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View Poll Results: How would you grade The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey?
A+ 32 16.58%
A 52 26.94%
A- 38 19.69%
B+ 28 14.51%
B 15 7.77%
B- 9 4.66%
C+ 1 0.52%
C 8 4.15%
C- 2 1.04%
D+ 3 1.55%
D 1 0.52%
D- 3 1.55%
F 1 0.52%
Voters: 193. You may not vote on this poll

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Old December 16 2012, 02:04 AM   #136
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Re: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Grading & Discussion (Spoilers

I liked it a lot, gave it an A-... it is very deliberately paced, and I agree some of the action sequences went on a bit too long, in a can-you-top-this spirit that we saw in King Kong [and always brings Temple of Doom to mind for me]. I don't agree w/the "bloated" description, and while the Azog stuff wan't my favorite part I can see why they did it, to give an "enemy" for the first movie.

I'm surprised more folks haven't mentioned the scaling-up of Bilbo's heroism, in how he is the one who delays the trolls until Gandalf arrives and in his going after Azog to defend Thorin. I liked the former but I thought the latter was a bit too much of a leap... even if he'd decided to do it one of the Dwarves would've gone first.

Gollum looks awesome, and it makes clearer just how much of this performance is Serkis'... the riddle-scene is supposed to be the highlight of this movie and it was for me. Freeman and Serkis did a great job, and particularly since [as revealed on Colbert's Hobbit Week] it was the first scene Freeman filmed.

I liked the White Council scene, great to see them all together... and for the complaint that you could tell Lee was filmed separately, the end of the conversation between Gandalf and Galadriel shows that he needn't have been there either. We know the mighty Elves can speak mind-to-mind... maybe Lorien's "magic hologram" tech works better than Isengard's!

Nice to see the Dwarves center stage a bit, and to see the Battle of Azanulbizar onscreen. I thought the trolls were well-realized and amusingly dumb. I liked Radagast, though his running the wargs around was a bit much.

Overall I agree that the feel on balance is a little more kid-like than LotR, which is appropriate given the source material. Even though there are a lot of them, the kills seem a lot less bloody. The songs are nicely used without being overdone. [What, no "Tra-la-la-lally, the Elves of the valley"? ]

I don't think it's 45 minutes too long, but it could use about 15 min of trimming in my opinion. Less time at Bag End, less Radagast cross-country sledding, less running through the caverns from goblins, fewer falling trees. That'd do it for me.

I think one's opinion of King Kong will be a good predictor here... I thought Kong was certainly overindulgent as hell, but not the ego-run-wild disaster some people do. My analog is Temple of Doom, while some folks here would say Battlefield Earth . [My biggest complaint is the removal of any admirable qualities from Carl Denham... PJ's Denham is not one who'll go back to Skull Island to find Kong's son out of guilt, that's for sure. But I digress ] If you hate Kong, bring stimulants to see this one.

So I marked it down to an A- for inflation and dodgy Warg cgi... and I saw it in regular 2D. I'm going to see it again tonight in 48fps 3D, so I'll comment on that tomorrow.
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Old December 16 2012, 02:16 AM   #137
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Re: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Grading & Discussion (Spoilers

Gave it an A+! Will probably give it a review of some sorts when I see the movie for a second time.
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Old December 16 2012, 02:23 AM   #138
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Re: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Grading & Discussion (Spoilers

On 48fps:
I was largely a supporter of it going into the movie, because the criticisms I read sometimes seemed contradictory (it's too real to the point its realness becomes fake). While it may have a point that heightened reality will only show the artifice of the film, I didn't think that was much of an argument against 48ps as a process and more that special effects would just have to get better to keep up with it.

But having actually seen it?

It was noticably jumpy in a number of scenes with movement, as if the projector was playing them slightly too fast. When it happened - which was like four or five times during the movie - it was pretty obvious and pretty distracting. Other than that I had no problems with it or the 3D, Unexpected Journey largely succeeded as spectacle (perhaps less 'woah' moments than Avatar, which I'm also going to go ahead and say was the better film overall). At no point however did the 48fps take me out of the fiction the film had generated via costuming, sets, miniatures, CGI and the like. Not that everything was convincing, but the problems were more your typical 'oh, that's clearly CGI' and less 'hah, I can see the seams in Gandalf's fake nose!'

Santa Klaus wrote: View Post
PJ's Denham is not one who'll go back to Skull Island to find Kong's son out of guilt,
With the right box office numbers, he would have.
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Old December 16 2012, 02:47 AM   #139
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Re: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Grading & Discussion (Spoilers

^^ Oh of course he'd have gone back... but not from guilt, from profit just like the boss.
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Old December 16 2012, 03:10 AM   #140
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Re: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Grading & Discussion (Spoilers

Just got back from watching the IMAX 3D 24fps version. I have to say it's crazy that there are so many different versions to see. I might just have to go watch each one.

Did I love it? That goes without saying. The real question is what about the film did I love? In no particular order:

  • Martin Freeman. By and large the star of the film and brilliantly performs Bilbo Baggins. He manages to capture every facet of Bilbo's character; his stubbornness, his fears, his uncertainties, his modesty, and above all else, his courage. If anyone from the cast has a chance for an Oscar nomination, it's Freeman (although Andy Serkis really should have a greater chance than he will, but more of that later). I look forward to his performances in the next two films more than anything else (along with Smaug, of course).
  • Ian McKellan. Seeing McKellan as Gandalf once again after all this years is like seeing on old friend returning home. It's one thing to be back in the familiar lands of Middle-Earth, but it's a whole another to return with Gandalf. And not just Gandalf, but Gandalf the Grey who has always been my favorite version of the wizard (and apparently McKellan's as well). McKellan slips back into the role like ten years ago was yesterday and brings with him all of the charm, wisdom, and understated power with him. Just prior to the Council of White scene, I suddenly realized that he and Cate Blanchett never shared a single scene of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I'm glad we finally got the opportunity here because the two of them were brilliant together.
  • Andy Serkis. Just as he stole the show in The Two Towers, he does it again in An Unexpected Journey, and if nothing else, he manages to up his game even further. While Tolkien hadn't yet developed Gollum's schizophrenic nature in The Hobbit, Serkis manages to brilliantly weave it into the "Riddles in the Dark" scene as if Tolkien himself had written the chapter that way. As I said before, Serkis should have a greater chance at getting an Oscar nomination than he actually has, but I can only pray that the Academy will finally come to their senses and recognize Serkis' incredible acting.
  • "Riddles in the Dark" was a major highlight of the film as I expected it would be. I'm thankful they managed to get most of the riddles into the final cut with five out of seven appearing, not counting Bilbo's non-riddle question. I can only hope they filmed the other two riddles (dark, fish) and they're included in the inevitable Extended Edition.
  • Sylvester McCoy. As a life-long Doctor Who fan and having grown up on him (and Tom Baker, of course), I was absolutely thrilled by McCoy's casting as Radagast. Even though Radagast doesn't appear in The Hobbit, nor is he greatly detailed upon in The Return of the King appendices, McCoy wonderfully invokes Radagast's love for nature and all things living. Although he has an odd and abrupt introduction to the narrative, Radagast's appearance quickly proves to be vital by delivering information (and proof) to Gandalf of the Necromancer's presence in Dol Guldur.
  • The Council of White. I'm so happy that Christopher Lee was able to return as Saruman in this film if only for one scene, but a scene with such incredible talent. However, I couldn't help but notice that the scene was green screen in order to accommodate Lee's health (so he didn't have to fly to New Zealand) and I wonder what kind of role Saruman will have in the seize of Dol Guldur in the next film.
  • On a side note, am I the only one who was not only relieved but also thrilled to see a calmer, less Mr. Smith-esque Elrond?
  • While I didn't expect to see Smaug in all of his glory, I was excited to see small glimpses of him at both the beginning, and unexpectedly, at the end. Peter Jackson manages to perfectly tease the audience with just enough of Smaug's power without showing too much. It's going to be a long year to finally see (and hear!) Smaug in his entirety.
  • I was very impressed how Jackson was also able to give most of the dwarves distinctive personalities and individual screen time so that they didn't disappear into the mix. In this case, I'm grateful that Jackson greatly expanded on Tolkien's work because the author doesn't provide much in the novel beyond Thorin, Balin, Dwalin, Bombur, and Kili and Fili as a pair. In fact, most of the dwarves don't even have dialogue in the novel. And yet, between Jackson's directing and writing and the actors' performances, most of the dwarves stand out very well. Only Nori, Dori, Oin, and Bifur seem to disappear a little (and even Bombur, too, if not for all of the understated fat jokes).
  • In regards to the adaption, I have to say I'm very pleased how loyal it is to the novel and appendices with the only major change being the expansion of Azog (who actually died prior to The Hobbit, although his son plays a small role in the book) as an adversary to Thorin.
  • In fact, as loyal as the film is to its sources, there doesn't seem to be much left for the inevitable Expanded Edition. I only noticed two scenes missing from the film that we saw in the trailers: Bilbo visiting the Shards of Anduril and Gandalf walking through dark passages (presumably Dol Guldur). I'm sure these scenes will be included along with the two missing riddles. Honestly, I can't think of what else show up.
  • Tragically, I missed Peter Jackson's cameo even though I know roughly where it is (somewhere in the first six or seven minutes of the film). At least Stephen Colbert isn't the only person to miss it. Speaking of which, is Colbert's cameo in this film or another? Anyone notice?
Only one thing nags me about the whole film and it's really minor: We see Radagast visit Dol Guldur and quickly finds Gandalf. The problem with that is Dol Guldur is on the southwest border of Mirkwood, and when he meets Gandalf and company, they haven't even reached the Misty Mountains yet! Unless Radagast has some secret shortcut through the mountains or his rabbit sled can fly, there's no way he would have gotten to them so quickly. I don't doubt Peter Jackson knows Middle-Earth geography, but I think he made a misstep in narration by making Radagast's visit to Dol Guldur appear to have occurred concurrently to the Company's present adventures.

In closing, while Jackson can be a bit over dramatic at times, especially at the climax (just as he was in the trilogy), Jackson has brilliantly brought us all back to Middle-Earth with great splendor and I cannot wait until next year for The Desolation of Smaug.
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Old December 16 2012, 03:22 AM   #141
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Re: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Grading & Discussion (Spoilers

I thought of that point about getting from Dol Goldur to Eriador while watching but then forgot about it. Maybe the EE will have a sequence of Radagast on his bionic-rabbit-sled careening through the pass of Caradhras in the snow.

Or on a more serious note, the Eagles?

And I totally forgot to look for PJ, I will tonight.
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Old December 16 2012, 04:27 AM   #142
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Re: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Grading & Discussion (Spoilers

Elfin Mischievous Humbug wrote: View Post
I can only pray that the Academy will finally come to their senses and recognize Serkis' incredible acting.
You know, now that you mention it there may be an outside chance. An Academy Award is ostensibly for a specific performance, but in reality they seem to take into account a person's other recent work. Serkis was equally great in Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, and the ten years since The Two Towers should mean not only that Gollum has entered the vernacular but also that the typical Academy voter now has relatively modern sensibilities, with all that that entails. Also, it's almost certainly Serkis' final substantial Gollum performance. Hopefully they'll recognise this exceptional actor before it's time for a lifetime achievement award.

Elfin Mischievous Humbug wrote: View Post
[*]The Council of White. I'm so happy that Christopher Lee was able to return as Saruman in this film if only for one scene, but a scene with such incredible talent.
I'm not sure if by "incredible talent" you mean Lee or the general assembly, but I would agree on either count. I got a real kick out of Saruman and particularly how he was presented as an ally and authority figure. Liked the way he put down Gandalf and pretty much dismissed Radagast in a callback to the infamous comment about Gandalf smoking too much of the Longbottom Leaf. McKellen makes the most of it, showing us a Gandalf who's intimidated by his superior to a somewhat unsettling degree, especially since he seems to consider Saruman to be above reproach.

I thought that Cate Blanchett pitched it just right, too. This is a Galadriel about whom new viewers should have misgivings come Fellowship, so a certain aloofness was perfectly appropriate. Must admit that I welled up a bit on first seeing her in this movie, but that's partly Howard Shore's doing.

Radagast's apparent speed of travel didn't bother me, as we don't know exactly when his early scenes happen in relation to the chronology of Bilbo's journey. It could easily be a month or two between his first scene and his meeting with Gandalf, unless I'm mistaken.
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Old December 16 2012, 04:41 AM   #143
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Re: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Grading & Discussion (Spoilers

HolidayHuxtable wrote: View Post
I don't think it's fair to say it's a gushing review. Instead, I think it's a well-written and well-argued review that describes in detail why the reviewer enjoyed the film so much, but is also not afraid to criticize. I agree with his insights on the expansion of Azog and elevating Thorin into a hero role, but I disagree that An Unexpected Journey is the best Middle-Earth film since Fellowship of the Ring.

Wereghost wrote: View Post
Elfin Mischievous Humbug wrote: View Post
I can only pray that the Academy will finally come to their senses and recognize Serkis' incredible acting.
You know, now that you mention it there may be an outside chance. An Academy Award is ostensibly for a specific performance, but in reality they seem to take into account a person's other recent work. Serkis was equally great in Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, and the ten years since The Two Towers should mean not only that Gollum has entered the vernacular but also that the typical Academy voter now has relatively modern sensibilities, with all that that entails. Also, it's almost certainly Serkis' final substantial Gollum performance. Hopefully they'll recognise this exceptional actor before it's time for a lifetime achievement award.
I certainly hope you're right but I was equally disappointed when he wasn't nominated for Rise of the Planet of the Apes as I was The Two Towers. Only time will tell.

Wereghost wrote: View Post
Elfin Mischievous Humbug wrote: View Post
[*]The Council of White. I'm so happy that Christopher Lee was able to return as Saruman in this film if only for one scene, but a scene with such incredible talent.
I'm not sure if by "incredible talent" you mean Lee or the general assembly, but I would agree on either count. I got a real kick out of Saruman and particularly how he was presented as an ally and authority figure. Liked the way he put down Gandalf and pretty much dismissed Radagast in a callback to the infamous comment about Gandalf smoking too much of the Longbottom Leaf. McKellen makes the most of it, showing us a Gandalf who's intimidated by his superior to a somewhat unsettling degree, especially since he seems to consider Saruman to be above reproach.

I thought that Cate Blanchett pitched it just right, too. This is a Galadriel about whom new viewers should have misgivings come Fellowship, so a certain aloofness was perfectly appropriate. Must admit that I welled up a bit on first seeing her in this movie, but that's partly Howard Shore's doing.
Yes, I meant the whole ensemble. Each one of them was excellent in that scene and I look forward to more White Council scenes in the next film.

Wereghost wrote: View Post
Radagast's apparent speed of travel didn't bother me, as we don't know exactly when his early scenes happen in relation to the chronology of Bilbo's journey. It could easily be a month or two between his first scene and his meeting with Gandalf, unless I'm mistaken.
I figured that was what was intended but I felt that the film gave the impression his visit happened concurrent to the Company's time in Eriador
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Old December 16 2012, 04:57 AM   #144
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Re: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Grading & Discussion (Spoilers

I was a bit concerned when I heard that the Hobbit was being stretched into three movies, and even more concerned by some of the initial reviews that described the movie as overlong and unexciting.

I'm glad to say that my fears largely turned out to be wrong. While I did think the pacing felt a bit plodding at times I can't say that I was ever bored. I enjoyed the film, and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the trilogy.

That said, I don't rate this film as highly as I would the LOTR trilogy. The plot didn't feel like it had quite the same emotional weight as the LOTR films, and I also thought that the action in The Hobbit felt a bit too video game-like in comparison to the previous films. For those reasons I gave An Unexpected Journey a B grade, whereas the previous LOTR films I would rate in the A range.
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Old December 16 2012, 05:05 AM   #145
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Re: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Grading & Discussion (Spoilers

They could have cut just about every action scene in half without doing the film a bit of harm.
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Old December 16 2012, 07:42 AM   #146
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Re: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Grading & Discussion (Spoilers

The action scenes are too long, and the survival rate too high, trying willing suspension of disbelief. I can only rate it a B.

Cheating Azog as a Big Bad for the movie does no harm, nor does behind the scenes chatter about the Necromancer. Radagast is charming in a way pretty reminiscent of the tone of the book. Making Thorin a tragic hero doesn't hurt, nor does giving Bilbo a temporary save. This kind of padding might have dropped the rating even further, down to C.

But the big dramatic moments of Bilbo deciding to go and to spare Gollum were done quite effectively and gave the movie some weight to keep it from drifting away on gusts of boring "action" set pieces.

PS They seemed to have showed trailers for every big budget 3D FX movie for the next year. The only one that seemed really interesting was Man of Steel, which was unexpected.
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Old December 16 2012, 08:06 AM   #147
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Re: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Grading & Discussion (Spoilers

I actually thought the movie was pretty good.... although I'll definitely be sticking with standard 24fps for the next two.

The 48fps was certainly interesting to experience-- and it really did make the 3D feel as natural and smooth as I've ever felt it-- but ultimately it just removed too much of the magic from the screen for my taste. Instead of feeling like I was getting a glimpse into some other, wondrous world, like in LOTR, here it felt most of the time like I was simply watching actors on a movie set. Or like I was watching the most expensive home movie ever made.

It also had the odd effect of making even the natural scenery look a bit fake. The trees and mountains that passed under us looked as much like models as Rivendell did, which was weird. Although unlike others here, I had no problem with the CGI. I thought most of it was integrated pretty well, and looked fantastic.

The story did drag in a few places (particularly in the beginning), but no more so than in LOTR. And the action wasn't nearly as cartoony or over the top as I had heard it would be either.

Ultimately, I'd probably have to give it a B. Although I suspect that'll go up once I see it in 24fps.


(Oh yeah, the Trek and Man of Steel trailers also looked freakin fantastic as well)
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Old December 16 2012, 08:37 AM   #148
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Re: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Grading & Discussion (Spoilers

Sindatur wrote: View Post
I've read them, and the impression I get that is being said is that it no longer looks filmed, it looks too realistic with the lack of blurring, and that that also causes some folks headaches and vertigo. I can certainly understand a complaint about headaches and vertigo, but, I never thought I'd see a complaint in Film's never ending quest to look more lifelike to end up causing a complaint of too lifelike
In case no one has said this yet, that is EXACTLY the problem. Filmmakers depend on a certain loss of image quality to help them "sell" sets and costumes. Things look one way in real life and another on film.

So those wooden walls painted to look like stone or metal? Look like wooden walls with paint, not stone or metal. Hence "fake". Those plastic trees you're using for set decoration? Look like plastic trees. Hence "fake".

Older TV shows that have recently been rescanned or upconverted for Blu Ray have similar problems. Witness classic Trek, for example.

HFR projection will make movies hideously more expensive to produce as sets and costumes will have to be constructed to a "real world" standard of quality. A whole new set of design techniques will have to be used in order to restore the "vertias" of the filmed image.

Or they can just keep cranking out films that look like cheesy film sets and piss off audiences even more than they are now.
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Old December 16 2012, 08:40 AM   #149
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Re: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Grading & Discussion (Spoilers

Professor Zoom wrote: View Post
JarodRussell wrote: View Post
Movies don't look "cinematic" anymore anyways. Digital cameras and digital color grading, all that stuff ruined that long time ago.
While I don't agree, you do bring up a good question:

Are digital cameras LESS cinematic than film? There's no grain, which is something we are used to... Is Avatar LESS cinematic than Flight of the Navigator?

Is film stock MORE cinematic?
What they don't tell you is that they can ADD "grain" in the post-production, and often do.

JarodRussell wrote: View Post
That Den of Geek quote is hilarious. It's the typical rant you hear every single time something new is introduced.
And your response is the typical reply you hear every time someone doesn't fall down and worship "the new thing"...

Sometimes "newer" is not "better", and unbroken things are best left unfixed.

JarodRussell wrote: View Post
This thread about revelations in TNG-HD should put that Den of Geek thing into perspective for some. Higher resolution, and you can suddenly see bad prosthetics and zippers and carpet seems and stuff. Some would argue that it takes you totally out of the film, and that it's devilry.
Because such things DO take you out of the film. Prosthetics and costumes and sets are designed with full knowledge that things look different on film than they do in real life. They COUNT on that to be able to get a realistic look out of a certain type of construction. The prosthetics, etc aren't "crappy", they're designed to be lit and filmed a certain way.

HFR takes that tool out of the filmmaker's toolbox by changing the underlying assumptions about how things appear in the final product.

It's easy for you to "armchair produce" and simply tell them "do it better". How do you propose to artificially build a place like Minas Tirith (or the interiors of the Enterprise, to name another example) to real-life levels of realism as opposed to photorealism and not spend a couple of billion bucks even attempting it?



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There are very very very very very very very few internet reviewers I can stand. It's one reason to hate the technology that enables humans to record themselves and post it on the web. Just because its possible, doesn't mean we want to hear your opinion. No matter how sarcastically you deliver it.

So, yes. I mostly avoid internet movie reviewers.
Like posting on BBSes one might say...

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Old December 16 2012, 10:21 AM   #150
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Re: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Grading & Discussion (Spoilers

Very impressed with this, only the pacing was a distraction at points. Going from a tad slow (but not bothersome slow), to dwarfs running around killing goblins with so much happening all at once it's kinda distracting.

The biggest deal for me, was Christopher Lee. I almost choked on some tears. For those who saw the BAFTA's about two years ago... Lee was given an award, and when he came on stage, he was so fragile, so thin. Sometimes struggling to find the right word. To see him on screen again, so full of life and energy.... Amazing.

Gollum.... what to say..... The effects for Gollum where already stunning in LOTR, this was just out there. And Andy's performance. Hilarious, he got the most laughs in the theater we saw it at.


If there is one thing that bothered me every now and then, it was the lack of an original score. I understand that for some parts, using the same score as used in the LOTR movies make things recognizable. But it also felt slightly... lazy, perhaps?? Not sure what word to use. It still is a great score, don't get me wrong.
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