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December 15, 2013

The Desolation of Smaug (**SPOILERS**)
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 05:17 AM * 90 comments

Smaug wasn’t just feeling a little blue (he’s red, anyway). He was beneath low, past wretched, beyond miserable. He was, in short, desolate.

Here’s a place to talk about it.

(Quite obviously, this thread will pile spoiler upon spoiler, heaping them up into a tall, shining mound of spoilers. And somewhere in that hoard will lie the Arkenspoiler, the Heart of the Movie. Be warned, or tempted, depending.)

Comments on The Desolation of Smaug (**SPOILERS**):
#1 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 06:19 AM:

(I haven't actually seen the film yet. But it looks to me like there will be a space wanted for the discussion.)

#2 ::: Jennie ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 07:33 AM:

Saw it in 3D Imax. The pretty was very pretty, the shiny was very shiny. The story was third rate fan fic, at best.

#3 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 08:01 AM:

I'm still waiting to hear the opinion of fluorospherian and Tolkien scholar Janet Brennan Croft before I give them my money. The only part of the previous movie that I liked was Bilbo with Frodo, who's happy and who has no idea what's about to come crashing down on him.

#4 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 09:24 AM:

I saw it in HFR 3D, and frankly, the higher frame rate was distracting. I'd call that a technical quibble and not a movie quibble, but it's my understanding that Jackson and New Line were positioning The Hobbit as a grand justification for higher frame rates...and if so, I find it lacking.

#5 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 11:44 AM:

So, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The High Frame Rate thing was very cool. It made the fast action sequences smooth and visually comprehensible. I never felt that "too much to take in" feeling.

The story . . . well, almost all the way through I was thinking "This is much less egregiously silly an adaptation than the first one, and I can enjoy it as a sort of Indiana Jones adventure in Middle Earth." There were still problems:

I know Tolkien himself had notes retconning the long war with Sauron into _The Hobbit_, but the White Council add-on story was just too much. Azod and Bolg's revenge quest, positively identifying The Necromancer as Sauron . . . it came across as needless padding.

But I was expecting that, right? Back to enjoying it as an adventure story . . .

Then I saw the last 20 minutes. Oh, give me a freaking break. Indulgent video-game style eye candy that didn't make any sense. Ludicrous. It was as though they asked the kid who writes Axe Cop to liven up the story. "And, and, and then the dwarves make a giant statue and it falls on the dragon, oh and wait it is made of molten gold and Smaug gets golden dragon powers and . . ."

I did like Lake Town. The elaborations there were harmless. Nice sets, good characters. The elves were slotted in in a relatively unoffensive manner, but I am highly dubious about the unlikely love affair.

To some things up:
Peter Jackson didn't take *liberties* with The Hobbit; he got it passing-out drunk, dressed it as a clown, and photographed it in bed with a randy she-warg.

#6 ::: Aquila1nz ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 12:05 PM:

I found it better than An Unexpected Party, more coherent, some unexpected bits, and easy to sink into and enjoy.

I liked the prologue in Bree.

Beorn was OK, Mirkwood was pretty good, though missing at least one episode, Thranduil got some character motivation, Legolas was his acrobatic self, the barrels were a ramped up chase scene, but it felt less tacked on than the goblin one last movie, Gandalf was off tying everything closer to LotR, Laketown worked, the splitting of the party was unexpected, the dragon was a little meh, but I do like the build up for Bard's story - damaged scale, rooftop bows.

The constant echoing and reflecting of LotR only occasionally annoyed me, the rest of the time I liked it.

And I have quite a few thoughts about the way the retcons are visible in this Hobbit. Some are the ones Tolkien put in the Lord of the Rings and the appendices - Gandalf supporting the adventure because he wants the dragon gotten rid of before more evil can use it, some just make sense, especially in light of the changes he did make about the ring, some are from the film makers though and through. I did love that it was the ring that allowed Bilbo to hear the spiders, an evil power. No Attacop, but it did make talking spiders work, without it feeling like Charlotte's web. I initially thought it was allowing him to hear Smaug too, but no, dragons can talk. Fair enough.

And at the end it suddenly becomes Alien3. The dwarves luring Smaug works for me, because it changes the story from "we bunch of small dwarves will sneak into the mountain and send the burglar for a look see, and then what?" to "we band of very capable adventurers will sneak into the mountain, and trust to our abilities to deal with the dragon when we have to, because dwarves are smart, and we know the layout and our technologies" which isn't Tolkien but does at least turn Thorin from someone without a plan who wins by plot requirement to someone who can make up a plan on the run, and follow it through, even if it doesn't quite work. Of course it means another bunch of physics defying action scenes, but we were never going to escape without those.

And a small thing, I was very pleased to see some racial variation amongst the Men of Laketown, which had previously been established as once being the trading hub of the North. No speaking parts, but also not the villains, so better than nothing.

#7 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 01:02 PM:

I find that when it comes to Peter Jackson's The Hobbit...





It was obvious from very early production stills that it wasn't gonna track the book very well, and some of the costuming and make up are fairly grotesque. If someone cuts the damn thing down to a 3 hour movie or maybe two movies, and leaves out the retconning I might be tempted to watch it on the Movie of the Week five years from now.

The two devastating critiques I've read of the second movie make it clear that not caring is absolutely the way to go with this one. One critique made it clear that the "hero's journey" aspect of the story was obscured by the endless parade of stuff that's Not In The Book, and the other made it clear that all the things that make us care about characters and their motivations/goals were badly obscured by stuff that's Not In The Book.

If I seem a little aggressive about not caring... perhaps I'm also a little pissed off that Tolkien's work has been so badly pissed on. I would have loved to see The Hobbit made with the same love and respect that so obviously animated The Fellowship of the Ring.

Is it possible that Peter Jackson was possessed by M. Night Shyamalan when he made this abortion?

#8 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 01:06 PM:

I want to see it again, preferably in 3D.

I like the LOTR tie-in elements; they add depth to a story that was, originally, rather lightweight. (What do you expect? It was written for children, and was intended to be a one-off.) It is probable that my not having re-read The Hobbit since I was a teenager -- whereas I do a LOTR re-read every few years -- has made me less sensitive to the plot-variance issues.

Beorn is very well done. I do wonder where he stashes his pants, though; in the scene where he reverts from bear to human form he's clearly naked, but by the time he comes into the house he's dressed.

I do not begrudge one second of the barrel sequence. It's canonical, it's a romp and a hoot with just enough real danger in it to give it some interest. I had thought I would find myself inescapably muttering, "They were chased by wolves, lost in the forest, escaped in a barrel from the Elf-king's hall," but it was sufficiently engrossing that I didn't. Also, seeing this in 3D is going to feel like riding the Flume Zoom!

Things I missed: the "Attercop" sequence in Mirkwood, and some of Bilbo's wordplay with the dragon ("I came from the end of a bag, yet no bag went over me").

The rumored Kili/Tauriel romance had me seriously worried, but in the end I thought it was handled well. On Kili's side it's clearly a hopeless crush and recognized as such; on Tauriel's, it's just enough of an interest to give her a motivation to continue chasing the orcs who are chasing Thorin's company. And it probably wouldn't have been even that much if Thranduil hadn't smacked her down about her interest in Legolas -- that was clearly what made her go back down to the dungeons to talk to Kili again. Also, in her speech to Legolas on the shores of the lake, we see the roots of his inclusion in the Nine Companions.


The final Erebor sequence is definitely the worst divergence from canon, but it's noticeably less egregious than the Hall of the Goblin King sequence in the first movie, which kind of threw me out of the story. I liked seeing some of the architecture in Erebor, and OMG the CGI on the dragon is simply awesome.

I was surprised by the cliffhanger ending; for some reason I'd expected this movie to end with the Battle of Laketown, and the next one to be all about the build-up to the Battle of Five Armies. That would have paralleled the structure in LOTR.

Kili gets a lot of screen time, which pleases me no end. Fili we don't see nearly as much of, except for the visual-gag bit when the Dwarves are being captured in Mirkwood and every time the camera cuts back to him, he's surrendering another knife.

All in all, I thought it was a good fun movie, and as mentioned above, I want to see it again; I think it will pay for re-watching.

abi, thank you so much for putting this thread up!

#9 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 01:28 PM:

If you recall how the Mines of Moria looked, you have a very good idea of how the last lump of the movie looked. The Balrog becomes a Dragon, and there is no Cave Troll.

And that hoard, it cannot all be Gold. (Even if Thoriun is singing about it.) Total world production, and Middle Earth is supposed to be our world in a remote past, is a cube about 25 meters on a side.

They might be chocolate coins, wrapped in gold foil. There are millions of tonnes of chocolate made every year, and only 1500 tonnes of gold.

Dwarven gold is chocolate. They obviously grow beards to hide the acne.

#10 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 03:08 PM:

Haven't been yet -- it's sad that I'm looking on it as a chore rather than a pleasant change of pace from sitting at home. I'll probably go Friday, when I can get a seat in advance and not have to fight for one, which would put me in an even less receptive frame of mind.

Having seen the script (as a consultant) I can say I haven't been surprised by many of the criticisms so far. I've already been spoilered, as it were.

Well, I'm looking forward to Benedict Cumberbatch's voice and Lee Pace's eyebrows, at least. I hear the sets for the Elvenking's halls are marvelous, which doesn't surprise me.

#11 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 03:51 PM:

There is no reason that, someday, there cannot be a charming, simple, faithful adaptation of The Hobbit.

Made for kids, and the young at heart.

#12 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 03:54 PM:

Stefan Jones @11:

I expect that to turn up on YouTube about five days after the third Jackson Hobbit film comes out.

#13 ::: Richard Hershberger ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 04:10 PM:

Alex R @7:

+1. I haven't seen either this or the first Hobbit movie. After having so much cut out from the LotR movies in the name of necessity for length (yes: I am talking about Tom Bombadil; but not only about him) it is sadly apparent that the decision was made to cash in on those movies' commercial success by shamelessly padding The Hobbit. Whether the padding is from other bits of Tolkien isn't the point.

That being said, I fully expect that once the third Hobbit movie comes out someone will do an unauthorized cut containing just the bits from the book. I might watch that.

#14 ::: Jim Kiley ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 04:11 PM:

I'm going to sound like a crotchety old man but every time the action on screen was pure CGI (CGI elfs fighting CGI orcs) I could feel my give-a-crap evaporating.

The interaction between Bilbo and Smaug was fantastic. Smaug, especially in that scene, was terrifying. The interplay between the camera's movement and Smaug's movement was extremely good. It was never quite vertiginous but gave a great sense of Smaug's size and presence. The acting in that scene was, of course, wonderful.

I didn't care about Dol Guldur. It must be extremely difficult to imbue a sense of the ominous into a prequel, because I've never seen it done well. This one's no exception. You can't frighten me with the prospect of what unknown horrors might come once I've seen Barad-dur explode, Pete.

Lee Pace is fabulous. Stephen Fry is great. The guy who played Bard was great. Orlando Bloom has genuinely really improved as an actor in the last 10 years. I thought that was great, I was strangely proud of him.

It went too long; I don't need to see it again, but I don't regret having seen it.

#15 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 05:14 PM:

Dave Bell @9, or maybe we’d have more gold nowadays, if those ancient dwarves hadn’t mined almost all of it.

Not sure where it all went, though. Does Tolkien address this? Did the Balrog eat it? Did Gimli invest it all in Valinorian holding companies?

#16 ::: Jim Kiley ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 05:27 PM:

Dragon hoards are up 26% in the last two Ages of the World, while non-dragon hoards have barely kept pace with inflation.

Dragons are the 1%.

Occupy Erebor.

#17 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 05:30 PM:

I wish I could care. I haven't even seen all of the first one, don't have the DVD. The higher frame rate of that made me throw-uppy about 3/4 of the way through the movie, 3D gives me what feels like the start of a migraine about 45 minutes into any movie, so i suspect I am doomed to watch 'normal' movies or wait until the DVD comes out.

Alas. Or maybe not.

#18 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 06:26 PM:

What was the Rankin-Bass "Hobbit" like, aside from the elves having frog-like faces?

#19 ::: Alma Alexander ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 06:32 PM:

I'll probably drag my deeply wary carcass to see it sometime next week - my only reason being that I want the dragon so badly (although someone did suggest skipping the movie and waiting until the key scenes turn up on You Tube next year...) I suspect that this movie is going to end up uterly deleterious to my blood pressure. I suspect that I will come out of it growling deeply. I suspect - nay, I know - that I will end up hating on Jackson's "Adaptation" of Tolkien's work more than ever.

The tragic thing in all of this is that I will go and see the damn thing enyway.

You may, however, hear howling. From a long way away. I make no apologies for this.

#20 ::: skzb ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 06:37 PM:

Jim@16: I read this and laughed. I read it again, and laughed again. Then I read it to my daughter Toni (because her Needs and Feelings (tm)), and she laughed a whole lot. I'm now looking for other people to read it to.

The tough part is going to be finding a way to steal it and pass it off as my own.

#21 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 07:18 PM:


You know, for a low budget TV-movie cartoon, it wasn't bad.

No, honestly.

The Rankin-Bass The Hobbit gets mocked relentlessly, and rightly so for many of its character design choices. But it accepted the book for what it was, a simple and earnest children's adventure. It managed to be far more faithful to the plot-as-written than Jackson's version.

FWIW, it was the goblins who had frog faces. The elves were . . . odd. They had strange German-ish accents.

So. Perfect? No, far from it. It falls a bit short of "good." But it is quite acceptable. Kids will like it.

Rankin-Bass also did a quicky, exploitative "Lord of the Rings" movie, covering the part of the trilogy after that depicted by Bakshi's film. I haven't seen it in ages, but I remember feeling that it was a bit sappy. There was an odd suggestion that Merry & Pippin's descendents might grow big enough to pass as human, hinting that maybe the young watchers had human blood.

#22 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 07:48 PM:

Stefan @ 21... I stand corrected, regarding elven faces. As for Rankin-Bass's "Return of the King", it's been decades since I saw it, but it was ok, and could have been worse. I could have done without Orcs singing "where there's a whip, there's a way" though. (Yes, that bit is on YouTube.)

#23 ::: Christopher Charles ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 10:10 PM:

The seam between the source material for the Hobbit and LotR was bound to be a problem for Jackson's adaptation whether he decided to go big or small with the prequel film, I think. The brilliant Abigail Nussbaum wrote a bit about the choices involved back in 2010, and had some interesting things to say. I hadn't known that Tolkien re-wrote "Riddles in the Dark," but it makes sense.

In any case, I've always found the Hobbit a bit soulless, so I was pleased when Jackson decided to make the story over into the image of an LotR-prequel trilogy rather than striving for fidelity to the book. It's a shame he doesn't seem to have been very successful at it.

On the other hand, if I'd been writing the LotR scripts, I'd probably have gender-flipped Aragorn and Arwen, thrown in a hobbit love triangle, and replaced the battle of Minas Tirith with a sequence in which the Easterlings revolt against Sauron with help from their allies, the Entwives. So my judgment in these matters is probably questionable.

#24 ::: Phil Palmer ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 10:27 PM:

I'm firmly of the opinion that The Hobbit is a book that it is almost impossible to ruin. This firm opinion has taken a battering, true, but it still holds. The Hobbit has very little of Tolkien's core beliefs in it - the business with the Arkenstone being the major exception - and so the only thing a bad movie can do is be a bad movie. It can't hurt the book.

(LOTR on the other hand... Elrond on eagleback, the rehash of Faramir, the ever-repeated plummeting motif, I foamed with the best of them. Lotr is the definitive manifesto of creationism; I really don't want it waved away into twee-ness because then we would have to read through somebody else's manifesto which won't be any fun and is more than creationism deserves.)

So, yes the "Forges of Frobozz" were silly but they weren't the silliest. Jackson could at least claim that sequence was supposed to be comic relief to offset the impending destruction of Laketown and the fate of poor sad doomed Tauriel who has fallen in love with someone who Gets Killed In The Book and who is in the invidious position of never going to be in the sequel. But much more silly was the camping up of Beorn, battering on the door of a barn full of innocents in his passions, or of Big Bad Bard and his Mighty Twanger. That did get the foam going a bit, given how Tolkien hated all forms of technological solution, but I'm guessing the Twanger is a red herring for what actually happens in film 3.

And lastly, there is Sauron. With a face like that the poor dear must have been teased so very terribly at school. I quite felt sorry for him.

#25 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 11:36 PM:

Remember how the Beatles wanted to do "LoTR", and Lennon was going to be Gollum?

#26 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 02:17 AM:

Jim K., #16: *snerk* Bravo!

Serge, #18: It was cheesy. Not bad exactly, but Japanese-monster-B-movie sort of cheesy.*

Stefan, #21: The art was distinctly influenced by the Hildebrandt illustrations, which were popular at the time. Everybody looked like German peasants.

* Speaking of which, we had the Godzilla trailer at our viewing, my response to which was, "Well, THAT'S not going to be cheesy!" It got a laugh from the people nearby.

#27 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 03:51 AM:

As far as the 3D goes, it wasn't intrusive. There were a few obvious elements in some scenes, but nothing depended on it. And I was getting tension neck-pain in the Dwarven mines. Maybe the generally grey environment wasn't giving me enough to lock onto.

There were a few shots which ought to have shown 3D effects where I didn't catch anything. Maybe my eyes were getting tired.

And PJ, or his editor, slipped up early on. The opening scene on the trail is at night, being hunted by orcs. They decide to make for Beorn's House, and we get one of those running across pretty open country shots, not even trying to stay out of sight. And then it is dusk when they reach Beorn's House.

So 12 hours, more or less, and apparently not even trying to be not seen.

#28 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 08:16 AM:

Dave Bell @ 127... Monty Python's "How Not To Be Seen"?

#29 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 08:19 AM:

Lee @ 26... I got a kick out of "Godzilla" using the music most of us associate with Kubrick & Clarke's Monolith.

#30 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 10:19 AM:

there is Sauron. With a face like that the poor dear must have been teased so very terribly at school.

Sauron was beautiful until he got drowned with Numenor. Or so I've heard.

#31 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 10:39 AM:

I thought this outing was better paced than the first. The golden melting gummy dwarf, though, was a bit much, and that whole scene didn't do anything that I could see other than (a) make the dwarves more active participants, (b) show off some CGI, and (c) make the film run longer. I also have to say that, for the first time, I didn't really get any hooks from Shore's score.

All of this is predicated on my high tolerance for deviating from the book source.

#32 ::: Steven Halter ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 10:40 AM:

The parts I most missed were the darkness of Mirkwood, the Attercop taunting of the spiders and the arrival of the dwarves one by one at Beorn's.
Cutting those in order to have more chase scenes seemed a shame and those lacks most threw me out of the story.
When I wasn't thrown out of the story, it was visually very good. I liked the Dol Guldur storyline although Sauron's reveal seemed a tad cheesy.
It was fun and irritating at the same time.

#33 ::: Jim Kiley ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 10:47 AM:

Oh! One other thing! The phrase "thag you very buch" has been part of my family's vocabulary since the boys were wee. I was quite sad not to hear it in the movie.

#34 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 01:30 PM:

i thought the big chase/battle/molten statue thing at the end was silly. but, if you think about the way Jackson ends the film, it's easy to see why Jackson put it there. without that big fight, the movie would end with Bilbo chatting-up Smaug for a while before Smaug gets up and flies away towards Laketown. not very dramatic.

that dwarf fight scene was The Grande Finale. every Jackson movie needs a giant battle near its end, apparently.

LOTR1: Balrog
LOTR2: Helm's Deep
LOTR3: Minas Tirith

Hobbit1: Goblin battle under the mountains
Hobbit2: Dwarves vs Smaug
Hobbit3: Battle Of the Five Armies (presumably)

#35 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 02:44 PM:

cleek, #34: That was why I thought this movie would end with the Battle of Laketown and the death of Smaug. Oh, and it's not the battle of the Balrog that ends FOTR, it's the one where Boromir dies trying to defend Merry & Pippin.

One thing I forgot to mention earlier: when the orcs attack Bard's house, the older daughter screams and hides, but the younger one is right in there swinging as best she can. It's a small thing, but I noticed and was pleased.

#36 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 03:01 PM:

Leee.... ah yeah, the Boromir battle.

i hope the next Hobbit doesn't have any high stone bridges that get split in half by falling debris. Jackson has really used that one up.

#37 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 03:05 PM:

Laketown in general, and Bard's family specifically, were nice additions. They made you realize what was at stake, not just for Bard but the whole village.

I would have skipped the whole forge / golden statue thing and had the last scene be the family screaming as an enraged Smaug circles the mountain and then rushed toward the town. Cut as a ball of fire fills the screen.

#38 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 05:20 PM:

My Hobbit review: Peter Jackson's Middle Earth—Now With Extra Dwarves! continues to be a fun franchise. It clearly shares it's source material with Tolkien's The Hobbit, but was apparently related by another member of the party, quite possibly Bofur, unless it was taken from Kili's (possibly sensationalized) diaries. Two somewhat odd looking thumbs up.

#39 ::: Ross TenEyck ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 05:39 PM:

On the whole I enjoyed it. On the other hand we recently re-watched Fellowship, and it's weird to contrast the pacing -- the LOTR movies are very condensed, and the Hobbit movies are so very, very padded out.

I do feel that he's made the action scenes noticeably more... over the top and sillier. I choose to believe that this is PJ deliberately targeting the movies at a younger audience in the same way that the book was for a younger audience than the LOTR books. I could be wrong, of course.

I thought Legolas did not show to advantage, in the sense that Legolas was a prat. I was kind of amused by that bit right at the end, though, where he was all like, "You made me bleed from my perfect Elven nose! Oh, it is ON now."

Tauriel... I can sympathize with the desire to have a woman on screen who gets to, you know, say words and do things. So I'm OK with adding her. And the bit with her and Fili was actually pretty sweet. The only unfortunate thing about it, I think, is that it underscores how impossible it is to give most of the dwarves distinct personalities. I grant that PJ has done his level best, by giving them all unique looks and so on; but even so, I think at this point the count of dwarves with personalities is Thorin, Balin, and Fili. (Which is two more than Tolkien managed. In the book, you've got Thorin, etc. etc. etc., and the fat one. Which does not count as a personality.)

I think the best part of the movie -- as it was in the LOTR movies -- was the sets. Particularly the wood-Elves' caves and the kingdom under the mountain. Oh, and Laketown.

I did not like Beorn. PJ can do homey and pastoral -- c.f. Hobbiton -- so why couldn't he do Beorn's house? And seriously, have the people who did that CG model ever SEEN a bear? When we first saw it on screen, I thought it was a particularly large and distorted warg.

I assume the third movie will be three solid hours of battle scenes, since pretty much all that's left in the story is killing Smaug and then the battle of the five armies.

Oh, well. Still, it was mostly fun and parts of it were gorgeous, so it was worth seeing.

#40 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 09:33 PM:

I just realized what troubles me most about Jackson's adaptation.

Picture a young teen who has just seen the movie, or movies.

"WOW! What a lot swell bunch of action! And hot elves!"

The he or she goes to the library or bookstore and buys / borrows The Hobbit.

After after reading about Bilbo fussing with seed cakes and realizing all the cool eye candy isn't there, tosses it across the room. "I HATE books! I'm not reading another one for as long as I live!"

[/notserious] [/mostly]

#41 ::: Alma Alexander ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 06:09 PM:

@Stefan Jones - you may or may not have been serious, but it's something that a lot of people are throwing out as a plus for the existence of tehse movies, "But they will make people go and read the BOOKS!!!" - which doesn't work that way. For the same reasons that I (who love the books) start growling at the movies, the people who get introduced to this whole thing through the movies are going to LOATHE the books because they simply aren't glitzy and CGI and sexy enough. No, TOlkien didn't have a great many female characters. No, he DIDN'T write romantic sublots. *And that's okay*. Does EVERYTHING have to have a pretty girl simpering at a manly hero to be considered "commercial" (Does this stretch far enough that, when no other suitable alternative presents itself, you have to have a fetchingly gung-ho Elf maiden who didn't exist in the original work actually fall for the nearest *Dwarf*? Come on, how likely is that...?)

I could have written them a script for this thing. It would have been faithful to source, AND less bloated and unlikely than some of current material on offer. Alas, Jackson's crew had the bit between their teeth and running out of control. And because of the simple cost factor - because of how much it actually cost to make these Jackson Middle Earth Spectaculars - there is unlikely to be a version made after this which is a better adaptation of the books. THis is it, this is the definitive film version, and it won't win any new fans for the original Tolkien. It's just too far distanced from what the original TOlkien IS.

#42 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 06:25 PM:

re 32: THAT'S what was off in the Beorn scene! Arrrrgh!

#43 ::: Maggie ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 05:50 AM:

I thought it was an enjoyable if forgettable action movie, but it wasn't The Hobbit. I actually appreciated how it opened with the mucked-up Beorn scene, because it told me straight off that this was not The Hobbit.

I've been thinking about what changed between the LoTR movies (which I loved) and The Hobbit (which I could enjoy only if I told myself it was something else). The first had a deep love for the source material, coming out in how it held to a lot of the story (standard disclaimers apply, etc.). These, though -- the love is still there, but Jackson's telling his own story now. And it suffers.

It's as if Jackson was singing a part in a chorus written by Tolkien, and he decided that his part was cool and all but what would be better would be if he showed off his own ideas and all the things he could do...wait, this sounds familiar.

#44 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 10:11 AM:

A bit off-topic... Does anybody remember if a character simply called Ronald appeared in 1993's "Shadowlands"? I think so, but I'm not sure, but it's possible as the movie was about CSLewis.

#45 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 02:49 PM:

Kelly McCullough@38: apparently related by another member of the party

Yes, it all works best for me if I assume that it's a different telling of the same underlying events.

Aquila1nz @6: I did love that it was the ring that allowed Bilbo to hear the spiders

The actions of the ring chez attercop (including both the spider speech and Bilbo's pre- and post-reaction when a spider threatens his possession of the ring) might be my favorite inventions in the film. They worked for me.

I'm less convinced about Bilbo removing the ring when facing Smaug in Erebor. That might have been forced on Jackson by the shadow world visuals he's adopted for the ringbearer's viewpoint, though, and if that was the price of seeing the beautifully rendered Smaug then I'll take it.

I'm not surprised we lost the animals serving food in Beorn's house, but I do wonder how much thought they put into it before giving up. (And was it more or less thought than the LOTR's Bombadilectomy? To my mind it's very similar: it would have been very difficult to do well, but I'd love to have seen it done well if it's possible.)

#46 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 03:11 PM:

Serge @44, IMDB doesn't list one.

#47 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 03:16 PM:

Andrew Wells @ 46... Thanks. My memories played tricks on me, I guess. It's been ages since I watched "Shadowlands" and I should do it again. No idea how inaccurate it is, but it's a nice story.

#48 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 03:44 PM:

The character Douglas Gresham is seen to be reading The Hobbit in one scene. But the RL timing of the story seems to be after the Inklings group had stopped meeting. Joy Davidman didn't meet Lewis until 1952.

I don't think Tolkien would have been a significant character in the story as dramatised, though. There might have been a composite Inkling character, but would anyone specific have been too much of a distraction?

#49 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 06:53 PM:

Debbie & I saw it on Sunday. We agree with the general impression that it was a film vaguely inspired by The Hobbit. But even as a film, it wasn't great. It dragged. In fact, both of us fell asleep at various points.

It didn't need the orc plot. Legolam and Tauriel faught like superpowered videogame characters. And why does Orlando Bloom, the pureblood almost-immortal Elf, look ten years older now than he did in Fellowship of the Ring? Couldn't have anything to do with making Hobbit II: Electric Boogaloo 12 years after the first movie?

I missed the taunting of the spiders - leaving them dumb animals, rather than intelligent beasts and thus a better adversary. Also, wasn't there more witty banter with the dragon, more like the riddles with Gollum?

If they wanted to drag it out, they should have made it a musical, as Tolkien intended (I'm rereading The Hobbit now).

Not too bad, as yet another middle-earth movie, but it could have been half an hour shorter and not sacrificed tension or plot. It certainly was no Highlander: Endgame, the last movie we saw (the last movie they showed) at the Kingsway Theater (now a drugstore and a branch of Touro College). That was a bad sequel.

#50 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 08:41 PM:

Once again I have had a very good time watching what was, overall, not a very good movie.

I could list the specific things I liked or disliked but -- fiff. I'm glad I saw it. I'll go see the third one.

I would like to see Benedict Cumberbatch, non-CGI'd, as the fair-faced Sauron subverting Numenor. That would be a hell of a movie. (I realize it's both legally and logistically unlikely to happen.)

#51 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 12:50 AM:

I think Shadowlands would have been very much better if they'd used different names and said the story was inspired by Lewis and Davidman, rather than trying to pretend it was any sort of portraiture. Anthony Hopkins as Lewis was just about the most WTF casting I've ever seen.

#52 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 05:38 AM:

HelenS @ 51... Never let the truth get in the way of a story. :-)

#53 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 06:05 AM:

re 51: I never saw the second movie but I did have the misfortune to see the play, upon which the second movie (so I am told) is based. My sense of things is that the first movie is more accurate, modulo the inevitable flaw that Joy was not conventionally attractive. The play (which is considerably different from the first film) attempts to step up to the issue that Joy rubbed many of Lewis's friends wrong to some degree or another, but the way in which it does this is crude, stagey, and unconvincing. No comment on Debra Winger.

#54 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 08:05 AM:

I was only aware of 1993's movie "Shadowlands", but I guess we'll have to disagree about its quality or about Debra Winger.

#55 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 12:06 AM:

Maggie @43: So you're saying that Peter Jackson is playing Melkor's role from the music of the Ainur? I could see it.


#56 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 05:54 PM:

Well, now I've finished rereading El Hobbito.

I suspect the third movie will have more Gandalf vs Necromancer in it, since the cutoff in the book's narrative leaves well under 1/3 of the book to go. Gandalf mentions that Mirkwood will grow less unpleasant, because he & the White Council defeated the Necromancer, which he evidently couldn't do himself in this movie. That should be able to yield a fair amount of cinematic activity.

As someone said above, there will probably also be more buildup to the Battle of Five Armies. They built up Bard's role tremendously from the book to the movie. Bard appears almost out of nowhere, shoots the Dragon with his one Black Arrow, and then we meet the Master and find out how venal he is. There's nothing about him being a shipper.

#57 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 05:56 PM:

Just occurs to me. They didn't bring in the raven to translate what the thrush said, so that didn't lay the groundwork for the raven to tell Bard in the next movie where to look.

#58 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 10:27 PM:

Jon Baker @57: didn't lay the groundwork for the raven to tell Bard in the next movie where to look.

Doesn't movie Bard already know about the missing scale? I thought he describes a legend (dismissed by the dwarves) that it was knocked off by Girion. Bilbo has confirmed it to himself, but hasn't told anyone.

#59 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2013, 03:49 PM:

And now I get to read this thread, having seen the movie yesterday with my Amazing Girlfriend. I'm in the camp that sees it as mediocre fanfic with lots of shiny. Jackson has taken a children's book and tried to make it an epic, without understanding the core of what makes the Hobbit different from Lord of the Rings. Discussing this last night, the Hobbit is "Bilbo Has Adventures / Grows Up", with the moral that going out into the world is necessary for growth, and LOTR is a lengthy discussion of the dangers of power. What strikes me is that Jackson seemingly understood the core of LOTR, but failed to grasp the simpler message of the Hobbit.

That said, Dwarven Death Barrels is a hilarious scene... although Elvish Dwarf Stomping says bad things about putative inter-race relations in Middle Earth.

My Amazing Girlfriend and I will probably not see the third one in theaters next year, since hunting up a non-3D showing is a pain.

#60 ::: Fred ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2013, 11:33 PM:

I wish that Peter Jackson could have followed his original plan, and made The Hobbit *first*. These movies have a tremendous amount of fat on the meat, to little positive effect.

#61 ::: Fred ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 12:03 AM:

Dave Bell @9- eerily plausible, with one slight emendation: *heatproof* gold foil, lest we lose our hero in a sea of sugary brown ooze.

#62 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 07:50 PM:

Dave Bell @9: It's possible that Middle-Earth had substantially more available gold than Earth does today, though.

(And yes, I am over-thinking this.)

Middle Earth was a flat world (thickness not specified) before the seas were bent, and now it's a sphere (except occasionally when the Elves are returning into the West). There are several ways gold could have been lost in the transformation.

Middle Earth's surface was larger before the bending of the seas (necessarily, since the purpose was removing Valinor and Elvenhome from Middle Earth proper, and incidentally, since there's no reason to assume that Middle Earth was originally shaped like something that can map onto the surface of a sphere). So crustal material was lost in the transition.

An awful lot of the gold on modern Earth is in the mantle, because it's non-reactive and dense, and the core and mantle are semi-molten. I have no idea what the distribution would be like in a plate, but I don't see any reason to assume that it would match our current pattern.

So our current lack of gold in the crust could be a function of most of the surface gold having been mined in the Second and Third Age.

Now, that doesn't explain what happened to the gold Smaug was sitting on, but there has clearly been tectonic activity since the Third Age, or the maps would match up better. Perhaps Smaug's hoard was subducted?

Since Smaug appears to have been the last of the dragons, his hoard could have represented a large fraction of all the gold available at the time. Subduct that and you're left with a world that's poor in surface gold, and most of the remainder in the core and mantle. Which is pretty much what we see.

#63 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 10:55 PM:

I liked the movie but I liked it for what it was and what I knew it would be going in, not for any resemblance to the book. I liked it better than the first Hobbit one, though the scenes in Bag-End and just after started a bit closer to the Hobbit's actual tone.

I could skip most of Gandalf's big quest without flinching.I could go without another word about Dol Goldur. (OKay, I admit, I want to see him escape in the next movie -- in some way that doesn't involve small moths and eagles.)

I thought the barrel-riding sequence - well, rather, the bonus parts where elves do stupid agility tricks and stomp on dwarves to be more badass - was more egregious and annoying than the dwarves and their dragon battle at the end. The leaping elves didn't tell us anything we didn't already know. The final sequence at least showed us dwarves actually trying to deal with what they caused. Though the molten statue was a big show-off moment too far, I assume EVERY Peter Jackson movie, good or terrible, will have something that is a touch too far.

I also like how it's becoming clear that Peter Jackson's Thorin is doing Frodo's quest - and especially his ultimate succumbing to the temptation - while, during this story at least, his Bilbo is actually much closer to Sam than to his nephew.

I will say, I disagreed with Alma Alexander about the people who like the movies necessarily loathing the books when it came to the Lord of the Rings (Not least because I and several people I know like both just fine) but with Lord of the Rings, you can at least see Tolkien's vision from where Jackson's creative impulse stands.

With the Hobbit, I agree **much** more with her. Anyone going to that book from these movies (Or vice versa) with expectations of at least some likeness *will* probably get a severe case of stylistic whiplash.

For someone reasonably mature, encountering them years apart and/or fully aware what Peter Jackson does and what Tolkien did are worlds apart, it's not so bad. But as a formative experience for a developing mind ...

#64 ::: Alma Alexander ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 12:15 AM:

Okay, saw it. Might I say it was everything I expected it to be and was afraid it would be. Ithink I had tendrils of Smaugish smoke curling out of my nostrils at the end. For anyone here who might be interested in a fuller review/response, I am about to go write one up on my livejournal blog (that would be Gimme ten minutes :) But just as a summary ... CGI and orcses, oh my....

#65 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 12:17 AM:

*Are* there formative-experience movies any more?

I saw Star Wars in the theater -- a little too young for it to count as "formative", because I didn't grasp most of what was going on. But other movies, sure. (Tron, Wrath of Khan, Time Bandits.)

I'm not sure if kids seeing Tron Legacy or Star Trek Into Darkness or whatever the next Star Wars movie(*) is are having the same experience, though. The field is all gigantic nowadays, and any given movie is "just another one of..."

...Or am I overcompensating my thirty-years-hindsight? (It's not like I've asked any kids what they think.)

(* The Phantom Menace is now a "old" Star Wars movie. If you are imagining kids being dragged to see it, those kids are now in their mid-20s. You're welcome.)

#66 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 02:51 AM:

Andrew Plotkin @ #65:

Even a "just another one of" movie has the potential to be a formative experience for a young person with no previous experience of whatever it's just another one of. Everybody's gotta start somewhere.

#67 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 07:13 AM:

Been a long time since I've heard Deep Purple's "Smaug on the Water".

#68 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 04:24 PM:

I have now acquired and watched the extended DVD of An Unexpected Journey. There's some good stuff in the added bits. We get to see a little more about why there's bad blood between Thranduil and the Dwarves. We get Elrond talking to Gandalf about the gold-madness that runs in the line of Durin -- and Bilbo and Thorin both overhear it. And there's quite a bit more in Rivendell, including Bofur singing "A Merry Old Inn" to try to liven dinner up a bit.* But there's also quite a bit of "this scene is cool, but it doesn't really advance the story line" stuff. Most of the extended bits in LOTR I wished had been in the theatrical release. This one, less so.

Another interesting tidbit learned from the extra features: the melody for "Misty Mountains Cold" was not composed by Howard Shore. They needed to film the scene in Bag End well before Shore would have been brought in, so they turned to the local band who provides the music for the Hobbiton party scenes and asked them to come up with a melody.

* James Nesbitt, who plays Bofur, says in one of the extra features that he was handed the lyrics and asked if he could come up with a tune for them, and so he did.

#69 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2013, 04:16 PM:

Ok, I've seen it...

Did anyone else feel severe dislocation with the opening sequence? I suspect this would have worked better for me if I had just watched "Unexpected Journey" again.

Once I got past that it was...adequate. I did enjoy the sequence with the dragon. A lot of the film feels more like a video game than a movie. I kept noticing I was watching (does that make any sense?).

The score did not grab me the way it did in the earlier films. The most memorable piece of music is the "Ring" theme.

The question I'm left with is how many folks are going to survive the Laketown Inferno?

(And I want the Arkenstone.)

#70 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 03:33 AM:

Just saw it.

Verdict: This is a brilliant reworking of The Hobbit that brings the offstage business onstage, stitches episodic adventures into plot threads, and turns Tolkien's words into stunning visuals. Unfortunately, it's also a Peter Jackson film.

Awesome: SMAUG. SMAUG THE TERRIBLE. SMAUG THE CHIEFEST AND GREATEST OF CALAMITIES. Smaug's prolonged maddening cat-and-mouse game atop his hoard with Bilbo, his gleeful hunt through the bowels of Erebor, and his rage. Smaug's voice acting, animation, sheer power, and malice that pours off the screen without any need for 3D frippery. After so many CGI dragons I was worried that the people involved simply would not be able to show us something that would be unmistakably and untoppably Smaug, but oh boy did they ever.

Also awesome: Thranduil the Spooky Old Elf. I liked the bit of business where he used his control over his own hroa to show Thorin that, no, he had in fact met a dragon already thank you.

New bit that is dramatic and makes perfect sense: Notice how whenever Bilbo gets near something that is powerful, evil, and possibly connected with Sauron, he can't seem to keep the Ring on his finger?

Ditto: Watching the dwarves and Bilbo trick Smaug into going into a part of Erebor that he hadn't scouted out yet, and then watching the ginormous forges that seemed to have no purpose other than to spit out Jacksonian amounts of stuff, and then discovering that they had been built in order to melt into a gargantuan statue of Thorin's father, who, as we knew from the first book, was crazy. And what happened to the molten statue.

New bit of awesome that is just plain awesome: Gandalf's battle with Sauron, preceded by his slow progress through the ruins of Dol Goldur, using his voice and the Light of Anor to cleanse it.

Awesome and squicky and horrifying: The spider battle, which is 90 percent straight out of Tolkien, 5 percent Jackson Jacksoning, and 5 percent a bit of business with the ring. EEEEEEEEW. And when they start talking--AGH!

Oh, Jackson, just stop it okay: Any time the script stops being dialogue and just goes "Battle here, these people make it out and these don't," and Jackson rubs his hands together and goes "Eeexcelleeeent" and starts putting orcs, monsters, stabbings, ridiculous amounts of scar tissue, dumbass suicidal acrobatics, and silly armor onscreen. You like mangled people running around in flint armor dying horrible improbable deaths okay already we GET IT. And slavering monsters. You like monsters slavering at all and sundry and then dying horrible improbable deaths OKAY. YOU CAN STOP NOW.

Also I mortified my poor husband when the Bouncing Barrel Fighter came onscreen by shouting, "QUIT PETER JACKSONING, WILLYA."

#71 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 04:33 AM:

I saw it yesterday, non-3D at a cinema fundraiser for my daughter's gymnastics classes.

I'm...cantankerous, but liked it. Smaug is good -- nasty in all the right ways. The costumes are good, the scenery is gorgeous, I like Lake Town and all the people in it. But little things itched.

First of all, I don't want this in the Great Sweep of Story. I was fine with "Gandalf's hobbies include helping stupid quests, making fireworks for hobbits, blowing smoke rings, and knitting."

Secondly, I thought the Beorn business was woefully flat, and Mirkwood changed from a genuine seriously scary impediment to just a bit of bad terrain.

Thirdly, while I'm fine with Tauriel, I would love to have a female character whose path through the plot cannot be mapped by which romantic attraction she's orbiting this time. Stumbling out of Tolkien's monastery and into the twenty-first century's anti-Bechdel meat market is an improvement, but not much of one.

Fourthly, barrels don't work that way. They'd tip somewhere in the rapids, take in water, tip more, and end up on their sides, three-quarters full, floating by the bouyancy of the wood.

And last (or perhaps first), how did Sauron not (a) notice that he was up against one of the Three Rings, and (b) nick it while he had the chance?

#72 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 04:48 AM:

I thought that, weak as he was, he wouldn't be able to touch it. Or maybe even see it.

#73 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 12:48 PM:

Quick question: I didn't hear a Wilhelm scream in the film. Was there one that I missed? When?

#74 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 03:10 PM:

Late note (commented by a friend): whoever was responsible for Smaug's motion and body language has spent time watching a parrot climb around a parrot's toy-hoard.

#75 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2014, 03:55 PM:

Hmm, Smaug's movement and behavior registered as feline with me. Maybe it's just that I've had mostly Siamese cats.

#76 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 03:37 PM:

When did Gandalf get the Ring of Fire? I had the impression it was later.

#77 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 03:38 PM:

Not in the books. In the books he got it pretty much as soon as the wizards came to Middle-Earth.

(My mother got the impression he'd got it after the battle with the Balrog, somehow, so we went and looked it up.)

#78 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 04:23 PM:

I looked it up too. I don't feel that was the Ring of Fire he was using in Dol Guldur, but I don't know what else it would have been. Words of Command?

#79 ::: Jordin ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 05:38 PM:

Ah, the hazards of being a physicist watching a fantasy movie. No, you do *not* ride a stream of molten gold (temperature 1091 C) in a wheelbarrow. Nor do you melt a few hundred cubic meters of gold in a matter of minutes, even with Dwarven forges. When a gigantic statue filled with molten gold collapses, the failure starts at the *bottom* where the hydrostatic pressure is highest. And we won't even get into the flotation properties of open-and-therefore-promptly-flooded barrels...

(But I'll give Smaug a pass on his aerodynamics, 'cause he's magic to begin with, and just generally very cool)

I assumed most of the coins in the hoard were silver, although I wouldn't put it past Thror to have been minting gold-over-base-metal coinage.

#80 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 05:47 PM:

It was a spell, sounded more like Quenya than Sindarin to me, and he seemed to be using his staff as a focus. I'd expect something Narya had a, er, hand in to be more fire-like; the effect I got off it looked like just a revealing/protective light. Though I'd imagine he was using a bit of the Ring's power to boost his own, as long as he could do so without Sauron catching on. Probably a safe bet with the One still lost.

#81 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 05:50 PM:

If the wheelbarrow was iron, it at least would have had a higher melting point than the gold?

But yeah, I watched that bit going, "Conduction? Radiant heat? What is this new devilry?"

#82 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 06:56 PM:

The whole gold statue thing was stupid beyond belief. Utterly unnecessary. Like I said in #5, it was an Axe Cop plot item.

It is like Peter Jackson was making sure the Tolkien estate never authorizes another adaptation of any of the books ever again.

#83 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 07:31 PM:

I will say this for the gold statue scene: it had good pacing. Like Jenny Islander, I went through a cycle of "What is that for? ...What is *that* for? Why is that... *oh.*" My brain was engaged with the screen, which is not something that all action movies strive for.

(Not all the action scenes in the movie managed this.)

No, the physics don't bear examination. The bear doesn't bear a lot of examination either.

Stefan Jones wrote: "It is like Peter Jackson was making sure the Tolkien estate never authorizes another adaptation of any of the books ever again."

They were *already* never authorizing another adaptation ever again. As I understand it, the Tolkien estate has been out of the loop since before the Bakshi version. If it were up to them, _Fellowship_ would never have gotten started.

(Although the Tolkien estate does get a share of the loot... I dunno, I'm sure it's more complicated than I've ever heard. Lawsuits are pending, as usual.)

#84 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 12:20 AM:

I think cleek @ #34 is right about why the whole molten-gold sequence was necessary, for a certain value of necessary: given the decision to end the film with Smaug flying off to raid Laketown, the movie needed a dramatic climax.

(Though of course that just leads to the question of why decide to end the film with Smaug flying off to raid Laketown.)

#85 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 01:16 AM:

Jenny, #70: Notice how whenever Bilbo gets near something that is powerful, evil, and possibly connected with Sauron, he can't seem to keep the Ring on his finger?

Interesting! Now that you mention it, that does seem to be true, but I didn't put it together at the time. And it would make sense -- the Ring is already trying to get back to its Master.

The spider battle was okay, but I really missed Bilbo taunting the spiders to lead them away from the Dwarves. "Attercop, Attercop, you can't catch me!" Throwing a rock just doesn't have the same level of cool.

Andrew/Lori, #74-75: I could see elements of both, plus just plain snakiness.

#86 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2014, 03:53 AM:

Andres @83

The very short answer is that the rights were bought for a lump sum when Tolkien was an old man, and he was happy with the price. There is some fuzziness now because of what Christopher Tolkien selected for books such as The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. The BBC Radio version of LotR was lightly entangled in that, and there are a couple of scenes in Fellowship which might be.

#87 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 12:39 AM:

Finally saw it (the family I babysit for said "guess what, we're all going to this movie tonight," which is how I see movies these days).

I agree with the people who said there was too much CGI-on-CGI fighting. But then it's a Peter Jackson movie, so long, repetitious, tedious, repetitious fight sequences are to be expected.

Martin Freeman continues to remind me of my late ex-BF and dear friend David, who could have played Bilbo without even ACTING. Freeman did have a moment of John Watson outside the Hidden Door.

Trivia: Lee Pace, who plays Thranduil (now there's a nasty piece of work!) played the title character in Soldier's Girl. I thought he looked familiar but couldn't place the name, so I looked it up.

The romance between Kili and wassername was just downright silly. Though I must say I don't object to giving Aidan Turner more screentime. I do not actually squee aloud when he appears on the screen, but this is says more about my self-restraint than my interior reaction. I wonder if Jackson will kill him off (he dies in the book). If so, he'll probably die in wassername's arms, with some dumb line like "Alas, my elvish love, it was not to be!"

Some of the dialogue (not the bits taken from the book) made me think "Did George Lucas write this?"

I was, as always, irritated by Jackson making all the characters a little scuzzier than they were in the book. This is a grand mythic romance, with absolute evil (Smaug) and chivalric good guys (Bard). The Master of Laketown was a little greedy in the book, and a poor strategist, but he wasn't the gaudily evil totalitarian Monty Python character portrayed (and very well, I thought) by Stephen Fry. And while Thranduil is morally gray in the book, the movie character's weaseling on his promise to the orc doesn't make him morally ambiguous, it makes him a bad guy—or should, in the chivalric-romance atmosphere appropriate in Tolkien.

So: Next LOTR character to inappropriately appear in the Hobbit movies? I'm guessing it'll be Aragorn (who is alive by this point, though relatively young).

#88 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 02:10 AM:

Xopher... I understand that Mortensen had been approached to show up in the whole affair, but that he passed.

#89 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 12:15 PM:

I wonder if Jackson will kill [Kili] off (he dies in the book).

I'm amused, in a sort of sad way, by all the movie-fangirls writing fic about how awesome it's going to be when Thorin is King Under the Mountain...

#90 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2014, 03:03 PM:

Jackson's sense of when to depart from canon is the source of endless amusement to us old-school book fans. However, I am certain that everybody who dies in the book will die in the movie. That's the sort of thing he sticks to.

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