RRR 20 The Desolation of Smaug

By Roy Mathur, on 2023-01-30, at 00:01:22--00:19:42 GMT, for Roy's Rocket Radio, Listen

Welcome to the New Year's Eve Edition

I thought I'd do something unusual; two podcasts in rapid succession.

Why? Because I've recently seen the Desolation of Smaug, and have weirdly mixed feelings about the movie, and I didn't want to drag a whole lot of negativity into the new year. So this one's the grumpy, though very short podcast, where I vent.

Tomorrow there'll be a nicer one to start the new year on a more positive note!

The Desolation of Smaug

A few brown humans in one trading town on Middle Earth smacks of patronising tokenism. Willow anyone? It was nice to see some faces, other than white, but the way the camera repeatedly focuses on them, seems to be the filmmakers saying: you see we ARE inclusionist. Right. So why are all Hobbits, elves, etc... white folk? I could very easily see Elba and Diesel playing gruff dwarves! Oh, you know what I'm too annoyed to go on with this endless argument. As a brown guy, who's into genre, it is utterly wearing.

Bard the Bowman, seems to have the spear from Disney's Dragonslayer (1981). Hmmm. Yes, I know Tolkien came first, but the look of the prop is very similar. It grates.

That whole unfunny Stephen Fry "comedic" Lake Town sequence detracts from the epic feeling of the movie. Stephen Fry's a fine actor, but it all seemed a bit Pythonesque.

Too long. Very padded, everything takes far too long to happen. On the subject of the length, Peter Jackson said that the reason that The Hobbit movies are so long, is that he wanted to tell a lot of extra stuff not in the novel, but part of Tolkien's Middle Earth background. Okay, so forgetting the cashing-in aspects of the franchise, there's a scene in Wonderboys (2000) where Katy Holmes character, Hannah Green, says to Michael Douglas's author, Grady Tripp, who is in the process of writing a ridiculously overlong novel:

...even though your book is really beautiful, I mean, amazingly beautiful, it's...very detailed. You know, with the genealogies of everyone's horses, and the dental records, and so on. And... I could be wrong, but it sort of reads in places like you didn't make any choices. At all.

The Tractate Middoth, The Thirteenth Tale

I have two supernatural TV films for you to watch on iPlayer.

The Tractate Middoth: a new adaptation by Mark Gatiss of an M.R. James ghost story. I'm sure Whovians will like this too, because it also stars quite a few Gatiss regulars and is the Doctor Who type of cosy scary.

The Thirteenth Tale: A screen adaptation of neo-gothic novel by Diane Setterfield. Stars Vanessa Redgrave (!) and Sophie Turner. It's about twins. It's disturbing.

Non-Diverse and Overly Long Genre Entertainment

Stories where everyone is white detracts from storytelling because it stands out more than the subject of the story itself.

If there's one positive thing you can take away from this podcast is that there are simply not enough of us brown, yellow and black people making the big decisions in the entertainment industry. So start drawing, writing and making movies!

Derivative Fiction and Tropes

So maybe I'm watched and read too much!

Over-extended franchises: as far as I can see this started with the final Harry Potter films. I'm not sure what can be done about it, with large movies costing so much to make, the filmmakers obviously want to make as much profit as possible. All I can say as a fan, is that it suuucks!!!

Have a Great New Years Eve!

...And listen to the next podcast on New Years Day!