After four weeks on the road, I’m back at home and reunited with everyone’s favorite beagle (who I’m happy to report is mostly symptom free and doing well). The Oregon Trail was fun and informative, and I managed to get pretty much everything I needed for the documentaries.
Driving long stretches of open road in states like Nebraska and BFE gives a person a lot of time for reflection, and now that I’m home and ready to get back to the grind, there’s going to be some changes. Moving forward, Chaos Factory will be more focused on writing and story-telling. There still will be the occasional post about the environment or dinosaurs (always dinosaurs), but for the most part we’re going to stick with my greatest preoccupation.
That means more live blogs on the travesty that is Peter Jackson, more dissections of what’s wrong with the latest Christopher Nolan movie, and plenty of book, movie, and television reviews. Everything will come from the angle of what’s wrong with the story in question, and how could it have been better, with the aim of making us more compelling storytellers.
Basically, I’m tired of all the crap that I’m consuming, and I mean to do something about it, one snarky review at a time.
But lest you’re worried the Chaos Factory won’t be chaotic enough, here’s a picture of the kids from Family Ties and some muppets:
When the first trailers for season one of Game of Thrones started showing up, I was so not interested. Not only has there only been one successful (as in, both a commercial success and something that I enjoyed) fantasy movie in the history of cinema*, the jokers at HBO were reminding me of the worst trilogy ever by prominently promoting Sean Bean as the star. As if that asshole Peter Jackson hadn’t done enough with him already.
But since I enjoy torturing myself with bad TV, I decided to give the first episode a try. I was thinking it was decidedly average, with some decent set design and a few intriguing characters, until the bit at the end with the incest and murder**. I was like, “What the fuck just happened?” That was enough to watch episode two, and halfway through season one, I was hooked in a major way. Sure it’s cheesy, but it’s the right kind of cheesy.
So without further adieu, here’s a list of why I LOVE Game of Thrones:
1. Lots of midget sex.
2. One of the central relationships involves incest.
3. Peter Dinklage is the best (especially when he’s sexing it up).
4. It’s got King Joffrey, one of the WORST television villains of all time.
5. Plenty of strong female characters. This is a far cry from your typical fantasy story, in which a damsel in distress and an evil queen are the only two female characters. Without doing any actual math, I’m guessing the cast is 50% female, with heroes and villains and everything in between. Sure there’s lots of gratuitous nudity and sex, but it’s okay because there’s also Cat and Cersei and Sansa and Arya. Oh, and don’t forget Daenerys. And in the latest episode, Brienne just bested Jaime Lannister in a sword fight. Yay women!
6. It’s chock full of fantastic supporting characters. This is the real magic of the show (besides item number one). Because there are so many great characters, you never get enough of any them. You’re always left wanting more.
7. Consistency. With other shows that have started off strong (Battlestar Galactica), or that have reached tremendous peaks (The Walking Dead), great shows have been derailed because the characters keep changing every half season when the writers decide to push the show in a new direction. In large part because it’s based on a series of novels, Game of Thrones features characters that are laid out on a clear path. The show can afford to take its time, introducing seeds that don’t bear fruit until much later. Even when episodes deviate from the books in a minor way, the larger story arcs are still in place and guiding the momentum of the show overall.
8. I know it’s been said before, but by killing off Sean Bean, the ostensible star of the whole series, at the end of season one**, you never know who’s going to die. Every Sunday I wake up dreading that today’s the day Tyrion Lannister is going to die. Please just let him hang on one more week! Please!!!
9. It’s on HBO, instead of NBC or AMC, so there’s no holding back. This show is majorly gratuitous, in all the perfect ways. (Not like Girls, which is gratuitous in all the wrong ways).
10. Dire wolves
12. Even when they aren’t having sex, the midgets are pretty awesome.
So what I’m saying is, if you are the type of person who enjoys midget sex, gratuitous violence, over-the-top plot lines that make no apologies, and Dungeons and Dragons on crack cocaine, then you need to be watching Game of Thrones.
Sigh. I saw the first Hobbit movie the other night. It seems that even though I purposely kept my expectations exceedingly low, Peter Jackson still managed to underwhelm.
Rather than go on a several-thousand-word rant of everything I hated about the movie, only to get some idiotic comments from people who want to defend the film to me, I’ll just skip that part and ask a simple question.
Why? If you actually liked the first Hobbit movie, please right in the comments and tell me why. Convince me why I’m wrong. What is there that allowed you to enjoy this 3-hour evisceration of my favorite book of all time? And please make note of whether you’ve read the book or not. I am curious whether that makes a difference.
Please don’t say anything about how you liked Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Those movies sucked just as badly, and before you try to defend them here, go read why they sucked and why you should hate them.
Allow me to start by saying I was a huge fan of yours. I had a poster of The Frighteners on my wall when I was in high school. I loved that movie. When they picked you to direct the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the fanboys were getting cranky about it, I was a huge defender. I was certain they had the right guy to make these movies special.
It didn’t take me long to realize that I was mistaken. I’m sure you read my blog regularly, so I don’t need to rehash all the problems with the trilogy that I have pointed out ad nauseam in the past. Suffice it to say I thought there were a few too many slow motion close-ups of people crying.
Now, the news has broken that you’ll be transforming the two movies you had planned for your adaption of The Hobbit into three movies. Allow me to summarize what everyone who cares about Tolkien and wants these movies to be awesome is thinking:
Please don’t fuck this up.
It’s too late to fix The Lord Of The Rings. But it’s not too late to save The Hobbit. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
You are good at set design and casting. Sir Ian Mckellen as Gandalf? One of the most inspired choices since Spike Jones picked John Malkovich to play John Malkovich. The look of the Shire? Better than I could have ever imagined. Martin Freeman as Bilbo? We love it!
You are bad at story and characterization. Almost every mistake in the Trilogy can be directly attributed to a change you made from the novel to the screen. Liv Tyler added as a romantic love interest? I hate her more than Jar-Jar Binks. Faramir turned into a jerk? I will punch you in the face if I ever see you in a bar.
So this is very simple, PJ. Stick to the source material as much as possible. The Hobbit is the best novel ever! You don’t need to spice it up. You don’t need to add characters. You don’t need to change things around just for the sake of your ego. Take the story that Tolkien wrote and translate it onto film by staying true to the story at its core. If you need a script consultant, let me know. I’ll be happy to help.
And if you need to insert a few slow motion close ups of people crying, go ahead. I know you can’t help yourself. But please, keep them in the single digits.
Someone who wants desperately to love The Hobbit
It’s taken me a long time to write this post. I had wanted to find closure right away but maybe what I really needed was anesthesia. I needed to pretend I could wake up and it had all been a nightmare. There was no Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings. Or if there was, it wasn’t a godawful travesty.
You know how sometimes in a dream, you feel like everyone is laughing at you. You showed up to school naked, or you’re playing football but have forgotten how to move. That’s what the Lord of the Rings has become for me. This living nightmare, where I’m the only one who realizes what a bad movie it is. This blogging experiment was an attempt to quantify what exactly is wrong with these movies, which I think I’ve done, and to try and figure out what everyone else sees in them, which is still a mystery to me.
I’d like to forget these movies exist, or failing that, just remember the good parts. I’d like to think the Hobbit, part one of which comes out this year, will be a masterpiece, and Peter Jackson has learned from his mistakes. But he may not even know he made any mistakes. The trilogy made millions, probably billions, of dollars, and won countless academy awards. Peter Jackson is a hero. Peter Jackson can do no wrong. Peter Jackson hasn’t made even a half way decent movie since and shouldn’t that fucking tell you something? He’s not a good story teller. He butchered my favorite books of all time, he made an awful remake of a beloved classic, and he’s hoping that by directing the Hobbit he’ll be back on top again. And it will probably work.
I would like to say that I will avoid the Hobbit, but I know I won’t be able to resist. The fact I tortured myself with this rewatching of the Lord of the Rings tells you everything you need to know. I enjoy the pain.
But if I’ve done one bit of good, it’s this: I defy anyone to read through this blog and ever be able to enjoy the Lord of the Rings in the same way again. You won’t be able to do it. You’ll tell yourself that I’m all wrong, but when you see Frodo crying in slow motion for the 50th time, or you see Liv Tyler mooning for the camera, you’ll realize that I was right. These movies suck.
But according to the two words of text on my screen, the editors, producers, studio execs, family members, and everyone else associated in any way with the making of the Lord of the Rings have gotten together for an intervention and forced Peter Jackson to finally, at long last, end the movie.
I can’t help but cry a little.*
Minutes Watched: 3.4:01.31
Number of Montages: 17
Number of slow motion close-ups of people crying: 138
Damn you, Peter Jackson. Just when you thought the credits would roll, he added another 10 minutes. I think every single frame had crying hobbits in it. It goes without saying the entire scene was shot in slow motion.
I think I know why it won best picture. No one actually sat through all 4 hours. The entire academy just assumed it must be a good movie. I may in fact be the first person to ever actually sit through the entire extended edition of all three movies.
Minutes Watched: 3.4:00.05
Number of Montages: 17
Number of slow motion close-ups of people crying: 138
I’m convinced that if Peter Jackson hadn’t used so much slow motion, all three movies would have clocked in under 9 hours. As it is, we’re getting close to 11. But everything just faded to black, after Frodo, Merry, and Pippin had a pillow fight in bed while the others watched (no judgements here). I’m sure the movie is finally over.
Minutes Watched: 3.3:42.42
Number of Montages: 17
Number of slow motion close-ups of people crying: 116
The film school students among you might know of a genre of film making that involves extreme shorts. You try to make a complete narrative in as short a time as possible, sometimes as little as 15 seconds. It’s obvious that Peter Jackson, despite initial appearances, was a student of such courses.
He’s managed to break all Rom-Com records by having Faramir and Eowyn fall in love in a 30 second scene. He’s assembled a nearly twelve hour magnus opus, and he can only afford 30 seconds for two major characters to fall in love.
He even managed a slow motion close-up of someone crying, but they were bittersweet tears of joy, tears that come from knowing the man who raised you has died, but at the same time, you’ve just met the man you’re going to marry. But of course you were just in love with another man, and this man you’ve only met just a little while before, so maybe you’re rushing into things a little bit. Of course, this new man is handsome. He’s a steward, which isn’t quite as good as the king, but it’s still job security. Oh, and my arm still hurts from killing the witch-king.
All that, in thirty seconds. Bravo, Peter Jackson. The Academy Award on your mantle was well-earned.
Minutes Watched: 3.3:08.31
Number of Montages: 17
Number of slow motion close-ups of people crying: 68