An Unexpected Debateable Movie (part 2)

Well, it turns out I got my nitpicking rant out of the way on the first page (mostly). This page will be more concerned with what I did find fun, because I am capable of liking changes.
Although it was jarring to me that Bilbo was narrating it, I really enjoyed the opening sequence.  I had been longing for who knows how long to see the dwarf kingdoms in all their glory on-screen. (probably since the third time I read Gimli's description of the halls of Moria past). And I got what I wanted, big time. Also, Dale looked really cool and I felt it when it got destroyed by Smaug. (By the way, flying in 3D through Smaug's eyes was brilliant!).
The sequence of the Battle of Anzulibar (or whatever) was awesome. It is the best-looking Middle-earth battle to date, and the biggest and longest is yet to come in the middle of part 3. Epicness anticipation set to Sky-high. I never quite understood until I saw it on screen how an oak branch could be an effective shield. I still don't entirely, but it looked cool. I liked how he was carrying a branch during his "hero charge" at the end too. On the first of several side-notes, I really liked Azog "the defiler" too. I'm happy that he was bald instead of balding. Bald bodybuilders look so cool when they're entirely white...:). The only part that bothered me was that his facial war-cheiftan marks looked like he had had a waffle-maker pressed into his face. it wasn't the best look. It made perfect sense to me that he was out to get revenge, but I did have mixed feelings regarding whether he should have been alive in the first place.
Riddles in the dark was done brilliantly. It was another one that I had been waiting untold years to see played out, and it exceeded my hopes. Although I have to admit that as I watched it I wasn't seeing a shriveled creature, but a guy hopping around in a mo-cap spacesuit. Nevertheless, in that one scene, I would say Andy Serkis surpassed his performance in LOTR. I could see him going nuts.
On the subject of acting, I'll pause here to say I really enjoyed Thorin, even though they messed with his character. I find it impossible to say Gandalf was a weak point, because I don't understand the nuances of acting, and because everyone else says he was the high point. I'd only like to say he was grumpier than I hoped Gandalf the grey would be. They said he was fun to do?! I liked Bilbo too. What negativity I felt toward him was simply due to the fact that the way I read his lines was ingrained in my head. Though I think the writers botched the "and here's the burglar/hobbit" moment in the trees. What he wound up saying through his mumbling was "I'm with you because I have a home and you don't" which was a bit confusing and not at all what I expected. On a side note, he should have been more surprised at becoming invisible. It's like the writers simply forgot that he wasn't aware of the ring's power, or even that it existed before he picked it up. The writers gave us the impression that he was almost expecting to find an invisibility ring on a forgotten goblin trail. whoops.
I liked the whole Goblin town sequence, including the Goblin King, (whom fellow bloggers are now referring to as Goblin the Hutt.- great idea, James), who was a lot funnier than I expected, because I expected him to be dark and spooky and be covered in leathery scale-hide. Instead he's just "fat slob times ten" which works.
The two moments that nearly made me laugh out loud were seeing Thranduil riding a moose, and listening to Saruman monologue in the background about Radagast and mushrooms while Gandalf and Galadriel discuss the important stuff. The whole sequence of the dwarves' arrival was accelerated for length but I really enjoyed how they gave the first four different things to say which kind of introduced their characters. The sequence that shows all twelve companions raiding the pantry until there's nothing left was hilarious. It turns out 13 dwarves is just barely a small enough number to have a good-sized party. The five who got the most screen time were Balin and Dwalin, Fili and Kili, and Ori, I think. I can't tell him apart from Dori and Nori.
This film ended well, leaving me wishing they'd just make it longer. I was, however, bothered by the impression that Gandalf resurrected Thorin. What diid you think of that moment? Although in my opinion AUJ isn't a great movie in itself, it makes it's way through the slow part of the story well enough and leaves me wishing we could skip to next Christmas season already.
This is the end of my post. Merry Christmas.


An Unexpected Debateable Movie (part 1)

Note: Do not read this post yet if you have yet to see The Hobbit, but please come back and comment afer you've seen it.

Well, I am arguably the biggest Tolkien fan I know, and have the LOTR posters on my wall to attest to it. So, I went into An Unexpected Journey assuming the dissatisfied critics were wrong, like most fans of a big fandom probably do. Need I say, I came out of it giving those critics much more credit than I had thought possible.
To review: The source material, The Hobbit, is written for preteens. (The original reviewer is said to be the publisher's six-seven year old son.) the text is full of asides from the narrator, humor of dialogue, and is mainly about how Bilbo grows as a character and by extension learns to appreciate what he has.
In consequence, AUJ has no business being what it is, which is a dark and stormy action flick mainly concerned with Thorin's unjustified beating-down of Bilbo's character, with very little humor of the clean kind.
To start off, my two biggest complaints were the recurring instances of what my brother refers to as "walls of text," wherein somebody is monologuing, and absolutely nothing is going on in the background. Walls of text are fine in novels, because they are often employed to give a complete description of the setting so that the action may continue unhindered. Ivanhoe, Ben-Hur, and Les Miserables are classics full of wall-of-text descriptions. However, monologues are definitely not something that really works in film. But AUJ has at least 3: Bilbo's superfluous prologue narration, Gandalf's modified-to-fit-your pronoun recitation of the "legend" of Bullroarer Took and the game of Golf, and Balin's recitation of Thorin's life story, which would have been slightly longer yet would have fit better had it been delivered by Thorin himself. But enough of this.
my other big complaint was that my first hunch regarding the clip from the trailer of Galdriel's and Gandalf 's dialogue was correct. It was spilling over with sappiness. Remember guys, Gandalf is a higher power in Middle-earth than Galadriel. She's only an elf. He's an "angel-thing." So you're going to say hi to the attractive lady? So do that, nicely, but you, Gandalf, have no respect for us fans if you're going to say something like "I'm never happier than when I'm staring at [Galadriel]" Ooh sappiness burn. and then it continued from there. By the end she was saying "I'll come when you need me" When he needs you?! WTB (what the blank)! Are you kidding me?! Hello! This is Gandalf we're referring to. Mr. Fire Wizard is by nature more powerful than Mrs. Mind Reader lady! And then she vaporized? While he was in a trance staring at her? WIGO(what is going on)?
To continue, there was the business of the languages. Yeah it was fun to see (and sort of hear) characters speaking elaborations of Tolkien's languages on-screen, But there were some hiccups. Namely, Elrond's entrance. I could not figure out why he was bothering to speak Elvish half the time, and then at the end of that scene where he invited the dwarves to dinner in Elvish just so they could get angry with him? WIGO? (side note: Did anybody else get a laugh out of Elrond's addiction to bright purple? Even his armor is purple) ;)
I am trying to restrain myself from hating on it, but there was just so much that jumped out at me... Like for instance, the map. In the film they cut the explanation of why the key and the map weren't given directly to Thorin. (Answer: because Thrain, who had them, was locked up in Dol Guldor and had lost his mind.) So Gandalf just hands them over and they cut Thorin's mostly justified shock, as in "Why do you have my stuff" Then later when they reach Rivendell, Elrond takes the map and glances at it, and then says "There are moon-letters here." even though the moon to see them by was behind a cloud at the time. ; /.
I liked seeing Radagast, mostly, but I couldn't get over the bird-mess in his hair and in the general story of part one he just seemed superfluous.
Also, I am very disappointed in the score for AUJ. I expected to come out clamoring to buy it or be gifted it, whichever came first, but by the end of the film, I realized that, aside from a couple of melodies that were too deep in pitch to crack my hearing level, I already own the score. Yes, it was the father of all occurrences of self-plagarism by my favorite composer, and I have heard several. Besides which, due in part to the fact that it either wasn't original or I couldn't hear it, the music did not help the movie, nor can I really remember any of it. Epic music fail. I did however, enjoy what I could hear of the songs lifted from the text, and the dwarves' Rube Goldberg mechanism sequence of clearing the table and washing up was very entertaining.

(whew. I 0guess I'll need another page to continue ranting about everything. To be continued.)