Well, now we can get over that moment where Frodo almost attacked Sam, and it’s awkward. Frodo recoils from a vision of Sam as a greedy orc grasping for his treasure. He sees Sam again, and he’s hurt by Frodo’s aggression. They both know it’s the ring’s doing, and though Sam wants to help, this is a burden that Frodo must bear alone.
Sam breaks the tension by offering to go and scrounge up some clothes and gear for the two of them. Frodo needs new clothes, and they might as well go with matching orc attire so as to better blend into Mordor. Thankfully, there’s plenty of stuff lying around on the dead orcs. Sam goes down to look, and leaves Frodo with instructions to keep the ladder up until he hears Sam’s password.
My only quizzical moment is why Sam and Frodo are even worried about orcs sneaking around and surprising them in Cirith Ungol. When Sam pulls Sting out to show Frodo that it also has been kept safe, they notice that the blade isn’t glowing. So…no orcs! Yeah, that’s what that usually means.
But, yeah. I feel like maybe I’m losing steam. Let’s move on to something that I’ve been thinking a lot about.
THIS THE POINT WHERE YOU STOP READING IF YOU DON’T WANT ME TO SPOIL THINGS ABOUT THE NEW HOBBIT MOVIE. BUT IF YOU READ THIS BLOG, YOU MAY KNOW THE THINGS THAT HAPPEN ANYWAY BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS IN THE BOOK. BUT JUST IN CASE.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, And Why Some Little Things Can Make a Good Thing Confusing: A Special Feature:
So, to start, this is still a good movie. Now, this new trilogy will always fall short when compared to the original Lord of the Rings films, but one can’t be surprised. Overall, I think I liked this movie better than An Unexpected Journey, but I also found more problems with it.
I found the departures from the original story more jarring here. No, Tauriel isn’t my problem. I actually fully support creating another wood elf to hang around with Legolas, because you know what? Those characters aren’t really named in The Hobbit. Obviously, in connecting that story to the canon of Lord of the Rings, Legolas has to be there, because he’s the son of Thranduil, king of the woodland realm. Sure, make up someone like Tauriel, because you need more than just Legolas and Thranduil to connect to when you’re hanging out with the elves in Mirkwood, especially when Thranduil’s being a jerk and Legolas is pretty blindly following his orders, at least at the start. However, it’s the nature of Tauriel’s storyline as it evolves that makes me cringe. Really? She’s falling in love with Kili? What? Add on to that the fact that we now have Fili, Kili, Óin, and Bofur awkwardly staying behind in Lake-town, and suddenly the dwarves are all split up instead of going to gaze upon their treasured lost kingdom. And you know what? I see an easy way to fix this: don’t have Kili get hit by a poisoned arrow and get sick. Newsflash: Fili and Kili die in the end. What’s the point of having Kili fall ill now? I certainly don’t want to see the storyline changed so much that we have dead characters not dying. Legolas and Tauriel still have plenty of reason to follow the orcs to Lake-town, and then that’s not deliberately changing anything from the book. Just because it doesn’t mention that this happened doesn’t mean it necessarily didn’t. I can handle that. However, it does mention that all the dwarves go to the Lonely Mountain. Don’t change that.
But you know who’s gonna die? Tauriel. She gonna die. Why else wouldn’t she show up in some way with Legolas in Lord of the Rings? She’s going to die, and in some way that can be fuel for Legolas to go on this crazy quest later on in his life. And maybe, since she loved a dwarf, he understands the value of befriending them? I don’t know. This is weird.
Filler image to break up the text!
Meanwhile, there’s something that worked in the first film that is suddenly complicated here. I had liked the addition of Azog (even though he’s not really around during the time of The Hobbit) to provide a consistent and known antagonist. Suddenly, in this film, he goes away. Instead, he places Bolg in his place to hunt Thorin and the dwarves down. Azog goes and hangs out in Dol Guldur. So, what was the point of building Azog up in the first film if he’s not going to continue in that role? Since Bolg is the orc who actually makes sense in established canon to be the one doing the hunting, why not have him doing that from the beginning? In textual canon, Bolg is Azog’s son, and ends up leading the orcs in the Battle of Five Armies at the end. Sure, have him show up sooner, whatever. Again, known antagonists are a good thing, but having a whole film of Azog and then discarding him is silly. And, truly (again in textual canon), Azog was killed by Dáin long ago. We could still have that happen, because Dáin shows up later at the Bo5A (I made that up just now)! Why not have Dáin kill him then? Ah, but probably not. We’ve established Azog as Thorin’s mortal enemy, so Thorin will probably get the honors. See why this gets confusing? And it could have been avoided if this was all just Bolg from the start. Bah.
Among other things I found jarring were the extended chase and battle with Smaug in Erebor (extended action sequences sell, you know) and the business about Bard having to using some silly contraption with the black arrow (which isn’t really a true arrow – more of a bolt) to fire at dragons. In the book he uses a bow. Bows are simple. A bow shouldn’t be able to bring down a dragon, but it does, and that’s what’s cool. When Bard inevitably shoots Smaug down in the next film with this wind lance thing, it’s not going to be as impressive as if he had done it with his modest bow. Also, Bard in the book is a soldier of Lake-town, not some smuggling miscreant. Why not let him have some honor?
Gosh, I’m going on and on here, but here’s the thing: this move is entertaining. I can live with changes, though these are paining me more than some others have. Thankfully, I still have the wherewithal to be able to separate those feelings from my enjoyment of a film. May that never cease.
And, we all just have to laugh when Bombur presses Z or R twice and barrel rolls a score of orcs down.
In looking ahead, how is the last film going to start?! Smaug is literally seconds away from attacking Lake-town. That’s no place to just jump back into a story. Ball’s in your court, Jackson.
No one dies today.
“Then he got up, drew the grey elven-cloak…”