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The voice that counts - Our reviews
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Arannir
Valinor


Dec 12 2013, 3:00am

Post #1 of 46 (1421 views)
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The voice that counts - Our reviews Can't Post

I am sure now with DoS having opened in even more countries, our reviews will start pouring in and we could collect some here before the threads falls into nirvana ;)

There is already a thread on page 2, but we can continue here.



I will start with mine, just came back from a German midnight premiere screening.


A movie for the Jackson-eye and the Tolkien-heart (and a bit too much of some things)


The Tolkien Moments

Many have said it before - this movie will divide Tolkien fans. Many who will like and embrace some of the changes might be called PJ fanboys, easy-to-please or simply Hollywood-victims by some, while the other way round people may call people with issues about the movie haters who are not open enough for the changes.

I hope it will calm down after a while because I think all of us can find a lot of pure Tolkien in this and I still do not dare think what this whole franchise might have become with another creative team.

But nobody has to be pleased with what we get or even be grateful for it.Both sites will eventually have to respect the other if we want to return to a constructive discussion of these movies (I am sure it will be possible eventually, if I remember the situation after LotR correctly).

But back to the Tolkien moments... I think Beorn, the atmosphere of Mirkwood (the editing and cinematography here is first class), Thranduil's Halls and Laketown should be scenes that even the most ardent critic of these movies and what they did to the novel might occasionally watch on Youtube for decades to come. They simply have the handwriting of the great Professor all over them - as to many characters such as our Hobbit, Thranduil or the Master. Others might be different to the novel but will feel very Tolkienesque too most I am sure - such as Thorin or Bard.

What always works very well to let the Middle-earth spirit come alive are historical references. Girion references and flashbacks, the dead dwarves in front of the sealed gate, hints at Fili and Kili's mother, ruins of a greater city within the structures of Laketown etc. However, we do not get the time anymore to actually look at locations long enough to take in their feeling to full extent. Sometimes it is quite harsh how we are thrown into a new surrounding.

The biggest Tolkien moment - and it is telling that it is yet again a scene some critics call "too slow" is the conversation between Smaug and Bilbo. Pure joy. Pure Tolkien. Well done.


Smaug

I have come to terms with him not dying in DoS. Although I predicted it long ago, I slightly changed my mind when I realized there wasn't a major Dol Guldur climax in this movie. I could not really see them go for the most massive cliffhanger imaginable. But they did - and it works. I never heard such a "OHHH!" in the audience followed by thundering applause (we do speak about a GERMAN audience here ;) ). It works because you simply want to follow Smaug's flight into TABA right away.

And I am sure TABA will benefit from it, having Smaug's demise and what happens after it (imho the single MOST important story aspect of the novel) in ONE movie.

Smaug is simply what he needed to be and thanks to Crumberbatch even a little bit more. He could have broken the whole trilogy. He works and that is an achievement that would make other franchises with less expectations from different sites loaded on them a critics' favorite instantly.


Tauriel, Legolas and "the other man"

Tauriel just works. If there is a character we did not need, it is Legolas, not Tauriel (however, Legolas just works the masses... when he came the cinema just roared). She is the perfect opponent to Thranduil, especially from the political point of view that will become SO essential in TABA. I am actually convinced that she is an improvement. An improvement the Professor would not have just hated, imho. He would at least have thought about it, had it been discussed with him, I think.

And what also works is her relationship with Kili. Both actors bring a very natural feel to it... everybody knows it will never be possible. But it is not so much about actually going for a relationship and making little Taurilis. It is about the curiosity those two show for another race that their people has become so astranged to. Astragement that in the bigger picture, transferred to the peoples themselves, hurts them in the coming war and plays into Sauron's nine-fingered hands.

That is why I also have no problem with her "lumiating" when she heals Kili. It underlines this idea of the deep differences between the two races ("she was far away in the starlight..."), the wonder for Kili - all this must lead to very high stakes and heartbreaking scenes in TABA. In the movieverse it is simply totally irrelevant how Tauriel's heritage might be connected to any light surrounding her. This scene made people cry in my screening. It just works. The movie shows clearly that she is no High-Elf... the superficial glowing thing does not change that. People in the audience imho will just connect the radiating with the sight of a dying person who sees one of the fading wonders left in the world - the Elven race - that stands out when the darkness of death embraces a mortal.

Unfortunately PJ and Co gave the opponents of the whole idea some reason to complain with some (not much, but it is there) bad dialogue. I wished they had been more aware here of how hard this scenes will be to take for some and not make it harder by Kili's horrible oneliner about his pants.


Gandalf

His fight against Sauron was the absolute highlight for me. Amazing. The way Sauron's form turns into the pupil of the Eye is one of the best scenes in all Middle-earth movies. Gandalf's display of magic is also very well handled.

The High Fells scene feels a bit out of place without the Nazgul actually showing up... I hope they will have something good to do in TABA. But what?

Gandalf facing the Nine instead of Azog would have been better... the Amon Sûl moment was greatly missed imho.


CGI

I watched the movie in HFR 3D - it was such a joy. Scenes like Bolg and Azog interacting left me totally immersed, I only realized after it was over that that had been two CGI characters talking. Also moments such as the Necromancer is first class, as is, of course and already mentioned, Smaug.

I also really liked the gold animations during the finale - and especially how Smaug flies into the sky, shaking the gold from himself.

What did not look that believable - but it is not so much the CGI but the idea itself - is the golden dwarf statue. Why? The moment Smaug tells Bilbo he wants him to see Laketown burn was perfect for him to leave the mountain. SMaug's gold bath is a very very good idea, but that could have been acomplished by the ovens. We did not need the statue, really.


Issues


As I said, despite mostly great written dialogue (the "If this is to end in fire, we will all burn together" is simply the best kind of pathos you can get and very much Tolkien imho) ther are the occasional missteps. Also, the stand between Smaug and the dwarves is too long and undermined the otherwise outstanding CGI in this movie.

PJ, thankfully, was more harsh with himself in terms of editing - Thrain is not needed and will be a great EE addition - but not always harsh enough. Especially the last minutes of the Smaug confrontation could have been trimmed and would have made for a more perfect climax. No gold statue, much shorter Legolas vs. Bolg fight (why is NOONE waking up in Laketown???), last 30-60 seconds of almost each action sequence trimmed.

Last issue - the music. I got more and more disappointed (on a high level) by the DoS soundtrack but thought it would play out nicely in the movie. It did in moments such as the Woodland Realm and Laketown reveals... there was a huge lack of a really big theme, however, in moments such as Smaug leaving Erebor. Smaug's theme, though so prominent, sometimes did not seem to get through. Maybe it was all a bit too much to take in and I will change my mind during a second viewing.


Moments of glory

- Bree and PJ cameo
- Beorn's shapeshifting
- Laketown introduction
- Gandalf vs. Sauron
- Tauriel healing Kili
- Smaug shaking the gold of himself and leaving Erebor
- the Laketowners seeing the fire "inside the mountain"


Cringeworthy moments

- I could have anything in my trousers.
- Legolas' stupid looks
- Thorin surfing a river of gold
- the statue (the idea is great, but it takes from the Bilbo/Smaug climax about Laketown)



Verdict: This movie goes farer away from Tolkien than anything we have seen from Jackson so far, yet it nails the Tolkien feeling very often. The Tolkien moments are almost all there and work perfectly, while smart additions make the story more urgent, more adult and ultimately more human. The best vistas of this movie year (together with those of Gravity) and some very good screenwriting cannot fully overplay the long running time with an overdone ending and some few but apparant sloppy writing in between. It is a very good adaptation that fails to be a masterpiece of a movie because it is not strict enough when it comes to editing action sequences and keeping some restraints with - viewed without context - generally good ideas. It is a movie for the Tolkien fans after all, just not for each and every kind of them.

Score: around 80% (AUJ: 75% - FotR: 100% - TTT: 90% - RotK: 85%)



(For comparison, so some might be able to guess my taste better, some other movies I rated this year: The Butler: 50%, Gravity: 85%, Thor: 55%, Pacific Rim: 60%, Frozen: 70%, Catching Fire: 70%).


“All good stories deserve embellishment."

Praise is subjective. And so is criticism.

"I am afraid it is only too likely to be true what you say about the critics and the public. I am dreading the publication for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at."

(This post was edited by Arannir on Dec 12 2013, 3:14am)


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Dec 12 2013, 3:10am

Post #2 of 46 (724 views)
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Fantastic review [In reply to] Can't Post

The best one that I have read anywhere, including professional reviews and fan sites.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Arannir
Valinor


Dec 12 2013, 3:11am

Post #3 of 46 (703 views)
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You are way too kind. [In reply to] Can't Post

But thank you very very much. Man, I cannot go to sleep after this.

And please all excuse my typos... there are quite some bad of them in there Unsure


And btw: I forgot to mention the great prologue!


“All good stories deserve embellishment."

Praise is subjective. And so is criticism.

"I am afraid it is only too likely to be true what you say about the critics and the public. I am dreading the publication for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at."

(This post was edited by Arannir on Dec 12 2013, 3:19am)


Cirashala
Valinor


Dec 12 2013, 3:15am

Post #4 of 46 (684 views)
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pants? [In reply to] Can't Post

What was Kili's one liner about his pants? I haven't heard this one yet....

Lovely review though! I cannot see it for 48 more hours less fifteen mins so I am enjoying the spoilers!

Race is meaningless. We all bleed red-no matter who or what we are. What matters is the heart. For each race has those with good hearts and those with bad hearts. You have a good heart. You do not deserve to die.


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Dec 12 2013, 3:16am

Post #5 of 46 (663 views)
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Believe me, I wouldn't say it if I didn't think it was true [In reply to] Can't Post

And I have read virtually every review I can find (many of them posted by you!), including at several fan sites.

Would you mind if I copied and pasted it over at my site, The Hall of Fire?

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Dec 12 2013, 3:17am

Post #6 of 46 (672 views)
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You probably don't want to know [In reply to] Can't Post

Crazy

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


demnation
Rohan

Dec 12 2013, 3:18am

Post #7 of 46 (649 views)
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Thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

It's surprisingly hard getting a review from people who are actually familiar with the book, so yours is very much appreciated.

Hello!


Cirashala
Valinor


Dec 12 2013, 3:19am

Post #8 of 46 (650 views)
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I do [In reply to] Can't Post

for the simple reason that the next 48 hours are going to kill me with anticipation and I need something to do til I can see it Wink

Race is meaningless. We all bleed red-no matter who or what we are. What matters is the heart. For each race has those with good hearts and those with bad hearts. You have a good heart. You do not deserve to die.


Arannir
Valinor


Dec 12 2013, 3:20am

Post #9 of 46 (632 views)
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Of course you may. [In reply to] Can't Post

And thank you again.

Unfortunately there are quite some typos and grammar mistakes in there... not a native speaker and it is 4.20 in the morning here, lol.


“All good stories deserve embellishment."

Praise is subjective. And so is criticism.

"I am afraid it is only too likely to be true what you say about the critics and the public. I am dreading the publication for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at."


Name
Rohan


Dec 12 2013, 3:22am

Post #10 of 46 (675 views)
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Wow [In reply to] Can't Post

What a great review. The best one to date, and I have little confidence in the upcoming ones, so this may be the best review we get this year. I applaud you sir!

One movie question for you. Lots of reviewers so far have said it's almost non-stop action. Is it really that way? I can see that there's a bunch of action scenes, but non-stop is most certainly hyperbole, right?

My name is Name, which, name-wise, is a much better name than your first name, last name, or name's name could ever plan on naming themselves.


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Dec 12 2013, 3:22am

Post #11 of 46 (688 views)
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Kili says to Tauriel something like [In reply to] Can't Post

"Aren't you going to search me, you might find something in my pants."

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Arannir
Valinor


Dec 12 2013, 3:23am

Post #12 of 46 (678 views)
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Fili & Kili [In reply to] Can't Post

Fili gets searched for weapons very thoroughly by his Elven guard. When Tauriel escorts Kili to his cell and sees this he asks Tauriel if she did not want to seacrh him as he could have anything down his pants.... Tauriel answers "Or nothing." BlushMadCrazy

Tauriel is a very, very well written character though and otherwise fits better into the story than Legolas does imho.


“All good stories deserve embellishment."

Praise is subjective. And so is criticism.

"I am afraid it is only too likely to be true what you say about the critics and the public. I am dreading the publication for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at."


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Dec 12 2013, 3:23am

Post #13 of 46 (614 views)
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Thank you [In reply to] Can't Post

I wish I could do as could a job in second language, at any time.
For that matter, in English. Wink

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Cirashala
Valinor


Dec 12 2013, 3:24am

Post #14 of 46 (674 views)
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wow... [In reply to] Can't Post

I had heard of that line, but didn't know who said it...

Well, we saw from the AUJ EE that Kili sucks at flirting...It's surprising she didn't knock his head off right then and there Wink

How did she react?

Race is meaningless. We all bleed red-no matter who or what we are. What matters is the heart. For each race has those with good hearts and those with bad hearts. You have a good heart. You do not deserve to die.


Altaira
Superuser / Moderator


Dec 12 2013, 3:27am

Post #15 of 46 (635 views)
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No, he is not [In reply to] Can't Post

Erm... I mean Voronwe is, of course, the kindest of souls Wink, but he is not mistaken in that your review was outstanding. I'm not judging by whether I wanted it to be positive or negative, I'm judging by the fact that it was concise, yet informative and avoided rambling on and on describing every scene in the movie (nice for those who haven't seen the movie yet, but not what I would classify as a true review).

Thanks, also, for noticing that the previous review thread has dropped off the board and for starting another.

Well done. Smile


Koru: Maori symbol representing a fern frond as it opens. The koru reaches towards the light, striving for perfection, encouraging new, positive beginnings.



"Life can't be all work and no TORn" -- jflower

"I take a moment to fervently hope that the camaradarie and just plain old fun I found at TORn will never end" -- LOTR_nutcase





Arannir
Valinor


Dec 12 2013, 3:29am

Post #16 of 46 (696 views)
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Thanks very much. [In reply to] Can't Post

As for your question - I honestly don't know where so many reviewers got the idea from that it is non-stop action.

There are many little but great and meaningful character moments in between (the best one in bold below, forgot that one in the review):


- Bilbo realizing something is weird about the ring after he kills a small spiderling which comes too close to the Ring with a lot of anger for his character
- Thorin's shock when the door does not open and Bilbo is left alone trying to get behind the secret of the door
- Balin almost starting to cry when he enters Erebor and Thorin asks him whether he remembers the wonders of Erebor
- the scene from the trailers with Balin saying to Thorin "Bilbo. His name is Bilbo."
- Fili deciding to stay with his brother, against Thorin's whish (and Oin as the healer before that)
- Bofur being too late for the boat that takes them out of Esgaroth
- Master/Alfrid's talk about democracy
- Bard's daughter asking Bard whether they all have to die when the Laketowners hear the Mountain "shaking" for the first time
- the conversation between Tauriel and Kili about Kili's mother and that he promised her to come home


I surely have forgotten several of them.


“All good stories deserve embellishment."

Praise is subjective. And so is criticism.

"I am afraid it is only too likely to be true what you say about the critics and the public. I am dreading the publication for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at."

(This post was edited by Arannir on Dec 12 2013, 3:37am)


Name
Rohan


Dec 12 2013, 3:32am

Post #17 of 46 (604 views)
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Thank You! [In reply to] Can't Post

This is very encouraging.

My name is Name, which, name-wise, is a much better name than your first name, last name, or name's name could ever plan on naming themselves.


Defiant
Bree

Dec 12 2013, 3:43am

Post #18 of 46 (570 views)
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Ditto to that. [In reply to] Can't Post

Very well articulated points there. Thanks so much for sharing your insights and reactions.

I'd also add my ditto to your impressions. I was left feeling very much the same about just about everything, although the gold statue was something I liked, even if the effects were a little odd in that sequence. I put it down to the dificulty of making molten gold still actually look like gold and not lava, which is what it should look like.


Arannir
Valinor


Dec 12 2013, 4:24am

Post #19 of 46 (571 views)
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Important scene I forgot... [In reply to] Can't Post

... Bard recalling the prophecy about the Mountain King's return... while whispers and rumours about Thorin spread in Laketown.


“All good stories deserve embellishment."

Praise is subjective. And so is criticism.

"I am afraid it is only too likely to be true what you say about the critics and the public. I am dreading the publication for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at."


Ardamírë
Valinor


Dec 12 2013, 6:44am

Post #20 of 46 (488 views)
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I agree with the others [In reply to] Can't Post

This is a very good review. It's informative without being either overly gushy or critical. I think it's given me a fairly realistic idea of what to expect from this movie in terms of my own personal preferences. Thanks for the review, Arannir. Smile

'Twas in the Land of Willows that I heard th'unfathomed breath
Of the Horns of Ylmir calling - and shall hear them till my death.


dubulous
Rohan

Dec 12 2013, 8:33am

Post #21 of 46 (422 views)
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Great review [In reply to] Can't Post

Well constructed and I agree on almost all the points (except Tauriel but I won't get into that since I've already expressed my opinion elsewhere).

I especially agree about the revelation of Sauron being a highlight. I've seen some complaints about that scene, but I thought it was absolutely brilliant how the black smoke suddenly takes the shape (though not physical form) of the Sauron we've see in the FoTR prologue, and then the fire surrounding him reveals the shape of the eye that's also so familiar.

That'll be one of the moments that will make it worth enduring some of the less good scenes when I go back to see the movie again.


Danielos
Rohan

Dec 12 2013, 9:11am

Post #22 of 46 (397 views)
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Sauron [In reply to] Can't Post

Yeah, the Gandalf vs Sauron scene was awesome and sent chills down my spine. Fun to see Gandalf encountering such a fearsome, powerful ancient enemy and getting his ass kicked.


macfalk
Valinor


Dec 12 2013, 10:02am

Post #23 of 46 (395 views)
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May I add something to the "moments of glory" list? [In reply to] Can't Post

Bombur's one-man show at the forest river Cool. Basically everyone in the audience cheered and clapped after this spectacle and when he just jumped back into his barrel as if it was nothing. I find it interesting that two whole movies later, Bombur hasn't said a word of proper dialogue (nope, not in this movie either) yet still makes an impression.



The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.


Arannir
Valinor


Dec 12 2013, 10:08am

Post #24 of 46 (360 views)
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Agreed. [In reply to] Can't Post

It is so ott and still works somehow.

I also definitely would enter Balin fighting his tears when they have opened the door.


“All good stories deserve embellishment."

Praise is subjective. And so is criticism.

"I am afraid it is only too likely to be true what you say about the critics and the public. I am dreading the publication for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at."


Adanel
The Shire

Dec 12 2013, 10:35am

Post #25 of 46 (374 views)
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Great Review [In reply to] Can't Post

I really enjoyed reading your review, have just seen the movie this evening and I agree with lots you have said, have to disagree with some of it too! I think its interesting how different things can appeal to different people , sometimes you wonder if we all watched the same movie!

I loved the Gandalf / Sauron scene too. That part felt VERY Lord of the Ringsy to me, more than any of the rest of the movie. Sauron morphing into the eye was great.

Also like you I was disappointed with the music, It just did nothing for me, none of the great themes like LOTR. It felt sadly lacking something however I do love I see Fire over the credits at the end.

Agree that Tauriel was well written. I went into the movie reserving judgement on Tauriel, I wasn't that keen on the idea of her but didn't want to write her off before seeing what the character was actually like. I have come away really liking her, she won me over and I feel she DOES fit into the world very well.

HOWEVER ... I did not like the healing scene, It wasn't totally horrible but left me cold, I so could have done without that scene. Probably my least liked scene in the whole movie.

The whole love triangle thing I was dreading, Specially the Tauriel/Kili part of it but I was pleasantly surprised at how underplayed it was, It just wasn't that big of a thing, very subtle and ,(apart from that healing scene), didn't jar with me at all thank goodness.

I am on the opposite side of the fence to you re Legolas. I loved him, thought he was great especially in the barrel scene when he got heaps of cheers from the audience in my cinema. Didn't feel he wasn't essential to the story at all. Enjoyed the Bolg fight. It was good to see Legolas take a little damage as he was so invincible during the LOTR. The bleeding nose was a nice touch.

Smaug was great, Smaug vs Bilbo straight out of the book, excellent,

Agree the dwarfs stand off with Smaug could have been shorter and I also didn't much like Thorin surfing on the molten gold.

Thranduil was amazing and there needed to be more of him IMO, less dwarves vs Smaug and more Thranduil. Thats probably my biggest disappointment, the lack of him.

Bard was another big highlight for me which was a major surprise as I just hadn't taken him into account really when thinking about the film beforehand. He was very well acted and I think developing his character more is a very good move.

My other favourite bit was Bilbo with the ring after the spiders and that rather frightening moment when you see the ring beginning to influence him, again that reminded me strongly of LOTR.

Overall , great film and enjoyed it much better than AUJ which I just tolerated mostly and struggled through.


(This post was edited by Adanel on Dec 12 2013, 10:39am)

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