Who thought it was a good idea to let Michael Bay direct a Tolkien movie?


You might guess from the title that I just got back from the new Hobbit movie. Now at last I know how one simple little story could be turned into a three-movie monstrosity, where each movie is 2½ hours long. They added superflous action scenes, chase scenes, hot elf fanservice, odd sideplots, random bad guys who do nothing but look menacing, a bizarre elf-dwarf romance, the return of the flaming vagina, a giant hugely clumsy dragon, and of course, multiple fiery explosions with Our Heroes leaping to safety just ahead of the blazing wavefront. And then it just ends. Come back next time!

My summary: bloated, hot mess. Not worth the $5 I spent to see a clean, old-fashioned fantasy story turned into the usual big budget CGI-driven tale of extravagant explosions.


I have been chastised for always being so negative about much-anticipated movies. So let me leaven my criticisms with a few positive comments…although, of course, I’ll then have to expand my negativity a bit.

What I liked:

  • It was obvious from the moment Tolkien published his trilogy that the previous slight story about the hobbit and the dragon was being seriously retconned to become a portent of his more epic tale. I think it was right and proper, when redoing the story as a movie, to add more elements that link the prequel to the fuller story. Seeing Sauron emerge in Dol Guldur? Good addition.

  • Let’s not have any illusions that Tolkien was a great writer. He was a good storyteller. Unfortunately, his characters were dull people, animated largely by interesting names and elaborate backstory. The movie let actors flesh them out — this isn’t a story of 12 fully interchangeable short people with funny names, plus one short person with hairy feet. Finally, the mob has an identity. Also, Martin Freeman as Bilbo was actually really good.

  • Another huge deficiency in Tolkien’s world: the near-total absence of women. Jackson has at least made an effort to graft on a few heroic women. They’re kind of slapped on, but that’s not Jackson’s fault, it’s Tolkien’s obliviously masculine source material.

  • Tolkien takes himself very seriously. The light moments in the book are filled mainly by characters reciting poetry, sometimes interminably. Jackson adds some needed humor to the story.

Now where did that go wrong?

  • Increasing the menace and the weight to lead in to Lord of the Rings was good, but it was inconsistently done. Suddenly the world is full of evil orcs — who are somehow so competent that a whole army of them neatly navigates Mirkwood, where the dwarves are confused by magic and lost and captured by spiders. These orcs somehow neatly end up waiting for the good guys just outside the elf city, and are then nearly totally destroyed by twelve unarmed dwarves, a hobbit, and two super-duper elves in a long battle along the shores of a river. It made me think of a bad D&D campaign run by an indulgent DM, where all your problems could be solved by shouting, “LEEEEEEROY!” and charging into the horde.

    Also, come on. Just turn Legolas loose an the evil army, all by himself, and he’ll ping-pong about like a demented Yoda, only tall and slender and blonde, and the war will be over.

    Compare the casualties. Dwarf-side: one takes an arrow to the knee (nursed back to health by hot elf woman), and one cloak gets burned in the battle with the dragon. Orc-side: the leaders walk away (no doubt to be satisfyingly slaughtered in the concluding episode), but the grunts get mowed down two or three at a time by Blondie, and even the hobbit manages to butcher a couple, without even getting scratched.

  • The actor playing Bilbo was great. Too bad most of his screen time seemed to be spent running. Jogging to the Lonely Mountain, running away from spiders, running away from orcs, running away from dragons, outrunning gouts of fire from the dragon’s mouth.

  • Eowyn’s expansion in the trilogy was great, and I expect to see Tauriel cosplay everywhere now. I can’t complain at all about adding interesting women characters to the story.

  • Yeah, but did Jackson’s sense of humor have to be entirely inspired by the Three Stooges?

I have little hope for the third movie. It’s going to begin with an epic battle against a dragon, followed by an epic battle between 5 armies (with another deus ex aquila), and all of Jackson’s favorite excesses will be given free rein. At least a few of the dwarves will finally get killed.

Comments

  1. chigau (違う) says

    I never liked The Hobbit anyway.
    Bilbo was a knob.
    Gandalf, too.
    I really liked Smaug.
    and they snuffed him

  2. marcoli says

    Well, that is what I was thinking in the 1st Hobbit movie. I both liked it, and thought it way over-done to milk the $. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, however, stands as a very good effort, IMO.

  3. ChasCPeterson says

    hot elf fanservice

    do tell

    Not worth the $5 I spent

    First-run movies are only fi’ dallahs there?
    count yer blessings.

  4. chigau (違う) says

    marcoli #4

    The Lord of the Rings trilogy, however, stands as a very good effort

    Agreed, but only visually.

  5. says

    It stank. And for the record, I am such a devotee of the books I read an entire 1000 page study of The Hobbit by John Rateliff (which is excellent is you’re into Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse literature and etymology). But in this mess we get Elf/Dwarf slash fiction in the early stages and, even worse, an Orc who TALKS BACK to Sauron and has an argument with him. This would be like Hannity questioning Dick Cheney. Would never happen due to sycophancy, stupidity, and fear.

  6. whheydt says

    Now you know why I never finished seeing the LotR movies and swore to avoid anything having to do with Jackson ever after. The man thinks he’s a better writer than Tolkien and couldn’t be more wrong if he tried.

  7. chigau (違う) says

    scottruplin
    You are a scary person.

    Bored of the Rings movie?
    I have my lawn-chair and coleman stove.
    Where’s the queue?

  8. gmcard says

    You mean the man who gifted the world with Bad Taste and Meet the Feebles wasn’t the best choice to bring a respectful, intelligent adaptation of a classic of high fantasy literature to the big screen?

  9. microraptor says

    Having seen you hammer multiple science fiction and fantasy movies this year, PZ, I’m left a bit curious about what movies you do like.

  10. muskiet says

    I never liked the whole LOtR movies. I watched them all but the only thing I remember of them is little people go on a long walk with a nerd’s dream team of wizards, elfs, other little people and something that says “precious” to throw a ring in a volcano. I did see the last Hobbit movie but found that story was just another copy of the first three boring excruciating long episodes.

  11. wesleyelsberry says

    #8: I’ve long held that a screenwriter for LotR could have done a good job by noting the scenes identified by “Bored of the Rings” as the essential ones, and the ones that didn’t make it into BotR were likely not necessary to the narrative. The satire could have informed a concise and dramatic screenplay for LotR. That didn’t happen.

    I’d certainly go see a BotR movie.

  12. brett says

    I really enjoyed it, although there were some parts that definitely felt stretched. The extended scene within Erebor with Smaug lasted a bit too long, even with some excellent visual sights. But overall the movie was a breeze compared to the first Hobbit movie, much like how the first Lord of the Rings movie was a breeze when I saw it in theaters.

    I liked Tauriel, the female elf. I was worried she might be a bit of a generic badass, but I like how it was colored by her curiosity about the outside world – and how that led her into chemistry with Kili. In fact, I think the whole Kili-Tauriel thing worked well, except for some of the embarrassing dialogue near the end. There’s one scene in particular that worked well while they were in the Elvish kingdom.

    The 48 FPS thing didn’t bother me as much as it did in the last movie. When I saw it in the last movie, they moved the camera around way too fast – and it made tons of stuff look cartoonishly bad in terms of visuals, particularly the scenes with Radagast on his bunny-pulled sled.

  13. says

    The most common criticism I heard of the “Hobbit trilogy” came before the movies were even made, and turned out to be true.

    Many people said that it only needed to be a single movie, not three – both because it didn’t need to be milked, and because there isn’t enough story to merit doing so. The criticisms of others above back that up.

  14. MJP says

    I did not have a problem with Tauriel, but I had a problem with the very first thing Kili said to her – “Aren’t you going to search me? There could be anything in my trousers.” This is such a stupid line, and how it manages to win her over is beyond me.

    I also have a problem with Jackson’s overwhelming tendency to move the plot along by having Orcs attack.

  15. robro says

    The Lucas effect strikes again. Jackson jumped the shark with Hobbit 1…and maybe even Kong. The family enjoyed LotR, but at the end of H1 we all went “shit.” As far as I know, none of us are seeing H2.

  16. says

    Nobody wanted to make these movies. Nerds wouldn’t shut up until they did. Now they’re here. And they’re an uninspired money grab. If any of you are even slightly surprised by this, you’ve got no business calling the religious “naive.”

  17. says

    PZ, old chum, there are people in the world whose talent is teaching the sciences, and there are those whose talent is film criticism. You belong to one of those groups. ;-)

  18. Larry says

    I couldn’t stop looking at my watch during H1 waiting for the damn thing to end. 2-1/2 hours was 90 minutes too long. I believe I’ll pass on this one, hot elf-on-dwarf action not withstanding. Even if it is Evangeline Lily.

    Peter Jackson, what have you done?

  19. says

    I suspect that once Peter Jackson is finished inflating The Hobbit into a bloated film trilogy, there’ll be an opportunity to produce an “abridged” edition that sheds tons of unsightly fat and makes for a much more engaging piece of entertainment. And more faithful to the source material, too.

  20. trina says

    I liked the first movie. I think they did a good job at making the dwarves mostly different, and I could see the value in two movies. Three is pushing it.

    I’m glad they added Tauriel- LotR and Hobbit may be sausage fests but there’s no reason they have to stay that way. It’s a shame she has to have a romance storyline but honestly that’s there for added pathos at the end.

  21. sugarfrosted says

    The part of the first Hobbit series (series wtf) movie I didn’t like was the action scenes. They just dragged on and on. Also I can’t stand the Wilhelm scream and can’t understand why Jackson loves it so much, whenever I hear it I just have the urge to punch sound editors.

  22. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    I’m not going to pay to watch something that could have been a good movie stretched into a money-grab. Might download the movies or wait until they’re shown on TV.

    What I’m anxiously waiting for is the remake of The Lord of The Rings. You know three movies just won’t be enough. Making each a double might be good enough, but I’m betting at least the third one will be stretched into another trilogy. Not because of the plot, but because they’ll want to milk it as much as possible in the end there.
    So, I’m expecting at least 6 movies. I just can’t wait…. How far are they going to go?

  23. imthegenieicandoanything says

    I’m gittin’ ol’ ‘n cranky myself! Hobbit! Phaw! Jason ‘n them Argoo-nauts! THAT was a movie!

  24. anuran says

    My summary: Most of the changes were actually improvements. The Hobbit was never Tolkien’s best. A lot of action, but a lot of subtlety. And if you have a little bit of perception, just a little, there’s a lot more to parts which PZ dismisses which are actually very, very good.

    The dragon was superbly set up as a creature of Lusts from the moment of true mesmerization at the sight of the statue to the way he could smell out the tiniest bit of gold in the room which wasn’t his to the completely self-indulgent exercise in cruelty by hissing poisonous truths into Bilbo’s ear. And clumsy? No, not even a little bit.

    Sauron? Well, they were stuck with the flaming eye but did interesting things with it. They made it clear he was a Maia like the Balrog – a creature of flame wreathed in smoke. The way the regress went from smoke to the eye to suggestion of the angelic figure within so on, forever, all the way down was a nice touch.

    Elf-dwarf romance, pretty female elf fanservice and so on? One of the biggest problems with the books is that they are an utter sausage-fest. Putting Tauriel in wasn’t perfect, but it was an attempt to fix something wrong with the original. She’s significant, self-directed, has agency and competence and a few other things which puts her head and shoulders above most of the minor characters.

    There were things I didn’t like. Beorn should have been left a Mystery. Radagast was overdone. There was maybe a little too much action. Dol Guldur was handled clumsily. But on the whole it was very enjoyable.

    It’s obvious a lot of the choices were meant to make the Hobbit fit with LOTR which it didn’t quite do as written. Cases in point: It never really made sense that Balin went to Moria knowing what was down there (Dain had seen the Balrog). Now it does. He did it for the memory of Thorin and the now-broken line of Durin. Legolas’ early attitude towards dwarves in LOTR was odd. In light of Thranduil’s character (cowardly, vain, oath-breaking, honorless and bigoted as hell towards his subjects), the romance between the girl he was interested and a dwarf and so on it makes sense.

    In the book Thorin runs somewhat inexplicably hot and cold. In the movie we see the effects of his past (“If I forget thee O Jerusalem!”) as well as the corrupting effects of the Arkenstone and the one of the Seven which was given to the House of Durin. Like all the Dwarves Thorin bends but doesn’t break under its influence.

    Even the Orcs show a lot of care. The original Orcs were made in the First Age “in mockery of the elves”. Most of the Orcs are nasty but not all that terrible. The ones in Moria are two steps up from rats. But the Great Goblin, Azog and Bolg are obviously throwbacks to that original spec – tall, fair (or at least pale), wise (or at least cunning), quiet and deadly.

    So no, it’s not the book. But it’s not bad at all.

  25. auntbenjy says

    Hee hee…just wait till Jackson gets his hands on The Silmarillion. Got to be at least 6 movies in that one. :P

  26. erik333 says

    @36 anuran

    Not having seen it yet, I find it hard to believe most (any?) changes were improvements. All the changes in the first one were atrocious. And the absurd skill of the dwarves (sometimes, when needed for more dwarves of the carribbean action) was just stupid and silly. And why the fuck is Azog still alive?

    They made it clear he was a Maia like the Balrog – a creature of flame wreathed in smoke.

    If that’s how the explain it they’re just wrong, but why am I suprised when the movies get the details of damn near everything wrong back to front. Peter Jackson just keeps on smearing dogshit on the work of Tolkien, perverting everything with his foul corrupting touch.

    The dwarf/elf conflict runs deep in Tolkiens world, that’s why the friendship of Gimli and Legolas was remarkable.

    I’ll probably still watch the movie though :-) (it’s closer to $17 here in sweden)

  27. says

    Well, I didn’t expect anything else, so I liked what I saw.
    Although I would have prefered a bit more Beorn and less hiding from Smaug, but well.

    +++

    In fact, I think the whole Kili-Tauriel thing worked well, except for some of the embarrassing dialogue near the end.

    Yes.
    Until that moment it struck me more as her discovering that dwarves are, you know, people and being willing to talk with Kili as a person.

  28. says

    The thing that pisses me off the most is the goblin/orc thing. In Middle Earth orcs and goblins are two words for the same thing. In LOTR they segregated the orcs and goblins but they were overall fairly similar (goblins were a bit smaller) but in Hobbit they made them totally different races.

    Plus there’s the line from LOTR about the Uruk’hai being “a cross between orc and goblin men” where it should have been a cross between “Orc and goblin-men”, which makes them 3/4 orc and 1/4 human.

  29. raven says

    a decent film version of Bored of the Rings is long overdue.

    Tom Bombadill: Hop a hill, pop a pill.

  30. zenlike says

    Ryan Cunningham #25,

    You have no business calling anyone ‘naive’, when your first sentence is

    Nobody wanted to make these movies.

    Of course they wanted to, the LotR trilogy made a shit-ton of money, and as soon that became clear, the studio scrambled to find anything that they could use to make more. They only found the Hobbit, so they stretched that to 3 long movies. I thing they actually hit themselves over the head why they didn’t quickly film some additional material and split the last LotR film up into two parts.

    It’s Hollywood, of course they wanted to make this movie, as long as it was clear it would make a lot of money. Who is the naive one here?

    (PS I don’t think they will make a movie of the Silmarillion, but I can imagine they take some of the longer stories within that book and make separate movies out of them when the Hobbit makes enough cash.)

  31. says

    zenlike, reading comprehension is obviously not a strength of yours. That the films were nothing but a cynical cash grab was the entire point of what I wrote. Should I use smaller words next time?

  32. mnb0 says

    @10 whheydt: The same for me. After The Fellowship of the Ring I never felt tempted to see the rest.

    @PZ: thanks for confirming my bias; I didn’t plan to watch any Hobbit movie because I suspected at beforehand you were right.

  33. Olav says

    PZ:

    You might guess from the title that I just got back from the new Hobbit movie.

    Dear Dr. Myers, you do know that as a middle aged, intelligent person you are not in the target audience for this sort of Hollywood crap, don’t you?

  34. tbp1 says

    After the first Hobbit movie I wanted to make Peter Jackson write “less is more” on the blackboard a few thousand times.

    I also wanted to invent a time warp so I could go back and make sure Orff never wrote Carmina Burana for film composers to steal from.

  35. george gonzalez says

    If you liked the Wihelm Scream, also note that use about every instance of a prop plane engine quitting has the exact same sound effect– brrrrrrrrrr, cachoo-cachoo, short pause, then spinny wail, waaaail, wailll, waaaaiiiiil!

  36. says

    I also wanted to invent a time warp so I could go back and make sure Orff never wrote Carmina Burana for film composers to steal from.

    That’s unfair. It’s not Orff’s fault he did something great and movie directors are unoriginal. Let the blame lie where it ought!

    I described “the hobbit 1″ as “a flume-ride with goblins” and won’t bother with 2 until it comes on netflix. It sounds like the only way Jackson could have been as bad as Bay would have been through some good product placements. You know, Gandalf stopping to lace up his Nike Air Smaugstompers at a crucial moment, plus some Arnold-style snuffquipping: “i’ll be baaaaack.”

  37. Chie Satonaka says

    Personally, I’m sick to death of the whole “manly men doing manly things” focus of this entire damned series, books included. Jackson had to greatly expand the female characters and they’re still barely there, and the fanboys are furious about it. I still remember the OUTRAGE that Arwen was the one who saves Frodo from the Nazgul in the flight to the ford instead of the male elf of the book who appears just once in the entire trilogy anyway.

    Yeah, Tolkein was writing “in another time.” Don’t care. And no, Eowyn doesn’t make up for the fact that 95% of Tolkein’s world is filled with dudes.

  38. stevem says

    No, I haven’t seen it YET, despite all the negativity I read about it, I remain optimistic. Everyone says, “3 films for ONE book, how bloated, he is just milking it for $$”. To that I rejoice, how much usually needs to be cut from a book to fit it into a 2 hr. movie [looking at you Mr. Bombadill]? Too much. I think Jackson is just using his own $$ from LOTR movies (DVD’s) to put ALL of the book into movie form, and to do so takes 3 movies worth. He is also filling in all the bits Tolkein glossed over in the original book (that he wrote BEFORE LOTR). Tolkein tried to explain those bits in appendices to LOTR. Jackson is just adding those bits into the film to make it more complete. Jackson also has the problem Tolkein never had: making The Hobbit after LOTR and having to deal with prequelitis. Tolkein wrote LOTR as a sequel to The Hobbit and didn’t have to retcon Hobbit to include connections to LOTR. Jackson has this problem, his audience knows that Hobbit is a prequel to all the juicy stuff that happens in LOTR and Jackson has to deal with it.
    I’m just writing this “rebuttal” to maintain my optimism, he’s hoping I’m not too disappointed… ;-D

  39. doubtthat says

    I will fully disclose my position lest anyone think this is an attempt at a neutral review: I loved the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings growing up. They were probably my favorite books until my teenage years and I still love them. I HATED the LotR movies. HATED them. I hated them for the stupid shit they changed and added from the book, and I hated them for the melodramatic, turgic slop of films they were independent of the subject matter.

    I’ll acknowledge that Tolkeins characters lacked a Dickensian flair, but Jackson manages to take characters with an interesting set-up, like Faramir, and just…ruin them. What makes Faramir unique, what makes him have a point in the books, is that unlike his favored brother, he resists the pull of the ring. There’s no other reason for him to exist, and Jackson thought it would be a good idea to just change that. Why?

    A number of Jackson defenders will say that changes had to be made because of the scope of the books. Too much stuff for a movie. Fine, I understand that, but look at the way Jackson changed Faramir’s character. Instead of a scene or two where he interacts with the hobbits and resists the rings, Jackson eliminates the interesting part of his character, then he has Faramir drag Frodo back to Minas Tirith just to add in that ridiculous Kurosawa rip-off scene with the doomed charge. If length is the problem, why was 40 minutes of totally pointless horseshit that detracted from Tolkein’s tale added just to provide a pretext for one his obnoxiously long, boring, Enya-drenched slow-motion action sequences?

    I was out in the Fellowship when that silly scene was added with Aragorn floating down the river following an absurd little action sequence just to add (once again ADD. More time, not less because the book is so lengthy) that goofy reunion (with slow motion and Enya, of course).

    He is TERRIBLE at action. If anyone doubts, just watch the scene in King Kong where Jack Black is dodging stampeding dinosaurs.

    And don’t get me started on the “humor” he attempted to add. HAHAHA DWARFS ARE DUMB AND SMALL HAHAHA.

    /rant

  40. doubtthat says

    Shocking that I lost the point when I was in that fugue state, but to bring it back to the OP: the criticisms of the Hobbit that I’ve read, including PZ’s, all cite the very things I hated most about LotR. Didn’t see the first Hobbit, not watching this one, unless my brother and I Netflix it in a few years just so we can complain about it on the internet.

  41. mikeyb says

    In contrast, The Game of Thrones has plenty of strong female characters, but given that the world depicted is utterly mysogynistic to the core, adding strong female characters to a medieval story line may bring other drawbacks.

  42. says

    doubtthat

    I’ll acknowledge that Tolkeins characters lacked a Dickensian flair, but Jackson manages to take characters with an interesting set-up, like Faramir, and just…ruin them. What makes Faramir unique, what makes him have a point in the books, is that unlike his favored brother, he resists the pull of the ring. There’s no other reason for him to exist, and Jackson thought it would be a good idea to just change that. Why?

    While I agree that this is the one change I hated, Faramir is hardly unique or does he have, indeed, a character.
    Tolkien was a medievalist, he wanted to write his great Saga. Characters and character development hardly ever happen. He wrote in archetypes.
    In the books Faramir, just like Aragorn, just like Galadriel, just like Gandalf, just like even Bilbo have a chance to get the ring and decline. That is what makes them Moral Characters™
    On this I agree with PZ: Jackson took exchangable archetypes and turned them into characters. When I read the Hobbit, what stuck in my mind was “Thorin, Bilbo and a bunch of other dwarves”.

  43. Artor says

    I actually enjoyed the action scenes. The barrel ride was over-the-top silly, but fun to watch, likewise fighting Smaug inside the mountain. But my involuntary response, as the credits rolled just as Smaug was flying toward Laketown, was out loud, “SERIOUSLY? FUCK YOU PETER JACKSON!!!”

  44. Moggie says

    Dwarf-side: one takes an arrow to the knee
    Seriously? I bet that drew groans from the Skyrim players in the audience.

  45. says

    As a Tolkien geek with a love-hate relationship with the LOTR films, I expected to be less bothered by the Hollywood-ification of The Hobbit than I was because I’ve always considered that book to be the least of the Middle-Earth stories. I didn’t hate the new film, but a lot about it bothered me. The action sequences were too long, too over-the-top (picture 2 hours of screen time dedicated to Hobbit analogues of Legolas-style shield-surfing and Mumakil-slaying), and too physically impossible to believe even in a movie about dwarves and dragons and magic rings. (Open-ended barrels, when submerged, do not float back to the surface open-end-up and not filled with water, and no raft is going to save you from being charred during a flume-ride down a molten-metal river.) The climactic action sequence played like “The Keystone Kops and the Temple of Doom”.

    But I think what bothered me most, for some reason, was not getting to hear Bilbo chant “Attercop!” while he threw stones at spiders.

  46. samihawkins says

    I knew that Hobbit movies were gonna be lame when Stephen Colbert spent a solid week promoting the first one, then never made a single mention of it after release. That set off my turd alarm.

  47. Rob Grigjanis says

    doubtthat @53:

    once again ADD. More time, not less because the book is so lengthy

    Spot on. It’s not what he took out (with a couple of exceptions), it’s his choices and additions.

    Just a couple of points, among many. The climax of the books (for me) was the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. A cavalry advance, gradually building tension, up to the charge. In the film, they’re just lined up on a ridge overlooking the plain.

    Again for me, the Scouring of the Shire was essential. In a sense, it was the point of the story. Jackson just cuts it out.

    Also, miscasting (Frodo and Aragorn too young, and John Rhys-Davies alone made the film unwatchable. Seriously, what the fuck was that accent?), the soundtrack was more tedious than Monty Python’s I Like Traffic Lights, and as PZ implies, less Legolas-as-Spiderman/Ninja would have been nice.

    Good points? More Arwen (coulda been even more), and a film without a Sean Bean death scene just isn’t a film.

  48. dianne says

    I still remember the OUTRAGE that Arwen was the one who saves Frodo from the Nazgul in the flight to the ford instead of the male elf of the book who appears just once in the entire trilogy anyway.

    I was fine with Arwen being the one to help Frodo in that scene and in fact felt like it made more sense: Arwen would be out there looking for her boyfriend and be more likely to be the one who found them, either by good guessing about where Aragorn would be likely to be or by “magic”. What bothered me about that scene was that in the book Frodo ends up confronting the Nazgul at the ford alone, the elf having stayed behind to try to delay the Nazgul to give him more time. In the scene in the book, Frodo demonstrates that he had the strength to resist the ring even in the presence of the Nazgul and after taking a wound from a Nazgul’s sword. This demonstrates to Gandalf and the counsel that he is indeed the best person to be the ring bearer: tough enough to resist and less corruptible than, say, the elves. In the movie, Arwen confronts the Nazgul and Frodo just sits there. This makes the counsel’s decision to send Frodo to Mordor incomprehensible. Why trust this helpless guy who has to be rescued out of every situation with the one thing that could destroy the world if it got into the wrong hands?

  49. dianne says

    I watched about 1/2 of the first Hobbit movie and gave it up because it was too dull. Just one unconnected fight scene after another. And having the orcs chase them from the beginning made no sense at all. The whole point of their confrontation with the orcs (goblins at that point) in the book was that it was unexpected. If they knew that they were being chased by orcs they would surely have changed their plans and not gone straight to an area where the orcs were known to hang out. It makes no sense.

  50. greg hilliard says

    Makes me so glad after the Rings debacle that I had no interest at all in these movies. I can find far better uses for 12-plus hours of my life. (Twelve-plus in that I’m counting time in travel and waiting in line.)

  51. Louis says

    PZ,

    Don’t be ridiculous, every raid dungeon problem is solved by shouting “LEEEEEEEROY JENKINNNSSSSS!” and drawing threat from the tank whilst trying to DPS down everything in one go. Why, in 90% of the PUGs I’ve been in this seems to be the go to “tactic” for a certain type of DPSer every time. And they know better. They told me so.
    I’ve said too much.

    Louis

  52. Nick Gotts says

    Sauron? Well, they were stuck with the flaming eye – anuran

    Ow, that’s enough to bring out the worst in anyone. If only they’d had chloramphenicol in Middle Earth, Sauron would probably have been a pussycat!

  53. Chie Satonaka says

    In contrast, The Game of Thrones has plenty of strong female characters, but given that the world depicted is utterly mysogynistic to the core, adding strong female characters to a medieval story line may bring other drawbacks.

    Additionally, I’ve enjoyed how shows like Deadwood and Rome managed to portray historic time periods AND include fully-fleshed and believable female characters that don’t feel like tokens in a sausage fest. I don’t expect fiction to be filled with Xena characters, just women who feel like real people. In Rome, the series portrayed a stark patriarchal culture but the female characters were still able to live and work within the confines of their place in society (whether as ladies, as slaves, etc) and act in interesting ways. They felt real. And there were more than two of them.

  54. doubtthat says

    @64 Rob Grigjanis

    I agree wholeheartedly with all of your points. And again, no scourging of the Shire — not enough time, had to be cut — yet the conclusion of Return of the King, just drags on and on and on and on. Surely a crisply edited ending would have left time for that scene.

    @58 Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    While I agree that this is the one change I hated, Faramir is hardly unique or does he have, indeed, a character.
    Tolkien was a medievalist, he wanted to write his great Saga. Characters and character development hardly ever happen. He wrote in archetypes.

    Fair enough, I won’t argue with that.

    We seem to agree about Faramir, and I think the larger point I was trying to make is that even though the characters don’t have unique personalities, they serve functions in the context of that world of archetypes. It’s one thing to add perspective to this situation, I’ve read that the pull of the ring on Bilbo in this second Hobbit is dark and interesting, it’s another to just flat out change characters — the hobbits convincing the Ents to go to war with a rousing speech, for example — then complain that it has to be done for time reasons or dramatic reasons, while they unnecessarily make the story longer and more melodramatic.

    I think the primary problem is that Peter Jackson has very few good ideas and he and his writers aren’t funny. Thus, every time they try embellish or add humor, it fails miserably. I really see little difference between LotR and the Star Wars prequels: just awful humor (dwarf fall down, C3PO fall down!), long, boring CGI action sequences, unconvincing drama…

  55. Arawhon, a Strawberry Margarita says

    As someone who liked all of the Lord of the Rings movies, the first Hobbit, and honestly gives no cares to the books which can be incredibly boring in many parts and which severely lacked character development, I will definitely be seeing the movie and probably like it.

  56. fernando says

    Tolkien is a great writer (a great writer never dies, being alive while his work lives).

    “The Lord of The Rings” and “The Hobbit” are works of the most high quality, with a pace that doesn’t bother with canned and flashy action scenes, or vacuous and “modern” characters in an atempt to lure more people to buy them.

    The motion pictures are, simply, horrible, trying to twist the stories written by Tolkien, in an attempt to make them more likable to “modern audiences”.

  57. says

    Well, just previous week I watched (again) the whole LOTR movie series, read the book again (this time in english – I am not native speaker until now I only read translation) and I read the Hobbit and watched the first movie. I liked it all and I hope – based on reviews on Rotten Tomatoes – that I will enjoy the second movie as well.

  58. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Would you all like a moist towelette?

    I expect to enjoy the movie when I have a chance to see it. >.>

  59. says

    I loved Tolkien’s books, including the Silmarillion, and I loved almost everything Peter Jackson has done with them. He has excluded some things that bummed me out, Tom B for one, and he has added things to make them more appealing films, love scenes and battle scenes.

    Most books become completely gutted when they become films but it’s obvious, to me anyway, that Jackson included as much as he could.

    I’m honestly taken aback by all the hate here for the films. I usually don’t comment but I wanted to defend Jackson. Hell, I hope he can make a couple movies from the Silmarillion.

  60. Gregory Greenwood says

    Compare the casualties. Dwarf-side: one takes an arrow to the knee…

    Must… resist…Skyrim… meme… joke…

  61. profpedant says

    The number of people who seem to sincerely believe that noticing something is not quite what they prefer or expect means that they must hate that ‘different thing’ continues to astonish me. Peter Jackson’s Tolkien films are different from what the films would have been if I had made them. I am quite willing to go on and on about ‘what I would have done’, but the fact remains that an enjoyable characteristic of Jackson’s Tolkien films is that his vision is different from mine. It is pleasant when a book or a movie fulfills my fantasies and expectations, but as fun as that is it is not what I am looking for when I read, or view, or converse. For me the value of a book, a movie, or a conversation, is in grasping at least a sliver of how someone else experiences life. Even when that grasping is sullied by disappointments and chafing it still does not preclude enjoying the book, movie, or conversation for what it is unimpeded by my righteous expectations and preferences.

  62. rowanvt says

    I went into this movie not expecting The Hobbit The Book: The Movie. I don’t mind fanfiction. Hell, I actually enjoy seeing other people’s takes on characters I love.

    I love that the dwarves are all unique in this versus the book where I could never keep them straight except for Thorin and The Fat One. The idea of dwarf/elf romance amuses me greatly and got me wondering “Is that where Hobbits came from? Hobbits have pointed ears, and are more slender than the dwarves, but they’ve got dwarf height…..” Totally not correct, but a fun bit of pondering.

    And, as a dragon fan, the scenes with Smaug were too short/little of the movie. I was in gleeful awe every moment he was on screen. He is beautiful and was voiced perfectly straight to that little warble of fear/anger at mentioning the black arrows.

  63. zenlike says

    Ryan Cunningham @44

    zenlike, reading comprehension is obviously not a strength of yours. That the films were nothing but a cynical cash grab was the entire point of what I wrote. Should I use smaller words next time?

    Uhm no, what you wrote was

    Nobody wanted to make these movies. Nerds wouldn’t shut up until they did. Now they’re here. And they’re an uninspired money grab. If any of you are even slightly surprised by this, you’ve got no business calling the religious “naive.”

    That first sentence you wrote, read it again, then read my comment. It’s not that hard.

  64. says

    rowanvt
    That is kind of my feeling, too.
    Books and movies are quite different things and I simply loved how they physically created this whole world for the movies.
    Yes, I can see a replica of Arwen’s sword from where I’m sitting…

  65. zenlike says

    Giliell @58:

    In the books Faramir, just like Aragorn, just like Galadriel, just like Gandalf, just like even Bilbo have a chance to get the ring and decline. That is what makes them Moral Characters™

    I have to slightly disagree with you here: unlike those others who are all ‘magical beings’ (*), Faramir is the only ‘normal’ human who declines the ring. That makes him a very unique character in the book, and it’s also a bit why he is well beloved, as a reader you can easily relate to him. It’s also why he is an important character: it is repeated ad nauseum that the future of the world rests in the hands of humanity (‘the age of man’), but almost every normal human in the books succumbs to evil when it really matters. Faramir is a rare exception, and he provides a hope for a good future.

    (*) Aragorn is a sort of god-king who is pure and lives for hundreds of years, Galadriel is an elf, and probably the most powerful of them, Gandalf is an angelic being and over a thousand years old, and Bilbo is also special (fairy folk), and even almost succumbs to the ring.

  66. zenlike says

    On the upside I entirely agree with this;

    Books and movies are quite different things

    I loved both the movies and the books, and for me they both take place in very similar, but not quite the same, fictional universes. It works for me :)

  67. zenlike says

    Giliell,

    Aragorn living 200 years or hundreds of years, I don’t quite remember how long he lives, but he certainly lives longer than a normal human, resulting from the fact that he is not a normal regular man, he is a Númenórean, a noble almost-extinct subrace of humans.

    Hobbits are based on fairy folk of folk legends, but indeed not called like that in the books. They certainly are not ‘human’ though, a fact made abundantly clear in the book.

  68. zenlike says

    Sorry if I played loose with definitions, but I think my central point stands: those others who denied the ring where not normal humans, they were most of the time very elevated above ‘mere’ humans (like the reader).

  69. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    zenlike, #43

    I think they actually hit themselves over the head why they didn’t quickly film some additional material and split the last LotR film up into two parts.

    So, I know it’s a bit ridiculous, but I wanted to see the scouring of the shire on film. It was never going to happen when they killed the orcs’ “Sharku” earlier, but nonetheless, I wanted to see it.

    There are lots of things to dislike about Tolkien’s LotR, but one thing I will say is that he knew how to write a story to its end. You motivate Frodo to take off, despite his homebody, hobbit nature, by having major characters drive it home to him that not only will the Shire be destroyed if the ring persists, but that the invasion of the shire has already begun.

    You can’t do that and then come home to an unchanged shire, no matter how powerful Sauron might have been. Sure, you may never again have to worry about someone saying,

    Come not between the Nazgul and his pray,
    lest he not slay thee in thy turn,
    but bear thee away to the houses of lamentation
    beyond all darkness,
    where thy flesh shall be devoured
    and thy shriveled mind left naked to the lidless eye

    but there are still plenty of orcs and goblins about. What, are they going to say,

    Hmph. No orders from Lugburz.
    Guess we should walk a thousand leagues back to Nurn, farm a little, and supplement the agricultural products with some fish, mollusk, and crustacean protein from the Sea of Nurnen. That sounds like a good life, given the values I’ve absorbed over the last 22 years.

    So, yeah. I like how his imagination connects the things he creates to their logical consequences (or at least “a” logical consequence, insuring that causes actually generate effects).

    That his imagination can’t seem to create women any more believable than his primordial (and primal) forest dwellers, whether walking on yellow boots or tree’s roots, well, that’s a different problem that doesn’t compromise my appreciation for his ability to complete a tale.

  70. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Whoops.

    I didn’t just paint myself as a tremendous nerd, did I?
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    …because I was hoping I’d painted myself as a tremendous nerd a long time ago.

  71. zenlike says

    Crip Dyke,

    I completely agree with your post. That being said, the first time I read LotR as a youngster, I was a bit confused about the Scouring of the Shire part. It felt a bit tacked-on at that time. It was only in later readings that I started to appreciate that part.

  72. Tenebras says

    Pretty sure the magic in Mirkwood that makes it so treacherous is caused by the Big Evil. Maybe it started off as something Thranduil did to keep outsiders out, but it’s thoroughly corrupted at this point. So, of course the orcs wouldn’t be effected by it. Why would Sauron screw up his own forces?

    Aragorn was actually part elf. Which is why he was so long-lived. Elrond and his brother Elros were both part human, and Elros was Aragorn’s ancestor.

    I liked the second Hobbit much better than the first. I liked the first too, but I didn’t go in expecting a whole lot either: roughly the first third of The Hobbit is probably the worst piece of fiction to try making into a movie to begin with. I agree that some of the action scenes dragged on too long (especially the barrel-ride-fight, fun though it was.) I thought Smaug was great, in all his vain, greedy, arrogant glory. I’m glad for the female addition, although the romance was ham-handed. And I loved Thranduil. Reminded me very strongly of a particular interpretation of Oberon from A Midsummer Night’s Dream I saw once. Haughty, vain, bigoted, otherwordly, beautiful and terrifying.

    And I agree with whoever it was above who said they thought of the books and the movies as being similar but separate “universes”. It’s certainly the easiest way to avoid becoming a member of the Geek Orthodox Church, who rage and wail “THAT’S NOT CANON!!!!!1!” at every change. :P

  73. says

    Don’t get too het up about the dwarf/elf romance. In the book, the dwarf involved is one of the casualties in the Battle of the Five Armies.

  74. Rob Grigjanis says

    zenlike @87:

    he is a Númenórean, a noble almost-extinct subrace of humans.

    They’re not almost extinct in the books. They’re declining, and mixing with other folk, but they’re still the main part of the population of parts of Gondor, and the Rangers of the North. Aragon is special due to his descent from Eärendil the Mariner, one of the half-elven.

    They certainly are not ‘human’ though, a fact made abundantly clear in the book.

    Well, they live a bit longer, are shorter than most of us, and have big feet, but other than that? Seemed very English to me.

  75. rowanvt says

    PZ, I know.

    I wonder if they will die, if they will be the only ones to die (that is, Thorin, Fili and Kili) or if others will die as well. I know that Thorin has to die; the dwarf who inherits Erebor is seen in some of the video blogs they’ve done of the behind-the-scenes stuff.

    If Fili and Kili die, or if they live, I will not be upset with Jackson. It’s basically fanfiction and I don’t mind non-cannon things.

  76. Holms says

    I was worried the instant I heard the decision to make The Hobbit as another 8 or 9 hour epic. It worked moderately well for LotR, what with the huge number of events taking place in that narrative, yet even then I noticed something that bothered me: Jackson is not as good a storyteller as Tolkein. Every bit he added to the tale that was of hiw own devising was much shittier than if he had just stuck with the original plot.

    Hearing that The Hobbit was going to be made the same length therefore meant that it was going to be packed full of Jackson’s weird plot derails, stupid characterisation (must he turn everyone bar Gandalf, Bilbo and Frodo into fucking idiots?) and plain old bloat.

    SKIP.

  77. rowanvt says

    On a side note… Thranduil mentions gems potentially in the dragon’s horde that are white and shine with the light of the stars. I had to wonder, is this a reference to the Silmarils?

    For Holms:

    Most of the dwarves are NOT idiots, actually. Neither is Bard or Thranduil or Legolas or Tauriel. Smaug certainly isn’t.

    Pretty pretty Smaug… *sighs*

  78. says

    I will watch it. However, if there isn’t an army of Sumatran rat monkeys crudely shoved into an action sequence I will be sorely disappointed.

    BTW, my favourite part of the first movie is Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the brown.

  79. rowanvt says

    erik@99-

    You get to see a bit more of Radagast in this one too. Not as much as the last one, but he’s there.

  80. rowanvt says

    Watching the extended edition of the first hobbit movie… It’s currently expanding a bit that Kili likes elves. *snrks* “Not enough facial hair for me, though.”

  81. Holms says

    Aragorn was actually part elf. Which is why he was so long-lived. Elrond and his brother Elros were both part human, and Elros was Aragorn’s ancestor.

    No, he is all human. Elros and Elrond were each considered half-elven, but Elros chose to live amongst / as a human, and his descendants never concieved with elves after him. That was… let me just fetch my LotR appendices… at 6462 years before Aragorn was born.

    That’s a lot of human on human action, pretty much breeding out the elf blood.

    The specialness of Aragorn’s ancestry is not so much from the fact that they have elven and maia blood in them umpteen dozens of generations ago, but more from the fact that the royal family of Elros was blessed by the valar.

    People… liked that portrayal of Radagast? I… what… but how??

  82. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    One disservice in Lord of the Rings was casting the stern Rohan princess as waif-like, breakable Cate Blanchett. would vote for Kristen Johnston, the sturdy & serious security officer in “Third Rock from the Sun.”

  83. chigau (違う) says

    My favourite thing about the LotR franchise was that it allowed me to remark, in response to a complaint about the forests in The Last Samurai,
    “Looks a lot like Middle Earth.”

  84. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Aragorn is a direct male-line descendant of Silmariën, who was the daughter of the fourth king of Númenor (i.e. the great-great-granddaughter of Elros). Elros was the son of Eärendil (half elf, half human) and Elwing (three-quarters elf, one-quarter human). Elros’ brother, of course, is Elrond, who somewhat bafflingly is referred to as “half-elven.” Half my ass. Arwen, Elrond’s daughter, is sometimes also referred to as half, when she’s the daughter of the I-cannot-math-at-this-hour Elrond and the 100% elf Celebrian (aka the daughter of Galadriel).

    In between Silmariën and Elendil, who led the Númenorean refugees, there are an unknown number of generations. However, based on how many kings of Númenor there were in the same period, it seems safe to say that there were twenty generations in between Silmariën and Elendil. In between Elendil and Aragorn were another thirty-eight generations (of this we know, as they are named).

    This makes Aragorn and Arwen first cousins sixty times removed. Or so. I am still undecided if this constitutes incest in Eldarin culture (the taboo there was for your siblings and anyone descended from them, as well as your parent’s siblings – does this include the descendants of your uncles and aunts? And if so, is there a “that’s enough generations” clause?) or not. Probably not in human culture, as Aragorn appears to be descended from Elendil on both sides, and his mother’s family objected to her marriage on the grounds of her age, rather than consanguinity. It’s also somewhat of a point of pride amongst the Arnoreans that while the Gondoreans outbred with non-Númenoreans, they didn’t, which (coupled with the wholesale collapse of Arnorean society and population) raises all sorts of gross questions. ‘Course, Aragorn is descended from a Gondorean king who ruled after the Gondoreans started out-breeding. *helpless shrug*

    Aragorn’s elf blood is what leads to his elongated life-span. Maybe. The crash in Númenorean lifespans that occurred after they turned from Valinor might have been due to them losing the state of grace that gave them long life. Likewise, the crash in Gondorian lifespans after the great Kin-Strife (how’s that for the name of a civil war?!) may have been due to outbreeding with humans without any elven ancestry, or due to a similar loss of blessing. Tolkien appeared to think that elves and humans were not that different, biologically (helps with the “and they had babies” endings…), but very different spiritually, which is the “real” reason for the Elven lifespan.

  85. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Oh, and Aragorn died when he was 210 years old. Yes, on his birthday.

    At the time, Arwen was 1300 years old.

  86. says

    After reading Esteleth’s 106+107, I will henceforth refer to LoTR instead of Harry Potter, when making the analogy of eleborate fiction works to religious holy books.

  87. Tenebras says

    Nah, rorschach, that’s mostly from The Silmarillion, not LotR. ;P Now THAT is a fictional holy book if ever there was one.

  88. rowanvt says

    And yet, the Silmarillion and the creation mythos therein makes a thousandfold more sense than any actual religious mythos.

  89. says

    zenlike

    Aragorn living 200 years or hundreds of years, I don’t quite remember how long he lives, but he certainly lives longer than a normal human, resulting from the fact that he is not a normal regular man, he is a Númenórean, a noble almost-extinct subrace of humans.

    Hobbits are based on fairy folk of folk legends, but indeed not called like that in the books. They certainly are not ‘human’ though, a fact made abundantly clear in the book.

    I think you’re trying to make the facts fit your argument. Esteleth and others have elaborated well on Aragorn’s origins. Fact is that Faramir descends from the Nùmenorians as well, albeit not from the royal line. He also has elven blood from the house of Dol Amroth, where his mother came from.

    Esteleth
    Seems to me that in Middle Earth genetics work more by divine intervention. Elrond was fully counted among the elves, Elros among the humans, but Arwen was still allowed to choose somehow like her father was allowed. Unless you count in that she apparently didn’t age still and died “of a broken heart”, which is mentioned as the second way for elves to die.*
    Tuor, OTOH, who was fully human, gets counted in with the elves, because he somehow sneaks into Valinor with Idril. And then things get really weird, because Earendil, the half-elf, marries Elwing, who’s technically a half-elf, too, as she’s the daughter of Beren and Lùthien. Yet she is never counted as half anything and totally not as “zombie”, because her parents both died before she was even conceived IIRC.

    * I guess that’s for elven ladies, because they seem to run through a hell lot of male elves in the battles. Can’t have all those widows running around for the next 10.000 years…

  90. says

    Oh, an addendum…,or two…
    To come back to Aragorn and his special ancestry which allowed him to refuse the ring: The most noticable thing about Aragorn’s direct ancestor Isildur, who was much closer to the line of Elors, was that he spectacularly failed to resist the ring…
    I actually liked how that was played out in the movies.

    And Gandalf. How much of a fool is he? In the Hobbit he’s clearly suspicious of Saruman, yet in LotR he walks right into his trap. Speaking of traps, how stupid could he be to walk into Dol Guldur all alone? I mean Radagast is the one who literally has a bird (German expression for “being crazy”) and whose face is covered in guano, yet even he is not that stupid.

  91. vaiyt says

    Tying in The Hobbit with The Lord of The Rings is one, thing, another thing entirely is giving Legolas (who wasn’t even in the book) more screen time than Beorn.

    Don’t get me started on how much Legolas was pumped up in the original trilogy already – in the book, he and Gimli are equal partners, and Legolas (who’s the guy who does the least in the whole Fellowship) defers to his skill in both combat AND language. In the movies, Legolas became a superhero with Gimli as his goofy sidekick.

  92. Nick Gotts says

    They’re [Numenoreans] declining, and mixing with other folk – Rob Grigjanis@94

    Yup, race mixing invariably leads to decadence and decline, and our natural leaders are those of pure race and martial prowess. How can anyone* miss the fascist subtext in Tolkien?

    *I’m not saying you have missed it, Rob. Nor am I immune to the attractions of Tolkien’s writing. But I do find it very disturbing.

  93. vaiyt says

    In the books Faramir, just like Aragorn, just like Galadriel, just like Gandalf, just like even Bilbo have a chance to get the ring and decline. That is what makes them Moral Characters™

    Nitpick: Gandalf never gets a chance to reject the One Ring. In fact, he spends the entire first book deathly afraid of testing himself against it. He’s relieved that he didn’t have to take the ring from Bilbo by force, not only because it would send Bilbo on the path of becoming another Gollum, but because it would make him the ring’s master. He overreacts when Frodo so much as suggests leaving the ring with him. He has good reason to do so – the One Ring is more dangerous to the powerful and the wise, and Gandalf is both.

  94. vaiyt says

    Yup, race mixing invariably leads to decadence and decline, and our natural leaders are those of pure race and martial prowess.

    Tolkien did throw some curveballs at the whole notion, though. The Gondorian nobility’s obsession with purity brought much more ruin to their kingdom than the lack of purity in itself, while the “half-breed” king, over which they had a collective freakout was both competent and exceptionally long-lived.

  95. says

    vaiyt
    In that sense, neither does Faramir, because he isn’t offered it on a plate either. But the point is that they all could have had it, taken it easily, but they didn’t.

    +++
    Well yeah, Tolkien was obsessed with race and nobility. Even the damn Hobbit have races, with the Fallowhides being on top and coincidentially, fairer.

  96. Nick Gotts says

    So!!!!

    The decadent capitalist roader Peter Jackson, not content with aping the slanders of feudalist reactionary the self-styled “J.R.R. Tolkien” in his so-called “epic” the “Lord” of the “Rings”, now compounds his treacherous deceits by repeating and propagating the fantastic lies of the so-called “Hobbit”, the petty-bourgeois Bilbo Baggins, as contained in his so-called “diary”!!! The Organization of Revolutionary Communist Soviets (O.R.C.S.) utterly denounces and reviles the mendacious mendacity of the so-called “Tolkien”, his puppet the so-called “Jackson” and his puppet the self-styled “Michael Bay”, and calls upon all the proletarian peoples of Middle Earth to rise up and renounce the savage crimes of Numenorean revanchism, and the dastardly schemes and plots of Elvish neo-neo-neo-imperialism!!!

    Long live the heroic O.R.C.S.!!
    Long Live their Dear Leader Comrade Sauron!!!!
    Long Live their Great Leader, Eternal Guide and President, the late Comrade Morgoth!!!

  97. randay says

    It was either the National Lampoon or its predecessor the Harvard Lampoon that wrote “Bored of the Rings”. I would certainly go to see that movie if it were true to the text and story. I still laugh just remembering certain episodes.

  98. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Giliell @111:

    Elwing

    Point of fact, Elwing is not the daughter of Lúthien and Beren, she’s their granddaughter. Her parents are Díor (son of L and B) and Nimloth. She had two brothers, but Maedhros (one of the seven sons of Fëanor) killed them by neglect.

    If you want Tolkien musing on the evil that ostensibly “good guys” can do, Maedhros is a good example. Honorable, wants to do the right thing, tortured-soul killer-of-little-kids Maedhros.

  99. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    Haven’t seen the second yet, but I’ve watched the first, as well as the whole LotR trilogy. I’ve also read, and loved, the books. And while I was admittedly annoyed about some smal changes and deletions in the LotR movies, it must be acknowledged that overall the movies stayed pretty faithful to the books. I like that, and am annoyed that they haven’t managed the same level of accuracy with The Hobbit. I’m also annoyed they’re dragging it out into three movies when it just doesn’t need to be. However, I still liked the first one, and I still loved the LotR trilogy. Yeah they weren’t exactly the same as the books, but a movie never will be. It’s a movie based on a book, not a visual representation of the book. And, despite the fact that TH1 was accurately described by my girlfriend as “Lord of the Rings meets Indiana Jones” (Gandalf even rolls a rock down a tunnel, for fuck sake), I liked The Hobbit. It’s entertaining, and so were the LotR movies, and that’s what matters. Stop expecting a faithful representation of the book, because that’s not what you’re going to get, and just enjoy it for what it is.

  100. David Wilford says

    I judge movies the same way Roger Ebert judged them, by looking at what they actually do and how well they do that, rather than judging it by what they didn’t do. I thought the first Hobbit movie was fun and the fact that some parts were dragged out too long didn’t spoil it for me. I’m looking forward to seeing the next installment soon.

  101. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Also (and I apologize for my stream-of-consciousness commenting):

    Fact is that Faramir descends from the Nùmenorians as well, albeit not from the royal line.

    Point of fact, the house of Mardil (Faramir’s paternal line, that is) is heavily implied to be a cadet branch of the house of Anárion (the royal line of Gondor). Meaning that Faramir is likely descended from a younger son or daughter of some king or another. The thing that prevents them from claiming the throne is fear of re-starting the Kin-Strife, a devastating civil war over the royal succession. There isn’t anyone of the house of Anárion that is “pure” Númenorean anymore, and the direct line has died out, which leaves the various cadet branches, all of which are descended from outbreeding. The memory of the Kin-Strife is very fresh in Gondorean memory, and the only thing everyone agrees upon is that it was Very Bad™ and a repeat is to be avoided at all costs. So, rather than dig up that gory mess, the house of Mardil has said, “We’ll lead, but we won’t claim the royal authority, until such time as people get over their collective hangups over purity and someone can actually look at the family tree of Anárion and make a decision.” Back during the Kin-Strife it is implied that the then-head of the house of Mardil issued statements to the effect of “only pure people can hold the throne, and I’m not pure, so I’m out,” which puts his descendants in a bind. So Gondor hangs out for several centuries without a king. In name, that is. The Stewards are effectively kings, in terms of their authority, their social status, and how they’re treated by foreign leaders.
    What ends up happening, of course, is that Gondoreans throw up their hands en-masse and crown someone of the house of Isildur (Isildur and Anárion were brothers), thus neatly sidestepping the whole issue. ‘Course, Aragorn is, as a male-line descendant of Arvedui of Arthedain, is also descended from Arvedui’s wife, Fíniel, who was the daughter of the then-king of Gondor. Who was of mixed ancestry. After the death of Fíniel’s father (who had no sons to succeed him) and the consequential extinguishing of the direct line of Gondor, Arvedui (!) claimed the throne of Gondor de jure uxorious (or perhaps he was issuing the request on his wife’s behalf and intended to defer to her?). He pointed out that in Númenor the law was “eldest child of the monarch, male or female, inherits.” This claim was rejected as Gondorean law disinherited daughters (this included a bit of snark of “We have not heard that it is different in Arthedain”). So someone else became king of Gondor, and at Aragorn’s coronation Fíniel is mentioned not at all. Instead, the fact that Aragorn is descended “of a line unbroken” (i.e. he’s a direct male descendant) from Isildur is held up as the main point.

  102. alkisvonidas says

    Because someone had to

    I went and watched it Sunday evening. As I did, my whole life flashed before my eyes, and by Gob it was better than that posthumous buggery of everything that is Tolkien. I knew, sure as death and taxes, that PZ was going to trash it.

    I kind of liked An Unexpected Journey, the liberties they took were quite reasonable. The parallel story of Gandalf’s quest made sense, has been told elsewhere by Tolkien himself and, let’s face it, since they had the almighty gall of splitting this into a three-parter, they had better expand the story. The Orcs can’t disappear in the 2nd and 3rd part, they had to do something with that story arc.

    But not this. Oh, for the love of Bob, not. This.

    I think I was alone in our gang for hating both Legolas’ absurd kickassery (he’s an archer! He’d be worth squat in a brawl in any real or imaginary universe) and Tauriel’s even more absurd love story arc. As for:

    Another huge deficiency in Tolkien’s world: the near-total absence of women. Jackson has at least made an effort to graft on a few heroic women.

    Yes. Absolutely. Tolkien’s women exist from the neck up. Deal with it, filmmakers, or else write your own goddamn fantasy, and don’t call it “Tolkien”. Ditto for Greek/Roman mythology/history, btw.

    Besides, how exactly is Tauriel a strong female character? She’s there purely to give the male audience an attractive woman to look at (which is exactly what I found insulting; I was supposed to like her) and, since she’s there, why not give her a love interest, because that’s what women characters are for, eh? Never mind that it makes no sense.

    Oh, well, at least they showed a picture of a lady dwarf with a beard. Even though they did it just for laughs. Progress, people!

  103. gussnarp says

    Now at last I know how one simple little story could be turned into a three-movie monstrosity, where each movie is 2½ hours long. They added superflous action scenes, chase scenes, hot elf fanservice, odd sideplots, random bad guys who do nothing but look menacing….

    You didn’t learn all this from the first Hobbit movie? I learned enough as three hours of my life were sucked away hoping that movie might redeem itself to know that I will not waste any minutes on the rest of the movies. Forget money, it’s my time that was stolen.

    The central problem is this: The Hobbit is a 200 page book appropriate for children about unlikely heroes triumphing through courage (the kind that comes of overcoming real fear, not mindless fearlessness), cleverness, and not a little luck, as well as about the futility and stupidity of war.

    The movie is a violent horror fest.

    Seriously, I expect movies to depart from their source material, even significantly. But in the book the dwarfs begin the story unarmed. They show no sign of being skilled warriors, are not pursued by Orcs until the very end, and not one of them draws a sword until the scene that ends the first movie. In the movie they’re fighting with axes, swords, and bows in every other scene.

  104. tbp1 says

    @49: Actually I don’t particularly care for the Orff original, either. Carmina Burana is not, for me, a piece that repays repeated listenings. The first couple of times you hear it are great, then you start to notice the endless repetition and lack of development. Great orchestration, though.

    And then all those clones you hear in certain types of movies (OK, maybe not his fault). Oy veh. PLEASE no more choral chanting in Latin or other dead languages behind battle scenes.

  105. dnorrism says

    I have been wondering why eagles are self-aware. Are they manifestations of Manwe’s conciousness? Of course dragons and werewolves are essentially possesed by the Mayar which explains why they are intelligent.

    I disagree that Tolkien created too few women characters, although the only one mentioned in The Hobbit is Belladona Took. (Prior to a rereading I had thought Lobelia Sackville-Baggins was mentioned, but no: her gender is not even mentioned, she is referred to as one of Bilbo’s cousins.)

    There is plenty of room in the appendices of LoTR for too many movies.

  106. Rob Grigjanis says

    alkisvonidas @126:

    he’s an archer! He’d be worth squat in a brawl in any real or imaginary universe

    Bit unfair. In the book, he was handy with a knife at Helm’s Deep.

  107. michaellatiolais says

    Sorry, but I completely disagree. I found the first Hobbit to be a bit too long and slow, but I liked this installment a lot. A few points.
    To those who didn’t like the orcs running around in Mirkwood: they also helped Gollum escape those same elves in the books. So, there is precedence for orcs fighting elves in Mirkwood.
    I loved Tauriel. And I loved how she was portrayed as a “lesser” Silvan elf. The scene with Thranduil brought out the castes which plagued so much of the Elvish history in Middle Earth.
    Smaug was awesome. I didn’t see him as stupid, but rather immensely greedy and complacent. He was much the same way in the books, bragging about his armor while not bothering to notice the weak point. As one of the few remaining powers left over from the War of Wrath, he was overly proud and it cost him.
    The love story between Kili and Tauriel was similar to Gimli’s love for Galadriel, though perhaps more personal. I find it no more odd than an elf loving a human. Even the bit at the end, when he was babbling his love while recovering from his poisoning, was a reflection of Gimli’s love for Galadriel.
    Sure, the fight scenes were over the top. But I don’t have a particular problem with elves like Legolas and Tauriel kicking ass. They are immortal veterans of countless battles, and elves in the Tolkein stories represent an almost super human, unfallen form of life. I mean, elves killed Balrogs(such as the slaying of Gothmog by Ecthelion) in single combat. A warrior who could take out a Balrog one on one is not going to have much trouble killing a horde of orcs.
    Which brings me to my complaint with the movie. Why the hell are seasoned elf guards getting slaughtered by orcs? There is no reason for the guards to have died like they did. They could have had that scene without the elves being overrun like that.
    And, yes, open barrels would fill with water. That bugged me, too. But I can deal with it. It was a fun scene regardless.
    All in all, I enjoyed this film immensely. I love the book, but there is room for other versions. And I like Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth, flawed as it may be.

  108. mnb0 says

    “Hell, I hope he can make a couple movies from the Silmarillion.”
    Please no, Giant Squid help me. Turin Turambar is my favourite Tolkien character and Peter Jackson butchering Tolkien’s version of Oedipus Rex is definitely more than I can bear.
    It’s not that I mind changing books. I can mention several movies that improve on the books they are based on. What I mind is replacing philosophical and religious points by bland and generic action scenes plus unnecessary love stories. If Jackson had elaborated on Aragorn and Arwin – and get rid of Tolkien’s thoroughly Victorian interpretation – I would have applauded.

    @Crip Dyke: +1. You can’t read Tolkien for deep characters. Imo his only interesting ones are Turin Turambar and Boromir. Heck, Jackson managed to f**k up that one too, playing down his temptation scene.

    “I don’t mind non-cannon things.”
    Neither do I as long as they don’t make things worse.

    @Neil Gotts: “But I do find it very disturbing.”
    I noticed this many years ago. There is a lot of Blut und Bodem philosophy in Tolkien’s works.

  109. michaellatiolais says

    dnorrism @129:

    I have been wondering why eagles are self-aware. Are they manifestations of Manwe’s conciousness? Of course dragons and werewolves are essentially possesed by the Mayar which explains why they are intelligent.

    Tolkein changed his mind on this. In early versions of his stories, they were Maiar. In later versions, they were animals which were raised or improved by the Valar. Remember, Tolkein never finished his stories, and a lot of what he wrote was subtly contradictory.

  110. says

    Movies from The Silmarillion won’t happen while Christopher Tolkien is still alive. CT won’t sell any film rights to his father’s works; the Hobbit and LOTR movies were only possible because JRR himself had licensed them because he needed a fast infusion of cash to pay off some overdue taxes. (John Lennon wanted to make Lord of the Rings starring The Beatles…)

  111. Wylann says

    The great poopyheaded one:

    It made me think of a bad D&D campaign run by an indulgent DM, where all your problems could be solved by shouting, “LEEEEEEROY!” and charging into the horde.

    I’m not seeing a downside…..

  112. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    John Lennon wanted to make Lord of the Rings starring The Beatles…

    Am I the only one who would pay good money to watch this? It would be so gloriously WTF.

  113. zenlike says

    OK, I can see I’m out of my depth here :) . Maybe I should reread the books, it’s been a long time (but damn, so many other books still to read).

    As for the movie: I’ll probably grumble a lot about and drag my feet for a while, eventually I’m bound to go see it.

  114. Ichthyic says

    $5? At my theatre $5 will barely get you a bag of M&Ms.

    bag of m&ms at any major theater in Wellington: 5 bucks.

    no kidding.

    movies here cost 17.50.

    I saw this last night. I kept staring at how they animated Smaug’s lips.

    I suppose that’s commentary that stands on its own.

    also… it was better than the first one… I didn’t fall asleep halfway through!

    meh, I’ve seen worse.

  115. Ichthyic says

    …Mcartney was Frodo, Ringo was Sam, Lennon was Aragorn, and Harrison was Gandalf.

    the part of Sauron was played by a Blue Meanie.

  116. erik333 says

    @ Peter “the defiler” Jackson

    I’f you’re gonna make a movie based on a book, follow the story in the book. You can flesh stuff out if your want, and skip stuff that is less important… but don’t fucking contradict it. Otherwise, write your own goddamned story you lazy hack.

  117. chigau (違う) says

    erik333

    Otherwise, write your own goddamned story you lazy hack.

    Bold added but this ^ for movie-makers everywhere.

  118. randay says

    MnbO #132, If they can make three movies out of a little book like “The Hobbit”, imagine how many they would need for “The Silmarillon”. I would hire Ken Burns to make a 20 hour documentary-style version of it for a TV series.

  119. says

    Yes. Absolutely. Tolkien’s women exist from the neck up. Deal with it, filmmakers, or else write your own goddamn fantasy, and don’t call it “Tolkien”. Ditto for Greek/Roman mythology/history, btw.

    Do you feel about this for every change someone makes somewhere or only if it gives women some screen time?
    Are you still angry with Shakespeare, too? Because he hardly had any original story in him and if he did he failed to write it down…

    Esteleth
    Ahhh, thanks for brushing up my memory. It’s been a while since I read the Silmarillion.

  120. alkisvonidas says

    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Do you feel about this for every change someone makes somewhere or only if it gives women some screen time?

    I guess it would depend on what kind of changes they make. I don’t mind a well written character, male or female. I don’t mind changing a male character into a female one, if their gender is actually irrelevant to the story. And I don’t mind a strong female character that is pitted against a sexist worldview in-universe.

    What I do mind are token female characters inserted in a story where they don’t fit, just “to give women some screen time” as you said yourself. For example, one of my favorite characters in the LOTR films was Eowyn, and not just because she was in the book too. In fact, I didn’t much care for Eowyn when I read the book. But in the films, she’s three-dimensional, she struggles against a sexist and old-fashioned society and she earns the respect of the the Rohirrim and Theoden (who, in the books, was not even aware she rode into battle) in the end.

    Tauriel, otoh, is either the only female elf in Mirkwood or else she’s the only one in the Guard. If it’s the former, I’d certainly like to see some more elf women, even in the background (perhaps I didn’t notice, though; who can tell with elves?). If it’s the latter, and she’s special, everyone is strangely silent about a woman holding an incredibly important and responsible position; shouldn’t we at least hear some hard-headed comments on that, instead of silly ‘gun-in-your-pocket’ lines?

    Are you still angry with Shakespeare, too? Because he hardly had any original story in him and if he did he failed to write it down…

    I’d have to be angry with Tolkien, to begin with. Númenor‎ = Atlantis, Túrin Turambar = Oedipus and so, so much more “borrowing”. Perhaps it’s the fact that Shakespeare or Tolkien were totally unapologetic about borrowing freely from history and mythology, while Jackson and Co. had to slap a “Based on the book by J. R. R. Tolkien” label on the film.

    On the other hand, would you watch a film called “Red Dragon and the Thirteen Dwarves”?

  121. David Wilford says

    My wife and I went to see the second installment of The Hobbit last night, and we both enjoyed it even though it could have been just as good after trimming about 10-15 minutes worth of fluff out of the various action scenes. Loved the art direction, the SFX (we saw it in 2D, given it’s been out for weeks now), and the acting was fine, especially for Bard and Tauriel. (Sheesh, I didn’t even recognize Evangeline Lilly despite having spent the last several months rewatching the entire Lost TV series with my wife.) I have to disagree with Smaug being stupid though. Smaug was *vain*, just as he was in Tolkien’s book, and Bilbo’s flattery being lapped up showed that as well. I do think the orcs are too exaggerated in strength though, and their unending numbers did get silly towards the end. Of course with the Battle of Five Armies coming up in the next installment, I suppose that won’t change. The one major plot change (involving Gandalf and Dol Guldur) doesn’t change all that much about the overall story and is forgivable on Jackson’s part. Go see it if you haven’t yet, before it’s off the big screen.