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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Mo-capped Manu
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ShireHorse
Rohan

Nov 13 2013, 12:32pm

Post #1 of 43 (1193 views)
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Mo-capped Manu Can't Post

I've just done a marathon through all the Extras on the EE and one of the most interesting bits, for me at least, was the section on the creation of Azog. I then began to wonder why we only ever seem to discuss Azog as a bit of CGI without giving credit to the actor, as we do with Andy Serkis.

No, he's not a cartoon: there's a real mo-capped man in there and I think he does an excellent job.

I think that those who are hung up about keeping Azog alive "because it's not in the book" or moan about the plastic nature of his white skin, should put these complaints aside for one moment so that we can concentrate on the actual performance.

First, I'm one who would go along with Jackson and say that it's a good idea to keep Azog alive as the main orc antagonist and not muddy the waters by suddenly producing Bolg at the Bot5A, someone we would have no investment in. It makes absolute sense, in the same way that we are going to get an expansion of Bard's character so that he's not just some 2D 'hero' who pops out of nowhere to kill the dragon.

Secondly, I was impressed by how much effort PJ and the team put into 'finding Azog'. He started out as an actor (not Manu) in prosthetics and they spent so much time searching for the right look and making full costumes, only to realise that it wasn't going to work at the 11th hour. The fact that they didn't shrug and say, 'Well, too late now - it's good enough', just proves to me their dedication in trying to get things right.

The 'Bolg' costume was, in fact, an early Azog attempt because Tolkien says he was crowned in metal. I've never liked that costume although I know that some did. It would appear that they didn't waste it, however, but dressed some random orc in it for the battle before Moria. They have, however, kept the leather skirt made from the faces of dwarves which I thought was a good touch. BUT, the information in the Extras have led me to conclude that we are NOT going to get Bolg in these films.

Yes, it was a pity that the CGI Azog was not created until the last moment, but not through lack of trying. Once they had decided on a mo-capped actor, a lot of effort was put into designing the look and I am personally happy with the end result.

They had six weeks to put it all together and I have great admiration for the CGI team under pressure and for Manu Bennet's performance. I love his voicing of the Black Speech. He had a lot to learn and I think he's got the right feeling for the language and the threat in Azog's voice.

I also love his stance. He is a 'hero orc': he's got to be a fearsome antagonist for Thorin, and not just because he's so much bigger. The way he holds himself, his arrogance, his eye-rolling is obviously in part based on a Maori warrior, something 'other' to Western eyes and therefore spot on for an orc; but Iron Age warriors, one imagines, also had this boastful tilt of the head and carriage before they went into battle.

Here's the wonderful Maori Haka that the All Blacks, the Kiwi rugby team, always perform before every match to intimidate the 'enemy':

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUFsL6o8y5s

All I can say is, well done, Manu, for giving us so much so late in the day. I'm looking forward to seeing how your character develops.


Boromir Stark
Rivendell

Nov 13 2013, 12:47pm

Post #2 of 43 (615 views)
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I agree that not enough credit is being given to Manu. [In reply to] Can't Post

You're right in the sense that some people seem to forget that he's not just a random CGI creature, he was mo-capped like Gollum. And with only six weeks to nail it, that was impressive.

Personally, I like Azog. Well, I like the design of Azog. I do think, however, that they could have used Bolg in his place (using Azog's design), and it would have made more sense and wouldn't have hurt the history.

Still, I was very happy with the end result, and look forward to seeing how his arc will unfold in the next two movies (if he makes it to TABA).


Glorfindela
Valinor


Nov 13 2013, 12:51pm

Post #3 of 43 (649 views)
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I saw Manu at some event (on screen) [In reply to] Can't Post

He demonstrated Azog's movements, and I was struck by how well the motion capture has managed to replicate the actor's movements and even his build.

I actually like Azog's design. It would certainly have been very difficult for an actor to have performed all that was required of the character, for a prolonged period of time, while wearing the heavy and very uncomfortable prosthetics that the appearance would have dictated.

And I think Azog's voice is fantastic. Smile

I'm certainly not as bothered about Bolg's appearance (or not) as some seem to be, but then for me the Middle-Earth books are one thing, the films another. I'm quite comfortable with separating the two, and in the case of The Hobbit I would not have been at all interested in seeing a direct interpretation of the professor's story with all its cardboard-cutout characters on screen. I'm fine with PJ's adaptation so far, because it makes sense to me as a story. It could even be that Bolg is unnecessary as a character and would be overkill in PJ's adaptation?


LordotRings93
Rohan


Nov 13 2013, 12:53pm

Post #4 of 43 (591 views)
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Well said! [In reply to] Can't Post

I, too, thought Manu did a fantastic job, and is one of the reasons I find Azog to be an awesome character. To me he never looked "plasticy or cartoony or a villain straight out of a video game", and if he looks like a video game character, then damn, those are some realistic graphics. Some people also don't like him because he's a cliche villain. Well, so are all the other orcs in LOTR/Hobbit. Even the much-loved Lurtz is a cliche. Azog was developed in a much better way than Lurtz, yet people still like Lurtz only because he's a real actor in makeup. If Azog had been makeup (I actually really did like the first design they had, not the Bolg or Yazneg one, but the first one they showed) people would've been much more appreciative of Azog. But with what Manu did, learning Orcish in a matter of days/weeks to play the character, and how much weight and feel he put into him, Azog is essentially a living character like Gollum.

Lover of Medieval Fantasy
"I know what I must do. It's just... I'm afraid to do it."


Azaghl
Lorien


Nov 13 2013, 1:39pm

Post #5 of 43 (563 views)
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They kinda have to bring Bolg into these films [In reply to] Can't Post

Otherwise Azog will seem to have been picked just because of a cool name... They need the dynamic, because so far Bolg could easily have filled out Azogs role in the movies. I really am excited to seem some dynamic between evil characters!

*Baruk khazd! Khazd ai-mnu!*


arithmancer
Grey Havens


Nov 13 2013, 1:42pm

Post #6 of 43 (534 views)
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What dynamic? [In reply to] Can't Post

I am not sure what dynamic you mean.

But the reason that the character in AUJ has to be Azog rather than Bolg, is Thorin. There is a dynamic between Thorin and Azog, that would not be present between Thorin and Bolg. Namely, that Azog slew Thorin's grandfather. Being the son of the guy who slew Thorin's grandfather, is just not the same.


Arannir
Valinor


Nov 13 2013, 1:44pm

Post #7 of 43 (542 views)
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I am sure he will be in it. [In reply to] Can't Post

PJ talked so much about father/son dynamics... I am sure he did not just mean Thranduil/Legolas and Bard/Bain.

Although, of course, this could also include Throin/Fili&Kili... though not father and son they will surely at least get more king/heir dynamic which could be a bit similar.


SPOILER

I still hope that it will end with the complete failure of Thorin: Azog slays Thorin, Dain slays Azog, Bolg slays Fili & Kili, Beorn slays Bolg.


All good stories deserve embellishment."

Praise is subjective. And so is criticism.

(This post was edited by Arannir on Nov 13 2013, 1:45pm)


arithmancer
Grey Havens


Nov 13 2013, 1:47pm

Post #8 of 43 (526 views)
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Agreed. [In reply to] Can't Post

Bolg has been mentioned by Jackson, and after AUJ came out. He will be in the films. (E. g. in an Empire Magazine article that came out in the summer of 2013).


Eleniel
Grey Havens


Nov 13 2013, 2:07pm

Post #9 of 43 (536 views)
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Two things... [In reply to] Can't Post

Firstly, Jackson has taken the description "iron-clad head" and run wild with ideas, when Tolkien most likely meant that Azog wore a helmet! Crazy

Secondly, whilst I agree that in movie terms it would not work to simply bring Bolg on at the Bo5A without giving the audience time to build a relationship with the character, the idea that the canon revenge angle is too distant and the audience needs to see it all happen in real time is quite frankly insulting the audience's intelligence. Keeping to the book, with Azog killing Thror, then Thorin killing Azog in front of Bolg would have set up the revenge motive between the "heirs" perfectly well for anyone to grasp, and Bolg could have taken the current Azog role right through the three films.

It all seems to boil down in the end to "Azog the Defiler" having a cooler name! Wink


"Choosing Trust over Doubt gets me burned once in a while, but I'd rather be singed than hardened."
Victoria Monfort


ShireHorse
Rohan

Nov 13 2013, 2:17pm

Post #10 of 43 (504 views)
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It's been indicated that the father/son dynamic [In reply to] Can't Post

includes Thorin/Thrain. And, although PJ may have intended to have Azog/Bolg, I get the feeling he has changed his mind.

Thorin can't be killed by Azog or Bolg on the battlefield because he survives long enough to make his famous speech (in the medical tent, as depicted by Tolkien?) I, for one, (and doubtless the majority of the audience) will want to see Thorin get his revenge and kill Azog. I expect to see a spectacular fight after Fili and Kili are killed when Thorin kills Azog but is badly wounded. Beorn will come and rescue him from the battlefield, as in the book, and he and Bilbo will talk to each other in some quiet spot.

Why do you want the complete failure of Thorin? Because he has a short beard? Because he isn't played by some other favoured actor? Because he could be seen to fail in the book? Because you just don't like him and want your revenge? Because you really like Azog? Because people fail, just like in real life?

The rest of us are ordinary mortals who think that Thorin suffers enough and deserves just one, small reward.


Boromir Stark
Rivendell

Nov 13 2013, 2:25pm

Post #11 of 43 (491 views)
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Airthmancer, I replied to your comment in the AUJ changes thread with the same thing: [In reply to] Can't Post

Thorin's hatred for Bolg could perhaps be that Bolg could have killed Thorin's brother (as I'm sure it is mentioned somewhere in Tolkien's writings that he died at Azanulbizar), or captured his father, Thrain.

All that said, I do like Azog.


Shirriff Anthony
Bree


Nov 13 2013, 2:32pm

Post #12 of 43 (507 views)
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Bolg replacing Azog [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Firstly, Jackson has taken the description "iron-clad head" and run wild with ideas, when Tolkien most likely meant that Azog wore a helmet! Crazy

Secondly, whilst I agree that in movie terms it would not work to simply bring Bolg on at the Bo5A without giving the audience time to build a relationship with the character, the idea that the canon revenge angle is too distant and the audience needs to see it all happen in real time is quite frankly insulting the audience's intelligence. Keeping to the book, with Azog killing Thror, then Thorin killing Azog in front of Bolg would have set up the revenge motive between the "heirs" perfectly well for anyone to grasp, and Bolg could have taken the current Azog role right through the three films.

It all seems to boil down in the end to "Azog the Defiler" having a cooler name! Wink


A better designed Orc named Bolg who was both previously the torturer in Dul Guldor and in pursuit of Thorin because of the death of his father Azog would have served these films better.

Faramir: I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.

(This post was edited by Shirriff Anthony on Nov 13 2013, 2:34pm)


dormouse
Half-elven


Nov 13 2013, 2:38pm

Post #13 of 43 (480 views)
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I don't know... [In reply to] Can't Post

Peter Jackson was quoted as talking about Azog and Bolg in the context of father/son relationships in the film as late as August this year, in the Empire article. The same article also says that Azog is joined in DoS by Bolg, and PJ is quoted: "They're the most serious orcs we have had in these films. . . Bolg is going to be a fright."

He might have changed his mind, as you say, but I would have thought it unlikely this late in the game. We'll just have to wait and see!


sauget.diblosio
Tol Eressea


Nov 13 2013, 3:00pm

Post #14 of 43 (499 views)
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Well, for me anyway, the actor is part of the problem. [In reply to] Can't Post

I think pretty much everything about the character is poor, including the actual performance. I find it way too cliched (and modern to be honest), how the character struts around like some lame WWE character, or bad videogame boss. It's not menacing or scary or "bad ass" to me at all. This performance is a large part of why i feel that the character seems entirely out of place in Jackson's previously established Middle-earth (the design has much to do with this as well), and he's the only character in PJ's movies that i not only do not like, but really dislike. He doesn't seem ancient or of the past like all the other LotR or TH characters do, he seems as modern and out of place as that Ed Sheeran song that's going to play over the credits of DoS. And for me, that's a real problem.

I have no problem with Manu Bennett-- i've not seen him in anything else, and he seems like a nice enough guy in the Appendices. But his character is one of the low points not just of AUJ, but of all these M-e films.


ShireHorse
Rohan

Nov 13 2013, 3:00pm

Post #15 of 43 (463 views)
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I disagree, Shirriff Anthony. [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that Arithmancer is right to say that making there be a relationship between Bolg and Thorin rather than between Azog and Thorin just weakens the whole dynamic.

But, if dormouse is right and there IS a Bolg, I can see him as being introduced in the next film as the torturer of Beorn. Thorin will kill Azog in the final battle and will then be wounded by Bolg in an echoing revenge moment. Beorn will then kill Bolg and thus get his revenge.

I'm sure this has all been suggested before, so has anyone got anything more to say about MB's performance?


sauget.diblosio
Tol Eressea


Nov 13 2013, 3:05pm

Post #16 of 43 (464 views)
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This... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Firstly, Jackson has taken the description "iron-clad head" and run wild with ideas, when Tolkien most likely meant that Azog wore a helmet! Crazy

Secondly, whilst I agree that in movie terms it would not work to simply bring Bolg on at the Bo5A without giving the audience time to build a relationship with the character, the idea that the canon revenge angle is too distant and the audience needs to see it all happen in real time is quite frankly insulting the audience's intelligence. Keeping to the book, with Azog killing Thror, then Thorin killing Azog in front of Bolg would have set up the revenge motive between the "heirs" perfectly well for anyone to grasp, and Bolg could have taken the current Azog role right through the three films.

It all seems to boil down in the end to "Azog the Defiler" having a cooler name! Wink


I can find nothing in anything that PJ or PB have said that makes sense as to why they should have kept Azog alive rather than use Bolg, other than the name.


(This post was edited by sauget.diblosio on Nov 13 2013, 3:09pm)


ShireHorse
Rohan

Nov 13 2013, 3:18pm

Post #17 of 43 (474 views)
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Sauget.diblosio, [In reply to] Can't Post

Azog IS 'ancient or of the past'. Modesty, nobility and reticence were not part of the ancient warrior persona. Even if you look at Anglo-Saxon literature, it was expected that the warrior would strut and boast about past successes (killing Thror?), just like Beowulf, and that they would also mock the enemy in order to wrong-foot them into doing something foolish (sneering about Thror?).

This happened at the historic 9th century Battle of Maldon when a superior number of Vikings, trapped on an island only accessed by a causeway, mock and insult their Anglo-Saxon opponents until they are riled enough to let them freely cross over for a hand-to-hand fight. Are the Anglo-Saxons being noble or foolish? They are smaller in number and lose, of course. In AUJ, Azog arrogantly struts and mocks until Thorin is provoked into taking him on against all the odds. Noble or stupid?

I see many comparisons between Azog and ancient warriors. Many of the characters in LotR behave in an idealised and noble way. Their behaviour is often less real, IMO. They behave as we would WISH our warriors to behave rather than the brutal manner in which they actually did.


ShireHorse
Rohan

Nov 13 2013, 3:26pm

Post #18 of 43 (440 views)
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Gosh, s.b, you make one little joke [In reply to] Can't Post

about how Azog has such a good name and people take you seriously and won't let you forget it. ("I can find nothing in anything that PJ or PB have said that makes sense as to why they should have kept Azog alive rather than use Bolg, other than the name." sauget.dibosio.) I think enough people, including PJ and PB, have given reasons why the story should be followed through with Azog rather than Bolg.

For me, it simplifies things when you already have a cast of thousands and a million things going on and it will be a lot more satisfying to have Thorin face Azog in T&BA for a final show-down.


sauget.diblosio
Tol Eressea


Nov 13 2013, 3:39pm

Post #19 of 43 (437 views)
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I didn't say anything about [In reply to] Can't Post

modesty or nobility being required in an ancient seeming warrior villain. I've liked all of the orcs and goblins in PJ's films (other than Azog and, to a lesser extent, The Gobliln King (but that's another story)), and i would describe none of them as noble or modest. My problem with Azog is how he struts around and gestures just like a modern-day professional wrestler, or videogame villain. It has more to do with the style of acting than with any similarity to actual warrior behavior of the past. Maybe that kind of behavior could have worked with another actor, i don't know. But as it is, to me, it just does not fit in with the more historical feel of the earlier films, or even most of the characters/performances in AUJ.

But the performance is just one of the issues that i have with the character-- there's also his design, his actions, and his "origins" that are deeply troubling.


sauget.diblosio
Tol Eressea


Nov 13 2013, 3:56pm

Post #20 of 43 (400 views)
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Well, like i said, [In reply to] Can't Post

none of the reasons as to why Azog's excellent history as written by Tolkien should have been changed to make him contemporary with The Hobbit, as opposed to just expanding Bolg, makes sense to me. Honestly, it seems a bit of an affront. Sure, the "cool name" thing was just a joke, but it speaks more loudly to me than any of the other reasons they've given for including Azog.

I think Bolg would have been just as effective a villain (as he was in the book), given enough character development, and would have given even more opportunities for the flashbacks that PJ does so well, and worked so brilliantly in LotR.


ShireHorse
Rohan

Nov 13 2013, 4:00pm

Post #21 of 43 (418 views)
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You were talking about LotR, s.d, [In reply to] Can't Post

and I thought you meant warriors like, Aragorn, Theoden and Boromir, who are romantic ideals, rather than the orcs who are a mixture of Victorian Cockney gutter-snipes and modern day "well 'ard" gangsters like Lurtz, licking the blood from his blade. I don't see 'ancient warriors' there, I'm afraid, although I did like them very much.

Hmmm, modern wrestlers. But, what came first? Perhaps the wrestlers are imitating the ancient art of strutting and boasting. And, by throwing his Maori warrior into the mix for that added touch of 'otherness', I think that MB achieves a great characterisation.


(This post was edited by ShireHorse on Nov 13 2013, 4:06pm)


arithmancer
Grey Havens


Nov 13 2013, 4:40pm

Post #22 of 43 (367 views)
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Hmm... [In reply to] Can't Post

I see why Bolg would want to kill Thorin, yes. But in your scenario, why would Thorin be at all fired up about Bolg?

His motives re: Azog, as depicted in the movie, are quite clear. Azog slew his grandfather right in front of him and his father.


Bombadil
Half-elven


Nov 13 2013, 4:52pm

Post #23 of 43 (374 views)
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There is Another Angle to This... [In reply to] Can't Post

The Movement Coach..
from Cirque du Soiel
Trained everyone.

Elf Movement
Dwarve Movement
Orc Movement
Wizard Movement?

AND
PJ paid him plenty
& Finally signed off
on the Final Product.

Bomby has no complaints
with Anything...

Film is Forever
and We are Blessed
to EVEN Have them.

(You. may have noticed?
Bomby
NEVER posts any
Dis-Couraging word.)

"The World is full of Hate
But Love is All there
Really is."


arithmancer
Grey Havens


Nov 13 2013, 4:55pm

Post #24 of 43 (358 views)
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EE extras (*spoilers?*) [In reply to] Can't Post

In the EE extras, it is revealed that the scene of Thorin coming off the burning tree to fight Azog was always in the script. even when there were only 2 Hobbit films planned. (It would originally have been followed immediately by the arrival of the Eagles, and the Carrock scene following would have been shorter/different).

It is for this (always intended) scene, that Boyens, Del Toro, Jackson, and Walsh needed the Orc to be Azog. It needed to be a character whose presence would motivate Thorin's actions in this scene. It is more important to the story as filmed that Thorin have a revenge motive, than that Azog/Bolg have one (thus far).

I think Bolg is also going to be in the trilogy, and if Thorin does kill Azog, he would have a personal motive to dispatch Thorin likewise. Or, he might have other things to do in the film (personally I think both Bolg and Azog serve the Necromancer and this will be revealed in later installments).


Eleniel
Grey Havens


Nov 13 2013, 5:07pm

Post #25 of 43 (340 views)
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Though there would be less motive on Thorin's side... [In reply to] Can't Post

it would explain better the continuing bad blood between the Gundabad Orcs and the Heirs of Durin. As has been pointed out, we are told in the movieverse that Azog had sworn to destroy the line of Durin BEFORE he killed Thror, yet we are not told why! And as A-O & others have mentioned, it was actually the Dwarves that swore to hunt down and destroy every last Orc, etc.

The whole thing has been turned on its head!


"Choosing Trust over Doubt gets me burned once in a while, but I'd rather be singed than hardened."
Victoria Monfort

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