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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:25 am 
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First review in that I've seen, from Dcole4 over on Torn...

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I will go more in depth tomorrow because it is getting late on the West Coast but I have just come back from seeing the finished film.


NON SPOILER REVIEW

There is a LOT to enjoy, particularly in the first 2/3 of the movie. I don't think it felt like a single beat was missed. I enjoyed this leg of the film immensely. The last 1/3 has a lot to enjoy but also has many moments that will make even the most forgiving fan a little upset. That said I think the film is quite good, it just wobbles its way to the finish line, which is unfortunate. There are a few over the top scenes that make Bombur's barrel ride in DOS look tame. Also the Tauriel storyline will divide fans.


SPOILER REVIEW

Spoiler: show
I'll comment on the first 2/3 of the film later. For now I'll focus on the "bad" moments in the last 1/3 of the film. Mostly to put the information out there, and prepare you for the film.

- Dain IS CGI. I'm not sure why, since it seems like they had him in prosthetics for the shoot. For whatever reason he is entirely replaced digitally. While it did take me out of the movie at first, his character is quite small in the story and disappears before the end of the battle. His fate isn't explored in the film.

-Beorn is essentially CUT from the film. He has two or three shots. He rides in on an eagle, jumps off, transforms into a bear as he falls, kills a few orcs and then disappears entirely from the movie. He has maybe 15 seconds of screen time. There HAS to be more. This was the biggest shock, and honestly quite insulting considering they give Legolas WAY TOO much time in the third act.

-Likewise Radagast has had his screentime cut. There is a scene in Rhosgobel early on that follows the events of Dol Guldur that clearly has more to it, they cut mid-scene and it's very clear there is more to the scene. He appears on the eagles at the end but has no lines. I'm assuming there's a scene with him post-battle that is being saved for the EE.

-Legolas has an absolutely absurd battle with Bolg in the third act. By absurd I meant CGI Die Hard with a Vengeance level of bad. He rides a bat up to Ravenhill (flashbacks of Kong) and then proceeds to aid Thorin in battle by firing off arrows at orcs. When Tauriel is in danger he slays an troll, casting him into a large stone tower that crumbles and forms a "bridge" between him and Tauriel who is being tormented by Bolg. What follows is an insane sequences in which Legolas literally seems to create his own gravity. It's an OTT sequence that really feels out of place.

-Legolas and Thranduil share a scene that feels out of a marvel movie. Thranduil tells Legolas to literally go find "Strider." Is Thranduil the Nick Fury of the Fellowship?

-Tauriel's entire character is diminished by the love story that seems undercooked. It's essentially her purpose in the film, to "love Kili" and mourn him when he dies. I missed the bad ass from DOS.

-The "Other" dwarves don't really get any form of sendoff, in fact most of them beyond Thorin, Fili, Kili, Balin and Dwalin are lucky to even have a line. I hope the extended cut rights this, they are horribly robbed. Legolas gets two or three big scenes about his "mother," which feels like a waste of screentime that could have been used on character actually in "The Hobbit."

SUPER SPOILER

-The Durin Boys: Fili once again is shorthanded but has a couple good scenes. His death is a scary moment, he's killed "on display" to Thorin as a taunt. It's a well executed scene but it excludes any fighting or heroics from the character. Likewise, Kili's death is entirely based around his love story with Tauriel. You will either roll with this or not. I have no problem with their story, that said I don't really buy their romance.

-I need to see it again but azog vs. Thorin was a bit too Die Hard for me. It's a cool battle but I wanted an emotional battle. It's an action scene and it was hard for me to feel the same pain I felt when Boromir fought to the death. It shows the huge evolution (and devolution) of PJ's directing.


OTHER SPOILER COMMENTS

-Dol Guldur is short, perhaps more will be included later, but it feels right. Nothing feels unresolved and it's a very nice sequence.

-The Windlance that was set up in DOS has no payoff, it's not even seen in the film or mentioned.

-There are giant worms... why? I'm not sure. They are only briefly in the film but they are an odd inclusion.

-Gundabad was awesome. Not a big part of the movie but it was absolutely a surprise to me that it'd be in the film.

-No Ironhills which is sad. I wonder if there is more to the Dain storyline. It seems quite odd that his part is so small and that he is ENTIRELY CGI'd. A big, big disappointment.

-The original Bolg makes a very small cameo, literally a couple shots. But it was neat to see him again.


FINAL THOUGHTS (FOR NOW):

There is a lot to enjoy. In fact, I think most of the movie, up until Ravenhill is quite excellent. There are lots of nice dialogue scenes. The build up to the battle is incredible. PJ has a lot of restraint which is sorely missed as he goes into the final stretch of the film. Most of the battle is great, it's just when Legolas and Tauriel return that things start to go south. On top of that the post battle sequences are short changed with few characters getting resolution.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 11:36 am 
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Haven't seen the film yet, but by its description it seems like the film is worse than my worst expectations, with only a few things that actually sound nice. (Fili's death, for instance)

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 11:37 am 
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Or atleast the later 1/3rd of it.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 1:09 pm 
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Elen - thank you for starting this thread. I must say that this review causes me lots of concern and even outright trepidation - but - lets see what others chime in with. I was hoping for the same magic that PJ worked with ROTK and it seems to have gone in much the opposite direction. But lets see what others say before being overly negative.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 1:09 pm 
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and ... perhaps we have 45 minutes of footage for the EE which does the ending right and proper?

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:05 pm 
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The same thing happened last year when Dcole4 saw DoS, and posted his thoughts, which were far more negative than this. While there is a couple of things that I don't like (particularly lack of Beorn), overall I'm not bothered by any of this.

Off to go see the doom and gloom elsewhere.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:08 pm 
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Oh, that was amusing.

Of course, Dcole doesn't say a word about what I consider to be the most important aspects of this part of the story, the effect of the treasure on Thorin and others, Bilbo's taking of the Arkenstone and the mess that it causes (which I expect will not be the same as in the book), and most of all Thorin's final scene with Bilbo. Maybe that is because none of that is there, or it is no good, but I don't think so.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:12 pm 
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VtF wrote:
While there is a couple of things that I don't like (particularly lack of Beorn), overall I'm not bothered by any of this.


Really, V? I recall you saying the one thing that would bother you most is if Fili and Kili do not die defending Thorin's body...

Well, certainly doesn't seem like we're getting that for Fili, at least!

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:13 pm 
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Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
Oh, that was amusing.

Of course, Dcole doesn't say a word about what I consider to be the most important aspects of this part of the story, the effect of the treasure on Thorin and others, Bilbo's taking of the Arkenstone and the mess that it causes (which I expect will not be the same as in the book), and most of all Thorin's final scene with Bilbo. Maybe that is because none of that is there, or it is no good, but I don't think so.


I assume that is all in the first 2/3 of the film (apart from Thorin's final scene, of course) which he does praise...

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:23 pm 
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I'm confused by the "Strider" thing. As for the rest, I agree that he said very little about stuff that matters, and a whole lot about stuff that really doesn't.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:28 pm 
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Elentári wrote:
VtF wrote:
While there is a couple of things that I don't like (particularly lack of Beorn), overall I'm not bothered by any of this.


Really, V? I recall you saying the one thing that would bother you most is if Fili and Kili do not die defending Thorin's body...

Well, certainly doesn't seem like we're getting that for Fili, at least!


That's not exactly what I said. What I said (in trying to talk SV down from the ledge after the last set of spoilers, from Frodo-something), was that it sounded like they did die defending Thorin: viewtopic.php?p=295188#p295188. But I would not say that if they do not, it is something that would bother me that much, if their deaths are done well, and serve the story well.

ETA: I agree Dave, that was odd.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:33 pm 
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Well, DCole did say

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I'll comment on the first 2/3 of the film later. For now I'll focus on the "bad" moments in the last 1/3 of the film. Mostly to put the information out there, and prepare you for the film.


Well, V, since you included it among the important points that you hope were in, I assumed you would consider it "bad" if it wasn't "checked"

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Personally, for me the good far, far outweighs the bad because the important points are checked

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:38 pm 
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The events near the end, considering that they involve the death of three main characters, are the kind of thing a director hopes for from a script. It is drama on a platter, and a director need only whisper its content in order to make it work. Therefore, PJ spends weeks of pickups shooting an insane CGI-laden video game obstacle battle to make it better...

Honestly, though, this looks like an almost exact repeat of DOS. People generally liked it until "pick up hell" started for the last 30 or 40 minutes of the movie, after Bilbo's encounter with Smaug. So perhaps I'll end up seeing it the same way. Generally good, with some PJ insanity, some that works, and some that's just horribly bad. And as Dave and V-man point out, this reviewer has thus far not touched on any of the key moments and conflicts of the film. But why, I wonder, did he decide to start with the "bad stuff" before going to bed? I imagine this has caused a furious rage "elsewhere."

One question zero people seem to be asking is: are the ravens in the film? Surely, if there are giant worms, there can be message-delivering ravens...


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:43 pm 
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Dave_LF wrote:
I'm confused by the "Strider" thing. As for the rest, I agree that he said very little about stuff that matters, and a whole lot about stuff that really doesn't.


Ah, it looks like Thranduil sends Legolas to seek out Aragorn (possibly because of the firm evidence of Sauron's return). Which implies, I suppose, that Legolas spends about sixty years looking for Aragorn, and arrives in Rivendell just in time to meet him and discuss the Ring!


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:48 pm 
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I thought it was clear in both book and film that Aragorn and Legolas were already well acquainted before the Council of Elrond. Feel free to get annoyed over changes, but first, make sure they are actually, you know, changes...

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 3:08 pm 
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Speaking purely from memory, I don't recall any specific mention of Aragorn and Legolas having any familiarity with each other, but it is not a bad guess given that Aragorn turned Gollum over to the Elves of Mirkwood (I think).

Elen, that is a reasonable assumption, but I am clarifying now. ;)

PtB, Dcole did the exact same thing last year, causing the exact same panic. He (she?) seems to think that the purpose of a review is to point out the things that one doesn't like, and ignore the things that one does like (in terms of specifics).

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 3:19 pm 
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The absence of mentions of the key moments is what bothers me the most about this review. Not a single word about Thorin's death? And did I just miss the few mentions of Bilbo in the review or does he choose not to say anything about Bilbo at all?

The final 1/3rd was probably my most anticipated part of this film - and to some extent the entire trilogy - because of all the character moments and closures.

I actually like the sound of Fili's death since it's quite dramatic and shocking, on the lines of Azog killing Thror in front of Nar. It will affect the audience, if done the right way.

PS: IIRC, it was different last time with Dcole. His main complaints for DOS again and again were the overuse of CGI and ninja elf stunts.
This time around, I'm more bothered about the exclusions he mentions than the CGI or additions.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 3:36 pm 
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Here is Dcole4's full review: I'll spoiler tag most of it just in case...

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LONGER REVIEW (SPOILERS)


As with my DOS review, I will avoid the really good bits and leave those for you to discover. I will say this, the first 2/3 of this movie (even CGI Dain), do play out in a way that made me smile for most of the movie. Everything pre-battle is fantastic, and most of the actual battle is quite incredible.

A note re my DOS review. I think that my impressions on this film are much different than my impressions of DOS. Unlike that film I have not viewed any trailers clips or soundtrack samples. I went into BOTFA completely fresh. While I have grown to enjoy DOS (especially the EE), my issues with BOTFA are quite deep, and likely won't be so easily accepted as those in DOS. For one thing, the third act of DOS was entirely invented, with Ravenhill they are messing with a very important part of the story, cinematically and book-wise.

Spoiler: show
The battle is HUGE, and done surprisingly with some restraint, key word is "some." It's a lot of fun where it needs to be, tense where it needs to be, and appropriately epic. It's a lot of fun. Bard has one OTT moment at an emotional moment in Dale where he saves his children that would have been better served more subtly, but it's hardly an "eye-roller." It;s just an example of PJ not remembering that sometimes less is more with action scenes. That said, the scene is fine and won't upset anyone.

RE: CGI Dain. This seems to have upset a lot of people. To be honest the CGI is very good. But it does seem seem like an insane move, especially given the fact they reportedly shot stuff with him in the full suit. I'm not sure what happened but they must have been up against the wall. It seems like a move they wouldn't do unless they had to. The character has a nice introduction, he's only in the film for a short while. I didn't have an issue with his character or screen time. I would have liked his character to have been better utilized (especially over Legolas) but was happy with what was given. Regarding the actual CGI. It's odd, yes. But this segment has so much CGI to it that it's not something that will throw you off. Billy's voice is very big and "animated" which kinda makes it work on a "I guess I've got to roll with this" level. It didn't bother me too much, oddly enough. It's weird, and they limit his screen time (likely because of the CGI), so it doesn't derail the movie. It's a weird misfortunate for what should have been a bigger presence, but it's something we'll have to accept in these adaptations.

Re: Tauriel/Kili. I've never had an issue with Legolas and Tauriel being in these films. I think my main problem in DOS is Tauriel's healing scene, but not because of the Kili love story, but because it just isn't directed or edited well. I quite like Evangeline but that's her weakest scene in DOS, acting wise. t's the only scene in DOS that still irks me. I do however like the dialogue between Kili and Tauriel about starlight that follows the healing scene. I honestly don't have an issue with the way their romance is played out in that film. In BOTFA their romance starts out just the way you'd want it. They have one lovely scene early on and then they part ways. It's at Ravenhill that she tries to find him (after being told he's in danger). It starts with her in danger from Bolg, Kili jumps in to the rescue. I'll leave the rest to the imagination. This actual skirmish isn't bad. It's effective. A big detractor of this is that it's intercut with Legolas but more on that later. My issues with Tauriel in this movie that come after Kili's passing. It's a bit hammy, and I don't quite buy Evangeline's performance here. This is another scene that would have been better served with more subtlety. The ruin stone makes a nice comeback in this film and has a nice moment at the end. Unfortunately it drags on a bit, there's a kiss involved, lots of crying from her, and eventually a rather heavy handed scene between her and Thranduil, I'm sure these moments will improve on repeat viewings but it's disappointing that these scenes lack emotional bite. I quite liked Kili/Tauriel's feast of starlight scene in DOS, so it was sad for me that nothing matched that hear, especially in the pivotal moments of that storyline. All in all, the romance adds very little in hindsight. I would have preferred that they had used the screentime to beef up the relationship between FilI and Kili, and left Tauriel as the bad ass elven warrior.

Legolas. I'm not sure what happened to him between BOTFA and FOTR but his stunts became a lot less extravagant (sarcasm). To be honest, one of my main issues with this character in these films is not that he's in them. I like the relationship between him and his dad. My issue stems from PJ's need to make him into a Marvel superhero. If you thought his stunts in DOS were over the top, you are in for a treat in this film. It's literally a joke at this point, and treated as such in this film. The issue is that his big heroics come at the most pivotal part of the movie and serious undermine the hole thing. He's saving Thorin, He's saving Tauriel. He's killing Bolg. He's slaying orcs. He's tossing Orcrist up 100ft into an orc to pass it along to Thorin. It gets absurd, and is unforgivable. I grew to like his fight scene with Bolg in DOS, largely because it's his only grounded and real fight scene in the film. In this film, we are not so lucky. It is literally a James Bond, Matrix style fight scene on a crumbling tower suspended across a glacier. When the ground caves out beneath them, Legolas literally hops along the falling bricks, creating his own path to safety. The audience laughed at how stupid it was. It reminded me of the slow motion CGI sequences in the recent Die Hard movies. It's a dumb moment. A gritty Lurtz style fight scene would have sufficed (but in all honesty, why wasn't Beorn given the chance to dispatch Bolg? there are bear paws on his shoulders, I thought this was a set-up for that. I guess not). Anyways, these Legolas moments are dumb. He literally rides a bat up a mountain and then shoots it mid-flight and lands perfectly on a tower where he proceeds to "save Thorin's skin"

Re: Ravenhill. The battle was huge, epic, fun and tense at all the right moments, Ravenhill was a chance for PJ to go intimate, brutal and personal. Instead he goes the other route and goes over the top, bombastic and insane. It turns an emotional part of the story into the climax of an Iron Man movie. The aforementioned Legolas stuff is intercut throughout this sequence and seriously drags down any emotion you might be trying to build at this moment. The actual fight between Thorin and Azog is undermined because halfway through it Legolas is dispatching Azog's bodyguards from afar. I hope a clever fan one day manages to remove Legolas from these scenes, I do wonder if they'll play better without him. I don't want to say too much about the final bit of the duel. I'll leave that for you to discover. I will say that I felt less would have been more for me.

Side note: Bilbo does get knocked out. I think PJ and the writers missed a wonderful opportunity to have Thorin die defending Bilbo's unconscious body from orcs. It would have been a very emotional moment. Instead they went for the battle on thin ice route because it looked cool. Which is a shame. I didn't feel anything when Azog and Thorin's duel came to an end. I feel like the added element of Thorin defending Bilbo would have gone a long way. That said, Bilbo is knocked out at a convenient moment for me. It's just around the moment that things get hammy and mishandled. I hope one clever fan can fade this sequence out when Bilbo is knocked out and then fade back in when he wakes up at the end of the battle.

Post battle: Again, I hope a clever fan cuts a bulk of the Legolas and Tauriel stuff. There are a couple nice shots of Tauriel mourning Kili, which is all that was needed. Instead we get a scene a drawn out scene that seems to go on and on to the point of "we get it, move on!" Legolas has that weird scene with Thranduil about Aragorn. I really almost laughed because it's the exact scene I was joking with my friends would never / should never be included. It's essentially the Tony Stark / Nick Fury scene in Iron Man, but Thranduil tells Legolas to go find the son of Arathorn in the north, "he goes by the name of strider." Isn't he just a kid at this point? How the heck does Thranduil know about him and why would he tell his son to go after him? It's a dumb scene. What immediately follows is another scene with Tauriel beside Kili where she complains that love hurts. Thranduil says "because it's real." It could have been a nice scene but it feels overacted, and a weird use of valuable screentime.

Post Post Battle: There isn't much here which was very upsetting. Dain disappears before Ravehill happens. Bard doesn't get much of any resolution, and neither do our dwarves. There is a small scene between them all and Bilbo but I won't spoil it. It's nice but doesn't feel like nearly enough for all that we've gone through with them. The journey home, while lacking any stops, is quite lovely. As is the return to the Shire. No narration. I was actually a bit disappointed with the Ian Holm bit, it was something I guessed a while ago but hoped they would do something a bit more interesting. That said it's a solid finish to this trilogy.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

-I hope the EE pads out the return journey and the post battle sequences. I'm sure it will, because it is very brisk.

-Legolas and Tauriel are well utilized up until when they race to Ravenhill. Their plot with Gundabad is the perfect use for them, it takes them away from the main action but adds a layer of tension to the story and allows us to see something we otherwise wouldn't have a chance to see. The stuff post-Laketown is also quite nice, as is their scenes in Dale. It literally goes down hill the moment Legolas grabs the leg of a bat and fetches a ride up the mountain. Part of me wanted the bat to fly off and take Legolas out of the movie.

-I still am amazed at Gundabad. So cool. Short, but I was not expecting it in the movie. Loved it.

-Worms. very odd, they tunnel through part of a hill allowing the orcs to sneak in around Dale. They are in four or five shots. It's a weird inclusion. They look like those in Dune. It didn't bother me. I thought it was weird, but I rolled with it.

-CGI is quite good throughout the movie, but I prepared myself for it after letting it sway my opinion of DOS so much. I didn't want the CGI to sway my opinion of BOTFA, and it didn't. In fact, there are lots of sets and practicals in the pre-battle scenes.

-Howard Shore's soundtrack never really gets room to shine. Even Dain's arrival isn't given a musical moment which was sad. I haven't listened to his track on the soundtrack (avoided samples), but I know people said his theme was quite good. I didn't notice it in the film, but that might have been because my jaw was on the floor b/c of CGI Dain, haha. There are lots of nice choral moments but it all seems second fiddle to the sound effects.

-Beorn. Not sure what the heck happened or why he was cut. Very odd. It's literally 15 seconds of footage. I wonder why they even bothered to include him in the TE. I have little faith that he'll get much more to do in the EE, given how expensive his VFX shots must be. That said, there HAS to be more for him elsewhere. A huge disappointment and a big insult to fans who have to sit through Legolas defying gravity. It was a punch to the gut after they mishandled Ravenhill.

-Radagast. Definitely will get at least part of a scene more from him. They use only a small portion of a scene outside Rhosgobel that clearly has more to it.

When all is said and done and the EE is released, I think I'll be skipping the portion between Bilbo getting knocked out and waking up.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 3:49 pm 
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He also replied to some questions:

Quote:
1. At which point do the dwarves take off their armor and why?
2. When the important dwarves are at Ravenhill, what are the other dwarves up to?
3. Is Thorin's funeral in? Are the last 20 mins as rushed as another reviewer said it was?
4. How are the "big" moments from the book handled?
5. Without spoiling too much about the last 5-10 mins, how well was Bilbo's return to The Shire handled?


Quote:
Spoiler: show
1. Thorin takes off his armor after overcoming dragon sickness
2. They disappear sadly. We see their digital versions post battle when they surround Thorin's body, only one 5-10 second shot. And then a short 1-2 minute scene when Bilbo leaves.
3. No funeral. Possible EE material? Not sure.
4. Ravenhill is butchered and too actiony for my taste. The earlier stuff is handled very well. My only complaints are Ravenhill and the end of the movie, which brisks along, focusing on odd things (Tauriel, Legolas and Aragorn?!)
5. The return journey is very short, but well handled. Hopefully they have a stop at Beorn's in the EE.


Other info:

No prologue...

Spoiler: show
Quote:
Smaug is a nice sequence. It really feels like a climax. It'll be interesting to watch DOS and BOTFA back to back.

The reference to Aragorn is stupid and a horrible use of screen time post-battle. Just a dumb scene. It's baffling given that there are so many well-written scenes earlier on. Whose idea was this!?

The emotional impact of the battle will vary. Unfortunately the scenes are played more for action, especially Thorin's duel with Azog. It was hard for me to get involved emotionally with the scene. I think less would have been more, and adding in the layer of Thorin protecting Bilbo's unconscious body would have been a nice touch. Unfortunately we get "Swords on Ice in 3D"

There is a LOT to enjoy in this film. I think almost everything up until Ravenhill plays out very well. The drama is well handled. The minor dwarves are given even less to do in this film but that was to be expected after DOS. Once they charge out of Erebor, most are lost or forgotten. I don't remember if Ori, Gloin, Oin, Bifur even had a line. Bombur certainly didn't. Bofur is also given very little to do.


BIG SPOILER RE: Azog and Thorin...


Quote:
Spoiler: show
-Re: Thorin v. Azog. They kill each other. It's a big sequence on ice. Without going into detail, Azog is plunged beneath the ice, we see his body floating below thorin (walking across the ice). He looks dead, and then he opens his eyes and stabs thorin's foot from under water. He then proceeds to leap through the ice and above thorin, pinning him. It's a bit over the top for my taste. I would have liked something a bit more raw honestly. Especially to counter the insanity of legolas vs. Bolg.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 3:51 pm 
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Nibonto Aagun
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Posts: 995
Um, wow...

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