Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In Case You Somehow Haven't Seen It ...

... here's the teaser trailer for next year's The Hobbit movie (or Part I anyway).


I'll be honest: it's a very good trailer. Martin Freeman is a perfect Bilbo and hearing the dwarves sing "Over the Misty Mountains Cold" is a pleasure. On the other hand, I still don't like the look of the dwarves, especially Thorin, and, maybe I'm just looking for things to complain about, but the brief scene between Gandalf and Galadriel didn't sit well with me at all.

In short, I expect The Hobbit movies will be much like The Lord of the Rings movies -- feasts for the eyes that are at their best when they hew closely to Tolkien than when they deviate from him. I also expect that most gamers, like most moviegoers, will care not a whit about textual fidelity.

59 comments:

  1. I might be the only guy in geekdom who isn't giggling with delight over this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm not giggling with delight so much as pleased that it looks no worse than the other LotR movies, something I had feared would not be the case. Mind you, I haven't seen much from the new scenes or characters ...

    ReplyDelete
  3. 3D is being used and it being filmed at twice the speed. After watching Jackson's Video blog on how 3D is being incorporated. It looks like may be actually adding something to the film like it did Avatar rather than tacked on like the Clash of the Titans.

    The 48 fps aspect sound interesting although I am not quite sure what the exact difference will be when I view it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The real test for me will be whether the elves of Mirkwood are made suitably wicked (or at least distinctly unhelpful). It is a pretty trailer.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm pleased he kept the Dwarf song and that he used it for the traielr. However, my only quibble is that they cut to a later stanza rather than awaying before the break of day...

    ReplyDelete
  6. The dwarves are growing on me.

    The singing was wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Trust me, Francisca, you aren't the only one.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The 1977 Rankin/Bass animated adaptation of The Hobbit is what lead me into RPGs. I loved it so much that I read the book and then later went on to LOTR when I was ready for it. For me, it all goes back to The Hobbit. Haflings were my favorite race to play and I rarely played anything else. Sometimes I would play Elves but mostly I would play halflings. I can't wait to see this movie.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Before prejudging the "look" of the dwarves, keep in mind Tolkien offers little explicit description of the dwarves, beyond Balin being old, Bombur being fat, Fili and Kili being young, and Thorin having a long beard and being lordly and dignified. I agree, the movie's visualization of Thorin seems the least faithful. (He is supposed to be older than Balin.) On the other hand, Tolkien was disdainful of Disney's "dwarfs" and similar diminutions of the Norse legends into children's tales. (Despite his book being, at least in origin, exactly that.) And we know Tolkien was dissatisfied with The Hobbit's consistency with his later works and thought of revising it to produce a more coherent "fit". So I would be wary of some of our feelings that the dwarves don't "look" right. I suspect Disney and Rankin-Bass are coloring such expectations.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm pleased that Jackson showed the restraint to not put Smaug in the trailer. Restraint isn't normally his strong suit, so that's a good sign.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wouldn't Smaug be in the second movie? Shelob would be in this one I believe. Although, as big a Tolkien fan as I am, I must admit to not following the development of these movies really at all so I don't know how they are broken up with regard to the source material. I was very disappointed to hear that Guillermo Del Toro would be directing them so I tuned them out from day 1. Now that Jackson is in the chair I have more hope for them.

    Del Toro I believe has been on then off 2 or 3 other movies since he left "The Hobbit". I just knew he would never work out with this production and if he did it would be a half-assed effort.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Francisca: I watched it, and all I have to report is a feeling of crushing indifference. Sure, it is filmed in 3d, it has Rivendell and mountains and stuff, and it is kitchy without becoming interesting for it. Whatever. But it is empty. So empty. :/

    ReplyDelete
  13. It's sort of seems Jackson is taking some cues from the Hobbit cartoon like he did the Baskshi cartoon.

    Loved LOTR growing up, and the movies hit the happy spot for me, changes or not. I'm sure I'll love The Hobbit.

    We should just count our blessing Jackson isn't doing a "King Kong" on these beloved works. I wanted to walk out when Kong was fighting TWO T-Rexes while they all swung on vines. Argh.

    ReplyDelete
  14. There will be the mandatory outrage period, followed by acceptance, and then a fuzzy love-like feeling peppered with bitter nerd disappointment.

    ReplyDelete
  15. So I would be wary of some of our feelings that the dwarves don't "look" right. I suspect Disney and Rankin-Bass are coloring such expectations.

    It's possible but seeing as how I don't think highly of the Rankin-Bass version either, I'm pretty sure it's not influencing my perceptions in this case.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I must be the only person I know who liked Jackson's King Kong. I blame my dinosaur fetish.
    As to this, it crushes me that my mother will probably not live to see the movie, she loves The Hobbit.

    ReplyDelete
  17. @cibet: Shelob is not in the Hobbit. But then neither is Galadriel.

    @Melan: I'm pretty indifferent myself. Jackson's just a decidedly mediocre director with a big budget, I neither like him nor hate him. I won't be seeing The Hobbit in theatres, but maybe I'll rent the DVD sometime.

    ReplyDelete
  18. My biggest complaint is that the Jackson LoTR movies were such big hits that I'm not sure I've any hope of seeing a more faithful adaptation in my life time. Of course, Hollywood has never been good at faithful films anyways. The films are pretty to watch though.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I thought Jackson was very respectful of the LOTR source material. I expect nothing less from him on the Hobbit films.

    ReplyDelete
  20. "My biggest complaint is that the Jackson LoTR movies were such big hits that I'm not sure I've any hope of seeing a more faithful adaptation in my life time."

    I would have agreed with you a few years ago, but in today's reboot/remake happy climate, I can easily see some Hollywood exec in a few years wondering how to get the LOTR money train rolling again and then realizing, "Hey, let's just make them all over again!" Doesn't necessarily mean they'd be better but...

    ReplyDelete
  21. Patrick Tingler said...

    "My biggest complaint is that the Jackson LoTR movies were such big hits that I'm not sure I've any hope of seeing a more faithful adaptation in my life time. Of course."

    PJ pretty much has nothing less then carte blanche on the upcoming Hobbit films. If you liked the LOTR movies, you'll probably like these as well.


    Brunomac said...

    "It's sort of seems Jackson is taking some cues from the Hobbit cartoon like he did the Baskshi cartoon."

    Might be, as Saul Zaentz is a silent producer on them.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm super geeked about this and I will happily pay for the movie ticket.

    I think the LOTR films (when they came out) were glorious and far better than any prior attempts at putting Tolkien on screen. And we got a 10-hour Tolkien extravaganza with the trilogy.

    It seems that people pick apart certain aspects of the movie (particularly the adherence or lack thereof to the books), but really - does anyone really think they could have been much better? For a movie adaptation of an old books series, they were pretty damn close! :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. "I also expect that most gamers, like most moviegoers, will care not a whit about textual fidelity."

    As a gamer and a Tolkien fan, I care about textual fidelity, but the deviations from LOTR in the films didn't hit me until after I'd left the theater. So I expect that with the Hobbit, I'll enjoy watching it while reserving the right to nitpick later. Already I've got one forming: why is Galadriel in this movie? Even if Jackson is trying to more explicitly tie this film to the LOTR trilogy, that still doesn't explain her being there. But I'll watch the film to see what Jackson does with it.

    ReplyDelete
  24. @Unknown: I do, but not because of their deviations from the text. Basically they were overwrought. PJ wouldn't know subtlety if it hit him with a plank, and the plank is on fire and has a grenade strapped to it and the grenade sings showtunes.

    ReplyDelete
  25. As Guillermo del Toro has hinted when he was still director of The Hobbit, Smaug will be the big deal of these films. Take it for granted, that it will be him who will get the classic trailer cliffhanger (like Gollum did in this teaser) later on next year. Also I'm pretty sure that this soon in the films post-production phase, the CGI is far away from completion.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Maybe those movies are what PJ sees in his head when he reads those books. It is impossible for a movie to be exactly like a book. It's a totally different medium with different requirements. A two to four hour movie has to tell the same story that it might take you a week or more to read, and still get the story across in a meaningful way. The PJ LOTR trilogy are my favorite movies after the original Star Wars trilogy. I do not think they are overwrought. I think they are pretty much awesome just as they are. I like to watch the movies, and enjoy them for what they are. They are close enough to the text to satisfy me. If I want something exactly like the text, I'll read the books again.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I too think that this teaser trailer is well crafted.

    I'm also not too sure about the look of Thorin but we'll see :)

    I did however sigh at the fact that the movies are going to be in 3d. - An excursion up this blind alley that will add nothing to the films. Going by the teaser, we'll probably be treated to spinning plates, cups and saucers flying at us... :(

    ReplyDelete
  28. why is Galadriel in this movie?

    One expansion of the films beyond the novel is the inclusion of the pre-emptive White Council (Galadriel, Elrond, and the three Wizards) strike against the Necromancer at Dol Guldur. Textually, it is a defensible embellishment, since Tolkien later built it into his continuity as the explanation for why Gandalf abandoned the dwarves just outside of Mirkwood.

    ReplyDelete
  29. On the other hand, I still don't like the look of the dwarves, especially Thorin,...

    Well, you are a grognard, and grognards have to harrumph about something. :)

    Just from the trailer, things look fine to me. I wonder if those ruins Gandalf seems to be wandering around are Dol Guldur after the attack of the White Council?

    As for textual fealty, for me it depends on the choices Jackson and company make. Some changes are inevitable in the translation of book to movie, because the two mediums have different storytelling needs. We'll see. With a few exceptions, I was very happy with LotR, so I'll trust Jackson to do a good job with this until he shows otherwise.

    ReplyDelete
  30. @James; as far as I know, Angels do not engage in extramarital affairs. SO yes, the allusory glance with Galadriel is unsettling.

    ReplyDelete
  31. @ Library Bob:

    Already I've got one forming: why is Galadriel in this movie?

    IIRC, she's part of the White Council, so that was probably leading up to their attack on the Necromancer, i.e., Sauron in Mirkwood.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Nerzenjäger said...
    ". Also I'm pretty sure that this soon in the films post-production phase, the CGI is far away from completion."

    That is quite true and looking at the trailer I can tell there's still stuff they're working on. CGI can take many months before it fully renders and know if you got it right. Even James Cameron himself said he didn't know how well things would turn out until a year and a half into production on Avatar!

    It's not that easy making these kind of films.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Re: Gandalf & Galadriel, all she did was lightly stroke his face. They may have had a simple tender moment before doing something reckless and dangerous ( confronting the necromancer ), or they may have been rather snuggly before she met Celeborn. She has seen the light of the Two Trees, so she's been around a long time.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Since I do not have the emotional ties to Tolkien shared by many of my gaming bretheren, I find the Lord of the Rings films almost more enjoyable than the books.

    That said, I prefer the Hobbit leaps and bounds over the grand trilogy. So far this looks good. I will wait and see with an open mind.

    ReplyDelete
  35. What's wrong with two of the Three's ringbearers meeting? It's likely Elrond shows up in that scene too, meaning they are all present for discussion.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Maybe this Galadriel is more of a nod to the slutty version of her from Bored of the Rings?

    Speaking of which, Ralph Bakshi needs to get to work on an animated movie of BOTR.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Robot Wrote:

    @James; as far as I know, Angels do not engage in extramarital affairs. SO yes, the allusory glance with Galadriel is unsettling.

    Actually Angels did do that sort of thing. Thats where Nephilim came from.

    Whether Gandalf would is whole different question.

    I am quite looking forward to this movie though I'll pass on 3d thanks. It will be out in 2d sooner than later though.

    ReplyDelete
  38. If it bothers you so much that Thorin doesn't look dwarfy enough, don't watch the movie. Then the rest of us won't have to hear you whine.

    ReplyDelete
  39. What bothers me the most about the lack of textual fidelity is that there is no reason for it not to exist. They're making 2 long movies out of a single book. There's no reason to leave anything out and little reason to add anything - other than a fanboy gee ain't it cool factor.

    Sure movies are visual, blah, blah, blah and things have to be changed from a book to the screen. No, they don't always have to. Particularly when you have all the money and directorial authority that Hollywood's granted a success like PJ.

    As for the dwarves - that was gone through here when the publicity shots of each one made it appearance months ago. They look a little better here in action than in the publicity stills, but Thorin still looks off to me.

    I've never gotten over how drastically PJ changed the attitudes and motivations of characters in LOTR and I don't doubt we'll encounter similar manifestations of his meddling here.

    Do I want to see this? Of course, I can always hope it's sort of enjoyable and I like the way PJ envisions the landscapes of Middle Earth. And maybe, just maybe, he'll prove me and the tons of grumblers wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  40. If it bothers you so much that Thorin doesn't look dwarfy enough, don't watch the movie. Then the rest of us won't have to hear you whine.

    Hey, it's not an either/or situation. I can watch the movie and whine!

    ReplyDelete
  41. "Hey, it's not an either/or situation. I can watch the movie and whine!"

    Amen, brother, amen.

    ReplyDelete
  42. John said...
    @Unknown: I do, but not because of their deviations from the text. Basically they were overwrought. PJ wouldn't know subtlety if it hit him with a plank, and the plank is on fire and has a grenade strapped to it and the grenade sings showtunes.


    Exactly. I am indifferent to PJ's adherence or lack thereof to the source material. I approach adaptations as their own thing (doing otherwise leads to madness). It's his ham fisted TV movie directorial style I dislike. I honestly enjoyed FotR, but the other two, however, we're real letdowns. Of course, some of the problems can be attributed to the supporting cast as well. Orlando Bloom and John Rhys Davies, for example, are best experienced in small doses, preferably doled out whilst I am at the concession stand or, more appropriately, in the rest room.

    ReplyDelete
  43. There's no reason to leave anything out and little reason to add anything - other than a fanboy gee ain't it cool factor.

    I'm sure the filmmakers foregrounded Galadriel in order to cover their female-demo bases. The Hobbit's short on notable female characters, let alone glamorous and sympathetic ones.

    ReplyDelete
  44. For Hobbit i expect more historical classical feel. I think the best depiction of hobbit in media other than media is the graphic novel by David Wenzel,( http://www.davidwenzel.com/hobbit.html# ) his illustrations capture mythic classical atmosphere perfectly. For the movie, i think that overly action oriented scenes, fancy leather clothes with enormous weapons, trendy modern looks for dwarves or deviations from plot for popularity is not for me.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Well, I too am in the minority. I think Jackson and Del Toro (yes I know he's off the project) are the two best fantasy filmakers of the moment. I actually like the LOTR films better than the books (heresy, I know) so his changes do not trouble me. I was a Jackson fan for some time before LOTR, anyway - found his crude early films hilarious and loved "Heavenly Creatures." I, too, liked "King Kong" a lot - and most of what I like about it seems to be what other hated. And, Don Glut to the contrary, I do love the original "Kong." Del Toro's adaptations are fun and his originals are outstanding - "Pan's Labyrinth" alone assures him a place in Valhalla, as far as I'm concerned.

    So, yeah ... very much looking forward to "The Hobbit" and the trailer only whets my appetite more.

    ReplyDelete
  46. While I enjoyed Jackson's Lord of the Rings films, his comments in the bonus tracks left me concerned about some of the bizarre changes to the trilogy that had been considered in different parts of the production. In order to satisfy the Hollywood-types, they had considered extensive deviations from the original texts, such as placing Arwen in Helm's Deep or having Aragorn battle a physical manifestation of Sauron at the Gates of Mordor.

    I'm concerned that while turning The Hobbit into two separate films, he will consider doing similar violence to its basic architecture. If he has the same team of writers and advisors as he had for LotR, he'll be safe. If not, he may again be tempted to cut loose with some sort of Hollywood bastardization.

    From Hollywood's perspective, the text's obvious weak points include its lack of a "dashing figure of romance" to be its central hero, and its lack of a romantic subplot. Would-be screenwriters are told to always include such elements, because "if you don't, they'll just plug one in". I hope that Jackson has the integrity to resist such tampering. (A Gandalf/Galadriel romantic angle would irritate me: "Don't screw with the canon", I say.)

    The films of the trilogy did disappoint me in one respect: Peter Jackson doesn't have near the love of Tolkien's words that I do. It's natural that an artist in a visual medium might not see the magic in a well-turned phrase, but he repeatedly sacrificed thoughtful, eloquent dialogue in favor of cheap one-liners.

    (I also would have liked to see Del Toro's take on the project, with Peter Jackson in the Executive Producer's seat. Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth showed great originality and imagination in how it unveiled its mysteries.)

    ReplyDelete
  47. @aycorn: Despite what I said earlier, I actually liked his early films too, quite a lot more than anything he's done since The Frighteners.

    ReplyDelete
  48. "I'm concerned that while turning The Hobbit into two separate films, he will consider doing similar violence to its basic architecture. If he has the same team of writers and advisors as he had for LotR, he'll be safe. If not, he may again be tempted to cut loose with some sort of Hollywood bastardization."

    I wouldn't mind Jackson flushing out his writing team, actually, as I don't think Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens have been positive influences on his filmmaking and I think most of the bad decisions on the LOTR movies stem largely from their screenwriting (Boyens in particular seems prone to crowing about how her scripting improves on Tolkien's story).

    ReplyDelete
  49. The line about "fate" that Thorin speaks of is what really unsettles me, as if Thorin saw Bilbo as anything more than a prospective thief at that point and had any idea of what lay ahead for him. It reeks to me of adding nonsensical "epicness" to a story that wasn't quite as world-spanning as the Lord of the Rings.

    ReplyDelete
  50. He's just saying he won't be held responsible in the event of Bilbo's grisly death.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I swear. it is like listening to fundamentalists whine over changes in interpretation of the Bible.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Actually, I think there's one comment here bitching about textual fidelity, and maybe half a dozen comments bitching about bitching.

    ReplyDelete
  53. I wouldn't mind Jackson flushing out his writing team, actually, as I don't think Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens have been positive influences on his filmmaking and I think most of the bad decisions on the LOTR movies stem largely from their screenwriting (Boyens in particular seems prone to crowing about how her scripting improves on Tolkien's story).

    Indeed. Most of my beefs with the films have their origins in the screenplays.

    ReplyDelete
  54. I didn't care for most of the changes the screenwriters made, but they successfully dodged several egregious blunders that were considered during filming. If they keep their priorities straight, consistently going back to the text when a problem emerges, they should be all right.

    Despite my disapproval for the lame dialogue the screenwriters introduced, I did think Jackson was wise to expand Arwen's involvement in the trilogy. She was little more than a footnote in Tolkien's books, but his writings make it clear that she held an important place in his vision of Middle-Earth's history: the Evenstar to balance Luthien's Morning Star. As such, she needed a stronger presence. (I am glad that the filmmakers resisted the Hollywood formula enough to keep Aragorn's and Arwen's romance distant through most of the trilogy, revealing their story through flashbacks and dreams. That required more vision than most studio-types possess.)

    ReplyDelete
  55. check out this comment on the youtube page:

    http://i.imgur.com/e9WwU.jpg

    ReplyDelete
  56. The line about fate, isn't "fate" aka forshadowing. He's saying he's not responsible if the hobbit dies, even in the books thorin scoffed at the idea that bilbo would be any help--in fact that is a central conciet of the LotR ouvre--that nobody thinks hobbits can be heroes.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Tolkien is pretty boring as a thinker and writer. its about time fantasy celebrates more radical writers who arent tied to "worlds" and quasi-fascist sport team "races" who reside in their own areas, boring romantic Heideggerian similarities with technology vs. nature, etc, etc.. yeah, we get it, he spent a lot of time constructing it. that doesnt mean its amazing.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.