tyellas: (Runescript)
[personal profile] tyellas

Last night, I reprised something from 10 years ago by seeing a Wellington-first-public showing of a Tolkien film by Peter Jackson at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington. How time flies!

At the Embassy, unlike ten years ago, everything was set up for Wellington fans to be pampered - a luxurious theater, free movie snacks with our tickets, free professional photos, spot prizes, roving reporters. Apparently, I made a breakfast TV show in my elf gown from 10 years ago recounting being there 10 years ago. 90% of the movie goers were contest winners, and 10% was the local Tolkien society, following a ticketing issue that made the news - that's how I got my ticket.

So. The film. First, and IMPORTANT: Tolkien fans, see the 2D version. Avoid the 3D version if at all possible. Every critique of the  3D version in 48fps was true for me –facial prosthetic falseness, surreal over-reality, a sense of being a TV show or an extract from the ‘Making Of’ DVD. Apart from that, as a big ol' fan I give it a solid B+.


The abrupt novelty of Middle-Earth in 3D really jarred me during the introduction. In a hyperexcited return, we get a supersized exposition pack with a fast-forward through Dale, Erebor, and the Dwarf/Orc Wars, and a fanservice glimpse of Thranduil. Then we return to the Shire for a movie beginning that overlaps with the start of "The Fellowship of the Ring", complete with a smooth young Frodo. What movie were we in, again? After the plot hit Rivendell either my eyes settled into the 3D or the more subdued wilderness/ Rivendell scenery made it less teeth-on-edge, until we hit the goblins' realm under the Misty Mountains.

Radagast receives a trippy subplot, and initially comes across as a Rankin & Bass Hobbit character meets Tim Benzedrine from Bored of the Rings, settling down after his loopiness to be similar to, well, my take. So that was passable. Might there also have been some Rankin/Bass homage going on with the Great Goblin? Is there an inevitable groovy 70s fan madness endemic to all movies of The Hobbit? Thranduil was riding a MOOSE, by Elbereth. Maybe it was supposed to be an Irish Elk, but I immediately read it as a moose.

Things critics didn't like that I had no problem with:

  • 3 hours? What three hours? We were done already?
  • Dwarf musical numbers in first hour - Not bad at all, "Carefully With The Plates" was clever rather than excruciating, and "Misty Mountains" was, as it should be, haunting.
  • Fanboy/fanfic-like expansion/adjusments.  Mostly acceptable, particularly the orc Azog, making the Dwarf/Elf dislike more relevant to the immediate plot, getting to see Elrond wielding a sword, a mini-White Council, and changes to the Troll scene that mean that the characters' motivations make much more sense.
  • "Bilbo is too modern" - Yes, and it's canonical - his bourgeousie concerns and quibbles are played for amusement against the increasingly high fantasy setting.

Things I didn't like, apart from that 3D:

  • Erebor's too big. It's depicted as being about the same size and mineral resources as Moria, which wasn't the case.
  • Endless dwarf bumbling. Unfortunately, this is canonical. I was with Thorin and his frequent exasperated facial expressions.
  • Falling off edges of things, constantly, emphasized.
  • Martin Freeman's voice, of all things, took me a while to get into.
  • Excessively slick elves. Turn down the special effects!

Random notes:

  • The "Riddles in the Dark" scene is nigh-Shakespearean. So brilliant.
  • A friend of mine in Wellington owns a craft store that was contracted by Weta to provide 20 liters of gold glitter. The final scene shows where that glitter went.
  • Why no Elladan and Elrohir? Why do they torture me so?
  • Brett McKenzie/Lindir is back. I had to check the cast list to be sure it was him, ten years has given him stronger cheekbones. Christopher Lee is back as well, possibly because his lines have him disagreeing with everybody else in the cast.
  • I was absurdly pleased to be wearing the same "mannequin hand" nail polish as Galadriel.
  • This is definitely more kid-friendly than the LOTR movies - less blood, less mortality, cleaner orcs, bunnies, and the only slash-ready pairing is Thor and Azog. The scene where their eyes meet is right out of an Oglaf cartoon.
  • I don't know what to make of The Arkenstone. It's a realistic size, but it's...peach-colored?
  • A fine movie but I could've waited a few more months to see it so that the people working on it could have work schedules and rights in line with local labor laws.

Date: 2012-12-12 01:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] coyotegoth.livejournal.com
I'm glad to hear most of this, although the dwarf bumbling, canonical or not... really, didn't he get this out of his system with Gimli?

Date: 2012-12-13 12:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tyellas.livejournal.com
I guess he really wanted a film with a WHOLE LOT of dwarf bumbling.

Date: 2012-12-30 11:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ithilwen.livejournal.com
In fairness to PJ, the Dwarves do bumble a lot in the original source material.

At least we were spared the Elves of Imladris hanging upside-down from trees and singing "tra-la-la-laly, down in the valley"!

Date: 2012-12-12 03:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] maureenlycaon.livejournal.com
Thank you for the critique! I look forward eagerly to seeing it. (And hope and pray that hobbit torture slash does not again become a hot fad . . .)

Date: 2012-12-13 12:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tyellas.livejournal.com
We can thank Martin Freeman's eyes for our upcoming freedom from hobbit torture slash. Where Frodo Baggins had the eyes of a transcendent visionary heartthrob, Bilbo Baggins has the eyes of a shrewd greengrocer.

Date: 2012-12-21 11:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] furius.livejournal.com
I suppose you haven't ventured close to Sherlock fandom then?

Because Smaug/Bilbo slash is already apparently a thing....

Date: 2012-12-30 10:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ithilwen.livejournal.com
Am I the only one wishing that martin Freeman had been cast as Frodo in the first three movies? Wood's doe-eyed oh-so-helpless looks in the first three movies become rather grating (especially on repeat viewings), while I never tired of Martin's Bilbo in this movie. He seemed a perfect Hobbit.

Of course, if Martin HAD been cast as Fodo, we wouldn't have him as Bilbo now, and that would be a great loss indeed. So I can't complain!

Date: 2012-12-12 08:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oracne.livejournal.com
Looks like I'm seeing the 3D version, alas - the 2D wasn't at a convenient time. But I'll see 2D later on, I hope.

Gold glitter - I have a guess! It's exciting me!

Date: 2012-12-13 12:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tyellas.livejournal.com
Oooooh, good luck with that.

Date: 2012-12-12 09:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ithilwen.livejournal.com
FINALLY someone has said something that actually makes me want to see this movie! I was so unenthusiastic, I thought I was going to have to turn my Tolkien Geek fan card in. (Although I did like the glimpses of Gandalf and Thorin I saw in the trailers.)

Guess maybe I should look at snagging some tickets for this weekend before they all sell out!

Date: 2012-12-13 12:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tyellas.livejournal.com
We've all been on the fence about this one, haven't we? I really need to see the 2D version before I have a final opionion. But yes, 2D only.

Date: 2012-12-30 11:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ithilwen.livejournal.com
I took your advice, and was glad I did. The movie looks superb in 2-D, and I saved money. Can't beat that!

Date: 2012-12-14 06:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] teaforme.livejournal.com
I mostly agree, although they kind of had me with the YouTube trailer where they sang Misty Mountains.

Date: 2012-12-30 10:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ithilwen.livejournal.com
The "Misty Mountains" song was great, as was the depiction of Thorin in the trailer, but for some reason it just didn't grab me as much as the trailer for "Fellowship" did. Which is fine, as the movie TOTALLY won me over!
From: [identity profile] wiseheart.livejournal.com
Most of our movie theatres are 2D, so I don't have to fear any eye-hurting. *g*

Thanks for the summary. I didn't expect much of the movie, to be honest, considering what a disappointment the LOTR-films had been for me, but I think I'll go an see it. If for nothing else, then for Marting Freeman, whom I adore to pieces, and to see (and more importantly hear) Cumberbatch being a seductive dragon in the next parts.
From: [identity profile] tyellas.livejournal.com
A good rule of thumb is, when you see something happening on screen that you don't remember from the books, take a bathroom break!
From: [identity profile] wiseheart.livejournal.com
How many bathroom break does it exactly mean? The things I read aforehead made me very, very afraid.
From: [identity profile] tyellas.livejournal.com
I'd say time for bathroom breaks is when you see Radagast, and when they say "Stone Giants!"
From: [identity profile] altariel.livejournal.com
Yes, that stone giants bit went on far too long, and was a test of patience and goodwill that late in the film.
From: [identity profile] ithilwen.livejournal.com
So did the escape from Goblin Town - and Our heros overcme far too many goblins far too easily as well. It's the usual PJ "paint with a broom instead of a brush" problem. But he got Bilbo so very right that I can forgive him the action scene excesses.

Date: 2012-12-14 06:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] teaforme.livejournal.com
I cannot wait to see this now!

So, if we're seeing the Arkenstone (which is white in my mind) in film 1, does this mean it's a flashback or are they going to draw out the Battle of Five Armies for two films?

Date: 2012-12-15 04:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tyellas.livejournal.com
Wish I could see it with you, sigh. The Arkenstone is in a flashback, half well done and half too "Jewels by Baldai" for me.

Date: 2012-12-17 04:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snottygrrl.livejournal.com
i just saw it in the 48 frame 3d. yikes! every time pj did a panorama i thought i was going to sick up and i'm not usually one for motion sickness. oi.

i was thrilled to see figwit for his cameo, bless peter and bret both. also, i'd slash thorin with either kili or fili or both. and if i did incest, i could totally see slashing the two brothers. all in all, i enjoyed it ::nods::

Date: 2012-12-17 07:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tyellas.livejournal.com
Oooh, if a film lover like you hates the 48 frame 3D, I feel better.

For the pretty, yes, that's the slash path to go. That or wait until the next movie!

Date: 2012-12-30 12:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tecno-fairy.livejournal.com
My family and I went on a bit of a nostalgia-fest outing to see the Hobbit as we'd seen all the LOTR films together, but I don't think any of us had very high expectations - we'd even come on the bus rather than in the car so my mum could go home early if she felt dizzy from the 48fps.
I'm not really sure why we were all feeling so indifferent to it - maybe the thought of three films being squeezed out of a small book felt like greed or indulgence, and we were a bit worried it would be all filler.
Turns out we needn't have worried - we all had a fab time and no one got motion sickness. Fortunately we were sitting right at the back so the minimum number of people possible were bothered by our frankly antisocial cinema behaviour: Sister got all excited by the appearance of 'Fit Mitchell from Being Human', Mum, fell in love with Martin Freeman, and Dad laughed like an hysterical fanboy. Every now and then there would be a whispered conversation along the lines of "Is that in the Appendices?" if there was a bit one of us didn't remember.
So a fine time was had by all, even though we agreed that it didn't have the gravitas of LOTR (apart from Riddles in the Dark, which was magnificent), and we could have done with less swooping down mineshafts and falling over.
I liked your comment about Bilbo - he's just the perfect Little Englander, and I think it works to draw you into the story; of course you have to suspend disbelief to get into a fantasy film, but you feel more connected to it if one of the characters is voicing your concerns or just saying "wait...what?" about the things you'd question.
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