Monday, November 24, 2014

Television and Cinema Verities

“It was grandiose, and all that, but whatever was subtle, in the first movie, gradually got lost in the second and third. Now with The Hobbit one and two, it’s like that to the power of 10..” 

- Viggo Mortensen discusses his reservations with the Lord of the Rings sequels, in Entertainment Weekly.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:45 PM

    That's an interesting quote. It sounds like Mortensen was hoping that LOTR would be more of a drama (or perhaps a Shakespearean film) and not the type of movie it really was. Why did he even sign up for it, then? That's not to say that you can't have subtlety in fantasy movies, but I don't think those types of movies lend themselves particularly well to it, so coming in and expecting that seems somewhat misguided. Of course, there will always be subtle moments in well-made fantasy/SF films, they're in the Hobbit films too, but it looks to me like Mortensen wasn't paying much attention to the movies themselves and was just blinded by the CGI.

    Make no mistake, I agree that the Hobbit films have too much CGI, but it's still nowhere near as egregious as in the Star Wars prequels. In fact, the Hobbit movies are unfairly maligned, and not so much because of what they are, but mostly because of what they aren't. The Hobbit is just a lesser story, a well-done work of fiction, but not really Tolkien's best work. It was silly to think it would translate to a film as good as the LOTR ones, not even if it was kept as a single movie.

    The problem, I admit, is not just the CGI. It's that Jackson has become too enamoured with having overlong action setpieces and with The Desolation of Smaug having two of those (the barrel escape and the dragon battle), it suffered heavily. It gave the impression of a movie running from one setpiece to another, without much surrounding flesh connecting it. So in that film a lot of the subtle moments were excised in favor of mindless action and the critics REWARDED it. By all rights that movie should have gotten weaker reviews than the first one, but somehow it has gotten better ones. To Jackson's credit, the extended version of the film fixes much of those problems by adding a lot of, plotwise very necessary, character interactions. Still, even if I'm not exactly happy with what makes it into the theatrical editions of the films, that's hardly a new problem since Jackson has made similarly bad decisions with LOTR in the past (leaving Saruman out of ROTK was completely inexcusable).

    To end my rant, I'm somewhat surprised to see this Mortensen quote on your page because I didn't think you had any interest in Tolkien-based movies at all. I certainly don't remember seeing any reviews for the Peter Jackson films or even Ralph Bakshi's 1978 adaptation (not to mention the middling at best Rankin/Bass productions). It would be interesting to read reviews for some of those, however, so I hope you'll get around to it one day.

    Ratko H.