How well did PJ/WETA do? A poll

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What did WETA get RIGHT in the movies?

Hobbiton was well done
18
16%
Bree was well done
12
11%
Gondor was well done
11
10%
Rohan was well done
15
14%
Dale/Laketown was well done
2
2%
Rivendell was well done
15
14%
Mirkwood was well done
7
6%
Lorien was well done
13
12%
Moria was well done
13
12%
Erebor was well done
5
5%
 
Total votes: 111
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Elleth
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How well did PJ/WETA do? A poll

Post by Elleth »

Over in the "Disney's after TV rights" thread, Straelbora posted this:
One of his greatest fears has already come true: that the imagery of the film has supplanted his father's work. For example, how many of us default to Weta's 'ethnic' design for all things Elvish, Dwarven, Rohirrim, etc.
I'm curious now.. what are y'alls thoughts on how well the movies managed to capture Middle Earth? I've set up a fairly complicated poll - if you've a mind, please check as many boxes as you think true.
If you had the power to go back in 199-whatever and take over WETA, what would you change? We're not talking writing/script hacking here: purely physical environment, costume, props, etc.
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Re: How well did PJ/WETA do? A poll

Post by Elleth »

I'll start. Sadly the poll wouldn't let me get more granualar, but it's a start.

First -
I HAVE read the Hobbit in the last year (well, unabridged audiobook)
I HAVE read LOTR in the last year (audiobook again)
I HAVE NOT read the Simarillion in the last year, though I have read it through at least once and picked at it some in the last year.

I HAVE NOT seen any of the films in the last year, thought I've seen the LOTR extended films all the way through more times than I know, and the first two of the Hobbit films at least once. I've seen footage from the third in the Maple Films edit, but never saw the PJ-approved version in full.

Second -
Hobbits:
* Hobbits and Hobbiton I thought extremely well rendered in both films. I'd have liked to see more of the Shire and Buckland of course, but I've no meaningful complaints. A+

Men:
* We never see any Dunedain but Aragorn, but his kit was reasonably well put together. Points lost for not having Narsil, but the rest makes up a lot. B+
* Rohan also struck me as extremely well done. The raid of Dunlenders (?) on the outlying farms looked a little too generic 80's fantasy movie, but the carvings, the jewelry, the clothes - beautiful! Solid A.
* Bree was acceptable. I miss the stone houses and a more obvious hill, but it was okay. Kind of generic-fantasy-village. B.
* Boromir was very well done, if overdressed and underequipped for the wild. B
* The actual architecture of the city of Gondor was very well rendered, but the denizens didn't look familiar at all. Especially the army that was two dozen men in very anachronistic plate. C-.
* I really bought pre-Smaug Dale as an East-meets-West trading town. Very well done. A
* Laketown as 17th c. Low Countries meets Venice was horrifically bad. F.

Elves
* Rivendell was beautiful. If we ignore Arwen as a warrior maid and just look at sets and costumes... quite good. B in LOTR.
The feast scene in the Hobbit with vegetarian elves and a giant kithara drops that to a C- in the Hobbit.
* Lorien was quite well done. Nothing stands out as perfect, nothing stands out as obviously wrong. Superb look for Galadriel and Celeborn though! B+
* Mirkwood visually had pretty darn good architecture, I liked Tharanduil, but I don't buy the look of the army. Especially for Green Elves. C.

Dwarves
* Moria the architecture was virtually perfect, but the action scene on the stairs was contrived and doesn't age well. A-
* Gimli's kit ... C. Not bad, but not outstanding. Needs less metal, more wool. Less John Rheys Davies, more Nord.
* Hobbit dwarves: Lots of WONDERFUL stuff (those bone haircombs, tools, cleavers, etc). Lots of just-stupid stuff (weapons, axe-in-the-head, angles overdone everywhere). Averages out to C.

Orcs
* very good in Fellowship (A!) declining steadily through all six films. Azog was an embarrassment. Averages out to a C.

Thoughts?
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Re: How well did PJ/WETA do? A poll

Post by Peter Remling »

First Hobbiton, Bree, Gondor and Rohan were well done with a few exceptions. Loved Hobbiton, didn't think it could be improved upon by very much. Bree not too bad, the gate was poor and s/b more stone and thatch. Gondor -architecture excellent. Costume, uniforms and armor left a lot to be desired. Rohan- architecture well done but there should have be farms surrounding the city proper. Livestock such as cows, chickens and goats weren't in evidence. Where were the pastures for all their horses ? If it was just beyond the walls why didn't we see any of it ?


Dale/Laketown- didn't really care for

Rivendale, Mirkwood, Lorian and Moria- all emoted what you'd have expected with Rivendale and Moria leading the pack for the most part Moria's large chambers were a little over the top

Erebor- Too over scaled- I understand a dragon was living there but it wasn't built for a dragon so the huge stone causeways that could support the weight of a dragon- well beyond belief as was the smelters - the architecture on a smaller scale would have been better.

I agree with Elleth on the costumes and accessories.

I'm prejudiced against the Hobbit films, liked Bilbo and Gandalf- hated each and everyone one of the dwarves from appearance, costume, weapons to personality- Radagast equals Jar Jar Binks without the "me-sa" but with more bird droppings
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Re: How well did PJ/WETA do? A poll

Post by Iodo »

To be honest I like most of the WETA stuff. Rohan seemed very like I imagined it. I love the architecture of Helms Deep and Moria (Mordor and the Black Gates are good to). Gimli's kit is amasing. Lake town (and the master of lake town) is as I imagined and so is Mirkwood and Beorn's houce, the list goes on.

Though there are exseptions:

Aragorn not having Narsil anoys me to. Also his quiver on the wrong side
I think its only me but Bree and the Prancing pony seemed much darker than I imagined them
The incredible speed at which the ents reach the edge of Fangorn wood
Bilbo/Frodo's mithril shirt appears to have seams at the shoulders (a properly assembled mail shirt should have no visible seams, they are points of weakness)
The goblin King is far to cartoonish (the goblin town and gollums cave set is good though)
The bit in exstended edition goblin town where gandalf roles a rock down the path, far to like a PlayStation game I use to play called crash bandicoot (if you have seen it you know what I mean :mrgreen: )
The scenes in battle of the five army's where trolls appear to be fighting in the sun
My biggest regret is that I didn't see any blue or yellow beards :P:

I don't like the elvish stuff, but that's because its elvish not because I don't think its in keeping with the books :lol:

[Edit] I forgot: Bofur's hat is so COOL
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Aragorn: It's the beards.
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Re: How well did PJ/WETA do? A poll

Post by Greg »

LOtR:
They did a great job of creating an immersive story that felt culturally significant. That's why changes like the lack of Narsil early on for the sake of character-building I was okay with, and the plate-clad Gondorians, though completely wrong, can somehow be "lived with". There were significant stretches like Frodo and Sam winding up in Osgiliath that give me pause, but on the whole all cultures and locations shown in the LOtR films were represented well, even if they don't fit our level of authenticity to the original source material.

The Hobbit:
I don't want to talk about it.
Now the sword shall come from under the cloak.
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Re: How well did PJ/WETA do? A poll

Post by Ringulf »

All in all, I can't really think of a thing I can say Weta did do wrong or didn't do beautifully given the direction from the story and characterizations they were given. That story (in both trilogies) had definite issues with creativity verses authenticity and some absolute wiz bang pop, CGI, lets wow the audience because they don't have the imagination to read any more bullshit that was no more than marketing and no less than disrespectful. That being said I have said before I consider it "The Hobbit, the extended Middle Earth". and love pouring through the Hobbit Chronicle books and crafting the way weta does to fill in the gaps in what was not able to be written by Tolkien into the story.
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Re: How well did PJ/WETA do? A poll

Post by Will Whitfoot »

There were some lovely scenes, but an awful lot that was cringe-worthy. Before I get into specifics I would just like to opine that my biggest complaint is the stultifying effect on fan-art. We had dozens of renditions of Galadriel before PJ... now they all look like Cate Blanchett. Being a craftsman, geologist, mountaineer, caver, and miner, I have certain experiences that skew my appreciation for poetic license... especially when topics dear to my heart are poorly rendered.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy:
I loved the Hobbiton scenes... that part was well done but could have had a bit more to do with infrastructure. The envelopes that Frodo takes out of the mailbox do not show any stamps or markings. I missed the sequence with Tom Bombadil immensely... there were some very important plot points involved there. Jumping straight from the Bucklebury Ferry to Bree was jarring. There was a great deal of gratuitous violence later that could have been cut to make room for Bombadil. I understand why they subbed Arwen for Glorfindel in the horse chase scene... because there were no female heroes in the original, but it the chase was overlong and overdone.

Moria was atrocious. I have been in many mines, as deep as a mile and walked as far as ten miles underground. I think I have a good feel for what the journey through Moria would have been like. The renditions of the passages in the Mines of Moria (and the Goblin Caves and Erebor for that matter) were ludicrously overlarge. Mines tend to be claustrophobic for the most part, not huge, and in those rare areas when they are expansive (because of the presence of ore), the stopes are sharply defined and connected by narrow passages. In older mines, tunnels tend to be short and narrow, about six by six feet. I realize that PJ had to try to create a visual feast, but the feeling of claustrophobia and being entrapped was nowhere. THAT is the primary fear underground. And of course I wanted to see more of the battle between Gandalf and the Balrog as they fell and then climbed the Endless Stair.

Lorien was good. Rohan was good. Isengard... hmmm. The death of Saruman and the hand of Wormtongue... that was just awful. Because of that, they left out the entire Scouring of The Shire sequence... which is HUGELY IMPORTANT!! They invented a whole sequence in which Aragorn falls off a cliff during a running battle with orcs... and Gimli and Legolas just leave him behind!!! WHAT???? Absolutely absurd! What kind of friends are those? Aragorn has to get rescued by his horse (guided telepathically by Arwen) and then shows up on his own. But he doesn't fault his friends. Dude!

And Farmir??? OMG... Faramir is going to turn Frodo and Sam over to his dad. NO!!! That was a complete reversal of the very core character of Faramir!! Only in the end does Faramir relent. Sorry.... that is not cinematic license, that is just plain wrong.

Of course, Gollum is the real star of the show... done very very well!

The Hobbit trilogy

Okay... I liked the unexpected party scene... very nice. I missed the instruments for the music, but the song was well done. I enjoyed the dwarves' wacky beards, the aside about the blue cheese, and I especially liked the little added bit where the dwarves place bets on whether Bilbo would join them... and cloth bags of coin get tossed around. "Bilbo Bet Bags" I would call them.

The Goblin caves were far too large and steep, and would have quickly filled with smoke from all those torches, Fire on wooden structures underground is a primary danger because heat does not escape. And that ride down the steep canyon? uh... sorry, they'd all be dead, crushed to smithereens.

But on coinage... where to even begin? Coins are handled much too lightly throughout the film, but especially in the sequence surrounding Laketown and the Master's assistant trying to carry a lot of gold in a fake bosom. The treasure of Thror was terrible in SO many ways. Firstly it was far too large. The amount of gold shown on-screen would total at least three times the entire volume of gold ever mined on earth, gathered all together in one place. Secondly there is a maximum "angle of repose" in a pile of coins... they slide around on each other rather freely. The piles of coin were far too steep. No coins would ever pile so steeply. And of course the individual coins were far too large. Medieval coins (especially gold ones) tend to be small penny size affairs. Gold melts at about 1950 degrees F. That is hot enough to glow bright yellow. Metal that hot transmits heat by radiation astonishingly fast. That scene of Thorin riding a shield on a river of molten gold is so incredibly stupid as to just be insulting. He would burn to a crisp within seconds just being within twenty feet of such a pool.

Worst of all, to my mind, is the complete leaving-out of the connection between Bilbo and the thrush that tells Bard about the gap in Smaug's armor. And of course the entire bit about that foolishly oversized "Black Arrow". I suspect it was all a way to give Cumberbatch some extra lines, but it completely shot down the whole meaning of the story to me. (no pun intended... ha)

Finally, when Bilbo goes home... in the book he has a small pony with him, that is none too happy about the chest of gold and another of silver that Bilbo brings home. But in the film he is afoot... lightly carrying the treasure chest under one arm... a chest that (if filled with gold) would weigh well over one hundred pounds!!! They couldn't give him a pony???

These kind of lapses really hurt the immersive feel for me. I so wanted to find myself in Middle-earth.... but instead it was mostly Disneyland.
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Re: How well did PJ/WETA do? A poll

Post by Mithdir »

In my opinion, The Lord of the Rings films are among the finest ever made, and they are certainly my favourites. From the set design to the cast, Peter Jackson and his team did an outstanding job, and I cannot imagine a better adaptation of Tolkien’s book.

I can understand that some readers might not like or agree with some of the changes made to the story, but there are things that work on a book that would not work on a film. They are different forms of storytelling, and when switching between them you must make changes. All those things considered, I think everyone involved in the making of the trilogy was incredibly respectful of the source material, and tried to incorporate as much of Tolkien in the films as possible. All that love and care shows on screen, and it is what makes the films so wonderful.
I think that complaining about the little things we do not like distracts us from the fact that we are lucky to have such excellent adaptations to enjoy.

Tolkien purposely wrote his books as if he had not invented the stories, but translated them from ancient tomes describing historical events. I like to think that, after all the millennia that have passed since the War of the Ring and the compilation of the Red Book, some details have been forgotten and storylines conflict with each other, hence the deviations seen in the films.
Maybe a fifteenth century translator misunderstood a passage or two and thought the elves of Lórien fought against the orcs at Helm’s Deep instead of only at their own borders. It’s just a silly thought I had, but I think it keeps in line with the Professor’s approach to the whole Secondary World.

I rambled a bit about stuff other than Weta’s job on the design of the films (sorry!), but I do not have much to say about that. I share their vision and truly love everything they made.
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Re: How well did PJ/WETA do? A poll

Post by Taurinor »

Guillem Clapés wrote:I think that complaining about the little things we do not like distracts us from the fact that we are lucky to have such excellent adaptations to enjoy.
Well, nitpicking is one of the primary forum hobbies :mrgreen:

I think most folks on the forum would say that they enjoy at least parts of PJ's adaptation, but remember the statement that prompted Elleth to start this topic -
Straelbora wrote:One of [Christopher Tolkien's] greatest fears has already come true: that the imagery of the film has supplanted his father's work.
Peter Jackson's interpretation of the Trilogy, whatever you may think of it, is an just that - an interpretation. So is what we do here, for that matter! But for better or worse, if you say "Lord of the Rings", most folks will think of PJ's work before the Professor's. I suppose that's true of any successful book-to-movie film franchise (another that comes to mind immediately is Harry Potter), but it still strikes me as sort of sad. Mr. Maringer's point about fan art seems very insightful, and that seems sad, as well.

I personally found the way The Hobbit movies were done very disrespectful to the Professor's work. Not so much on Weta's end of things, but making the book into three movies was an obvious money grab by the studio and PJ admitted that he was "winging it" on the set. True, it was a bad situation that he had to deal with, and I'm obviously Monday morning quarterbacking, but the whole thing sort-of made me retroactively question how much respect for the Professor's work PJ really had.
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Re: How well did PJ/WETA do? A poll

Post by Mithdir »

Taurinor wrote:
Mithdir wrote:I think that complaining about the little things we do not like distracts us from the fact that we are lucky to have such excellent adaptations to enjoy.
Well, nitpicking is one of the primary forum hobbies :mrgreen:

I think most folks on the forum would say that they enjoy at least parts of PJ's adaptation, but remember the statement that prompted Elleth to start this topic -
Straelbora wrote:One of [Christopher Tolkien's] greatest fears has already come true: that the imagery of the film has supplanted his father's work.
Peter Jackson's interpretation of the Trilogy, whatever you may think of it, is an just that - an interpretation. So is what we do here, for that matter! But for better or worse, if you say "Lord of the Rings", most folks will think of PJ's work before the Professor's. I suppose that's true of any successful book-to-movie film franchise (another that comes to mind immediately is Harry Potter), but it still strikes me as sort of sad. Mr. Maringer's point about fan art seems very insightful, and that seems sad, as well.

I personally found the way The Hobbit movies were done very disrespectful to the Professor's work. Not so much on Weta's end of things, but making the book into three movies was an obvious money grab by the studio and PJ admitted that he was "winging it" on the set. True, it was a bad situation that he had to deal with, and I'm obviously Monday morning quarterbacking, but the whole thing sort-of made me retroactively question how much respect for the Professor's work PJ really had.
Sorry, I may have gotten a bit carried away because I really love the films (the LotR ones). I think PJ and the whole crew and cast had a huge respect for the Professor’s work during the making of LotR, and you can see that and the love they put into the work in the appendices.

The Hobbit, on the other hand, makes me sad because of the wasted opportunity. They had (in my opinion) a good cast, a very talented crew and a huge budget, but they threw it away with the horrible scripts. I don’t know whether it was the producer’s fault, or the script writers’, but making it into three films was a big mistake. An Unexpected Journey I can enjoy when on a good mood; The Desolation of Smaug gets worse and worse as it plays; and I’d rather not talk about The Battle of the Five Armies. The only thing I love about The Hobbit films are the Chronicle books, so much details and ideas to use :P

And on the topic of people thinking PJ’s films when they hear “Lord of the Rings”, well, I understand why someone may be upset about it. Personally, I don’t mind it because I also picture Middle-earth the way it was portrayed in the films (LotR ones). I watched them right after reading the books, when I was ten, and in my mind they are two sides of the same thing, so to speak.

Again, sorry about getting a bit passionate on my last post, that’s what usually happens when I talk about LotR :P
Last edited by Mithdir on Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How well did PJ/WETA do? A poll

Post by Taurinor »

Guillem Clapés wrote:Again, sorry about getting a bit passionate on my last post, that’s what usually happens when I talk about LotR :P
Goodness, if there's any place where you don't need to apologize for that, it would be this forum!
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Re: How well did PJ/WETA do? A poll

Post by Elwindil »

there was a lot of excitement for me when I found out about the movies, much of that excitement rapidly faded the more I watched. so much left out of the films. most of the issues I have with them all revolve around the script though. I can say that the look of bree and laketown are not up to snuff though, they don't pass the smell test, as it were. also, the hobbit dwarf weapons were all off somehow, I'm not sure if it's because they were all sharply angular and lacked the practicality I expect from dwarven work, or what. and the hobbit orcs were as my little niece says, terribad. there were so many missed opportunities, and it makes me sad. it's been a while since I've read through the books, and I'll have to get around to it eventually, but I need to get newer copies as the ones I have are old and I want to preserve them as best as I can. they're only from the 70's, but I'm sentimentally attached to them. also, I know this isn't the place to gripe about the scripting issues...but...the barrow downs were super important to the whole of the LOTR, and leaving them out along with the lack of tom bombadil was a serious disservice and tragedy. as for gondorians in plate, that is as I believe was mentioned in the other thread a mistake that is quite often made due to word usages changing. most modern people see the word panoply and think immediately of plate armor, as opposed to maille which would have been more in keeping with the images I had when first reading through the novels as a younger man. I read the hobbit while I was in kindergarten, and it was one of those that would stick with me through my life, followed quickly by LOTR.
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Re: How well did PJ/WETA do? A poll

Post by Straelbora »

Taurinor wrote:I personally found the way The Hobbit movies were done very disrespectful to the Professor's work. Not so much on Weta's end of it ...
I think the design of a lot of the characters in "The Hobbit" films were disrespectful to Tolkien's work, but I also think that a lot of them were what Jackson inherited from Guillermo del Toro. I enjoy del Toro's films, but I think the Hobbit films would have been even worse had he completed the project.

However, Jackson's not off the hook- I know that he instructed designers to use medical texts showing diseased testicles as the basis for the Goblin King.

I don't know who created the design for and wrote the scenes for Radagast, but they took Tolkien's St. Francis of Assizi and turned him into a bag-lady stoner with bird guano in his beard.

Del Toro did the juvenile stuff like the hatchet in the forehead, and things like Oin using a hearing horn (oyen means 'they listen' in Spanish- he thought it was a cute play on words, and all it was was a set up for jokes about his disability).

Beorn was completely miscast and conceptualized. He shouldn't have looked like Sonic the Hedgehog. A stocky, naturally hirsute actor should have been cast, not a wiry guy.

Tolkien may be fairly deemed to have had some racist descriptions in the books (slant-eyed Southrons, etc.), but Jackson really does suffer from lookism. The evil Dunlanders, Grima, and later the Mayor of Laketown and JarJar, er, Alfrid all have dark hard and crooked, scummy teeth and were depicted as kind of dirty and greasy.
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