Amph The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug, Battle of the Five Armies

Discussion in 'Community' started by -Courtney-, Nov 25, 2006.

  1. solojones Chosen One

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    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    Sorry, Rogue, I see where Wocky is coming from on this one and I don't think it's fair to dismiss that opinion as stupid. If anything, it's an opinion borne of better literary analysis, not worse. I think Tolkein wrote great stories, but fairly mediocre prose. That said, his editors really ought to have pushed hard for him to tighten things. That's their job as well. I'm not saying the books ought to have been a specific word count or something. A book should be however long it needs to be, that's not the issue. The issue is that LotR isn't the right length for the story being told. The pacing is pretty bad. That doesn't make Tolkein less of a genius storyteller or world builder. In that sense, he was obviously a great writer. Hell, he defined a whole genre.

    But again, his prose leaves something to be desired. You may not agree, as no one agrees on any writer's talents because so much is personal taste. I mean, I had an English professor who hated Shakespeare. But it wasn't because he was a stupid or worthless professor. He had his own reasoned arguments for disliking him in spite of his talents. Well-reasoned minority opinions aren't automatically stupid (and in fact, dismissing them wholesale is the less intellectual thing to do). And finding Tolkein's prose clunky and overly wordy isn't even that much of a minority opinion. Even a lot of people who love Tolkein feel that way.



    As to people already lamenting how awful the Hobbit is going to be... er, okay. If you've already decided you're only going to moan about it and that reviewers opinions are sacred texts, then by all means, don't see it because no one wants to hear your fanboy/girl moaning and bashing. If you do see it and still hate it, that's one thing. But apocalyptic reactions based solely on the opinions of people you don't know are kind of odd.

    I don't expect the film to be mind-blowingly great. Everything along the way has indicated to me that I'll probably enjoy it, but my expectation is for it to be mediocre to decent on the whole. If it's better than that, well then I'll be happily surprised. But if you are swayed now by reviews (which I haven't read) and have similar expectations, I don't really understand why you couldn't just see the film with those expectations in mind instead of lamenting the theoretical death of a theoretical perfect film you've had in your mind. But again, if you can't do that, that's fine. Just please don't be one of those people who feels the need to keep posting in this thread with criticisms even if you don't see the film. Nobody likes that guy.
    Last edited by solojones, Dec 5, 2012
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  2. I Are The Internets Chosen One

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    Nov 20, 2012
    star 7
    No I meant some of the people in this thread who aren't critics.
  3. AAAAAH Jedi Grand Master

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    the unexpectorated loogie
  4. Mar17swgirl Chosen One

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  5. solojones Chosen One

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    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    After hearing Benedict's voice in the Star Trek Into Darkness trailer... I really can't wait for Smaug :p
  6. Chewgumma Chosen One

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  7. Random Comments Force Ghost

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  8. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    The reviews so far are remarkably consistent, with the positive reviews making mostly the same points as the negative reviews. My guess is that everyone's opinion is going to be based more or less on how badly he or she is distracted by the things the critics are more or less unanimously pointing out as flaws:
    • 48 fps highlights the artificiality of sets/props and overwhelms the benefits of flicker-free 3D
    • the pacing is slow, particularly in the first 40 minutes
    • a dual problem of too little central narrative for three movies and too much ancillary content brought in from LOTR appendices that muddles the narrative
    The answer to the first bullet is avoid the HFR showings. There's nothing to do about the last two. It's the King Kong problem all over again and, to a slightly lesser extent, the ROTK problem. I hoped in vain for director's cuts that would have reduced the run times of each film to about 120 minutes. These movies have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that an unrestrained Peter Jackson veers toward disruptive and overwhelming story bloat.

    But I think there's going to be a clear dividing line between Tolkien fans, Hobbit book fans, Jackson fans, and everyone else. I imagine most of those first three will be mostly satisfied. Jackson may lose much of the general family audience. 90 minutes is an acceptable run time for a great children's movie. At 2.5 hours, I suspect a movie with pacing problems and an unfocused narrative is going to turn off audiences. The moms and dads of elementary school kids are going to be warned off in the second and third weekends. It could really hurt business.

    And if pacing and "butter scraped over too much bread" is a problem in the first film, imagine what it will be like in a 150-minute middle film built around little more than a journey through Mirkwood.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Dec 6, 2012
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  9. Random Comments Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 25, 2012
    star 5
    I feel like elementary-school kids probably shouldn't see the film anyway....but I'm old fashioned about showing violence to kids.

    And I find most 90 minute movies to feel rushed, and I always have.

    150-minute middle film built around little more than a journey through Mirkwood.
    It's been suggested (repeatedly) that the second film might go up to
    Show Spoiler
    the death of Smaug, or at least him going to destroy Lake-Town.

    That is all.
  10. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    There are plenty of things you can criticize Tolkien for. Some people aren't criticizing him for specific things; they're just flatly saying he's a bad writer, which is absurd. Others aren't criticizing him for the right things. He can get twee and precious when he wants too and he has no facility for humor, for example. Sometimes he gets too focused on world building and forgets the emotional core of the story. But to say that he doesn't come up with good stories (even at gunpoint, it was stated), or that he has no facility for tone or that his prose is bad (ye Gods!) just seems ridiculous to me. Those are things he's amazing at. To say that Tolkien wasn't into carefully crafting his stories, as Wocky did, just reveals ignorance. One of the most major criticisms of Tolkien that I make is that he was too much of a perfectionist. Take a look at The History of Middle Earth series and you'll see a writer who was one of the most careful craftsmen who ever put pen to paper. That's not opinion; that's just fact.

    And I find that most of the people who criticize Tolkien for clunky prose haven't read very extensively in his body of work. Like I say, I haven't read the entirety of The Lord of the Rings, which is, in point of fact, one of the places where Tolkien indulges many of his worst stylistic tics. If you read the first half of Fellowship of the Ring and then got bored, then criticize the first half of Fellowship of the Ring; lord knows there's plenty there to critique. But don't make sweeping statements like Tolkien was just, in his very technique, a bad writer. And if you've read the Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth and think Tolkien is horrible at prose or read The Children of Hurin and think Tolkien couldn't come up with a decent plot, then, I'm sorry, you're just wrong and you have no excuse. The Athrabeth is some of the most beautiful prose I have ever encountered. And the ending to The Children of Hurin is one of the most gut-wrenching, absolutely bleak endings I've ever encountered in a novel. This is great literature. Tolkien was most certainly not a bad writer.
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  11. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
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    Maybe Tolkien's prose is terrible, but relative to what? Published fantasy and sci fi literature is riddled with terrible prose. People who don't read widely outside sci fi/fantasy may have a hard time judging just how low the bar is. Among those genres, Tolkien's prose is not bad at all. I'd place him well above average, maybe near the top of the group. He doesn't have Ursula K. Le Guin's mastery of lyrical prose, maybe, but so what? His stories on the whole are at least as engaging as hers, or he would not be so much more widely read. If you insist on comparing LOTR to other classics of world literature across genres, the prose probably doesn't hold up well.

    Also, the prose of the Hobbit is I'd say above average for 20th century children's books still in print. He's no E.B. White. C.S. Lewis probably has a more varied and naturally flowing style. But if he's still attracting readers with a 75 year-old book, Tolkien must have done something right. There's no need to compare Tolkien to a contemporary of his like Robert Penn Warren who could write circles around just about everybody. I'm not sure I've ever read a book with a more elegant prose style than "All the King's Men."
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Dec 6, 2012
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  12. I Are The Internets Chosen One

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    Nov 20, 2012
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    I'd say out of all of the "old" fantasy lit (I don't know how else to classify it) Tolkien is the most accessible. I do like C.S. Lewis to an extent. Some of the Narnia books are very well written while some are almost unbearable to read. I don't know if I should classify Asimov in this area, but he would get bogged down in politics to some extent.
  13. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    Jun 29, 2000
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    Yeah, I've never managed to get into Lewis. Love me some Silmarillion-rereading it for the fourth or fifth time nowadays.
  14. I Are The Internets Chosen One

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    How is that compared to LOTR? My dad has it, and I've always been tempted to read it. I've always wanted to know more about the backstory/chronology of Middle Earth.
  15. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    Jun 29, 2000
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    Well...alot of people consider it a tough read, and in some ways it is-it's set up alot more like, say, Beowulf than a modern novel. I really enjoy it though-think of all the things in LOTR and turn the amp to 11, and you've got the Silmarillion. The Elves (fittingly, as they occupy the overwhelming majority of the book) benefit alot in particular. It's not particularly long at around 400 pages, but boy, Tolkien knows how to cram stuff into that.
    Last edited by DarthBoba, Dec 6, 2012
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  16. I Are The Internets Chosen One

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    Nov 20, 2012
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    Alright. I've always wanted to know more about Sauron. Who he was, how he became what he became, if he was a sympathetic character. I want to know more about the First Age too since the appendices in LOTR only go on about the Second Age onwards.
  17. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    Jun 29, 2000
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    Then the Silmarillion is right up your alley. It's pretty similar to the appendices.
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  18. solojones Chosen One

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    Sep 27, 2000
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    That's probably true, but I have the opposite problem. I actually haven't read much sci fi or fantasy at all. Most of my reading has come as part of my English degree, thus I've read a whole lot of stuff and almost all of it has better prose than Tolkein. In my case it's probably more that the bar has been set too high.

    I do confess I would have to try again now. The Hobbit was fine, I liked what I read of the Silmarillion because I love history. FotR just killed me the last time I tried to read it, though. I do think the humorlessness is part of the difficulty for me. I mean, my favorite books are Catch-22 and HHG. I don't do well without humor :p
  19. Random Comments Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 25, 2012
    star 5
    And (off the top of my head here) I can think of a 20-page section that could easily be made into a LotR-length movie...if the rights were available, of course. Whether or not that's a good idea is a different story.
  20. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    I'd think a Game Of Thrones-type miniseries is a much better idea than films.
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  21. tom Chosen One

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    Mar 14, 2004
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    for some reason i'm only about a third as excited as i thought i would be for the hobbit film.
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  22. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Agreed. Once you've read Don DeLillo, it's hard to go back to the utter humorlessness of most sci fi and fantasy literature. Cloud Atlas is a nice exception. That book is funny as hell.
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  23. Mar17swgirl Chosen One

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    Dec 26, 2000
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    I think you'd enjoy the books of Andrzej Sapkowski, Rachel. :) They're on par with Tolkien in terms of world-building, but with a lot more humour and witty dialogues. Pity the English translations are slow in coming (and leave something to be desired).
  24. solojones Chosen One

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    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    Are there any French translations? :p
  25. Everton Chosen One

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    Jul 18, 2003
    star 10
    Pity, indeed. They're still very entertaining, though. :cool: