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Old 12-15-2013   #1
skeletonking1234
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Default The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Hobbit Desolation of Smaug takes place right after the events of The Unexpected Journey, where Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian Mckellan), and the Dwarfs are still on their way back to reclaim their homeland from Smaug the Dragon (Benedcit Cumberbatch).

Now considering the mixed reaction from Critics and people alike on the Hobbit Part 1, many people were skeptical on how part 2 would hold up, and considering this one has a run time of nearly 3 hours, plus this being the live action theatrical debut of arguably one of the most well known fantasy villains, Smaug, there was a lot of reason to be skeptical. But the question remains, does this movie hold up in comparison to Jackson's Ring trilogy? Or is it under the same level that Hobbit Part 1 is to a lot of people?

First off the Acting. Now in a lot of Jackson's film he does make way for development for each of his characters, and considering the length of the Tolkein movies, this should be expected. But one problem a lot of people had with the first film is that it had too many characters and not really enough development to distinguish most of them, and here it is still somewhat the same. With the exception of Balin (Ken Stott), and Kili (Aidan Turner) none of the other Dwarves get any real character development. Even then, Kili has this extremely unessecary and stupid love triangle with and elf named Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) who Legolas (reprised by Orlando Bloom) is in love with. Speaking of elves, Tauriel is a character that again, doesn't get all that much character development outside of being in love with Kili, when he should be with Legolas, which could make for some great character development for all 3 of them, but it's all pushed aside for the many other plots following Gandalf, the Dwarfs, the Elves and so on, so it doesn't get a whole lot of focus. The main actors do do well though. Freeman is still good as Bilbo, Mckellan is great as Gandalf as always, and Richard Armitage, while being a bit too broody at points, does play off the character of Thorin well. We do get a few newer characters such as Thranduil (Lee Pace), the elf king and father of Legolas, but he is really just a big cliche in terms of the "villain that you know you can't trust and has way too much power and seems evil just for the sake of being evil," But again, he doesn't get a whole lot of focus, and to be honest, how he is portrayed is not very interesting, the character has this interesting backstory that is somewhat brushed over, and again, he doesn't get a whole lot of screen time. Gioron (Luke Evans) who is helps the Dwarfs get to Laketown, and while he does play the character very well, again he doesn't get a lot of screen time. Stephen Fry plays the Mayor of Laketown, and while having very little screen time, you can tell he was having fun, and he is entertaining in the role. Now I'm sure the characters that don't appear here in this film very much are most likely going to appear in the 3rd film more, but as of right now, we don't get to know these characters very well to care about a lot of them. The one character that definitely makes up for all the new characters, is definitely Smaug. Smaug is one of my favorite villains in literature, and finally seeing him on the big screen was fantastic, and as far as Benedict Cumberbatch's performance as Smaug, he was PERFECT. Cumberbatch is not only fantastic in the role, but he is flat out terrifying in the role. He is savoring every line he gets and the delivery is done so chillingly well with each line it just creeps you out, and don't know what's gonna set him off.

Now Effects. Now Jackson has been very good when it comes to mixing both practical effects and CGI, as illustrated in the past 3 LOTR films. Each scene looked great, and CG was used only when nesecarry which I really wish a lot of people did nowadays. But here, yeah...this is what I call "CG Orgy." What I mean by that is, nearly every scene is obviously filmed in front of a CG background, or has some form of CG effect in the scene, and it's okay for a while, but nearly 3 hours of this, it gets noticeable really fast. Now I'm not saying all the CG in the film is bad, in fact there are some very great looking CG effects, like Azog the Orc still is a great effect (even if the character wasn't in the book and just made him up for the film,) and Smaug, MY GOD! this is one of the best CG creatures I've ever seen. He looks very realistically reptilian, he looks threatening, and he is probably one of the biggest CG creatures I've seen in a fantasy film. But that being said there is one major drawback to having Smaug be so big, that problem being that, during the action scene with him and the Dwarves, he is so massive it is very hard to tell what is going on half the time due to his size. And a few of the backgrounds do look decent, but again, after a while it gets old and easily noticeable on what is clearly CG, and makes you wish there was a little more variety.

Now Action. Now this film does start off very slow, but the film does now how to mix the Action and dialogue in really well. Right at that point where it starts to drag and you get bored, they throw in an action scene, and yes while my CG complaints do hurt the scenes a bit, the scenes are still choreographed and shot really well. Also this film is much more brutal than the first film, since we get much more decapitations, impalements, arrows going through heads, its so violently entertaining to watch, even if it is annoying to me on how perfect (and very CG) Legolas is during the whole Orc battle. The battles are some of the most entertaining in the franchise, my favorite being the Orc battle just due to how adrenaline rushed you get while watching it, I swear in the theatre during most of it I just wanted to stand up and yell "F**K YES!!!" The one battle I was really hoping would be better was the Battle with Smaug, and yes while his size does get in the way sometimes, that's not the reason I think it's only an alright fight scene. The main reason its not a fantastic scene in my opinion is due to the fact that the scene just goes on,and on, and on, to the point that you kind of don't care anymore and you just want to end it, heck they fake you out a couple times make you think it is over, but nope it just keeps going and going. While yes it does go on forever, the scale of the battle is what makes it. How the characters plan on stopping him is very well thought out, and yes it does feel luck a lot of the fight was just luck, it is cool to see all of them working together to stop him. Even if *spoilers* it doesn't work.

Now I do have one complaint before I give my final thoughts, and yes this is a bit of a rant complaint. Now this is potential spoilers for those who haven't read the book, or didn't see this coming before going in. The Dwarves think they've captured Smaug by burying him in gold, but he then flies off to attack Laketown which the Dwarfs were trying to prevent. Bilbo then utters the line "What have we done?" and it cuts to black. Now the first film ended on a note of "Yea that was a good stand alone movie but it also does set itself up for a sequel really well" here it literally just stops saying, "Hey there's a sequel coming if you didn't know. Can't wait to get your money next year suckers." And I'm sorry but I can't stand when Movie or TV does that. Cliffhangers are things that really have to be done right, like the Marvel end credit scenes, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, or Batman Dark Knight Returns Part 1, where all of them are good stand alone films but don't just shove the end down your throat by cutting to black before something exciting, which doesn't really make me excited, more so angry since I knew a sequel was already coming and they just ended saying "HEY ANOTHER FILM'S OBVIOUSLY COMING. GIVE US YOUR MONEY MUHAHAHAHA"

Overall, aside from the somewhat annoying use of CG constantly, and the ending cliffhanger, I do think Hobbit Desolation of Smaug is a great movie, a little better than the first honestly. It does know how to balance the action and dialogue out well, has some good CG when it isn't shoved down your throat, and the action scenes are just awesome. If you liked the first hobbit your probably going to like this, for those looking for a good fantasy film to see this year, this is a good choice to go see(though I think Thor 2 Dark world would be a better choice.) Just make sure you have a few hours free.

Final Rating
4*s out of 5
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Old 12-16-2013   #2
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Default Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Awesome review, skeletonking.

I'm simply going to address one of your points in the review:

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Originally Posted by skeletonking1234 View Post
Now Effects. Now Jackson has been very good when it comes to mixing both practical effects and CGI, as illustrated in the past 3 LOTR films. Each scene looked great, and CG was used only when nesecarry which I really wish a lot of people did nowadays. But here, yeah...this is what I call "CG Orgy." What I mean by that is, nearly every scene is obviously filmed in front of a CG background, or has some form of CG effect in the scene, and it's okay for a while, but nearly 3 hours of this, it gets noticeable really fast. Now I'm not saying all the CG in the film is bad, in fact there are some very great looking CG effects, like Azog the Orc still is a great effect (even if the character wasn't in the book and just made him up for the film,) and Smaug, MY GOD! this is one of the best CG creatures I've ever seen. He looks very realistically reptilian, he looks threatening, and he is probably one of the biggest CG creatures I've seen in a fantasy film. But that being said there is one major drawback to having Smaug be so big, that problem being that, during the action scene with him and the Dwarves, he is so massive it is very hard to tell what is going on half the time due to his size. And a few of the backgrounds do look decent, but again, after a while it gets old and easily noticeable on what is clearly CG, and makes you wish there was a little more variety.

...even if it is annoying to me on how perfect (and very CG) Legolas is during the whole Orc battle...

...Overall, aside from the somewhat annoying use of CG constantly...

...has some good CG when it isn't shoved down your throat...
There's a certain bit of semantics that has to be clarified here. Peter Jackson uses a lot of practical make-up effects. Which is great. Richard Taylor and his team at the Workshop make fantastic designs, costumes and make-up. The Orcs, Uruk Hai, etc., all great work and Peter definitely knows the best way to film them and use them. But saying that Peter is "good at mixing practical and CGI effects" or that he "only uses CG when necessary" isn't exactly true.

Three LOTR movies, King Kong, and two Hobbits have shown us that Peter loves using Weta Digital whenever and wherever he can. There's a reason why the three LOTR movies had some of the highest visual effects shot counts at the time of their release and why King Kong and The Hobbit have some of the highest VFX shot counts of all time - his films are FILLED TO THE BRIM WITH CG. Now, the use of CG was (relatively) limited in the LOTR movies when compared to King Kong or The Hobbit, and that's because of the limitations of CG, Weta's workforce and the amount of money that CG cost at the time. It was efficient to use more make-up, forced perspective shots and some practical work for The Fellowship of the Ring than it was for The Hobbit. In the decade between the films, Weta has become super great with their CG work. It's become easier, cheaper and their company is larger. They can do a whole lot more now, and they're taking advantage of it.

There are definitely directors out there who do minimize the use of CG in their films: Christopher Nolan, Michael Bay, even Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams to an extent. Peter Jackson is not one of these directors. If you give the same exact FX scene to Peter Jackson and Michael Bay, they will film them in COMPLETELY different manners. Bay will do everything in his power to film elements practically, while Peter will automatically go for the green-screen. What Peter will do is have the actors on "set", which will be about 5-10 feet of jungle foliage with a green screen. His "practical" sets are nearly always (*yes, there are some exceptions that I can go into more detail about if needed) very small - the least amount of practical set you can have and yet still call it a "practical set". Hundreds upon hundreds of shots in his films are filmed against a chroma-key background and extended digitally. It's always a very small portion of the set against the green-screen. And those shots are then sandwiched between the CG porn of the Jackson/Weta team-up. You know what I'm talking about. All of the "the camera is flying 200 feet about the crevice of a cave as our heroes run down the cliffside and hundreds of arrows are shot at them and the camera SWOOSHES past them in a completely inconceivable movement"-shots. That's the problem of Peter's entirely CG shots - his ridiculous camera moves betray them. An entirely CG shot can be 100% photorealistic, providing all of the elements work together; lighting, compositing, animation, cinematography. An entirely CG shot in a Nolan, Abram or Bay flick will look absolutely photorealistic because the camera isn't soaring in a completely unbelievable manner. Now of course, the short answer for "why is there so much CG?" is quite simple. It's what the script calls for. And despite what I said about Peter above, no director - no matter what kind of HUGE budget they're working with - says "let's use as much CG as possible!". No. It may seem like they do, but that's not how the business of filmmaking works. They will ALL try to limit how much CG they use, but it's just that a script like The Hobbit requires there to be a lot of visual effects work. But that's where competent VFX supervisors and producers come in to give their expertise on how best to achieve these shots. And the best/most efficient/cheapest way to achieve said shots is, more often than not, copious amounts of CGI. The amount of visual effects work in these films is what the key creatives believe to be the best ways to achieve the visuals in order to tell the story.

So, I guess my point could really be summed up as: every single Peter Jackson film (from Fellowship onward, obviously his first films were very low budget horror flicks and thus didn't have the luxury or need for extensive CGI) is full and overflowing with CG. All of them. Because he uses very small, practical sets and is relying more and more on using the computer to achieve what he wants.
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Old 12-16-2013   #3
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Default Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I had to sit through the whole film without a restroom break... after I already had one, but I sat through it until the end.

Left the theater soon and for the car, got my self dinner to go, breathing like I was being chased until now, so I may share my thoughts and now you can all enjoy our Fantasy Films review.

And to be honest-- I didn't really like it! Maybe that's not the right way to say it, I mean I don't hate it but... this movie it's... Huh?!

Well let me just start by saying, that it's not entirely joyless, not like Man of Steel I mean there's still color, and jokes, but oh boy... Where do I begin?!

Plot

Those of you aware of the original story probably get the overall plot; After the Bilbo and the dwarves reached halfway to the Misty Mountains, they carry on their mission through Mirkwood, face spiders and have some "Social" problems with the wood-elves, then they reach the lake town of Dale, and from there they come across the dragon... Simple enough... but things are more complicated than that as delved into the next bit.

Characters

Excluding Gandalf, Bilbo, and others to name a few and I quote "Few" All the non-evil cast are by some other right just as bad as "The Enemy". The elves, are pretty pompous, the men (humans) are coddling, and the dwarves are... well Dwarves!

Considering how much of a messiah Bilbo is compared to the rest (Excluding Gandalf) I'm not sure who to root for but as it stands how there all villainous by their own design (And speaking figuratively) I think I'm siding with the villains! Which ones... I don't know, again much if not most of the characters here are villainous by their own right.

Oh yeah and they add a mayor (Stephen Fry) to it... I did not enjoy him much here.

And again trying to avoid spoilers, but Azog, the orc as it turns out... is working for the necromancer (And just try and guess who he is).

Beorn... the bear guy... man is it angrily done... next!

Smaug was enjoyable thou, I long to see him and hear Benedict Cumberbatch... but the design is not really dragon like as he is more like a wyvren; a pterosaur-like beast which is like a dragon but his front limbs and wings are one-in the same.

and apparently... he knows about the darkness growing which is what the elves don't give a crap for, but whether he knows who's behind it or if he is infact on his side still eludes me...

Side Notes

Okay I get what Peter Jackson is trying to do, he's trying to tie in The Hobbit with The Lord of the Rings, as well as The Silmarillion
and possibly The Book of Lost Tales and The Unfinished Tales... except before the latter books,The Hobbit was it's own story.

Yes was their was action in it, but not a Zack Snyder/Christopher Nolan extent, there wasn't that much drama and morose depression and angst, especially with the people of dale nor was the a conflict or civil war going on, nothing about dark alliances between foes... it was for the most part a fun book, it's not a commentary like the latter book trilogy or like George Orwell's Animal Farm, it was just a fantasy tale for Children.

I can respect where PJ is with going with the lore of J.R.R. Tolkien... but he might be going a wee bit too far, and that's the problem over all...

The Desolation of Smaug, is just too dark, it feels less like the story I remember as a child and more like a prelude to the LOTR, infact if that's what he's going for, than why not make a film series based on The Book of Lost Tales or The Unfinished Tales, there the plot works better, but not in The Hobbit.

Effects

The cgi was decent for the most part, but for me some alot of the elves and orcs felt rubbery, it's not as good as it was before... Where's the make-up, where are the animatronics, the models... well maybe it's there after all but, their going a bit too far with the cgi as much as the darkening of the story as a tie-in to the other Tolkien stories.

Over-All

Well, it's not the next Man of Steel for sure, I mean I still enjoyed it...but just not enough thou. That's my final thought of course, feel free to express your own opinion at the comment box below.

Rating: 5.5/10
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Old 12-16-2013   #4
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Default Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Effects

The cgi was decent for the most part, but for me some alot of the elves and orcs felt rubbery, it's not as good as it was before... Where's the make-up, where are the animatronics, the models... well maybe it's there after all but, their going a bit too far with the cgi as much as the darkening of the story as a tie-in to the other Tolkien stories.
I direct you to my comment above.
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Old 12-16-2013   #5
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Default Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Awesome review, skeletonking.

There's a certain bit of semantics that has to be clarified here. Peter Jackson uses a lot of practical make-up effects. Which is great. Richard Taylor and his team at the Workshop make fantastic designs, costumes and make-up. The Orcs, Uruk Hai, etc., all great work and Peter definitely knows the best way to film them and use them. But saying that Peter is "good at mixing practical and CGI effects" or that he "only uses CG when necessary" isn't exactly true.
well I was mainly referring to the three LOTR films since he mainly only used CG on the backgrounds, and not the characters themselves (outside of Gollum, even then he was originally going to be animatronic.) Here CG is used so much on the characters fight scenes, background shots, even some of the characters themselves, like most of the Orcs if not all of them are CG with a select couple. In LOTR many of the characters that were creatures were make up, like the Mouth of Sauron, or the Orcs, and CG was really only used on characters like Sauron, Treebeard, the Balrog, and Gollum. Also the film had every set as a CG background with a couple select scenes that weren't CG, but in LOTR many shots were done on actual sets, but here everything is obviously CG in the background, even locations I don't think it would be that hard to make a set for it, like a forest location, or a ruin.
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Old 12-16-2013   #6
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Default Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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well I was mainly referring to the three LOTR films since he mainly only used CG on the backgrounds, and not the characters themselves (outside of Gollum, even then he was originally going to be animatronic.) Here CG is used so much on the characters fight scenes, background shots, even some of the characters themselves, like most of the Orcs if not all of them are CG with a select couple. In LOTR many of the characters that were creatures were make up, like the Mouth of Sauron, or the Orcs, and CG was really only used on characters like Sauron, Treebeard, the Balrog, and Gollum. Also the film had every set as a CG background with a couple select scenes that weren't CG, but in LOTR many shots were done on actual sets, but here everything is obviously CG in the background, even locations I don't think it would be that hard to make a set for it, like a forest location, or a ruin.
As was I. Even the three LOTR movies didn't do as much practically as you assume. CG was EVERYWHERE. Relatively little was practical, by today's standards or by the standards of Hobbit. Were practical elements used? Yes. Was forced perspective used to achieve strange scale in-camera? Yes. Were actual sets used? Yes. But, just like The Hobbit films, they were squished in between so much visual effects work, green-screen backgrounds and miniatures that they get lost in the storm of CG. Youíve got minimal actors on the actual set or location, youíve got creature make-up for certain characters, youíve got miniature work that will be composited into the background and then the butt-load of CG that will be added later. All three LOTR have practical elements, yes, but all three are also guilty of CG porn. Digital fire, digital backgrounds, digital doubles, digital characters, digital creatures, digital weapons, digital armies, digital environments, digital water, digital ghosts, mixed in with A LOT of miniature work and actors on minimal sets or sets that were extended digitally extensively. Hundreds upon hundreds of shots were digitally altered with CG backgrounds or various CG elements in all of the LOTR flicks. The basis of shots had practical, on-set elements, but so many were digitally enhanced to some extent. I'm not arguing that there were actors in make-up on a set. But those five actors in make-up on a ten foot set were then digital enhanced to become an army of thousands in a fantastical digital environment with miniature castles in the backgrounds and CG matte paintings beyond that. Fight scene #X did have stunt actors on set, but they were enhanced with digital wounds and digital doubles and green-screen work. That wide shot with the swooping camera movement? A miniature filmed against a green-screen with a matte painting in the background and digital hobbits and elves walking, and so on and so forth.

In all three years that featured LOTR releases (2001, 2002 and 2003), each LOTR film featured the second highest VFX shot count of the entire year, with each year being EXTREMELY heavy on VFX films. The CG just seems to be more noticeable in the Hobbit films than the LOTR films because, in my opinion, Weta Digitalís work is slipping. Their work was less noticeable because of the content of the script - what they were actually bringing to the screen. The Fellowship of the Ring would call for "a mountain with snow", and they'd make a miniature of it. The Hobbit would call for "a mountain that turns into a monstrous mountain man creature that hurls skyscraper-sized boulders", and that, well, has to be CG. The Hobbit is calling for more fantastical elements, scenarios, characters and environments that are more intense than the previous films (and thatís saying something, give the craziness of what LOTR calls for), and thatís where the extremely hard work of VFX comes into play. They are being asked to do TOO MUCH, and itís showing in their work.

After all of that rambling, I guess what Iím trying to boil it down to is: Peter definitely did NOT shy away from using CG for the whole LOTR trilogy. He used it, and he used it A LOT. He does use practical elements, but minimally, compared to other directors. The Hobbit is using more CG than LOTR, yes, but that's like comparing an A- to an A+. Is there a difference? Yes. Much of a difference? No. Relatively speaking, for the sake of argument, let's just say that the three LOTR movies were 3/4 CG while The Hobbit(s) are like, 4/5 CG. More CG than LOTR? Yes. But not by much.
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Old 12-16-2013   #7
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Post Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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After all of that rambling, I guess what Iím trying to boil it down to is: Peter definitely did NOT shy away from using CG for the whole LOTR trilogy. He used it, and he used it A LOT. He does use practical elements, but minimally, compared to other directors. The Hobbit is using more CG than LOTR, yes, but that's like comparing an A- to an A+. Is there a difference? Yes. Much of a difference? No. Relatively speaking, for the sake of argument, let's just say that the three LOTR movies were 3/4 CG while The Hobbit(s) are like, 4/5 CG. More CG than LOTR? Yes. But not by much.


...Yes... You just eerily took the words RIGHT out of my mouth.

I understand everyone's concern with the use of CGI in the movie, but when they begin to compare it's use to the original [LOTR] trilogy's effects, that's where my attention begins to wander. The films beforehand had less CGI, yes, but in the ratio of it's use compared to the Hobbit, it's only about a ratio of 4 to 5. Aside from Gollum, there was LOTS of use of CG throughout the movies: the Ents, the background designs of Rivendale and Lothlorien, the effects of the One Ring when it is worn. When the Hobbit came out, a lot of people shunned it because it used too much of it. I can partially understand it, but the originals used it just as much, and no one's complaining there. Double standards, I guess.

Honestly, as a person who despises the concept of using CG to take over storytelling... I personally love these new Hobbit films. Are they like the Lord of the Rings movies? No. But that's where I draw the line: it's NOT supposed to BE Lord of the Rings. It's a completely different story. Yes, they take place in the same world and has some of the same characters, but nonetheless, it's NOT Lord of the Rings. It's another whole new story. And I like it. A LOT. It strengthens my love of fantasy storytelling and why I love movies, along with plenty of other movies I saw this year that holds the trait down with thermal bond epoxy (*cough* Gravity. ). The use of the movie's CGI is different to the other trilogy, but it was never to a point to where it annoyed me like everyone else. My focus wasn't focused entirely on the sets, but the characters themselves. Because the story is so set on evocation through it's characters as much as it's backgrounds, I can learn to appreciate the film on both scales.

I'd say more, but I was planning to try and think out my own review of the movie, and due to my overwhelming schedule and procrastination this past weekend, it prevented me from grasping my entire thoughts on it. But seeing this reaffirmed some of those thoughts. Thank you, Mr. Mirage.
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Old 12-16-2013   #8
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Default Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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...Yes... You just eerily took the words RIGHT out of my mouth.

When the Hobbit came out, a lot of people shunned it because it used too much of it. I can partially understand it, but the originals used it just as much, and no one's complaining there. Double standards, I guess.
I'd say it's more of just people being Hypocritical, with a capital "H".
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Old 12-16-2013   #9
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I'd say it's more of just people being Hypocritical, with a capital "H".
I would've suggested that, but I didn't want to make that assumption, since I can understand most of the criticisms of the new films.
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Old 12-17-2013   #10
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Default Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I'm totally not meaning to hijack your review thread and turn it into my own VFX rant, skeletonking. Also, I'd like to point out that everyone in this thread has been awesome.

It really is a sense of double-standards. (I'm not saying you're one of those people, skeletonking. ) There are just some people out there, people who can't word their responses as eloquently as the likes of the people in this thread, who complain, but don't know enough to actually rationalize their complaints. They complain based on false information or lack of knowledge on the subject, so that's where facts and examples come in handy.

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Originally Posted by DreamMaster08X View Post
Honestly, as a person who despises the concept of using CG to take over storytelling...
Let me just step into my armchair director mode here... As someone who has only recently got a true glimpse into what it takes to produce professional video projects (a music video, commercial, documentary, short film) and all that's involved in "small" productions such as those and what it takes to tell a story from start to finish, I'd just like to point out that CGI never "takes over storytelling". At least not deliberately. CGI is merely a tool to help tell the story. Whether you're Nolan, Scorsese, Spielberg, Bay, Jackson or Whedon, whether your film is filled from start to finish with CGI or if you've only got a small bit, whether it's your first time using it or if it's your tenth VFX Oscar-winning film, no filmmaker worth their salt will throw CGI into their film for the mere sake of using CGI. Using visual effects - miniatures, CG, matte paintings, models, stop-motion, whatever - is one of the many, many tools that a filmmaker has in their toolbelt. They've been using visual trickery for a century to achieve their goal: TELLING STORIES AND ENTERTAINING AUDIENCES. Utilizing CGI in a film to help tell the story is really no different than using elaborate make-up to help tell the story. Or costumes. Or sets. Or actors. Or props. Or special effects. Or lights. Dozens upon dozens of factors work together in a production to help push the story along. You don't need all of these factors, but the ones that a production does have, has to work together seamlessly. it's all about searching for the best tools to tell the story and using them competently. The director digs around in his toolbelt for the best tools to tell his vision. Does he need props to tell his story? Yes? Then he'll use them. Does he require period-accurate costumes to tell the story? Yes? Well, he's rooting around in that toolbelt for them. Does he require CGI to tell his story? If so, he's going to use it. CGI is merely one of the many tools at a director's disposal.

If the CGI (or any of the above-mentioned "tools") in a movie distracts you from the story, that's unfortunate, but it's also subjective to each individual audience member, and that's something that cannot be controlled from the editing bay. It's the filmmakers' jobs to try and ensure that it doesn't happen, but sometimes it does and it's unavoidable. I can watch a movie and say that such-and-such a filmmaking method distracted me, and you can watch the same movie and say it didn't. But the CGI, like costumes or make-up or props, is there to help tell the story, never to distract from it.
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