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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Revisiting The Hobbit movies
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kzer_za
Lorien

Feb 21, 7:07pm

Post #1 of 125 (26122 views)
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Revisiting The Hobbit movies Can't Post

So I haven't watched any of TH movies since Battle of Five Armies' release. I guess I generally soured on the project as it went - as they came out I watched AUJ three times in theaters and once at home, DoS twice in theaters, B5A once. I will say that while Battle of Five Armies had its strong points, the dual Legolas/Thorin boss fights largely superseding the interesting and highly filmable battle in the books really soured me on the entire trilogy. I never saw the EEs.

Well, having rewatched the LotR movies and following the hype for Amazon I guess I'm in the right mood, so I watched AUJ EE for the first time and enjoyed it enough that I will be watching the others. I unfortunately can't find any way of watching the EEs of the other two for cheap or free, so I will need to order them (the library only has AUJ EE and doesn't do interlibrary on DVDs, and I can't find the EEs for rent anywhere). I might also reread The Hobbit and Durin's Folk before continuing the rest.

Tl;dr on AUJ EE: First act is great, second act is a terrible aimless slog, third recovers with one major exception and the ending is excellent. Overall I suppose I am a transcendentalist with revisionist sympathies regarding the LotR movies, so I could take the good with the bad, though I will probably skip through much of the middle third in the future.

First Act:
  • Almost everything in the prologue is great. The main "almost" is Frodo's awkward inclusion, which I have never liked.
  • The fireworks are a beautiful addition and make the prologue flow better.
  • The party and everything in the Shire is great (enjoyed the new market scene). The extension of the Misty Mountains song, one of the best parts of the TE, is welcomed.
  • Azanulbizar is the final high point before the movie falls apart, at least for awhile.

Second Act:
Boy, what a disaster...
  • I remember not minding Radagast but man, is he annoying (though I do like the visuals at Dol Guldur).
  • The troll scene is painful on many levels - the book version is probably unfilmable, but PJ's really overdoses on the gross-out humor. And combined with missing ponies before and the cave after, it just drags on and on and on. On a less purist note, it's the easiest chapter to cut too - it's very hard to film as written and the only real story payoff is Sting.
  • The chase is a drag and Radagast's part is ridiculous - maybe it could have worked in much shorter form.
  • Rivendell is good in parts but maybe not as a whole. I like Bofur/Frodo's song, Bilbo's conversation with Elrond where he says Frodo's "elves...will say yes and no", and a few other bits. Bathing dwarves are too much. The white council is a real drag, even if it's nice to see Lee and Blanchett again.

After setting up Bilbo and Thorin nicely in the first 50 minutes, the movie's momentum completely stalls and it wastes an hour on rabbit trails and subplots. Much of which is non-book padding, but also not knowing what to cut from the book.

Third Act:
  • After a bad stone giant fight, Bilbo's conversation with Bofur is a turning point in the movie, after which it gets markedly better with one exception.
  • This might be controversial but I liked the additional Goblin King material, including the song, and I laughed at "Second Age? Couldn't give it away!" It gives Goblintown some much-needed personality beyond the setting for a dumb action scene.
  • And yes, the Goblintown escape is quite bad, PJ at his worst. Though Gandalf's initial rescue is great.
  • Riddles in the Dark and the Pity of Bilbo are of course excellent scenes. "You don't have a home" is a lovely character scene.
  • And then Out of the Frying Pan and the Eagle rescue is the best action sequence in the movie and a good ending. I'd even say the best scene - I was surprised to find that the Eagle rescue, not Riddles or the Party, is my favorite part. It's simply beautiful, and there are shots that are pure cinematic poetry.

General:
  • I remember liking Thorin and especially Balin more - they're fine, but get less moments than I thought. Perhaps it was more in the later movies.
  • Shore's soundtrack is good, but really not on the level of LotR, and the Erebor theme's overuse and lack of variation is grating. However, the eagle song is incredible.
  • I don't like Necromancer/White Council but am undecided on Azog at this point.

I remember the acts basically breaking down for me like this but the bad parts were worse than I remembered, while some of the good ones were better. Overall, the EE is a slight improvement.


(This post was edited by kzer_za on Feb 21, 7:11pm)


Cygnus
Lorien


Feb 22, 12:51am

Post #2 of 125 (25860 views)
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I loved the movies [In reply to] Can't Post

Even though I don't feel the same way on a lot of things you mentioned I enjoyed your post. There were a few things I didn't like about the movies but not much. Then again, I bet most folks who saw the movies before they read the books liked the movies a lot more than folks who read the books first. I'm half way through the books and now I'm starting to wonder what I'm going to think of the movies after I finish the books. I know I'll never see them in the same way that I used to but I don't know how much different it will be. I'm sure they will feel a bit watered down.

"I found it is the small things.....everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay.....simple acts of kindness and love." - Gandalf (movie quote)


Chen G.
Rohan

Feb 22, 10:20am

Post #3 of 125 (25814 views)
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Yeah [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree with principal points, but I feel much less strongly about them. I do think the pacing issue doesn't stem from the first act but rather the portion of the second act prior to Rivendell. At that point, Erebor is too remote a prospect, Azog isn't yet shown to be on the company's trail, and The Necromancer is still too amorphous and not (at this point) connected directly to the quest itself.

Although there is something to be said for, as William Wyler once said it: "If you want to shock an audience, get them almost to the point of boredom before doing so."

I like the Goblin-town sequence, but ia few moments of it feel like they were rushed and basically compiled of separate previz sequences, hence the issue with geography: you can see the company running away, but suddenly you'll cut to a shot of Thorin or Balin standing their ground or Bombur leaping off another platform alltogether, not knowing how they got there. But its really not a big issue.

I love the Stone Giants. Because of the staggard nature of the narrative, the inclusion of the giants (which is spectacular) communicates to the audience that from this point on, there's no horsing around.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 22, 10:26am)


2ndBreffest
Lorien


Feb 22, 4:04pm

Post #4 of 125 (25780 views)
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some good points here... [In reply to] Can't Post

Overall, AUJ is pretty horrible, but it is the best of the three. Other than the beardless dwarves, the movie starts out alright and very quickly gets worse as it goes on. I agree, the second act really is a disaster and PJ's re-interpretation of Radagast, and every scene he is in is just awful, and I really can't see any reason why he needed to be included in this adaptation other than to drag out the run-time. By the third act I start not caring anymore, but Riddles in the Dark part was definitly the highlight. The Goblintown escape is terrible, but I think we need to wait until The Barrel Escape before we really get to experience PJ at his worst, or maybe the dwarves confronting Smaug...its so hard to choose.

As for the other movies, I would seriously recommend buying them used at least. They are really really bad and not worth wasting money on.


(This post was edited by 2ndBreffest on Feb 22, 4:06pm)


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Feb 22, 9:34pm

Post #5 of 125 (25728 views)
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For those who haven't seen it, [In reply to] Can't Post

this three-part deconstruction of The Hobbit movies, the studio influences and the effect of the films on NZ's labour laws is work a look:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTRUQ-RKfUs

(Thanks to AshNazg who first posted the link on TORN early last year.)

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauronís master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


Kilidoescartwheels
Valinor


Feb 22, 9:45pm

Post #6 of 125 (25725 views)
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I have to disagree [In reply to] Can't Post

Of course, 2ndBreffest is entitled to his opinion, but the movies are not terrible - at least not everyone who's seen them feels that way. Be your own judge.





Chen G.
Rohan

Feb 22, 9:58pm

Post #7 of 125 (25719 views)
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Exactly [In reply to] Can't Post

And to counter not only 2ndBreffest's criticisms but also those of Lindsay in the (frankly overwrought) video essay series above, I should include Chris Hartwell's much more succint (albeit apologetic) breakdown here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WvdIESdZSc

And really, I must ask, how cynical have we as filmgoers have become, that we can't see through a bit of fluff and empathize with a group of exiles wanting to return to their lost home?!

Jackson's King Kong has more blatant CGI and worst pacing, and yet most people seem to like that film in spite of those flaws.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 22, 10:06pm)


Kilidoescartwheels
Valinor


Feb 22, 10:05pm

Post #8 of 125 (25719 views)
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My thoughts on AUJ [In reply to] Can't Post

Overall I think it's a tossup between AUJ and DoS as to which is the best of the three. AUJ was closest to the book, I loved the "Good Morning" scene and the "Blunt the Knives" scene. When the Dwarves are gathered singing the Lonely Mountain song, I think that's the most powerful moment in the movie. I didn't have the problem with the second act that you had, and I can't imagine trying to make this movie without the Troll scene. Sure, some of the humor is juvenile, but what I remember in the book was equally juvenile. And yeah, there's that thing about finding the swords, kind of important there.
Yeah, okay the constant "RUUUUUN!!!" did get old after awhile, but it led to a heroic Thorin demanding they hold their ground, then waiting until everyone got to safety before himself. It's a good contrast to his behavior in BOT5A. I'll take as much of Rivendell as I can get, those scenes are always so gorgeous! The bathing scene was very brief (no pun intended), and also I'm pretty sure they bathed & washed their clothes somewhere in the book. The White Council part did drag a bit, agreed, but not enough to put me off. Sometimes I do fast-forward through those parts, though. Like you I'm not totally crazy about the way Radagast was portrayed, if they'd trimmed the excess it would have been much better IMO, but I understand WHY PJ did what he did. Originally the Dwarves were going to try and sneak away, but someone pointed out that the Wargs would smell them, so they decided on some kind of crazy distraction instead. Could have been executed better, but there you are.
I'm in the minority on the Stone Giants, as that's how I pictured them from the book. Riddles in the Dark couldn't have been better under any circumstances. Yeah, the goblin chase & the Goblin-King gross-out stuff was typical PJ, could have been trimmed back a bit too. Same with the way the Dwarves are chased up trees that fall over like dominos, & I could have done without the Dori/Ori thing, but that's PJ for you. None of these are strong enough to put me off the movie.
Personally I like the inclusion of the White Council & Necromancer. Not only does it help tie TH to LoTR, but it solves a problem I had with the book - where did Gandalf go? The book's explanation is very weak, & to me at least it makes Gandalf appear to be a meddler that's unconcerned about what he leaves behind. However, Azog - well he wasn't really in the book, in fact he was long dead, wasn't he? And Bolg could have covered all this quite well, so it's always curious to me why PJ did this. If it were me, I'd have saved the Azog reveal to this point, in fact I usually fast-forward thru that scene on Weathertop. Well anyway, there's my two cents (or 5 cents, as the case may be). I look forward to your opinion on DoS & BOT5A. In fact, I'd loan you my VUDU password so you can watch the EEs on your computer, but it's actually my hubby's account so I don't know what the password is!Blush





Chen G.
Rohan

Feb 22, 10:12pm

Post #9 of 125 (25717 views)
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I'm surprised [In reply to] Can't Post

that people like An Unexpected Journey the most. I think its the least of the series: it gets much too bogged down in starting the story, and even when it does start in earnst, the action isn't entirely satisfying, like I said previously. Its still a good film, because it has genuinely touching moments, thrilling moments, pictorial moments (its superbly photographed), etcetra.

I think The Battle of the Five Armies, for all its CG-overload, has a powerful conclusion which - while not entirely satisfying - is better than the entirety of An Unexpected Journey. Its so tragic and moving.

The Desolation of Smaug, however, is a jack-of-all-trades. It has great adventure and those earlier, more cheeky action beats. But once Thorin is being ferried to Erebor, it turns on a dime and becomes incredibly confronting in its approach.

Whenever I'm in the mood to watch a single film from this series (the entire series), I'll always turn to The Desolation of Smaug.


kzer_za
Lorien

Feb 23, 12:31am

Post #10 of 125 (25690 views)
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Forgot to mention the photography [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, I did mention it in the Eagle rescue. But yes, it is indeed gorgeous throughout. There are some spectacular nature shots, probably more than any LotR movie (even if no sequence reaches the heights of the beacons).

As for why people like AUJ best, I think it's because most of the stuff that really bothers people like the romance, Alfrid, the Smaug fight, and the overuse of Legolas is in the later movies. My memory is that I could tolerate that stuff in DoS but B5A is when various things, especially the Legolas/Bolg fight, turned me off the whole trilogy. How much they annoy me this time around or how much the EEs improve it, I'll wait and see.

One thing I'll say is that I've been watching the Star Wars prequels (though I haven't done III quite yet), so some actually terrible movies are fresh in my memory. I know better now after rewatching I and II than to casually make comparisions between The Hobbit movies and the prequels ! Wink


(This post was edited by kzer_za on Feb 23, 12:44am)


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Feb 23, 2:47am

Post #11 of 125 (25667 views)
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Lindsay's explanations [In reply to] Can't Post

of breaking the book into three parts, and then needing to create content for the three acts of those movies, put into words a lot of my dissatisfaction with the films - but everyone gets different mileage from The Hobbit and all power to them.

The third part of her video series, on the labour laws, is the clearest explanation I've seen of that entire brouhaha.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauronís master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


kzer_za
Lorien

Feb 23, 3:06am

Post #12 of 125 (25657 views)
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I've seen Lindsay's videos, or at least the first two // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Chen G.
Rohan

Feb 23, 7:06am

Post #13 of 125 (25637 views)
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But unfortunately wholly irrelevant to the viewing experience [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The third part of her video series, on the labour laws, is the clearest explanation I've seen of that entire brouhaha.


As much as one ought to separate the art from the artist, one ought to separate the art from the artistic and commercial process. In watching the films, I couldn't give a dead dog for labour laws being abused.


In Reply To
Lindsay's breakdown of breaking the book into three parts, and then needing to create content for the three acts of those movies, put into words a lot of my dissatisfaction with the films.


The more I think about Lindsay's body of work - on these films and in general - the more of a dislike I acquire for it. She infuses everything (in this case, especially the Tauriel subplot) with her brand of social doctorine.

I had a particular dislike for her harping on bygone Colonalism, to the point that she declared that, in King Kong, "its not beauty that killed the beast - its colonialism." I mean, come on! which is to say nothing of her misinterpertation of Tolkien's quote about "least lovelly Mongol types." For a person who spills out so much intellectualized terminology, you'd think she knew he meant the murderous 14-century Mongols....

And really, from a professional point of view, she's a screenwriter, and her critique comes from the point of view of a screenwriter. I find people like Chris Hartwell or Garrett Stiger - who write and direct - to be much more insightful, as well as less overbearing.

Her three-act breakdown of both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit is all wrong, too. I seem to recall that she put the first act of Fellowship of the Ring ending with the formation of the Fellowship and/or the second act ending with Gandalf's death - both of which are wrong.

Besides, the three-act structure isn't the end-all measure of a good narrative. Lots of great films don't use it: Does Braveheart have a three-act structure? Does The Good, The Bad and the Ugly have one? Lawrence of Arabia and other old epics have three-acts, but per each of their two parts.

There are other issues (like her impression that the payoff to Thorin and Bilbo's relationship at the end of An Unexpected Journey is premature) but I'm already woefully verbose, not unlike her.


In Reply To
As for why people like AUJ best, I think it's because most of the stuff that really bothers people like the romance, Alfrid, the Smaug fight, and the overuse of Legolas is in the later movies.


I think its more nuanced than that. I think the first film in any series has a slightly "magical" quality when one first views it. Because you're yet to see the continuation of the story - but you know there is one. It lets you imagination run wild as to what's going to happen next, and gives the film a sense of expanse.

When the actual vision for the next film turns about to be grimmer than one imagined for one's-self, it can come off as disheartening. However, what I think many people who systematically like the first film (Chris Hartwell is actually one) ignore is that, when drama is derived from that state, the film is all the better for it.

For instance, I've said that The Desolation of Smaug starts out still in a lighthearted mode, and later turns on a dime. That moment is pretty clear to me: its when Thorin is finally being ferried across to Erebor. The first film, and the first part of the second film have exemplified the yearning of Thorin and company to their homeland, but when we actually get there, Jackson makes it dour. The color is desaturated, the music is ominous and the landscape is threatening.

Many people - especially those attached to the tone of the book - rather than the existence or lack of a dragon fight or barrell-ride -will find this distastefull. I find it wonderfully tragic, and its in fact my screensaver.


In Reply To
One thing I'll say is that I've been watching the Star Wars prequels (though I haven't done III quite yet), so some actually terrible movies are fresh in my memory. I know better now after rewatching I and II than to casually make comparisions between The Hobbit movies and the prequels ! Wink


I don't mind those awfully, either. But than, I don't just like movies, I like liking movies.There's some good action and adventure in there, and at the end, some good tragedy.

But I do dislike the comparisons that people make - because the two filmmakers and the way they went about creating a trilogy - could not be more different. The comparison can therefore never exists beyond the superficial.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 23, 7:19am)


Silmaril
Rohan


Feb 23, 9:07am

Post #14 of 125 (25609 views)
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AUJ is the best, by far! [In reply to] Can't Post

The first hour is really great! It has the heart of the book and the Lotr movies. Why did it not continue on that level?
It's strange that some parts are really enjoyable and others unwatchable.
The soundtrack and the songs are good.

I will not rewatch DOS and BOTFA. They really broke my heart. Barrel Escape, Gold/Smaug hunt, Alfrid, Dain, Kili/Tauriel and so on. Horrible.


(This post was edited by Silmaril on Feb 23, 9:11am)


Chen G.
Rohan

Feb 23, 10:10am

Post #15 of 125 (25604 views)
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The Desolation of Smaug is infinitely better [In reply to] Can't Post

It has momentum throughout, and it shifts the focus from Bilbo (boring!) to Thorin, which is great.


Silmaril
Rohan


Feb 23, 10:27am

Post #16 of 125 (25600 views)
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Bilbo [In reply to] Can't Post

Is not boring. He is the heart of the story, the lovely hero! Not some mineworkers...


(This post was edited by Silmaril on Feb 23, 10:28am)


Chen G.
Rohan

Feb 23, 10:35am

Post #17 of 125 (25596 views)
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His is just another Hero's Journey [In reply to] Can't Post

We've seen The Hero's Journey with Sam, with Frodo (to a point), with Aragorn; we've seen it in other tentpole franchises. Harry Potter very quickly morphed into a Hero's Journey, for instance.

A further difference to those characters (and to Bilbo's detriment) is also that Bilbo has no personal stakes in the story, apart from the possibility of dying or losing his comrades.

Thorin, by comparison, isn't undertaking The Hero's Journey. His heroic, certainly, as well as honourable; but he's also greedy, vain, cantankerous, isolationist, and zealous. That's a much more interesting character, and a very different one to what we've seen from this series so far. In that sense, it is different to The Lord of the Rings.

And unlike Bilbo, Thorin has personal stakes in the story. Its his homeland that needs reclaims, his vengenance (both upon Smaug and especially Azog) that needs be exacted, his grievance with Thranduil resolved and - most importantly - his demons that need be confronted.

That's what's so great about using the dragon as a red herring: letting him appear for a grand total of 20 minutes and killing him at the top of the third film - it drives home the idea that the true antagonist (until Sauron shows up) is Thorin himself.

Also, and again unlike what we've seen before, we've seen Hobbit protagonists, we've seen men as protagonists (within their respective subplots) and we've seen Elves. The time has come for a Dwarf protagonist and a Dwarf story to be told.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 23, 10:38am)


Silmaril
Rohan


Feb 23, 10:40am

Post #18 of 125 (25591 views)
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That would be acceptable... [In reply to] Can't Post

If it had not become an action movie with bad jokes and poor cgi. This golden dwarf statue, Legolas jumping on heads, orks are falling before they get hit, Smaug unfit to kill some tiny dwarves...


(This post was edited by Silmaril on Feb 23, 10:44am)


Chen G.
Rohan

Feb 23, 11:06am

Post #19 of 125 (25586 views)
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Meh [In reply to] Can't Post

Its just a veneer.

I do think that, once told as a story in which Thorin is more prominent (if not the protagonist outright), a confrontation with Smaug had to happen, and while some of the execution is unfortunate, it mostly works for me - not least because I like the idea.

The Dwarves use their size to their advantage and being that they're only ten rather than thirteen, it makes sense that they manage to evade the much bigger dragon.

Besides, most of the stupid comedy is in An Unexpected Journey, and certainly not in The Desolation of Smaug.


Silmaril
Rohan


Feb 23, 12:01pm

Post #20 of 125 (25580 views)
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I tried to like The Hobbit... [In reply to] Can't Post

I tried it a few times. But in my opinion the movies got worse from part to part and it started only okay. Less good scenes and more dissapointments, big disappointments.

Stupid comedy in AUJ: Yes, but it also has some scenes which fitted perfectly. Erase Radagast and stuff like that and you have a movie that is worth to be called The Hobbit.

In DOS I asked myself if I really watch The Hobbit or some fanfition? Same goes for BOTFA.


(This post was edited by Silmaril on Feb 23, 12:06pm)


2ndBreffest
Lorien


Feb 23, 12:55pm

Post #21 of 125 (25566 views)
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well... [In reply to] Can't Post

apparently PJ thinks Bilbo is boring as well, and prefers cliche fan-fic quality love stories which gave us lines like "because it was real" and "there could be anything down my trousers", silly action sequences, crude bathroom humor etc. I wouldn't have minded if he had expanded upon the story of Thorin more, but all of his other additions and alterations make this entire thing an unwatchable mess.


Chen G.
Rohan

Feb 23, 1:42pm

Post #22 of 125 (25562 views)
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Don't care [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Erase Radagast and stuff like that and you have a movie that is worth to be called The Hobbit.

In DOS I asked myself if I really watch The Hobbit or some fanfition? Same goes for BOTFA.


To me, that's irrelevant. The question is simply "Do I like what I'm watching?" The answer is that, the more Thorin-centric the narrative becomes, the more I like it, because he has the most compelling character journey in the series - and when I say series, I'm including The Lord of the Rings.


2ndBreffest
Lorien


Feb 23, 2:00pm

Post #23 of 125 (25550 views)
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well... [In reply to] Can't Post

in addition to all of his many other changes to the story, he should have also changed the title to "The Dwarf", because otherwise, it is a bit misleading.


Chen G.
Rohan

Feb 23, 2:03pm

Post #24 of 125 (25550 views)
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Who cares what the title is saying?! [In reply to] Can't Post

Is The Silence of the Lambs about quiet lambs? Is The Two Towers about two towers?! What about Signs? Casino Royale? The Island? Vertigo?! I'm pretty sure The Lord of the Rings isn't about Sauron, although that's what the title - if taken at face value - would suggest. This could go on and on.

Movie titles are a marketing tool. Its up to the movie itself to tell you what's it about.

It took no more than watching the prologue to An Unexpected Journey to understand that this was going to be about Thorin's journey, as a character.


(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 23, 2:04pm)


2ndBreffest
Lorien


Feb 23, 2:13pm

Post #25 of 125 (25546 views)
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but... [In reply to] Can't Post

it's Bilbo who goes on an "unexpected journey"...Thorin knew about it because he was the one who planned it. I just think that if PJ was willing to change basically everything in the story, he may as well adapt the title to be more fitting. And The Lord of the Rings is about Sauron, but that's an entirely different discussion for another board.

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