Saturday, July 9, 2011

More Dwarves

Here's a still featuring brothers Óin and Glóin (father of Gimli) from the upcoming The Hobbit films.
Feel free to comment away about your impressions of the costuming, makeup, etc. However, after the nonsense accompanying my last post about The Hobbit movies, I'm going to ruthlessly delete any comments that deride or impute motives to others who have a differing opinion on the matter. You have been warned.

79 comments:

  1. We still have a long way to go before we get to any of the actors I'll recognise!

    What is that thing Óin is carrying? It looks like a big Final Fantasy type sword, but it's not very clear from this angle.

    I'm hoping for some kind of fantasy equivalent of The Dirty Dozen with this film.

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  2. Looks like they are shooting "Bilbo of the Forgotten Realms"

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  3. They look like aged hair band heavy metal rockers from the 80s. It's sort of boring actually, we can already see this is going to be another dark, violent rendition like every other CGI film. Shame because Hobbit in my mind was more like the pastoral, not a Metallica video.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pastoral

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  4. Looks much better than the Deathstalker movies, which are the pinnacle of all fantasy films ever created. Not to be confused with the Simon R. Green novels.

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  5. I am so not digging these preliminary pictures. They're supposed to be a bunch of down at the heels iron miners, not crazy Klingon sword wielding trollslayer types.

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  6. IIRC, the book described the dwarves in more colorful terms (green & yellow hoods, gold belts, etc.) These photos seem to indicate a much darker, serious telling of the story.

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  7. I hope at least one has a laser pistol or a jetpack or something. :-)

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  8. Hard to know when in the story these photos take place...Perhaps they are dressed and armed this way for the Battle of Five Armies when things do take a dour turn, and will indeed be more ragged and colorful at the start of the story.

    I'll wait and see.

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  9. Well, their not sceengrabs from the film. Probably taken originally for wardrobe purposes as I can see the actors standing on a seamless backdrop and were latter touched up in photoshop.

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  10. Again, these might be photos which portray them before the battle of the five armies; after they went into the mountain, they armed and armoured themselves.

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  11. So far, they all look much like the few dwarves we saw in the LOTR movies -- Gimli and the others at Rivendell. No surprise there.

    I expect that the guesses that these pictures show the actors modeling what their characters will look like toward the end of the story are probably correct.

    And it makes sense for the filmmakers to start out by releasing pictures of how the dwarves will look toward the end of the story, not the beginning, because images of such battle-ready dwarves are likely to generate more interest and positive reaction from more people than images of hapless, colorfully-dressed miners likely would.

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  12. I don't know if it is years of viewing illustrations and miniatures of dwarves, but my first impression is that these two don't strike me as terribly short or stout.

    And after reading the comments here, I'm agreeing with Wasp: too Klingon-ly.

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  13. Wait, did I miss something in the last Hobbit Post comments? I don't recall any nonsense, and I can't seem to see any when I go back and rifle through it...

    But yes, agree on the klingon-y part. I seem to recall the dwarfs in Tolkien being closer to the size of hobbits than of men too, but that might've been more the mental image I got, and they already changed it to the more popular "D&D 3e" image of dwarfs in LotR anyway.

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  14. Kind of 'meh' for me as well... certainly not taking any chances against the standard stereotypes.

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  15. @The Wasp: Oh dear. Now I can't get that image out of my head. Dwarves as really short TNG Klingons. There has to be something I can do with that in a game. <wicked grin>

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  16. Actually, I like these prelim publicity photos quite a bit, as I never really went for the Greybeards. These guys all have unique personalities and are a welcome change from the stereotypes. Inquiring minds want to know... do the Dwarven women have beards too?

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  17. for folks worried about the absence of colored hoods other details: these pics could be from the point after they retook the mountain, right before the battle of five armies.

    I cannot tell a lie, I am stoked about this.

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  18. They look like Dwarven adventurers. Some of the hairdoes are a bit weird but then again Dwarves are a bit weird.

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  19. @Everyone speculating when these images are from in the story: http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20504849_20980349,00.html

    That's a picture from the set of An Unexpected Party. They look pretty dingy there as well.

    I admit that I always enjoyed the idea of the dwarves being colourful and cheery, and The Hobbit in general being a lighter story than LOTR. But PJ is clearly trying to create a continuity with the other films, and for that I think this works nicely.

    Although... I do wish they had more beard. They were described in the book as being tucked into their belts!

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  20. One does not simply walk into more dwarves...

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  21. "Everyone speculating when these images are from in the story: http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20504849_20980349,00.html That's a picture from the set of An Unexpected Party. They look pretty dingy there as well."

    You're right. Good spotting! So it looks like maybe no colorful outfits at the beginning after all. Understandable choice, but slightly a shame. They would've been cute.


    "PJ is clearly trying to create a continuity with the other films, and for that I think this works nicely."

    I think you're probably right about that too.


    "I do wish they had more beard. They were described in the book as being tucked into their belts!"

    Unfortunately, that's a great example of the sort of description that's especially evocative in writing but would be a pain to do for real, and might actually look stupid too.

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  22. Ed Dover hit the nail right on the hammer: just because the author wrote it in the novel doesn't mean it's going to translate well on the big screen. Even when a writer gets a chance to direct a film based on his own work, the end result is usually terrible.

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  23. Then it is a good thing Peter Jackson is at the helm, I suspect, applying realism and logic in place of blind loyalty to the text.

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  24. I like the images posted thus far, don't think they are too off for what the dwarves should look like. Maybe a tad too Klingon/dark leather rocker looking, but they still look badass.

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  25. Then again, when the dwarves show up to Bilbo's house they tell the story of how Smaug came, roasted the dwarves and took their gold, so everything is not exactly happyfuntimes to start with.

    Also, IIRC, Thorin Oakenshield got his nom de guerre from a long, brutal campaign against the orcs.

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  26. I saw these two and immediately thought - Klingons!

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  27. I always liked The Hobbit, better than the trilogy. I'm hoping that this won't just be another dark and dingy swordfest like Jackson's interpretation of LOTR, so these pictures are a little disappointing. It's a children's book. It's supposed to have whimsy.

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  28. It doesn't take much to see that's exactly what they're going for: dark, dingy and a billion dollar plus box office.

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  29. "Then it is a good thing Peter Jackson is at the helm, I suspect, applying realism and logic in place of blind loyalty to the text."

    Ah, yes. Logic and realism were the watchwords of his LotR - the horses charging down near vertical cliffs. The white-painted orc with a torch running past lines of elven archers without a single scratch. The ringbearer showing the Ring to the Nazgul who then wanders off without doing anything. The half-elf who waits 2000 years for a chance to finish the Great Enemy and decides to pack up and leave. The wizard who hides in people's houses and jumps out of the dark at them screaming like a lunatic.

    Logic and realism? Come off it.

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  30. I think it's obvious that I was referring to decisions about interpretations of set and costume design rather than intrinsic plot holes. Even still, it is a fantasy story, and it is the story itself you seem to be criticizing, not Jackson's vision. Who are we to know the motivations and desires of such fantastic creatures as elves and wizards? They are beings of another world - the workings of their minds are ultimately incomprehensible.

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  32. It's less a matter of complete realism and more that when you're dealing with all of this high fantasy stuff like wizards, goblins, dwarves, etc., showing a gritty visual contrast can make the fantastical parts go down easier. If you amplify the pageantry and whimsy with heightened colors and fairy tale stylization, it can easily come across as way too twee for a modern audience.

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  33. "I think it's obvious that I was referring to decisions about interpretations of set and costume design rather than intrinsic plot holes."--Ambient Dust

    I don't think it's actually obvious, but I, myself, certainly did understand what you meant.


    "It's less a matter of complete realism and more that when you're dealing with all of this high fantasy stuff like wizards, goblins, dwarves, etc., showing a gritty visual contrast can make the fantastical parts go down easier. If you amplify the pageantry and whimsy with heightened colors and fairy tale stylization, it can easily come across as way too twee for a modern audience."--Marcus

    Exactly. I wish I could've thought and said it so clearly.

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  34. The thing is, no one told Peter Jackson that he had to make a movie to appeal to modern audiences. And part of what many people love about Tolkien is that he seemed to have so little interest in appealing to modern audiences. People make different trade-offs between trying to create singular works of art and chasing commercial success. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with achieving commercial success. But the pay off for commercial success is, well, money. And no amount of money buys you a free pass to excuse your artistic short-comings. No matter how yummy the cake is, I’m not going to say too much sugar’s good for you.

    I don’t mean to imply that I have a big problem with Peter Jackson. Movies in general are not my favorite. But part of enjoying art (or, if you prefer, entertainment) is saying what you like and don’t like about it. And I do question, even from a commercial point of view, the point of creating two more installments of the LotR.

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  35. anyway twee always triumphs over schlock in the end

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  36. When read more carefully the Hobbit is pretty frikkin dark. Look behind the peter rabbit prose and you will see it.

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  37. I won't argue against the possibility of a darker reading of "The Hobbit" ("Dark for dark business" after all) and I agree with the possibility of the pictures illustrating the period after they've armed themselves.
    Even then, though, the armor and weapons Thorin's party puts on, while covered by their old cloaks, is described as glittering and bright. At least Thorin's gear is gilded and bejeweled. When they come out from Erebor in the battle they are bright and Thorin "gleamed like gold in a dying fire". It's a potent image.
    I don't expect, or even want, a strict adherence to every line of text from a film. I do want some sort of adherence to the vision of the book and not a supplanting of the author's by the director's. These guys still look they stepped off the bridge of a very little Bird-of-Prey.
    If I didn't feel so burned by Peter Jackson's failure to understand the heart of Tolkien's books and incessant need to tailor them to his own tastes, I doubt I would be bothered.

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  38. I guess I don't understand complaining about a director altering material to suit his tastes. It's his film, not Tolkien's. Based on how much of his career he's dedicated to these books, I think it's fair to say that the movies are a labor of love, not just the vision of some random hack like Brett Ratner.

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  39. I'm not surprised the dwarves in the Hobbit look like this... I'd rather my dwarves look more combat-ready than like greedy self-serving cowards.

    For example, when Bilbo first goes into the Mountain he asks who will go with him. None of the dwarves save Balin will accompany him. Tolkien notes there as the narrator that dwarves are "good people, if you don't expect too much." Wow... characters like that are going to be really difficult for an audience to like, especially if they're acting like that right from the start. In a lot of ways, Thorin & Co. are really comic relief in the story... how can all 13 get captured three times in a row?!

    One other thing to remember, Tolkien himself wanted to go back and re-write the Hobbit after Lord of the Rings. He was dissuaded by the publisher who complained his rewrite of chapter 3 had "lost the voice" of the Hobbit... While the book can stand alone as an example of his early work, the movie adaptation is going to have to follow on the prior movie adaptation, which means it's probably going to have a more serious tone, more militant dwarves, lots of tie-ins with characters not seen like Galadriel and Radagast, and so forth.

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  40. Surely it surprises noone that dwarves are into heavy metal? Considering PJ has retained the services of John Lee and Alan Howe for the production design (again), I'm sure that our short friends will change into the appropriate gilded armor in time for the big battle of the Five Armies. Me, I'm just looking forward to the rumored cameo of Anvil!

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  41. "Tolkien himself wanted to go back and re-write the Hobbit after Lord of the Rings."

    Whereas I've long wished he'd written the Lord of the Rings more in keeping with style of The Hobbit. I've re-read it many times and I consider it a charming tale skillfully told. LotR less so. Despite LotR's length ( and girth if you consider all the appendices and apocrypha) I've gotten much less enjoyment from LotR than from The Hobbit.

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  42. Now I can't get that image out of my head. Dwarves as really short TNG Klingons.

    There were a time when dwarves had not been played like this?

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  44. Brian said...
    "The thing is, no one told Peter Jackson that he had to make a movie to appeal to modern audiences"

    Nor did anyone need too. PJ knew even before he shot one frame of film the only way to make this series happen was with the intention that they have to be big, tent-pole, blockbuster-style movies with the hope of making huge amounts of money . Not only did the series do that, but it even won a good number of Oscars, Including the prestigious Best Picture and Best Director categories; something no one thought a fantasy film could ever achieve.

    Honestly, for that amount of money these film cost ,there's no way you can make them for a nich/art film crowd or the hardcore Tolkien fan and bring in the necessary profits to recoup your investment back. It's flat-out impossible.

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  45. I suspect the lack of colourful equipment is partly an artifact of digital grading: the LoTR movies involved patching lots of footage together from different places into one shot. Colour mismatches were dealt with in post-production and the whole was thing given a heavy green tint (a feature also of King Kong - I think Jackson just likes green). Colourful red and baby blue hoods would make all that a lot harder.

    Also, I imagine the dwarves looking grimmer and wilder from first introduction would just work better over the arc/length of a film: the shire is safe, the wider world is wild. We know this from the previous films. Dwarves in Bilbo's house in the book means mouths to feed and feet on the coffee table, then when they say they want him to leave his hearth he faints. With the compressed storytelling of film, if you can communicate the intrusion of the wild into the home visually, without wasting lines on it, that's a win.

    "no one told Peter Jackson that he had to make a movie to appeal to modern audiences."
    I wasn't in his production meetings for LoTR, much less his pitch of the script, nor his meetings for his previous movies, nor his classes at film school, but I bet this came up more than once. One thing Hollywood will not tolerate: an expensive flop. It's a career-ender. Think about the nervous money men that come with $300 million up front for LoTR: it's a wonder then managed to make a movie at all, and an even bigger one that it didn't contain George Clooney or Johnny Depp.

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  46. Middle-earth is based on Scandinavian myths & so are the Dwarves. They are variations of the Nordic dwarves, the same dwarves who are ugly, dark, dangerous and uncanny.

    So I believe it is a mistake to anticipate the dwarfs of the Snow White in any Middle-earth film.

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  47. @Steamtunnel: That's part of what I like about it. It's dark, but it's also charming and whimsical. If you strip away the light to leave just the dark, you've lost a huge part of the voice of the story. Imagine if they did the reverse - stripped out the darkness, played Smaug as Puff the Magic Dragon - and it might help you understand. I have no problem with changes, even large changes, to the narrative of a book, so long as the feeling and vision of the story is more or less preserved. Jackson failed to do that with LOTR, although the movies were otherwise decent; to give the same treatment to The Hobbit would be a much more egregious reduction. There's no reason the silver screen can't support a story with both fanciful and dark elements, so there's no excuse for cutting out the heart of the story in that way - except if it be for money, which of course is no excuse at all.

    This is pure speculation, of course - perhaps Jackson will do a tremendous job. I don't expect so, based on his track record, but I'm not about to excoriate him for something he hasn't done yet.

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  48. I will point out that The Hobbit is a guaranteed success after the Ring trilogy, whatever compromises Jackson had to make on the latter, now's his chance to let his true vision shine through. More so if he hadn't inexplicably split the film in two, but oh well.

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  49. "Honestly, for that amount of money these film cost ,there's no way you can make them for a nich/art film crowd or the hardcore Tolkien fan and bring in the necessary profits to recoup your investment back. It's flat-out impossible."

    Fine, then don't bother, if you can't make a movie of one of the world's most popular books without going art-house. Alternatively, get someone in with a track record of at least half-decent productions.

    It's not like the world is short of badly-directed movies, is it? Why should we care if there's five less? Because we like fantasy and should be grateful for whatever crumbs Hollywood throws us? Because no one expects to waste a talented director on mere fantasy? Because really bloody awful scripting and direction is the high water-mark of the genre?

    Excuse me for having expectations.

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  50. LOL, "Bad director"...I guess PJ will go home and cry all over his Oscar after reading that. :D

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  51. In a lot of ways, Thorin & Co. are really comic relief in the story... how can all 13 get captured three times in a row?!

    Four times actually: trolls, goblins, spiders and wood elves.

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  52. "In a lot of ways, Thorin & Co. are really comic relief in the story... how can all 13 get captured three times in a row?!"

    Remember that the story is being told by Bilbo...

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  53. While I greatly enjoyed the previous movies, I found Peter Jackson's disregard for Tolkien's prose disheartening. While the films showed respect for the story as a whole, Jackson substantially changed several characters. He repeatedly replaced deep, moving dialogue with trite one-liners that didn't capture Tolkien's original spirit.

    While I appreciate that few people would enjoy a film that preserved all of Tolkien's lengthy dialogue, Jackson seemed to have thrown out the baby with the bathwater: Primarily a visual artist, Tolkien's words didn't seem to hold the same magic for him as they do for many fans of the books.

    I suppose that I can't fault the guy: If I wagered 300 million dollars on my work's popularity, I'd also have to go with my own judgment over that of the minority who obsessively study such details.

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  54. I recently took a vacation to Death Valley. Some of my friends were surprised that anyone would go to Death Valley, maybe the hottest place on Earth in July. "Why did you do that?"

    I explained to them that all of the hotels in Death Valley are closed in the summer and so I had to make special arrangements. Even for just one guest, they needed a fairly large staff, all of whom need their own food and supplies addition to their own. It's not connected to a grid so they have gas-generated electric generators. Driving a gas truck on those roads in the height of summer is an insurance risk as well. The swimming pool evaporates quickly and has to be refilled. And you need a guard to keep away all the animals trying to drink the water.

    Given that I had invested $300 million in order to go to Death Valley in July, when the calendar rolled around to July and it was time for my vacation, where else was I going to go?

    Shuts people up real quick.

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  55. The problem is that, first off, any medieval-ish society likes wearing bright colors, especially ones easy to bleach clean. Dark and gritty is only appreciated by modern people who can afford to try to impress the world by looking depressed and dirty.

    Second, if you make the dwarves look evil, you have nowhere to go with the goblins. If you make the dwarves look "wild", you have nowhere to go with Beorn or the wood elves of Mirkwood.

    Peter Jackson is being boring.

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  57. Nagora said...

    "Excuse me for having expectations."

    An high expectations you certainly have there. Honestly, who do you think in the arty farty film world has what it takes to pull off making a $200 million dollar fantasy film that will be a success. Woody Allen? LoL!

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  58. "Honestly, who do you think in the arty farty film world has what it takes to pull off making a $200 million dollar fantasy film that will be a success."

    Actually, my point was that if you can't make a popular film of a popular book without being arty-farty then you're probably not the right person. Similarly, if you can't make a popular film of a popular book without making a mess of every important character in the story then you probably weren't the right person either.

    "Arty" and "Dumb" are not the only options here.

    The most telling thing about Jackson's version is not where he left stuff out, or changed the order of things. This is an adaptation of a long book and such things have to be done. But where he added new stuff it is universality dire. And sometimes more time-consuming than what was in the book, somewhat bizarrely.

    His direction was generally poor, of course, and literally laugh out loud bad in places (the race to the ferry and the breakdancing wizards were two points that caused a great deal of amusements in the cinema I where saw the FotR) but his total inability to handle story, plot, or character when it's not being handed to him on a plate is what marks him out as a hack that won the lottery.

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  60. A hack you say?

    Your talking about someone who single handedly creating what is today the modern film industry in New Zealand He started as a lowly photo assistant and gradually saved enough money to by a cheapo 16mm bolex camera and from there leaned to shoot, edit, write, producer, do FX, and even act. Even before LOTR's was even made he spent 20 years perfecting his craft and winning the confidence of people and to be able to make one film after another. He even founded Weta FX, one of the top special effects companies in the world and are soooo good at what they do they were James Cameron's choice when he was ready to do Avatar. Maybe even more amazing was how PJ actually about to convince people to give him the money to do LOTR even after his previous film" The Frighteners" film did poorly at the box office.

    --Hacks don't make film that gross one billion dollars each.

    --Hacks don't win best picture and best director awards.

    -- hacks don't create their own industry from scratch.

    --hacks don't make films that are so successful they boot the economy of their country.

    --hacks are not considered by people such as Steven Spielberg and Jams Cameron as one of their own.


    But, I will tell you who's a hack is. He's the person who labels people other hacks and has never done jack shit--especially compared to to the likes of Sir Peter Jackson. Now that's a REAL Hack!!!

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  61. Do you know for sure that these pictures of bearded guys in black leather pants are not a hoax? They look like an april's fool joke: "When the Uncanny X-Dwarves met Magneto".

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  62. "the race to the ferry and the breakdancing wizards were two points that caused a great deal of amusements in the cinema I where saw the FotR"

    Gotta disagree with you completely on this one. The wizard fight was pitch perfect, this is the first time I've ever heard the complaint that Saruman and Gandalf's fight was anything but cool. While there were some diminishing returns creeping in as the trilogy progressed, I'll stand by FotR as a near perfect adaptation despite (or perhaps because) of the liberties Jackson took.

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  63. The wizard fight was pitch perfect, this is the first time I've ever heard the complaint that Saruman and Gandalf's fight was anything but cool.

    Let us be the second time you hear this complaint then, because I didn't like it either. It was by far the weakest part of FotR, which is otherwise the best of three films in terms of faithfulness and tone. But, in my opinion, the Gandalf vs. Saruman fight was not one of the movie's strongest parts.

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  64. Well, I appreciated it as nice homage to some of the Hong Kong style action that had soaked into movies at that time. There was going to be some kind of magical duel there, no matter what, and the way they staged it felt a lot more visceral than having them throw a bunch of CGI fireballs around like your typical wizard duel. Loved it.

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  65. If I didn't feel so burned by Peter Jackson's failure to understand the heart of Tolkien's books and incessant need to tailor them to his own tastes, I doubt I would be bothered.

    Ultimately, my issue isn't that Jackson does things differently than Tolkien did; I expect that. In some cases, it might even be necessary because the differences between film and the written word. But I just don't understand why Jackson so often replaces Tolkien's own ideas with ones that radically alter the tone and meaning of the story. Now, we don't yet know that he has done that in The Hobbit, but, given his track record to date, it's hard to imagine otherwise and these pictures make me wonder what else he's disregarded in the original.

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  66. "Hacks don't win best picture and best director awards."

    If only it were true!

    "But I just don't understand why Jackson so often replaces Tolkien's own ideas with ones that radically alter the tone and meaning of the story."

    Oddest of all is when he repeats Tolkien's mistakes. The book suffers from "everybody's fineitus" and the last thing we needed was Aragorn to do a Gandalf. Likewise, the scene at Weathertop has real problems in the book but it just about carries it on the fantastic visual description of the nazgul. Not only did Jackson scrap that visual, he played it for laughs with the Nazgul literally running into each other like clowns. It only served to highlight the question of exactly why anyone was afraid of these chumps.

    Bakshi handled the same scene (and the wizard "battle") much better. Tolkien's explanation of why the nazgul failed to stop them reaching the Ford was pretty weak and it needed some real terror to push the audience over that hump, IMO.

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  67. The wizard fight was pitch perfect, this is the first time I've ever heard the complaint that Saruman and Gandalf's fight was anything but cool.

    I'll have to add my name to the list of dissenters. Saruman and Gandalf are wizards, not Jedi knights.

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  68. "Bakshi handled the same scene (and the wizard "battle") much better."

    IMO there is just no comparison between the Bakshi and Jackson interpretations. The Jackson version just blows the animated scene out of the water, in all ways. We are seeing two completely different movies here, and obviously have an *incredibly* different standard as to what's cool, so here's my "we must agree to disagree" point.

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  69. The wizard fight was pitch perfect, this is the first time I've ever heard the complaint that Saruman and Gandalf's fight was anything but cool.

    I'll subscrive the complaint. No-one but Hugh Jackman or Roger Rabbit could survive that battle. The bones of Jackson's wizards must be made either of adamiantum or rubber.

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  70. "The bones of Jackson's wizards must be made either of adamiantum or rubber."

    Umm . . . they're wizards?!? Their powers were always kind of vague in the books, giving them superhuman endurance isn't much of a stretch.

    Fine, some people didn't like the scene. It's still a rare complaint in my social circles and ohgodwhyamIstilltalkingaboutthis? :)

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  71. "The Jackson version just blows the animated scene out of the water, in all ways. "

    Well, it's not perfect ("Say my name, Gandalf, you bastard! Say it with the goddamn 'S', you ****ing ****"), but I much preferred the feeling that the battle was being waged at a psychic level to the idea that a wizard dual is basically a wildly exaggerated pub brawl.

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  72. The "wildly exaggerated pub brawl" is *exactly* why it worked for me. Avoided the standard wizard duel light show cliches, felt brutal: kickass, in other words. :)

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  73. "The bones of Jackson's wizards must be made either of adamiantum or rubber."

    Or... they're wizards, which in Tolkien's mythos means thinly disguised angels who live for millenia and get sent back to earth by God when they die to finish their divinely appointed task.

    I'm with the lovers on this one.

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  74. Their powers were always kind of vague in the books, giving them superhuman endurance isn't much of a stretch.

    And why do you think that Tolkien kept the wizards' powers shrouded in ambiguity? F*** the books and use some common sense! The movie is granting Gandalf the ability of casting the 'Force Pull of Dooku'(TM), as well as 'Magneto's Mithril Bones'(R). 'Magneto's Mithril Bones'(R) raises your wizard's AC to infinite plus one, making him into a walking tank impervious to pain and physical damage. And 'Force Pull of Dooku'(TM) is granted to derail the plot: "-Alas, a Balrog! -No problem, I cast 'Force Pull of Dooku' on him and drop the sucker out of the bridge." "-Freakin' walking trees! They are everywhere! -Don't panic, my minion. I'll give them a taste of my wondrous 'Force Pull of Dooku'."

    There must be one hundred cool ways of displaying a duel of mages (and a thousand perfectly good ways of avoid displaying it). As a matter of personal taste, and with all my respect to whoever thinks otherwise, having two old men engaged in a Chuck Norris' brawl with psychokinetics is not one of these.

    If you want a cool scene, rather than a crappy bunch of pretty generical stunts stolen from the Wachowskies, lets allow every wizard to use his unique spells and capabilities. Oppose Saruman's ability to screw minds and distort the truth, plus his mastery of mechanical traps, plus his upper authority, plus his army of minions versus Gandalf's fire and lighting.

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  75. I am continually astounded by the silliness fanboys emit over LoTR. Check this for example:

    I found Peter Jackson's disregard for Tolkien's prose disheartening.

    If he has such a disregard, why did Jackson move that beautiful piece of prose about Arwen and Aragorn from an appendix to the movie? It was a near-perfect rendition of Tolkien's words. Tolkien buries his best prose in an appendix, Jackson rescues it but you conclude Jackson has a "disregard" for Tolkien's prose?

    This is fanboy madness. As is the idea that a movie with brightly-coloured, circus-style dwarves is going to work. So many people complain that LoTR had too many dwarf jokes; now we have a movie where the Dwarves are going to be taken seriously rather than being treated like the joke Tolkien portrayed them as, and you complain that it's "arty-farty" at the same time as you somehow deride people who "accept" the "crumbs" that "hollywood" is throwing at them? (Jackson is from NZ - that's not Hollywood).

    Finally, have you lot seen Meet the Feebles? Understanding Jackson's work is a lot easier if you understand antipodean culture instead of expecting American cultural and aesthetic values.

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  76. @anomimious: Whatever. I'm just as intelligent a fantasy fan as you are, and I thought the ambiguity about wizard powers was a perfect opportunity to shake things up a bit. Gandalf wielded Glamdring, he was always right there in the middle of the fight, and as others have pointed out he's basically an immortal angel dude, so my personal suspension of disbelief was never broken. And again, I'm no dummy. If you're so upset about getting wu xia peanut butter into your LOTR chocolate, well, great for you. Me, I *liked* the mix. It didn't take away from the movie at all, in fact enhanced my experience.

    "If you want a cool scene, rather than a crappy bunch of pretty generical stunts stolen from the Wachowskies, lets allow every wizard to use his unique spells and capabilities."

    It was a cool fight, lots of people liked it. The Wachowskis stole their wire work from numerous 80's HK films, who stole their wire work from various 70's Shaw Bros films. Peter Jackson came out of the same b-movie background that spawned Sam Raimi, they all watched the same films for inspiration.

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  77. I don't mind the wizards brawl. The plot of the movie is so badly broken that another loophole or two doesn't make a big difference at the end of the day.

    I don't like it either. Marcus is right in that I cannot stand the mixing of western medieval warfare (LOTR or not) with eastern wuxia. I guess I could qualify as a "physics nerd".

    I have a pretty poor opinion of the Wachowskies' work. Neo is using gun fu and wire fu when he should be bending matter, wrapping space and pulling winged sharks out of his ass. I'm quite an stupid and unimaginative fellow who'd really enjoy living in a crystal pod, and I burst in anger when I came across stuff which is even more retarded and unimaginative that myself. But I'm disgressing here.

    So let me disgress a bit more. IMHO, when it comes to psychokinetic brawls, FoTR doesn't hold a candle to the climax fight in 'The Empire Strikes Back', when Darth Vader throws everything and the kitchen sink on Luke's face.

    And don't even get me started about 'Akira'.

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  78. So let me disgress a bit more. IMHO, when it comes to psychokinetic brawls, FoTR doesn't hold a candle to the climax fight in 'The Empire Strikes Back', when Darth Vader throws everything and the kitchen sink on Luke's face.

    That's not really a fair standard since nothing compares to The Empire Strikes Back when it comes to a duel between a hero and a villain.

    It's like the people whining that the Indiana Jones sequels aren't anywhere near as good as Raiders of the Lost Ark when no action/adventure movie released since 1981 is anywhere near as good as Raiders.

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  79. That's not really a fair standard since nothing compares to The Empire Strikes Back when it comes to a duel between a hero and a villain.

    The scene in 'The Empire Strikes Back' which I refer to was filmed with a big fan or two, and some fellows from Lucas' staff throwing stuff at Mark Hamill from out field. It practically belongs to Prehistory! With the technology available today, it shouldn't be a big deal to make it look better, not worse.

    As a movie lover 'Star Wars a New Hope', or simply 'Star Wars', is the standard of fact to which I compare everything else. (I'd rather don't get into 'Indiana Jones' because it would take us miles away from here.) Can Sauron or his black riders hold a candle to Darth Vader? Frodo to Luke? Gandalf to Ben? Aragorn to Han Solo? Sam to R2D2? Saruman to Tarkin? "Everything I know, I learnt from Star Wars" indeed.

    Every time I pay for watching a new movie I expect it to be as good or better than the last one I saw. Otherwise, I'd be saving my money.

    A wizards brawl would look like one wizard standing in front of the other. Wind blows, torches flicker, beards and robes flutter. Cut to each wizard's eyes, Sergio Leone style. Music in crescendo. Both wizards are engulfed in a wirlwind of rubbish and dust, but they don't move. Windows break (windows?! whatever, we really need cristal thingies to be shattered at this stage!). Another Sergio Leone cut: Saruman smiles confidently, Gandalf's forehead sweats. Wizards don't give up an inch. More crescendo. Floor and ceiling tremble, oh my! Gandalf looses feet and falls on his back. His head knocks the wall behind. Music stops on a sudden. Zoom into Gandalf's face: he's knock out, his nose and ears bleeding.

    To beat this dead horse deader than dead: I'll waste some bandwith into repeating what I posted previously, just in case I missed something important.

    [irony] Wouldn't be original if Gandalf and Saruman ride on a broomstick and start throwing quidditch balls to each other while flying around Orthanc? OK, it has been done elsewhere, but it's still more unexpected that yet another boring fireball battle, isn't it? G & S are incarnated Maiar, they surely can play quidditch [sarcasm] and piano. And Chewacca doesn't wear pants, [/sarcasm] so nobody is going to be hurt from a 300' or 400' fall. Too bad that everywhere else G & S are made of the same flesh than you or me (*). Too bad that neither G nor S are using broomsticks after or before that single scene. But who cares? Everybody loves quidditch: it's so cool! [/irony]

    I insist in that I don't specially like wuxia. Even if you love it: being massively used by the Wachoskies burned it out, so wuxia it's no longer edgie and cool, but weary and tiresome. Even if you claim wuxia to be as good as new: wirework and juggernaut-like heroes have nothing to do with LOTR universe, LOTR characters or LOTR plot, and they don't fit into (maybe they have a place into the Silmarillion, whose characters too often forget to eat or to sleep).

    But now I must remember to myself that it's not LOTR universe we are talking about, but PJ's Looney Toons version of it: a bizarro world where everything but Bombadil goes. This means that, at the end of the day, I'm wrong and Marcus was right.

    (*) Gandalf enjoys drinking and smoking -and so does Saruman-, suffers from fatigue, fear and hunger, and eventually has an arm broken. Middle-Earth can be populed by freaks made of weird stuff, such as trolls of stone, wooden ents, balrogs of flaming tar and the like; but it's implied (*heavily* implied) that Istari -aka wizards- are bounded to mundane, ordinary bodies. Cfr. the Eagles who, besides being declared to be heavenly minions, feed from raw flesh, steal cattle, get in trouble with shepherds and can get hurt by their arrows.

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