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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Spoilers)
#1
SPOILERS

First of all, the "desolation" refers to the things Smaug has desolated, not to his own demise. That is left for the third movie.

By the way, Peter Jackson takes pains to insist that "Smaug" is pronounced "Smowg," not "Smog."

This is a very active, violent movie, lots of heads sent flying separate from their bodies.

A new elf lady, Tauriel, is introduced. She is a good archer, and seems to be a romantic interest for Legolas, though since she is a "Sylvan Elf," she is not considered worthy of a higher class elf like Legolas. At least, that is what Legolas' father reminds him. One of the dwarfs, Fili I think it was (one of the two youngest ones) also seems to develop a crush on Tauriel, which develops especially after she uses elven magic to heal him from a wound from which he was suffering.

The character of Tauriel was invented out of whole cloth by Jackson. She was not in the original novel. But that is OK with me. It always seemed to me that Tolkien's stories were lacking in female characters. In the Ring trilogy, there was Arwen (played by Liv Tyler), Galadriel (played by Cate Blachette), and Eowen (played by Miranda Otto). And that is pretty much it. Compare that to all the male characters! In this second Hobbit movie, we do get an occasional brief glimpse of female dwarfs, beards and all, in the historical reprise that shows the dwarf refugees fleeing from Erebor (you have to be quick to notice them).

I did not care for the ending. It seemed inadequate. Smaug is seen flying off toward Lake Town, determined to ravage it because he thinks Bilbo and the Dwarfs with him came from Lake Town. As he watches Smaug flying off, Bilbo says, "What have we done?" So Smaug is still very much alive. And thus ends the movie.

The character of the Bard in Lake Town was developed at some length. We know that he is going to fire the fateful "black arrow" that will be able to penetrate Smaug's scales and kill the beast. But all that is left for the third movie. A lot of the movie time is spent with Bilbo and the Dwarfs running from Smaug inside the mountain. Bilbo sees the Arkenstone several times, but never quite seems able to lay his hands on it (it keeps being bumped so it bounces away down hills of gold).

I saw the movie in 3D and HFR (High Frame Rate--48 frames per second instead of the normal 24). The 3D effect was nice, but by now has become almost expected. I assume the picture was extra clear and sharp with the HFR, but I couldn't really tell you I was aware of any real difference from a non HFR version. I went to the first showing of the day on Friday (opening day on Friday the 13th), at 10 AM. I only had to pay $7.25, which seemed like a good price for 3D and HFR.

Evangeline Lilly--Tauriel:

   
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#2
Actually, on better recall, I have to say that the glimpse I got of female dwarfs was not in the movie, but in one of the blogs for the movie--I remember now because I was able to back up and view the scene of the refugees fleeing Erebor, several times.
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#3
Here is a link to a playlist of nine behind-the-scenes blogs and trailers:

http://www.thehobbitblog.com/the-hobbit-...neak-peek/

Here is a link to an excellent fan produced prequel: “The Hunt for Gollum.” The actor they got to play Strider looks a lot like Viggo Mortensen. He plays the part well, too. They also found an actress who looks a lot like Liv Tyler. Their Gandalf is not quite as close a match, but he still is OK. The movie is 38:31 long. They claim that they did not borrow any scenes or music from the trilogy. Remarkable achievement.



Hint: once the movie is playing, double click on it and it will expand to full-screen, and still will be surprisingly clear (depending on your equipment).
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#4
HFR is useless. Animation and film is based on the human behavioral mechanism of persistence of vision. The eye sees a series of still images that appear to move from one position to another. Not everyone is the same but a frame rate of 12 frames per second is sufficient for most people to experience what seems to be motion in real time. 24 fps is overkill. Anything more is just silly. In animation, we shot film at 24 fps, but left each image on the platen for more than one frame before switching out to the next image in the series. Animation on 2's was standard, but you could get away with 3's or 4's without looking choppy. On 4's, if the image moved too greatly it needed to be blurred on the trailing edge. Even so, rotating motion can appear to spin backwards, if the spacing inadvertently moves farther than the distance to the next spoke on a wheel. The eye just can't process the movement changes fast enough for HFR to be useful.

On top of that, there is a phosphor after-image lag that stays on the screen and fades away after the image is replaced by another.

This is also the theory behind the myth of subliminal perception. There is a measurable point at which the body can not process what is experienced. This is known as the threshold of perception. Pass that point - and you are guessing at what you are seeing.
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#5
I've been thinking of going back to see the movie in 3D but with the regular 24 frames per second, to see if I can tell any difference. I suspect that like Bill said, there won't be any that I can see. So why do they want to bother with the HFR? They charge the same for seeing the movies in either format, at least at the theatre I go to.
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#6
The HFR is rationalized as necessary for digital recording with high-res. The concept extends from the timing problem with spokes on a spinning wheel - if the images hook up wrong, they look like they are spinning backwards. The idea that tiny pixels need finer movement is the bugaboo. Beyond a certain point, the eye cannot process the multiple images, so having finer measurements is useless. Blurring the trailing edge of moving forms is a fix that has worked to make things work.
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#7
Tauriel was created only to pander to women and PC dogmas. I don't care what she did or does, it is just a bit of a joke to me.

In the end, I knew that they wouldn't get away without having some strong female character or other nonsense this time like they did with the LOTR series, which was mostly masculine in theme.

I am surprised that they didn't put a minority in there somewhere.
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#8
Arguably, the Hobbits were a minority--also very little. Then there were the "River Folk" (similar to Hobbits), from whom Gollum came. Then there were Elves with the pointy ears (and they had the Sylvan Elves--which included Tauriel--who were considered lower class Elves), Dwarfs (Dwarves) with the beards (even the females), and there were the Haradrians, who looked like Carthaginians on those war elephants (oliphants). Then there were the Orcs and the Goblins. By the way, the Wizards also were a discrete ethnic group of their own (only six of them). That's quite a mixed ethnic bag, right there. I think I recall seeing a black face or two in the latest Hobbit movie, but I don't remember for sure.
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#9
No, Ron, I am talking about the modern day PC aura that settles on everything like an invasive dust.
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#10
I guess there can be white, yellow, or black Orcs, Trolls, and other creatures as well as within other peoples of MiddleEarth. Having them within each group is no big thing. It would also work if some had horns or wings. The Elven blonde hair seems only to be a dominant trait within the ruling families.
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#11
I just got my copy of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, from Amazon.com. My sister and her husband had just rented the movie, and I was able to tell them I had ordered it and it just arrived, two days before the earliest estimated delivery date. S1 (With such prompt delivery, Amazon does not need drones!)

Very entertaining movie. When I saw it in the theater, I was a little short on sleep, and had to keep fighting a tendency to doze off. This time everything was clear and made sense. You have to wait nearly three hours to discover that everything is left up in the air, to be resolved in part three when it comes out. But I guess that is the purpose of the middle installment of a three-part work.
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#12
Hard to have a cliff-hanger in a series which you know will be fairly faithful to one of the most well-read books of all time.

...Just a convenient place to break, I guess. Back in the era of B&W TV, cliff-hangers were entities unto themselves. I can't count the times when the hero, Flash Gordon, Captain Midnight, or some cowboy star, fell over a cliff with clearly nothing possible to prevent his demise...only to wait for the next installment where a "save" was introduced that was not there at the end of the last episode. You saw the long shot of the car falling all the way to total destruction: just bare cliff side with no trees or brush to get in the way - then the next scene introduces the hero hanging from a tree that wasn't there. This became a high pseudo art form in its own right - to the point this uncreditable ending was actually satirized.

My favorite example was when The Life of Reilly jumped the shark, on purpose. Reilly got into such a mess that there was no chance of him getting out of it. The writers piled it on. With only a few seconds to go, Reilly had lost his job, infuriated all of his friends and neighbors, ruined his family, basically wrecked his life for all time. At the end, a voice-over said that even the writers couildn't get him out of this one... see you next week!

I always enjoyed visiting the Jump the Shark website. It used to list almost every series ever recorded, with lengthy viewpoints of the point in the show where it lost it's entertainment value and went for the ridiculous. There were lists of the greatest shows that never jumped - Fawlty Towers being one good example. Any one remember this website before it was sold and became unreachable through Yahoo?



BTW: I liked the comment: "Doctor Who jumped the shark, but in the good kind of way, where it went from fighting men in suits to fighting warrior monks with swords with a Roman Legionnaire backing you up."
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#13
You make allowances for the ridiculousness of Doctor Who--after all, it's British! S5 They invented "quaint"!

Some of those others were kind of fun.

I still think of that scene from The A-Team where the helicopter carrying a bunch of bad guys crashed head-on into a cliff, fell down a hundred feet to the base of the cliff, and then the villains all climbed out of the wreck, a little shaken, but otherwise unhurt. Too bad they didn't include that--but I guess it really wasn't a "jumping the shark" moment.
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