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Chen G.

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Everything posted by Chen G.

  1. I don't think the episode was written down in full, but the idea was that Bilbo pokes Smaug's bald spot with Sting (even in the finished book, this ending is foreshadowed in Smaug's dream), and than floats on the gushing blood all the way back to the hidden door. No Laketown is destroyed nor is a battle fought, and Thorin and Co. survive. But Tolkien just couldn't help himself (just like with the Necromancer) and added a battle where the Goblins intercepted Bilbo on his way back, and the Woodland Elves, Beorn and the Northmen came to his aid. He later changed the entire end so Laketown is destroyed and the Battle of the Five Armies ensues. Since Tolkien realized that a full description of the battle would be too much for a childrens' book, he had most of it told to Bilbo in retrospect. Since this ending was an afterthought, many elements of it (Bard, the Black Arrow) appear without any set-up. I think this explains the partitioning of The Battle of the Five Armies. It also explains changes made specifically to Thorin's storyline: In the novel, Tolkien treats the character of Thorin as a central character and certainly refers to him with a sense of reverence. But for some reason he is reluctant to provide Thorin with a single achievement to back up his reputation: he doesn't kill Azog, Bolg or Smaug, doesn't win any battle, and isn't even the instigator of the quest. So, for a film adaptation in which Thorin is a main character, you'd want him to have an achievement such as the slaying of Azog or the attempt at slaying Smaug.
  2. Me too. I do think that I wouldn't like a dulogy as much as I like the trilogy, certainly in terms of fleshing out the musical "worlds" for places like Laketown, The Woodland Realm, etc. I know that the tonal issue was very much on the filmmakers mind when they split the book three ways. The second film in the dulogy was to cover more than half of the Desolation of Smaug and all of Battle of the Five Armies, and I think the two tones won't have meshed very well, and even if they had - the shift as Battle of the Five Armies fades into Fellowship of the Ring would be all the more jarring. Originally, Tolkien had concluded The Hobbit in a much happier fahsion fitting to the tone of the rest of the novel: Bilbo was to kill Smaug with Sting and no major character death was to happen. But he just couldn't help but infuse the story with the more archaic and brooding aspects that charactarized the rest of his writing, so as he was re-writing it, we gradually got to where we are, and ended up with the story taking a much more grounded approach following Smaug's demise. It's great, but it doesn't sit with the rest of the novel quite as well as one might hope. As it is, the trilogy (in terms of the films here rather than the music) moved the tonal inconsistency to the first film, but from the last hour of An Unexpected Journey going forward it finds its footing and hurtles forward. I would have hated to see that chopped up and served as one film, or one score for that matter.
  3. It also serves to highlight the deriviative nature of parts of the score, especially in terms of the OST presentation. "Padme's Ruminations" is effectivelly on the CD simply to let the listener know that the moaning woman from Gladiator is in the score. And than you have choral work right out of the Fellowship of the Ring in "Anakin's Dark Deeds", as well as percussion that is evocative of the music for the Orcs (Taiko drums, two timpanists, etc...). But, hey, at least its plagiarizing good music, so the end result is still bloody awesome.
  4. Yeah, I also never percieved it as a lift from Hugo. Its just that both compositions are in a more classical idiom. We also get to explore some medieval/baroque sounding music in the following film, with Laketown. But halfway into Battle of the Five Armies we are well into the romantic style of Fellowship of the Ring, so there's a nice progression there. There's also an evolution from a more instrumental score in the first two films into a more operatic score with voices going into Lord of the Rings, although all of the Middle Earth scores use voices extensivelly. I actually think the latter two scores (and films) are tonally more like The Lord of the Rings in that the music helps in driving home a lot of the dark and elegiac aspects of the story. By comparison, An Unexpected Journey stands out as a score written in a much more bold and heroic vein, much like the film. I think the orchestrational difference complements the films' exploration of new, uncharted territory in Middle Earth. The fantastic low brass of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra works well in accenting the foreboding element of those two scores. I think, if the (speculative) difference between the dulogy and trilogy is to be explored, this would be a good point to start: I don't quite know what the tone of the second installment in the proposed dulogy will have been; but with the trilogy, we got three films and scores, each darker than the next.
  5. Absolutly. I don't think Williams ever truly composes with sequels in mind. That's why looking for hints into further installments in his music is moot. I think the main culprit is Williams' desire to base each score on new thematic material and explore new avenues in terms of sound, whether it be choir, unusual percussion, the occasional synth, electric guitar, etc...
  6. I actually really like Revenge of the Sith. Sure, it doesn't have the polish of the first three films and it does have some structural problems, but overall some of the best dramatic beats of the series are in there. I also voted for for it as best score. I really like the dramatic effect of the choir, and while the application here feels less organic than The Phantom Menace and is certainly more deriviative of Lord of the Rings - it's still effective.
  7. It's not the kids. It's the director. The adult actors are also either laying it too thick, or are just bland. Yes, they sort of adapted into working with Chris Columbus between the two films, so they are a bit better.
  8. Explanation is fine. Repetitions are not.
  9. To me, its plain bad. Superman the Movie has a charming quality to it, but its such a long first act as it is. The rear projection looks atrocious, the villain is completely un-menacing, and the end is literally the definition of Deus Ex-Machina.
  10. I suppose if you like the nostalgia and kid-film aspect of the first two films than they'd appeal to you more. To me, they're too jouvenile, too slow (Sorcerer's Stone at least has the excuse that its the first film) and horrendosly acted.
  11. As for the score I'd need to take another look at it. Hadn't listened to the bloody thing in years. But the film? Yes, its darker than Sorcerer's Stone, but that's a very low bar to clear. In both films, I think Chris Colombus pulled his punches on material that was genuinely dark. Even when he tried to go along with it during the Basilisk sequence, he unintentionally mired it with repetitive exposition that saps all the tension from it.
  12. Hey, I'm an academic. Splitting hairs is what I do. But the point that I'm getting at is that films aren't just about "likeable characters". Its about what avenues does the plot of the film push them into, emotionally.
  13. What you're looking for isn't so much characters as much as it character development: The idea that a character evolves and undergoes a certain personality change throughout the ordeal that is the story of the film. The growth of the character evokes a sense of gratification in the audience. The greater the change - the bigger the arc. Rey, for instance, overcomes a certain insecurity that has to do with her abandoment on Jakku and this idea of her insistence on returning to that place. Spirituality in Star Wars is achieved when the characters' arcs are informed by the rules of the universe, namely the concept of The Force.
  14. So, by "spirituality" you just mean "drama", than.
  15. I don't know how much of the actual film does this permeate, and how much of it is the marketing making us think that's what the movie's centerpiece is about. I think Rian Johnson said (in response to some of the buzz of the first trailer) that he isn't going to dig too deep into the concept of The Force. Spirituality in films like this is always a very fine line to tread. Done wrong and it will be just demystifying.
  16. That they did. Too bad its horse-excrement... How is a western audience supposed to relate to Yoda's advice to Anakin on the matter when all he essentially tells him about his visions is "oh, well. That's too bad."
  17. Its freaking depressing, is what it is! Emiliana Torrini's interpretation is the absolute best.
  18. Williams' principal themes are almost always long-lined and multifaceted ideas. Luke's theme has that opening fanfare (in the opening crawl), the very bold A-phrase and the more lyrical B-phrase. What's new is that where he approached female characters in Star Wars with romantic themes, here he scored Rey from the point of view of a grandfather.
  19. Yeah. I think Yoda has a bit more weight in the fight. Its much more physical in terms of Yoda getting bashed and it does a good service to the character of Palpatine by having him defeat Yoda. The fight uses the environment (one of the oldest rules in the book) effectively, and it is much more based on The Force than on lightsabers, which is more fitting to those characters. And, unlike, the duel with Anakin, its concise. I'm not going to argue that its particularly good cinema, but once you move from the confines of three movies into six (or nine, in retrospect) you'd want to see the character of Yoda in a confrontation, and this does deliver to some degree. It sure is better than anything in Attack of the Clones, although that's a low bar to clear. I like that the duel, like the entire back-half of the movie (good structure!) shows how Palpatine relishes in how evil he is. He is by far the character that "owns" the movie.
  20. The Grievous duel is okay, despite a curious and horribly misframed close up of McGregor's eyes. The duel between Palpatine and Windu suffers from Ian McDiarmid's lack of skill with lightsaber stuntwork. Although to be fair, the same is true of Sir Alec Guiness in the original Star Wars. The duel between him and Yoda is better, as is Anakin's duel with Dooku. Its a good Star Wars movie. I like it!
  21. I also gave it another listen and I love the more classical feel of the music for Bilbo. In the Lord of the Rings, the music evolves from folk music to more orchestral and sophisticated music. In The Hobbit, there is also a bit of development from a more classical sound into the more romantic sound of the rest of the music of Middle Earth.
  22. These scores are so abundant in leitmotives, there's always going to be somekind of an embarrassment of riches.
  23. I always saw Bilbo's Adventure as his main thematic identity, and that theme does carry on into the next two films. I like the Dwarves and their music so I don't mind that the story (and the music) became Dwarf-dominated.
  24. Han Solo's death isn't poignant. It plays more to illustrate Ren's ruthlessness than the tragedy that is at hand. I like that moment in Revenge of the Sith much better. As for Kylo being exhausted and previously injured - yes, that's right. Although to be fair, it isn't appearant in the way he fights with Rey. And again, that he survives all the blows (not to mention the planet rupturing under him) is unblieveable to me. When I first saw the movie, I almost thought he died.
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