The Big Yellow Book

Seeing the World from Both Oculars-- a Bananaslug's Journal

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The Desolation of Bad Movies: Joy and I encounter Tolkien Fan Fic
The Desolation of Bad Movies

Joy and I went to see the second installment in the Hobbit series, The Desolation of Smaug. We saw it in flat mode, and we could easily tell that many scenes were designed natively for 3D. Flattening them, especially in the combat scenes, made them very hard to follow for some reason.

Look, here’s the blunt truth. This is a terrible movie and a travesty of Tolkienesque proportions. Yes, I meant to say that.

It is clear that there were two parts to The Hobbit as originally designed, and then somebody with the money decided that there should be three. So it was left to the directors and editors to somehow shoehorn more content into the movies.

I could have forgiven the female elf, who does not appear in the book. I could have forgiven the appearances of LOTR characters who do not appear in the book. But I cannot forgive the idea of a love interest between an elf and a dwarf. It would never happen, and I am certain Tolkien is rotating at 3600 rpm at least.

The direction is awful. The movie scans like The Hobbit meets Dungeons and Dragons or some other RPG. The cast has to get from one challenge to another. At each challenge they have to do something to win through to the next challenge, all the time pursued by orcs (who also never appeared in the book).

In fact, every time the movie started to drag, you could depend on the orcs showing up and standing in line to be killed a lot. The fight scenes reminded me of Quentin Tarantino meets Sam Pekinpah. Highly gratuitous violence, beheadings done for the benefit of 3D and really bad intercutting, especially in the Erebor scenes.

Now help me out here. Why on earth would the dwarves want to gold plate a dragon? It can’t be to kill him, because the dragon IS fire. What I think is that it is a plot twisting device (wringing our necks, rather) to keep the movie going into watchable length.

And then there’s the incredibly bad overacting by Benedict Cumberbatch, who should have insisted on a George Spelvin credit for his work inanimating the dragon. Yes, I meant to say that.

And the orcs who never read the Evil Overlord rules.

And again the gratuitous violence. The beheaded orc whose eyes still blink on the sword for example.

If you take a child under 12 to this movie, you should be shot and your brain displayed in the Darwin Award museum. Joy says she may not go to see the third installment in a theater, and wait to see it on HBO.

I agree with Christopher Orr in his review in The Atlantic that this is really very bad fanfic.

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I had real trouble with the first movie already. The visuals were stunning, as one could expect, but my eyes are simply not wired for 3D - I had to force focus them the entire time or get a headache.

But the eliminationism really grated on me. It's bad enough in Tolkien, but Jackson's trilogy made it worse, and then it was upped another notch with the first Hobbit movie, and from what you say it's even worse in this one.

(The theme in Tolkien that corruption is one-way and that the only cure for it is death. Pure toxic, there is no real redemption in his works.)

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