“A Wilderness Of Dragons”

Thoughts on Peter Jackson’s latest movie, from Wretchard.

I haven’t read the Hobbit since I was a teenager. I’ve read so many mixed reviews that I haven’t decided whether or not to see it in the theater yet, though I am tempted just by the thought of the high-speed high-res film.

19 thoughts on ““A Wilderness Of Dragons”

  1. Ed Minchau

    Meh, the 3D is hardly used at all. Save a few bucks and see it in 2d or wait for the video.

    1. Bruce Hoult

      The 3D is for the most part used quite subtly and with restraint, thank goodness, but if you want 48 FPS then you’re going to get 3D along with it … no choice there.

      I didn’t find anything *amazing* in the 48 FPS (“HFR”) version. It just seemed to be how it SHOULD be, rather than the headache-inducing jerkiness of 24 FPS in action movies.

  2. Der Schtumpy

    I read The Hobbit.

    I’ve tried 3 or 4 times to read The Trilogy. Can’t get more than about 60 or 70 pages in.

    Saw the Ralph Bakshi “Rings” version.

    Saw the Peter Jackson trilogy.

    Tried AGAIN to read the trilogy. Got 119 pages in this time. Quit again. (I may, in fact, be the only old hippie who hasn’t read this thing!)

    I’ll watch all the sections of Jackson’s, The Hobbit”, when I can rent them and start / stop them to make popcorn at home, or ‘P’ without missing anything and when watching the 3 sections won’t cost me $100

    1. Godzilla

      It took me 1-2 days to read each book in the trilogy. For me the story was compelling enough to do it.

  3. wodun

    Not all 3D is the HFR 3D, so if that is what interests you make sure choose the right theatre.

    Also, you will have to take a bio break and the perfect time is just over an hour in when rhadaghast makes his appearance.

    (plz disregard my typo’d comment awaiting moderation. Dyslexia strikes again!)

  4. Daver

    The movie feels a lot like the extended editions of TLotR; I’m not sure what the extended extended version that comes out on DVD is going to be like. I, too, am kind of interested in the high frame rate version, but I don’t think I feel like sitting through the movie again before it goes away.

    Peter Jackson has kind of a tendency to dial everything up to 11, and that shows bigtime here. I suppose it can be kind of fun, but not every encounter needs to that intense, and the escape from the goblins was about as believable as Kong’s fight with the T Rexes.

  5. Charles Lurio

    Leaving aside for a moment PJ’s fondness for certain “dial-ups”, I enjoyed it a lot. Yes, there are some modifications, but _almost_ every element has a source in Tolkien’s backstory, as i found out after a search through my references. The best discussion online so far, which mirrors my own research, is “Dislike Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit? Then You Don’t Know Tolkien” by Seth Abramson over at Huffpost, Jan 3,

  6. Daver

    I’m going to try to be vague and to not give anything away here but I might not be too successful.

    I reread the book after seeing the movie (I’m a slow reader–it took more time to read the book) and yes, most of the stuff in the movie was in the book in some form or another. I re-read the book partly because I didn’t remember the storm giants from the book. They were there, but they rated maybe a three on the intensity scale, as opposed to the 10 or 11 Jackson ramped them up to. I think a good argument could be made that cutting them back or cutting them out entirely could have helped the movie. There are plenty more action sequences near it that actually advance the plot.

  7. cthulhu

    I read several (negative) reviews of the HFR, decided to see it anyway, figuring that it was mostly an issue for film critics. Well, it was bizarre, to say the least. The interior scenes looked too perfect, but in a difficult-to-describe way; too fluid and hyperreal. The natural outdoor scenes looked fantastic. The outdoor-but-really-on-a-soundstage scenes looked somewhat fake. Overall, a failed experiment but I suspect they will fix it in post for the second and third installments.

    I was reasonably pleased with the movie as a movie and as an adaptation of an old favorite. I’m looking forward to the next two. Recommended, and as weird as the HFR was, I’m glad I saw that version.

    1. Daver

      I was wondering whether some of the ramped-up action might have been an HFR gimmick, the same way throwing things at the audience was a 3-d gimmick.

  8. M Puckett

    Rand lives witin a short distance from IMAX theaters, he should take advantage of that fact.

  9. Charles Lurio

    “Hyperreal?” at HFR? It was different, and more real, probably because at 24fps your vision is filling in the blanks given a slower rate than your eye response. Call it a touch of ‘impressionism’ that we’re all used to with 24fps.

    As to source material, PJ is able to use anything from LOTR including the appendices as well as “Hobbit.” The rest of the Tolkien canon is on permanent prohibition because of the wishes of his son, Christopher. This was hinted at in several places, most prominently where Gandalf can’t recall (conveniently, or the studio and everyone connected to the films would be sued) of the “blue” wizards. Their names are mentioned in “Unfinished Tales.”

    There’s wonderful stuff in Silmarillion too, of course but it’s off the table indefinitely so far as I can tell.

    1. cthulhu

      Charles, I stand by my “hyperreal” comment. Yes, 24fps introduces blur that should make 24fps movies look poor compared with reality. However, looking at 2D or unnatural 3D projected on a screen much larger than real life is another form of unreality, and I speculate that the visual noise introduced by 24fps helps mask the other forms of unreality (stochastic smoothing perhaps). I will further note that I’ve never experienced this sense of unreality with 60fps dome IMAX films.

      1. DaveP.

        I’m thinking “uncanny valley”. The closer it is to real, the harder your mind has to work to sustain willing disbelief.

        1. Charles Lurio

          You may have a point there, with the ‘depth’ of the valley (or if it’s there at all) depending on the individual. Or you could put it another way: if one is used to disbelieving in reality there’s no valley.

          Hmmm…

  10. MfK

    I read and loved “The Hobbit.” Then I tried and failed to read the Rings Trilogy. I don’t remember names very well, and if there are too many in a book (especially with multiple names per character), I become befuddled and frustrated, and eventually stop.

    In my humble opinion, the best (and perhaps only) reason to read the Trilogy is to prepare oneself for absolute side-splitting comedy laff-fest of the Harvard Lampoon’s “Bored of the Rings.” Amazon had it, though I’ve been able from time to time to find the text on-line “at no charge.” Which means it was pirated. That’s why I don’t search up one of those sites for you.

  11. Casey

    I’ve noticed a fair number of comments over the years to the effect that one either liked The Hobbit, but not the trilogy, or disliked both. I suspect the reason is that Tolkien came from a turn of the century form of expression, wherein his major influences were works created before motion pictures became popular.

    These days we all have a fairly common set of visual cliches -or references- we may fall back on, from 80 years of motion picture production. Thus a modern writer may sketch in a scene, where a writer from an older period, such as Tolkien, felt the need to fill in a great level of detail in description.

    A point which quite a few folks seem to miss, including Wretchard in this case, is that The Hobbit was only intended as a children’s story, with literally no thought for any following work. Hence any attempt to draw any special symbolism or theme from the book runs against JRRT’s entirely impromptu & informal approach to the story.

    Wretchard was correct in that both works follow a similar plot line. LOTR was originally supposed to be The Hobbit II (in modern terms), but this changed when JRRT selected the Ring as the connecting element.

    To be honest, the further along the movie trilogy went, the less I liked it, and the more it diverged from the original story, to the extent that Théoden’s healing became a flashy FX trick, while Denethor -a man who near matched Aragorn both in lineage and ability- degenerated into a bizarre half-mad old man.

    I hope the Hobbit movie won’t disappoint, albeit a three-parter is a stretch. :-/ Certainly the trailer looks grand.

    1. DaveP.

      in re: a three-parter being a stretch…

      You know all those people who complained about this-that-or-the-other being ‘left out’ of the LotR trilogy? Payback sucks…

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