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PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 8:13 pm 
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I wasn't as chuffed by the silly and drawn-out dragon chase scene as you, though I generally agree with you about it.

And despite my quibbles about BotFA (which I suspect are very similar to yours), I also like it quite a bit and some ways consider it the strongest of the three (although I think each of them have strong highs and weak lows).

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:21 am 
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I finished rereading the book, and watched this one again, also looked a bit at the appendices and commentary. My first impression from years ago has improved - it is now my favorite in the trilogy. It is not without flaws, even major ones, but Bilbo and Thorin are fantastic and really carry it. And in some ways it has a strong understanding of Tolkien’s themes I think. Apologies for the length.

Opening Moves
I love the opening at Laketown. Stunning visuals, "look at me", Smaug's taunting. In contrast to the end of DoS, Smaug comes across really well as a villain here.

Dol Guldur is decent. I don't like dark Galadriel (and I'm afraid it dilutes her FotR temptation scene). However, the visuals there are excellent as always, and Saruman’s line is a clever way to end it. I actually kind of like Radagast in the latter two movies; he's toned down some from AUJ.

Politics, madness, and greed
After Fire and Water, there is very little action for the next hour.

Bilbo and Thorin make this movie. AUJ is Bilbo's film, DoS is Thorin's, B5A is both though favoring Bilbo. Thorin’s descent into madness is compelling to watch, and Bilbo’s reaction. Both the dialog and scene staging show that Bilbo is the one Thorin keeps some human contact with in his downward spiral. I would even say Bilbo and Thorin have the best character relationship in all the Jackson movies - yes, including Frodo and Sam. The movie establishes them well before all the action starts, and then it all comes back to them.

So many great small character scenes in Erebor - the acorn, Bilbo and Balin worrying about Thorin’s fate, Bilbo and Bofur’s conversation, Dwalin’s “you are less now…” Jackson & co. are certainly uneven as writers, but they can also do great original scenes at their best, and this might have the most good original scenes out of all six (not to deny to deny there are some bad ones too, though not in Erebor). The interior of Erebor is also just beautifully photographed, keeping just the right balance of grandeur and claustrophobia.

I like the politics/refugee/arkenstone stuff, the treatment of greed, and the dynamics between various characters, Alfrid aside. Bard and Thorin's keyhole dialog is cleverly staged. For all the flaws of Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, I’m glad he takes the story seriously. Thranduil's "I see you don't have experience with wizards" speech is great.

The Battle
Generally I enjoy the battle. The EE makes it flow a lot more coherently and I like that most of the dwarves get some little moment now. The dwarves vs. elves clash improves the movie a lot. There are so many wild ideas from PJ’s mind in the battle, and some excellent choreography. Some of the action especially in the extended scenes is pretty over the top but I generally enjoy it, including the chariot chase in all its Mad Max insanity. I would probably remove or tone down a few extreme moments, but generally nothing before Ravenhill comes across as silly as the end of Pelennor in RotK with its bubble surfing and Mumak takedown.

This is the most CG-heavy of the movies, partly because the production was so turbulent under a rough schedule (the appendices are remarkably candid), so much of the battle was done in pickups. Some of the CG could be touched up, but overall I generally find it only a minor issue, and Dale is a very impressive set (the EE has a 30-minute feature on it!)

I really like the sequence of Dwalin dressing Thorin down, then Thorin’s surreal gold vision, then “will you follow me one last time?”

Ravenhill
The first time I saw this movie, I hated Ravenhill so much that I gave up on the trilogy for years. And well, I still hate Legolas's involvement. A couple of Leggy CG shots are rather infamously stupid. Also, Bolg has no reason to be treated as a major villain with Azog kept alive (an understandable adaptive decision, IMO). After Legolas and Tauriel arrive, it drags and generally feels too much like Marvel until Bolg finally dies. Ravenhill needs about 5 minutes cut, and putting Legolas there is the biggest misstep in the movie for sure. He doesn't ruin the movie but he certainly tries. Also the "Goblin mercenaries” line is stupid.

However, now that I knew what to expect there is a lot I like about Ravenhill too. First of all, the visuals with the snow and ice and mist are great and atmospheric. Fili’s death is great, Kili’s is decent. And I quite like Thorin's duel with Azog, it has a simple elegance to it after the tedium of Bolgolas & co. There's also something very fitting about the image of the heroic warrior dying locked in a struggle with his archenemy on an icy peak. I do think narrowing the focus of the battle and having the two protagonists alone at the very end makes sense here. The eagles and Beorn arrive in a fleeting and almost dreamlike way, as is fitting from Thorin and Bilbo’s perspective.

The end
I love the ending. The parting scene between Thorin and Bilbo is sad and very well-acted. All the time spent on Bilbo and Thorin’s relationship in the first half of the movie (and the first two movies) really pays off at the end. That wonderful silent scene with Bilbo and Gandalf (where they had dialog written but decided to throw the script out!) starts bringing us back down to earth from the heroic archetypal heights of Ravenhill. As Gandalf (in Grey form) goes between both Thorin’s and Bilbo’s worlds, it is fitting that he is the one to do this.

Then more great scenes with Thorin’s funeral which should have been in TE, Bilbo’s goodbye, the journey home, the auction, etc. “Thorin wasn’t that [a legend] to me, he was a…” shows a subtle understanding of the relation of Hobbits with the mythic world I think, especially the way he can’t quite finish it until he gets home. The auction scene shows both that he’s still a Hobbit and that he is no longer the same. Some of the LotR prequel stuff in this trilogy is clunky, but the Ring is generally handled well.

Miscellany
Tauriel...well. I can see what they were trying to do with the Kili relationship, an unfulfilled longing to reach past their cultural limitations as shown in DoS's starlight scene. It could have been pretty Tolkienesque with a lighter hand, should have been kept mostly implied. For sure the execution is fumbled with some bad dialog, like “because it was real.” But this controversy is overblown. It's a minor subplot that doesn't get much screentime, and you'd only need to remove a few lines of dialogue (and the glow on the healing) to fix it. Shore's theme is great too.

But Lilly does a good job, and her character actually still keeps more depth than just the romance. Hot take: even with some bad lines, Lilly's Tauriel feels more like an actual elf than Bloom’s Legolas. Yes, LotR included.

Alfrid I won't defend at all. He's definitely annoying and I his EE death scene is so stupid (but at least the EE reduces his time proportionally). Too bad, I like him in DoS. Should have kept the Master alive.

The Strider namedrop is dumb (also “go north” is geographically absurd). The Ecthelion namedrop is cute though.


Last edited by kzer_za on Fri Mar 08, 2019 7:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:02 am 
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It's been a while since I have seen it, but that is pretty consistent with my memory.

Sent from my LG G6 using Tapatalk

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