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Movies Media Lord of the Rings

Message in a Battle 460

Posted by michael
from the jar-jar dept.
The WP has a tale titled The Messages in a Battle about the recent growth of computer-generated battle scenes in movies, now that you don't have to pay all those extras. RotK clearly wouldn't have been much of a movie if the battle scenes hadn't been so good.
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Message in a Battle

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  • Quality of RotK (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jacer (574383) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:04AM (#7784621) Homepage
    While the battle scenes were very eye appealing, I think that all of the actors did a wonderful job. Sean Astin (not sure on the last name) was so convincing as Sam, it was breathtaking. Not to mention Magne....errrr Gandalf (portrayed by Sir Ian McKellan) really had the presence to convince me that he was both wise and powerful. Anyway, I just felt that yeah, the battles were pretty, and it would be hard to have the LotR without a war going on, I still don't think the movie was made by those sequences.
    • by R33MSpec (631206) * on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:09AM (#7784641) Homepage
      "..While the battle scenes were very eye appealing, I think that all of the actors did a wonderful job..."

      Yeah, the orc 300th in from the left of the screen did an awesome job - definitely a star of the future.
      • by Channard (693317) on Monday December 22, 2003 @06:59AM (#7785010) Journal
        Yeah, the orc 300th in from the left of the screen did an awesome job - definitely a star of the future.

        Star? Cobblers. He left his wristwatch on, which is clearly visible for 0.5 of a second using the zoom feature of my Supa DVD player. And he doesn't even exist!

        • You got RotK on DVD? -cough-piracy-cough-

          but that's what i call realism... they even rendered wristwatches for the computer generated orcs. artificial bloopers, a concept of the future indeed!

          that's worth a patent
          • Re:Quality of RotK (Score:3, Interesting)

            by EddWo (180780)
            They had a load of "Out-Takes" at the end of Toy Story 2. How long did they have to run the render farm to produce all of them?
          • Re:Quality of RotK (Score:3, Insightful)

            by MikeDX (560598)
            artificial bloopers, a concept of the future indeed!

            Hmm.. Dunno about that, Monsters Inc. has artificial bloopers at the end, and that movie was 100% CG.
    • Re:Quality of RotK (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sir0x0 (732087) on Monday December 22, 2003 @05:03AM (#7784756)
      While the battle scenes were very eye appealing, I think that all of the actors did a wonderful job.

      Agreed, and in fact I think that the acting job done in the battles themselves were integral as well. The wonderful effects would have been wasted had the acting been bad. Theoden's (Bernard Hill) speech, Gandalf's (Sir Ian McKellan) frantic command, even the desperate and controlled actions of Eomer (Karl Urban). Jackson and his team backed up solid moviemaking with solid visual effects, instead of relying on the Ooohs and Aaahs of the audience. That was why the battles were so appealing.

  • Normally... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Exiler (589908) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:04AM (#7784625)
    I don't normally comment on the editors like this, but did Micheal just make a very blatant and obvious troll comment?
    • Re:Normally... (Score:2, Informative)

      by mirko (198274)
      I am not sure : I went to the pictures in order to view this 3rd episode and I have to say I was not as impressed as I was after the previous one.
      I think something was missing but it has nothing to do with the CGI.
      I have NOT read the book and I do not plan to.
      That's why it was difficult for me to clearly understand why some characters appeared all of a sudden.
      They looked like patches applied to fulfill some scenario hole.
      Of course, I can imagine some angry moderator will kick my butt because I dare criticiz
      • Your loss (Score:4, Insightful)

        by LinuxGeek (6139) <djand,nc&gmail,com> on Monday December 22, 2003 @06:35AM (#7784964)
        I think something was missing but it has nothing to do with the CGI.
        I have NOT read the book and I do not plan to.


        The books are better than the movies, Tolkien was a master at weaving intricate story lines. Some of those translated to the screen and others were left out in the intrest of keeping the audiences interest. As an example, it may have taken an additional hour for the first movie to include the whole Tom Bombadil section.

        I think that Jackson, et al have done a great job of condensing the story enough to make the three segmented movie. The books are highly recommended.
        • Re:Your loss (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Ryosen (234440)
          >>As an example, it may have taken an additional hour for the first movie to include the whole Tom Bombadil section.

          While this may be true, I have never quite understood why so many people were up in arms over its exclusion. Tom Bombadil was a character of no consequence - a page-filling distraction. When you consider him within the entire scope of the epic, he really does not serve any true purpose.

          Of course, if I am mistaken about this and overlooked the significance of his character, I hope that
          • Re:Your loss (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Discoflamingo13 (90009) on Monday December 22, 2003 @10:40AM (#7786297) Homepage Journal
            Tom Bombadil was a character of no consequence - a page-filling distraction. When you consider him within the entire scope of the epic, he really does not serve any true purpose.

            Except that he was older than any other resident of Middle-Earth, and was the only character the One Ring (or any of its effects) held no power over. I think he serves as an important contrast to the immortality of the elves and the temporality of the humans involved in the last struggle of the Third Age.
        • Re:Your loss (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22, 2003 @11:04AM (#7786457)
          The books are better than the movies, Tolkien was a master at weaving intricate story lines.

          Oh, please. I will bravely take the dissenting opinion here and say, in a clear voice, that "The Lord of the Rings" just ain't that great a book.

          The language, with a few notable exceptions, is not beautiful. It's stilted and awkward, suitable for a professor but not for a storyteller. (The notable exceptions serve only to put the rest of the book in stark contrast.)

          There's virtually no characterization, again with a few notable exceptions. The dialogue sounds so much like bad repertory theater that it's impossible to feel anything substantive for any of the characters.

          The first part of the book takes a hundred bloody pages to get going, and as soon as it does, it takes a meaningless detour into Bombadilly silliness. It's blindingly obvious that Tolkien was trying to write another "Hobbit" for the first couple hundred pages of LOTR... and it didn't go well.

          The Council of Elrond consists of dozens upon endless dozens of pages of people standing around talking. The battles of Helms Deep and the Pelenor Fields (did I spell that last one right?) are summed up in a couple pages each, and the battle of Isengard takes place entirely off-screen!

          Let us not even mention the fact that the book ends in one of literature's great anticlimaxes. Saruman goes from being an aspiring ruler of Middle Earth to a petty irritant. His character is completely defused and disarmed, which is not a good payoff for dramatic suspense. The damned story ends two hundred pages before the book does.

          All in all, I think Tolkien has been the recipient of more charity and good-will from his readers than any writer since Moses. The movies, while imperfect, have managed to scrape away the crap and uncover the story, a job Tolkien's editor *should have done* but didn't.
  • LOTR (Score:5, Insightful)

    by martingunnarsson (590268) <martin&snarl-up,com> on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:06AM (#7784630) Homepage
    I don't think the battle scenes were the highlight of the LOTR movies. Badly done battle scenes would have made the whole thing look bad, but *less* battle scenes wouldn't, in my opinion.
    • Re:LOTR (Score:5, Insightful)

      by misterpies (632880) on Monday December 22, 2003 @08:43AM (#7785488)
      I'm with you there. Leafing through the book after seeing the film, I was amazed out how much serious plot and character development they'd left out in what was after all an immensely long movie. Instead, RotK, even more so than TTT, was essentially a vehicle for massive set-piece battles. Battles that in the book take up a few paragraphs formed the bulk of the film, while whole subplots that made the book such an enveloping experience - e.g. Faramir and Eowyn - were dropped.

      Where Jackson got it wrong is that LoTR was never meant as a simple heroes-overcome-the-odds story. It's an attempt to create an alternative world peopled by characters at all levels of society -- fantasy's answer to Proust and Balzac.

      Clearly Peter Jackson thought that the complexity of the book was too much for your average cinema-going Joe. And he was probably right - but in thinking so he abandoned the humanity of the story. The siege of Minas Tirith is a good example of this. Tolkien describes the battle from the viewpoints of the citizenry and ordinary soldiers of Gondor; he gives no unified overview of the fighting, because (as a former soldier) he knew that it had little to do with the experience of war. Instead of oliphaunt-surfing Legolas, for example, Gimli gives a terse recounting of their arrival and participation in the battle only after it was all over.

      The film, submitting to Hollywood logic, does away with all this. Films have heroes, and heroes - not ordinary people - win battles. The rest are reduced to orc-fodder. But this removes one of Tolkien's key themes, which is the dehumanising effect of war on an entire society. This applies especially to the scouring of the shire. The main action is over, therefore why complicate thigns? Give us a happy ending. But the point of the book was that there is no happy ending; nothing is as it was before, even in the Shire. Had Jackson merely left out the return to the Shire, I might have forgiven him a savage cut. But instead he gave it the worst sort of saccharine Hollywood ending. The final scene was the same as the book, true, but Sam's last words lost their resonance.

      I know most people who saw the film won't agree with me. Many will respond that the complexity of the book had to be reduced to make it filmable. But if a book cannot be put on screen without ripping it apart, perhaps it should stay on paper. (It goes the other way, of course. Imagine the Matrix as a novel -- it could never convey the visual exhileration of the first film.)

      Ironically, the rest of Tolkien's work apart from LoTR would be well suited to Jackson's approach. The Hobbit is a simple story with a small cast of characters. And the individual stories of the Silmarillion, again being fairly simple and (importantly) not fleshed out in so much detail, could actually gain from being put on screen.
      • Re:LOTR (Score:5, Interesting)

        by happyfrogcow (708359) on Monday December 22, 2003 @10:47AM (#7786342)
        My only response to your respected view of the movies is that the movies are an excellent gateway for a large audience into Tolkien's books. Hundred of thousands of people perhaps would never pick them up, simply because they use to be hidden away in the back with the rest of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy books at your popular bookstores. Now those same bookstores have several central displays dedicated to all of Tolkien's works. Jackson, if nothing else, succeeded in bringing a rebirth to Tolkien's vast world through an accesible representation.

      • Re:LOTR (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nobody69 (116149)
        You sound like someone who should never see the movie version of a really good book[1]. The compromises for making a commercially viable film are generally antagonistic towards a really faithful adaptation. In other words, they are almost guaranteed to cut out/mangle your favorite parts. In essence, your 6th paragraph is exactly right - for you. Some of us, on the other hand, like to see a filmmaker try to scale Everest, even if they lose style points doing so,

        Btw, the Eowyn/Faramir subplot was not re
  • Matrix (Score:4, Interesting)

    by izzo nizzo (731042) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:06AM (#7784632) Homepage Journal
    How is it that both Matrix films were un-nominated for visual effects Oscars? While I can understand discriminating against them because of their relative unpopularity, I can't imagine that their visual effects were considered less spectacular. Yet another reason to hate awards shows, I suppose.
    • Re:Matrix (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I would guess because 'they weren't very impressive'

      They sure *looked* cool - but it was extremely easy to spot where CG actors were used for example - there were lots of closeups to a cg Neo that were *dire*
    • Re:Matrix (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sir0x0 (732087) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:56AM (#7784745)
      One thing lacking in both Matrices, was fluidity. The Visual Effects were large, and imposing, but they were choppy and fake; did not represent actual motion very well. The movement in the shots seemed too computer generated, and falsely blurred to overcome choppiness. Granted, this was probably stylization to a point not only a shortcoming. The Matrix effects are definately not to be overly criticized, they impressed thier audiences. Yet, in a year that offered the best visual effects to date (as a whole), the Matrix came up just short.
    • Re:Matrix (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mrshowtime (562809) on Monday December 22, 2003 @05:24AM (#7784820)
      The only thing that stands out as truly impressive was the highway chase scene in Reloaded. The much touted "untoppable" 25 min end sequence turned out to be really crappy. Oooo, look, there is some fake-mech-looking -walking-things shooting at 10,000,000,000,000 squiddies, for 25 min. straight Yeah!!! The first Matrix felt real and looked real and also had a different tone. The sequels looked and felt like cartoons and the movie "played" like a video game.
    • Re:Matrix (Score:2, Informative)

      by iainl (136759)
      Have I missed them, then? I wasn't aware that the nominations for the 2004 Academy Awards were announced yet. Its worth noting that the first Matrix film did indeed take the effects Oscar.

      I'd also question your second statement - I found the CG battle scenes in Revolutions to be decidedly hit-and-miss, and on other levels they weren't really doing a huge amount over and above what they won that first Oscar for. I'd be nominating X2 (for the stunning work on Nightcrawler), Return Of The King (Gollum is as m
  • by DarthWufei (686942) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:07AM (#7784635)
    Despite how much work and how amazing these CG segments are for the current time period. I have yet to be impressed. I guess until I can actually not tell the difference, or at least only subtle differences, between real an fake. I'll be happy.

    Really the biggest eyesore is CG people. I have yet to see something that really amazes me as it looks like a real person. To be honest, I found the closest being FF:Spirits Within. Crappy movie, but you have to admit the graphics were outstanding.

    I guess my standards are just too high.
    • by webroach (655190) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:42AM (#7784721)
      Really the biggest eyesore is CG people. I have yet to see something that really amazes me as it looks like a real person. To be honest, I found the closest being FF:Spirits Within. Crappy movie, but you have to admit the graphics were outstanding.

      I'm assuming you're talking about the way CG people move, which is (sadly) not very often convincing. And though I agree that the characters in FF:TSW were completely believeable, they were also....

      wait for it...

      ...ANIMATED THROUGH MOTION CAPTURE.

      Compared to Weta's Massive, which animates everything on the fly (ok, granted, using motion capture clips which the animation team tweaked), FF:TSW technique is stone age. So give them a bit of credit for at least trying to further the art....

      Why is it that people can't just sit down and enjoy a movie anymore? All we hear is "I could tell the trucks on the highway in the Matrix weren't real" and "Boy, I'm sure not impressed by those 250,000 orcs attacking. It's clearly not real."

      Watch the movie. Talk about the story. Appreciate the effort that went into trying to entertain your nit-picking self.
      • I think you assumed something you shouldn't have. I do not dislike movies for how horrible they are. I'm much more interested in the story, but really, this entire article is about CG so it should be expected that many would comment on CG in movies and not really the story. I love the LOTR movies personally, but CG is still flawed and needs work. It's great for certain situations "far off shots of humans in which there are thousands to create" but sometimes it can be a bit of a bother.
        • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Monday December 22, 2003 @11:34AM (#7786687)
          Agreed. But still, when I watch The Two Towers and see those ground-level side shots of the approaching orc army and realize absolutely nothing in that shot is real except the ground they're walking on, I can't help but be impressed. They look real to me. Even the orcs climbing the ladders were CG. In fact, those ground-level side shots actually started as Massive visual tests! Peter Jackson decided to use them in the movie.

          You have to keep in mind that seeing 100,000 enemies battling just won't look real no matter what you do, because you've never really seen 100,000 battling orcs up close like that. You must remember that a large number of things in real life also look "unreal" when you actually see them, and I don't doubt that the reason is the same. You just don't see it everyday!
    • by ozbon (99708) on Monday December 22, 2003 @05:04AM (#7784758) Homepage
      Personally, I think Gollum was utterly believable within the scope of LOTR. OK, not human - but the interaction with surroundings, the characterisation, all seemed pretty much perfect.

      Dobby the House Elf in Harry Potter was ground-breaking, but Gollum seems to be a whole generation above that.
    • by selderrr (523988) on Monday December 22, 2003 @05:23AM (#7784812) Journal
      I think you're watching the movie with too much critizism : I'd bet my left leg that, if they somehow could remake the battle scenes WITHOUT CG, and showed both real & CG films to many large audiences, on average folks would in both theaters pretend they did recognized CG artifacts and scenes which were clearly computer generated.

      The reason my friend, is that you're looking at things which can not exist in our world. They are so far beyond the borders of common daydream imagination that you have the reflex to criticize the reality. How much easier can one do so than by claming the CG stuff is 'unnatural' and 'artifical' and could have been done better ?
      (Note : expect lame jokes below about daydream imagination.)
      • by Ami Ganguli (921) on Monday December 22, 2003 @08:36AM (#7785445) Homepage

        That's an interesting point.

        It reminds me of my reaction to the footage of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. Honestly, I thought it looked like bad B-Movie special-effects. The real-life footage just didn't look like what I would have imagined the scene to look like.

        Once you get so far beyond every day experience, you can't trust yourself to know what looks real and what doesn't.

        • by bugbread (599172) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:27AM (#7785743)
          Interesting aside:

          One of the frequent dangers of car accidents is that people will pull an accident victim from their car, assuming it will blow up (as they've seen it a billion times in the movies). Properly aerating and dispersing gasoline such that it is explosive is pretty rare in car accidents, though, and the much greater danger is that a person with spine injuries will be further injured by...people pulling them out of the car.

    • To be honest, I found the closest being FF:Spirits Within. Crappy movie, but you have to admit the graphics were outstanding.

      I also thought the graphics in Final Fantasy were interesting. But they went from hot to cold. Some scenes were fluid. Some were... robotic.

      All in all, I thought Shrek had more "real" looking characters than FF. In fact, I remember a comment from the animators saying they had to conciously work to make sure their characters didn't look too real - this being a fairy tale an

      • All in all, I thought Shrek had more "real" looking characters than FF. In fact, I remember a comment from the animators saying they had to conciously work to make sure their characters didn't look too real - this being a fairy tale and all.

        According to what I remember from the "making-of" snippets, it was Princess Fiona [celebritywonder.com] who caused them the most trouble with that issue - their first version was apparently too realistic [digitalmediafx.com] for believable placement and interaction within the film's world. They couldn't have a

  • by caitsith01 (606117) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:08AM (#7784638) Journal
    If they didn't have all of the ridiculously lame dwarf comedy ("nobody tosses a dwarf", "toss me", etc.) and if Legolas hadn't snowboarded down the stairs on his shield. For a movie with such a realistic look to it, those elements of the battles, especially Helms Deep, were totally unneccessary and really ruined the great ambience that the thousands of CG extras created so effectively.

    Why must directors put such painfully lame moments in films, anyway? It's like in Minority Report, when Tom Cruise is fighting the other guy wearing a jet pack and they 'accidentally' cook the hamburgers on the grill to perfection... why? WHY???!
    • Well, realistically they do not have a single purpose in battle, and usually doesn't happen. Then again we're talking a movie, you can't really give much background, or character development as books gives in even 4 hours. Somehow I think that the Gimli/Legolas example is used to show how they're eventually going to end up being great friends. It just seems a tad harder to show this in special segments due to the time alotted. It just makes it easier to show the strong bond between the two characters. And
    • by rokzy (687636) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:30AM (#7784696)
      I liked the jokes, they didn't seem gratuitous - they were always "in character". the rivalry between Gimli and Legolas is one of my favourite things, when they finally admit they're such good friends (ROTK: "die alongside an elf/friend") it's a fantastic moment and it wouldn't have been so good without the "jokes" - Gimli being too proud (TTT: "toss me, don't tell the elf") is a necessary part.
      • I liked the jokes, they didn't seem gratuitous - they were always "in character"

        I don't agree. I really liked "The Two Towers", and the jokes would have been fine if
        1. It wasn't *once again* some kind of old dwarf joke,
        2. said jokes were in the book (maybe I'm wrong, and it IS in the book, but I can't remember them), and
        3. Legolas did something funny (but no, NO ! A dwarf may - no, MUST - be comical, but not a noble Elf ...)

        But that wasn't the case.

        Maybe I'm a fanatic (I don't think so, I like TLOTR, bu
    • The reason (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Monday December 22, 2003 @11:43AM (#7786751)
      When Gimli said those things, the audience laughed. When Legolas "snowboarded" down the stairs on his shield, the audience cheered.

      It was fun. It's a movie, remember? The only movie that topped the fun of The Two Towers for me was Return of the King. Seeing Legolas drop an oliphaunt, and Gimli's resulting comment, made that moment memorable for every member of the audience who were with me that night. It was a great movie with fun character moments to offset the dreary doom. You cheered when your heroes showed up.

      You know, Tolkien did have whimsical comedic moments in the books, some that made it into the movies and some that didn't.
  • CGI, huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:09AM (#7784644)
    And here I thought that it was all the extras together with CGI that made the battle scenes in TTT and ROTK so special...

    Call me a purist, but I still believe that CG should be used to enhance real scenes, not create them from scratch (unless it's a space movie or something similar)...
  • by terremoto (679350) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:15AM (#7784661)
    RotK clearly wouldn't have been much of a movie if the battle scenes hadn't been so good.

    Perhaps it escaped your notice, but ROTK is a film of a book. A book that tells a great story. The battle scenes are just part of it.

    • Glad this got modded up as I was going to post the same thing. It seems that with the popularity of certain films here in America, story starts to get quite pointless to some film makers going for the quick buck. But it's always nice to see something stand strong, something that makes you laugh, cry, angered, and such. Actually, I'm happy to say that my mom gave me an early gift of the boxset. So soon I'll have finally read the books.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:15AM (#7784664)
    I think that in movies (especially 'epic' style LOTR movies) you not only need them, but thats really the only way to show the scale and depth (and humanity?) of the story.

    You're that guy to the left looking on a field full of 10,000+ orcs and other bad guys. What do you feel like? How does the story teller convey that?

    I really like action movies, and I really enjoy them. They're fun and cool and easy to take. Personally, I hope to see more 'epic' styled movies. They're fun and cool, but also tragic, hopeful, and that the good guys don't always win, or not the way you might expect.

    Ok, weirdness over.
  • by jcampbell (75905) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:21AM (#7784673) Homepage
    How about anybody who can't enjoy a LOTR movie is a stuck up snot. So what if there's some "desensitization" going on. Why don't you just take movies for what they are: entertainment. BE ENTERTAINED. If you're looking for shakespearean dialogue and touching stories, go move near an independant movie theater and stopping taking up seats at my local theater so you can sneer and bark that movies me and every other human with a beating heart can enjoy. And if you can't find some deeper meaning in LOTR then, my friend, you are dense.

    If there had not been those humorous moments in LOTR, it would have not have been a Peter Jackson movie. Maybe since I saw his portfolio of horror movies and laughed my bloody ass off before we even knew about LOTR, I have a greater appreciation. But frankly... grow a sense of humor, it's not hard.
    • Well said.

      Many people I've talked to knew full well of the past work of Peter Jackson and although they realised in advance that humorous additions would happen they only seem able to harp on about how much of the film didn't flow correctly, or how changes and additions that Peter Jackson made were unneeded and ruined the overall feel of the film.

      The film is good, all films have their good and bad points, accepting that the film was good (great) won't detract from your precious novels, they still exist un
    • by spongman (182339) on Monday December 22, 2003 @06:56AM (#7785004)
      Heh, not shit. I was waiting for one of those poor defenders of Minas Tirith to turn over and patch up his battered skull with some freshly liberated orc-brain.
    • How about anybody who can't enjoy a LOTR movie is a stuck up snot.

      Nah... that would be anybody who can't handle the fact that different people have differing opinions.
  • CG (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rhuntley12 (621658) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:21AM (#7784674)
    While CG looks nice and all, it still is noticable that it's CG. There is definately something to be said for fight scenes using real people, even wirefighting looks good. As long as they make it look real. Look at crouching tiger hidden dragon, while I didn't care much for the fighting in the trees and on water, it still looked damn good. Also Kill Bill, while alot of people hated, the fighting was damn good, except for one quick scene in my mind. Personally, I prefer real actors to CG, even though it'd be hard to have a huge battle like that. If I remember right, and it's been awhile, Stargate the movie had a scene with around 2000 extras in a single battle.
    • by mraymer (516227)
      If I remember right, and it's been awhile, Stargate the movie had a scene with around 2000 extras in a single battle.

      Yes, they had a very large group of extras and use rather primitive CGI to "clone" those extras into an even bigger group. While I just called the CGI primitive, it's important to note that is only compared to current standards. When the SG movie came out, most the effects were pretty spectacular, save a few moments of cheesiness.

      Also, the SG movie was the first film to have an off

  • by SexyKellyOsbourne (606860) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:32AM (#7784700) Journal
    We have all these movies now where CG-generated characters are used to fight and kill each other in every gory fashion imaginable, but why don't we have any movies where thousands of people get together and make love, not war? A massive orgy comprising of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, CG-generated characters in the scope and scale of Lord of the Rings would be an unforgettable moment in moviemaking history. Perhaps it would inspire the nations of Europe to solve their rapid depopulation problem -- we could have a summer of love all over again.

    I was quite disappointed when that scene in the Matrix 2 turned out to be a mere scantily clad rave in a cave, all done with paid actors.
  • by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:34AM (#7784709) Journal
    RotK clearly wouldn't have been much of a movie if the battle scenes hadn't been so good.

    Duh. And in other news, Titanic wouldn't have been much of a movie if the ship hadn't sunk, Pearl Harbor wouldn't have been much of a movie if the Japanese hadn't attacked and X-Men would have been pretty bad if none of the characters had special powers.

    Sure, there are a couple of hobbits winding their way to Mount Doom but Lord Of The Rings was always about epic battles - it's a bit hard to have an ultimate "good vs evil" struggle without a major conflict or two.

    When people talk about these movies, they they talk about the battles within the mines of Moria, at Helm's Deep, at Isengard, and at Minas Tirith. They don't talk about Gandalf's fireworks at the Shire, or Frodo vs Gollum at the volcano's mouth. It's the major fight scenes that get us talking and it's those fight scenes where the real money is spent.

    Of course Return Of The King wouldn't have been much of a movie if the battle scenes hadn't been so good. Neither would any major sci-fi or fantasy film you care to mention if equally bereft of seriously meaty action. Duh.
    • by Minna Kirai (624281) on Monday December 22, 2003 @11:45AM (#7786772)
      it's a bit hard to have an ultimate "good vs evil" struggle without a major conflict or two.

      Lord of the Rings was not an ultimate "good vs evil" struggle.

      The movies recast it as one, and it's understandable that a filmmaker aiming for a large audience would do this, but that's not what the book was about. In actuality, the "moral" of the story is that there is no such thing as ultimate evil, even if something may appear to be so for a time.
  • by _spider_ (171782) on Monday December 22, 2003 @04:35AM (#7784711)
    In my own personal opinion, I think the writer of the article didn't pay attention to the movies. (esp. LOTR: all three)

    With that, I'll say his opinion is lame.

    Thats my thought..er, .02.
  • cgi porn (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jamesh (87723) on Monday December 22, 2003 @05:01AM (#7784750)
    Is a cgi woman doing sexy things to herself for the entertainment of others still exploitation of women, when no specific woman is being exploited?

    Down this path are all sorts of questions...
    • Re:cgi porn (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sunbeam60 (653344)
      So I take it that you consider any regular porn exploitation of women?

      I would venture that either you consider both sexes equally exploited in porn - or you consider neither of the sexes exploited. Seems to me men and woman face the same choice before getting involved in the porn industry.

      Both are portrayed as huge, chugging, ever-hungry slabs of meat (which is fine given that this is after all what porn is about). I fail to see why porn exploits women any more in that situation than it does men.

      • Re:cgi porn (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bi()hazard (323405) on Monday December 22, 2003 @08:27AM (#7785397) Homepage Journal
        That's true-the argument that porn exploits women is rather disingenuous. If we exclude truly exploitative material (for example, voyeur porn where the subjects don't know they're being taped-"When you bend over, you never know who's watching!!!" [sneakyupskirt.com]), it becomes clear that the "poor exploited women" and "abusive male patriarchy" claims are mere political tools.

        Modern feminism has grown so radical and dogmatic that many women feel feminist ideas restrict and oppress them. To enjoy oneself as a woman with a libido is a counterrevolutionary act against the feminist cause. How is this paradox possible? Isn't feminism about liberation? Not anymore. Now that women have nearly equal rights, feminists are engaged in an ideological power struggle with the goals of ego-masturbation and attention whoring. How many supposedly idealistic protesters these days come off as attention whores when you look beyond their rhetoric? How many of the most rabid and vociferous ones just want to be leaders, and they found a convenient cause which they can milk like a juicy breast for all the glory and power it's worth?

        With this background understood, it becomes clear why the forces of political correctness assail porn as "exploitation of women." Nobody cares about the woman in the movie, fuck her-in fact, the existence of a woman in the movie is irrelevant. Only the idea matters; a written erotic story would be just as "exploitative" as a hardcore donkey bukkake film if it had as broad an audience, rather than an audience of just a few broads. To the politically correct, porn is not sexual entertainment but rather a political manifesto. A manifesto arguing in favor of hedonism; a demonstration of how enjoyable lack of inhibition can be. Those huge, chugging, ever-hungry slabs of meat pay no attention to ideology and propriety, and therefore they cannot be manipulated by those means. Without guilt trips to lay on people, the politically correct attention whores won't get any attention. They will fade into irrelevancy and impotency.

        That is what so-called feminists are really afraid of, and that's why they're always picking fights and flinging flamebait while actually increasing the subtle restrictions society places on women. If everyone becomes too comfortable with watching a cgi woman doing sexy things to herself, we might just stop worrying about how "dirty" and "guilty" and "offensive" sex is. God forbid that a girl could ever get laid without feeling like a shameful slut! She might not need her feminist overlords to set her back on the right-thinking, independent, non-exploited path! I, for one, welcome my new computer generated nymphomaniac sisters. For one thing, they'll always be in the mood to entertain my date when I'm not, and I don't even have to be jealous that they're thinner than me because they're not real :P
    • Re:cgi porn (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lpontiac (173839)

      Is a cgi woman doing sexy things to herself for the entertainment of others still exploitation of women, when no specific woman is being exploited?

      Down this path are all sorts of questions...

      Of which probably the most interesting, and the one about to become hotly debated, is: Is a cgi child doing sexy things to itself for the entertainment of others still utterly wrong, when no actual child was involved in the production of the `child porn'?

      • Re:cgi porn (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        I wrote an essay almost on this subject, about whether or not it should be illegal. I wrote it from a US of A standpoint, considering the first amendment. I won't pretend that it's full of deep thought or anything. I spoke in defense of virtual child pornography. You can read my essay here on livejournal [livejournal.com]. (I'm too cheap to pay for hosting on top of my cable internet access, and I don't have a static IP at home because comcast is stingy like that.)

        Though I only really address the issue of legality in the

  • by iapetus (24050) on Monday December 22, 2003 @05:06AM (#7784770) Homepage
    Forget the CGI actors. Ignore (if you can) the comedy dwarf tossing. My biggest complaint about the battle sequences is the hideous lack of strategy the leaders seem to have. I don't care who you are: a cavalry charge against a huge rank of spearmen is not a smart idea, and we see it happen at least twice in the series. And charging headlong at rampaging Oliphaunts? You deserve to be crushed underfoot. Swing out and take them from the flank, perhaps?
    • the fact it was a bad idea is what makes the end of TTT exciting - you see the uruk hai set their spears and looks like they'll fail, then Gandalf "flashbangs" them at the last second.

      at Minas Tirith it's similar with the cavalry except there it's orcs not uruk hai, and orcs are smaller aren't they? you can see on the orcs' faces that even though they have spears the sight of all the cavalry scares the shit out of them - I love that; it's the first time humans are considered strong.
      • by Sir0x0 (732087) on Monday December 22, 2003 @05:36AM (#7784840)
        Also, spearmen are effective at taking out the first rank of a cavalry charge. Once they "break the line" the cavalry are going to wreak havoc. Rohan had no (or few) archers, which are the normal response to heavy-infantry-spear-weilding types.

        Charging into Oliphaunts was not the best idea, but hey, it was the first time most of them had EVER seen oliphaunts! Beginner's mistake eh... :)

        • Yeah, but what would your first reaction be to seeing something as big as the oliphaunts?

          "Oh shit!"

          or

          "Charge!"

        • Works well for spearmen in lines, but IIRC the orcs were mostly lined up in squares, which are great at dealing with cavalry charges. To be honest, the Rohirrim might have been better off ignoring the spearmen and finding a more suitable target for their strengths.
        • by kaisyain (15013) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:59AM (#7786010)
          Maybe you've never read John Keegan's classic The Face of Battle. His section on the battle of Waterloo talks in detail about cavalry versus infantry engagements.

          You are correct that if they break the line cavalry are very good at breaking ranks. However, you miss two things. One, breaking ranks doesn't mean the cavalry have really caused much in the way of casualties to the infantry.

          One Waterloo cavalryman reported, "Many threw themselves on the ground until we had gone over, and then rose and fired." Keegan points out, "To lie down was usually enough to put one beyond a swordsman's reach, and those who shammed were already safely behind the cavalry, whose attention was focused on the enemy lines to which their impetus was carrying them." Thus cavalry can easily break lines but those lines can be readily reformed by good commanders. There is no indication that the orcs armies have poor commanders, poor organization, or poor morale.

          More importantly, however, Keegan points out that cavalry are in actuality completely ineffective against trained infantry. "And indeed if the story of Waterloo has a leitmotiv it is that of cavalry charging square and being repulsed...The feat of breaking a square was tried by the French cavalry time and again at Waterloo -- there were perhaps twelve main assaults during the great afternoon cavalry effort -- and always with a complete lack of success."

          Cavalry break the line of infantry not because of anything particularly irresistible about cavalry. They break the line because the infantry fear the horses riding down on them and give up the line voluntarily.

          Keegan's examination of cavalry versus infantry at the battle of Agincourt, which might seem more germane to Tolkiens technological levels, finds essentially the same thing. The French cavalry charge of the British archer lines failed completely. "The 'shock' which cavalry seek to inflict is really moral, not physical in character...The charge, momentarily terrifying for the English...had stopped only a few feet distant, had been a disaster for the enemy."

          I don't see any reason why Gandalf's cavalry charge would have worked out as anything but a similar disaster.
          • by Minna Kirai (624281) on Monday December 22, 2003 @12:19PM (#7787137)
            You are correct that if they break the line cavalry are very good at breaking ranks.

            The enemy didn't even have a line. It was a suprise attack to the rear of an engaged army. They had little time to turn and face the new foe. The weak line they hastily formed was not nearly as strong as what the orcs would've presented if they'd been meeting the Rohirrim head-on.

            One Waterloo cavalryman reported,

            Bringing up Waterloo shows how irrelevant your references are. LOTR is not in an 1800s-level world, where infantry carry guns. It's at maybe a 1200s level of technology.

            By 1750, the time of cavalry was ending, because a horseman with a carbine would lose to an infantryman with a rifle. Being on a horse makes you both easier to target, and less accurate with your own shots. (It took another 100 years for rifles to become common enough that cavalry was completely dead)

            But before the rise of the gun, armored horsmen were a powerful force. And before the coming of the English longbow and the Germanic pike, they were unbeatable. Look at orcs- they can't use either of those weapons effectively. They lack the eyesight and dexterity to be good bowmen, and they completely lack the discipline to hold pikes in a line. (In this world, only the elves or Urukhai can shoot like an Agincourt bowman)

            So the enemy had no counter to cavalry charges, except force of numbers and giant monsters.

      • Oh yes, the strategy in all the movies is dire. But better by far than Gandalfs flashbang has to be the bit in RotK where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli charge the enemy and the Orcs are all 'what the Hell - chop 'em to pieces,' and then suddenly it's all like the Boys are Back.

        Yeah man! I want a ghost army !!!
    • by Drakin (415182)
      I'm with you on that...

      Although, you notice in RotK, the spear men set themselves up properly against a calvary charge (speares blaneted, angled to meet the charge)... after that, they're nowhere to be found... it's archers in front.

      Though, what bothered me more was the whole mounted calvary charge against a fortrified city...

      And why didn't the defenders do something to set fire to the siege towers? They were only wood after all...
  • Bullshite! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mrshowtime (562809) on Monday December 22, 2003 @05:34AM (#7784838)
    "Return of the King would not have been much of a movie without the battles." Bullshit! The amount of artistry put into all three movies has not been seen since the days of "Cleopatra." I am no blind Tolkien freak either. All three movies were beautiful all around. In terms of cost, ROTK cost only $95 million. Contrast that with the recently released "chick flick," "Mona Lisa Smile," what cost $65 million to make and "The Last Samurai" who's costs totalled almost $140 million dollars. The Last Samurai's battle scenes were rather bland and extremely pale in comparison to ROTK. ROTK was just more than the battles, it had a lot of shit going on everywhere in middle earth. I am amazed that Peter Jackson and Co. completed the movie in less than a year, no other Hollywood director or studio could have made ROTK better than WETA and Peter Jackson. Saying ROTK would have sucked without the battles, is like saying Jedi would have sucked without any space battles. Stupid thing to say.
  • Non-battle CG (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    One thing I missed in the movies was that while we could see the fighters in full digital glory, you couldn't see, say, the elves of Rivendell and Lothlorien going about their lives (prior to departing.) Or the forests moving.

    Those would probably have been harder to do than the battles, so I can't really blame them for not including those ... but it would have been nice.
  • LoTR and battles (Score:5, Insightful)

    by heironymouscoward (683461) <heironymouscoward@@@yahoo...com> on Monday December 22, 2003 @06:10AM (#7784908) Journal
    I read the LoTR when I was 8, and the battle scenes were clear and vivid at the time. The key to making good battle scenes (whether through CGI or using live actors) is to convey the emotions of the situation: boredom, panic, horror, terror, panic, glee, euphoria, insanity. The best way to express these emotions is to use shadows and hints, not full frontal gore.

    "Master and Commander" was so good in parts because it did this - as the writer of the article says, the first battle scene in which flashes of light in the distant fog are the visual warning of deadly accurate incoming cannon shots. Hiding the enemy and showing only shadows makes it much more fightning and effective..

    Battlescene CGI has, thankfully, matured a little from the "see what I can do" phase, and directors can now direct it in more subtle ways than simply creating realistic hordes.

    I don't believe the staged battles and CGI effects were the key to making the LoTR movies more successful, in fact the special effects were quite often boring and impersonal. Flying lizards, mutant elephants, walking trees... OK, curious to look at, but hardly terrifying. And the walking trees and dawrf jokes were just silly.

    I'm looking forward to the time when more creative and intuitive directors turn CGI in something more subtle than a "look what I can do" toy.
    • The walking trees and flying "lizards" were pretty crucial to the plot of the book. I somehow doubt that Tolkien wrote about them to create some pretty CG effects in a film that would be released after his death.
      • Trees that walk don't have to look like something from Walt Disney, and horrible things that fly can be a lot more effective if they are less graphic.

        My point is simply that imagination is always more powerful than explicit imagery, and CGI effects have to leave that space open, or they balanize the story into becoming a sophisticated cartoon.
  • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Monday December 22, 2003 @06:20AM (#7784929) Journal
    The article reminded me of some funny bits at McSweeney's.

    UNUSED AUDIO COMMENTARY BY HOWARD ZINN AND NOAM CHOMSKY, RECORDED SUMMER 2002, FOR THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (Platinum Series Extended Edition)DVD, Part One [mcsweeneys.net]


    Part Two [mcsweeneys.net]

    A sample:

    Zinn: And observe the map device here -- how the map is itself completely Gondor-centric. Rohan and Gondor are treated as though they are the literal center of Middle Earth. Obviously this is because they have men living there. What of places such as Anfalas and Forlindon or Near Harad? One never really hears anything about places like that. And this so-called map casually reveals other places -- the Lost Realm, the Northern Waste (lost to whom? wasted how? I ask) -- but tells us nothing about them. It is as though the people who live in these places are despicable, and unworthy of mention. Who is producing this tale? What is their agenda? What are their interests and how are those interests being served by this portrayal? Questions we need to ask repeatedly.


    A bit more:

    Zinn: And notice how Strider characterizes the Black Riders. "Neither living nor dead." Why, that's a really useful enemy to have.


    Chomsky: Yes. In this way you can never verify their existence, and yet they're horribly terrifying. We should not overlook the fact that Middle Earth is in a cold war at this moment, locked in perpetual conflict. Strider's rhetoric serves to keep fear alive.
  • Credit to Casting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drskrud (684409) on Monday December 22, 2003 @06:27AM (#7784943) Homepage
    One thing I really give credit to the LotR trilogy for is their casting. There are virtually no "big-name" actors in any of the movies. While there are the better known stars, Sir Ian McKellan, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett and even Liv Tyler and Sean Bean, none of them overpower the other cast members to the point of obscurity.

    Furthermore, they found some actors from relative obscurity (Merry and Pippin come to mind) who perform remarkably well. Every single character in the LotR series is acted out almost flawlessly, and I for one can clearly relate their on screen portrayals to those characters from the book. And that's certainly what makes the battle scenes that much more *real* and closer to home. Someone watching the movie can really get a feel for the characters and sympathize with them. No character gets lost behind the face of some huge actor and no one actor steals the show from any other.

    As for the CGI effects, I had no trouble believing that those oliphaunts and huge armies of Orcs were real, they might as well have been. The graphics were more than convincing enough and the fact that the movie is indeed in a fantasy setting allows for what Samuel Taylor Coleridge coined the "willful suspension of belief." I had a harder time believing that Tom Cruise's character could take out four or five samurai before even getting any samurai training.... not to mention he somehow managed to hold them off with a flagpole of all things...
    • Re:Credit to Casting (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rinikusu (28164)
      /* I had a harder time believing that Tom Cruise's character could take out four or five samurai before even getting any samurai training.... not to mention he somehow managed to hold them off with a flagpole of all things... */

      Why not believable? Do you believe that somehow, if you are Japanese and a samurai that you are invincible and superior to every other person in the world? Why? Just because you train in an art does not make you immediately "better" in the areas of combat. In fact, it might be s
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Monday December 22, 2003 @06:37AM (#7784968)
    Before you go ranting about CG - as some are doing just now - beware.
    OK, 50 meter high elefant creatures. They ought to be CG. But I doubt that real 50 meter high elefant creatures would look that much different. Yeah, horses wouldn't charge into orkish infantry that way, but you ought to know that those are special middle earth horses and real middle earth orks, and they react that way to one-another. I just guess Peter Jackson and his team did a scene that would look coolest.

    I consider myself somewhat familiar with the capabilities of CG, and was somewhat upset about how very 'CG' some scenes in the updated 1st Star Wars Trilogy were. What really suprised me was to find out that the scenes I thought were bad CG were in fact real shots of real things.

    That being said, for someone who has a knack at CG I though those scenes where I can definitley tell they actually were CG (f.e. giant trolls smashing Minas Tirit Knights left, right and center) were absofuckinlutely awesome. If there were real trolls in this world, it wouldn't have looked any more impressive, that's for sure.
  • by Channard (693317) on Monday December 22, 2003 @06:45AM (#7784983) Journal
    Who needs big battle scenes? The Two Towers would have been just as good without them, if Peter Jackson had a much lower budget... cue daydream sequence..

    Camera zooms in on and swoops past the walls of Helms Deep, which is full of 'orcs' that look suspicious like cardboard standees. The orcs stand side by side, leaving an empty space in the middle of the crowd. At one end stands Aragorn, sword in hand, wearing a long black tunic. At the other end, stands the King Orc, clearly identifiable by the saucy party hat he wears.

    Aragorn: It ends tonight.

    King Orc:I know it does. We already know I'm the one who beats you. That's why the rest of us are just going to enjoy the show. Grrgh.

    They they fight, in a big battle scene would be ludicrously expensive if not for the fact Sam's head is in the way of the camera so only the occasional 'You swine!' is heard. A few moments later, Aragorneo's victory cry is heard. Close up on a shot of the Orc's party hat drifting poignantly to the ground. End scene.

  • by Moderation abuser (184013) on Monday December 22, 2003 @07:23AM (#7785089)
    What got me was all the parents bringing 5 year olds and younger to see the film despite it being a 12.

    We're *not* talking Harry Potter or Peter Pan here, there's massive amounts of blood and guts but they seemed to think fantasy equals gentle fairy story. About half of them were led out in tears.

  • by invid (163714) on Monday December 22, 2003 @07:59AM (#7785231) Homepage
    Back in my day all the special effects were done by puppets, and we liked it!
  • by TrueBuckeye (675537) on Monday December 22, 2003 @08:42AM (#7785478) Journal
    is how it trys to portray LOTR as warmongering, which means he absoutely missed the point... "In those days, even if those days are set in an Oxford don's fantasy life, war was war, war was man's business, up was up, down was down, enemies were demons, and best of all, killing them was holy work about which no one had to be guilty. It's nice to deal with a war that, though rendered in color, still plays in moral black-and-white. Thus one hallmark of the modern old-fashioned war movie is a high body count, combined with moral righteousness. It's better that way, don't you think? It's certainly easier." Wrong. LOTR is all about how war can be forced upon a society and you MUST fight. But once the battle begins, noble intentions and ideals are thrown out the window. Neither the men, elves, dwarves, or orcs are any less brutal or more noble once the fighting begins. There comes a time when in order to preserve your freedom, you must become your enemy, you must embrace evil in order to defeat it. And then, victory or defeat, you will have lost something. They were all changed by the war, and none of them for the better. The scene at the end where the Hobbits were sitting in the old bar and give each other a look and a half-hearted toast...THAT is the point of the movies. You are forced into a battle you don't want, you have to become savage and do things you would never have imagined doing before, and then at the end of the day once you can return to your lives, you find that you can't. Your old life, the life you fought for, is gone. It isn't about black and white. It is about how what looks to be black and white is only a million shades of gray.
    • This may intrest you...

      From FotR:

      FRODO: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened...

      GANDALF: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

      From Tony Blair [nytimes.com]:

      I know out there, there's a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, "Why me, and why us, and why America?" And the only answer is because d

  • by geeber (520231) on Monday December 22, 2003 @08:47AM (#7785513)
    It sure seems like he couldn't have been bothered to read it. The bulk of the article has next to nothing to do with CGI. It's mostly about the glut of current movies having large scale warfare in them, be they produced with computers or an army of extras.

    Could the article have been more misleading?
  • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:24AM (#7785717)
    A few months ago, I was in my local theater waiting for the movie to start. The lights dim. The screen flickers. And where we usually start with a selection of previews for movies the studios would like us to see... I was treated to 20 mins of commercials (another rant for a different time).

    At the tail end of these commercials was a heartening look at an industry stuntman. He talked about movies. He talked about his work. He talked about the risks he and his fellow stuntmen take to bring us exciting action in the movies. And he warned us that when we download a movie, we're stealing from him. Yep. Download a movie and you've all but made his work... his risks... his sacrifice worthless.

    The message is clear. The MPAA wants us to know that downloading movies eliminates jobs. It hurts people like this particular stuntman. It takes away his job. Downloading is theft.

    Of course, we have to wonder what this stuntman thinks about the massive battle scenes in the Lord of the Rings series. Sure. Motion capture plays a heavy part in the current technology. But you only need so many stuntment in a digital studio to generate the data needed for that. And what about the day when motion capture is no longer needed - when the actions of generic stunts have been long since captured, added to a database, and available on CDROM/DVD for a few hundred dollars? What happens to the job of the noble stuntman?

    It seems that CGI too, is theft.

    Or not.
  • by mlzman (318971) on Monday December 22, 2003 @09:35AM (#7785807)
    The thing that bothers me about the Post article was the author's flippant suggestions that it is easy to create the huge, brilliantly realized battle sequences he mentions. I'm no expert, but I suspect it takes a lot more than just "two technicians in a computer bunker."

    Of the movies he mentions, I have only seen Return of the King. In that movie alone I would imagine that it took a large and talented team of artists, designers, actors, engineers, writers, etc.--not to mention a director with vision--to pull it off. It's sad that the author, one of the Post's movie critics, doesn't express much appreciation or gratitude for the human creativity that makes these scenes possible.

    Is this a common attitude? Perhaps I'm mistaken; maybe its easy to seamlessly incorporate large-scale computer generated action into films, but I'd be shocked if it were as simple as Mr. Hunter suggests.
  • Here's an NYT writer complaining about the movies being "an FX extravaganza tailored to an adolescent male's fear of sentiment and love of high-tech wizardry." [nytimes.com] (Lord knows there's no sentiment in any of those death or parting scenes.) In addition to slamming the films for appealing to "geeks" and "nerds," her complaint seems to boil down to them being bad because they're not chick flicks, in much the same way that Fried Green Tomatoes suffers from a complete lack of sword fights.

  • Samurai banners (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheTick (27208) on Monday December 22, 2003 @10:57AM (#7786411) Homepage Journal

    From the article:

    The film's director, Ed Zwick, who is working from the model of the great Kurosawa, color-codes his various units by flags that are mounted on helmets. Possibly this is historically true; possibly some genius on Kurosawa's staff thought it up.

    Neither Kurosawa nor Zwick "thought it up". These banners are called sashimono, and they were affixed to the back, not the helmet. Sorry to nitpick, but a little research effort on the part of a writer for a major news outlet would be appreciated.

  • by Sabalon (1684) on Monday December 22, 2003 @11:18AM (#7786574)
    I liked the movies, but I found it annoying that most of the battle scenes looked as if they were shot about 2 feet away from the action.

    I would have rather scene some wider shots of the battle instead of two or people right in your face fighting it out. It all flashes by too fast then. It does help to relay the idea that war is chaos...makes you wonder how much "friendly fire" there is, but on screen it is just a blur.

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