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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)


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I wasn't too impressed with the only del Toro movie I have seen, Hellboy. Action sequences felt unremarkable, and the dialogue was clunky. I kept feeling like I was supposed to laugh at some lines, but couldn't muster the emotion. The film looked great, yes, but it was all kinds of dumb. Maybe Jackson/del Toro together will be better? Here's hoping.

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
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The Devil's Backbone told me that Del Toro was the real deal. Hellboy convinced me that he can handle a special effects heavy film. Pan's Labyrinth assured me that he can really tell a good, moving story. Yes, his films are dark, but I think he can hold back enough so that the Hobbit films will feel connected to the Rings films.

Besides, just about anyone is a better choice than Raimi.

"The greatest meat of all. The meat of friendship and fatherhood."

The Blue Raft - Are you ready to ride?

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Am I the only one who doesn't care that The Hobbit is visually connected to The Lord of the Rings?

Whoever makes the first Hobbit film will have an immense amount of latitude, a latitude the book itself affords. Even within the story, Bilbo's experience of the world at the beginning of the story is radically different than at the end.

It's the second film that will need to bridge the two visions, if bridging is judged (purely on business considerations) to be desirable. From an artistic standpoint, I think that makes sense, too -- because the standoff at the gates and the tone of The Battle of Five Armies is very much consistent with the vision of The Lord of the Rings.

Is it necessary, though? No.

Greg Wright

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Consulting Editor, Hollywood Jesus

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CrimsonLine wrote:

: I wasn't too impressed with the only del Toro movie I have seen, Hellboy. Action sequences felt unremarkable, and the dialogue was clunky. I kept feeling like I was supposed to laugh at some lines, but couldn't muster the emotion. The film looked great, yes, but it was all kinds of dumb. Maybe Jackson/del Toro together will be better? Here's hoping.

Well, it certainly helps that Jackson and his team are overseeing the development of the film and will have some kind of input into the script. But how MUCH input? (I emphasize "and his team" because there were entire sections of The Lord of the Rings that were neither written nor directed by Jackson -- though of course he could veto anything he didn't like. It will be interesting to see how involved Fran and Philippa are on this one, if at all.)

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that the last thing this movie may need, if it is to remain consistent with the earlier films, is a big-name director with vision. Down that road lie creative conflicts. What the franchise needs is a director who can serve Jackson's vision. Del Toro might be that guy ... but then again, he might not. He might insist on putting his own personal stamp on the movie, and thus pulling away, to some degree, from the earlier films.

Alan Thomas wrote:

: . . . if Del Toro can come up with a more effective Urukai, more power to him.

Are the Uruk-hai part of this story? I was under the impression that they were invented during the events of The Lord of the Rings, but I could be wrong about that. (I haven't read the book in over 20 years, so I'm running mainly on my impression of the movie here.)

: I wouldn't want a creative person like Del Toro to be arbitrarily held to Jackson's vision.

Which is exactly why I say a "creative person" may not be what this movie needs! :)

: Sort of like the Harry Potter films. Cuaron built upon and IMHO, improved the imagery of the films.

Oh, absolutely; Cuaron's film remains my favorite of the series. But then, Cuaron was following in the footsteps of Chris Columbus -- it wouldn't be hard to improve on THAT. And the Harry Potter series is seven (maybe eight?) movies long, with a different director on almost every movie; the series isn't exactly "held together" the way that Jackson's trilogy was, and thus there isn't quite the same emphasis on keeping the movies consistent, there, as there is here.

Incidentally, I can't recall if I've said this anywhere yet, but it occurs to me that the second film might give the filmmakers an opportunity to explain why everyone in The Fellowship of the Ring keeps referring to Bilbo's "adventures" in the plural. I mean, c'mon, even Gandalf in that film can only think of one "adventure" ("If you're referring to the incident with the dragon..." -- and that was decades earlier, at least in Middle-Earth chronology! or maybe these prequels will suggest it was not so far back in the past?).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Besides, just about anyone is a better choice than Raimi.

Even Renny Harlin?

I must be the only person to see some sort of connection between Evil Dead and Tolkien.

Anywho, del Toro is a great fit. As Phill said, Devil's Backbone was the movie to convince me that the filmmaker is the real deal. Even if Jackson's vision isn't a 100% mesh with del Toro, the differences could act as a challenge that make him work harder on the project, maybe make him learn some new things in the process and refine the talents he has.

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I WILL say that the man who made giant cockroaches so icky in Mimic (not a film that I remember liking) will probably have fun with the giant spiders. (And thanks to Shelob, Jackson's already got the software for those critters!)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Sort of like the Harry Potter films. Cuaron built upon and IMHO, improved the imagery of the films.

Yes, exactly! But there are still unifying elements in the series. I think this is what del Toro and Jackson would be interested in.

For example, all of the Potter films, regardless of director, share Stuart Craig as production designer. It is his art department that keeps the films looking, for the better part, artistically consistant, while allowing the directors to put their personal stamp on the films.

One of the issues I had with Narnia is the use of Weta and, specifically Richard Taylor, on FX and costume design and stuff. It gave Narnia a kind of "Lord of the Rings-lite" feel, which is wrong, but would be perfectly acceptable for The Hobbit

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that the last thing this movie may need, if it is to remain consistent with the earlier films, is a big-name director with vision. Down that road lie creative conflicts. What the franchise needs is a director who can serve Jackson's vision. Del Toro might be that guy ... but then again, he might not. He might insist on putting his own personal stamp on the movie, and thus pulling away, to some degree, from the earlier films.

Of course, del Toro and Jackson have been looking for a project to collaborate on for some time (see the aborted, early Halo rumours for one). I don't think Jackson is a Lucas-type to stiffle all creative input but his own. And besides, in the end Middle-Earth (unlike Star Wars) is Tolkien's baby, not Jackson's. ;)

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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... the man who made giant cockroaches so icky in Mimic (not a film that I remember liking) will probably have fun with the giant spiders. (And thanks to Shelob, Jackson's already got the software for those critters!)

As long as he realizes that Shelob is the mother of all spiders, and these monsters have to be somewhat more common... at least, as giant man-eating spiders go.

Edited by Overstreet

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Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Anders wrote:

: I don't think Jackson is a Lucas-type to stiffle all creative input but his own.

Well, maybe he should be. And note: even Lucas does not stifle ALL creative input. Steven Spielberg gets a lot more say on the Indiana Jones films than any director apart from Lucas ever had on Star Wars. The Jackson-Del Toro relationship is rather similar to the Lucas-Spielberg relationship, in that they are both relative equals in terms of industry standing. (Although Del Toro is presumably nowhere near as wealthy as Jackson right now!)

To put it another way: I could easily imagine Del Toro either getting final cut or being given permission to release a director's cut of The Hobbit, just as I can easily imagine that Spielberg has probably prevented Lucas from tinkering with the Indiana Jones movies (the TV series, on the other hand...). I can't imagine that Irvin Kershner or Richard Marquand would ever have been given permission to release director's cuts of their Star Wars movies.

Does this sound like I am asking Jackson to be the kind of controlling producer that Lucas is? I guess it might sound like that. But I am certainly not asking for Jackson to become the kind of artist that Lucas is. That's a whole OTHER kind of debate. :)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I must be the only person to see some sort of connection between Evil Dead and Tolkien.

I don't know about Evil Dead and Tolkien but definitely between Raimi and Jackson. Ironically, I think Raimi was one of Jackson's biggest influences. Watch the Ash vs. the skeletons battle at the end of Army of Darkness and then watch the Battle of Helms Deep in The Two Towers. Jackson had to have seen what Raimi did and was blessed with the budget and material to expand on it. And that's not to mention all the grossout/ splatstick comparisons. Raimi would be a fine choice. (Obviously better than Renny Harlin, Brett Ratner, etc.)I have to confess I haven't read the Hobbit though. I'm purely going off the films.

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The "anybody is better than Raimi" comment was in regard to the directors that had been mentioned as possibilities for these films. I don't think I recall anyone suggesting Harlin or Ratner as serious choices. I don't think New Line/Jackson would consider them either. But, Raimi's name has come up mulitple times as a possibility and I am happy he was not chosen. Would he have been a better choice than Harlin or Ratner? Of course, but most of the other directors that have been suggested would be better choices than Raimi.

Edited by Phill Lytle

"The greatest meat of all. The meat of friendship and fatherhood."

The Blue Raft - Are you ready to ride?

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It's official.

Guillermo del Toro has officially signed up to direct The Hobbit, according to reports leaking out from a film premiere in France. The Pan's Labyrinth creator will oversee a double-bill of films based on JRR Tolkien's fantasy adventure, which paved the way for The Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson, director of the Oscar-winning Rings trilogy, will serve as executive producer.

[uPDATE: Well, new reports argue that NO! DUE TO THE STRIKE, IT'S NOT OFFICIAL!]

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: Tolkien estate sues New Line Cinema

Them and Saul Zaentz! And HarperCollins! Good thing for New Line that they settled with Peter Jackson, at least. :)

And here I thought Tolkien's son was opposed to the very IDEA of the movies. Shouldn't he be trying to AVOID this tainted money? :) (Or is he not with the estate?)

- - -

Time Warner's New Line Cinema May Be Hung Out to Dry

New Line Cinema, the studio behind the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, has spent the best part of a decade fiercely protecting its turf within Time Warner Inc. Now, barely a month into his new job, Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes is looking to dismantle one of the company's longest-standing fiefdoms.

Moving swiftly to streamline Time Warner's movie business, Mr. Bewkes has flagged New Line as an immediate target for cost-cutting, forcing the studio to confront the scenario it has always fought against: being folded into Time Warner's main movie division, Warner Bros. Entertainment. . . .

Then came the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, the blockbuster films that hauled in about $2.8 billion at the box office world-wide, a success that afforded New Line a newfound power within Time Warner. But post-"Rings," New Line stumbled with a string of flops, including "The Last Mimzy," which Mr. Shaye himself directed. After losing his main cheerleader on the Time Warner board, Mr. Turner, in 2006, Mr. Shaye scrambled to plot a new course for New Line in a fast-changing marketplace.

Last year saw the attempt to launch another trilogy, "The Golden Compass," which cost more than $180 million to make but sold just $70 million of tickets in North America. It has brought in almost $260 million internationally, but New Line had sold off most of the foreign rights. It's unclear whether New Line will proceed with a sequel.

Still, the studio has several titles on the way that hold promise, most prominently the "Rings" prequel "The Hobbit." New Line's slate this year also includes "Sex and the City," which Warner Bros. originally passed on, and "He's Just Not That Into You."

Wall Street Journal, February 11

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 3 weeks later...

New Line in Warner's corner

The colorful 40-year run of New Line is coming to an abrupt end, costing the jobs of most of the company's 600 staffers. . . .

"The Hobbit" has Guillermo Del Toro in talks to direct, and the picture will be unaffected by the ouster of Shaye and Lynne. Though the films won't be scripted until a director is hired, and Jackson wraps "The Lovely Bones," the expectation is that the films will be ready for release for Christmas 2011 and 2012. Harry Potter will have wound down at WB by then, and the corporation will surely welcome another fantasy franchise that has an eager global audience waiting. New Line will distribute domestically, while MGM has international rights. . . .

Variety, February 28

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 4 weeks later...

McKellen Says He'll Reprise Gandalf If Asked

On Ian McKellen's official website Tuesday, a fan asked, "Have you been approached yet by [producer] Peter Jackson or anyone else about reprising your wonderful role as Gandalf for the two upcoming Hobbit movies?" McKellen responded: "Encouragingly, Peter and [co-producer] Fran Walsh have told me they couldn't imagine The Hobbit without their original Gandalf. Their confidence hasn't yet been confirmed by the director Guillermo Del Toro but I am keeping my diary free for 2009!"

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

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Del Toro at Entertainment Weekly:

But the fact is [the movie is] a huge endeavor. It's about a half-a-decade of commitment. It's two movies back-to-back that are massive. So a lot has to be sorted out. All I can say is, creatively we are all in sync and eager to commit and move forward.

And then... THIS:

Is one of the elements of the negotiation your involvement with the script?

Oh, no no no. That is pretty much sorted out. I will be involved, and so will the original team in some capacity. There's no discussion about that. It's more the planning of it, the calendar, but nothing as major as that.

And by the original team, you mean Lord of the Rings screenwriters Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens — you would be working with them?

I cannot comment on specifics, but yes.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Alan, based on your comments here and on the Caspian thread, perhaps you should just stop watching films based on classic literature. I fear for your sanity and health. ::boom::

Now as far as your comments are concerned, in what way did they "neuter" Gandalf? Other than the Witch King fiasco, I'm hard pressed to find anything else that seemed like too much of a depature from the written word.

"The greatest meat of all. The meat of friendship and fatherhood."

The Blue Raft - Are you ready to ride?

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This is not some piddly, purist issue. This error betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of world they're trying to recreate.

Who said anything about piddly? :) I respect your opinion, and I think you have a valid complaint. But I don't see think the changes they made to Gandalf are as damaging as you suggest. They simply wanted to make him more human than angelic. He was able to show his angelic nature in Fellowship and The Two Towers. In an attempt to provoke a stronger response from the audience the screen writers chose to make the most powerful "good" character more vulnerable than the books did. I have little problem with that idea, I just wish they had not bungled the confrontation with the Witch King so terribly. That was nearly unforgivable, but does not cause me to doubt their fundamental understanding of the world they are trying to recreate.

I agree.

It's just as disappointing as what Jackson's films did to the Ents and their motivations.

The Ents' motivation was just too complicated to try to wedge into an already over-stuffed film. That doesn't excuse it, but it does help explain that it was not simply a misunderstanding the source.

I, for one, am glad that they got so much of it right. I prefer to dwell on those things and not piss and moan about the few things they messed up.

"The greatest meat of all. The meat of friendship and fatherhood."

The Blue Raft - Are you ready to ride?

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I, for one, am glad that they got so much of it right. I prefer to dwell on those things and not piss and moan about the few things they messed up.

Dude, TRUE fans piss and moan. That's what we do. That's all we do. And we do not stop - EVER - until you are dead.

:)

That said, I thought the LOTR crew missed the boat on many essential things about the Tolkien universe. Most hideous to me:

  • The neutering of the King - In the books, Aragorn is always pursuing his kingship, he is the rightful king and knows it. In the movies, he's indecisive and vaccilating, and has to be convinced to be King. It shows an inaccurate understanding of Tolkien's view of right power and authority. For a series whose climax is the enthronement of the King, this is a terrible blow.
  • The complete undermining of Sam - Sam would never, never, never, never, never, ever, ever leave Frodo. Never. Ever. That is his defining characteristic.

They excelled in visualizing the world, and they enriched many characters - like Merry, Pippin, Boromir, Legolas, Eomer, Eowyn, Eomer, and Theoden, without damaging their essential natures. They kept the plotline relatively secure. They made entertaining movies (no small feat!).

But they also severely altered several characters in ways that did change their essential natures - like Gandalf, Aragorn, Sam, Faramir (though probably for the better), Treebeard, Galadriel, Denethor, and Gimli.

Some characters were enriched in some ways, and demeaned in others, like Saruman, Frodo, Gollum, and Arwen.

On balance, I loved the movies. But I felt stabbed in the heart seeing what they did with Aragorn and Sam.

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
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