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Chen G.

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Everything posted by Chen G.

  1. You're almost making it sound like its a bad film: it isn't. If Fellowship is better made - its only by a hair. I certainly isn't bloated. Its just long. There are Hollywood epics exceeding its length (see Cleopatra). I don't think that it won all those awards on the behalf of the trilogy as a whole: both Two Towers and especially Fellowship - won their own Oscars. Fellowship even won best cinematography! It deserves all eleven awards, and it would have deserved a best supporting actor nomination (if not a win) for Sean Astin.
  2. That would involve showing the film to the orchestra and the conductor ahead of time, which given the secrecy around the film, I doubt they'll do.
  3. Criticism? I love that film! I'd even hesitate to say its the "weakest" of the bunch.
  4. I think The Two Towers shows the signs of Shore going through the material (composition and production-wise) in a hurry, much more than Return of the King. If one gets this feeling from Return of the King, I think its because of Shore's knack (in that specific film) to pit the themes against one another and create this dense score with all these similar-sounding hybrids. But that's a deliberate choice, rather than a flaw in the scoring process. With The Two Towers, however, Jackson delivered the film very late, and if you compare the length of the CR to the movie length (minus additional credits), The Two Towers is by far the most thinly scored. It also features more tracking, including one really egregious example: When Legolas watches the Wargs arrive, we hear the Moria theme!
  5. Verbose Alert! Yes. while I think a whole sequel trilogy is starting to stretch Star Wars a little thin (to the point where we are seeing familiar plot points all over the new films even when its not intended), I do think that its good that we got a second shot at a conclusion, because Return of the Jedi doesn't really deliver. Its a good thing that this film at least has some good drama with Luke and Vader, because if it wasn't for that, I'd probably never watch it again. It's directed lazily (to the point of reusing shots from both previous films), there are some terrible blue screen effects, the film wanders away from its narrative thrust in not one but two instances (Jabba and the Ewoks) and takes a long time to get back to business (the Jabba sequence is 40 minutes long!), and it retreads a lot of ground from the previous films: Tatooine, Death Star, a "shocking" reveal of a hitherto-unknown-familial-tie. The idea of splitting the finale into three story-lines really doesn't help, either. The film also boasts the most egregious changes made by George Lucas, and still fails in terms of continuity, with Leia apparently having memories of the mother from which she was taken instantaneously, and old Ben having a very different recollection of his meeting with Anakin than what was eventually portrayed in the Phantom Menace. The trouble is that, as a result, the music isn't quite as inspired: I like the Emperor's theme, but it isn't the main new theme of the entry: that's rather the bloody Ewok theme! There's a horribly underused theme for Luke and Leia, and this curious little triumph fanfare that appears in no other score, which also means that, between this motif, the rebel fanfare and the throne room march, this film for some reason has three "triumphant' motifs. Also, just as the film retreads a lot of territory from the original film, so too does the music: The sail-barge set piece is a direct lift from the original Star Wars, which also means that the rebel fanfare is used in a scene that has little to do with the rebel alliance. But I have to say, I don't see Episode XI serving up a truly climactic and resonant conclusion to all of the nine films. I think its a learning curve in terms of sound-mixing. Now that's interesting. I think they'd be worried of turning it into a very long cycle, because it takes a lot of preparations and rehearsals to put each concert up, and performing six of them across a short time period isn't going to be easy, or cheap to produce. Rogue one isn't part of the main saga, so it can live in its own little world, though I think its a kind of movie that will lose popularity over time: It doesn't have memorable characters, and it holds up on any real action until very late in the picture.
  6. But not the most dramatic. If I were to distill the verbal chunk I wrote above, I'd say this: that it is the least-flawed (or, better yet, closest to being "technically" perfect) entry doesn't necessarily mean that its the best Although again, if I favor Return of the King better its only by a hair. They're all cut from the same cloth. The same is true, for me, in trying to pick a favorite out of The Hobbit trilogy. In both cases its the result of the filmmakers having scripted, filmed and assembled all three at the same time.
  7. There are bad deliveries in Star Wars and in Return of the Jedi: Carrie Fisher's fake English accent for the first few scenes, than her sassy dialogue with Han, and some of his rebuttles are just terrible ("not this ship, sister"). Even James Earl-Jones gets some bad lines, "I want them alive!" to "he will come to me?" True, its not quite so much as the prequels, but still. So, at least on the level of dialogue and delivery, an inadequate film (when viewed out-of-franchise-context) can still be a good Star Wars film.
  8. Yeah, I really like the prequel scores. I like Phantom Menace and while it is a touch deriviative, I like the operatic quality of Revenge of the Sith. I really like the love theme from Attack of the Clones, although not much else from that score. I guess it helps that those films (well, two of them) don't irk me in the way that they do other people here. None of them are brilliant cinema by any means, but within the aesthetics set by previous Star Wars films - they're okay. Dialogue is a hit-or-miss yes, although that's also very true of the original Star Wars. I like the scope, the adventure and even a lot of the action in The Phantom Menace, and Anakin and Qui-Gon are at least likeable (albeit on the most basic level). Phantom Menace also uses a lot more practical sets than the next two, so the bad CGI is quarantined into portions of the movie where my mind turns off anyway like the Gungans fighting the Droids.
  9. Yeah, it's just because it was CG of his hologram that people found it dodgy. It looked fine.
  10. True. In The Force Awakens Snoke is an inappropriate-exposition-delivery device. Because why create a dramatic reveal when you can just say: "hey, apprentice with which I appearantly talk frequently, I'll just casually mention that Han Solo is your father, just in case you forgot, alright?"
  11. I don't think Williams' writing is emotionally indifferent. Stuff like Across the Stars or the Lament theme are some of the most moving music ever composed for Star Wars. Nothing in The Force Awakens even comes close.
  12. Although to be fair, the choral work in it does become a little repetitive: Its just "Khorah matha, Khorah Rathama!" over and over again.
  13. I don't think he was unable to develop his themes: Qui Gon's motif, while fleeting, does turn to a nicely elegiac tone when he departs. Anakin's theme also gets something of a workout: its both played in a more heroic mold where it segues into Luke's theme quite nicely, but it also receives statements that extend into that tantalizing hint of the Imperial March.
  14. I don't know if I prefer all of the musical moments listed to Rey's theme. A lot of them are none-recurring musical moments (Swimming to Otoh Gunga, the Flag Parade) or minor motifs that don't recur that often (e.g. Qui Gon's theme). That's a weakness of the otherwise terrific score for The Phantom Menace: Because Anakin is introduced relatively late in the film, and the duel happens at the very end, neither of two themes (which are the closest this film has to a main theme) permeate the entire score in the way that you want a main theme to do. On the other hand, rely on the main theme too much (Empire Strikes Back, Attack of the Clones) and the score becomes almost an idee fixe score. I need another good listen or two to The Force Awakens to decide whether it overuses Rey's theme but I do recall it recurring a hell of a lot; but, to be fair, because its usually so lilting and delicate compared to Williams bolder main themes of old, it doesn't offend my sensibilities even if is overused. But I do love the Droid Army march and the Funeral theme to bits!
  15. VERBOSE ALERT! I'm in two minds on this. On the one hand, since they were all made simultaneously, they have a greater unity than any other film series in existence and hence it generally isn't as easy to point out the strongest and weakest of the bunch. It's more of a case of choosing a "favorite" than an outright "better" film. On the other hand, editing goes a long way and just like one of the three acts of a single film can be better, so too can one of the three films be considered the better of the three. I know that Peter Jackson and other members of the production team have a preference to one of the films: in the documentary they even mentioned that executives found Return of the King to be the best script. Now, on the more cerebral film critic circles I've often heard the claim that Fellowship of the Ring is the best. It's certainly the most faithful adaptation, and it doesn't fall into the trappings of a concluding film that Return of the King falls into with Denethor or the multiple endings. But, Fellowship is only "better" on the technical level by virtue of the fact that it has less moving parts. If you're going for a bigger sweep (as the filmmakers did with Return of the King), there are more chances of errors, but even if you do fall into those errors, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's an inferior film. Lindsay Ellis calls Fellowship the best by virtue of being "the most consistent" but no-one goes out of the theater, looks to his friend and say: "well, that was a perfectly consistent movie!" But they go out of the theater while still sobbing from the sheer glory of witnessing Sam carrying Frodo up Mount Doom! Since the material in Return of the King is more inherently emotional, it succeeds beyond its predecessors on the level of drama, which is the heart of this series. And, to me, it does so better than any of the cinematic hallmarks or "high dramas". And it does so consistently, across multiple viewings from quiet night-time viewing on a small TV screen (people were sleeping in the same room!) to a big TV bluray watching to the big screen. In December I'd also know how it works with a live orchestral accompaniment. A bad "epic" provides action and largesse on the expense of a personal, dramatic story; a good epic blends the two together. But a truly great epic uses the grandiose action and scope to leverage the personal drama into new heights. And that is what makes Return of the King my most revered film of all time. As for which is the best score, I lean towards Return of the King as well, simply by virtue of the moments to which the music is attached. Musically as it is visually, it is the conclusion to end all conclusions, but to truly make up my mind on the matter, I have a little argument to settle among myself regarding the scores, which will probably require of me to listen to the whole sextet in sequence.
  16. Duel of the Fates does suffer from the fact that it's introduced late in the film. It doesn't have the chance to "grow" on the audience. At most, you could say some of the "lyrics" (which are just a couple of syllables, really) in Darth Maul's theme presage the theme, but that's not enough. But it's still a good theme! Anakin's theme is, as well. And while it isn't thematic per se, I love the underwater female choir.
  17. The problem with the lyrics in that scene by the way is that Tolkien conceived common speech (and, by proxy, Adunaic) and Khuzdul as closely related. Both are vaguely Semitic sounding. As a result, whatever lyrics are in there, while they make for a great chant, don't distinguish themselves far enough from "revelation of the ringwraiths." There's a moment in there where I could swear hearing "[neba]bitham ma[ganane]." Although on the whole Its clearly a different text. Either way, it's still a wicked chant. Khuzdul makes for great singing!
  18. I seem to recall the same. And once we have the text, it becomes easier to guess what's in the actual libretto. Hell, we already have a fair bit of the lyrics from Piano books, etc.
  19. The Phantom Menace is a great score. One cannot take that away from that entry. Quite possibly one of the best of Williams' scores. The Force Awakens doesn't have this Grand, "epic" sound, which is emblematic of the music of Star Wars. It's in the writing, it's in the editing and mixing, and in the quality and quantity of the ensemble: the Hollywood freelance orchestra simply doesn't hold up to the 100-piece London Symphony Orchestra. As with Revenge of the Sith, the Phantom Menace frequently turns to choir. But where the former does so as it bears the mark of The Lord of the Rings, The Phantom Menace uses it more organically. Dramatically, with the prequels Williams had an idea of where the trilogy was going, which allowed him to produce more intricate leitmotivic hints, e.g. embedding the Imperial March in Anakin's theme.
  20. Yes, but the enduring nature of Star Wars has allowed Williams what few concert works will allow for: a canvas large enough to write a reasonably large collection of leitmotives. It that regard, it is the defining achievement of his career.
  21. Again, so long as the films are telling one narrative that one can watch from beginning to end (e.g. Harry Potter films, Middle Earth films, Star Wars main episodes) than it doesn't offend my sensibilities. If it break off into multiple storylines of films (e.g Marvel, DC, Star Wars spin-offs, etc) than yes. And even a film series presenting a single narrative can be too drawn out. I think we're heading into that territory with the Star Wars episodes: We're seeing repetitions even when they aren't quite there. Not because the filmmakers are being deriviate in their endeavor, but because the series has started to run its course.
  22. Financially, of course. And that's how most Hollywood franchise films are made: they are a string of separate, standalone films. But artistically, you miss out on using a multi-film narrative as a dramatic tool in and of itself: you can "plant" things in the first film ("his father succumbed to the same sickness") for it to pay off in a later installment. Done right, the sense of gratification (derived dramatically from planting and payoff) will be much bigger than one used within the confines of a single film. When the films aren't preplanned, you can retroactively pay off something from a previous film. But it never feels quite as organic, either because the "planting" wasn't designed as planting ("A young Jedi named Darth Vader") or because it was planted without the eventual payoff in mind ("no, there is another.")
  23. Well, that's rare among Hollywood franchises. About the only times it happened were with The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit which were all scripted and filmed simultaneously.
  24. I'm hanging unto what I can. If I'm right - I'm right. But it costs me nothing to be wrong.
  25. I'm not liking Johnson's comments on the Porgs. If they are what he needed on the island for comic relief, than that makes me worried as for Luke and Rey's dynamic. That a film is dark doesn't mean sacrificing humor: far from it. As long as you don't break character and the humor grows organically out of situations, you can use humor very effectively in a film like that, see the darker Star Wars episodes. If Johnson needed the Porgs for comedy, it mean he could not find a way to voice it through Luke or Rey, which would have been preferable. Even if a character is brooding, doesn't mean humor can't be derived from them. See Kylo's hilarious anger issues in The Force Awakens.
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