The Desolation of Smaug & other epics - SPOILERS!!!!!

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The Desolation of Smaug & other epics - SPOILERS!!!!!

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Sat Dec 14, 2013 2:38 pm

Well all I can say is go and see it. It's not the story we know, but that's still there essentially although it's smothered in luscious, masterly CGI and mind-boggling, eye-swirling action sequences.
Spoilers galore here so read on at your peril although I've not gone into too much detail :twisted:

We succumbed to the 3D version and, all in all, I'm glad we did but boy did we have bad seats as you need to be in a good elevated centre seat to take in the sheer scale of the blissful cinematography. Purists will hate it because it completely glosses most of the Mirkwood parts of the book, 'bearly' touches on Beorn (but then he's hardly there anyway). Some good bits with Thranduil (gods he's dishy! :oops: ) interrogating Thorin and Bilbo word-fencing Smaug. We start in Bree (cue the rain) with Gandalf talking to Thorin a year before the quest starts then straight back in to go with Beorn and Azog getting a callback to Dol Guldur. Bolg's put in far too early to deputise with the ongoing dwarf chase saga that's does start to get seriously annoying in this episode, mainly due to Legolas, Prince of the Ninjas (more to say on that later... :x ). Thorin and Co get to and into the Lonely Mountain and the film finishes where Smaug strops off to Laketown all portentous, with Bilbo having a belated, but serious 'whoops what have we done?' moment, which was totally ruined by a soft rock ballad playing with the end titles.

So far, so normal, so lets get the bad bits out of the way first. The much-vaunted Tauriel character has no place in the original storyline, so of course they could do what the hell they wanted with her in Mirkwood and... hat's off to them, they could have had an inevitable sprauncy prince elf meets sexy guard captain scenario, 'cos Legs definitely would like to go there, but instead the tawny-haired and eyed warrioress starts to get the hots for - Kili?!!!!! :shock: Well, he is tall for a dwarf apparently... Anyway, fast forward to the barrel escape - think more sitting in them going over Niagra style, then gratuitously have Bolg and his evil hench-orcs chasing them down the wildest log flume ride in creation with Tauriel and Legs in Matrix on speed style hot pursuit. Image Eventually they all give up because the river's too rough, so the dwarves escape as planned, but not before Kili takes a 'Morgul' knife wound, so he has to be left behind in Laketown with Fili, Bifur and Bofur (and a bit more for Bard to do to earn his fee).

Rewind slightly for another major miff - Bard (played by Luke Evans who looks startlingly (in a good way) like a dark version of Eomer/Karl Urban) is brought in far too early as a kind of smuggler bargeman and underground rival for Stephen Fry's Master. All that's not too bad really, as it embroiders plausibly on what was, let's face it only faintly pencilled in for the book. It shows a darker side to the city on stilts, and Mr Fry is his usual national treasure self in portraying a self-serving local slimeball politician who's trying to be posher than he really is. :P And back to poor wraith-meat Kili - all of sudden Tauriel and Legolas steam in just as Bofur's been out to get some athelas from the pigsty (yes really! :roll: ), because Bolg and his minions have hit town briefly. After another stunning Bruce Lee memorial exhibition bout, all orcses are despatched with Legolas chasing the remnants out of town while Tauriel suddenly becomes Elrond and goes all shiny tearing up the kingsfoil and manfully massaging it into Kili's stumpy hairy dwarf leg... It's a touching scene in a way, but really, PJ must really be sitting up and begging for yet another lore nazi drubbing.Image But as T's a total invention, who's to say it's not adding some context to dwarf-elf romantic interaction where Galadriel and Gimli dared not tread? LOL :lol:

The really great bits that were expected, whether they were in the book or not -
  • Smaug Image - totally awesome. Best dragon ever!!!!! Image Daenerys Stormborn cry your little blonde heart out. He's stupendously brilliant and so - right! Benedict Cumberbatch is an utter god of voice acting. Even the dragonfire works and the bit where he's starting to flame - well words almost fail, but his gullet glows under his scales and it's just soooo - whoooosh!
    Image
  • Gandalf in Dol Guldur. This IS canon, so don't argue!Image It may not be in the Hobbit, but it is in Unfinished Tales and the Sil, so ner ner and shut up! :lol: But what's not in canon is the glorious conceptual visualisation of a battle of pure magic. And, gods help us, this is the dark side of the Music of the Ainur. The sequence can only be a few minutes long, but I swear that Tolkien himself would not fault this gorgeous gargantuan gem of a power war between Gandalf and the Necromancer. Simpy breathtaking. Image
    So - PJ do what you like with Azog/Bolg and Co and Legolas can rollerblade to the Battle of the Five Armies for all I care now - thank you for topping the Isengard wizard heavyweight bout by miles and miles! :clap:
  • Smaug again, but really eclipsed by his hoard (the Arkenstone is so beautiful) and a much expanded and probably over-indulgent fight sequence in the Halls of Erebor with Thorin driven to the edge, playing tag with his friends and setting off the forges to nearly engulf the dragon in a tsunami of molten gold and send him off, literally spitting nuggets, to Laketown.

Overall this movie takes astounding liberties with the original tale and Erebor makes Moria look pretty drab in comparison, but it sure brings the glory of the past dwarf kingdom to searing life - and it's fun in an over the top way. Canon issues thrust to one side (your mileage may vary on that of course 8-) ) this is possibly the best fantasy action adventure film I've ever seen - except the next one's got Galadriel prodding buttock with Elrond in Dol Guldur to rescue Gandalf and there's the Battle of the Five Armies with Billy Connolly as Richard Armitage' kickass cousin Dain so it should be a rambunctiously good finale to this second Middle Earth trilogy next year! :dance:

(Most taken from orignal review HERE)
Last edited by Jan Van Quirm on Sun Dec 15, 2013 4:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Desolation of Smaug & other epics - SPOILERS!!!!!

Postby janet » Sat Dec 14, 2013 8:54 pm

Jan! That is an amazing revue! I'm still at the :happy-smileygiantred: stage and could never be a critic nor a Tolkein-purist.
Our version was 3D which was my very first cinematic experience of this phenomenon.
No really, I am still at the OMG stage!
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Re: The Desolation of Smaug & other epics - SPOILERS!!!!!

Postby janet » Sat Dec 14, 2013 9:34 pm

Ok. Getting a grip now :oops:
Smaug, the best cinema dragon EVER, Yep!
Thranduil, too camp and cruel for me to feel warm towards.
Tauriel was a complete mystery so it's no surprise that she's an invented character and not in the original story.
I've read The Hobbit many times and it was my ultimate favourite read-aloud book when I taught 11-year-olds.
Where the thump did Legolas appear from? Not that it was an unpleasant surprise to see him....oh, no indeedy......quite the opposite!
It's Kili who has taken the Morgul wound to the leg. Fili stayed with him in Laketown cos he's his brother. Bifur's the one with the axe still embedded in his cranium isn't he? So he's not there with them, but Bofur is the James Nesbit dwarf and he is still there. However, no idea who the fourth dwarf left in Laketown actually is :oops:
The dwarf/elf, Montagu/Capulet romance? Nice touch! Totally irrelevant but cute!
I'm not too peeved that Bard is being promoted to MAJOR character.....in view of his ultimate achievement which cannot be messed around with can it? Now Bard is MY idea of really sexy.....but I also fell for Eomer's brooding charms :D
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Re: The Desolation of Smaug & other epics - SPOILERS!!!!!

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Sat Dec 14, 2013 11:28 pm

Kili/Fili - meh! :lol: You're right - Fili's the blond one (Dean O'Gorman who was Bragi in NZ's Almighty Johnsons).

Technically Legolas would have been around during the Hobbit of course, but the Woodelves didn't go looking for fun outside of Mirkwood at that time until Thranduil gets greedy enough to go treasure hunting with the Lakemen. He was never mentioned in TH so PJ and the scriptgals can do what they like with him and Tauriel. She's entirely possible as elfwomen who hadn't settled down with kids still fought alongside the menfolk, but again the woodelves and especially their Sindar Lords (so Thranduil, Legolas and Galadriel's hubby Celeborn) really loathed Dwarves because of a blood feud going back to the dawnatime when their High King was killed by a whole bunch of them who stole one of the Silmarils from him... :roll:

Essentially that storyline and the Dol Guldur section is how they're justifying 3 films this time out. The purist lobby is split down the middle on whether the Dol Guldur side story should have been tackled - I'm glad they're doing it as it's definitely canon and enshrined in the LotR as the point where Saruman finally goes over to the dark side. But of course, as usual, Mr. T didn't do much except woffle very briefly about it in one of the almost unpublishable parts that his poor son's been labouring with in the archives for 50 years or more, so a lot of the lorists are pulling their hair out at PJ daring to mess with it! :lol:

I really loved what they did with the Necromancer manifesting as the Eye and the morphing from blackness to fire ball figure over and over - really clever stuff. The SFX were truly stunning in this - really I don't care about some of the sillier stuff at all but I can understand how some will get very upset over the skimping on the Mirkwood section as they really could have done some more with that. The forest wasn't anything like dark enough either but overall it didn't matter because of pacey action and visual treats. :D
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Re: The Desolation of Smaug & other epics - SPOILERS!!!!!

Postby Who's Wee Dug » Sun Dec 15, 2013 12:27 pm

Maybe he puts in some bits just to wind up Cannon Nazi's, because knows he is going to get stick from them what ever he does. :twisted: :lol:
He willnae tak' a drink! I think he's deid! , on the other hand though A Midgie in yir hand is worth twa up yir kilt.
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Re: The Desolation of Smaug & other epics - SPOILERS!!!!!

Postby janet » Mon Dec 16, 2013 11:06 am

:lol:
Then again, I don't think PJ puts anything in his films for anyone else but himself and his team. I love the way they're constantly testing their skills with cinematic effects. This film defies most superlatives in that respect. It's fabulous in all senses of the word.
BTW, Mr Jackson always appears in his own films (after the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock) but, if you blink, you might miss him in this one. I'd have to see it again to find more than one appearance :D
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Re: The Desolation of Smaug & other epics - SPOILERS!!!!!

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Dec 16, 2013 5:02 pm

Who's Wee Dug wrote:Maybe he puts in some bits just to wind up Cannon Nazi's, because knows he is going to get stick from them what ever he does. :twisted: :lol:

They certainly need a kick into the 20th Century let alone the 21st :lol: I think what they hate most is the 'tone' which most reasonable people would call bringing the story up to date for modern audiences and doing stuff that Tolkien would have sold his soul for to translate his words into visuals that in his day would only have been possible with animation (although of course CGI includes that, but of course not the sort where you have to a libretto as well... :twisted: ). Any author who hadn't already died and gone to heaven would have done so again to see that realisation of Smaug delivered so brilliantly.

There'll be yet more whinging about Radagast carrying a bird's nest around on his head on the grounds of it besmirching the wizardly dignity that should be accorded someone whose only dialogue in the main novels was "Saruman wants to see you, Gandalf." (even there I paraphrase fulsomely). Just as well they gave the sled-bunnies the days off this time around! :P Of course there'll also be screams of outrage over Tauriel, not so much because she's out there 'ninja-ing' as well as Legolas, but over the fact that she's a redhead because only about 4 or 5 Elves are ever mentioned as being carrot tops (all related to each other - bit like the Weasleys, only posher :lol: ) and not her sort of Elf at all... :roll:

It amazes me how so-called Tolkien academics can get so snotty about character interpretation in these adaptations because Tolkien was always tinkering around with them and the timeline - Legolas being a good example in that originally it was going to be Glorfindel the Balrog-slayer (replaced by Arwen at the Fords rescuing Frodo in Fellowship) who was in LotR. But because Tolkien used Glo in one of the subsidiary parts of the Silmarillion (as one of the Unfinished Tales) as the principal protagonist against the head Nazgul, the Witchking of Angmar a 1000 years previously, young Prince Legs was drafted in so that Gandalf could take a turn at Balrog killing instead. :ugeek: The whole canon of Middle Earth is littered with anomalies and sharp U-turns with numerous scenarios for major characters like Gandalf and Galadriel and tons for Elrond's antecedents. IMO PJ's done sterling work with the essentials and used a lot of common 'hobbit sense' in the places where 'the Master' twiddled around with genealogies and pigeon-Celtic instead of concentrating on character development and attributes so really the purists need to take a chill pill and a good sniff of the CGI latte then sit back and watch the world they claim to love come to life! :lol:
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Re: The Desolation of Smaug & other epics - SPOILERS!!!!!

Postby Who's Wee Dug » Mon Dec 16, 2013 8:59 pm

Jan I can't say enough good things about the film, Smaug blew me away, what a brilliant creation I will have to reread it before I go back and see it again, I'm still buzzing, and Tauriel so glad she was in it as a partner for Legolas, expands the background history for him a bit from LOTR. :D
He willnae tak' a drink! I think he's deid! , on the other hand though A Midgie in yir hand is worth twa up yir kilt.
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Re: The Desolation of Smaug & other epics - SPOILERS!!!!!

Postby Penfold » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:07 pm

I just got back and was blown away by the whole film (much better than the first, imo). :D
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Re: The Desolation of Smaug & other epics - SPOILERS!!!!!

Postby michelanCello » Sat Dec 21, 2013 12:59 am

Just watched it! :D Loved it, especially Martin Freeman's acting (so funny sometimes :lol:) the elvish fight scenes which were quite a form of art on their own, and Benedict Cumberbatch's voice... *drools*

One thing though: if you're making a two and a half hour movie, why can't you make Bilbo go down to Smaug a couple of more times like it should be?
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Re: The Desolation of Smaug & other epics - SPOILERS!!!!!

Postby Quatermass » Tue Dec 31, 2013 10:12 am

Just watched it in 3D and High Frame Rate. Now, I know some people hate HFR, partly because it makes it look like video, but I love it for that exact same reason. I love the look of video compared to film.

Anyway, bloody brilliant film, with the highlight being, of course, Smaug. And [EFF!] me, if I didn't know it was Benedict Cumberbatch voicing him, I wouldn't have picked him as Smaug. The voice, the design, the animation/motion capture (Cumberbatch did motion capture for Smaug, though how much is unknown ATM, meaning anything from facial capture to full-on body motion capture), all combine to create what is debatably the scariest dragon ever committed to celluloid.
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Re: The Desolation of Smaug & other epics - SPOILERS!!!!!

Postby Sister Jennifer » Tue Dec 31, 2013 10:50 pm

Yep, Smaug was definitely the star of the show, I got a bit restless waiting to see him. Lake Town & Bard were also very good.

Brief as they were I really enjoyed the parts where Thorin & Smaug were talking to each other. Bilbo as well, of course, but we all knew that was going to be there. The hate between Smaug & Thorin was palpable.

Another brief moment I liked is when Bilbo tells Gandalf that he's found something, puts his hand in his pocket, changes his mind, then tells him it's his courage. What's the meaning there? Is the ring influencing Bilbo to keep itself secret or does Bilbo simply want the others to think he's being courageous on his own? The look Gandalf gives Bilbo, it's a lovely bit of acting from the two of them. We know it's the one ring & all that but I don't remember it being anything other than something useful to Bilbo in the book so I liked that bit.

Some of the action scenes were a bit too much, or not enough. More with the spiders and Bilbo being very clever in rescuing the dwarves from them, and less with the elves doing their moves in the river scene would've been good. The dwarves melting the gold in the end scene was way too much.
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Re: The Desolation of Smaug & other epics - SPOILERS!!!!!

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:37 pm

Certainly agree about there not being enough spider action Sister Jen - that was one of the few unique opportunities for the CGI artists to really show off and they wasted it in favour of showboating ninja moves that's frankly common fare these days. The gold smelting wasn't 'canon' and if the metal was that plentiful then it wouldn't have much value for greedy dwarfses would it? :twisted:

The significance with not revealing the true source of Bilbo's 'courage' is tied up with ringlore and the need for the bearer to hide it or at least claim it for his own irrevocably. Gollum claimed it was his birthday present from, variously, his friend Deagol (who he murdered to get the ring for himself) or his grandmother who he said had many such trinkets. Bilbo at least owned up to the truth with Gandalf later on in the Hobbit (in the next movie episode) with the baldly truthful explanation of winning it in a riddle game, but Tolkien scholars put his initial secrecy down to the nature of the ring itself and it's nefarious influence on lesser wearers that was put into it's forging by Sauron himself, so nobody but him could truly be its master.

The academic jury's out on whether the ring itself had some measure of sentience in its own right, but Tolkien did hint at this being possible magically for members of the wizard races and for some of the Elves who were exiled in Middle Earth (Galadriel's Noldorin cousins descended from Feanor including his grandson who forged the 3 elven rings).
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Re: The Desolation of Smaug & other epics - SPOILERS!!!!!

Postby Sister Jennifer » Wed Jan 01, 2014 1:25 pm

Awesome. Thank you!
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Re: The Desolation of Smaug & other epics - SPOILERS!!!!!

Postby janet » Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:55 pm

PJ and Co went with the theory that the ring had sentience in LotR. It has its own theme tune which suggests that it's calling to the bearer to put it on. I'm rereading The Hobbit since it has to be 30 years since I last read it and was reminded that Bilbo tells the story of how he escaped from the goblins (and lost his buttons) when he meets up with the others and they pester him into telling. He leaves out the finding of the ring but Gandalf says, "'What did I tell you? Mr Baggins has more about him than you guess!' He gave Bilbo a queer look from under his bushy eyebrows as he said this, and the hobbit wondered if he guessed at the part of his tale that he had left out".
(I'm so ridiculously in love with this story again :lol: )
After the spider episode, Bilbo comes clean to the dwarves about the ring.
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