The Hobbit Trilogy: An Evaluation

the-hobbit-movies

I saw The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies last night. 3.5/5 Read on if you need to understand my rating.

Yes, the film adaptation of the beloved novel, “The Hobbit”, originally one piece of literature; originally planned for a two-film adaptation with Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson; changed to a two-film adaptation with Peter Jackson; ultimately ending up as a trilogy heavily including material from the appendices, has finally come to its prolonged conclusion. Please don’t call yourself a huge LOTR fan if you have never read the books. Many of my points and discrepancies come from a disregard of the original literature.

BOFA is a guilty-pleasure film, with action I found much more compelling than “The Desolation of Smaug.” Both films’ action defies probability and gravity. However, BOFA didn’t have that ridiculous barrel scene, so it gets a pass. It’s a blown-up action film with Middle-Earth as its background. I enjoyed it on a visceral level and just accepted that it was a stupid action film. It was not as dreadful as DOS, but maybe I had lower expectations. The opening scene with Smaug destroying Lake Town doesn’t work as a beginning of the film. The second film had such a cliffhanger revolving around this dragon about to destroy this city, and to end it 10 minutes into a film that came out a year later feels anti-climatic.

In the opening scene and 40 minutes into this film, I did not care about anyone and was very aware I was watching a film. It took the superb acting by Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins to suck me back in. His dialogue with Thorin (credit to the screenwriters) adds a human element to it. Due to the fact that “The Hobbit” trilogy has a George Lucas touch to it, hinders any real character development. Also, there’s 13 dwarves and a handful of other characters to follow. It’s hard enough keeping up with the dwarves in the book. To Peter Jackson’s credit, that seems like a hard feat to accomplish. But what doesn’t help is that these films are butter scraped over too much bread. There’s great source material to follow and it didn’t need three movies. It’s a stretched out story with as much CGI crap that one can fit in each frame (the George Lucas effect). The film focuses too much on the unnecessary (it’s unnecessary because the original story flows fine without the film’s inclusions) material of the appendices and attempts to be as epic as LOTR, that the character development is stalled and they’re set pieces for a visual experience. Side note: why is Billy Connolly’s character all CGI?

Much like DOS, BOFA’s action does not posses any real peril. The characters are almost untouchable, but I applaud the film makers for following the source material and killing off Thorin, Fili, and Kili. It was one of the few times I felt an emotional connection…..well 2/3. Kili and Tauriel’s romance made me not care more. I know a lot of people have found this romance cheesy, and rightly so. This brings me to a lot of my main points. A lot of the grievances people have with these films are aspects that are NOT in the novel. I follow a lot of Youtube film reviewers; Schmoesknow, Jeremy Jahns, Chris Stuckmann. I really appreciate their opinions and it often makes or break if I see a film. However, they often justify the concept of stretching out “The Hobbit” story and tell people not to compare the source material. But their gripes, like many other film goers, stem from elements that the film is not a stand-alone piece.

It’s Not In The Book/It Is In The Book

I’m annoyed when I hear that the books don’t matter, because they do. As I said earlier, don’t call yourself a fan of the series until you’ve done your homework. Unless you’re Steven Spielberg, you should probably stick to the novel’s material. I’m not a Tolkien purist and understand changes need to be made when you’re making a film. “Jurassic Park” is a great film on its own and it steers from black and white in regards to the novel. But “The Hobbit” novel is a perfect, linear story and the characters you’re supposed to care for, you do. There’s a sense of adventure that the films lack. It’s trying too hard to be like its epic LOTR counterpart. I have my issues with the original trilogy, but I feel Peter Jackson did the best adaptation you will ever get, and I don’t mind most of the creative liberties they took. The Scouring of the Shire; important, yes, but as a film, it does not translate well after destroying the ring. Tom Bombadil; my favorite character (next to Pippin and Merry). Tom and the barrow-downs is such a rich element of the novels and it’s the epitome of great fantasy. But ultimately, it does not affect the overall story of Frodo, which is what the filmmakers were adamant about. There’s much more to discuss about LOTR, but this is about “The Hobbit.”

Radagast the Brown has been dubbed by a few as the Jar-Jar Binks of these films. While not as bad, he’s a zoophile who smokes weed and is covered in bird feces. He rides around on CGI rabbits and is used as an eagle tamer in the final battle of BOFA. He’s nothing more than a sentence in the novel and I think we all prefer him that way.

The romance between Tauriel and Kili has maybe about 10 real minutes of screen time. Sure, Kili makes a penis reference in DOS, but that doesn’t count. Not in the book, not necessary. I don’t understand creating Tauriel. I really liked Evangeline Lily in “Lost”, but this character is not interesting. And when you add her romance with the one dwarf without dwarf prosthetics, it’s forcing a connection that’s not there. The fact that it’s a made up (made up as in not the book’s material) romance with a made up character is too distracting for when you’re supposed to feel something when Kili dies. Kili originally dies with Fili defending a wounded Thorin. It’s more honorable and I cared a lot more. His made up romance with a made up character who serves no real purpose is laughable, not tear-jerking.

Orlando Bloom is great as Legolas and I tend to forgive his over the top antics in the film’s depictions of the Battle of Helms Deep and Pelennor Fields. His banter with Gimli helped is the human element that was missing in “The Hobbit” films. You saw their friendship grow and the film really captured their arcs. But just knowing Legolas was added in for fan service makes me despise his action scenes. He’s untouchable! I also never worry about him because he’s in the next set of films. He kills one of the main villains in BOFA, which I guess isn’t so bad. The main orc that’s not Azog isn’t in the book, so having a character not in the book killed by a character not in the book works….I guess. Legolas’s lack of mortality (besides the fact he’s an elf) is one of the reasons I’m not huge on prequels. Prequels tend to use the same characters from the original, so I’m not too worried about them. The fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin at the end of “Revenge of the Sith” is fun and goofy and all, but you know they’re both going to live. Anakin turns to charcoal, but you know him and Anakin are in EP IV-VI.
Legolas also has aged! I’m not the first one to say this, but he doesn’t have that elegant, elf-like look he had in LOTR. He has a Benjamin Button effect.

Gandalf’s side journeys are a desperate attempt to bridge both stories. Gandalf disappears a lot in the novel, and you accept it because he’s a cooky wizard. You don’t need to know where he’s going (unless you read the appendices). Your focus is on Bilbo and the company. Gandalf being captured by Sauron and seeing the Sauron gif is another desperate attempt to stretch out the story. They eventually vanquish Sauron in the BOFA, but that’s it? For over 60 years, Gandalf never attempts to uncover anything or has any real memory about it? Is it really not until Bilbo gives the ring to Frodo that he bothers to do any research? Hey Gandalf, it’s an odd magic ring that Bilbo found, and you just were captured by a ring maker, maybe you should look into that! Sure, Saruman say’s “he’ll handle it” but over those 60 odd years, you never bothered to ask questions? Sauron did not need to be a focus in the film, but a foreboding presence to the next set of films. With this bridge, you’re left wondering why Gandalf was neglecting any of this. Also, the battle with Galadriel, Saruman, and Elrond against the Nazgul ruined the mystery of the Ringwraiths. You know just enough in LOTR and in BOFA, they’re goofy transparent spirits with different aesthetics that don’t line up with the hooded menaces. This story did not another made up action scene. Seriously, was the barrel scene not enough?

The singing in “An Unexpected Journey” has been met with some mixed reviews. I’ve heard that it’s too kid-like or that it’s corny. Well, hate to break it to you, but “The Hobbit” novel is a kid’s book that is a bit corny. It’s one of the aspects I found the most gratifying in the film. When the dwarves are washing dishes in Bag End and break out into a tune, I broke a smile. I thought it was a great way to include the singing, which is greatly excluded from the LOTR films. It captured the magic of Middle-Earth and AUJ is actually my favorite film in this trilogy. It was the only film that had the adventure-sense and there’s a magic to it that was eventually bogged down by overly-long orc fights in the next films. Yeah, there’s a ton of creative liberties taken and the pacing is off, but I felt like I was in Middle-Earth. It wasn’t in an action movie with Middle-Earth as the setting. It also has a lot of Hobbiton, which is my favorite element from the films and novels. I recently took a trip to Hobbiton and it’s the reason I felt compelled to even write this review.

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I found AUJ to be the most loyal to the novel, and it captured it well. The climax with the cave goblins and Azog served well, even with the extensive time it took to get there. People, primarily those who did not read the book, went into AUJ expecting an epic like LOTR and were disappointed. Of course they were! It’s not supposed to be this grandiose tale. “The Hobbit” is on a smaller scale and does not possess the elements to match LOTR. Sure, the filmmakers tried, but it wasn’t there in the first place.

The encounter with Smaug in DOS starts off great. Bilbo steals the show, yet again, with a CG character. Smaug looks awesome and he lives up to his reputation. But then the dwarves get involved and make that weird dwarf statue. You’re submerged in this dialogue with this hobbit and this monster, and to have it end with dwarf shenanigans was odd, and another reason DOS is my least favorite. It too, was not in the novel and it did not serve as a good climax. As I said earlier, DOS ends with such an emphasis on Smaug’s fury and he’s killed off in the first act of BOFA.

The pacing plagues AUJ the most, but the other films as well. AUJ takes too long to get to the point; DOS takes too long to get to the point, but throws more action scenes in it to please teenagers; BOFA is the polar opposite. There’s a 30ish minute build up, a 60ish minute battle, and a 20ish minute reflection then it’s over. All three film’s pacing suffer from the fact that appendices material is added and it all feels like filler. When you watch AUJ and DOS, then read the novel, it’s humorous how quickly you get to the encounter with the trolls and Beorn. It takes an hour to see the trolls in AUJ and a whole movie for Beorn.

I Do Like The Hobbit Trilogy

I really do. BOFA looks awesome. I saw it in high-frame rate and unlike when I saw AUJ 48 frames per second, I found it complemented the film’s visuals. It wasn’t weird and distracting. They’re well filmed and well acted. I don’t think anyone would doubt Peter Jackson’s talent, and Howard Shore’s music is what separates the LOTR trilogy from many films. Billy Boyd and Annie Lennox both have great songs that see off each trilogy. It’s what makes my stomach drop at the end of “Return of the King.” “The Hobbit” trilogy is fun for its own reasons, but it could have been so much better. If Peter Jackson took the same approach to “The Hobbit” as he did with LOTR, that is, sticking to the novel as best as possible and honoring Tolkien’s work, we would have had a fun singular film and a four film epic. Sticking to the novel would have solved the pacing issues, the stupid inclusion of Legolas and creation of Tauriel, the romance, the character arcs etc. I am really trying to condense my thoughts, because unlike these films, I want to get to the point. The novel ain’t broke, don’t turn it into something it’s not.

We now have a six film saga, so I guess that’s neat. I can at least get through “The Hobbit” films to reach LOTR; I have a harder time with Star Wars EP I-III. Overall, I ache a bit knowing that this is probably our last film experience in Middle-Earth until the remakes. The tradition of seeing these films each December was still fun, and harkened back to my nostalgia when I saw the LOTR each December back in middle school. I still cannot stress enough to read the novels. They’re a difficult read at times, but they are so beautifully written and there’s a lot of neat stuff that isn’t in the films. I’d also be a liar if I said that I don’t own both versions of AUJ and DOS (theatrical and extended) and I’ll probably do the same with BOFA. These films certainly aren’t perfect, but it’s a great portal into a fantasy world that I’ve grown to admire since I first read “When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.”

The Guide To Being a Man II (LOL)

real-man

Last September, I wrote responses to Wall Street Journal’s John Carney’s list of how to be a man. You can read last year’s article here. If you wish to see my responses from last September, just go to that section of this blog. I don’t write a lot, so it shouldn’t be hard to find. They released an updated version of that list this past September. I would have responded earlier, but I’ve spent this whole year not being a man and backpacking and traveling. My bad. But hey, in the Spirit of Christmas, let’s be a little Scrooge-like, shall we?

“Now, we’ve decided to team up with Genius (formerly Rap Genius) and update that list for 2014, and to include annotations. Click the highlighted lines to read more.”

The annotations do not work for my laptop; probably being that I’m not a real man and am a broke backpacker. But I thought I’d take time out of my empty life and respond to their updated list. Being that this is an updated list of last year’s, there’s some repeats. So, I’m just going to respond to the newbies. Enjoy!

Always carry cash. Keep some in your front pocket.-See, this is my problem with this list and last year’s. They offer some decent life advice relevant to tipping and other miscellaneous tidbits. Admittedly, some of it is pretty spot on and could create for just convenience in your life. Much like this tidbit about carrying cash. How is this related to what’s in between my legs? Even in the 21st Century, (especially in San Francisco) there are many places that are cash only. You don’t want to use an ATM; those silly withdrawal fees add up. Also, ever traveled around Southeast Asia? 98 percent of businesses are cash only. So, was I more of a man because I ALWAYS had cash on me! Was my fiance a man because of this? Oh man, I hope not.

Rebel from business casual. Burn your khakis and wear a suit or jeans.- Are you referring to work related incidents, or everyday attire? If you’re referring to everyday attire, I don’t think you’re impressing anyone at The Olive Garden.

It’s okay to trade the possibility of your 80s and 90s for more guaranteed fun in your 20s and 30s.-Are you implying binge drinking? If so, that doesn’t make you more of a man. It shows how you want to justify your stupid decisions. Sure, you get a minor dopamine release, but then all that manliness gets in the way and you ruin not just your liver. In this article, it says it all in the title. So, jackass, alcohol dependency is related to blunted dopamine transmission. You’re obviously dependent on alcohol for your dopamine release, otherwise you wouldn’t try justifying it. And if you’re still binge drinking in your 30’s, if that’s not an incentive to grow up, I don’t what is. Giving up your 80’s and 90’s in such fashion shows that you’re an idiot and don’t think five years ahead.

Play competitive sports for as long as you can.-Yay for masculinity norms! I grew up playing hockey and quite frankly, don’t understand how people dislike sports. But I digress. I certainly don’t look at someone like Sam Harris or Bill Gates and correlate their “manliness” on how long I think they played sports. They’re brilliant, successful minds and don’t rely on jock mentality to stand up for themselves. I’m sorry if you’re trying to compensate for something.

Never date an ex of your friend-Another example of irrelevance to masculinity. Honestly, for the most part, if you switched this article and last year’s, but changed it to “How to be a real woman” it wouldn’t make much of a difference. Yeah, never date an ex of your friend because that’s a dick thing to do. It doesn’t make you more of a man refraining from something that you should be already. It’s like wanting credit for have never been to jail. I haven’t 🙂

If you perspire, wear a damn undershirt- A basic odor issue. Does bathing make you more of a man too?

People are tired of you being the funny, drunk guy-…..said the guy who just tried justify drinking heavily in your 30’s. Your responses are as pathetic as an unknown blogger taking the time to respond to questions regarding how to be a real man.

You probably use your cell phone too often and at the wrong moments.-That’s just social commentary on today’s generation addiction to technology. You should really go to Singapore and tell this to each and every guy you see on their phone. You’ll be out of breath within minutes. Today’s culture has an unhealthy obsession to their phones; men and women. Why don’t you just shoot me a text? We can sort this out iPhone to iPhone.

Buy expensive sunglasses.- Hey, this is cheating! You literally said that last year, but had more to say about it. I quote, “Buy expensive sunglasses. Superficial? Yes, but so are the women judging you. And it tells these women you appreciate nice things and are responsible enough not to lose them.” Did you realize how much you sounded like a tool last year? Well if you’re going to cheat, I’m just going to use my answer from last year. I quote, “Are you only going for superficial girls? I have Star Wars posters in my room and heck, my girlfriend still likes me. I also have an HD Television as well as a Pearl Export drum set. Both of which are more expensive than sunglasses, more useful, in good shape and I appreciate these nice things a lot. Does that really say anything more than I enjoy my movies in HD and I play music as a hobby? Guess what Mr. Carrey, or is it Carney? Sorry, this got long. Chicks dig musicians! I’ll stick to my Wal-Mart sunglasses while being better at something than you. This doesn’t make me more of a “man” than you; it just shows that I have a passion for something other than being Patrick Bateman. Enjoy your spray tan.”

Act like you’ve been there before.-Like I’ve been where before? If you applied this to literally everywhere I went, it might not prove as fruitful. If I went to Planned Parenthood and acted like I’m a “local” there, I don’t think that would pan out very well. I don’t want to be that guy that gives off a confident aroma of passing his HIV blood test every week. Or Disneyland! Does it really make you cooler than all tourists acting like you frequent Disneyland? If anything, you’d get lost not asking for directions on how to get to the Tea Cups. That place is huge!

Laugh more.-A tip to longevity if applied properly. Once again, nothing to do with manliness. Congratulations, you laugh. What a man! Are you Swedish? Well, you must like spinach. Off of your logic, that makes complete sense.

Learn how to fly-fish-Learn how to backpack, play an instrument, surf, skateboard, play hockey, be a programmer (they make the money), play poker, cook….get the point? All the aforementioned are cooler and more enjoyable than fly fishing. They certainly do not make someone less of a man. It just shows you have different hobbies. It sounds like the writers of these articles took their own lives and just slapped together a manly list, like they were the epitome of manly existence. My wine collection has bigger balls than you.

A glass of wine or two with lunch will not ruin your day.-It does for some people, I suppose. I enjoy a 40oz with my burritos as much as the next manly man, but once again, this has NOTHING to do with a penis. This list isn’t even fun to write anymore. If this is a tongue in cheek article written by a woman, it’s freaking genius.

It’s better if old men cut your hair-You’re creepy.

Own a handcrafted shotgun. It’s a beautiful thing.-Sounds good, Sarah Palin.

There’s always another level. Just be content knowing that you are still better off than most who have ever lived.-Good life advice. Ever been to Cambodia? That will humble your suit wearing, binge drinking ego.

Cobblers will save your shoes. So will shoe trees.-You got me there. I don’t know what that is. I thought you were talking about porn.

The cliche is that having money is about not wasting time. But in reality, money is about facilitating spontaneity.-That’s a cliche? I thought the cliche was money doesn’t buy happiness. You’re not deep, sweetheart. All style, no substance.

Do not use an electric razor.-I couldn’t agree more! Those things are annoying!

#StopItWithTheHashtags-Come to think of it, you and I probably have a lot more in common than I thought we would. #missedconnection

Your ties should be rolled and placed in a sectioned tie drawer.-You work at McDonalds. I told you, there’s no need for a tie.

You may only request one song from the DJ.-If you’re going to places with DJs, it shows that you have terrible taste in music and haven’t grown up. End of story.

Take more pictures. With a camera.-Look at my travel posts. Your pictures aren’t impressive. And guess what? Most of those photos were taken with an iPad. It’s convenient!

Place-dropping is worse than-name dropping.Bowel dropping beats them both.

When you admire the work of artists or writers, tell them. And spend money to acquire their work.-Some things are pleasing to the eye aesthetically, but you don’t necessarily need it in your routine life. At the risk of repeating myself, why are you masculine out of this?

Your clothes do not match. They go together.-Did you run out of things to write? I’m getting there myself.

Yes, of course you have to buy her dinner.-Chivalry, nice. But the way modern day feminism is, that’s a hindrance to equality. Oh, the agony.

Staying angry is a waste of energy.-Yup. It leads to ulcers too. You’re not as clever as you think.

Don’t use the word “closure” or ever expect it in real life.-I really hope this article is coming to a closure.

Drink outdoors. And during the day. And sometimes by yourself.-More justification for drinking!

Date women outside your social set. You’ll be surprised-Yes, how surprising is it that women who aren’t binge drinking at 30 are different. Your social set sucks.

You cannot have a love affair with whiskey because whiskey will never love you back.-Yes, most inanimate objects have that issue. Objectophilia tends to be very one sided.

Feigning unpretentiousness is worse than being pretentious.-That’s the most pretentious thing I’ve heard.

The New Yorker is not high-brow. Neither is The Economist.-Neither is Business Insider.

If you believe in evolution, you should know something about how it works.Tell that to Creationists.

Ignore the boos. They usually come from the cheap seats.-What, did your stand up comedy career have a poor ending?

Give thoughtful gifts.-It’s usually the idea behind giving gifts. I didn’t give my fiance the flu without having a sincere motive behind it.

Life is short. Wait for a good pitch to hit-These kind of contradict each other. Wouldn’t it make sense if the words “life is short” and “wait” weren’t next to each other?

Oh man, that was just as long as last time. Well, in tradition with the previous edition, here’s a photo of something completely random.

chuck

I don’t know what’s more sad. The fact that I took the time to respond to some guy who has no idea who I am, nor will he. Or the fact that I did it twice.

Bill Cosby Accused of Liking The Casualties

The best news source you’re going to find.

The Hard Times

NEW YORK — The hits just keep coming for Bill Cosby.

The 77-year-old comedian’s sexual assault scandal worsened Friday when a former acquaintance came forward and accused Cosby of being a “huge fan of The Casualties.”

George Stanson, the alleged victim, says he was drinking backstage with Cosby when the comedian made his poor taste in punk bands clear.

“Bill offered me a 40oz, and I accepted because I’ve always looked up to his choice of winter outerwear. The next thing I remember Bill is putting on ‘For The Punx’ and talking about how The Casualties are ‘Good dudes, backed hard.'” Stanson said.

Hordes of internet commenters are outraged, saying Stanson needs to provide the actual vinyl he was assaulted with before they can believe him.

“He’s just trying to get his 15 minutes of fame. Casualties army! 400 punks out on the street, getting drunk,” one commenter, with a…

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Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas Voted Worst Movie Ever at IMDB

TIME

Kirk Cameron’s new Christmas movie is earning all the wrong kinds of distinctions.

The November release Saving Christmas was voted the worst movie ever by IMDb users, garnering 1.5 out of 5 stars with scores from more than 4,000 users.

The movie, which centers on Cameron’s quest to show his brother-in-law the true meaning of Christmas, started drawing people’s ire when Cameron began a social media campaign to improve the film’s Rotten Tomatoes score. That plan seems to have backfired big time.

Saving Christmas beat out other famously awful movies like Gigli and FromJustin to Kelly on IMDb’s “Bottom 100” list. There’s even another holiday movie in the rankings called Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

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