That's the two creature in PJ's film that come closest to what I imagine reading the books. But one might say it's hard to get them wrong since they're well described by Tolkien and so if you follow the instructions the result can be good.
(This post was edited by sam90 on Aug 14 2012, 5:52pm)
Balrog - while MOSTLY a very good representation here the head of the Balrog is, imo, off especially considering this: Balrogs were NOT mindless beasts incapable of speech, and while the use of sword and whip gave some nod to the intelligence it must be remembered that these stalwarts were NOT just main battery firepower for Morgoth Bauglir but his CAPTAINS - peers and equals of Sauron (who also was given the mindless-beast bellowing treatment but more on that below). These fallen Maiar deserve better than trolls as even orcs and uruks are given MUCH better treatment! Watcher in the Water - This one was quite good and since the question was 'closest to' my own visual expectations' I have to give Mr Jackson and his team kudos for several because this is one that exceeded my own. Trolls - These were also very good but while I appreciate the visual feast of artistry I'm also scientist enough that I'd really appreciate something that is possible and a few features (teeth most notably) just don't pass muster here. I prefer Tolkien's own drawings here. Shelob - SOOO tantalizingly close, but the one feature 'my' Shelob had that this one didn't was when I read those chapters I envisioned a creature that like the writing seemed able to generate and feed off of the darkness that surrounded her. It was not normal darkness at all but a combination of malice and a terrible hunger that sucked the living's souls from travellers unlucky enough to enter her lair just by being in it. I wanted a Shelob that somehow could radiate that - do it perhaps by having any light around her distorted and dimmed excepting only the Phial, which in piercing her darkness would cause her to recoil (Tolkien wrote that this was so but Mr Jackson didn't really have her react well, imo) and visually for the viewer to have it the only really clear picture we get of her horror. Mumakil (my vote) - These were both awesome and majestic. My vote for closest to my mental pictures of them. Beasts pulling Grond - These were quite good in the movie but to be honest, my attention really wasn't on them in the book so I can't give them a vote when they weren't really what captivated my mind's eye in their scene. Sauron (pre-Eye) - Liked the height (even though Tolkien would have had him more of a 7-footer rather than 16 or so), loved the mace (though somehow I always envisioned Sauron using a sorcerer's blade rather than a mace, rather like Gandalf and Glamdring?). Again, like the balrog, this is Sauron. Most cunning and terrible of all of the servants of the Enemy. To simply have a bellowing giant cheapens his whole 'experience' by a lot. Fell beasts (presume the flying versions) - These would be tough under any circumstance and the movie-makers did well, but it just didn't feel like the stories and I'm not truly certain how to improve them except perhaps a tad more exotic rather than pterodactyl-ish? Ents - Very close. The eyes would have been tough, but this is Hollywood and spfx. I'm sure that something to convey the depth of ent-eyes could have been managed? The mouths also were nice, but seemed just a shade off-kilter and not quite 'natural' looking enough. Eagles - Size was good, but didn't look like the musculature of real birds to me. Would have been fun to see more face but that likely would have been a detriment as 'anthropomorphising' too much and too much away from the bird. Wargs - As others have noted - looked like hyenas and not wolves at all. Gollum - This is another that exceeded my visual. Stunning. Magnificent. Orcs - I can't see how these are the shattered and ruined elves. I would've liked a treatment much more similar to Gollum's resemblance to hobbits. Uruk-hai - Like orcs above, only these should have been the haggard elf look combined with an Arnold Schwarzeneger body to give the cross between orcs and men that these were supposed to be. They got the latter close to right, but the former needed to be there as well as to me the connexion to elves was in lip-service of Saruman only. Goblins - Tolkien only really hints at any difference between orcs and goblins, with that hint being that orcs are a 'truer' race that is stronger in mind and body and more directly connected to evil. That said, the comments for orcs and uruks can partially be laid aside as these creatures are quite degenerate from their 'original orc form' but even there I'd love a hint, a barest whisper of elf just to break the heart and echo the sadness of the ages of middle-earth.
(This post was edited by GAndyalf on Aug 15 2012, 2:58am)
And i agree with everything else in this post i am replying to so no need to right it out again, just hopefully PJ has learnt from his warg mistake and will make them look like wolves this time in the hobbit!
I'm not so sure those of us who grew up with Harry Harryhausen
[In reply to]
... are so concerned things looking 'clearly CGI'. ;-)
They are CGI. They can't look entirely real or they risk the uncanny valley.
The thing is, even those old HH special FX did the trick. A story is told. If it's just a person in front of a fire telling it, or puppets, or claymation, or computer generated effects, how *real* something looks shouldn't be the barometer for how well the story is told.
I love seeing the advances in computer generated effects and animation. I just watched Brave and I thought back to watching Toy Story, which was revolutionary in its day, and compared the hair in Brave to the hair in Toy Story. Brave was beautiful to look at and I appreciated the advancements and work that went into it. But having dated CG/animation effects doesn't diminish Toy Story, or at least it shouldn't if the basic story works for the viewer.
I think it's kind of a right brain vs left brain. To fully appreciate the story, one must not get too caught up in the technology. :-)
at the time the movies came out, while I had some quibbles with the CGI in other places, the eagles worked for me just fine. I was just happy that the eagle screams were actual eagle screams instead of roars as people sometimes have done with giant birds.
Not just Harryhausen - remember how blown away we all were by the first "Star Wars" movie?
While there has always been science fiction in movies, the 1950s were when it blossomed as a genre. Sometimes terrible scripts and fledgling spfx got it marginalised for nearly 2 decades, but the fans were far more loyal than other movie-going audiences because science fiction WRITING was VERY good from the 1920s on and these folk WANTED BADLY to see their visions written by H.P Lovecraft, James Branch Cabell, Doc Smith, Ray Cummings, and others brought 'to life' on the silver screen. Indeed while the '50s had the most shoestring of budgets for spfx, some of the stories were timeless: The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Forbidden Planet (with comic actor Leslie Nielsen as the romanticlead, no less) are two of the best from the '50s SF that was romanticized in the 1975 cult film classic, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show". Then we reach 1968, a pivotal, even seminalyear for science fiction. The late Gene Roddenberry had shown to 'executives' at NBC that science fiction was both serious and a well of untapped possibility unlike anything since oil blossomed as an industry. While Star Trek (the original series) still suffered from terribly sub-standard spfx because the network didn't want to spend it on a 'risky' show (and by their slotting of Trek really tried to kill it) the writing was stellar - by some of the greats of science fiction of it's day, including Harlan Ellison and a budding David Gerrold. That lead Stanley Kubrick to team with sf legend Sir Arthur C. Clarke to turn a short story called "The Sentinel" into one of science fictions great films of all time, "2001: A Space Odyssey" changed spfx forever with Doug Trumbull pioneering the industry as no one has before him - and training a young John Dykstra who was the genius and father of George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic which did the spfx for the original Star Wars (now "A New Hope") and so many great science fiction and fantasy films since. As Annael says, those of us who lived through the transformation of movies - and other genres have benefitted GREATLY from the blossoming of fx (action flicks particularly, but even appearing covertly in comedies and love stories the effects have rippled through our movie experience) - know that without those courageous pioneers in the '50s who believed in the great stories (and even the not-so-great ones) NEEDING to be told in movies, Gene Roddenberry BELIEVING that science fiction could work in the horribly shallow (even today) medium of television, of Kubrick and Clarke envisioning what COULD be on the big screen, and then finally Dykstra and those that have followed once the floodgates were FINALLY opened fully by the wild success of Star Wars. If the story is good enough, they'll find a way to make it happen. In Tolkien's lifetime he hoped to see movies made, plays made, music made celebrating his work. He wouldn't have sold the works he did to Saul Zaentz if he didn't but his own writing reveals he celebrated ALL forms of art. Indeed even Christopher isn't against the filming of his father's work so much as he's against it being done without proper reverence to what that work was supposed to MEAN. In that, he was proved correct when corporate executives made decisions and forced Mr Jackson to 'dumb down' LotR to the point where Christopher could not stomach it. With his trust in movie-makers quite gone and the budget of independents insufficient to go that route he's chosen to simply 'close the gate' as it were to safeguard what is left from such crude indiscretions (and insulting the intelligence of loyal fans). It will be fun to watch the spfx of The Hobbit - all 3 glorious volumes of it - but it will be just as important to see if along with more money if Mr Jackson uses his gained leverage for the professor's work, or simply continues with movie-making policies of "based on" rather than "based IN" the professor's work.