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Chen G.

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Everything posted by Chen G.

  1. I'm not going to argue that Revenge of the Sith is a good movie. It isn't. The level of the acting isn't acceptable and, along with some of the effects shots, it can completely take the viewer out of the illusion of the film. But, since acting problems permiate five of the first six films - that's something that, to me, is more forgiveable in a film of this franchise. It can be a bad film, but a good Star Wars film, is my point. Indeed I do underestimate it! Too long a first act, too weird, too much aimed at kids, doesn't mesh that well with its prequels or sequels (oh, so now I'm supposed to believe Vader was going to be Luke's father all along? yeah, right), the acting isn't quite there still, etc... Like I said, I prefer liking films, so I do enjoy it. I watch it and its good and entertaining, but for what's become of Star Wars as a franchise in hindsight, going back to where it all began one would have wished for it to be more than what it is. Way more.
  2. Being too critical of something that is supposed to be enjoyed is an exercise in futility. I much prefer liking films. Its more beneficial to me. Acting wan't great in the original Star Wars or in Return of the Jedi, so that's a sin that - within the sensibilities of the series - can be excused to some degree. The deification of the original trilogy, I find, stems mostly from people taking the strengths of Empire Strikes Back and applying them unto the first three films, even when its not warranted.
  3. The "original" trilogy really isn't particularly sentimental. Look at Ben's death in the original Star Wars: on paper its an emotional beat, but its undermined by the disappearance of the body and by the speed in which the action resumes, first with the shotout and than with the space dogfight, both of which end on a triumphant note. We get no time to wallow in the grief of what's happened. That's purely because it is a kids' film and that was the perception of how a kids' film should approach the subject of loss: see old Disney films. What happens immediately following the death of Bambi's mom? On the other hand, you can compare to stuff like the death of Bruce's parents in Batman Begins where the movie continues to deal with their death for a good three minutes; or Fellowship of the Ring (especially the Extended Edition) where Gandalf's death continues to loom over Frodo for the rest of the movie. Compare that with Empire Strikes Back: When Luke discovers the truth about his father, his anguish is much more palpable and it continues to accompany him until the curtain closes ("Ben, why didn't you tell me?"). That's drama. But that's just one film out of the bunch and, as it turns out, it wasn't as serviceable to 1980s audience, so Empire remains by far the least financially succesfull of all Star Wars films So with Return of the Jedi, they return more to the formula of the original Star Wars: Vader's death and his pyre are sobering moments alright, but than you get others like the conflict between Han and Lando being appearantly resolved offscreen, we never see Leia come to gripes with the fact that Darth Vader, who tortured her, is her father, and there's Ewoks, etc... Revenge of the Sith is sentimental and not in the trite way that, say, Attack of the Clones is with the "romance." When Obi Wan laments Anakin's fall from grace, that's powerful. When Anakin turns into Darth Vader, intercut with the birth of his children, its truly sad.
  4. Revenge of the Sith has some of the best drama in the series. And The Phantom Menace is, at the very least, a fun and quite expansive adventure. They aren't good films at all. But they're okay to good Star Wars films. Much in the same way that flawed and chauvinistic bond films from the sixties can still be good movies within the sensibilities of their own franchise.
  5. Revenge of the Sith isn't a so-bad-its-good film, and I can even enjoy a lot about The Phantom Menace. But Attack of the Clones? Sure, Absolutly!
  6. Yes. I'm by far not a big fan of The Force Awakens, but I don't really like Rogue One. The only action scene that works is the last one, and the characters don't work at all. And while it doesn't retread plot points a-la The Force Awakens, it uses so many Star Wars tropes and cliches to no end.
  7. Well, Rey came with the Falcon, and in the trailer it's clearly flying around in that white-and-red planet where the Resistance fight the First Order.
  8. I'm not quite sure what that entails. It can't be that each storyline would have a different musical style altogether, with the exception of the diegetic music on Canto Bight. Otherwise, it's all going to be in the neo-romantic style of the rest of the Star Wars saga. I don't ever see him return to the oratorio style of the prequels, so that's not an option, either. Its also not Williams' style to go wild with unusual instrumental choices, so that's not really on the table. If anything, when scoring these none-linear Middle chapters, Williams' approach has always been to make the score even more single minded in order to provide cohesion. In Empire Strikes Back, each storyline has its own theme, but the score as a whole is dominated by the Imperial March. The same is true of Attack of the Clones with the Love theme.
  9. Warmth is the perfect definition of a lot of the string writing in that film. Take the music of the opening credits, for instance - so inviting. And then it turns on a dime and just keeps getting darker and darker leading into Lord of the Rings. The same applies to the Shire and Rivendell material. The Dwarvish music, by comparison, can't help but sound foreboding and melancholic, and it really comes into its own in The Battle of the Five Armies: Easily the best use of "Grunters" in Mithril, and some of the lowest singing in the series in "The Darkest Hour" - gives Russian Oktavists a run for their money.
  10. I actually find myself gravitating more towards The Battle of the Five Armies. Its just as dense and colorful, but its far more climactic and grand. By that film, The House of Durin theme is already well establish so it can "carry" the score, in a way that it can't quite do in The Desolation of Smaug. But its a close call between all three.
  11. The idea to use the Maori choir for Moria was Jackson's; The Rohan theme that we got was the result of Peter Jackson wanting something more hummable than Shore's early ideas; The idea to give Smaug a Far-Eastern flavor was Jackson's, although I believe the specific choice of Gamelan was Shore's; It was Jackson who gave Howard the direction to write a theme for Laketown that was out of "17th Century Cornwall." It's all in the documentaries. That's of course not to take anything away from Howard Shore. It is his music, but as they say - its a collaborative effort.
  12. And yet, Peter Jackson is the driving force behind a lot of fan-favorite musical choices. Where another filmmaker would just send the composer to "do his thing", with Peter Jackson each theme had to pass him. Some of the best themes from The Lord of the Rings weren't the first idea to come out of Shore's pen, but were the result of Jackson's wishes, e.g. the Rohan theme. Shore has often said that he felt like Peter Jackson was the Gandalf to his Frodo. The length of the recording process on these films is the result of Jackson's hands-on approach with the music. Really, only the score to an Unexpected Journey was fiddled with to a fault. The other two are fine.
  13. I meant Conrad Pope's contribution. And I was being a bit facetious myself. I like the films, and not because I ignore their shortcoming, but rather in spite of them. I like the aggrandising of The Hobbit, because it: a) turns into something that I can enjoy more as an adult; b) makes it blend better with The Lord of the Rings. It fades into Fellowship of the Ring quite seemlessly. I think there aren't so much fabrications that arise from this being a prequel. I think most of the major changes have to do with Thorin. Like I said earlier, Thorin in the novel doesn't really accomplish anything, so having him kill Azog and even let him at least have a go at killing Smaug - was a good idea, thematically. I may not like the execution of some of it, but on the whole I like the choice. I am of the opinion that the only film that got the short end of the stick in the process of turning this into a trilogy was An Unexpected Journey. The other two - I like preety much as they currently are. Don't want no fan-edits.
  14. They're what raised my awareness to film music, and I really like the films, so I naturally agree. If anything, Howard Shore only got better at weaving a large number of leitmotives in a relatively short composition. Only Return of the King reaches the density of the Hobbit scores. And its got some wild musical colors: just about everything from Gamelan to bagpipes. It also occupies both the underscore, the digetic and source music and even a lot of sound effects: from the diegetic horn call in Battle of the Five Armies to the bowed waterphones of Mirkwood. And I also love that Shore got to explore his Dwarven material in this trilogy. It was glorious in 2001 and it was glorious and 2012.
  15. I find it incredibly amusing that on the forum titled John Williams Fans, there is so much criticism being pointed at the man who is quite possibly Williams' closest associate in the last decade or two. In a way, its perfectly natural for us to be unable to fully separate the impression of the film from the impression of the music, because the music was composed for the film. As Howard Shore would have said it, its like Opera. Which is what I like love about it! It gets even darker in Battle of the Five Armies. Its a trully bleak film, and it concludes on a tragic note with Thorin's demise, especially in the Extended Edition. Sure. Its a much more dramatic ending, and it transformes the Hobbit into something more than a children's book, which is why I accept (and very much enjoy) the darker, more adult and grandiose vision of the films. The Hobbit book does have those elements in there, and Tolkien had the intention to go back and rewrite it, to bring the more foreboding elements of his Middle Earth writing forward. You start reading (or watching) what feels like an episodic adventure, but by the finale, all those episodic parts pay off: The blades from the Troll-hoard, the Goblins vengefullness, the Eagles, Beorn, the Silvan Elves, etc... But if that is the case, why isn't the actual film mix like that? It much more resembles the previous installments. And yes, the New Zealand Symphony has their own sound, and as he so often does, Shore wrote to their strengths. There's some fantastic growling low brass in there, which fits the forces of evil in these films like a glove. And than Pipe Organ in the Town Hall almost makes you wish they'd used in for Sauron in the Lord of the Rings, too. Curiously enough, its the only Middle Earth not to feature a boy choir!
  16. I like most of the action in The Phantom Menace. The fight choreography is stylish, but, for the most part, it didn't reach the level of absurdity observed in the fights of the other two films. They don't leap hundreds of stories downs unto a metal ship unharmed. The action starts very early and is spread throughout the film quite nicely.
  17. There's really not that much politics in The Phantom Menace, though. There's a bit of politics in the original Star Wars. And originally there was going to be even more of it!
  18. Yeah, you could probably restore it to picture with footage from Gladiator!
  19. Tolkien cooked up some whacky ideas - its all part of the creative process. That he knew to drop them and rewrite something more appropriate is what matters. In the Silmarillion, Sauron began as Tevildo, Lord of the cats (a Motif that survived in the shape of the Eye) who lost his powers when Huan tore off his necklace, which reduced him and his minions to the size of normal cats! Strider was originally a Hobbit that got captured by Orcs and had wooden legs in place of his amputated limbs! In terms of films, I think the craziest ideas belong to Del Toro: his designs for Smaug, Thranduil, etc are nuts! I much prefer what we ended up with.
  20. I'm in two minds about that particular addition. It works very well with the scene, but it doesn't mesh with the rest of the music and it doesn't make for a particularly interesting listening experience on album.
  21. I seem to recall he never watched any Star Wars film outside of the scoring stage. I believe that too. However, as a composer, I'm sure he listens to music, including film music.
  22. I'm sure he knew it, even if only from Lucas' temp tracks. But yeah, the word plagiarism was too strong. But it's also not something that could be framed merely as an homage (although it's nice to have a connection between the two biggest film scores!) either. "Deriviative" is the best word for it, I think. Still one of my favorite Star Wars scores. I like an operatic vibe more than a purely symphonic one. Much more dramatic!
  23. The scope and way in which the choir is used in general is also clearly inspired by Lord of the Rings. The Phantom Menace used voices, but it never felt like an Opera in the way that the Middle Earth scores feel like. Revenge of the Sith does, and its awesome, but let's not delude ourselves as to where it came from! Which is to say nothing about the application of Taiko Drums in the score. They reportedly had a lot of trouble recording those. But it became so embedded into the idea of "epic percussion" that they did it anyway.
  24. It's not the choir itself. It's the way its used. Listen to "Anakin's Dark Deeds" and "The Treason of Isengard" back-to-back. Ditto some of the percussive choices, the moaning woman from Gladiator, etc... George Lucas liked the Lord of the Rings films very much (the books were a major inspiration for him in the conception of Star Wars), so naturally he temp-tracked his film with it. You can just see him say: "Johny, do THAT!" I really like Revenge of the Sith, but the deriviative aspect of the score cannot be denied. Even in the film, I don't think Lucas will have made his film as dark and graphic as it is, had Lord of the Rings not shown that the moviegoing public was developing an appetite for more brooding stories, and that PG-13 films could smash the box office. Bruce Spence's cameo, clearly inspired by his appearance as The Mouth of Sauron, would suggest that Lucas had the Extended edition to hand! Now, the original Star Wars score did this too, but more subtly and with pieces of music composed long before the score's time, so it could be seen more as a loving tribute or homage. Here, it's taking the same approach a step further, and with the music of Williams' contemporaries.
  25. 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.
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