Sunday, December 22, 2013

The desolation of story

I finally got around to seeing the second Hobbit movie last night. I wasn't very hyped, as the previous one didn't really do it for me. I expected a CGI spectacle and that's what I got - where in 'The Fellowship of the Ring' we had the Moria sequence as all-out spectacle, in the middle of an otherwise fairly grounded and well written script, here we are fed one dizzying whirlwind of cgi overdose after another.

THE GOOD:
Where the CGI has been given enough of the budget, it is rather good: the spiders of Mirkwood and Smaug. Some good shots here and there.

Smaug was a hit, I think. Well done.

The acting was, in general, solid, with a special nod to the guy who portrays Thranduil.

Some evocative panoramic shots.

Laketown was well realized, most visually interesting setting of both movies.

THE BAD:
Legolas was unconvincing and unnecessary.

Little time for characterization.

Too hectic.

Lots of unconvincing CGI. Most orcs didn't feel real to me.

The "let's kill Smaug" sequence was horrible in execution and writing and had me wanting the film to end. Reminded me of the droid factory scene in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, more reminiscent of a video game level.

What is with the notion that bigger is better? No subtlety as you are hammered, battered and bludgeoned with action that is so over the top it becomes unbelievable, thus ruining immersion. Where are the subdued yet emotional moments? Not in this film.

I'm no Tolkien purist in the overly nerdy way so I don't mind changes, but splitting the movie in many strands when there is only one plot feels wrong on many levels. I didn't care about any of the characters except Bilbo, really. And he wasn't the main character either in this film. What a mess.

THE UGLY:
Several sidestories went by so fast you barely registered them; I'm thinking of Beorn specifically.

Gandalf facing Sauron himself creates a rather big plot hole when we get to 'The Fellowship of the Ring'.

Putting Azog in Dol Guldur was a strange choice. A new orc (also unconvincing) was sent after the dwarves and I am not sure if this made any sense. Sauron needed Azog as a battle commander? Unnecessary to say the least and adding nothing.

Fewer than last time, the nods to the "original trilogy" are still jarring. Specifically Peter Jackson showing up in Bree, and the whole Bree-intro mirroring the Bree-scene in Fellowship, including the seemingly Undying Black Cat of the Prancing Pony.

THE UNFORGIVEABLE:
The love triangle coming out of nowhere, featuring Kili, new character and hot hot female elf Tauriel and dour Legolas didn't really do anything for me. It wasn't Anakin-Padme bad but it did get close. Shame this will have to be resolved in the final installment.

The locations often look unreal, even when they probably are real. Both Hobbit movies lack that feeling of Middle-earth that the Ring films provided. Maybe it's just me.

Sigh. I guess I'm too old for this stuff. Kids will probably gobble it up, playing outside pretending to be Legolas jumping all over the place to kill and maim orcs in a variety of creative violent ways.

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