Mamo 430: The Battle of the Decompression of the Lord of the Mockingjays, Part II

Mamo!

What’s with all these Part Is, Part IIs, 13-part Netflix series, and the rest? Well, we already know the answer: money. But the case of the extended cut of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies provides a study in knowing when your movie is too long, just right, or in some cases, not long enough.

Apologies in advance – this episode is noisy, even for us. We’ll try to pick a better spot next time (although to be fair, the pizza was terrific).

“Even dragons have their endings….” HOBBIT 3 trailer

I t’s been extremely quiet from the lords of the ring since The Desolation of Smaug came out… a title change for the third Hobbit movie, but no posters, production diaries, or trailers – till now.

Master Jackson kicked the door open on the very last Middle-Earth movie he’ll ever make (probably) this past weekend at Comic Con, and the trailer for the we-mean-it-it’s-really-called-this The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies plays heavy with the end-of-the-world pageantry that made The Return of the King work so well a decade ago. Branding the movie “the defining chapter,” though, seems a bit much – and I’m an avowed fan of this stuff.

Review: THE HOBBIT: The Desolation of Smaug

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

Watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, I had a full moment of clarity about why the people who don’t get these movies just don’t get these movies. An elf was talking to a dwarf in a dungeon under a palace carved out of a tree. It all seemed perfectly sensible to me, even the somewhat taboo elf/dwarf romance that was budding, but taken from the outside it’s outright madness in a lot of respects. It was madness made perhaps more digestible by the wartime pomp and circumstance of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, but this new, lesser trilogy is, in its own, around-the-corner way, more like mainlining both Tolkien and Jackson in equal measure. There’s no on-ramp for the uninitiated here.

Which is a long way of saying that those who didn’t like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (or, heaven forfend, The Lord of the Rings) won’t find anything in The Desolation of Smaug to curb their distaste. It’s long as fuck. It’s a wholesale embellishment upon a relatively slender tale. It lacks the clear(er) narrative thrust of, well, a trilogy made out of an existing trilogy. And to an even greater extent than the first Hobbit film, Desolation has trouble locating Bilbo – the titular Hobbit going on an unexpected journey across the desolation of Smaug – as its main character. He disappears for what seems like days at a time.

Desolation has, roughly, twenty principal characters. It can’t successfully juggle them all, or even most of them. (For love or points, name a single scene in which Ori or Bifur are featured. In fact, name a single time Bifur even speaks.) The action centers for the most part on Gandalf and Bilbo and to a greater extent Thorin, and at least in the latter case, this is an improvement; Richard Armitage’s sullen dwarf hero is a dab more compelling this time than last.

Much of the film seems like a reaction to the reaction to An Unexpected Journey. The day-glo cartoonishness of the first film’s troll encounters and Temple of Doom runs through Goblin Town have been replaced by a muted (nearly to the point of black and white) visual palette and grisly goings-on. There are no songs. The story carries us from the Beorn episode through the gang’s first encounter with Smaug in the Lonely Mountain, and it does so rapidly. I was strongly reminded of the theatrical cut of The Two Towers, which also seemed to skip over niceties like character beats and breathing space in favour of hitting its running time. I expect the Extended Edition blu-ray of The Desolation of Smaug to be a belter.

Would you like to know more…?

The Return of the King (Under The Mountain): New Hobbit 2 Trailer

hobbitnewbannersmaller

I‘m working on a theory that before this half-decade is out, we’ll look back on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as one of the most underappreciated movies of 2012. Between the HFR boondoggle and the question of whether a 300 page book warranted a 9-hour trilogy, Peter Jackson’s introduction into the Hobbit world got buried under a lot of questionably relevant sideshows.

New Zealand’s favourite son forwards a case for his redemption with this new trailer for the second film in the Hobbit cycle, The Desolation of Smaug – featuring Elves, Dwarves, spiders, Gandalf, Kate from LOST, a Benedict Cumberbatch-voiced dragon, and most importantly perhaps, gravitas.

Trailer: The Hobbit – Part Deux

The full trailer for The Desolation of Smaug is online and shows that Legolas has some worry lines even though he is supposed to be 40 years younger. Lots of dwarves and wizards and elves run around CGI environments, with actually precious little hobbit on screen. Quick poll: Anyone besides Matt Brown interested in this franchise at this point? I hate to ‘turn’ on Peter Jackson, the mad genius who has brought us so many films to love, but my heart is simply not in this new LotR trilogy.

Mamo #284: Let’s Get Into It

The next generation of immersive cinema has arrived, and so has The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Was bundling them together a good idea? We talk High Frame Rate at 48 frames per second, our Hobbit reactions at 24 frames per second, and eat a great breakfast at regular speed. Plus: science! Join us and enjoy.

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo284.mp3

Mamo #281: One Does Not Simply Mamo Into Mordor

The Lord of the Rings! Peter Jackson’s fantasy trilogy changed the face of Hollywood forever, thrusting Gollum, Weta, and New Zealand into the filmmaking forefront. With The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey mere weeks away, we take a trip in the time machine back to the project that started it all, and analyze the broad swath of impact that the One Ring has had on moviegoing.

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo281.mp3

Trailer for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit

Want to dive back into the Lord of the Rings universe? This new trailer for Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth for another trilogy certainly convinces of its consistency across the franchise. Martin Freeman may be replacing Ian Holm as a younger Bilbo Baggins, but Hugo Weaving, Ian McKellan, Andy Serkis and Cate Blanchett all return to reprise their familiar, timeless, supporting roles.

Part One’s debut is only a couple months away.

Trailer: The Hobbit

On almost the exactly the 10th year anniversary of the theatrical bow of Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings, Fellowship of the Ring, comes the trailer for his return to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth. One might argue this type of thing is redundant. After all, so much as said and done in that super-sized 12 hour trilogy. Stung by legal issues, the demise of New Line Cinema, the arrival of Guillermo del Toro as a creative addition and director but after much creative consulting, his eventual departure prior a single frame being shot.

Delays, delays, delays have been the name of the game as nobody wants to leave the gigantic bag of money on the table for more Hobbit movies. But, one cannot discount the magic of the CGI/model effects, and a lot of good actors giving warm and generous performances. Martin Freeman (BBCs The Office) replaces Ian Holm as a younger Bilbo Baggins, and the dwarves are very well realized. They will be the key in changing the tone from the previous three films, lest this just be a prequel, and not a new adventure, and it looks pretty solid.

Anyone keen to go there and back again?

The trailer is tucked under the seat.

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