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That said I frankly began to feel like he was killing of characters more because he had no idea where to take so many disparate storylines than because he had a grand plan for them all.
But you're right, the likes of the Red Wedding Massacre only really has any kind of effect the first time it around, it's not like it has much impact on you if you see/read about it again after that. The shock impact is massive, but it's a one off feeling.
I don't get it. I am not familiar with all of PJ films. But I thought he had started out as a low-budget horror movie / slasher genre director. I don't know if the horror films he made were any good? Or whether they were just a laughable gore fests? These type of movies can be entertaining in their own right, if that is your piece of cake, and you are in the mood for that sort of thing. Although in my opinion good horror films are few and far apart. The only good horror films in my opinion are those which are able to really scare the shit out of the viewer. Not just throughout the duration of the film, but even afterwards reminiscing about them. Causing you e.g.: no longer to go out and dare to swim in the see, for fear of being eaten alive etc. Why hasn't PJ taken a look at films such as Alien (1979) or the first Jaws movie, for his Smaug scenes. Those films thrive on suspense and foreboding imminent danger, while there is little to see, and not that much happening. It is all about the horror of what can and will happen in those films. Don't get me wrong I am not advocating PJ should have turned TDOS into a horror movie. But where the hell is the unnerving tension, you are supposed to feel when Bilbo enters Erebor and his encounter with the dragon.
And indeed, not just with regard to Smaug the Stupendous, but also just your average lone vile, depraved Orc, hungry for human flesh, or a piece of Hobbit, Elven, or dwarf meat for that matter. Orcs don't discriminate when it comes to their meat, they even like it rotten, saturated with maggots.
I have a great fondness for Elves, but these films were better served, had these mythical angelic creatures been portrayed with more fragility. Elves may be immortal, they are not invulnerable, and most certainly not invincible. Their fate is partly determined by their habitat, with which they coexist when in balance, or when out of balance the capacity of that environment in which they dwell to corrupt their nature. This aspect could also have been depicted and explained much better when they entered mirkwood. But PJ chose to focus primarily on a bunch of spiders in such a way that the viewer is more likely to lust for cotton candy then be instilled with a sense of peril for the company of fourteen.
I really hate being so disappointed with PJ results, when I want to like it so bad.
It's just that a well-presented film/book doesn't actually need anything to happen in the story to give the viewer a sense that something might happen.
Any chance of a enjoying a permanent sense of danger vanishes when elves enter god mode, a dwarf achieves impossible feats of acrobatics, or a dragon behaves like a prize turnip. Its not so much the lack, or need, of deaths, it's the need & lack of gravity afforded the situation by the director & actors. An actor can project fear even if the character has nothing to fear. A director can build tension even when nothing is going to happen in the whole movie.
Take a good suspense thriller for example, (Hitchcock or similar). The facts of the story may be that nothing actually happens at all, ever, to anybody throughout the whole film. Yet when done well, the viewer always feels something is about to happen every time they watch it (even when they know it won't having watched it several times before).
Equally, a film can be chock-full of death scenes (Tarantino/80's action movies/gangsters), but never impose any sense of impending doom for the main characters. They can pile up the body count all they want, but without proper tension and threat, we ultimately feel, and fear, nothing.
Oh yes, LotR certainly has some issues. I only really meant to say it was immersive into the world of middle earth comparative to hobbit (and was also thinking musically, architecturally, etc), not to mean it set any golden standard for drama. :o)
There's Three dimensions now?
I'm not sure many film makers have tried two yet. ZING!
As for the sets we've had so far - again, I've loved them, though I do find the price point a bit steep for what they are. As is the case for many of us here, I'm very much hoping to see Smaug in the next wave - though if the LOTR range has skipped iconic (and potentially incredible) sets like Minis Tirith and the Balrog, maybe we'll end up wanting from the Hobbit line too.
@TheBigLegoski - while I've not seen PJ's earlier horror films in some time (to give an idea of how long ago it actually was, I'll say I owned them on VHS, and haven't had a working machine for 7+ years!) I thought they were great precisely because they were laughable gore-fests. Some of the characters from the LOTR trilogy actually put me in mind of his monsters from films like Bad Taste, so I felt like PJ was giving a little nod to his early work and those familiar with it.
(1) give some of the Dwarves a little more personality: Thorin and Balin definitely stand out, and I think Fili/Kili (whichever one is the lover), but beyond that they are either caricatures (the fat one, the drunk one, the deaf one) or total cyphers. We get a little context with Gloin which was a nice wink to those of us who know his son :).
(2) take some poetic license and kill off a dwarf or two along the way to heighten the tension. Seriously, would anyone miss Bifur or Bofur? Oin? Ori Nori or Dori (I couldn't even remember their names!)? Would have been a real shock and heighten the stakes, even for those of us who think they know what is going to happen.
I actually though both movies were just fine. They have the same problem as the Star Wars prequels -- too little characterization, too much plot for the sake of plot, and too much action for the sake of action (wouldn't this be a cool video game scene!). But I enjoyed them for what they were -- and they made me appreciate how delightful LOTR really is. Also, let's not forget that the Hobbit was a children's book -- to that end, the "Looney Tunes" like scene with Smaug didn't bother me. Like many I agree that stretching to three movies was responsible for a lot of the clunkiness.
Bringing back to LEGO -- focusing on the Desolation sets. Anyone else feel like the Dol Gildur sets really don't line up with the movie? Did we (again) end up with preview sets only this time they didn't tell us? So what I'm thinking happened is this:
- TLG thought they were building sets for two movies and so developed two waves.
- Duology changed to Trilogy.
- TLG releases all sets for old first movie as initial first wave and labels two as preview sets.
- TLG releases all but a couple of remaining sets as second wave (including all Dol Guildur sets).
If I'm right, this means TLG only had a couple of remaining sets for the now third wave / third movie. So they are either developing more sets, or the third wave will also include some LOTR sets. I think it is more likely that they are developing some extra Hobbit sets, but let's be honest -- we already have every major character (except Smaug) in the first two waves. There's really no one left. (Whereas with LOTR we are still waiting for Eowyn, Faramir, etc etc.)
The technology is letting PJ show more detail, but the new Middle Earth he is creating looks and feels fake. Hopefully, by the Battle of Five Armies we aren't feeling like we did after this.
Peter Jackson's changes have affected the sets we get from TLG, since they are based on the movies. So instead of getting iconic Middle Earth sets, we get two Dol Guldor sets *yawn*. If PJ had done justice to Beorn's story line, with the suspense of the "stay in the house at night" and bear tracks in the morning, the serving animals etc. we could have had a nice set of Beorn's house on the lines of their treatment of BagEnd, which is a brilliant adaptation.
@hoyatables - I like your idea to squeeze a final LoTR set into the last franchise wave. My heart says yes, my brain says no.
"Three sets will be available in October. They did not have names. One was a small rock piece, the middle-priced one was another part of Lake-town, a tower IIRC (if I remember correctly), and the largest featured Smaug. It was a nondescript structure made predominantly from sand green. I'd like to tell you what minifigs are included but I can't remember."
"No new LotR."
"There were dwarves, orcs, elves and men in the sets. I remember only Galadriel who's in the smallest one I believe."
"As I mentioned nearly everything new -- minifigs and parts -- were either not there or were prototypes. The final Smaug wasn't present, he was represented by a Castle dragon."
Sigh..... here is my take. What do the rest of you think/guess?
Small rock set with Galadriel - perhaps PJ is working "Mirror of Galadriel" into the third movie for her to view action at a distance.
Middle set Lake Town with tower and Bard's "Arrow of Doom"
Large set interior of Erebor (in sand green) with Smaug? We hope brick built. What else could include Smaug and sand green?
So that leaves us with one last mystery set and we don't know the price point. Can we hope that the $130 one is a surprise substantial last LoTR? Since the largest one seen by Huw was "nondescript structure", it could fit the $69 price point with a brick built Smaug in a vignette background.
"So, there are 4 sets:
The small one with Galadriel and the witch king
Lake town bell tower has some important character something like bain? in it
Battle of the five armies, I don't recall much about that
The Lonely Mountain, the one with Smaug in it."
Although witch king in there effectively rules out ever getting Eowyn.
When you thought it couldn't get worse, it sounds like another unnecessary (yet typical) Peter Jackson Elfgasm at the expense of the written work. He seems determined to personally 'scent mark' all over Tolkien's work regardless of what's on the page.
Tolkien's fellow Inklings must have had psychic visions of these films when they uttered the phrase 'not more F***ing elves'. It wasn't the books they were bothered by, they knew what PJ would do with them at the mere mention of a pointy ear. Note to PJ: These books are NOT ABOUT ELVES anymore than they're about Trolls.
Elves defending Helm's Deep was bad enough... but good god, man. You have Three films to make ONE small book, enough time to film every damn page (not to mention DVD space for extras), and yet the book continues to gasp for air while drowning in turgid fantasy-lite guff and made-up-as-we-go dialogue.
I thought things couldn't get worse after watching DofS, but with this revelation I suddenly dread what else he has in the third installment of 'Elf Wars'.
If PJ ever makes a historically accurate WW2 film, I fully expect to see Elves.
I adored LOTR and the three films, but have been pretty disappointed in The Hobbit films. DofS for me was just way to over embellished. Maybe it also shows regardless of material, it's difficult to catch magic in a bottle twice.
I've mentioned it before, but right around the bungling of Osgiliath was when I really felt PJ had no real regard for the story, and I think the films have gotten progressively worse from that point. To this day, I can't make it more than thirty minutes into RotK, just because it is so ridiculously bad.
And, although the first hour of UJ is markedly better than RotK, I feel like that's a single anomalous point in what has otherwise been a fairly steep and consistent decline in watchability since the Osgiliath debacle that saw Sam and Frodo hanging about when the attack starts (which means either Sam and Frodo had no way to escape, or Faramir and company had nowhere to withdraw to... but geography be damned!) and also showed us that Faramir was a douchebag for some reason.
I'm in agreement there. (my post above contained a healthy dose of exaggerated rant for comedy value). ;o)
I believe the 3D craze is what's doing it to the Hobbit films, they don't suffer for want of content.
LotR was filmed with people in costumes, live-action combat, and no compulsion to forcibly insert 'roller coaster ride for 3D crowd' camera angles.
Instead it was a properly made film, with close-ups, wide shots, sweeping shots, etc angles chosen as best fit for the subject.
3D films just end up looking exactly the same.
The directors art is completely usurped by the need for continuous multi-layered 'middle-distance' shots permeating throughout every scene, so that no sequence ever has any real focus for the viewer, close-up, wide angle, distance, etc all sacrificed for the same artificial image 'depth', and misses the subject entirely. You end up with an extremely bland stream of images, usually all with the same 'detail' (birds/bees/butterflies everywhere, cavern slide/water rush/chasm drop, arrow/spear in face, everything toward or away/'ride' the propelled item/look-at-the-mountain-tops-at-the-same-time-as-that-daffodil-i'm-treading-on).
I'm glad LotR happened before this craze. 3D is the real culprit behind the stupid physics, dimwit dragon, and super-elves, I feel. If there'd been no 3D the films would have been much closer to the books, as focus would be back on the narrative within the scenes, instead of the viewing 'experience'.
Anyway - onto Lego - I'm hoping I'll be able to force something worthwhile from the upcoming sets.
@y2josh I do enjoy the lotr films, mainly because when I was growing up I never imagined such spectacular and outlandish creatures and battles would ever be filmed. So part of me loves that I saw them happen at all.
However I agree with you that Pj is a poor story teller (being polite).
He constantly invents to fill in for his lack of empathy with the subject material. You only have to watch the LotR cartoon to see how terrifying the Black riders could have been. Whereas PJ virtually has Aragorn b*tch slap the whole lot of them at weathertop, and might as well pop caps in their asses with a side-ways held gun. So much for 'Not frightened enough, I know what hunts you'. It just doesn't work.
Perfect example from the behind the scenes documentaries show just how much we dodged a bullet, when he (PJ) wanted, but was unable, to give Aragorn a 'final battle' with Sauron at the black gates. When I saw that bit i thought WTF?!? What planet was this man on? It showed a complete lack of comprehension for what was going on at all. Totally missing the point that the story climax would be Frodo (a nobody from nowhere) fighting Gollum for the ring, NOT a formulaic big-badass boss fight for the guy-with-magic-sword.
There's a lot to like about LotR, (set design, costume, effects, many, if not all, performances, etc), but equally plenty to annoy - usually the result of PJ's coming unstuck. Fortunately for me, the good outweighs the bad.
Comparing to StarWars storyline I think the Hobbit is managing much better, even when giving SW all the "technological" grace needed.
The Hobbit, on the other hand, I had thought would make fantastic films (I was a fan of two comfortable films, rather than three HUGE films), as they were (or with very little tinkering). Yet, I find that the pacing is very awkward, the changes made from the original story aren't more than showy "ooo, more battle!" scenes, and there is no real sense of epic-ness/danger/etc throughout.
Essentially, I got them totally backward.
So I'm also pretty disappointed that it doesn't look like there will be another solid Lego LOTR wave, considering I thought they were way better than the Hobbit, AND because I really wanted a Minas Tirith.
I don't really know what went wrong. I was so pleased with PJ's LOTR trilogy. The movies kept to the spirit of the books and I agree the changes were forgivable as they worked well for the movie.
The Hobbit though...it had so much potential to be great! The Hobbit movies are really just loosely based on the book but a very different story, and a lot of the elements of the book were changed needlessly (as per comments above). I was OK when I heard they were making it into three movies as the excuse was they wanted to include a lot of source material that was only mentioned in the books, so I figured they would do a lot of filler for the time between the battle of the five armies and Bilbo getting back home, and Gandalf and the council driving the necromancer from Mirkwood would get some screen time.
The Hobbit in book form was a light read and a stand-alone children's story. PJ made it into an intro of sorts to LOTR but at the same time as adding darker elements from LOTR he made it silly with over the top super elves and dwarves. Make it epic or don't make it at all.
I will forgive Peter Jackson's additions to both stories (although I thought the Hobbit would have been fine in terms of pace and content as is), but I agree some of the additions seem to just add length and action sequences at the expense of loyalty to the original story.
That being said, the second wave of the Hobbit products I found underwhelming. Lake Town could have been an epic set (or sets even) in place of a two piece Dol Guldur, the Elves fortress seemed more a battle pack then something anything important from the story, and lacking anything relating to the Lonely Mountain I found a little disappointing.
The first wave (including the Barrel Escape and Mirkwood) were all key movie moments, and Bag End is an iconic set.
I hope the third wave adds to Lake Town, the Lonely Mountain, maybe even Beorn's hut...there are a lot ways they can improve on the Desolation of Smaug line, but then again, I bought all 4 sets anyway.
Tom Bombadil got cut from Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy in part because of this sort of emotional dissonance. For this reason, I was quite impressed with the first of Peter Jackson's "Hobbit" movies, since he actually did keep the songs and some of the silliness (like the dopey, but still bloodthirsty, talking trolls). He even managed to maintain a little bit of this playful spirit in the parts he added, like the segments with Radagast.
I haven't seen the second film yet, and I've heard a lot of the content in it was not drawn from the original book at all (not sure how much of it is stuff that was drawn from the LotR appendices and how much is drawn from whole cloth), but I hope it continues to be faithful to the spirit of the story if not the letter of it. Don't get me wrong — The Hobbit is a story with very high action and very high stakes, and those things should not be downplayed just to make it more "kid-friendly". But at the same time, the story should not be so grave that it has to cut out the original songs or the playfulness inherent in some of Bilbo's "heroic mischief."
There is a point in the second film where you can tell there was definitely supposed to be the original split. Going from 2 films to 3 changed the pace of the Desolation of Smaug.
Mirkwood, Beorn's cottage, the Barrel escape (two of the three lego sets BTW, both from the first wave) were all pretty faithful, plus minus a few Orcs and Elves.
The second half is where a lot more deviating from the source happened. Made for reasonable movie, added some plot points to be resolved in the third film (Gandalf, Bard, Kili).
Incidentally, the most anticipated (and in my opinion the most complete and enjoyable/displayable) set from the second wave was that of the only part of the movie from the book: Lake Town. There were differences in how the film and book represented Lake Town, but Dol Guldur and even the Elven fort (at least from what the Lego set show) weren't represented in the Hobbit book proper.
Some of the other scenes, Dale or Smaug's lair, may still yet be shown in the third wave, and with a little more to go on (visually anyway), I think Lego can knock that wave out of the park.
I recommend the second film, but if you go in comparing it to those sections of the book, you'll hate it more then anything in the original LOTR.
First image of Smaug?
Either way, I'm happy to wait and see what they finally come up with, and am not fussed by the splash of red colouring seen here. If anything i welcome it, as i seem to recall tolkien's smaug was red.
Edit: Upon closer inspection, that artwork looks similar to a ninjago style dragonhead, and the underbelly has a printed 'scales' pattern with a 'weak spot' detailing.
Observation 2: Just playing 'devil's advocate' if you will, but if this was based on an early model design, doesn't that smaug body look uncannily handy to fill a dual role as a fell beast. Only the (separate piece) head would require a smoother mold. My reason for saying this is I noticed what appears to be a brick-built section along the spine, filled-in here... (but where a nazgul saddle would rest otherwise).
Small Smaug, without doubt.
The dual-purpose possibilities of the mould is just pure conjecture on my part, but Smaug was always going to need shrinking down to fit in a lego set. In the film, Bilbo is barely the size of smaug's eye, (if that).
Overall, I would really have preferred for more of the model to be brick-built, considering how many possibilities there are with brick-built creatures in LEGO sets in this day and age. If it's not brick-built, then I'm a little more interested in the level of articulation and the versatility of the pieces than the size.
After having typed that, I now remember the dragons from Lego Harry Potter. The Hungarian Horntail was the one that also came in a set, but the others were just Lego-ised versions of the ones in the movies.
I hate to say it, but just cause it's featured on the front of a box and looks like a real Lego thing doesn't mean it will be made.
Of course, it IS entirely possible that there might be a Smaug set but it wasn't ready in time to make it into the game... in which case this Smaug could be subbing in. That might explain some of the weirdness of its design, such as the flimsy-looking connection between the wing and the ball joint.