Hobbit 2, the good, bad, and ugly

HobbitI knew exactly what to expect as I walked into the second Hobbit movie. And I got it, in spades.

So, then, okay. The good the bad and the ugly.

The good – ah, Smaug my love. I went in for the dragon, dammit, and the dragon was wonderful. Except- stretching into the Jacksonesque overkill once more -– the molten statue. WTF? Didn’t anyone watch that scene from Game of Thrones where Khal Drogo pours molten gold over his new brother-in-law’s noggin, and it kills him, and Daenerys says dismissively, “he was no dragon”? Don’t you know even without that piece of evidence that dragons, um, are fire and heat beasts and in particular GOLD LOVING beasts, and gold plating one would just make it mad, not hurt it?

I WAS a tad disappointed in the much-vaunted Cumberbatch voiceover. The voice was so filtered and altered that I really had to fight to remember who was talking. Which was a tad annoying because it was awesome to have Sherlock Dragon and Dr. John Burglar yapping at each other in the golden hall. My different fandoms, colliding.

Also good – the usual. The visuals. But New Zealand is utterlt photogrnic and it would be hard to screw that up. But some scenes are starting to blur just a little, all those vaulted halls with arching lipless bridges over the void – wait a sec, are we inside a dwarf hall, a goblin city, or an elven throne room, again…? And at least he appears to have learned a little bit about the qualities of a king in the intervening period. Even though Thorin doesn’t always wear his royalty well, at least he wears it, arrogance and all, which is more than an Aragorn was ever given. Are you seriously telling me that Thorin knew more about being a King than Aragorn did, both after years of exile?  Why? And how come it didn’t reduce him to Aragorn’s hand-wringing ‘I am not worthy’ persona of the LOTR movies?

The bad – the things that were missed.  

I wanted to see that scene of arrival at Beorn’s where Gandalf had the dwarves arriving in dribs and drabs to keep Beorn sweet. They just didn’t seem to think that was an essential keystone but it was… of the original Hobbit. Perhaps the damn CGI bear was just too important to… but more on CGI below.

Also, the spiders. As it stands the whole spider scene (a) comes more or less out of absolutely nowhere and (b) dammit, just because you need to introduce Legolas the Badass somewhere and drop another extracurricular ninja girl-elf character in there just for kicks, that doesn’t mean that the Elves have to take over here. The dwarves really come off rather acted-on than acting. The small tiny question of protagonisting and agency and all that. There are moments, but not nearly enough of them, and they are separated by looooong half hours.

The ugly… several things.

One, Jackson LOVES him his orcs, doesn’t he? He lingers so lovingly on their twisted visages, so tenderly on their dismemberment, so keenly on their grunts and growls. And let us not forget the obligatory Jackoniana of Orcish and Goblinish hordes in funky armor massing for bloodshed, marching in lockstep in their thousands until the ground shakes underneath them all.

Which leads into Two, Jackson and his extracurricular whackfests. What was that business with Legolas stomping on dwarwish heads in the Battle of the Barrels? And really, watching him go all ballistic Yoda Action Figure in the streets of Laketown with a clutch of evil goblins – well – nice try, Jackosn, but we know he survives and so we know he isn’t in any real danger. Close, but no cigar.

Also, just to have it on record,

I am bracing myself for what Jackson will do in the wholesale mayhem of the Battle of Five Armies in #3. It will be something to weep over, I suspect. LOTS of dead goblinses. .

Three. CGI Overkill! That whole “Sauron” thing. Really, Jackson. REALLY. Just stop it. If you want to do a cartoon go and do one somewhere else. Unfortunately, he seems wedded to this. And some of the stuff is just plain bad. The Sauron manifestation. Beorn’s bear form; he just looks misshapen. The first time we saw him, I thought he was a stray and rather large Warg, actually. When you can’t tell your goodies and your baddies apart it begins to be largely irrelevant as to who’s doing the dying in the whackfests.

Four – just WTF with the elf/dwarf miscegenation? We all know it isn’t going anywhere. It’s just sleight of hand and misdirection. The whole dwarf romance subplot is… just… cringeworthy.

Five – while we’re on the Elves, did anyone else want to know what happened to the intermittently working Universal Translator? I mean, Legolas and Tauriel would switch between English and Sindarin within a given conversation with no warning and no particular reason – perhaps just to show off the Elf Pretty Talk. But then they drop into English again because, hey, over here, that’s what your audience speaks.  

Six – Jackson can’t resist showing off and insists on pre-shadowing stuff – the whole kingsfoil/athelas thing – that was kind of Aragorn’s claim to fame. Here, well, it’s just an excuse for (a) more off-kilter grafted-on “romance” and (b) more CGI of course. I really don’t know what it is about Jackson and his CGI worship. Maybe that’s why these movies cost so much.

And seven, dammit, he’s changing stuff that didn’t need changing again. Just because of the silly romance he denies three of thedwarves their return to Erebor.  Listen here, Peter Jackson, that just isn’t fair. In the story you’re a making a movie from, they were there. In the story you’re making a movie of, Fili and Kili DIE protecting Thorin in the final battle. Just how are you going to accomplish that given that you just pulled them out of the Mountain? And what was your reason for it? So that one of the pretty dwarves gets to live, and moon forever over an unattainable elf-maiden with whom he could NEVER have had any kind of a semi-lasting encounter of the romantic kind? Sorry. Smoke curls from my nostrils, Smaug-like. Argh.

Overall – Too long, too much time given to things that are invented or irrelevant at the expense of things that should have been included and were necessary to be true to the vision of “The Hobbit.” And Hobbit 2 suffers from the classic middle-instalment sag that many trilogies are prone to. If Jackson had to make multiple movies, he should have limited it to two.
 
So, then. I went for the dragon. I got the dragon. The rest… well… I’ll just shut up now, shall I.

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15 things you may not know about Star Trek

Did you know that the famous Vulcan salute was invented by Leonard Nimoy?

Delightful trivia. But split infinitives are NOT grammatically incorrect, whatever the chart says.

Star Trek poster

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The Most Beautiful Space Stations in the Universe

Everybody loves a gorgeous spaceship that can zoom through the cosmos — but there’s something majestic and beautiful about a space station, that stays in one place or orbits one planet. Here are some of the most beautifully designed space stations in any universe.”

Babylon 5Babylon 5   (via CGSociety)
Deep Space NineDeep Space Nine   (via Memory Alpha)

Space stations

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Reading changes the brain

The reading brain(Credit: Ali Eminov/Flickr)

After reading a novel, actual changes linger in the brain, at least for a few days, according to an article in Futurity.

The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” says Gregory Berns, director of Emory University’s Center for Neuropolicy.  

“We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically. Stories shape our lives and in some cases help define a person. We want to understand how stories get into your brain, and what they do to it.”

All of the study subjects read the same novel, Pompeii, a 2003 thriller by Robert Harris that is based on the real-life eruption of Mount Vesuvius in ancient Italy.

Reading is brain altering

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Quote of the Day

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed ~ Carl Jung
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Alma Alexander

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