Saturday, 15 November 2014

Dear Peter Jackson,

I have renamed this movie "1001 Ways to Kill Orcs." And it literally is. You see them beheaded, stabbed, sliced, crushed, pinned to tree trunks, axed, drowned, shot with got boring after a while. Needless to say, Orcs don't even belong in The Hobbit. I had to keep reminding myself, "This isn't the Hobbit. It's The Desolation of Smaug."
Pronounced Smorg, not Smowg. Thankyou very very much.

It began with a slightly confusing flashback of Thorin and Gandalf's first meeting at the Prancing Pony. (What even? The PP is not in The Hobbit.) Then twelve months later, the dwarves, the wizard and the hobbit are being simultaneously pursued by a colossal bear, and, you guessed it, multitudes of snarling Orcs mounted on salivating Wargs. After a night at Beorn's house/stable, the Company sets out for Mirkwood, but Galadriel telepathically tells Gandalf to go to Dol Guldur, so he changes his mind and leaves the dwarves and Bilbo to navigate the murky claustrophobic forest by themselves. Actually, in The Book, Gandalf had planned to leave them. Plus Dol Guldur isn't even mentioned in the Hobbit.

May I ask, what happened to the river crossing? Bombur's dreams? The mysterious Elvish feast that kept disappearing? And the butterflies were actually black, "black emperors," not blue. And while Bilbo is admiring them, the dwarves are being mummified by huge revolting spiders. Let's not even go there. You have confirmed my diagnosis as a chronic arachnophobe. When I saw all those cobwebs I kept telling myself, "It's only cotton candy..........."

See? Cotton candy, because I will not put pictures of spiders on my blog. Moving on. 
Bilbo puts on the ring and dispatches several of the spiders (but where was the hilarious song he sang? "Lazy Lob, Crazy Cob," etc. I thought you liked songs. Maybe you only like epic and heroic war songs and mystical Elvish lays. Hmm?) and frees the dwarves with the help of a horde of Wood-elves who appear out of nowhere.

A feisty redhead named Tauriel saves Kili from death by giant spider. She wasn't in the book, Mr. Jackson. She was a great character but she wasn't Tolkien. And Legolas is there too! I suppose Aragorn will turn up next. But sadly, no.

The dwarves are imprisoned and Thorin is questioned by the Wood-elf King Thranduil. Who has interesting eyebrows, a crown that resembles deer antlers and a creepy way of contorting his posture. Chats to Tauriel about how she and Legolas can never marry. And considering she doesn't appear in LOTR, can we safely assume they don't end up marrying? That's what happens when you make fictional prequels, Mr. Jackson.

So Tauriel goes and talks to Fili in the dungeon. About magic rune rocks, missing mothers and so on. While Legolas is watching.

Bilbo, of course, didn't get caught by the elves. He sneaks into the fortress, filches the keys, frees the dwarves and lets them out by barrel. However, he inadvertently forgets to let himself out and jumps after them in the nick if time. (The barrels had lids on, Mr. Jackson. But that would be too boring, of course.) And suddenly they're floating down violent rapids with tons of lethal rocks while being chased and attacked by legions of both Orcs and Elves. Pretty confusing.

Kili gets wounded opening the water-gate. They manage to fend off most of the Orcs, but the elves capture, interrogate and then behead one of them.
Tauriel: "You promised to free him."
King Thranduil: "I did. I freed his miserable head from his miserable body."
Well, King T is not well-known for keeping promises, is he?

Stranded on rocks, the dwarves are trying to tend to Kili's wound when Bard (Bard? Really?) appears, ready to shoot.

The dwarves and Bilbo get a ride into Lake-town on Bard's barge, in barrels covered in fish, make it past the snarky customs officer (who reminds me of Wormtongue in LOTR. Not very original.), and enter Bard's family abode by way of the water closet. Much to the detriment of Dwalin's dignity and to the shock horror of Bard's three (made-up) red-headed children.
"Why are there dwarves coming out of our toilet?"
"Will they bring us good luck?"

Er, no.

After getting on the Master of Lake-town's good side, the dwarves set sail to the Lonely Mountain. But they leave four behind. Fili because of his inconvenient wound, Fili because of fraternal stick-together-ness, Bofur and Oin. (I think. Still haven't got their names all right.)
The dwarves and Bilbo arrive on the mountain and get all disappointed because the sun sets before they find the key-hole. (Did you know, P.J., that one normally reads moon-runes by the light of the moon?) Bilbo is the only one smart enough to figure it out and they enter the mountain.

Meanwhile, where did Gandalf go? To rescue Radagast and visit the tomb of the Nine, of course. Then it's off to Dol Guldur to fight Azog with white magical force-fields and see the Eye of Sauron, and get locked in a giant birdcage. Bofur strolls around Lake-town looking for pig-weed to heal Fili (his wound was poisoned. Morgul arrow, apparently) and then suddenly Orcs are prowling all over the roofs and Bard's eldest daughter goes outside, sees an Orc, and screams bloodcurdlingly. Which of course I would have done too. In horror at all the plot deviation.

The poor kids hide under the table while the dwarves try to fend off the bloodthirsty Orcs and look, it's Legolas and Tauriel to the rescue! Punch, kick, wham! The Orcs are dead. Tauriel takes the pigweed off Bofur. It's actually athelas, and she sings a song while putting it on Fili's ghastly leg wound. "Flower, gleam and glow. Let your power shine...."
Sorry. couldn't resist.

"You can't be Tauriel. She is far away. She walks in starlight........."
All I can say is, poor Legolas. Who, meanwhile, is fighting Orcs. He nearly gets squeezed to death by an overly affectionate one called Bolg (Azog's second-in-command whose favourite thing to do is kill good guys.) Bolg is defeated and Legolas realizes his nose is bleeding and he's like "Whaat? This is inconceivable!!" Well, not really, but it was sort of weird the way he looked at it like he'd never seen his own blood before.

Meanwhile, Bilbo ventures into the depths of the Mountain. Watson is going to pay Sherlock a visit and steal the Arkenstone while pretending he's not stealing the Arkenstone.:-]
For some reason, the dragon's eye bears a striking resemblance to the Eye of Sauron, which zaps Bilbo and then he takes off the Ring. After giving Smaug a list of his aliases (Barrel-rider, Luckwearer, RRingwinner, etc.) This scene was well done.
But Smaug is considerably smart and guesses that Thorin sent him. In a deep, gravelly, doomy-gloomy voice that only Buttersnitch Cucumberpatch could do, of course. He eventually gets mad and starts breathing (more like blasting) fire and Bilbo and the dwarves run all around the mountain halls trying to escape.

Thorin eventually ends up balancing on the edge of Smaug's mouth. That's precarious for you.  But he escapes somehow and the dwarves start making something and heating up the furnaces. They make a hugs statue of Thrain in molten gold and it collapses all over Smaug. Then he flies away to attack Lake-town looking like a chocolate-coated dragon only it's gold not chocolate, and Bilbo says, "What have we done?"
The end.
And you're left hanging. What have you done, Peter Jackson? You literally ruined one of the best stories ever. I did like the movie, however. It was funny and epic and elvish and dwarvish and fantastical and it was made right here in NZ. But it wasn't The Hobbit. It was The Desolation of Smaug. So much for the things I didn't like. Believe it or not, there were some things I liked! :-)
Martin Freeman's priceless facial expressions.
Benedict Cumberbatch's epic dragon voice.
Gandalf. Everything about Gandalf is always awesome and nobody but Sir Ian Mckellen could play him in a billion years.
The sets were breathtaking and the music was perfect.
And the little references to LOTR, like when Legolas is searching the Dwarves and finds a picture of Gloin's son Gimli. His future BFF:-)
And when Smaug says to Bilbo, "You have something valuable on you, but it's not ordinary gold. It's something infinitely more.............precious." Chills.
But I hope The Battle Of Five Armies ( still think you should have called it There and Back Again) will be better than this.



  1. Hi Beth!

    Now, I'm going to be totally honest with you here, and tell you that after the first film I was disappointed, but after the second I was a) sleeping, and b) ready to give up on the whole franchise. Mostly because of Orcs. And Tauriel (or however you spell it). And the stupid love triangle. And Kili and Fili. And that Elf King dude. Wait, Thranduil. And because they tried waaaaaay too hard to link it to 'The Lord of the Rings'. Also I was sleeping because I went to see it at the Levin Focal Point for a midnight showing. Even though I had a nap during the day, those seats are soooo comfortable and it was really cold so I just gave up and fell asleep... It didn't help that action sequences bore me more than anything...

    Ahem. Anyway. I liked your review of the film, even if I don't like what Peter Jackson has done to them!!! I'm not even sure if we're allowed to say that in New Zealand though, it feels like high treason or something! I'm sure as I click the 'Publish' button the police will come after me! :P

  2. Yea, I think a lot of people were disappointed with these movies. I love the books so much(LOTR and the Hobbit) so it was sad to see them make such a mess of things. I enjoyed the movies, they were just inaccurate:-P

  3. Good evening, Beth -
    Must admit I highly enjoyed this post of yours, even though I'm completely of the opposite opinion regarding this movie! I disliked the first one (with the exception of a very few scenes), but absolutely loved The Desolation of Smaug. :) (Granted, this may be primarily because I didn't care much for The Hobbit as a book anyway...)
    Oh wait, you said you DID enjoy tDoS, but were upset by the many inaccuracies? Ah, very good, then. :)

    You're so right about so many aspects of this movie! I especially like what you said about Legolas' nosebleed - one of the most quietly amusing parts of the movie, in my opinion. ;]

    Somehow I had forgotten that you live in New Zealand! That must be amazing! Does all of it look like it does in the LotR movies??? (Silly question, I know... ;] ...maybe what I meant was "does much of the scenery remind you of Middle-earth?" and "have you been to any of the filming locations?")

    1. Hi Zoe!! Thanks for your lovely long comment:-)
      Yeah, I liked it, but I had to separate it from the book in order to enjoy it if you know what I mean.
      It was quite funny in places:-D
      It is amazing I guess, although sometimes I don't think about it that way...
      It does in certain places. I've driven past a wooded area where they filmed a scene, and I've seen the cornfields in LOTR from a distance when I was horse riding around Otaki. Most of the places they use are in the South Island which isn't as densely populated, not that any of NZ could really be called that!! They have the Hobbiton set down South.
      I loved the books The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien is one of my favourite authors.
      And I don't really dislike Peter Jackson:-D, I thought he did an amazing job with Tintin:-)