The new Hobbit movie

So, back into posting. And first up, something which has absolutely no relevance to the usual subjects for this blog.

I actually don’t have too much to add to the existing debate here, except that I am a big fan of the book and loved the LoTR movies (and a giant pedant). ‘An unexpected journey’ was, for me at least, a perfectly serviceable film. But ‘the desolation of Smaug’ seemed, well, shoddy.

 

The reasons, it seems to me, have to do mainly with pacing and production. The pacing, I think, got ruined by the switch to a three-movie format for the release. Which would have been fine, if that is what had been planned all along. As it is, my ‘ideal’ approach would have been to split the movie along the same lines as the book (which had a noticeable shift in tone): the more light-hearted, travel adventure-oriented stuff going in part one and the desolation of Smaug/battle of five armies in part two.  Once you throw that away, the best compromise is to make the films about the journey, the dragon and the battle respectively.

 

The first film ended exactly right for that sequence, but the second seems to have missed the logical progression by shoving in an imagined climax (the fights in Erebor and Lake Town) at the expense of the book climax (the death of Smaug). I honestly can’t see why they had to do it this way, unless the third film was going to end up short. Even then, you’d start the last film with a climax (big no-no) and move into a boring second act before having a completely separate one at the end. It just seems like a mess all around.

 

The second problem is production. The switch to digital effects over the more prop-oriented stuff used in LoTR seems to have resulted in strange, unfocused visuals. This is very obvious in the extensive use of digital actors for action sequences, where the eye has time to pick out the unnatural way that even the best-animated figures move (as an aside, it says something that the first comment by both my wife and I upon exiting the film was about how terribly that damn horse moved).

 

Another problem is that the practical props and makeup seemed to have lost quality somewhat. Perhaps it is the way it was filmed – 48fps, with its higher clarity, is supposedly very good at making traditional movie props and effects look shoddy – but a lot of stuff just looked off. The biggest offenders (for me, at least): Dwalin’s bald-head wig and the prop weapons from Lake Town. The latter, especially, just looked terrible and prop-like compared to the amazing work used in LoTR.

A lot of this, of course, is just pointless nit-picking. It just seems indicative, to me at least, of rushed production when compared to the minute, obsessive detail lavished on the previous movies. This, and it’s stand-out nature compared to the phenomenal values seen in the rest of the production, ties in with the first problem by implying that the end product we saw just wasn’t what had been intended from the start. The long hand of executive meddling, seen in the decision to split the movie into three, had far-reaching consequences for the films.

 

Do go and see it though: the sequence with Smaug alone is worth the price of admission.

 

P.S. – my last post (bemoaning my complete uselessness in regards to actually posting stuff) was my hundredth. Go figure.

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