Thu
Jan 2 2014 11:00am

The Hobbit Reread: A Return for The Desolation of Smaug

poster for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

Welcome back to the chapter-by-chapter reread of The Hobbit, which I’ve reopened so we can talk about the movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. As you may recall, I liked the first movie more than I expected, and was surprised at some of the ways it adapted events from the larger Middle-earth canon. After the jump, I’ll discuss how I felt about this movie and run through some comparisons with the books. As always, spoilers for the movies and everything Tolkien (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and various posthumous tidbits). You can catch up with the past reread posts at the Hobbit reread index and the LotR reread index.

This post turned out to be epically long, but it’s broken up into sections for ease of reference, so click the jump link and let’s talk!

General Comments

Unfortunately, I did not like this movie as much as the first. It shared the same tendency of the first movie to re-hash bits of the LotR movies, and then added re-hashing bits of the first Hobbit movie, so that it all started feeling kind of been-there-done-that. Add in too much orc-fighting, not enough Bilbo, and as the jump quote says, it starts feeling like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.

Let’s take the rest of this thematically.

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

The Arkenstone, Thorin, and Bilbo

The movie starts with a Bree flashback, the conversation between Thorin and Gandalf that is in Appendix A, Part III (“Durin’s Folk”) of LotR. The very first thing in this scene is Peter Jackson repeating his Fellowship cameo, which is either cute or an ominous sign of things to come, depending on one’s mood. But the more significant revelation is that Thorin plans to burglarize the Lonely Mountain to get the Arkenstone, which is the MacGuffin that will unite the dwarf Houses and allow them to drive out Smaug. I actually like this change a lot, because it makes much more sense than the “1) sneak into mountain with lone burglar; 2) ???; 3) profit!” plan in the book. I’m not sure about making the Arkenstone the symbol of the right to rule when it also corrupts (in the movie, it’s the source of treasure-sickness generally, and in the book, it enchants those who see it with the desire for it), but that’s a relatively small quibble.

Speaking of Bilbo taking the Arkenstone, I think that’s definitely going to come next movie, when they’re exploring in Smaug’s absence, as in the book; it won’t be revealed in flashback that he picked it up while on the run from Smaug, before Thorin comes down into the Mountain, as I briefly thought it might be. That’s because Thorin’s action when he comes down, drawing steel on Bilbo just to ask whether he’d seen it, is going to be Bilbo’s motivation to pick it up and keep it secret.

Less of Thorin being an Epic Emo Hero of Epic Emo Heroicness this time, which was fine by me, though I did laugh out loud at the blatant visual shorthand when Thorin is silhouetted against the giant statue of his grandfather on the doorstep while Balin lectures him about the desire for treasure changing his personality just as it did his grandfather.

 

Beorn

I didn’t like the character design or the backstory. In the book, Beorn is “a huge man with a thick black beard and hair, and great bare arms and legs with knotted muscles” (Chapter 7, “Queer Lodgings”). I like that he’s fully human in appearance in his non-bear form, to make the contrast greater, and that his human appearance emphasizes his outsized personality. The movie’s version is not fully human in appearance and not very booming, which I didn’t think were necessary or interesting changes. Also, I didn’t like that the movie invented a “held prisoner by orcs, who killed all his kind” backstory to give him a reason to help the travelers, because it’s a long-standing gripe of mine: the movie-makers apparently don’t believe that people can do the right thing solely because they’re good people, so they have to invent self-interested motivations, however unlikely (see: Treebeard not knowing what Saruman had done to the forests).

However, I am glad that they skipped bringing the dwarves in two at a time, because dwarves as comic relief doesn’t work for me in these movies. The marvelous serving animals were also properly dropped, because not only are they tonally dissonant even without the new Beorn, but the dogs in particular would be very difficult to make convincing. (Or is it only me who finds it very disturbing to watch actual dogs walk on their hind legs?)

 

Mirkwood

This section of the movie streamlines the book considerably by entirely dropping the trip-into-Faerie element that we talked about in the Chapter 8 post, with all the amnesia-inducing streams and feasts just out of reach and so forth. To streamline things and reduce confusion, moving the source of the forest’s enchantments to the spiders (or, possibly, Sauron—evil things, anyway) makes sense, but I still kind of miss it.

There’s also less Action Hero Bilbo here than in the book when it comes to the spiders, which again makes sense—it helps make the dwarves more active and sympathetic and is probably more plausible—but again, I still kind of miss it, because I like Bilbo being awesome. (This also applies to the Barrels out of Bond sequence.) Instead, we get a rather disturbing movie-only sequence in which Bilbo kills a crab-thing in a frenzy after he perceives it to be a potential threat to his possession of the Ring. This makes this movie more consistent with LotR in two ways, first in terms of how influential and dangerous the Ring is, and second in giving Bilbo additional reasons to keep the Ring secret.

I like that Gandalf is sad to leave the company, which makes me feel more positively-inclined toward him than the book version. I love that the spiders talk in Wraith-o-vision; I think that’s a very clever way to get that element of the book into the movie, which doesn’t have talking animals.

 

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

Thranduil, Tauriel, and Legolas

You may be surprised that Tauriel did not bother me! I sure was. But the unconvincing love triangle was downplayed, and I liked that she had a principled conflict with Thranduil and wanted to see more of the world and that she, you know, existed. (There are literally no female characters in the entirety of The Hobbit.) Unfortunately, she fell victim to the unnecessary revisiting of the LotR movies at the end, when she went all glow-y while healing Kili with athelas. This movie did not need a cheap Arwen knockoff. (Really, nothing needs a cheap Arwen knockoff.)

Thranduil didn’t work for me, though at least he didn’t work in a different way from Elrond. I wonder if the weird approaches taken with regard to the high-ranking male elves are because the movie-makers have issues with reconciling the characters’ textual grace and beauty with their concept of masculinity? The bit that was most out of left field was where Thranduil says he knows about the dangers of dragons and either reveals that the smooth skin of his cheek is an illusion and he’s horribly burned underneath, or uses an illusion to demonstrate his past injuries. (There’s nothing about him and dragons in The Hobbit, LotR, or The Silmarillion that I can find. Well, technically in The Hobbit he’s still Thingol (as discussed in comments to the Chapter 8 post), but I don’t think Thingol had anything significant to do with dragons either.) But on the whole his scenes just left me feeling, “That was weird,” rather than engaged with the story.

The bit about Tauriel being a mere sylvan elf briefly confused me because I’d forgotten that Thranduil is, like Elrond and Thingol, textually a High Elf (per the very start of Appendix B in LotR). And hey, the movie did the drunk elves after all! We doubted that it would go there when talking about the chapter.

My comment about Legolas is actually a comment about Orlando Bloom: I couldn’t figure out why Legolas looked weird until I remembered that the LotR movies were a decade ago and Bloom is still of an age where the shape of his face broadens over that amount of time. The hairstyle he’s forced to use doesn’t help this any. (In contrast, Martin Freeman looks younger than his usual self as Bilbo, and while part of that has to be makeup, I suspect the curly wig lets his face look narrower.)

Finally, this goes here for lack of a better place to put it: Barrels out of Bond was the escape from the goblins under the Misty Mountains, second verse, same as the first.

 

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

Gandalf and Dol Guldur

There wasn’t much to this plot thread, but I still wasn’t very impressed.

Since I looked this up for my own benefit, here’s what we know about the Necromancer and Dol Guldur in the books. Per Appendix B in LotR, around 1100 in the Third Age, “The Wise (the Istari and the chief Eldar) discover that an evil power has made a stronghold at Dol Guldur. It is thought to be one of the Nazgûl.” In 2063, Gandalf goes to Dol Guldur to investigate the Wise’s fears that it’s actually Sauron, but his investigation is inconclusive because Sauron retreats to the East and doesn’t come back for four hundred years.

About three hundred years after Sauron returns to Dol Guldur, Smaug drives the Dwarves out of Erebor. This kicks off the war between the dwarves and the orcs in Moria and eventually leads to Thorin’s father, Thráin, being imprisoned in Dol Guldur for five years. In 2850, Gandalf enters Dol Guldur for the second time, confirms that the Necromancer is Sauron, and receives the map and key from Thráin before Thráin dies. But Gandalf cannot convince the White Council to attack (Saruman blocks him for nefarious reasons), which is where things stand ninety years later when The Hobbit begins.

And, because I looked this up too, the Nazgûl: before Gandalf’s first trip to Dol Guldur, Angmar is destroyed and the Witch-king flees from Glorfindel, who tells Eärnur, “Do not pursue him! He will not return to this land. Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall.” The Witch-king heads to Mordor, gathers the other Nazgûl, and eventually takes Minas Ithil. Eärnur becomes King of Gondor, and the Witch-king successfully challenges him to single combat by taunting him with his failure to pursue back when Angmar was destroyed . . . with the end result that the Stewards end up ruling Gondor. (This is out of Appendix A to LotR, if you’re looking to read it for yourself.)

I don’t mind compressing the timeline about Gandalf’s discovery that the Necromancer is actually Sauron. That’s a standard movie adaptation technique, and especially useful given Tolkien’s timescale. I do mind the change to the Witch-king, for two reasons. First, “not by the hand of man” exists in the movies (go Éowyn!), so as I said about the first movie, it’s hard to reconcile that with the “OMG did he rise from the grave??!!” in these movies. Second, I was not impressed by the way this movie implemented the tombs. When Gandalf first went sliding down the tunnel, I whispered to Chad, “The episode was badly written!” (Galaxy Quest, of course), because the entire physical setup felt like it was only there to create artificial peril for the characters.

Finally, I wasn’t particularly moved by Gandalf attempting to escape Dol Guldur. The effect of the humanoid-figure outlined in fire oscillating and then resolving into the Eye failed to work for me. And oh look, here’s Gandalf imprisoned in a high place again, just like in the LotR movies, look, look, a parallel! (In the books Thráin’s thrown into Dol Guldur’s pits, which is presumably where Gandalf finds him.)

I did like that Radagast didn’t come back, however. I’m always glad when people promise not to come back for good reasons and then stick to it. (It’s probably my favorite thing about the first Bourne movie, which I like a lot.)

 

poster for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

Bard and Laketown

I appreciate the attempt to give Bard some characterization. Really, I do. I just didn’t find it very interesting characterization. Admittedly it started right after the interminable Barrels out of Bond sequence when I was not in the best of moods, and his resemblance to Orlando Bloom-as-Will Turner was definitely distracting. How did this work for you all?

(In case you were wondering too, Bard’s children are not, actually, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh’s adorable moppets Billy and Katie, who had cameos in all three LotR movies.)

The prophecy that Bard quotes isn’t in the book, by the way. There’s a song about the King under the Mountain’s return, which does contain the line “The lakes shall shine and burn” (Chapter 10, “A Warm Welcome”), but in context that’s a good thing, not the portent of doom that Bard makes it.

And splitting up the dwarves, okay, I can see that this helps differentiate them and thus may make us care more when Fili and Kili die (not to sound bloodthirsty, but they’d better still die), but between the athelas re-tread I already mentioned and yet more orc killing, this section kind of dragged for me.

As for the other people in Lake-town proper, Stephen Fry is of course fun, but the Master’s assistant Alfred, a movie-only character, feels too much like a Wormtongue re-tread. (He also looked hunchbacked to me, which, can we please stop with physical disability = evil?) However, I was genuinely delighted to see people with brown and black skin in the crowds, being just ordinary people and not enemies on a battlefield. And it makes sense, too, since Lake-town was once a major trade center.

Changing Bard’s bow to a big-ass fixed mechanism is something I don’t really care about; if it makes it easier for people to accept Smaug’s death, fine, though apparently the book’s version is entirely plausible. I do like the change that Girion’s prior attempts to shoot Smaug knocked a scale loose, though; when I was rereading chapter 12, I didn’t buy that Smaug would overlook the bare spot in his treasure-armor. This also neatly side-steps the talking-thrush problem.

 

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

The Lonely Mountain and Smaug

The reveal of the keyhole. Though I had to go back and check, the first movie quotes the text of the book verbatim when it comes to the moon-letters on the map: “Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks, and the setting sun with the last light of Durin’s Day will shine upon the key-hole” (Chapter 3, “A Short Rest,” emphasis added). Durin’s Day, as we hashed out at some length in the Chapter 3 post and comments, is the first time the waxing crescent moon and the Sun are seen together in the sky during the last moon of Autumn. The phase of the moon we saw in this movie looked more than a bit past new, but more importantly, the text of the map cannot be made consistent with Bilbo’s discovery that the moon’s light reveals the keyhole.

More, this change seems to have been made just to create drama that I found artificial even during the movie, before I checked whether it was consistent. I didn’t believe that the dwarves would just give up like that and immediately leave (walking down in the dark, really?), and then of course Bilbo has to almost knock the key over the edge. (However, Chad tells me that he thought we were in for five minutes of Bilbo hanging by his toes over the precipitous drop trying to get the key, so I guess I should be grateful for small favors.)

Enough of that. Our title characters, together at last!

Smaug is, of course, great. His character design is right in WETA’s wheelhouse (no feathers or fur). I do not worship at the altar of Cumberbatch, but I thought he did a terrific job as Smaug’s voice, and it was really nice to get Bilbo front and center, because Freeman’s portrayal is the best thing about these movies for me by a long shot. Their conversations weren’t quite as good as Riddles in the Dark for me, but they were still very enjoyable.

Unsurprisingly though sadly, however, I do have some quibbles about Smaug. Look, I understand that having gone to the trouble of designing a kick-ass dragon and getting a rising star to voice him, you want to get more out of the character than two conversations and a death over Lake-town, without the dwarves ever even getting a shot in. So I’m actually fine with the idea of an extended chase-and-fight sequence inside the Mountain. But the way it happened occasionally detracted from Smaug’s scariness, because some of those episodes did not feel either like genuinely plausible escapes or like Smaug was deliberately playing with them. The worst was when Smaug slowly goes right over the bridge where Thorin, Bilbo, and Balin (if I remember my characters right) are standing and doesn’t notice they’re there, but there are a number of other escapes that felt hard to buy considering the characters are up against a literal fire-breathing dragon. So that dropped the tension for me in unfortunate ways. Plus, the sequence seemed to go on rather a long time, and the symbolism of the molten gold dwarf king seeming to defeat Smaug but actually just enraging him was a smidge obvious for my tastes.

However, that cliffhanger is ferocious. I approve.

 

What’s Next

Apparently both Azog and Bolg are surviving into the third movie! Will they both be at the Battle of the Five Armies? Will Dáin still get to kill Azog while Beorn kills Bolg, or is Thorin going to get one of those victories? Will Azog be at Dol Guldur instead? As I said last time, I’ve always liked Dáin in the books, based on the little we get, and I’d like to see him get a moment of glory.

One necessary change: Gandalf can’t stop the brewing battle between the dwarves on one hand and the Elves and the Lake-town people on the other, just by announcing that orcs are coming, because multiple characters know that orcs are chasing Thorin and have been to Lake-town. I expect the elves and humans and the dwarves will still come to the verge of blows somehow, though, because that’s just how these movies roll. (Presumably Fili, Kili, and whoever-else stayed with them will make it to the Mountain somehow, perhaps with derring-do on the part of Tauriel?)

Obviously we’ll have the battle at Dol Guldur, about which there is essentially nothing in the books. The Hobbit says only that the White Council “had at last driven the Necromancer from his dark hold in the south of Mirkwood” (Chapter 19, “The Last Stage”), and The Silmarillion adds merely that “the Dark Lord had foreseen” the attack, and “Therefore his flight was but a feint, and he soon returned, and ere the Wise could prevent him he re-entered his kingdom in Mordor and reared once again the dark towers of Barad-dûr” (“Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age”). Which we knew anyway from The Lord of the Rings, of course. Since that’s a less-than-definitive victory, it’ll be interesting to see how it’s framed against Smaug’s death, which in the book is also surprisingly anti-climactic. The order of events and the pacing is going to be tricky.

What about you all? What are you particularly looking forward to in the next movie? What did you think worked well or not-so-well in this one? I have gone on for such a long time here, let’s hear what you all thought!


Kate Nepveu was born in South Korea and grew up in New England. She now lives in upstate New York where she is practicing law, raising a family, and (in her copious free time) writing at Dreamwidth and her booklog.

102 comments
Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter
I liked the movie overall, but it was a definite mix of like mixed with frustration. It was fun to see but I had a number of areas that I had problems with.

I didn't really like their portrayal of Beorn either. I would have rather had the coming in two by two scene here than the extended barrel chase. Coming in some groups could have been done without emphasizing dwarf humor I think. I would have preferred more Bilbo in the spider fight although I was happy that at least they did include Bilbo in the trees with butterflies.
Thranduil also felt a bit off for me. As you said, adding the dragon injury wasn't needed.
The barrel chase wasn't needed and having the barrels be open ended was pretty silly as they obviously would have filled with water, sank and the orcs (who weren't needed) could have casually killed the dwarves off.
I mostly liked the Dol Guldor addition. It was compacted for good reasons but at least it was kind of in the stories. Flashy Sauron/Eye was kind of silly though.
The love triangle wasn't really needed. I liked Tauriel as an addition but she could have just been helpful because it was the right thing to do.
Filling out Bard and Laketown seemed fine although I wasn't keen on splitting the dwarves and the healing seemed unneeded.
The dwarves giving up and the moon being the key was a tad contrived as you said.
The dragon was quite good. The vastness of the treasure was perhaps a tad too vast, but was a fun visualization. The chasing the dwarves/Bilbo was good but I would have rather had them escape back up the tunnel and then Smaug going after Lake town. The whole drown him in gold sequence was overdone and then Smaug just winging off seemed off. The cliffhanger at that point was good.
lake sidey
2. lakesidey
The first half tended to drag on. But then the second half tended to dragon. No complaints, all said and done :)

~lakesidey
Angela Korra'ti
3. annathepiper
Having finally finished the English part of my Trilingual Hobbit Reread (still working on the French and German portions) as well as having seen the new movie, yay, I can actually comment on this post. :)

I liked the new movie quite a bit, actually, and I liked it better than the first one. I have an in-depth review up on my blog here: http://www.angelahighland.com/2013/12/18/movie-review-the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug/

And I had quite a bit to say on the topic of Tauriel in particular: http://www.angelahighland.com/2013/12/29/because-i-am-not-finished-talking-about-tauriel-yet/

I won't recap either of those posts here, but instead focus upon what I am thinking about what's to come in movie #3.

Gandalf needs to get out of Dol Guldur somehow; I'd forgotten about his needing to find Thrain, so yeah, somehow that needs to happen. Presumably early in the film. Wondering if Radagast is coming back with cavalry to bust Gandalf out of there, possibly even Galadriel and Saruman, which would be rather awesome.

It was pointed out to me on my review post, too, that we have not seen in the movies that Gandalf has one of the three Elven Rings. It will be interesting to see if that shows up as a detail at all in his trying to bust out of Dol Guldur; I should think that if movie!Gandalf does have his Ring, that surely Sauron would notice. But I dunno.

Beorn kills Bolg in the book but I'm wondering how they're going to work that in in movie #3, now that we also have Legolas in play, as well as Tauriel. And we last saw Legolas charging after Bolg, so one presumes we're going to see the two of them going at it more. Trying to work out potential scenarios that account for the major characters coming together.

We should see Smaug strafing Lake-town fairly early on. I'd like to hope as well that something shakes Thranduil out of "batten down the hatches" mode and that we see him being less of an asshole and going to the aid of Lake-town, since he does that in the books. But I'm not sure how that'll work out given that Thranduil's already been set up as refusing to help the dwarves when it seemed too perilous to do so. If his son is already out there, though, that might be used as a motivator.

One presumes we'll see Thorin start to lose it, as the horde begins its unfortunate work upon him. We've already seen glimpses of this. And we'll need to see Bilbo deciding to make off with the Arkenstone and get it to Bard and Thranduil. (I REALLY hope we see Bilbo's scene with them in Chapter 16--I want to see Martin Freeman modestly asserting that he's never really felt like a burglar. ;) )


The dwarves in Lake-town, along with Tauriel, are going to have to catch up with the main group of dwarves somehow. But since they are in fact in Lake-town, I can see how they'll hook up with Bard to try to defend the town when Smaug comes in. Which could lead to them coming with Bard to the Lonely Mountain, and setting up some tension there. It'd be fun if there's some question about whether they're prisoners or allies.

And when the fighting actually starts, I do want to see Fili and Kili rushing to Thorin's defense and dying nobly to protect him. Presumably also we'll see Tauriel trying to guard Kili's back, and maybe Fili and Thorin by extension. I foresee a reaction shot from Legolas as she goes down in battle and he can't get to her. And it'll be interesting as to whether Legolas or Beorn finally takes down Bolg.

But since Azog's also still in play--given how we've set up the dynamics between Thorin and Azog in these movies, I'd assume Thorin actually kills Azog, but suffers mortal wounds doing so. So maybe the core fighting that takes out Thorin, Kili, Fili, and Tauriel will actually be centered around Azog, which would free up Bolg to be taken down by Legolas.
S Cooper
4. SPC
I actually liked the barrels - if they're going to insist on inserting the orcs into everything, at least the barrel run was fun. I enjoyed it far more than the goblins in the first movie. I also approved of Tauriel and competent-but-obnoxious Legolas - I think making him unlikable here adds just a bit to his LoTR character arc. Thumbs down for Beorn, whom I thought I remembered being a bit more jolly while still terrifying, the unnecessary love triangle, and the laughable thermodynamics of the whole molten gold section. Overall I enjoyed it more than the first one and I will be first in line for the third. It's not LoTR but it's still enjoyable.
Karl-Johan Norén
5. kjnoren
One possible interpretation about the Arkenstone is that it acts corrupting on everyone but the rightful king, or seen from the other end, that the rightful king can handle the Arkenstone safely.

This would fit neatly with how Tolkien viewed corruption and rightful power. Aragorn could engage Sauron directly through the silmaril without being corrupted; Denethor was driven to despair by Sauron through the silmaril since he had the right to use it as the king's steward; and Saruman was corrupted and driven evil by Sauron though it.
Rob Munnelly
6. RobMRobM
Liked it overall, apart from too much Legolas/Tauriel/Orcs, the dumb scene at getting through the secret door, and a lack of plausibility in the dragon escape/fighting scenes. And how did Legolas, etc., all get across the water to Laketown unseen- did they fly? It took me out of the movie.
David Levinson
7. DemetriosX
Overall, I liked it, but I really felt like the last half hour went on too long. I think they lost a lot of the tension that was actually in the book.

On the Arkenstone, I'm fairly sure that Bilbo picked it up, but I can't swear to it. It probably doesn't matter much in the long run.

Beorn definitely got short shrift and, like Kate, I'm not wild about the character design. On the latter point, they did have to be careful or he'd just wind up looking like Hagrid. I suspect this is where most of the extended scenes will turn up.

Mirkwood was okay and I did like having the ring make it possible for Bilbo to understand the spiders. Unlike Kate, I felt like there was too much Action Hero Bilbo. We don't see any of his cleverness in confusing the spiders. I'm okay with the elves coming in at the end to save everybody, though.

Tauriel was acceptable, though the love triangle thing is kind of silly. There's a bit in the extended version of the first movie that indicates Kili may have a thing for tall women, which does help a little. I didn't mind the barrel thing so much. We talked about how the full barrels would float upright, while empty barrels would float horizontally and this was a way around that. However, the scene wins the award for most unintentionally hilarious dramatic moment (although it could have been meant as an Easter egg). When Kili gets shot in the knee, I and my wife and a few other Skyrim players in the theater all laughed. For those not in the know, in Skyrim a common statement by the various city guards is "I used to be an adventurer like you until I took an arrow to the knee."

Bard: My biggest problem is that Luke Evans looks a lot like Orlando Bloom, sort of the lovechild of Will Turner and Balian de Ibelin from Kingdom of Heaven. The rest was acceptable. Bard's daughters are actually Bofur's daughters! (And Bofur is rapidly becoming my favorite.)

I was also greatly bothered by the moon revealing the keyhole. Elrond very explicitly says it's the last light of the setting sun in the first film. Bit of a continuity fail there.

Smaug's design is great, but again a Skyrim moment for us. When he was preening for Bilbo, my wife leaned over and said "Dovakhin!" And she only just beat me to it.

The whole action sequence under the mountain just went on too, too long for my taste, and I generally don't mind action. Either there is no such thing as conductive heat in Middle-Earth or dwarves and hobbits are extremely resistant to it. Smaug's breath is hot enough to relight the forges, but said breath passing just inches away doesn't even singe our heroes. And Thorin rides a metal thingy on a river of molten gold? The last thing that took me out of the film was while Thorin was going up and down on the chains, I leaned over to my wife and said, "And that why Thorin's not at work today."

But overall, not bad. I'm content if not wildly enthusiastic.
Kate Nepveu
8. katenepveu
Hello, all. It's lovely to be back.

stevenhalter @ #1, yes, Bilbo with the butterflies was a lovely moment and I didn't mind in the least that it was changed from the book.

lakesidey @ #2, *groan*.

SPC @ #4, the barrel run was fun in parts but like the goblins, I thought it went on a very, very long time. And it was worse because I was distracted by the way it had the same feel as the prior movie. Also, I'm grateful I know almost nothing about the properties of molten metal, because while it completely fails to surprise me that the statue thing makes no sense, at least it wasn't distracting me while watching.

kjnoren @ #5, I don't think the idea that the Arkenstone corrupts everyone _but_ the rightful king can be reconcile with the movie's comments about Thorin's grandfather having treasure-sickness. And while Aragorn could use the palantir, the palantir itself wasn't intrinsically corrupting; the parallel you want is the Ring, and no-one can use the Ring without being affected, whether "meant" to find it or not, the question is whether the corruption lasts once it's no longer in their possession.

RobMRobM @ #6, I didn't even think to wonder how the elves got to Lake-town, but would they have needed to hide since they are allies of the town?

DemetriosX @ #7, I am pretty certain that we did not _see_ Bilbo pick up the Arkenstone, because I was watching for it. Good point about Beorn != Hagrid, however, I hadn't thought of that. And yes, the heat issues were another source of "I don't believe they actually escaped here" in the last sequence.
Cody
9. Tarcanus
Along with the other complaints about the Dragon chase through the mountain is also the issue of the dwarves all seemingly knowing that all of the old, decrepit machinery would still work perfectly fine and that(despite never checking if it was still there) there would be a mold of a dwarven king ready and waiting to go to be filled with gold.

It was a fun movie, but there was too much shoehorned in or changed or made illogical that it just isn't something I will have to own or see again.
David Levinson
10. DemetriosX
I forgot to mention that I did like seeing the ring beginning to have an effect on Bilbo. OTOH, him constantly staring at it for minutes on end before finally putting it on at a crucial moment was a tad annoying. Reflective of Frodo holding the ring out in the palm of his hand and looking pained, I suppose. At least Martin Freeman has a variety of facial expressions, unlike Elijah Wood.

As for how the elves got into Lake-town, all I can say is that we see Legolas jump on his horse and race across the causeway in pursuit of Bolg. So they must have gotten in with their horses somehow.

Also, the barrels are obviously the prototype for a water ride.
vjj
11. vjj
Desolation of Smaug was a disaster. I found it difficult to sit through the first 2/3's of the movie. The whole structure of the story was wrong:

P.J. restructured the Mirkwood sequence in an unpleasing way. I think he should have kept the magical elements of Mirkwood, in order to maintain the concept of an enchanted forest. I thought it was dumb to make the psychedelic aspects a function of Sauron's Corruption.

There was not nearly enough of the Elves of Mirkwood and Thranduil. Clearly, Peter Jackson shat on a golden opportunity here to explore more of the ancient history of the Elves of Middle-Earth through Thranduil's eyes. Instead of a misbegotten, forced "love-triangle" story, Peter Jackson could have inserted some much wanted exploration of the material in the "History of Middle-Earth" books.

Peter Jackson actually made a half-assed attempt to refer to the Silmarils. In the extended edition of "An Unexpected Journey", Thror teases Thranduil with some shining gem stones, in "Desolation of Smaug" Thranduil made a comment that made those gems more than just ordinary gems. Thranduil said something about starlight being trapped within them. This is a clumsy attempt to insert a Silmaril analog into his movies.

I also didn't appreciate Orcs out in broad daylight. It's clearly stated in the LOTR movies that Saruman had to perform some special innovations in order to produce Orcs that can function in broad daylight.

What's a Morgul Arrow?? Another clumsy, disrespectful addition by Peter Jackson.

The ENTIRE LakeTown sequence of the film was painfully boring. It's this kind of padding that I despise because it clearly shows that THE HOBBIT should NOT have been three movies.

If Peter Jackson and the studio wanted to stretch out THE HOBBIT into three movies they should have added material that TOLKIEN ACTUALLY WROTE. Now, The Hobbit cycle of movies feels like the studio cashing in and making sure formulaic elements are added for "broader appeal".

The ONLY saving grace is the design of the Dragon and Smaug's verbal repartee with Bilbo. However, the absurdist action sequence between Smaug and the Dwarves brings the awe the dragon inspires completely down to earth. In fact, it makes one wonder how the Dwarves were driven out of their home by an easily deceived and distracted dragon.

I like magic. So I actually enjoyed Gandalf's confrontation with Sauron. Having said that, Gandalf's storyline in this movie is also a mess. I actually mistakenly conflated the tomb of the Nazgul with a location in or near Dol Guldur. The flimsy-ness of the story of the Tomb of the Nazgul really ruins what could've been a more interesting storyline for the film. If you're going to have the Nazgul in the movie then you can't just present them in such a perfunctory manner. This whole excursion to the North by Gandalf and Radagast actually devalues the Nazgul story line.

Also, HOW can Gandalf get around so quickly?! Does he have the Giant Eagles on call ALL THE TIME?? If he does, why didn't he transport the Dwarves to Erebor, immediately.

It doesn't make sense for Sauron to keep Gandalf alive. What's Sauron going to do? Negotiate with Galadriel and Elrond?? I don't think so. I think a good case could've been made that because Gandalf had Narya the Ring of Fire that Gandalf could've engineered his own escape from his conflict with Sauron.

Considering, that Gandalf told Radagast to contact Galadriel, and ONLY Galadriel, it seems clear that she's the only member of the White Council who's going to show up in the last movie. Gandalf could've told Radagast to contact Saruman and Elrond too via his birds. If it does turn out this way then I will be EXTREMELY disappointed in the last movie.

I think things are looking pretty grim for the quality of the last movie. I could be wrong but, all signs point to Peter Jackson becoming a hack.
Jenny Thrash
12. Sihaya
Beorn: Let's be honest - we all wanted to see Brian Blessed in this part, and it just wasn't going to happen.
vjj
13. DaveMB
Isn't it likely that Radagast will return to Dol Guldur (in defiance of orders) to rescue Gandalf in the third movie? I agree it would be refreshing if someone for once actually followed such orders, but I wouldn't count on it.

The action sequences in this movie didn't bother me as much as the ones in the first movie (particularly the escape from the Great Goblin's lair). It does stand to reason that Erebor would have industrial capability of some kind, and that the dwarves would know how to restart it, though it was too easy.

I was disappointed with Smaug. In the book, I thought, he was both an animal (with an animal's amorality rather than the immorality of Organized Evil), and a millenia-old creature with corresponding wisdom. Cumberbatch could have done a lot more to be scary smart, given the script for it.

The "love triangle" hasn't gotten too ridiculous yet, as Kili appears to be pointed toward the same sort of worshipful passion Gimli later develops for Galadriel. But I share other's annoyance that Gimli's passion is supposed to be unprecedented, not parallel to that of a close friend of his father.

I agree that that the Gandalf v. Sauron business fell sort of flat.

But Lake-town as Dickensian London was fun, with officius notices posted all over the place. (I also could have done without the Wormtongue guy.)
vjj
14. Ragnarredbeard
I mostly enjoyed the movie, with some caveats and comments.

1. The opening sequence/flashback. It didn't work for me here. It should have been in the front of the first movie, then we could have done without as much of the history lesson the first movie had.

2. Thranduil is a *ick. Why? He just seems to start off being one without a good reason and gets worse from there.

3. "I’m not sure about making the Arkenstone the symbol of the right to rule when it also corrupts (in the movie, it’s the source of treasure-sickness generally, and in the book, it enchants those who see it with the desire for it), but that’s a relatively small quibble."

I see the Arkenstone as at least some attempt to explain why the Dwarves are gold-grubbing all the time. They've got enough problems in this portrayal where they come off like stereotypical Jews as it is and having some external agent corrupting them may help.

4. And still my most major malfunction with the Hobbit movies to date: half of the dwarves don't look like dwarves. Fili, Kili, Thorin, Bofur, Ori, Grumpus, Doofus, Jar-Jar, etc don't look like dwarves. They look like short guys dressed in leather, fur, etc. Balin, Dwalin, and a couple of others look like dwarves. It completely takes me out of the scene whenever Kili, Fili, or Bofur appear. And Thorin just looks like Richard Armitrage in a costume; he doesn't look like his father or grandfather. Its just annoying.

5. Tauriel didn't bother me much. Didn't seem too forced, except for the possible romance bits.

Overall, I liked the 2nd movie, although I hate cliffhangers.
Kit Case
15. wiredog
I thought the Treasure Sickness was caused by the Seven Rings. Isn't there soemthing in one of hte LoTR appendices to the effect that inflaming Dwarvish love for gold was the only effect the Rings had on them?
Nathan Martin
16. lerris
@8 - Thror's treasure-sickness was caused by one of the 7 rings, which he handed down to Thrain before he went to Moria, not by the Arkenstone.

@6 - Bard pointed out that the difficulty in getting into Laketown was because the dwarves were not on good terms with the Master's sole trading partner- the elves.

@11 - Sauron knows that if Gandalf is killed, he will simply be sent back, as he will be once the Balrog defeats him. Sauron doesn't want his return announced to Valinor quite yet.

One thing I noticed... Bilbo keeping the ring secret from Gandalf prevented Sauron from learning of it.

I enjoyed the movie for what it was, but sincerely hope this was a weak middle chapter rather than a downhill slide.

The inconsistencies in tone and content with The Lord of the Rings make sense to me, from the point of view of stories told by the denizens of Middle Earth. The Hobbit was penned in the voice of Bilbo, who is prone to exaggeration and naturally wants to make himself the hero. The Lord of the Rings was penned in the voice of Frodo, who has a darker perspective.
Jenny Thrash
17. Sihaya
Also, your commentary about good guys doing the right things because they should do it and not because of their complicated backstories? Spot on. But I've found that the modern audience doesn't want anybody to do anything without a complicated backstory. They want the complicated backstory of the ticket-taker at the train statsion where Harry Potter embarks to school. I think that if we let some characters just exist, we would find that they're actually more relateable. We can make their stories too particular to just themselves, an no one else.

The bit about Tauriel being a mere Silvan elf confused me because the whole "mere Silvan Elves don't marry the Sindar" thing was as introduced as Tauriel herself. Realize that we already got a dose of a backstory in which Arwen chose to marry a cousin whose line had totally chosen to be human, and so chose mortality herself. It's obvious in the original story that there are some real differences between Elrond's realm and the Mirkwood elves, so I really wish we'd gotten to know more about the latter.
JOSEPH HOOPMAN
18. hoopmanjh
I was able to distance myself sufficiently from the original text that I mostly enjoyed the movie. (It involved judicious application of a grapefruit spoon and melon baller to specific parts of my frontal lobes.)

Having said that, one minor thing that bothered me about both Erebor and (in LotR) Moria: Way, way, way too many vast, open spaces. I appreciate the desire for dramatic camera vistas, but in practical terms I can't help thinking that everything looked pretty inefficient and structurally unsound. I could see Erebor having maybe one or two Smaug-sized halls connected to the front gate, but that's about all that the text really supports.

Hmmm ... Also true of Thranduil's halls, now that I think of it.
vjj
19. pilgrimsoul
DOS was loads of fun--a barrel of fun should I say? I appreciated the geographical and human scenery.
I don't understand the problem with the Dwarves. In the book they are a list of names cribbed from the Eldar Edda. The movie tries to give them personalities. Loved the "my wee son Gimli" reference in Mirkwood!
Also now I'm going to be really sorry that Thorin, Fili, and Kili die because when I finished the book all I thought is, "Gee, that's too bad."
Introducting Bard and his backstory in the second film was a good decision because in the book he just shows up with his bow and black arrow out of nowhere as some random grim-faced man.
Nathan Martin
20. lerris
@18

Agreed about the open spaces. Smaug certainly showed an ability to slither through tunnels; it was unnecessary for him to be airborne ( or even to unfurl his wings) until the final scene.
Kate Nepveu
21. katenepveu
Tarcanus @ #9, thanks for the comments; I agree.

DemetriosX @ #10, well that explains why I didn't like Barrels out of Bond, I don't like water rides! (Kidding. Mostly.)

vjj @ #11, thanks for mentioning the extended edition having a scene about particular gems; that conversation between Thranduil and Thorin in this movie was rather puzzling. As a point of information, Jackson et al don't have the rights to anything other than _The Hobbit_ and _LotR_--this was buried way down in the comments for the first movie post, but it explains the addition of Thranduil turning away from Smaug's attack on the Mountain.

Sihaya @ #12, I don't actually think I've seen Blessed in any films or TV shows, but the pictures I've just looked at are pretty convincing!

and @ #17, yes, of course we had Arwen & Aragorn in the _LotR_ movies, but there's a fair distance between elf/human and elf/elf, plus I am now entirely unsure whether it was clear from the movies that Aragorn had elvish ancestry. But I have no idea of Tauriel's comment would be confusing to anyone who hadn't read the books.

DaveMB @ #13, I figure Radagast will bring the White Council with him, which doesn't count to me because it's sensible. => I hadn't thought about foreshadowing/parallelling Gimli's devotion to Galadriel, however, that's interesting; I don't think it bothers me, but I'll have to consider further.

Ragnarredbeard @ #14, I wasn't too bothered by the opening flashback going here because it's the movie where we first see the Arkenstone, though I agree that the first movie had too much up front. Interesting about the Arkenstone as a possible mitigator for the stereotypical aspects of the Dwarves' characterization--the worst of which is also toned down for this movie, thankfully, whether as another part of smoothing discontinuities between _The Hobbit_ and _LotR_ or just because they were so unpleasant, I don't know but don't really care.

wiredog @ #15, yes, increasing greed was the only significant effect of the Seven Rings on the Dwarves, but per _LotR_ (the epic chapter "The Council of Elrond"), "‘Balin will find no ring in Moria,’ said Gandalf. ‘Thrór gave it to Thráin his son, but not Thráin to Thorin. It was taken with torment from Thráin in the dungeons of Dol Guldur. I came too late.’" And the movies seem to be eliding the existence of Thrór's Ring, which is probably sensible since it plays no significant part in the story (though we did get that glimpse of the Seven in the opening to the movie _Fellowship_).

lerris @ #16, in the book Bilbo only reveals his ring to the dwarves in Mirkwood, so Gandalf wouldn't have known at Dol Guldur regardless. Not sure whether that would have been an actual risk, anyway, that Sauron could see in Gandalf's mind . . .

hoopmanjh @ #18, heh. And I did wonder about some of those spaces in Erebor, as well.

pilgrimsoul @ #19, you are allowed to say "barrel of fun," though I am allowed to roll my eyes a little at it. => Seriously, though, glad you enjoyed it and the changes worked for you--I _want_ to like these, I still treasure the literal jump-up-and-down-with-excitement feeling after seeing _Fellowship_ for the first time.
David Levinson
22. DemetriosX
Another reason Sauron might hold Gandalf prisoner is the chance of corrupting him. Not likely, as we know, but given his successful efforts on turning Saruman, he could easily have been planning something here as well. And since the other two Istari went east, who knows what he managed to do to them.

@21 kate
You've never seen BLESSED in anything? I, Claudius? The first Blackadder series? The awful Colin Baker years of Doctor Who? He's loud and brash and would have been perfect, even at his age.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
23. Lisamarie
I just want to say that I am so freaking excited you are doing this, I was just talking about how I wished you would do one for the movie!!! (As an fyi, I am sooo close to being done with my read of the old posts and all the comments of the LOTR re-read, I'm on the last chapter of ROTK).

I'll have to save this for awhile because I have so many feelings about this movie, but for now I'll say, it definitely was not as good as any of the other LOTR movies. The only one that is worse is Two Towers (nothing, NOTHING is worse than 'The Ring will go to Gondor'). But, I still had fun. My main complaints were a)Smaug being an idiot and the whole ridiculous, boring chase scene with Smaug and the Dwarves and b)Legolas having way too much screen time. It was awesome (and logical) to see him in Mirkwood, but after that it was just, come on, you already had your own movie! I was surprisingly un-annoyed by Tauriel, except for the fact that a female character just HAS to have a love interest. I have a feeling this may get more annoying in the 3rd installment if they spend a lot more time focusing on it.

Some of the other changes (like expanding Laketown, speeding up the timelines, changing the way the Dwarves enter and leave the Wood-Elf Kingdom, and even some of the Dwarves being left behind) did jolt me a bit, but I'm not going to say they totally ruined the movie or anything (although if they use it as an excuse to play up more Kili/Tauriel I might change my mind about that).
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
24. Lisamarie
I will say that I enjoyed how the Ring seemed more powerful and sinister and influential here (and I kind of like how the Arkenstone is tying into that as well, even if it's a bit different) - because I think that IS something Tolkien might have preferred, in the end. I also think it is a nice way to tie the movies together to show some of the things (like Mirkwood's corruption, and the arrival of the Orc army at Erebor) are a result of Sauron gathering more strength, even though this wasn't yet thought of when he wrote the original book.

While I greatly enjoyed the Dol Guldor stuff, I do wonder how the whole Thrain/Dwarven Rings are going to play out, if at all. I hope they don't just skip over it and attribute the madness/greed/dragon sickness to the Arkenstone itself.
Steven Halter
25. stevenhalter
Lisamarie@24:I would have liked more on the Thrain/dwarven rings angle also. As long as they are adding scenes, those could be pretty interesting and have a nice basis.
David Levinson
26. DemetriosX
I do have one prediction for the next movie. Kili and Tauriel will die together after slaughtering dozens upon dozens of orcs while guarding each other's backs.
vjj
27. Rancho Unicorno
@17 - I think you nailed why we get the complicated backstories.

As an audience, we want to see people do the right thing - we want there to be good people who do the right thing. But, we also know that we wouldn't do the right thing in that same situation. As a result, the audience feels shame and a primal urge to shun the do-gooder. And so, those who appear to be truly rightous carry a motiviation or other distinguishing feature, which we do not posess.

As a result, we are relieved of the burden of selflessly doing good unto all who cross our path. After all, if we had that kind of backstory, we would be totally selfless as well.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
28. Lisamarie
Okay, more thoughty thoughts :)

Regarding the Arkenstone - my interpretation was that he DID take it, and it was the Ring that influenced him to keep it secret. Maybe I'm reading way too much into things, but that's how I saw it. Although your prediction seems plausible as well!

Beorn - yeah, I couldn't stand this either, I really hope they expand this in the DVD. Beorn just came off as really creepy and grumpy, instead of the somewhat jolly (once they get on his good side) guy that teases Bilbo about too much bread and butter or what have you. Also TOTALLY AGREE with you about the stupid backstory thing. I feel like this is a big gripe with Tauriel (has to have romantic motivations to do the right thing) and of course FAAAAARAMIIIIR (can you tell I am still super bitter about that!)

Pretty much agree with you completely about Mirkwood - I missed some of the elements, but I think it made sense from a film standpoint, although I would have liked more Bilbo too.

Thranduil, Tauriel Legolas - LOL, your first sentence is almost exactly how I felt and pretty much how I wrote about it in my own review. I even thought her trousers comment was quite funny, but the rest of their 'relationship' - meh. Agreed with the various comments that it cheapens the Gimli/Galadriel erlationship a bit. I did love when Legolas was taunting Gloin about Gimli though. I feel like if they had just kept it there, and shown Legolas fighting the spiders (and maybe later at the Battle of the Five Armies), I would have been excited about his inclusion, but they milked it too much.

Dol Guldur - I did enjoy the Sauron effect, and also noted the compressed time line...but I totally forgot about the Witch King stuff and how it is inconsistent that they think he's actually dead, since he was supposed to be taking Minas Ithil and killing Gondorian kings and all, you are right, now that is totally going to grate on me!

Lonely Mountain/Smaug - UGH, yes, I totally agree about the fake drama with the key, and it bugs me that it wasn't the last stabbing light of sunlight, because I loved that visual. Maybe the change was to tie in with the whole moonlight/starlight motif that has been going on. I didn't realize they had also quoted the verbatim version of the prophecy in the last book too. DERP! I hated the cliffhanger in this movie, because that whole scene was so ridiculous and boring (seriously, somebody riding on molten gold on a metal shield???) and undermines Smaug as a competent, cunning villain who is supposed to be able to smell/incinerate dwarves from a great distance. So, when he finally flies off I was thinking, "FINALLY, the plot can get moving again" and then the movie ended, leaving me pissed off. This is very unlike the ending of Empire Strikes Back which left me desparate for more and in disbelief that the movie had just ended.

Minor nitpick - one of my favorite metaphors for hope and despair was the scene where Bilbo climbs the tree and sees that Mirkwood goes on forever, but it's really because they are in a valley. But in the movie he can see the edge of the forest. Boo!

I really loved the opening prolouge, especially as it is out of the appendices and proves more context/tie-in with the LOTR films.
JOSEPH HOOPMAN
29. hoopmanjh
I didn't mind Beorn. He was certainly different than what I expected (I was also in the Brian Blessed/Hagrid camp beforehand) but he wasn't changed in a way that actively offended me (I'm looking at YOU, Faramir from the movies). As for his back story, I think it's just making more explicit something that was alluded to in the original book.

I assume we'll see more Beorn in the extended edition. I did think the pacing of the movie as a whole was kind of odd -- they rushed through Beorn and Mirkwood and Thranduil and spent way too much time in Laketown and (dare I say it) Erebor.
Jenny Thrash
30. Sihaya
#26: I think they'll live. I think Kili will be "dead" to his people.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
31. Lisamarie
Yeah, I have to admit I am a little worried about if Kili and Fili will actually die, and if they are going to make it part of the romance plot instead of them dying in defense of Thorin. Which..bugs me for an inexplicable reason. There are also a lot of assumptions that Tauriel is going to die, since she's the extra character, but she doesn't really have to (nothing says that just because she shows up here, she has to be dead to explain her not being in LOTR), so I hope they don't kill her just to tie off loose ends. While I was never in the 'the movie NEEDS female characters to make up for Tolkien's lack' camp, it really bugs me that if they do put in a female character, they can't do it without a cliche romance plot and/or killing her. Just let her exist and be awesome!

I have a feeling they will probably kill her, and then it will drive Kili to do something stupid/heroic. Or the other way around. I hope not though, I don't want to see her character reduced to something to motivate Kili to do something he was already supposed to be doing in the first place, according to the book! Likewise, if she is going to die in battle, I'd rather see it be for other reasons/motivations instead of love for some dwarf she just met.

I don't know if I'm phrasing my distaste for this well, I have nothing against women in love or making sacrifices for people, or motivating others, etc...it's just in movies it seems to be the same tired old characterization over and over again.
vjj
32. vjj
I have to say, unless I read an article describing that the focus of "Battle of Five Armies"movie is going to be on the important storylines and that Saruman, Elrond, Galadriel and Radagast return to fight Sauron, I don't think I will be spending money to watch it in the theatres.

I hope there's much more Thranduil and the Elves of Mirkwood because Desolation of Smaug basically destroyed any goodwill I had for the Dwarves.
Alan Brown
33. AlanBrown
Glad to see this discussion, since I just saw the movie over the weekend, and was itching to talk about it. The only thing that REALLY didn't work for me was the mold for a giant gold statue just happening to be ready to be filled in the Great Hall, and the dwarves knowing about it, and going through that convoluted 'get the forges started again' scene, followed by the still liquid statue retaining its shape for far longer than it should have after the mold was removed.
I also got a bit weary with the "add an orc attack to make things more exciting" thing with the barrel ride and in Laketown. And a bit too much of the 'wow, what a warrior' stuff from Legolas--the stunts he does during fights were so over the top that the movie began straying into Road Runner versus Coyote unbelievability.
The romantic subplot is still working for me, since the affection is pretty understated at this point, as much friendship and respect for a member of another race as it is strictly a romance thing. But they could very easily go over the top with it in the next movie. I like Tauriel--even though she is not canon, she adds another dimension to things. So I would hate to see her reduced to simply a love interest.
Oh, and if I had a choice, I would have preferred them to approach it like the innocent fairy tale I loved when I was young rather than a movie that is trying too hard to be a gritty LOTR prequel.
And why is it that while the first episode of a trilogy has some sort of an ending, the second episode always cuts off in midstream without any resolution at all.
But those are quibbles. Overall, it is great to see the story brought to the screen, with well cast actors (especially Freeman), beautiful scenery and costumes, stirring music, and lots of action and adventure.
vjj
34. Rachel Manija Brown
I just want to know why in the world Kili's head was resting in a BOWL FULL OF WALNUTS while he was being healed. It was so ridiculous, random, and uncomfortable-looking that I kept expecting someone to eventually explain that it was some kind of folk cure. I eventually decided that either that scene was cut, or Peter Jackson was trolling us. (A lot of the movie felt like Peter Jackson trolling, actually.)

Smaug was great. I didn't love all of what was done with him, but I loved him.

When I first heard that the Hobbit would be three movies, I thought, "Damn! Why couldn't LOTR have been three movies per books? Then Jackson could have filemed way more book material." But now I think he would have just inserted a lot of extra action scenes, so maybe it's just as well.
vjj
35. What The Fox Said
I think Bilbo has already grabbed the Arkenstone.
vjj
36. pilgrimsoul
@ 35
I think you are right and it will all come down in the next movie. Bilbo has to have the A in his possession so he can render it up to Thorin's "enemies."
Angela Korra'ti
37. annathepiper
Something else I'll add to my above commentary:

My wife Dara has a neat way of looking at things that I really rather like--she says that for her, the actual book is specifically Bilbo's in-character telling of the story, and that Bilbo is not necessarily the most reliable of narrators. (A hobbit telling tall tales? GO FIG!) So in the book, it makes sense that Bilbo might write about only the stuff he personally witnessed. And furthermore, that he may have taken creative license with certain events, since this is, after all, his memoir!

Whereas the movies are aiming for more of a feel of "what actually happened". So you get all the stuff Bilbo didn't see personally.

It'll be amusing to see if Bilbo ever actually meets Tauriel in the third movie. If he doesn't, that will TOTALLY explain why he never wrote about her!
vjj
38. Dr. Thanatos
Just saw the film yesterday.

Overall, I enjoyed it.

I liked adding in the evidence of the Ring's effect on Bilbo, the reference to the meeting at Bree, and the appearance of "I am not an Evil Lighthouse" Sauron.

I didn't care so much for the action sequences; not that they distracted from or conflicted with the book (although they did) but more so that they were hard to follow; the action was too fast and hard to watch.

I thought Mr. Smaug was well done, although why he was chasing our friends through the mountain and setting forges on medium is beyond me.

I did NOT like Bard feeling that he had to atone for the failings of his ancestor. Why doesn't he just change his name to Movie-Aragorn?

I did like Mr. Malfoy. I mean "Thranduil." He has dragon scars from the past (huh?) and is a cranky sonova...but I think he's just mad because he's had to wait so long for the darned dwarves and dragon to get out of the way so he can retrieve his shiny jewel before someone notices that "Thranduil" was a sylvan elf and shouldn't be looking like a High Elf. Someone is going to put 2 and 2 together and say the name "Maglor" if he doesn't get a move on...

Given the time compression compared to the book, can we expect a Strider appearance in the next film? Or perhaps one of those nasty tomb escapees will strike up an online relationship with "rohirrbabe@dernhelm.com" and find out what happens when you meet in real life...
Kate Nepveu
39. katenepveu
DemetriosX @ #22, the number of things I have not seen is legion.

Lisamarie @ #23, thanks for the excitement! Hee, as you've probably seen, I share your feelings about the movie _TT_.

and @ #24 (as well as stevenhalter @ #25), in the books the Dwarves have zero Rings at this point, and the Arkenstone has a demonstrable effect on people's judgment, so I'm okay with dropping Thrain's Ring as something that doesn't go anywhere plot-wise for this story.

and @ #28, normally I am not a fan of cliffhangers, but there's really nothing else they could do with this story given the three-movie premise (killing Smaug at the end of the movie wouldn't leave enough for the last--yes, I agree that this is an argument for fewer movies, which I am all for, but working with what we've got), so I admired that it really *committed* to that cliffhanger, I guess.

DemetriosX @ #26, Sihaya @ #30, Lisamarie @ 31, re: Kili & Tauriel's fate: I find DemetriosX's suggestion depressingly plausible, though I would really like Tauriel not to die. Like Lisamarie, I really want Kili (and Fili) to die, which does sound awful but we need more than just Thorin's death to show the importance of what's happening and the consequences of greed--and I agree 100% that Tauriel needs to maintain more motivation than the love story for her actions.

Rancho Unicorno @ #27, also depressingly plausible though I would like to think better of people, including myself!

hoopmanjh @ #29, Beorn's backstory in the book is unclear; Gandalf says, "Some say that he is a bear descended from the great and ancient bears of the mountains that lived there before the giants came. Others say that he is a man descended from the first men who lived before Smaug or the other dragons came into this part of the world, and before the goblins came into the hills out of the North. I cannot say, though I fancy the last is the true tale. He is not the sort of person to ask questions of. . . . As a bear he ranges far and wide. I once saw him sitting all alone on the top of the Carrock at night watching the moon sinking towards the Misty Mountains, and I heard him growl in the tongue of bears: ‘The day will come when they will perish and I shall go back!’ That is why I believe he once came from the mountains himself." And yes, I agree about the pacing.

vjj @ #32, I don't see how Jackson et al. could avoid making a big production out of the Battle of Five Armies (compare: Helm's Deep), though I have no idea how the Sauron fight is going to play out.

AlanBrown @ #33, I think the tone being more _LotR_ was inevitable from _LotR_ being adapted first, and also there are some substantial variations in tone within the text of _The Hobbit_ itself; which is not at all to say that you can't prefer one end of the tone spectrum to the other.

Rachel Manija Brown @ #34, I missed the bowl of walnuts in my eye-rolling over the repetitiveness of the need for healing! That's hilarious. And yes, self-indulgence is, for better or worse, a definite characteristic of these movies. And I entirely agree that three movies per book of _LotR_ would probably not have been an improvement--as it is they insert random action scenes like the warg chase and Aragorn over the cliff in _TT_, when there definitely _wasn't_ time for them!

What The Fox Said @ #35, I guess we'll find out!

pilgrimsoul @ #36, yes, Bilbo has to have the Arkenstone, but in the book he pocketed it after Smaug had left.

annathepiper @ #37, unfortunately I can't adopt this view because the narator of _The Hobbit_ is explicitly (a) a narrator and (b) not-Bilbo. The first example that comes to mind is in "Barrels Out of Bond": "It was just at this moment that Bilbo suddenly discovered the weak point in his plan. Most likely you saw it some time ago and have been laughing at him; but I don’t suppose you would have done half as well yourselves in his place." Of course you can say that Bilbo is assuming the personality of an omniscient narrator for artistic purposes, but that seems to me to be stretching things a bit far.

Dr. Thanatos @ #38, yes, good point about Bard being movie!Aragorn 2.0 re: ancestor, that was silly but at least brief. No, Thranduil _is_ a high elf, I cited the reference in the post (which is enormous, I know!). And I would bet a whole lot that you couldn't get Viggo Mortensen to cameo for love or money. (Also: hee.)
vjj
40. Ryk E. Spoor
Well, my own review is here:

http://grandcentralarena.com/on-my-shelves-the-desolation-of-smaug/

Short, I liked it much better than the first (which I liked a lot) and apparently my wife and I love long combat scenes much more than you do. :)
Steven Halter
41. stevenhalter
kate@39:Yeah, the dwarven rings are all gone. I was thinking of a Thrain in flashback sequence--I'd have rather had that than the Gandalf/Thorin in Bree sequence or any number of the orc chases.
Thrain, gibbering in a dark dungeon handing off the map to Gandalf.
Jenny Thrash
42. Sihaya
#38: katenepveu is correct - Thranduil is the king of the Silvan elves, but he is a Sindar. I had always assumed that Legolas's mother must have been a Silvan elf. At some point in , I could swear that somebody refers to Legolas as a Silvan elf, but I'll admit it's been a while since I perused the text.

#39: The Red Book of Westmarch was either written or collected by Bilbo Baggins, completed and finished by Frodo. After the events of LOTR, it was handed to Samwise Gamgee, who passed it on to his daughter. The original was lost, and the copies expanded with extra annotations by others in Gondor, Rohan, and the Shire. Those annotations include a revised version of Bilbo's story. So the story is meant to be a memoir, but one altered by many hands. Even The Silmarillion is supposed to be translated and collected by Bilbo.
vjj
43. Dr. Thanatos
@39 Kate but Sindar and High Elf are NOT synonamous. Thingol was the only Sindar considered a High Elf as he had been to Valinor. Thranduil was not in the same grouping as Galadriel, Gil-Galad, or Glorfindel...
Angela Korra'ti
44. annathepiper
Kate @ #39: Fair enough though I must echo Sihaya @ #42, who calls out what my understanding of the in-universe nature of The Hobbit having been written by Bilbo. I clearly need to doublecheck stuff though! I do eventually plan a Bilingual Reread of LotR, so that'll be a perfect opportunity. :D
Matthew Watkins
45. oraymw
Re: Beorn -

We don't know much about the history of Beorn in the book, but what we do know is actually fairly well in line with the Jackson adaptation. Tolkien never says that Beorn does anything out of the goodness of his heart. He specifically says that Beorn very much distrusts Dwarves, and that Beorn is only helping them because they are enemies of the Goblins. Gandalf also tells us that he guesses Beorn's race was located in the Misty Mountains, but that they were all killed the goblins, and that this is why Beorn hates Goblins so much.

In any case, Beorn is an example of how the wilds can be very dangerous, though not necessarily evil. It fits 100% in line with the story that Tolkien was trying to tell, it fits the themes of the book, and it is very similar to what was actually told to us in the book. We are supposed to feel like Beorn is very dangerous, and not necessarily good, but I suppose that most of us as young readers were two awed by the awesome bear dude to realize that this theme was being developed.

Re: Mirkwood

I think pretty much everyone expected an abridged version of what happens in the book. What really surprised me was how much they kept. They kept the hallunicanatory stuff, and they kept the butterflies. I really didn't expect them to do that much.

Re: Thranduil

Thranduil is a Sindarin elf. He lived with Thingol and Melian in Doriath. I think that it is impossible to imagine that Thingol was in Doriath, but wasn't involved in the War of Wrath (you know, the one where the elves all had to fight Morgoth's forces, along with hordes of dragons) and so it only stands to reason that he would have had a run-in with dragons. Furthermore, Thranduil specifically says that his run-in with dragons happened "in the north," which is where the War of Wrath happened.

This wasn't a non-sequitur. It was actually a fascinating tie-in to the information from the Silmarillion, and a fairly clever one too, considering that Jackson and Co. don't have access to the rights for the Silmarillion, so I really appreciate this off-hand reference.

Elves in the Lord of the Rings are not universally good, especially elves that were around in the first age. A lot of them are pretty much scumbags, and I think that it is awesome that Jackson and Co. brought us an example of an Elf that isn't just awesome. Creating a much deeper exploration of elven culture is only good.

Furthermore, making Thranduil more creepy is actually totally in-line with Thranduil from the books. In the later revision of the book, Tolkien made him more of a nice guy, but originally, Tolkien intended him to be yet another example of a character that is particularly dangerous. The Thranduil in the book brings an army to Erebor to negotiate how much treasure they want; essentially he brings an army, and he's ready to kill people in order to get money that doesn't even belong to him. Tolkien only made him more sympathetic in the later revision of the book because Elves had taken on such a prominence in his other works, and it didn't make much sense to have the only representative of his race be such a horrible guy. (Elrond doesn't count; half-elven.)

Re: Slidy-tombs

I just figured that whoever put the tombs down there wanted to make it really difficult and dangerous for anybody to get in. I mean, the put bars over the tombs. I thought it was cool how those bars were ripped outward by whatever was in the film. Sure, this might not fall 100% in line with what happens in the books, but I think it is close enough to give viewers a sense of the history of the Nazgul. It also helps gives us a frame of reference for why that place was so important.

I guess the one criticism here is that we don't see anything of the Nazgul in this film after this revelation, so it feels like a red herring.
vjj
46. Erik Dercf
What I liked about the second movie was that it was exciting enought to not feel like 2 and half hours. What was changed from the book made for a an action packed cliffhanger. But this movie removed the humor for the book. I liked how the Dwarves appear at Beorn's house, the singing Biblo does to lure away the spiders, and how the poor elf guard gets drunk and falls asleep at the table and loses his keys. For the next film I hope for

1. Smaug rules in action packed scenes leading to his epic death at the hand of Bard.
2. The movie begins with the white council saving Gandoff.
3. Leave the love triangle on the cutting room floor please.
4. Or let the lovers die together which might help dwarves and elves working together.
5. The blond brother Kili lives to be king because a happy ending of movie serves future generations to read the book and decide which is better.
6. Please don't change how Biblo sneaks off and then sneaks back that is a great part of the book not to be fiddled with please.
7. Again kill the love triangle its bad and only looks to get worst.

Cheers,
vjj
47. Bolg
FWIW, the Sindar were Eldar, that is to say, they heeded the Valar's call to go into the Ancient West to Valinor. But only Elu Thingol was Calaquendi, a Light-Elf, because he had seen the light of the Two Trees in Valinor when he was chosen as an ambassador for his Elvish clan: Finwe and Ingwe were the representatives from the other two clans.

I always assumed from reading the Lord of the Rimgs that a significant number of Sindar had fled the collapse of Doriath and wound up in Lasgalen because it was safely out-of-the-way of the armies of the Valar. I had also assumed that they intermarried with the Nandor who had never crossed over into Beleriand, and also with their distant relatives the Avari (The Unwilling) from their clan who had also settled in Lasgalen.

So Legolas would be Sindarin-Nandorian-Silvan; Thranduil would be Sindarin; we assume that Legolas' mother was either Nandor or Avari.

I suppose Tauriel would be of some ranking higher than a mere forest elf maiden; that probably means she's Nandorian or Sindarin.
vjj
48. Dr. Thanatos
@45 oraynw,

Many good points. I would note that Beleriand, where the War of Wrath was fought, was west over the Blue Mountains. Mr. Big lived to the North of Beleriand but from where "Thranduil" sits this would be west, not north. FWIW.

The term "High Elf" is slippery---Frodo says that "these are High Elves, they use the name Elbereth." But I had always taken HIgh Elves to be those who not only traveled west, but traveled West (if you catch my meaning, as Sam would say). Thingol yes, Thranduil less so...
David Levinson
49. DemetriosX
We could still get something about Thror's ring in the next movie. PJ seems to like starting these movies with a history lesson and that would make a good candidate. The other possibility is some stuff about Sauron and Dol Guldur. We'll see.
Del C
50. del
Re: BRIAN BLESSED, he was also Exeter in the Branagh Henry V, Robin Hood's father in the Costner film, and Prince Vultan of the Hawkmen in Flash Gordon ("Gordon's alive!")
vjj
51. pilgrimsoul
@48
Hi, Dr. T.! I agree with you about Thranduil who fits the "more dangerous, less wise" description and does act very "high". I liked the contrast between his characterization and Elrond's--not that he's technically high either, but Elrond is obviously more in tune with the wider realities of Middle Earth and considers himself a guardian. Thranduil--very hot looking in my opinion--is also pretty shallow for an Elf--and that goes for his son, too!
Kate Nepveu
52. katenepveu
Ryk E. Spoor @ #40, yeah, if you love long combat scenes, you will definitely like this movie better than I did!

stevenhalter @ #41, DemetriosX @ #49, I was trying to decide if we should be in for a Thror flashback for the start of the next movie and then I couldn't remember if the first movie established that Azog killed Thror or not . . .

Sihaya @ #42, annathepiper @ #44, right, but whatever framing story was developed for _LotR_, _The Hobbit_ the book we have on our shelves (physical or virtual) is explicitly narrated by a human--there's a quote in the chapter 1 comments.

Dr. Thanatos @ #43, okay, I have looked this up further, because if there's one thing I can't hold in my head, it's all the elf groupings! I was relying on the start of Appendix B, which says, "In the beginning of this age many of the High Elves still remained. Most of these dwelt in Lindon west of the Ered Luin; but before the building of the Barad-dûr many of the Sindar passed eastward, and some established realms in the forests far away, where their people were mostly Silvan Elves. Thranduil, king in the north of Greenwood the Great, was one of these." -- So based on that, I concluded that Thranduil = High. I'd forgotten that Sindar = didn't go overseas, which is another common version of "High" (as you say in #48).

oraymw @ #45, I quoted Beorn's backstory (per Gandalf) in #39, it does not say that the goblins killed any of Beorn's people (let alone all of them), though that is certainly a reasonable inference. And thank you for the reminder about the War of Wrath--I was looking at the earlier bits about dragons, and forgot that there were more dragons after the ruin of Doriath. As for the slidy-tombs, I did think about making it hard for people to get in, but it didn't seem like it had been done in a way that would have make it possible for them to construct the things in the first place. Granted I wouldn't have been thinking about that in the first place if I'd been more on board of the idea . . .

Erik Dercf @ #46, I don't have the same view on some of your points, but I wholeheartedly agree that Bilbo sneaking off and coming back is essential.

Bolg @ #47, thank you; seriously, elf groupings, entirely refuse to stay in my head.

del @ #50 . . . nope, still haven't seen those. Sorry!

pilgrimsoul @ #51, I don't mind that he's shallow, I just . . . I don't know, wasn't sure what they were going for. It was weird.
Steven Halter
53. stevenhalter
In the Battle of Azanulbizar (in the movie) Azog beheads Thror and then gets his arm cut off by Thorin.
Jeremy Goff
54. JeremyM
I have to say that I disliked this movie so much that I'm not even contemplating seeing the next one when it comes out. There are a lot of good points made in the post of why certain changes were made, but ultimately, like I felt with the first movie, it was too much. The love triangle was just plain ridiculous and completely unneeded, but in my opinion a lot of things were.

Having said that I know I'm just being curmudgeonly. This is the first time I've encountered an adaptation where I couldn't just enjoy watching the story come to life. I feel like a lot of that comes down to them drawing it out to three movies and padding the story. But really most of it comes down to me and my inability to separate the two versions of the story.

Oh well, they can't please everyone and for the first time I'm in the camp that can't be pleased. At least I will always have the book and maybe some new fans will find their way to it after seeing the movie.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
55. Lisamarie
BRIAN BLESSED is also Boss Nass in The Phantom Meance (ha!).

oraymw@45 - overall I mostly agree with you about Beorn's general characterization and backstory being more or less in line with Tolkien's, at least in general spirit. But I do still think we got a bit short changed in that he was a bit more multifaceted in the book. I know Kate doesn't agree, but I do kind of wish we could have seen more of the animal servants, etc (even if they didn't try to make them walk on hind legs or talk). I hope there is more in the extended edition.

Thanks to all for the updates on Elf groupings. I like that way of explaining Thranduil's comment. I had kind of hand waved it away as being something that could have happend in past Middle Earth history, but it's nice to know that it (intentionally or no) actually does tie into something documented. I think it's reasonable for Thranduil to call it 'the North' since at the time...it would be the North for him ;) I did find Thranduil pretty in character (maybe a liiiittle over the top), since I remember him being kind of a tool in the book, even with the revisions.

Also, count me in as somebody who really wants to see the next prologue be about Thrain and the Ring (OR see it show up in the next movie as part of the Dol Guldor stuff, even if that means the timelines are a bit off). Has it yet been explained exactly where Gandalf got the map and key in the movie? I still want to see that make an appearance, given that we've seen the Elven rings, the rings given to Men and the One Ring...it seems like we should get to see ALL the Rings, just to make it all nice and neat and tie the story back to Sauron a bit!
Kate Nepveu
56. katenepveu
stevenhalter @ #53, thank you; that was embarassing, that I couldn't remember that. Okay, so I guess we don't need that as prologuery! For me, that bumps up the odds on a Thrain flashback, showing Gandalf getting the map from him (though I don't understand where that would have happened, now, since it wasn't in the dungeons of Dol Guldur . . . ).

JeremyM @ #54, sorry to hear that--it's no fun to be unable to like something you hoped to be able to.
vjj
57. ilverai
Great review Kate...I've written upwards of 6K words grappling with my own feelings on DoS...I'm glad to see someone who had similar reactions to my own...and bring back to mind things I hadn't even made note of in my own reviews.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
58. Lisamarie
@57 - I need to go back and update my journal entry :) I'm excited to have somebody to discuss it with on a deeper level. My husband have already gone over it quite a bit. Glad I'm not the only one with lots of thoughts to grapple with!
Angela Korra'ti
59. annathepiper
Kate @ #52: Got it. :) Just clicked over to read the comment you linked to, and riiight, I should have remembered that quote.

Though hmm. For me though that doesn't break Sihaya's point. From the LotR Wiki's page on the book:

"As Tolkien presented himself as the translator of the supposedly historic Red Book of Westmarch, where Bilbo and Frodo's stories were recorded, he further explained the two differing stories in The Hobbit by stating he had originally used Bilbo's original story, but later re-translated the work with the "true story" recorded by Frodo."

(Link: http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/The_Hobbit)

So it wouldn't particularly break Sihaya's point for me if a human translator of Bilbo and Frodo's work was putting in commentary from a human point of view. I could definitely see it being interpreted either way though!
vjj
60. Dr. Thanatos
I believe that "Thrain is still alive" will come back to us in movie 3; whether he is Ringed or not remains to be seen. I am sure that Gandalf will be communicating with someone in the next cell by banging on the wall in dwarven morse code and it might as well be him...

I agree that which elf is High is hard to sort out, depends on whether they live in Colorado after 1/1/14, and doesn't matter much in the long run anyway. Given my theory that "Thranduil" is an alias and that he is really a renegade Noldor (or an English wizard although I prefer the Maglor Identity) makes it moot as well...
Steven Halter
61. stevenhalter
Looking around a bit, it appears there is a filmed scene between Gandalf and Thrain. It is unclear if this will appear in film 3 or as an extended scene and the timeline of when this scene happens for the movie appears odd.
Darth Agilus
62. darth.agilus
My two cents ... after a rough start I ended up loving this movie. Or maybe I should say I loved Smaug and he saved the movie.

While I have many of the same nitpicks others have expressed, I am quite content to ignore most of them. Although the efforts to echo themes and scenes from LoTR was annoying.

I found Smaug and his dialogue with Bilbo enthralling. It lived up to my expectations. My son and I have been wandering the house for weeks just looking at each other, saying "Smaug!", and giggling. I liked him enough to be content with added scenes that might have been necessary but were overdone and weak, just to see more Smaug.

The only thing I still struggle with is the spiders vs the barrel ride. I was really disappointed that the mirkwood and spiders scenes seemed shortened. I thought they did a great job of making the spiders suspenseful and creepy then just failed to capitalize on it fully. Instead of spending more time there, we got an interminable new scene of orc fighting and barrel chasing. Wanna set up how the 5 armies end up at Erebor? I'm all for leveraging the barrel scene, but seriously I didn't need all that screen time for target practice and falling in water. Use the time to fill out the spider scene, the Dol Guldur scene, or just shorten the movie.

I didn't always like the execution but I really like the decision to include Gandalf's Dol Guldur excursion, Bard characterization, and elf-pursuit-of-orc-pursuit-of-dwarf (previous complaint not withstanding). I think it makes a number of things that happened in the book feel much more natural. Gandalf's unexplained disappearances are fine for children's stories but jarring as adult fare and the War of Five Armies can feel rather random. These additions also tie The Hobbit together much better with the past and future of LoTR. That wasn't a big deal for Tolkien who could keep adding to the mythology any time he liked, but I'm pretty sure we aren't going to see movies just for lost tales, an appendix, or the Sils.

Looking forward to next December.

I am fire! I am death! - Smaug
Jenny Thrash
63. Sihaya
I have to say, I'm pro-movie-Smaug. He definitely wasn't book Smaug, but it definitely was a satisfying cat-and-mouse. He emblamizes the con artist's creed - the best lie includes some of the truth.

It's been interesting to read all the different takes on Thranduil, and on who is telling the story. The afterlife of each player has always interested me, and so that was why I knew a smidgen about the Red Book (also, I was lucky enough to get one of the red leatherbound sets as a kid). My knowledge of Middle Earth isn't as deep as it could be, though, so it's been a delightful surprise to hear why Thranduil might conceivably have a dragon burn.
vjj
64. Dr. Thanatos
Best theory yet why "Thranduil" has a dragon burn:

He was teaching Legolas how to surf down monsters' backs and slipped; dragonscales leave a nasty raspberry...
Jenny Thrash
65. Sihaya
#64: *snrk* There is alot of surfing in these films.
Kate Nepveu
66. katenepveu
ilverai @ #57, thanks and welcome!

annathepiper @ #59, this is where we run into, again, the thing where I don't believe in the _LotR_ frame story of translated works/history of our world/etc.--I acknowledge it's in the text but I just don't buy it--so I'm willing to suspend my disbelief much less when it comes to departing from the text of _The Hobbit_ to fit it in the _LotR_ framework! Mileage, it varies.

Dr. Thanatos @ #60, but if Gandalf and Thrain are doing Morse code on their cell walls then Gandalf couldn't be imprisoned alone in a high place just like in _Fellowship_, look, a parallel, remember that movie, lookit lookit lookit!!!

(Also, talk about confusion about Elves, this Slate article came to my attention when someone quoted a correction appended to it: "Correction, Jan. 2, 2014: The caption for this story originally stated that Arwen and Aragorn are half-elf and half-human. Aragorn is three-fourths human and one-fourth elf. Arwen is 3/16 human, 25/32 elf, and 1/32 Maia." This occasioned much remark among friends elsehwere (and I successfully resisted the urge to count generations back in Aragorn's lineage). Hilariously, the correction now reads: "Correction, Jan. 2, 2014: The caption for this story originally stated that Arwen and Aragorn are half-elf and half-human. Their lineage is apparently much more complicated than that.")

stevenhalter @ #61, is this Playlist interview with Armitage what you're talking about re: a Thrain scene? " . . . there’s a big sequence of Gandalf encountering Thrain, and a flashback to when Thorin and Thrain were fighting side by side on the battlefield and Thrain is lost, which is why Thorin goes out on the quest in the first place. So that may make it into an extended edition, but it also may appear somewhere in Movie Three."

darth.agilus @ #62, the story about you & your son is adorable.
Angela Korra'ti
67. annathepiper
Kate @ 66: Hee, okay, fair enough! As I've said on my own blog re: varying reactions to Jackson's movies, Arda is wide and there is room for the enjoyment of all. :)
Steven Halter
68. stevenhalter
The Armitage interview is the main authoritative source. There seems to be quite a bit of speculation on this.
T C
69. Freelancer
All of the complaints and quibbles I would voice have been dealt with already. So I'll simply say that movie adaptations are very tricky things. The forces at play are numerous, and only one of them is steadfastly in favor of fidelity to the written story. The opinions of the various producers, the director, the screenwriter(s), and other significant executives regarding what will work well on-screen, what will maximize profitability of the final artwork, what must be excised from the original story for runtime, what must be added for contextual validity of those parts which are retained, how to convert internal dialogue into visuals, etc., etc., etc., all push against the "purity" of the book. And that leaves out any mischaracterizations due to how the story is read by those executives, and whether they share the same large- and small-scope visions of the plot, theme, and settings with the original author.

With those considerations on the table, and knowing the books well enough to recognize that significant liberties were taken in the transformation to a screenplay, I enjoyed the movie immensely. I have long ago learned not to expect the same story to be told as was put in print, and attend with this awareness before me. (Of all movie adaptation I've seen in the last 25 years, Ender's Game did by far the best at remaining true to the written story)

With those "low" expectations, Peter Jackson creates what are for me remarkable movies. As with the first volume and all of the LOTR movies, the landscape of each location is uncannily like what was pictured in my mind through the book. The scarred and ruined, once-majestic Dale perched among the lesser hilltops before the Lonely Mountain; the Long Lake and the River Running. Dol Guldur was represented as far more creepy than imagined by the youngster reading for the first time. Block-walled castles empty of people, the keep walls lined with moss and spider webs, is creepy enough, and yet the point remains, I would have required no dialogue, no narration, to know precisely where we were at any point, simply through the visual presentation. This was my favorite part of the first segment, recognizing from decades-old imagined scenes when the party was in the Lone Lands, the Trollshaws, the Imladris Pass to Rivendell, and of course, Goblintown. That was immense fun all by itself, truth be told.

The book told a story which provided, for a great many of us, our first, and still strongest, impression of the fantasy adventure universe. Any movie couldn't hope to but disappoint in the details, and more notably the better we know those details of that written story.

Being much more technical than artistic by nature, I find myself unwilling to gripe much about the divergences between versions of a story presented in different media. It could have been much, much worse. Anyone who read all of Ludlum's Bourne books will understand.

On a lighter note, it wasn't until about the third shot of him that I recognized Stephen Fry as the Lord(?) of Laketown. With the obvious exception of Martin Freeman, there are few actors as willing to play self-deprecating roles, and play them on the nose as does Fry. Many actors attempt and fail at comedy. Many comedians attempt and fail at drama. Fry and fellow brit Hugh Laurie are rare exceptions who are as accomplished in either milieu, and if you have access to Netflix, "A bit of Fry and Laurie" is great fun.
Sydo Zandstra
70. Fiddler
People, Bilbo did not secure the Arkenstone.

I am rewatching the Smaug scene atm (yes, torrent, bite me; I will buy the EE on blu-ray anyway), and he definitely lost it, right before Smaug tells him it was tempted to let the Arkenstone do its corrupting work on Thoren.

After that, Bilbo fled the Treasury Hall, and the whole Scooby Doo set up with Smaug started...

On a side note, Thorin said he was totally sure Thrain was alive. OTOH, Azog said he killed Thrain in the first movie...
Sydo Zandstra
71. Fiddler
Also, Kili's head was not in a basket of walnuts. That was on the table next to his head. Somebody was putting an arm under his head when Tauriel treated him.

Edit: Ok, so it was later when recovering. Dwarves have thick skulls ;)
Alan Brown
72. AlanBrown
@62 "or just shorten the movie"

Like that could happen, with Jackson at the helm! ;-)
Birgit
73. birgit
I think Bilbo did take the Arkenstone (he was chasing after it for several scenes, the movie just didn't show him picking it up) and didn't say anything because of the way Thorin acted. If he didn't have it, there would be no reason for him to be evasive when Thorin confronts him.
Gandalf sent the dwarves on their quest because he wanted to get rid of the dragon. Why was he the one who chose a burglar instead of a warrior when Thorin was the one who just wanted the Arkenstone?

The nuts were probably because the dwarves slept in a storeroom (Bard's house isn't an inn with enough beds for all the dwarves).
Kate Nepveu
74. katenepveu
Freelancer @ #69, one of the good things about the movies is definitely the landscapes and locations; I don't have firm impressions for a lot of those in _The Hobbit_, so that's a definite benefit. And Stephen Fry (if they're going by the book, his title would be Master) was great.

Fiddler @ #70, the question is whether Bilbo will be revealed to have picked up the Arkenstone off-screen. As I said in the main post, I think not. And I missed the bit about Thorin thinking that Thrain was alive, thank you!

birgit @ #73, I'm going to use your comment as a jumping-off for my last word on my opinion re: Bilbo picking up the Arkenston. Besides what I said in the post--too big a character moment to reveal in flashback--I think he was evasive because Thorin was being really weird and he didn't want to provoke him further. And I think there's a real peril that if it's done in flashback, people who haven't read the book will feel cheated at the sleight-of-hand (heh), especially since in my recollection, it would be pretty tricky from what was shown for Bilbo to have picked it up off-screen. (And I think Gandalf picked a burglar because of Thorin's plan to unite the dwarf clans and drive the dragon out that way.)
Bill Reamy
75. BillinHI
I enjoyed the movie in spite of all the Jackson additions, especially Tauriel and the love triangle. I believe in Jackson's initial video blogs, he refers to 2 movies, which is what he should have stuck to. I certanly could have done with fewer (or at least shorter!) orc chase sequences.

I would almost like to see all references to Tolkien removed from the movies and state what it really is: Peter Jackson's Hobbit! I never expect any movie to look exactly like the book it was taken from, but I really think Jackson went too far this time. That said, I eagerly await the last movie next December.
vjj
76. kbingh
Desolation of Smaug was far superior to the first installment which I also enjoyed but had the problem of having to spend time with exposition and not enough action.

To follow the book too closely would have forced Peter Jackson to forsake many of the elements he had established in the Lord of the Rings movies. These Hobbit movies were meant to be a prequal to the Lord of the Rings movies so it was very appropriate to remain consistant and tie the two together.

If we followed the book preciscley it would have made Gandalf a minor character that came and went as he chose and in most cases for unknown reasons. He would have "barely been involved" as Grandalf quips in the Fellowship of the Ring movie. It would have been a waste of Ian Mclellans time and talants and a waste of a great character.

I enjoyed the tie in with Sauron at Dol Goldur and Smaug. It shows there was more of a purpose to destroy smog than just a treasure hunt for the Dwarves.

Peter Jackson was very smart in casting Fili and Kili and even Thauran has less dwarf like and even add a female character to expand the audience. A purist vew of the movies would have pleased the Tolkein fans but at the expense of a wider audience.

Can't wait for the next installment and I am glad it is in three parts.
vjj
77. Crusader75
One of the things I did not like about the movie was the endless scenes of Legolas and Tauriel slaughtering Orcs with ease. In one sense, it is just too much focus on killing, which is not how Tolkien wrote the story. The other part is that it reduces the sense of menace the Orcs are supposed to bring as this just makes them look pathetic rather than a legitimate threat. On the other hand, I agree that Bilbo's conversation with Smaug is wonderful, but most everything that happens between Bilbo's reference to himself as "barrel-rider" to when Smaug leaves the mountain could have been cut for my taste.
Kate Nepveu
78. katenepveu
BillinHI @ #75, it was definitely originally two movies, which would have been more to my taste as well.

kbingh @ #76, you're right that the first had more exposition, and yet I still liked it better somehow. Huh. And I am certainly a fan of more Ian McKellen on my screen!

Crusader75 @ #77, good point; the Battle of Five Armies is going to have to be a lot more about numbers, I think, than the prowess of individual orcs, in order to create a sense of genuine peril
Kate Nepveu
79. katenepveu
annathepiper @ #3, super-belatedly--I didn't realize you'd been released from spam until now, though I should have realized that comment numbers were matching up again! You might be interested in my talk about Mary Sue. Otherwise: the _LotR_ movies were very subtle about Gandalf's Ring, so I doubt the next movie will call that out at all. I bet that you're right, Legolas is Thranduil's motivation to come to Lake-town, which, yuck. Otherwise we'll see!
Angela Korra'ti
80. annathepiper
Kate @ #79: Yeah, I do mostly like what Jackson's doing with this version of the storyline, but I'd very much prefer it if he lets Thranduil get a bit more complex in the next movie. There's not much characterization of him to work with in the book, granted, but even there he helps Lake-town out of the general sense of Right Thing to Do, despite his mercenary interest in Smaug's hoard of Shiny Things.

I am indeed VERY interested in your link, thank you for that!
Matthew Watkins
81. oraymw
@katenepveu #52: I just used my own memory on the Beorn thing, so I'm probably wrong about that one. I thought that Gandalf had implied that history, but it's probably just that it was an inference to which I had jumped. Also, maybe I read it in some discussion that someone had about the history of Beorn, and I just conflated that with the Hobbit text. I dunno. I'll research more :)
Matthew Watkins
82. oraymw
Also, RE: Love Triangle

Okay. So the love triangle was a little bit corny and it definitely stretched my suspenders of disbelief. But I think it is actually consistent with Tolkien.

I know! It sounds like heresy.

Let me explain.

Almost all of the love stories in Tolkien involve some amount of the male character being below the female character. It's like the female character willingly lowers herself to the male's level because of love. Example: Arwen is elvenish, while Aragorn is human. So it's Arwen moving down to Aragorn's level. The same thing happens with Beren and Luthien, and Thingol and Melian. In this way, the Fili (or was it Kili? I can't remember) crush on Tauriel very much fits Tolkien. In fact, it actually fits Tolkien better than the Tauriel > Legolas romance, since that is working in the opposite direction.

Furthermore, there is actually precedence for this kind of crush in the Lord of the Rings. Specifically I mean the interaction between Gimli and Galadriel. In a way, the Fili and Tauriel relationship hearkens back to Lothlorien.

Was it corny? Definitely.

Did they establish it in a way to make it believable? Probably not.

But it is definitely consistent with Tolkien's world.
Angela Korra'ti
83. annathepiper
oraymw @ #82: It sounds like you and I definitely had similar trains of thought here re: Tauriel and Kili. :)

Corny? Absolutely. I freely grant that! But love is a motivator Tolkien does not hesitate to deploy against the grander sweep of ongoing action.
vjj
84. Dr. Thanatos
oraymy:

I must disagree re: Gimladriel.

This was NOT "I, Gimli, thinkest that thou, Galadriel are hot and I wouldst be in a relationship with thee." This was NOT "Galadriel, don't lead him on."

This was Don Quixote loving pure and chaste from afar. This is more the medeival literary concept of "courtly love" which Gimli expresses which is not "I want to date you" but more "you are worthy of admiration and I shall dedicate my life to telling the world of your glory" which is NOT what Fili and Tauriel had in mind as far as I can tell...
vjj
85. a1ay
Almost all of the love stories in Tolkien involve some amount of the male character being below the female character.

And you could also have mentioned Celeborn/Galadriel - Celeborn is definitely the Prince Consort in that relationship (thank god, sans side whiskers).

Exception, obviously, Eowyn/Aragorn, which really supports your point because Eowyn realises that she's shooting too high, and it's both unrequited and unsuccessful.
Matthew Watkins
86. oraymw
@Dr. Thanators #84 -

I definitely understand what you are saying here. To be fair, Jackson played up the Gimladriel angle a little bit more in the LotR films. In any case, I merely point to the Gimladriel event as a sort of precedence; an event of courtly love could set an in-world precedence for the possibility of a romantic relationship. I expect that Elf/Dwarf society would see the courtly love relationship as being acceptable, while seeing the romantic relationship as unacceptable. I was merely suggesting that it introduces the possibilty, and a possible justification for the film's relationship.

It feels like many people across the internet are objecting strongly to the Fili/Tauriel relationship because it doesn't fit Tolkien, but I feel that arguing this point is a little bit misinformed.

But it's okay to dislike the execution of the relationship, because they definitely could have improved that :)
Kate Nepveu
87. katenepveu
oraymw @ #81, re: Beorn's history: no problem! If you turn up something other than _The Hobbit_, do let us know.

and @ #82, heh, me, I'm not a fan of this trend because it's a little too much like putting the woman on a pedestal ("as much a prison as any small, confined space"), though if that's the price I have to pay for how awesome Luthien is, I will take it.

a1ay @ #85, hmm, not sure how the precedence in Eowyn/Faramir works out . . .
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
88. Lisamarie
On one hand, I want to say that Faramir is way above Eowyn because I love Faramir so very very much, hahaha. But I'm not really a fan of viewing one member of a relationship as 'above' any other member, regardless of gender. Even if Luthien IS that awesome...

I think they (Faramir and Eowyn) are well matched :) Two of my favorite characters, actually, so I love that they ended up together.
Matthew Watkins
89. oraymw
Eowyn is a niece of the king. Faramir is the son of the steward. Technically, she has a higher station than he does.

In any case, I agree with you; I'm also not a huge fan of this theme. I think we can all agree that Tolkien was not the most progressive with his female characters. However, it still makes for an interesting topic for discussing.

It becomes even more interesting when you consider that the inspiration for Luthien was Edith Tolkien, the wife of the author. Tolkien admitted as much in his letters, and the names Beren and Luthien were inscribed on their tombstones. I'm not 100% sure what this theme can really tell us; there are definitely some elements that don't fit the way we see women in modern times. But I am sure that it reflects the deep love that the two had for each other.
vjj
90. Joe91
- I didn't like Beorn at all in human form, the bear form was good but his human form felt too skinny and depressed almost as bad as emo Peter Parker in spiderman 3. As others have said i always imagined Beorn as an jolly guy that had a fear factor due to size and strength (and the fact he can turn into a bear).

- Mirkwood was too short and i'm 90% sure most of the extended scenes will be based in and around there and maybe more about the Dwarfs being prisoners.

- I think Smaug should have died in this film and had a bit at the end of the next film about Balin, Oin and Ori going to Moria, which i doubt they'll do.

- I'm pretty sure Radaghast will go back for Gandalf but with Galadriel (Saruman won't be there due to Christopher Lee's age and health) and maybe Elrond (probably not)

- Finally i'm fine with the changes made as i believe they were made to help the movie flow and through logically decisions (such as Legolas appearing).
vjj
91. Ali Oakensheild
Very Nice article, good read.
Obviously you are entitled to your opinion that is your right and I respect that, But I guess I disagree with everything you mentioned or did not like, that's my right. :)

To me, this was the best movie in the Peter Jackson saga till now (behind Fellowship). All the changes you mentioned are affecting those people who, I believe are too much a fan of the books and the preservation of that text.
One must remember that Sir Tolkien actually wrote the Hobbit for his Children and to actually adapt that book into 3 films was going to take a lot more than Dinner serving animals.
When the Hobbit was first revealed, I was highly skeptical, but I was blown away of how much improvisation these guys did to make the characters and story awesome and action packed.
I hated the fact that in the Book, Bilbo was the ultiamate 'luck wearer' and the dwarves looked to him for everything. These movies have done the Company of Thorin real justice, come on people, most of them are battle hardned dwaves, no profitters as in the book.
The action in these movies kept me awestruck, especially the Barrels out of bond sequence. Legolas rocks!
I'm glad they changed some things from the books and helped give character to some important characters such as Bard and Thranduil.
After the Lord of the Rings and Terminator 1 and 2, this movie had the best cast I have ever seen and everybody fell into place like they were born for the role, just like Viggo for Aragorn.
Those little parallels with the LOTR scenes, actually were welcome and in the Athelas healing scene, i actually was smiling as I rememberd a similar scene, over a decade ago.

Words cannot decribe the epicness of Smaug and the whole mountain Chase/fight scene.
Tauriel is a beautiful and refreshing new introduction.
This movie was fantastic and everbody should see it.

Just remember that, Hobbit is essentially a children's book. To adapt the book into movies is nearly impossible in its true form, as it would be a childrens movie, the Jakson team has done an awesome job to bring the Hobbit to life in a Glorious but (thank goodness) dark way. If you want to run parallel with the book and LOTR, you might just waste 2.30 hours of your life. If you want to see an epic story driven movie with colorful characters, Hobbit 1 and 2 it is!
vjj
92. lavendertook
I found this installment much better paced than the first, but I still liked the first part better. The first part was warmer with more character bonding. Though this one needs to be less warm overall, with Thorin disintegrating and the properly ominous note it ends on, I still would have liked to see more bonding betweent the 14 companions. We do get nice bonding between Legolas and Tauriel and Tauriel and Kili. I'm wondering if there's any internalized misogyny in my not finding that enough good bonding--I don't know.

I like what you have to say about PJ not trusting people to just do the right thing and having to give Beorn self-interested reasons for helping the dwarves, which is much like what he did with Faramir. It does serve to make Beorn, like Faramir, function as a bigger obstacle for narrative tension, but it is a loss of good people doing good for good's sake. Are there other instances you are thinking of?

It's occurred to me that PJ, Boyens, and Walsh have given this function to the Elves. In this movie we have Tauriel, and I do not think her bonding with Kili undermines her already established philosphical desire to move beyond isolationism to better the world. He also gave this altruism to the Elves in TTT in having Elrond and Galadriel send Elves to Helms Deep. I get the feeling PJ, PB, and FW want to depict the Elves as better than other peoples in this altruism. And though Tolkien talked about Elves being better than humans, they really aren't any morally better in his Legendarium. Perhaps PJ, PB, and FW decided to rectify this. But the result is that they've taken away from the other peoples outside of the Fellowship the ability to do good for good's sake and made it a quality that only belongs to Elves and a small exceptional group of questers. I'd rather be immersed in a world with a more optimistic view portrayed of "regular" people--that doing good for good's sake can be less exceptional and you might run into them in your travels.
Nicky Kay
93. NickyKV2
Lovely article and I agree with most of what you say (though sometimes for different reasons). I also liked a lot which you did not appear to enjoy (well, cool!) I enjoyed the second film more than the first because the first had a lot of scene/character settings going on and was mainly Bilbo and Dwarves. I thought the first two hours of the new film were more episodic and action-packed and less explanatory (which is what I felt about the first two Lord films). I personally thought that the last third of Hobbit2 dragged a bit (as if Jackson were thinking: “Oh dear, if I don’t drag out the Smaug stuff I won’t have anything left for the third film” – however, other people seem to think the last hour was the best part of the movie!). I don’t really mind changing or altering the story in the book (or using the Appendices of LOTR etc) in order to make a good film. I understand that this is often necessary. I am willing to accept add-in characters if they drive the film forward. I quite liked the elf-girl, for example, I didn’t mind the development of other characters. If it helps the film work, then I can live with such things. The one episode in this film that annoyed me was the Tombs of the Nine. This was not just the tired movie cliché of Gandalf almost sliding to his death (not a problem, it seemed, for the Doctor Who wizard) I thought this scene could have been so much more scary, spooky and powerful. I was hoping for much more – curling mists, tomb-wraith guardians, even a better look at those shattered tombs. Instead it was just: “This isn’t a nice place to meet” and then they were outside again.
Thomas Thatcher
94. StrongDreams
My reaction to the movie is "too much."
Too much Elves.
Too much barrels.
Too much Lake Town.
Too much ninja dwarves under the mountain.
Too much Bard as Aragorn-lite (hidden descendant foresaking his greatness).

(And Bilbo did totally nick the Arkenstone.)
vjj
95. ief
I didn't hate the action sequences being there, but I thought the barrels/orcs and dwarves/Smaug chases should have been 1/3 of the length. I liked that the dwarves made some effort to fight Smaug, no matter how implausible, because it lessens slightly how much to blame they were for what is about to happen to Lake Town. The re-read really reminded me of how problematic the dwarves' behaviour was in the original, so I think something needed to be revised if they weren't to come across as complete villains. On a technical note, I'm no scientist, but the Internet tells me that the melting point of gold is a little lower than that of iron and much lower than that of steel (and why shouldn't dwarves have invented steel?) so presumably Thorin's wheelbarrow / boat wouldn't be impossible at certain temperatures. The ability to escape damage from dragon fire by running just ahead of it bothered me more.

I quite liked Thranduil - I think the Mirkwood elves in the book are so different from those in LoTR (the book) that Jackson did have to change something in order to make them fit into the same imagined Middle Earth, and I thought making him a scarred and selfish isolationist was a good way to make him an antagonist, without having him be actually evil.
Kate Nepveu
96. katenepveu
Some way-late catchups, sorry, everyone:

oraymw @ #89, I figure that Luthien is so incredibly awesome that it is even less of my business that usual how the author's fiction interplays with his personal life, because look what it got us. =>

Joe91 @ #90, I'm really not sure how they're going to handle Moria, it would leave a pretty sour note at the happy visit at the end, for instance.

Ali Oakensheild @ #91, one hundred percent on board with your right to have your own opinion. => I'm really glad it did work for you.

lavendertook @ #92, re: loss of good people doing good for good's sake: the Ents are the next one that comes to mind. Hmm, interesting about the Elves; there are enough conflicts with Elves that I hadn't marked that out as a special species characteristic. I'll have to think about that some more.

NickyKV2 @ #93, thanks for the kind words, and I'm always fascinated to hear how people react to different parts of films or books, so thanks for commenting!

StrongDreams @ #94, yeah, though to be fair, I can't say that I wasn't expecting this kind of thing after all the prior movies.

ief @ #95, I think I may have to wait to see the explanation for Thranduil to figure out how I feel about his treatment. We'll see.
vjj
97. fantasywind
My goodness I don't get it why Thingol and Thranduil are some sort of boys for beating in fandom?!! They are magnificent, complex characters, wise and strong leaders, but with flaws, they had enough kindess and were stern when needed. Thranduil and his father Oropher who founded the Woodland Realm in Greenwood the Great during the Second Age (later Mirkwood in Third) were Sindar/Grey Elves presumably elven lords of Doriath but they adapted language and culture of silvan elves and cared for them as their own people to govern and protect (Legolas admits himself to be Wood Elf so he might have been partly one from the side of mother for example), oh my the scorned ,,lowly silvan elf" I'm gonna cry buee horrible movie trash Thranduil had weakness for treasure especially silver and white jewels but he wasn't overly greedy he was even reluctant to start war over the treasures of Erebor once Dain arrived (the parallels of Thranduil with Thingol are present, for example Gimli says that Elvenking's Halls were build with help of dwarves, The Hobbit also speaks of the war of elves and dwarves for treasure ,,unshaped gold and silver" which already belonged to Elvenking but he only gave it to dwarves for crafting something for him and when dwarves witheld them the elves felt robbed and dwarves had their own reasons, if I am to speculate it might have been a brief struggle with dwarves of Ered Mithrin/Grey Mountains and there is also a detail that Thorin's family had nothing to do with the quarrel so possibly from the time before Thorin I moved the capital of Durin's folk to Grey Mountains taking Arkenstone with him, abandoning Erebor for a time :):). Oh yes they don't have rights to this stuff but they COULD CONTRIVE SUCH CRAP!! (it wouldn't necessarily break the copyrigths if done right, alluded like the gemstone they invented for extended scenes in AUJ and mentioned in DoS).

Also the Arkenstone role is stupid if the stone was found in Erebor and was so holy for dwarves as sign of leadership so how is it in movie-verse that earlier kings in Moria had the same respect without the trinket? H? :):)?

In my oipinion it would work if it went along the lines from book, hire a burglar, steal something, spy out Smaug's weakness or any other useful information, let the fate guide us :) (and in appendices Thorin's plans for war were cut short due to smaller number of Durin's Folk dwarves, other houses were far away and assembling them for war so quick after the War of Orcs and Dwarves which had heavy casualties on the side of their races would be rather difficult, Thorin expresses even desire to avenge the death of his father on Necromancer but Gandalf rebuffs him saying that not even all teh dwarves gathered together would be able to defeat him). Thranduil is completely butchered character his complexivity is ruined and he became one-dimensional jerk, where is this wise Elvenking, gentle and compassionate so much that he noticed immediately how starved and exhausted he dwarves were so ordered them unbound, (what will become of his generosity and merciful charity for Lakemen in third movie I can't even guess brrr), he was concerned with teh comings and goings on the outisde world, he was engaged in trade with Esgaroth and other lands (also his care for his realm and peaople comes here as he supplied them with things they needed which forest could not provide, entire community of elves profited from his rule, getting more knowledge of the Sindar and becoming more sophisticated adn still being less wise and more dangeous but due to harsh environment of Mirkwood which movies timeline completely lessens making Mirkwood becoming tainted forest only recently and not thousands of years ago, a short mention that forest is that horrible for long tiome already would do they wouldn't have to explain entire history in movie!!).

Also despite your accusation of dwarves being simply comic relief, it was stated in movie itself that those dwarves are not the best nor brigthest and not all of them warriors and then it contradicts itself showing great prowess in battle!!!!! The movies are not very consequential! Onthe other hand book shows rather competent dwarves despite their flaws and quirks, bookThorin is as badass and strong leader as in movie (with much more wits and ability to retain cool head in dangerous situation than erratic charge-first-think-later movieThorin), some dwarves also fought like mad when cornered (even with trolls!) and battle with spiders was their great moment when they held their own despite being sick from poison, hunger and exhausted, which is later beaten by their glorious charge from Erebor into battle like fierce warriors fully armed with magnificent gear!! Also the quest is supposed to be based on secrecy not strength of arms that's why they didn't take much weapons (the same with Fellowship they took little war gear and only Gimli and Boromir were open about being warrior types going to fight). And the presence of Azog is cringeweorthy (how can he speak so boldly to Sauron?!!! Any orc trying to be like this for terryfying Great Eye would end up toasted (or baked with onions and thrown to Shelob for midnight snack)!!!! If they wanted to put a personal nemesis then Bolg would do it, this move would make a powerful motivation for orc chieftain (and end the flat one dimensional portrayal of villains, especiallywhen Tolkien was so good at giving his orc characters individuality, motivations and ambitions, The Hobit mentions that anger of orcs for their enemies actions, desire for revenge and for dominion over whole North, together with breaking news, Smaug is dead! Gave them nudge for full blown war opertion) desire for revenge for death of his father (,,Bolg of the North is coming the same whose father was killed in Moria")!! And it would be more dramatic in final showdown at Battle of Five Armies not to mention his design, come on any Middle Earth warrior would kill this naked dude, a real Azog ,,both agile and strong" was fully armoured from head to toe and hard to kill with entire personal guards of similarly tough, elite orc warriors.

The addition of Tauriel is so mary sueish that it can't be more obvious, the distinct attractive looks with red hair-check, being oh so much better and nobler than the other characters despite being younger and less experienced than other, much older and wiser characters-check, being in some sort of strange field of attraction so other male attractive individuals have a soft spot for her-check, frickin CHECK!! Doing things that would be always successful being a big fish in army Captain of the Guard despite being terrible at her duties and rebellious and when there are other warriors much more experienced by the very virtue of being older!!!(the same with Legolas he was even more annoying in this movies but it's the bigger exaggeration than in Lotr, also he was constantly moody and angry him calling teh picture of Gloin's family image of ,,goblin mutant" was cruel and horrible without any reason for it at least in book dwarves appeared to be attacking elves and disturbed the spiders which were deadly enemy for elves, only to them they do not show mercy, elves might think dwarves are less atractive but those who were scorning them for that were more delicate and though Caranthir was haughty and scorned the ,,unloveliness" of dwarves he was civil enough to profit from their traffic, but Feanorians are really scarcely a nice guys and we are told that Legolas was very cheerful and energetic, had quick wits was sometimes sarcastic and generaly pleasant fellow, THIS was not Legolas!). But what do I expect from someone who made elves look like emotionless automatons barely ever smiling or joking (there are elves merry as children enjoying life, feasting and drinking and those more serious, is this hard to understand, even serious elves can be pleasant companions, compassionate, joyfull in right cirumstances, joking and laughing a lot, kind as summer). This also brings me to another grievious act it seems that Jackson added killing a defenseless captive to killing an ambassador during parley (of course good guys in Lotr and whole of Middle Earth also did some horrible unhonourable stuff, and in horror of war there were lots of cruelties, also unhonourable tactics in war based on stealth were used, but some things for those truly noble would be unthinkable and there would be at least more ambiguity in their actions if the ever commited such thing, here in movie killing defenseless orc was treated like some sort of ,,hey look what a badass move" but as Thranduil is already made into supportive villain it probably doesn't have the impact I think of). Rest of the movie....let it remain silence DoS is the worst of all movies so far.
vjj
98. Xinyi
The movie was mind-destroyingly horrible. And yes, what is it with Peter Jackson and creating villains with physical disabilities? Is this fear? Stigma? Laziness? It's certainly shameful. :(
vjj
99. Renate Natalie
I was really dissapointed over Desolation of Smaug, but loved An Unexpected Journey. I didn`t appreciate the Tauriel role, but ok.... what I didnt especially like, and made the huge dissapointment, is making a lovestory triangle bit in it. That really made me mad.
I was first, before I saw the movie, not sure about Legolas in it, since he`s not mentioned in the book, but when I think about it, it would been weird not to have him there. He`s the prince and son of Thranduil, the Elvenking (as he is only mentioned in the book The Hobbit) and Thorin and company are in his forest and palace.
But I did not like the Kili getting shot part and that Tauriel and then Legolas follow..... Legolas because of Tauriel (which should not even be in the movie. NOT a Tolkien character at all). I`d rather have all 13 dwarves and Bilbo getting to the Lonely Mountain together as they do in the book. Plus I do like the book version better (as much of Desolation of Smaug) when they are there.
I did like Thranduil though, but I do agree on the scene were he shows his face all burned and ruined.... a little weird....
I`m excited on what will they do to get all together and so on in There And Back Again, but I am very sceptical. Really not a Peter Jackson fan thinking of DoS!!!
Anthony Pero
100. anthonypero
Just finally watched this. I couldn't help but snicker at how the gold "crowning" had no effect on Smaug.

I said out loud, "See, Viserys Targaryen, that's how a REAL dragon deals with having a vat of molten gold poured on them."
vjj
101. Laurel L. Russwurm
There's a country music song called "Don't It Make Your Brown Eyes Blue." And sadly, that's the main reason Legolas looks different in the Hobbit movies--- they've changed Orlando Bloom's brown eyes to blue. It makes him look like Draco Malfoy, actually.

Pretty nearly the whole trailer-- and especially his movements-- look animated. If they really feel the need to add animation to live action films, when they don't make it look real, it fails big time. I don't want to watch a movie that looks like a video game. I suspect Mr. Jackson is just slapping these off for the money.

Its too bad; the Hobbit would have made a great movie. But a trilogy? Not so much.
Kate Nepveu
102. katenepveu
Laurel L. Russwurm @ #101, Wikia claims that "Due to a technical mishap involving Orlando Bloom's contact lenses, in the films Legolas' eye colour sometimes changes between brown and blue." (You'd think that the zillions of dollars they spent on CGI in the movie could fix that, a la Barton's eyes in Avengers--which, granted, was a decade later, but it doesn't seem that complicated?)

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