Early reviews are... mixed for The Hobbit: Episode XIV—The Desolation of Smaug. I've heard some people saying it's a lot better than the crummy first film; I've heard others say it's even worse; everyone seems to agree that for
better or worse, that one wizard whose beard is slathered in birdshit is most definitely back, joyously riding his sled pulled by CG rabbits all around a CG Middle-earth.
As an embarrassingly big Lord of the Rings nerd, I'd like nothing more than for this Hobbit to not suck; as someone with a functional brain who sat through the first film—twice, in fact, which now makes me question my use of "functional" earlier in this sentence—it's fair to say my expectations are... tempered.
That's not the case with the latest dweeb breed, though: They're the rabidly defensive fans of Peter Jackson's Hobbit movies, and now that reviews are coming out for The Desolation of Smaug, they are on the warpath, streaming into comments sections like the mighty Uruk-hai from Isengard to defend not just the first Hobbit movie, but also the second one (which they haven't even seen yet). Via FilmDrunk comes a rundown of the incensed comments in response to Rodrigo Perez's review at the Playlist. The complaints range from the pedantic ("You called the dwarves 'hobbits' in this review", "The ‘gemstone’ you mention is the Arkenstone, the symbol of Erebor’s kings, therefore a logical item of Thorin’s desire") to what might be the best... man. I love this comment.
This is one of the most unprofessionally written movie reviews I have ever seen. Are you even aware of the socio-political undertones of this film, between Thranduil, the elvin king, the Master of Laketown, and the miniature rebellions of Bard and Tauriel? Any and all aspects of broader commentaries brought by Peter Jackson to this film are completely lost on you. You claim there is no weight to the film but that is only because you have not the eyes to see it. Readers should not take any of your words seriously and move on.
You have proved yourself a fool.
The Hobbit: Another One comes out on Friday; we'll have our review up later this week. Now seems as good of a time as any to remind you of the world's greatest Chrome extension, Shut Up.
Even more than my beloved Cowboys & Aliens Slurpee cup, this is my prized possession, at least when it comes to LED-enabled drinking devices:
That, my friends, is the Frodo-themed Lord of the Rings glass goblet—mine was purchased for me, by a long-suffering girlfriend, from a Burger King in the greater Boise area in December of 2001. Even though its batteries have long since died, I still keep it, and bring it out for special occasions; it is classy.
In those halcyon days, Burger King put out four such beautiful collectibles: one goblet with Frodo, one with Aragorn, one with Gandalf, and one with (ugh) Arwen. With four per year, the plan was clear: the other members of the Fellowship of the Ring would soon get their own classy goblets, likely timed with the release of The Two Towers and The Return of the King!
Did that ever happen? Fuck no it didn't. And those dicks at Burger King continue to ignore my queries regarding their utter and complete failure to finish what they started.
Maybe it's best they didn't, because here's the thing: contractual obligation can make for some pretty shitty results. WHICH BRINGS ME TO DENNY'S.
THE CONCLUSION OF THE GREAT HOBBIT BREAKFAST CHALLENGE OF 2013 IS UPON US!
Between you and me, commenter "Number Six" is pretty much walking away with the "prize" at this point. Slowly, calmly, easily: It is the walk of someone who knows they have no real competition. Offer a challenge, if you dare.
*There will probably be someone at Denny's who looks like a hobbit
Last year, you might remember, myself and Mercury Editor-in-Chief Wm. Steven Humphrey took one lucky Blogtown reader to Denny's! Becuase Denny's had a Hobbit-themed menu, you see, and if there's one thing Steve and I will do at any given second—just say the goddamn word—it's eat a bunch of terrible food that is in some way tied in to the release of a major motion picture.
Well, guess what, motherfuckers: Denny's is
going H.A.M. pretending they're in Middle-earth again, which means me and Steve will be eating a Hobbit-ified breakfast there again, and because we had a tolerable time so much fun last year, we're going to take all one of you with us! Denny's new and improved (?) Hobbit-themed menu is out, featuring such mouth-watering, beard-greasing items as...
• The "Build Your Own Hobbit Slam"
• Bowman's Brew Pumpkin Coffee
• Smaug's Fire Burger with X-Sauce
• Elven Woodland Pies
• The Hobbit Hole Breakfast
• Dwarves' Turkey & Dressing Dinner
I don't want to eat any of those things! What the fuck is X-Sauce! But I will.
HERE'S THE DEAL: If you win this contest, the Mercury will take YOU out to Hobbit Breakfast at a Portland-area Denny's of our choosing, where you'll be treated to (1) scintillating converstaion with me and Steve, possibly featuring Steve's dramatic synopsis of The Lord of the Rings films*, (2) whatever item off of the Hobbit-themed menu you can talk yourself into ordering, and (3) probably some mean looks from the scary teenagers who hang out by the door at Denny's, smoking and glaring at anyone who actually goes inside! Such delightful mornings are rarely found outside of Rivendell!
So what's the contest, you ask? Well, since it worked out so well last time, and as it's pretty humiliating for everyone involved, we shall once again delve into everyone's least favorite art form... poetry. The person who writes the "best" Hobbit-themed poem (judged by ME) and posts it in the comments below by 3 pm on Wednesday, November 13, will be deemed the winner. Repeat entries are allowed, and you can write your poems as long as you want, though keep in mind I have a very short attention span and there are probably better things you should be doing with your time. I think that's it! Start writing some nerd poetry, Blogtown readers... and start preparing for the most magical morning of your crappy life.
*Steve has never seen and will never see any of The Lord of the Rings films.
It's a good thing—for Warner Bros.' marketing people, at least—that The Hobbit 2: Bilbo's Boogaloo is going to be three hours long, because if it were the length of a normal movie, the 4,023 trailers that've come out for the movie would've already shown everything. As is, I bet they can wring at least three more trailers out of this thing before they've shown us every last scene.
On the upside, this latest peek at the film follows the wise approach of the other trailers: Make The Hobbit 2 look as much like The Lord of the Rings and as little like the first Hobbit as possible. And like a sucker, here I am falling for it, because I want nothing more than for The Hobbits 2 and 3 to not be as stultifyingly boring and labored as the first one. I basically watched this with a giant grin on my face.
Then I remembered that this is all still based on a slim volume that should've been one movie in the first place, and that there's a really good chance that all the stuff that looks awesome here in five-frame-long flashes will be offset by two hours and 45 minutes of dwarves singing while they wash dishes and/or Jar Jar Binks: The Wizard bumbling around and spackling more birdshit into his beard.
First Guillermo Del Toro, now The Hobbit: Well played, Simpsons. Truly, you know how to get as many views as possible from the neckbeard-clad denizens of the internet.
How much better that was than the entirety of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: 200 percent.
Chances that the couch gag will end up being as good or better than The Hobbit: Whatever the Sequel Is Called, the One with All the Elves: 80 percent.
My first thought when I saw the new Hobbit poster was "Whoa! That's a great poster! Maybe this is the one where they kick into gear and give everybody The Hobbit we thought they were going to make!" Seriously, it's that good of a poster—evocative and intriguing and moody and exciting. Bilbo's either all, "Oh, man, there's a dragon in there—better go have a riddle fight!" or he's all, "Oh sweet, the dwarves are having another cave rave! Let's do this!" Either way: good movie!
Then I remembered that 4,000 minutes of the last Hobbit movie were about this guy zooming around on a sled pulled by bunny rabbits.
For The Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson & Co. had to significantly expand the role of Arwen (Liv Tyler), because otherwise, there are about as many women in Middle-earth as there are black people. For The Hobbit, Peter Jackson & Co. first significantly expanded the role of Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), but then, because seriously, you have to add a lot to stretch The Hobbit into three movies, the also decided to add a whole new lady character too! She's an elf! Played by the lady from Lost!
The elf is not in any of the books and Evangeline Lilly knows you might hate her!
“I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are going to be people who will totally hate Tauriel, think that she shouldn’t be in the movie, that it’s a betrayal of Tolkien, and no matter what I do it won’t be right,” she says. “There will be everything between that and people who adore her and think it’s such a fun thing to have added to the film.” (Via.)
The elf is also a ginger!
Sorry. It's a slow movie news morning. :(
I've sat through/tried to enjoy The Hobbit twice now, because I'm an idiot. On one hand, the total experience was still 27 hours shorter than Les Miserables, but on the other hand, this is what it actually feels like to watch The Hobbit:
Via The Mary Sue.
Long ago, in the days when disco ruled the Earth and Dungeons and Dragons was in its first edition, there was a Hobbit movie. Before Harry Potter, before World of Warcraft, before Game of Thrones, before Shwarzenegger’s furry Conan Speedo, before even Hawk the Slayer, there was The Hobbit. A simpler Hobbit. A cartoon Hobbit. A Hobbit that wasn’t stretched out into a butt-numbingly long trilogy. Rankin/Bass’ 1977 TV movie version of The Hobbit is… well, we’ll get to that. But first and foremost, it was the many adult geeks, myself included, were first introduced to Middle Earth. My parents rented this on VHS, and it blew my mind when I was six.
It was, shall we say, a product of its time. Being a TV cartoon from the seventies, it looks a bit creaky nowadays, but I still find kind of charming. I was sick for the better part of two days this week, and spent a fair amount of time slurking down lemon tea and watching movies, including The Hobbit. Surprisingly, after all these years, it's not wholly awful.
More after the jump.
Peter Jackson's long-awaited The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey starts playing at midnight tomorrow night, and it's going to make 14 billion dollars because every single person on Earth is going to see it, regardless of whether or not it's any good.
Um. Here is my review.
Something I didn't mention in my review—because it's only relevant to a few of the theaters showing The Hobbit in and around Portland—is that Jackson shot these movies not only in digital 3D, but also at 48 frames-per-second (FPS). That's double the number of frames that most films are shot and projected at—and, according to Jackson, the resultant image is the future of cinema. At 48 FPS, images lack the flickering that we're used to seeing when we watch movies, and motion onscreen is significantly smoother. (For Avatar 2, 3, 4, 5, and ∞, James Cameron will be shooting at an even higher frame rate: 60 FPS.) So in order to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey the way Jackson intended, you'll need to go to one of the few theaters outfitted to flash 48 frames into your eyeballs every second, rather than regular old boring theaters that'll only give you regular old boring 24 frames every second.
But here's the thing: 48 FPS looks awful.
BAD NEWS FIRST. Are you going to see The Hobbit? Oh, okay! Hope you enjoy being complicit in THE DEATHS OF 27 ANIMALS.
NOW SOME GOOD NEWS. In the Mercury's ongoing attempts to wring as much semi-entertaining content as possible out of an exhausted-and-not-really-all-that-funny-in-the-first-place blog post, Suzette Smith has made a comic out of the Blogtown Quest to Denny's for Hobbit Breakfast! Nice work, Suzette!
Read the rest here.
At caustic's insistence, Mercury contributor and comic book artiste Suzette Smith joined our party as well, and she took notes! Will a comic result? We shall have to wait and see! (There better be one, as the Mercury totally bought her the "Hobbit-Hole Breakfast" she demanded, which she then declared to be "cold.")
So how was it? Well, Steve wouldn't shut up about his "Gandalf's Gobble Melt" ("This Gandalf Gobbler is delicious!") and I'm pretty sure he's back there right now eating another one. caustic ordered some "Pumpkin Patch Pancakes," which he informed us "did not taste like pumpkin whatsoever." I got the "Seed Cake French Toast." "You mean the poppy seed toast?" said our waitress, who was clearly already sick of all the dweebs she's been having to tolerate ever since Denny's decided to start calling itself "Middle-earth's Diner." "Yes!" I answered, and it turns out that's exactly what it was, except it also had cream cheese all over it. (Next time you read The Hobbit, keep an eye on Tolkien's captivating descriptions of the feasts held in Hobbiton and Rivendell—you'll notice that he almost always includes the phrase, "And Bilbo then declared that creamed cheese must be slathered on everything!")
Topics of conversation included Steve regaling the entire restaurant with an incredibly detailed and increasingly theatrical retelling of the entire The Lord of the Rings saga. (Note: Steve has never read any of the Lord of the Rings books, nor has he seen any of the Lord of the Rings movies.) We also discussed the sexiest kinds of short shorts and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Our waitress was glad to see us leave.
And lo, there came an excuse to affix both "The Third Age" and "United Federation of Planets" tags upon a single post:
Paramount Pictures will release the first nine minutes from J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness on 500 IMAX 3D screens beginning December 14 on runs of the Peter Jackson-directed The Hobbit. That’s way before the film’s release next May. It is the first time exclusive footage has played in IMAX 3D and only the third time a first-look will be released in IMAX. (Via.)
Doubling down on the nerds—this is like a two-fer to ensnare both fantasy and sci-fi geeks!—is pretty clever. Well done, Hollywood marketing machine! ALSO. Am I the only one hoping that the reels somehow get mixed up by a bumbling-but-loveable IMAX projectionist and Star Trek starts happening in the middle of The Hobbit? Why, that would be the second-best Lord of the Rings crossover ever!
Empire has a stream of the entire score for the first Hobbit movie:
Howard Shore is the composer here, building on his own work from The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. You'll hear very specific echoes of elements from that work throughout the whole album, giving this a clear link to our first adventures in Middle-earth, but there are new themes here for the new characters too.
Listen here, if you're so inclined; I'm going to hold off until I see the movie. I did ask Mercury Calendar Editor/movie score nerd Bobby Roberts what he thought of it, though, and he told me "It sounds like Lord of the Rings." Thanks, Bobby.
RELATED: Peter Jackson will earn 1,000,000 brownie points with me if he scraps his current plans for the end credits song and plays this instead. Good day.
P.S. Are brownie points even still a thing? I am not 100 percent sure what they are. They seem like something hobbits would like. I don't know.
Peter Jackson's been making a big deal of the fact that he shot The Hobbit films at 48 frames per second instead of the traditional 24, claiming that by getting rid of the flickering effect we associate with film, the doubled frame rate "looks much more lifelike, and it is much easier to watch, especially in 3D." But a while back, when a few minutes of the film were projected at a high frame rate (HFR), the reaction was... hmm. How to put this? TERRIBLE. Apparently, what Jackson sees as "much more lifelike," everybody else sees as "like a cheap sitcom." A representative review, from Badass Digest's Devin Faraci:
It is drenched in a TV-like—specifically '70s era BBC—video look. People on Twitter have asked if it has that soap opera look you get from badly calibrated TVs at Best Buy, and the answer is an emphatic YES.
The 48fps footage I saw looked terrible. It looked completely non-cinematic. The sets looked like sets. I've been on sets of movies on the scale of The Hobbit, and sets don't even look like sets when you're on them live... but these looked like sets.
The other comparison I kept coming to, as I was watching the footage, was that it all looked like behind-the-scenes video. The magical illusion of cinema is stripped away completely. (Via.)
After the wave of bad publicity that followed that screening, Warner Bros.—while still insisting HFR was "the most important change in exhibition, probably since the introduction of sound"—significantly downgraded their plans to release the film in HFR. A few theaters are still getting the film as Jackson wants it to be seen, though, and Regal just came out with a list—which includes the Regal Bridgeport Village in Tigard.
I'm guessing Warner Bros. won't screen The Hobbit in HFR for critics—I doubt they want to risk having a bunch of reviews that point out how cheap their super-expensive movie looks. I'm also guessing theater chains like Regal will charge more for their HFR screenings, because the few people who will know/care what HFR is are also the ones willing to pay a premium in order to complain about it. And I'm guessing this won't be the last you'll hear about any of this: James Cameron, because he is James Cameron, is planning to shoot his Avatar sequels at 60 FPS.
Wheee! I'm sick and doped up on unholy amounts of NyQuil, which means I'm doing everything super slowly and am easily confused. So the one stupid job I was supposed to do today—picking the lucky winner who gets to go to Dennys' with me and Steve and eat a Hobbit-themed breakfast—is beyond my meager capabilities.
So I'm going to make you do my job for me, because fuck it, that's why. (Also because I told Steve to do it and this is how he responded.) Below are the top three entries, and it's up to you, Blogtown readers, to pick the best—and thus pick the winner who shall get to go to Denny's with me and Steve! A reminder of the rules:
In the comments below, note which Hobbit-themed menu item you will be ordering, and why. (Last year you nerds went apeshit with the haikus for that Lord of the Rings in Concert ticket giveaway, which means I will give extra credit to any entries composed as a haiku.)
Steve and IBlogtown readers will then choose the best and/or least annoying comment and then contact that person about when we'll all be going to get second breakfast! And then... then we shall depart on a quest the likes of which has not been witnessed since the Third Age!!! To Denny's!!!
This one was selected because (A) is a haiku and (B) there's a Green Dragon reference. The Green Dragon of Portland or the Green Dragon of the Shire, you ask? Who are you to ask such things! POSSIBLY HE MEANS BOTH, you don't know how JustinPDX rolls, for all you know he rolls hardcore.
Hobbit Hole Breakfast
I'll be hungover from drinking
At the Green Dragon
This one was selected because (A) nepotism and (B) yay, comics! We could put the comic about our unexpected journey up on the blog after!
HEY ME DUH. 1.) I legitimately want to go. 2.) I adore both of you. 3.) I will make comics about it. 4.) Lonely Mountain Treasure
This one was selected because it is almost as long as The Silmarillion, but, unlike The Silmarillion, shit actually happens in it. I almost did not select it because of its libelous claim that I like Farscape (I MOST ASSUREDLY DO NOT), but then I decided to be a grown up about it.
The day broke and dawn worked its way through the mists of Jantzen Beach. Three adventurers surveyed the land before them. The ground was hard and blasted as far as the eye could see. No tree grew here, nor blade of grass. In the distance lay a great pit, the ruins of some great structure now cast down. Twisted girders poked at the sky like dark teeth, and the adventurers wondered how such a vision of Dagorlad had found its way into their world. It was a barren land, far from home, and to lay eyes on it caused the hearts of the three to go heavy.
"This quest is a fools errand," said William, eldest of the three. "We should not have come here. This cursed place will swallow us fore we find the shelter we seek."
"Not so," said Erik, the most obsessed with Farscape of their band. "We must persevere. I have heard tell that the dining halls of this place rival those of even Rivendell, and that their food is sweeter to the tongue than even the lembas of Galadriel."
"Look!" shouted me, the winner of the breakfast contest, "There, to the east!"
They raised their hands to their brows, shielding their eyes against the assault of the dawning sun. It hung just over the horizon, a half globe of yellow piercing the black and gray of the landscape that surrounded them. As they focused their vision a second object became clear, sitting just below the sun. It too was yellow, and the sight of it warmed their spirits.
"Behold," said me, "The sigil that we seek."
It was the shape of a shield, laid on its side. It sat raised above the bleak landscape atop a great pole, and while the pole was made of the black metal that marred so much of the terrain the sign itself glowed as if the light of Anor itself rested within it. It was a beacon to the weary travelers, one that spoke of a warm hearths and hearty meals. As the three adventurers walked towards the Denny's each smiled that even in a realm so blasted and desolate they might still find a place such as this, something good in the world, something worth fighting for.
That last entry is going to be pretty hard to beat, but if you still want to have second breakfast with me and Steve*, you have until 5 pm today to enter and/or re-enter our incredibly dumb contest. Have at, hungry nerds!
* "No one is going to want to have breakfast with you guys." —Mercury Arts Editor Alison Hallett, WHO CLEARLY DOESN'T KNOW WHAT SHE'S TALKING ABOUT
While INSANE DETAILS about Denny's Hobbit Happy Meals for grownups continue to shake the internet to its very foundations—and don't forget, one of those could be yours, and you could eat it with me and Steve right there, watching you—Peter Jackson's been telling Empire how long the first of his three Hobbit movies is going to be, and if you guessed that Jackson still has yet to find anyone who'll tell him "No," you are correct!
“It’s looking like it’s going to be about 10 minutes shorter than Fellowship was," explains Jackson. "So it’s going to be officially our shortest Middle-earth yet. I mean, Fellowship was just under three hours and this is about 2 hours 40 minutes at the moment.”
The "at the moment" refers to the fact that the credits hadn't yet been added and not all effects shots finalised when we spoke to Jackson, but it's going to be close. (Via.)
Keep in mind that The Fellowship of the Ring was a condensed adaptation of an entire novel, while The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be an adaptation of the first part of a far, far shorter novel, along with some extra stuff that was originally put in to pad the movie out to make two movies, and now is padding the movie out to three movies. By the time The Hobbit actually comes out, I'm pretty sure Jackson's going to announce it'll be better as a weekly TV show that will run from now until 2042. Each hour-long episode will consist of three minutes based on The Hobbit and 57 minutes loosely inspired by some stuff that Jackson vaguely remembers possibly reading in one of the Appendices.
Via Topless Robot comes the news that, starting November 6, Denny's—the Jantzen Beach location of which I find myself at surprisingly often—is offering a The Hobbit-themed menu. You can watch a terrible ad for it above, or head to Denny's suspiciously chatty Twitter (Exhibit 1, Exhibit 2, Exhibit 3), or you can just read the menu items below:
• Gandalf's Gobble Melt
• Hobbit Hole Breakfast
• Pumpkin Patch Pancakes
• Lonely Mountain Treasure
• Frodo's Pot Roast Skillet
• Shire Sausage
• Bilbo's Berry Smoothies
• Radagast's Red Velvet Pancake Puppies
• Seed Cake French Toast
• Build Your Own Hobbit Slam
Before one of you brainiacs points it out in the comments, I should probably note that "Gandalf's Gobble Melt," "Shire Sausage," and "Bilbo's Berry Smoothies" do not seem to be appropriate for children, and "Hobbit Hole Breakfast" is... borderline. MOVING ON.
WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY AND I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS SHIT TO START. Just as we ran to Burger King when they were selling Star Trek glasses, and just as we raced to 7-Eleven for Iron Man Slurpees, we are going to go to Denny's and eat all of those things and it is going to be glorious. (I am 99 percent sure Steve has never actually seen a Lord of the Rings movie, and I am 100 percent sure he views them with the same disdain he holds for Game of Thrones. IRRELEVANT. He really, really likes Denny's.) AND YOU CAN COME WITH US*!!! That's right... the Mercury will buy you a Hobbit-themed breakfast, AND you get to hang out with me and Steve while we talk about how much we love Lord of the Rings and/or Denny's*!!! You can even weigh in with your own opinions about Lord of the Rings, Denny's, and/or any troubles that might be on your mind*!!!
Here's all you have to do to enter to win this once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience Denny's in the exact manner that learned Oxford professor J.R.R. Tolkien intended:
In the comments below, note which Hobbit-themed menu item you will be ordering, and why. (Last year you nerds went apeshit with the haikus for that Lord of the Rings in Concert ticket giveaway, which means I will give extra credit to any entries composed as a haiku.) Steve** and I will then choose the best and/or least annoying comment and then contact that person about when we'll all be going to get second breakfast! And then... then we shall depart on a quest the likes of which has not been witnessed since the Third Age!!! To Denny's*!!!
Now that I am done writing this blog post, I forget why Steve and I decided to bring one of you along with us. It seems weird, in retrospect. But hey, it's your lucky day, I guess, since I don't feel like rewriting this entire post. So enter away! The contest, such as it is, ends in a week, on October 31 at 5 pm. That should give you plenty of time to either write a truly phenomenal comment or come up with a dick joke about Shire sausage.
* "No one is going to want to have breakfast with you guys." —Mercury Arts Editor Alison Hallett
** "Alison is full of shit. Also, I once ate five meals at Denny's within a 24-hour period." —Mercury Editor-in-Chief Wm. Steven Humphrey
Annnd despite my constant whining about Peter Jackson's decision to bloat what's supposed to be a straightforward children's adventure story into nine hours of blockbuster, the new Hobbit trailer makes me clap my hands and squeal like a giddy halfwit moron. Apparently, despite all my self-righteous cynicism, I'm a spineless pushover when it comes to Ian McKellen being all wizardy and HOLY SHIT DID YOU SEE BILBO FIGHTING WITH STING AND STING WAS GLOWING OH SHIT YES
I still can't shake the sense that with this new trilogy, Jackson might've stumbled down the path blazed by George Lucas—with no one to tell him "no," and with the means to tell a story however he decides to, without any limitations—and I'm always gonna be bummed that we'll never see what Guillermo del Toro's vision of Middle-earth was going to look like, but... yeah. Still. Spineless pushover, apparently. So now I'm all stoked. Just nobody remind me of the 3D glasses, otherwise I'll probably get all whiny again.
(Also, I am already annoyed by Bombur. Sorry Bombur! But you kind of suck.)
Novelty 3D glasses that are even stupider than normal 3D glasses are nothing new, but these—for The Hobbit, The Hobbit II: Here's Some More of That Hobbit!, and The Hobbit III: A Major Motion Picture Based on a Post-it Note We Found in One of Tolkien's Old Tweed Jackets, It Might Be a Grocery List, Give Us Your Money—take the
cake lembas bread. Boasting a "hammer-forged steel look," they continue Warner Bros.' surprisingly successful efforts to turn me against The Hobbit—a movie based on one of my favorite childhood books, a movie that follows up three of my favorite movies, a movie I should be really excited about—before it even comes out.
Clunky, blocky, faux-stone 3D glasses hewn from cheap plastic that you'll have to wear on your face for three straight hours: They're the only way to feel as if you're really in Middle-earth! And also the only way to look like you're a bad guy from a PlayStation 1 game.
Because money, that's why.
Erik posted last week that Peter Jackson was thinking of turning The Hobbit into a trilogy of films. Today, Jackson made it official. His reasoning for taking a kids' book that runs a little over 300 pages, and stretching it out to fill three films (at two-and-a-half hours apiece) is thus:
It is only at the end of a shoot that you finally get the chance to sit down and have a look at the film you have made,” Jackson wrote. “Recently Fran [Walsh], Phil[lippa Boyens] and I did just this when we watched for the first time an early cut of the first movie — and a large chunk of the second. We were really pleased with the way the story was coming together, in particular, the strength of the characters and the cast who have brought them to life. All of which gave rise to a simple question: do we take this chance to tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as the filmmakers, and as fans, was an unreserved ‘yes.’
That sounds nice-ish. But c'mon. Warners & Jackson are taking the appendices from Return of the King, and shoving them into The Hobbit like John Madden pounds birds into other birds at Thanksgiving, and they're doing it for one reason: the one stated at the top of this post.
That doesn't necessarily mean the films will be bad. They might be great. But I've noticed that when Peter Jackson is forced to be economical with his storytelling, he can make miracles (Heavenly Creatures, The Fellowship of the Ring) and when allowed to indulge, he splashes around in emotionally sloppy puddles of cinema like King Kong, and The Lovely Bones.
Maybe he'll reverse that trend with these three films. Or maybe it'll be a 9 hour long feast of overcooked Middle Earth Turducken.
As rumored at Comic-Con, Peter Jackson and Warner Bros. are currently "exploring the logistics" of turning the two Hobbit movies into three Hobbit movies. "Exploring the logistics" is code for OF COURSE THEY ARE GOING TO DO THIS, WHAT ARE YOU, AN IDIOT? The Lord of the Rings movies made over two billion dollars; Peter Jackson could say he wants to make 10 more and shoot them all at the same time in his rec room with Werner Herzog playing all the roles (except for Channing Tatum, who would play Radagast the Brown, obviously)* and Warner Bros. would say, "Sure, Pete. But just so we don't look quite so money-grubbing about it, let's tell people we're 'exploring the logistics' while we write an obscene amount of zeros on this check."
I have a Lord of the Rings keychain (LADIES) and I'm currently wearing this shirt, so clearly, as soon as I see a trailer for The Hobbit: Part III—Bungo Baggins' Lament, all my self-righteous and irrelevant grumbling will suddenly, miraculously cease. I just wish they'd be honest about this shit, that's all. Like Twilight and Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, this isn't about telling stories any better, it's about milking a fan base for all they're worth. Which is totally their prerogative—it'd just be nice if they'd come out and admit it, instead of trying to convince everyone that some warg who was mentioned in a footnote of one of Tolkien's long-forgotten appendices suddenly needs to have his tale told onscreen.
Anyway I'm going to future-proof this post by saying there will be six Hobbit movies instead of three, just so next year when Jackson decides again that he needs to "tell more of the incredible tale with the cast we have assembled," I won't have to write another post. Here, let's watch Channing Tatum's audition tape for Radagast.
*this is actually a pretty good idea, Peter Jackson please make this happen
I still have the battered paperback copy of The Hobbit that my aunt gave me when I was nine or ten—the edition that was lushly illustrated by Michael Hague, with my particular copy inscribed at the front by my aunt in blue ink: "I hope you enjoy your trip to Middle-earth. Happy birthday." I read that book so many times—and studied its illustrations so intently—that I've probably got it memorized.
So it took me a minute or two, watching this trailer, for it to hit me that, holy shit, after the years of talk and all the legal and financial back-and-forth and the switching of directors and etc., The Hobbit is actually a real movie that's going to come out and I will watch it. That is—for me, at least, and for a lot of other people whose aunts or uncles or parents or friends gave them copies of The Hobbit when they were young and impressionable and the perfect age for a first expedition to Middle-earth—kind of an amazing thing. I guess what I'm saying is that when this thing went online last night, I watched it about 20 times, and then I sent the link to my aunt.
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