like they’re gonna dump molten gold on him (a pretty good fuck you to a materialist like him) but if you’ve seen it SPOILER you know the mold opens up and they’ve made a giant gold statue of the dwarf king to shove in his face. It’s a patriotic gesture! A boot in the ass, it’s the American way type deal. But ALSO it’s unstable and melts into molten gold all over him. Excellent planning, fellas.

At the end Smaug gets covered in gold and flies out to attack the city and man, I would’ve given this movie 4 stars if the theme from GOLDFINGER played over the end credits. Instead they have a fairly tasteful ballad. I would’ve gone 3 stars if at the end it segued into an awkward rap about Smaug, but no dice.

Here’s the kind of thing I’m thinking. I have this song on vinyl:

Consider this: a verse by Busta Rhymes. He gives an overly literal description of some scenes from the movie and then quotes his famous “Rah! Rah! Like a dungeon dragon” line from “Scenario.”

Better yet: Busta Rhymes as the voice of Smaug in the movie itself. Admittedly, the arrogant rumble they got out of famed moistener-of-American-panties Benedict Cumberbatch was pretty much perfect. But Busta would’ve been perfect plus.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 14th, 2014 at 11:00 am and is filed under Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

55 Responses to “The Hobbit 2: The Hobbit Goes To Some Places Where Sometimes More Shit Happens”

  1. Your review is funnier than the movie.

  2. Man, that’s the first LOTR movie, that I will see on home video first. And it’s NOT because I didn’t care. But oh well, sometimes you just don’t have the time or money to do things. :( (Yes, that’s a sad smiley face. Deal with it.)

  3. That song made my fuckin’ day. It’s especially appropriate because the T in Ice-T stands for Tracey. Also he talks about his dick a lot. Synergy.

    I actually like these movies a lot more than I thought I would. As far as massive expenditures of time and money that have no real reason to exist, they’re great entertainment. The action sequences are all gloriously absurd contraptions, and after five hours of screentime, I really enjoy the cast. I also really like Martin Freeman as a hero. As a prickly little dandy myself, I appreciate seeing my kind portrayed as courageous and badass. Bilbo is just a better character in general than Frodo, who was pretty one-note.

    I have no strong attachment to the book (or Tolkien in general, whom I consider a great constructer of mythology and a boring-as-shit writer) so I don’t mind the liberties Jackson is taking with it, especially if it puts Evangeline Lilly in elf ears, which is something that we as a people should have demanded long ago. I think she’s quite charming in her role, as extraneous as it is, and I’m tickled by the idea of a dwarf with so much game that he can bag himself an elf. More wish fulfillment for us short motherfuckers.

    What I would like is for Jackson to finish off his sprawling, kitchen-sink version, then let del Toro come back in ten years and do a self-contained HOBBIT movie that plays more like a fairy tale and less like an epic. I think both approaches have merit, and in a world where superhero franchises get rebooted every five years, I’m sure they can coexist.

  4. Yeah, I liked this more than I expected to, especially since I was kind of a Tolkein purist in my nerdier youth. Vern, you’re spot on about how it’s at its best when it’s The Hobbit: The Ride. I had a goofy little grin during the whole barrel chase, and laughed out loud when the fat one did his pole vault bowling pin maneuver.

  5. 20 minutes? Sometimes I feel like the Star Wars prequels were 6 hours of telling me there was going to be a Death Star in the later movies.

  6. Vern, you dwarf racist!!

  7. The Undefeated Gaul

    January 14th, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Surprisingly, I thought the HFR added to the experience this time. I had some issues with the first film, where a lot of it looked weird and sped up, but that hardly happened this time around. Maybe PJ figured out how to edit his shots better. In any case, all the CGI stuff looks much better in HFR than in normal 2D (I saw it in both formats) and since 85% of the movie consists of CGI stuff, it looks pretty damn good.

    Very funny review btw (loved the Statham reference)

  8. I pissed my self where the guys sit in barrels and the fat one is jumping around kicking ass!

  9. Having been scared away from the HFR the first time around, I thought I’d experience it for myself this time around. I can’t say I thought it was an improvement (it made all the action scenes look weird, like they’d been severely undercranked – which I guess they were in a way) but I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would. I thought it improved the 3D, although I don’t see a lot of 3D films so I don’t know. My wife, a casual movie-goer, said she couldn’t tell the difference.

    I liked the movie, but it’s really hard to shake the feeling that so much of it feels unnecessary. Jackson is working so hard to turn this very slight, light-hearted adventure tale into a monstrous, world-shaking epic and it just doesn’t work. You can see the seams and duct tape holding it together. What I wouldn’t give for a single 3-hour Hobbit movie that had the light, cartoony tone of that barrel scene(*). I was laughing my ass off during that. I was bored stiff during the oh-so-serious Gandalf scenes.

    The LOTR movies were great at setting this really dark, oppressive mood, with the creepy Nazghoul and the ever-present Eye of Sauron. You can’t recreate that tone for THE HOBBIT, no matter how many Gandalf scenes you insert. It’s a fundamentally different kind of story.

    (*) Incidentally Vern, I think that difference in tone is why people didn’t like the chase scene in KOTCS. I don’t think I’m blowing any minds when I say the action scenes in RAIDERS are some of the best of all time. Look at the jeep chase. It’s cartoony but the stakes feel real. It looks like Indy could get hurt or killed. The chase in KOTCS was a CG theme park ride. A very good one (I liked it in the same way I liked the barrel scene) but it upset that delicate balance of pulp adventure that the films had nailed so well in the past (yes, yes, mine cart chase, raft parachute etc)

  10. And of course I fuck up my first sentence, invalidating all opinions to follow. Damn it.

    Also, it’s weird how extended these movies are and yet I can still can’t remember these dwarves names or tell some of them apart. There’s the twins, the fat one, the angry one, the wise one, the guy in the cool hat. The leader who was handsome for some reason I couldn’t figure out in the first film but now realise it’s so he can make kissy faces with that girl from Lost and not weird everyone out. Is that all of them?

    Was anyone else distracted by the constant use of Gandalf stunt-doubles? Like, to a comical, DTV-Seagal level. I reckon McKellan only had to show up on set for a few days.

  11. Haha “IceTube.” Would Ice Cube be allowed on there too? It only makes sense.

    I’m sure I said it last year but I can’t get behind the “3 books were 3 movies, now 1 book is 3 movies!” thing.

    That picture from Masters Of the Universe had me rollin

  12. I liked this, but this is the weakest of the Middle Earth movies so far and I kinda fear what will come forth with the final entry.

    The barrels sequence is awesome sauce, so is Smaug. I liked the intelligent use of size perspective in selling you that yeah this dragon that’s been talked about for 2 movies is truely mother fucking HUGE. Oh and he’s smart. Oh and he talks. Oh and he breaths fire too! Like the deck definately stacked against Bilbo.

    But am I the only one who felt that romance angle went absolutely NOWHERE? Why would she be taken by him? We’re never really given a reason. Still I did like how Bloom is sort a racist douchebag in his pre-LOTR days.

    Poor Luke Evans, he’s good with what he’s given but you know what he is? He’s Aragorn 2.0, an unshaven guy who’s a man from the “streets” (if you will) who has to redeem his disgraced family, and is introduced rather mundane initially before he becomes more important and prominent in the plot.

    I liked the rather abrupt ending which caught my opening friday crowd by surprise.

  13. With the Tolkien Rap mention I have to mention the “Wizards” and their album “Purple Magic” Lots of hobbit references there including a track about growing up in the shire (as if it were the hood).

    The whole album is basically imagining if gangsters were wizards living the thug life and so forth. Good use of harry potter and Tolkien references and a few of the tracks are pretty good rap as well.

    As to the film… I liked it a bit better than Hobbit 1 and over all it was entertaining but I do think Jackson made the wrong call in how he did this. A concise hobbit would have been better and save the epic action for a film version of the Silmarilion if he must.

  14. The Original... Paul

    January 15th, 2014 at 4:26 am

    I haven’t and won’t see this movie (grew up with the book, don’t want to see it Peter Jackson-ized) but the “Beorn” equation just had me laughing like a loon for ages. And it’s so true! Even in the BOOK it still holds true, and that was written decades before Star Anything came out.

    Sigfriend – Peter Jackson’s Silamarilion? Do you think he would? I think we’d have a new definition of the word “infinity” if that happened.

  15. It is weird they got Billy Barty for Masters when the other guy from Legend, Cork Hubbert, looks like Gwildor

  16. I enjoyed this movie but can’t defend it. Like Jackson’s King Kong which I liked more than everyone, yet don’t disagree with any of the criticisms.

    I think HOBBIT would have been better as two movies, one might not have done all they wanted to, but I’m not going to complain about more Middle Earth shit because I’m a big nerd.

    I also saw this in High Frame Rate 3D and it was fine. Forgot it was even there. Paid like $10 extra for that luxury, so probably not worth it.

  17. I’m with you Casey. Jackson’s flaws are obvious to one and all and I pretty much don’t give a shit about them. His medium is overkill, and if you like what he does, it just means you get more of the thing you like. Shit, I’m the guy who bought the extended edition of KING KONG, because clearly that movie’s main problem was that it wasn’t long enough.

  18. I am always bothered about when people are complaining about “the boat ride” being to long. Obviously the concept of build-up is foreign to them. I love KING KONG 2005 so much. To me it is the ultimate version of the story. As much as I like the 1933 version and hate the 70´s one this is the ultimate story of Kong that had to be told. And I always cry at the end. What can I say? I am a softy. Only two other movies made that: T2 and THE LION KING. (Oh….and KING KONG LIVES when I was six but please don´t tell anyone about that one.Ughh…)

  19. The look of Beorn is hilarious. I cannot believe how bad Mikael Persbrandt looks in that outfit. Perhaps it comes across better in the movie but I seriously doubt it.

  20. Vern I like this site and all, but to call George Lucas a better Storyteller than Peter Jackson is downright silly.

  21. “Vern I like this site and all, but to call George Lucas a better Storyteller than Peter Jackson is downright silly.”

    Yeah I’d like to think Vern was just trolling us with that one. I laughed anyway.

  22. SurfiNerd – so you’re telling me that Mr. Extended Cut has a better sense of telling a cinematic story than the guy who directed STAR WARS? Go ahead and disagree with me but you can’t call me “silly.” You’re the one making an uphill argument there.

    I know it’s unfashionable but if you look at it objectively it shouldn’t be a controversial statement at all, even if you’re cheating by not counting his pre-prequel movies. The best setpiece of these hobbit movies so far is the barrel chase, right? But you can’t tell me that holds a candle to the opening half hour battle of REVENGE OF THE SITH, no matter your opinion on Greedos or whatever.

  23. Alright, I’ll be the next guy object to the George Lucas remark. A line has been crossed, and I must take a stand, etc.

    Are set pieces the same thing as storytelling, Vern? Surely, you don’t think that’s a good argument. No battle on the scale of the opening of ROTS has taken place in the Hobbit films so far, so what exactly are you comparing here? I know Jackson took a lot of liberties with the source material, but he could hardly have stuck in a half-an-hour battle scene with a million soldiers, and if he did, you would’ve complained about it.

    If it’s large battle scenes that you’re judging these films by, then I’m guessing you’ll have to wait until HOBBIT PART THREE to make up your mind. And do you really think that the inevitably large and climactic battle scenes in HOBBIT PART THREE will be less engaging than the opening space video game of REVENGE OF THE SITH? At the very least, I think, we can expect the Hobbit battle to contain some degree of human (or dwarf/elf/wizard/whatever) dramatic tension, which would already give it the edge over the opening of ROTS.

    Incidentally, I do think that FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING is better directed and its story is better told than STAR WARS: TRILOGY 1: PART 1, as much as I like both of these movies. So if we’re going to compare what is (arguably) the best work of both directors, why don’t we make it fair?

    Besides, you know damn well that the length of a film bears little relation to the storytelling aptitude of the filmmakers behind it, so what’s all this knee-jerk nonsense about extended editions being a bad thing? There’s plenty of reasonable people who don’t dress up as wizards who prefer to watch the LOTR films in their extended state. It’s harder to make time for a 3.5 hour film than for a 2 hour film, but that’s my problem, not that of the film. Here’s a question: Suppose there was a newly discovered, unreleased and totally awesome Seagal movie from the early 90s that also happened to be 4 hours long. Would you watch it and enjoy it? I bet you would, and so would I. You wouldn’t wait until the fucking Weinsteins cut it down to 90 minutes. You’d still like the full Seagal experience. I rest my case.

    Also, what’s this whole thing about shitting on nerds? It’s not the fucking 80s anymore, Jesus Christ. Vern is a Seagal/DTV nerd, I am a music nerd, some people are MARVEL nerds, and some other people are LOTR nerds. This is 2014, and gay marriage is legal in New York state. It’s okay for a man to have hobbies that don’t have anything to do with getting rich, working out or fucking. I’m only pointing it out because you are so agreeably, passionately, and delightfully liberal/progressive on so many issues, while on the subject of alternative hobbies and interests you sometimes sound like an asshole from the Reagan administration. We of all people should appreciate that it’s okay for a grown man to have an active and complex fantasy life. For some people, this fantasy life involves spin kicks and ex-CIA operatives and for others it involves robes and wizard hats. But it’s okay, it really is.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still laughed at your review, but it does seem to me that you have it in for these Hobbit films. As much as you like to stress how much you don’t give a shit about any of them, I can’t shake the notion that you’re a closet TOKLIENISTA who’s upset about the creative liberties taken with the Hobbit book. Something tells me that in a year’s time, you’ll spend at least two or three paragraphs complaining about Jackson making three films out of a short children’s book, prefaced by an indication that none of this is actually important to you :)

    For my part, the HOBBIT movies are nowhere near as good as the original LOTR trilogy. But how could they be, when the original story doesn’t come close (and wasn’t ever supposed to)? The HOBBITs still successfully replicate much (if not all) of what I loved about the LOTRs — adorably sincere and uncynical melodrama, stunning art direction with seldom seen level of detail, well directed action setpieces, exceptional use of visual effects, gorgeous landscapes and sweeping music — and for that, they are completely worthwhile.

    It seems to me like Jackson COULD’VE made a better film by completely changing its tone and adapting it as a lighthearted children’s book instead of an epic fantasy, but then people would’ve complained that the new films don’t resemble LOTR, which is clearly what people in the audience expect. The HOBBITs are not as grim and dark as the LOTRs, but it’s obvious that they’re trying to recreate the same aesthetic, and perhaps that was their biggest mistake.

    I liked HOBBIT 2 much more than I thought I would, though. Just for the record.

  24. I for one would not want or watch a 4 hour Segal film. A Segal should be 92 minutes. Anything more than that is bloat.

    And Peter Jackson’s films are bloated. Back in the day, when budgets were tight, Jackson made ripping genre yarns. Brain Dead. I think he started to loose it with The Frighteners. There’s some cinematic gurning in that. Now he’s at the point where every dwarf you can’t tell apart gets a gag to itself in the endless barrel scene. You could call that a character moment, if you could tell the dwarves apart but you can’t because endless setups and gags (“set pieces”) do not a character development make. It’s bloat.

  25. The Original... Paul

    January 16th, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Vern – see, I think you’re making a false comparison there. If we’re complaining about directors making their movies too damn long for what they have to say, why compare the BEST scenes that they’ve produced? I say put the WORST excesses of each director against one another, and see how they stack up.

    Lucas: no competition really, is there? It’s the lava surfing. I don’t know if there’s a more effective way for a film to disappear into the depths of its own arsehole, at least not without having the world’s greatest assassin give a monologue on Superman or something.

    Jackson: more difficult. Bear in mind that I haven’t seen either “hobbit” movie here, so I’m limited to what appeared in the “Lord of the Rings” movies. I think a case could be made for Helm’s Deep (about forty-five minutes of Legolas doing implausibly awesome-looking stuff while everybody else charges repeatedly at walls); and while I hate that they showed the Balrog (and made it look like a giant demon from a pantomime), that’s a more subjective point that a lot of people would disagree with. For the sake of using something that’s reasonably self-evident, my choice would be Sean Bean’s “death by slow transformation into human pincushion”.

    And even though I’d like to think that in some parallel universe somewhere, Sean Bean is STILL being shot with arrows while Peter Jackson sits around and films it, I barely see any competition at all between those two scenes. Clearly Lucas wins by a landslide – and by that I mean, he loses. Big-time. There’s a reason why that lava-surfing scene remains my go-to example of a scene in a film that just destroys any drama there might’ve been by its own utter stupidity. To make another comparison: I never questioned why there are explosions in space. I DID question why these two guys’ clothes didn’t burst into flame! (That and many, many more things about that scene.) It’s so ridiculous, it spoils the next scene for me as well – and given that the next scene is (SPOILER?) Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader, that’s something of a problem!

    So while Lucas may be the better filmmaker overall, if you’re looking for the one that displays the worst excesses then I would have to say that Lucas takes the crown.

    RCC – actually I’d watch a four-hour ensemble piece with Seagal in it, as long as the filmmakers could respect the more specific “requirements” of a film that has Seagal in it. I don’t think anybody wants another case of “The Patriot”s. (Last time I had that, I came out in hives. Wasn’t pretty.)

  26. The Original... Paul

    January 16th, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Actually “The Patriot” is a bad example there. As bad as it is – and it is really, really bad, quite possibly the worst Seagal film that I’ve seen – it at least has some recognisable Seagalian touches. (Is “Seagalian” a word?) “Against the Dark” might be a better example. I actually liked that a lot more than “The Patriot”, but there’s no doubt that it makes little to no use of its Seagal.

  27. Closet Tolkieniesta is the best epithet I’ve heard in awhile.

  28. Paul:

    Helm’s Deep, the worst scene of Jackson’s LOTR? Are you joking? There’s stuff in those films that’s way worse than that! Things like:

    – The daffy bit near the end of Two Towers where a fucking Nazgul comes within a few inches of Frodo HOLDING THE RING without really noticing anything out of place. Guess the guy mustn’t have noticed the malevolent aura of the VERY FUCKING RING that was used to enslave him.

    – Elrond crossing half of Middle Earth on horseback, completely unchallenged, to bring Anduril to Aragorn in ROTK. Why didn’t HE take Frodo to Mordor? Would’ve been faster.

    – Frodo telling Sam to “go home” because he allegedly ate all the crackers…and Sam even starts doing it. Pure bullshit.

    Also, you’re right to point out that the lava-surfing in ROTS is atrocious – but is it worse than the part where Palpatine lamely reveals his true colours and Anakin’s all “You’re the Sith lord! Aw, that sucks, hem-hem, I’m gonna have to arrest you, but not now…later.”? Or right after that, when Anakin tells it to Sam Jackson and the guy basically shrugs and passively says “Well, that’s some bad shit. I’m gonna take care of it. You stay here.”?

    Or that other bit, where…there’s really too much to list. ROTS would make almost anything look good in comparison.

  29. Thanks for the comments Peter, I will try to explain myself.

    What I was trying to say in that paragraph was not that Lucas and Cameron are all around better filmmakers than Jackson (although I guess I do believe that). By “it’s becoming more evident that Jackson’s not as good of a storyteller as either of those guys” I mean that he doesn’t have the same instinct for using cinematic language to communicate a story in the most exciting way. I agree with you about length, I get sick of people complaining about movies being long, because if it’s gonna be a great movie then hell, I’ll take more of it. But I’m trying to say there that Jackson turning a book into two movies and then deciding it’s three movies and then doing longer versions of each movie is a symptom of his weakness for zeroing in on what the story is. He just keeps throwing more at it and more at it, he doesn’t know when to stop, that is a weakness as a storyteller.

    In my response to Surfi I chose an action sequence as an example of visual storytelling and because it seems to be universally agreed on as the best part of the movie. Or at least I thought it was. I think it’s a really good sequence, but the REVENGE OF THE SITH opening is a more ebbing and flowing kind of excitement with characters who we know going through a series of thrills ranging from a huge space battle to small conflicts with robots to crashlanding a burning space ship. When it’s all over you take a breath. Yeah, the barrel sequence is smaller but it’s just cool move cool move cool move cool move, there’s not a strong rhythm or build to it. I’m not saying it’s Stephen Sommers bad, I’m saying it’s good, but not as good as what Lucas and Cameron often do in their movies. And I’m not even trying to convince you here, I’m just saying it wasn’t fair for Surfi to dismiss it as a ridiculous opinion, especially if we are going to include their entire filmographies. Because no, I don’t think FELLOWSHIP holds a candle to STAR WARS and I don’t think I would be in the minority on that, it’s hardly an outrageous statement.

    Did I really shit on nerds in the HOBBIT review? I don’t remember doing it. I’ve definitely made jokes like that in the past but I don’t think I did here. My problem is not that it’s nerdy to turn this book into three movies, it’s that it’s bad storytelling. I believe this story could be a great 3 hour movie. As a buddy pointed out to me if Jackson didn’t divide it all up it would be one movie that has dwarves, Elves, Gollum, trolls, giant spiders, a dragon… that would be cool! I can’t really be a purist about it, I only read the Hobbit when I was a kid and I tried to read Lord of the Rings in the excitement of the movies but couldn’t get through the first one. (Sorry. I’m not disputing that they’re great, but they’re just not for me I guess. I liked the movies at least.)

    I agree with your last 3 paragraphs. Those are the qualities that I enjoy in these movies but they are misguidedly cobbled together into a mish-mash of Lord of the Rings background material instead of a specific story with a consistent tone.

  30. I rewatched the Lord of the Rings movies recently (ALL of them including the Bakshi and the two others). I think Jackson is particularly good at locating the emotional core at work in various set pieces. The hobbits are sort of the kids and Gandalf/Aragorn are sort of the grownups, and it’s incredible when they’re in the Mines of Moria and you realize that even the grownups are scared shitless and don’t know what to do. The source material is of course strongest during the first part of Lord of the Rings and I’m sympathetic to/share in some of the complaints and criticisms of the latter 2/3’s of the trilogy but I also could name you a dozen or so moments that I believe are far better and more emotionally satisfying than anybody had a right to expect from these films.

    I honestly would forgive a hell of a lot to kick it in Middle Earth for 9 more hours so I’m not about to complain about the Hobbit movies with their impossible, inconvenient staircases. Yeah I get that they’re kind of dumb. At worst they straight up fuck with my treasured lore in ways I can’t stand. For example I loved the subtle manner in which Gandalf’s magic was portrayed in the original trilogy and I died a little inside watching him and Sauron chuck power orbs at one another in Desolation like they’re in a Dragonball Z episode.

    There are some superb moments in this movie however. The Mirkwood sequence is the obvious pinnacle of the film. You have to suspend disbelief for a moment while Bilbo turns into a reckless badass, but then even Bilbo has this moment of “what the FUCK have I been doing????” look around all shellshocked, realizing it was the ring’s influence, and then clasping his hand over his mouth in horror. I doubt there will be a better little gesture in all of these Hobbit films. And then it cuts to the “one ring to rule them all” poem spoken in the Morgul tongue, for those of us who have this shit memorized.

    There are little referenceslike that that students of the lore will pick up and benefit from. I can’t remember what they all are though. But they are there. Eg if you like shit like The Silmarillion then it is a richer experience from you. That’s about all I could ask for from these movies.

  31. Also I at first avoided the HFR because I was pretty sure it would look like shit. I mean I have a television that can pretend to do 120 Hz and slip in intermediate frames and it looks ridiculous, it turns everything into a home movie. I told other people to avoid the HFR, etc.

    But I caved in and did it and boy was I wrong. It fucking worked for me guys, hate to say it. I think the depth of illusion in Jackson’s presentation is so refined that it survives the closer examination. Ian McKellen’s performance stands up under the additional scrutiny. The fucking computer graphics withstand it. The 3D is better. Smaug looked better. It was like you were there, etc.

    Well there you have it, looks like I’m gonna have to be a serious Jackson apologist from here on out.

  32. Thanks for the lengthy reply, Vern! Greatly appreciated.

    I still believe the negative criticism that the HOBBITs are getting is more an expression of people’s disappointment that these films don’t measure up to the original trilogy than a genuine assessment of the new trilogy’s quality. There’s a lot of good stuff in them (for example — as an arachnophobe, I can vouch that I never been this scared of spiders in a cinema), and just last year, plenty of less interesting and less ambitious films got a much easier pass from critics. But I guess this is a cliche objection to have.

    As for the old LOTR vs. STAR WARS debate, I don’t know, it seems to be a cultural thing. Just from my own personal experience, I’ve noticed that the STAR WARSes held to a much higher esteem by Americans than by Europeans. I’m guessing this is because they’ve been so influential on American popular culture, and because they were themselves based on pop art styles and genres that are intuitively familiar (and thus intuitively attractive) to American audiences.

    Being a European (Ecuadorean/Polish guy living in Austria in a fairly multicultural group), I know several people from various backgrounds who honestly couldn’t sit through A NEW HOPE. However, the LOTR trilogy is still very popular here, and probably for the same (but inverse) reason: LOTR was originally written as a quasi-Northern-European mythology (an aspect the films caught quite well), so it makes sense that audiences from the old continent would be more drawn to it. It might also be difficult to notice for outsiders, but part of the original LOTR trilogy’s charm (and of FELLOWSHIP in particular) is that its language of filmatism is more reminiscent of the European style (camera angles, rhytm of editing, structure of storytelling) and less bound to the mannerisms of Hollywood. These aspects of our cultural heritage may well make our differences irreconcilable :).

    By the way, on the same subject of cultural differences/preferences, nothing about the world of film has amazed me quite so much in recent years as the success of AVENGERS. I found it to be nauseatingly manufactured and streamlined for the tastes and cultural inclinations of American audiences, and I couldn’t believe for the life of my why it made as much money as it did. But then I realized how much that film must represent the dreams and yearnings of those who’ve lived their lives immersed in American popular culture, and it dawned on me that my indifference towards the AVENGERS is probably the result of my different cultural tastes. To many Americans, it must represent everything they ever hoped to see. To me, it was an extremely expensive spectacle about a bunch of super-powered assholes that seemed like it was written by a committee of marketing executives (which, in all fairness, it probably was). Ah, sorry for going off topic.

    I didn’t mean to be rude about the nerd thing. You didn’t say all that much about on subject in the HOBBIT review, but I guess I needed to vent the built up frustration, as this particular Vern trope doesn’t fit your otherwise enlightened personality :)

  33. Good observations about the cultural differences, Peter. I do think it applies to AVENGERS more than you might realize. It seems to me like it’s not created by marketing executives, that its success comes partly from handing the reins over to a distinct voice, it being one of the only super hero movies by a writer-director. (In fact, I can’t think of any others off the top of my head.) But it happens that that distinct voice is a product of and creator of the type of American pop culture you don’t relate to as much. Joss Whedon is definitely a raised-on-STAR-WARS guy, and he spent years writing genre TV shows, wrote some X-Men comics, an ALIEN sequel, rewrote the dialogue in SPEED, etc.

    Also maybe it’s more acceptable to wear wizard robes in Europe and that’s the reason for our disagreement about the nerd community.

  34. I don’t know about all this fancy shmancy using a visual medium to tell a story nonsense that you book learning types are going on about. What I do know is that I care about Frodo and Sam, Legolas and Gimli, Faramir and Aragorn, and all these other characters far more than I care about anyone in Star Wars. I don’t get why Han and Leia like each other, but I understand who Boromir is and why Faramir is important.

    I liked Tolkien as a kid, and in a way that only nerdy 12 year olds can like something where it becomes weirdly obsessive and you still remember all of it from way back when. But, reading Tolkien I never got the humanity of a lot of the characters. Peter Jackson gave me a lot of that, and his movies made me appreciate the story more.

    I also really, really liked King Kong. That movie does this great thing where you go to see King Kong, but they made me care about everyone else and what was going on while they were on the boat. It tricked me into even forgetting this is a King Kong movie, so when King Kong shows up it becomes a bigger deal. I think if that movie is shorter, and it really only could be shorter in all the pre-Kong stuff, it wouldn’t work as well for me because I’d be too busy wanting to get to King Kong fucking up some stupid dinosaurs.

    I disliked the Avengers. Liked some of the interplay between the characters but everything else felt overstuffed and poorly done. Transformers 3 tells the same story and is better. I also bought the extended Lord of the Rings DVDs just so I could get more scenes of heroic music with helicopter shots of the Fellowship running.

    I agree with renfield. I liked the HDR and 3D. I like how Tolkien’s world, and Jackson’s adaptation, feels lived in with lots of nuance and depth. Part of why I didn’t like Star Wars as a kid is that it didn’t feel real: Lucas would throw whatever alien or space ship in a scene based on how it looked, so it has this random potpourri feel that doesn’t feel real to me.

    I also paint toy soldiers and play games with them and like professional wrestling. I don’t read comic books or play video games, though, but I think my nerd cred is pretty solid.

  35. (Justin Lin is better than Lucas and Jackson. He has a huge cast and gives them all good personalities and relationships while filming action scenes that are exciting and tell a story. Plus he does so in 2 hours. Fast and Furious is a better 6 movie series than Star Wars and it’s not even close.)

  36. Justified theme song

    January 16th, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    I think Iron Man 3 is by a wirter-director (and feels like it to me), but it could be that Shane Black having a co-writer discounts it.

  37. I liked STAR WARS growing up because it’s this weird potpourri of random cool stuff… samurai films, westerns, high fantasy, aliens, robots. It feels like a world you could get totally lost in. Take a look at Wookieepedia if you don’t believe me. The “realness” comes from the way everything looks dirty and lived-in, it feels gritty and textured in a way most of the sci-fi of the day wasn’t. It’s not Badass Cinema but it definitely takes a lot of influences from it. But I can see how the lack of grounding and definition might not be appealling, and it’s why I don’t really consider STAR WARS “science fiction”.

  38. This is an interesting discussion. I think the most “successful” of the glut of LOTR/Star Wars movies is Fellowship. It does a great job of introducing this huge cast of characters without getting bogged down, and each huge setpiece worked for me. It did a great job balancing slower world building scenes (the Shire, Counsel of Elrond, Lothlorien) with the big action scenes. And the battle of Amon Hen is top notch (I love Boromir’s character arc; whoever bad-mouthed his death scene up top is tripping balls).

    Although at this point I look forward to new Mission Impossible movies more than Star Wars or the Hobbit.

  39. One Guy from Andromeda

    January 16th, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    It’s interesting that you brought up Ilsa – She Wolf of the SS in the review, because this movie made me think of it. Mainly because of how callous and violent the whole thing is, the main difference between the two movies is that Ilsa is entertaining. I have never seen so much money and work by so many highly talented people being wasted so thoroughly.
    Granted, in my view fantasy is the weakest and most limited of genres, so my opinion is biased from the start. (I find the idea that there’s races of intelligent, human looking guys that are just born evil and have to be killed troubling) But there is fantasy stuff that doesn’t make me want to press fast forward all the fucking time at least. How many sequences of “dwarfs arrive somewhere, talk to some vaguely fantastical creature sitting at a dinner table, getting the next piece of exposition, action scene” can you watch before you fall asleep?
    At least Hobbit-Watson guy has charisma and talent for comedy, the only scenes that work are when he’s talking to Golum in the first and the dragon in the second, but the dwarves, jesus fuck, the dwarves. Are these guys really not looking ridiculous to anyone but me? Especially the pretty, hero dwarves. In Battlefield earth everyone made fun of how fucking stupid the aliens look but the dwarves get no comment? And why does a shitty fairytale that’s obviously written for the mind of a child have to be this ultra violent? Chopping heads off left and right. And i like violent movies! Violence is awesome. In this it sickened me. I gotta watch Ilsa again, where the film makers weren’t so dead inside that they didn’t realize it is sickening what they make.
    Horrible, horrible movie.

  40. No offense intended, One Guy, but why did you even go see HOBBIT. Again, no offense meant, but if this is a genre you dislike and this is the 5th movie in this gamey series I’m not sure why you even bothered?

  41. Because of Heavenly Creatures.

  42. One Guy from Andromeda

    January 17th, 2014 at 7:26 am

    That’s not an offensive question at all i think! As i said, i don’t dislike all of fantasy, it’s just my least favourite genre. When i saw the first Hobbit i kind of enjoyed it, because it wasn’t as terribly self important as the Lord of the Rings movies and more like a fairy tale (i gotta admit i fast forwarded most of the first hour, hour and a half though). I also liked the movies Jackson made in the last century, they may never have been brilliant, but used to be good stuff.

  43. People don’t like Boromir’s death?

    “I would have followed you my brother….my captain…my king!”

    Guaranteed moisture. And Aragorn is such an epic character that the entire height of operatic drama of Boromir’s death ultimately serves as The Moment Aragorn Accepted His Destiny To Become King. “I do not know what strength is in my blood, but I swear to you I will not let the White City fall, nor our people fail.”

    This stuff is frankly all I ever wanted out of this life. But I guess I can see why it’s just silly for some people.

  44. The Original... Paul

    January 17th, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    CEPE, Vern and Peter – good points all I think.

    I can personally testify to the truth of a lot of what Peter says about the European “scene”. However my experience with LoTR seems to be exactly the opposite: I’ve found that it’s liked a great deal LESS, not more, over here. I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that opinion because, although I did enjoy “Fellowship”, it suffered a great deal from “Hollywood characterisation” (and not a little “Hollywood dialogue” – “let’s hunt some orc” being my personal favorite. Although you might say that hilariously bad lines like that are all a part of the movie’s charm.) Interestingly, what Renfield points out as a positive is one of the things that I most DISliked about the movie – that it turned the hobbits from complacent old men, as they were in the book, into naive children. I feel like I’ve seen this done so many times before, and mostly better than Jackson did it.

    As for “The Avengers”, I think Joss Whedon is too damn good for the material he’s dealing with there. When he created “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, he based his TV series on a failed feature-film that barely anybody had watched. This gave him all the freedom he needed to take the series wherever he wanted to go with it. With “The Avengers” he’s dealing with half a century or more’s worth of combined lore, along with some pretty beloved characters who his audience won’t want to see “changed”. That puts massive limitations on him as a screenwriter, and I think it shows. (When he did a Shakespeare adaptation, it was my favorite film of last year. How many Shakespeare fans are there who want to see their favorite characters portrayed in exactly one way, and one way only? I’m guessing not many.)

    And I make a point of wearing wizard robes at least once a fortnight. You should see some of the looks I get down the pub…

  45. The Original... Paul

    January 17th, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Renfield – hey, I didn’t say I don’t LIKE it. I absolutely admire Jackson’s intentions while making this scene – it’s quite clearly a guy who understands that he’s been an asshole and is determined to do right by the people he’s wronged, even to the point of giving his life for them; and he’s so dedicated to this that he just will not lay down and die. It’s so obviously sincere, yet the execution is so bizarrely overdone. I’ve watched that scene twice now and I honestly can’t decide whether to shed a tear or burst out laughing. I think maybe a combination of both.

    Let’s just say that I appreciate the point of the scene; I just think that maybe it could’ve stopped at the third(?) arrow and it would have been a little more to-the-point. Pun intended.

  46. They’re literally younger than the others though. Frodo’s in his 80s (just guessing I don’t remember these details), Legolas is like 800 years old for all we know. Gandalf probably has a few THOUSAND years on the Hobbits. Even Aragorn, being Numenor, is a lot older than he looks. So in both their age and their naivety/innocence (the factor that enables them to be ringbearers) the Hobbits are Middle Earth’s children.

  47. Paul: they did stop at the third arrow, and Boromir was unable to stand after that. Boromir’s death scene is the most powerful scene in the trilogy, in my opinion.

    And Aragorn beheading the douchebag orc was fucking awesome.

  48. I fully believe that Jackson’s main storytelling problem is that, even in a four-hour epic, he still doesn’t have enough room to get across everything he wants to achieve. You watch the behind-the-scenes of these movies and you get more sense of the dwarfs and their backstories and personalities. I think his true oeuvre is the movie-budget TV series, where you can dwell on the idea that the handsome dwarf is part elf and that’s why he’s attracted to tall, slender, hairless ladies, or that the dwarf with an ax in his head is brain-damaged and that’s why he’s forgotten how to speak English. It’s this massive, lived-in tapestry that sucks me in, despite my antidilection for magic and wizards and shit.

  49. Robo – it’s been ages since I’ve seen it so I will take your word for that. It just seems to go ON, is all. Of course that’s mostly the point of it anyway.

    Meh, I might be being unfair here. I get and appreciate the intention of the scene. And I agree that it was a good way to provide a dramatic climax to “The Fellowship”, even if I think it was overdone.

  50. I finally got around to seeing this. It took me a while because I thought I could find people to see the film with over the holiday. Unfortunately, everyone I knew was either sold on the film initially and had already seen it or had dropped out after the first Hobbit. The film has its flaws, which have been mentioned here and elsewhere, but I still really dug it, especially the final confrontation with Smaug. I also think that Majystek is right. Jackson has too much in mind for these films. It’s also the reason why the Lord of the Rings series worked even better in their extended edition format. I’m not a huge fantasy fan, but for some reason I still find this world incredibly enticing. When seeing the first Hobbit, I was surprised by how happy I was to revisit the Shire.

  51. fyi I skipped this, I feel kinda bad about it since I enjoyed the first one and had every intention of seeing this one too, but the thought of watching another damn near 3 hour Hobbit movie with my weak ass bladder made me sweat and I kept procrastinating until whoops, it was out of theaters, oh well…

  52. Adding a voice about the HFR version. Too bad it’s gone from theaters and the vast majority of us will never get a chance to see it again,

    … because it made the whole sequence with Smaug look FUCKING INCREDIBLE.

    It really hit me a few minutes in, when Jackson pulls a wide, deep shot into the back of the cave and Smaug is leaning forward, cruising from the back to the foreground, getting ready to breathe fire. The HFR makes the 3D effortless to parse, and makes the space huge, and makes the sheer size and weight of the dragon something you can almost feel.

    If Cuaron had made Gravity in 3D HFR instead of just 3D, it would have sold this format in a big way. By now people would be arguing that HFR is the ONLY acceptable way to shoot a 3D movie.

  53. Finally caught up with this one on home video. I know I’m in the minority, but I’m in love with those HOBBIT movies. They just make me smile from the beginning to the end. The Legolas subplot was pretty unnecessary IMO and I kinda hated that the movie just ends in the middle of the climax, but man, that was one fun adventure movie. (Less fun than part 1, though. Too bad that Jackson toned down the humor and goofiness, after the nerds got allergic reactions from it.)

  54. This review is so hilarious it may rank up in Vern’s top 10. No small feat. The movie itself won’t be in my top 200 but I really liked it. What the hell is wrong with me that Jackson went 0-3 with the LOTR trilogy with me and now he’s 2-0 with this ridiculous Hobbit series? Especially when both of these movies celebrate his worst attributes (really dumb and overlong video game sequences, over-reliance on shoddy looking CGI, inability to edit anything out). Perhaps it was the fact that I was high as hell, but I had an ear to ear grin during so many scenes – the Smaug scene, the barrel scene that seems written and staged by a 6 year old (meant as a compliment), the Evangeline Lily love story stuff, the “you think I’m self-indulgent? Here’s a director’s cameo!” Peter Jackson scene, the Stephen Colbert cameo – I was just weirdly charmed by all of this even though it’s clear Jackson has reached self parody and may not know it. Every scene involving Legolas is nothing but him either posing like Zoolander, or killing orcs in “kewl” ways, yet I couldn’t wait for him to show up again. I hope the 3rd one contains a solid 45 minutes of Legolas or his Blade II-esque CGI double doing parkour off of Orc heads while killing them.

    About that – got to agree with One Guy from Andromeda – it’s really weird how this series for “kids” features Orcs decapitated, horribly mangled, and eviscerated for LOLZ. Orcs get finished off while running away. Orcs’ headless bodies twitch horrifically in what I think was supposed to be a joke. Sure violence is unavoidable in this genre, but there’s a mean-spiritedness that’s bordering on angry teenage boy/Transformers 3-era Michael Bay, made especially weird since Gandalf JUST SAID in the last one it takes courage to spare a life, and I swear each main character probably kills about 35 Orcs a piece in this one.

    Oh and as for the ending – it’s not particularly satisfying, but it didn’t make me groan like it would have a few years ago. We unfortunately live in a world where $300 million worth of tickets were sold to Mockingjay Part 1, a movie that doesn’t have an ending, but more importantly, doesn’t have anything resembling a climax or even any mid-story setpieces. I think audiences are becoming more and more okay with spending $12 on getting part of the story, and we’ll be unfortunately seeing more of this shit in the future.

  55. I only saw this today on Netflix which goes to show my interest in these films nowadays.

    Agree with you totally Vern, this is the most spot-on review of the film I’ve read.

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