Ye Olde Dragon here, and I must admit that I’m feeling a tad embarrassed. Since I first saw Sir Peter Jackson‘s THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES in the theaters last December, I thought something was “off” with Dain Ironfoot – portrayed by Billy Connolly – but then I got too caught up in his great dialogue (“I wonder if you wouldn’t mind… Just sodding off!”) and forgot about it.
I’m not sure how many times I have now watched it since it became available for digital HD download last month, but it occurred to me as I watched it once more last night. Dain’s eyes didn’t look like Billy’s and in one spot, his voice didn’t quite match the mouth movements. I then wondered if perhaps they had another actor physically portray the character while Billy provided the voice, so I decided to Google it. Talk about a revelation.
I found out that the Dain Ironfoot that appeared on screen was 100% CGI.
The reason that I feel embarrassed, is that I’m usually pretty good at picking out CGI performances. I really had no idea. Now there are those who claim that they knew it all the time, but I can’t help but wonder if perhaps some of them saw one of several movie books that were released either just prior to or after the release of the film. I was in a much different place when The LOTR Trilogy came out, and I was able to afford all of the accompanying media such as the art books and the Visual Companion line of books giving me much more insight to these films that I love. Sadly I have not been able to inundate myself in similar fashion with The Hobbit Trilogy, leaving me very much in the dark about the designs and the creative process this time around.
From what I understand, it was revealed in one of these books that they decided to go with a 100% CGI character and enhance it with Billy’s personality as much as they could, as they felt that perhaps too much costume and prosthetics would lose his performance. I also wouldn’t be surprised if it also tied in with the fact that Connolly’s Parkinson’s Disease was causing him great fatigue and they didn’t want to stress him too much, so mucho kudos to them for that decision.
I’m sure those of you who read DV regularly, know how I have felt about the CGI use in The Hobbit. I’ve been fairly down on it, despite the fact that I understand the necessity for doing so because of the format. I’m still not entirely happy with the overall look of Azog the Defiler, but there were some improvements in the final two films as far as the overall performance of the CGI orcs goes, and the fact now that I didn’t even realize that Dain was 100% CGI is making me think I need to take the better, less hyper-critical look at all three movies. I can hardly wait until the Extended Edition of BOTFA is released so I can enjoy the behind-the-scenes magic that I’ve enjoyed so much in all of Jackson’s Extended Editions.
Never let it be said that old Dragons can’t be taught new things or change their minds.
… End of line.