The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoilers)

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Skywalker, Dec 8, 2013.

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How would you grade [i]The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug[/i]?

  1. A+

    6.6%
  2. A

    25.6%
  3. A-

    19.8%
  4. B+

    13.2%
  5. B

    14.0%
  6. B-

    1.7%
  7. C+

    5.8%
  8. C

    6.6%
  9. C-

    2.5%
  10. D+

    2.5%
  11. D

    0.8%
  12. D-

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  13. F

    0.8%
  1. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    I finally got a chance to see this today. While I really liked An Unexpected Journey, I do think that The Desolation of Smaug is, overall, the better movie. However, there are some concerns I had about it, which some of you here seem to share. First of all, I thought they blew past Beorn and Mirkwood way too quickly. It felt like they were in Beorn's home for about two minutes before running off again. And I know there's more to their journey through Mirkwood than we saw; I recall seeing other scenes in some of the production diaries. No doubt they'll appear in the Extended Edition, but for now it feels like they just wanted to get to the Wood-elves as quickly as possible.

    I have to admit, I really loved what they did with the Woodland Realm. Not only was there some absolutely fantastic design work, but the whole feel of the place was great. There was none of the warm comforts of Rivendell or the ethereal majesty of Lothlorien to be found here. The Elves of Mirkwood are a warier, more dangerous folk; no surprise, given that their home is constantly threatened by giant spiders and other dark creatures. Thranduil was very well-realized by Lee Pace, I thought; again, he's a very different ruler than Elrond and Galadriel. He's colder, more calculating, and a little angrier. He's just as greedy as he accuses the Dwarves of being, but he's too arrogant to see it. I look forward to seeing how he develops in the final film.

    It was kind of funny to see Legolas, a character who never appeared or was even mentioned in the book, have such a prominent role in this movie. I'm pretty sure he had more lines and got to do more in this single film than he did in all of The Lord of the Rings! :lol: But it makes sense that he would have been present for all of this, and I actually really enjoyed Orlando Bloom's performance. This Legolas is slightly younger, more brash and impetuous, and also kind of cold and uncaring, much like his father.

    While I had misgivings about Tauriel going into the movie, I did enjoy her in this. I still think her addition to the story was largely unnecessary, but I understand why it happened. I thought Evangeline Lilly did a great job bringing her character to life, and I'll admit it was kind of neat to see a "lowly" Silvan Elf take such a prominent role in a series where we've only really gotten to see the more aristocratic Noldor (Elrond, Galadriel) and Sindar (Legolas, Celeborn, and now Thranduil).

    I actually don't mind the idea of Kili developing a crush on Tauriel, and Tauriel gradually warming to his advances. Why can't a Dwarf fall for an Elf? We already saw it with Gimli and Galadriel, though of course this time it was taken to another level. I think most the issue people seem to be having with it is Tauriel reciprocating. Why is that such a bad thing? Tauriel is apparently a rather young Elf (only a few centuries old, judging by dialogue), and she's also a Silvan, not a haughty Noldo or Sinda. I quite liked their interactions, and I thought Lilly and Turner had pretty good chemistry together. But where I think the love story went wrong was introducing a needless love triangle. From what I've read this was kind of a studio decision rather than a directorial one, but it doesn't really matter. Why did Legolas have to have romantic feelings for Tauriel? Isn't it enough that they're friends and comrades-in-arms?

    I also wasn't a huge fan of Kili being poisoned and forced to stay behind in Lake-town while Legolas fights off the Orc hunting party and Tauriel heals him. I don't think it was a particularly necessary subplot, and felt more like an excuse to keep the Elves in the movie for as long as possible. And I think it's this addition to the story that really hurt it the most, because without the added time spent on it perhaps the movie would have had a proper ending.

    Smaug was great. Simply great. I thought Cumberbatch did a terrific job with his voice, and Weta Digital have produced what I think might well be the greatest dragon ever put on film. I was apprehensive about the action sequence with the Dwarves luring Smaug into the forges, which sounded like another superfluous addition to me, but I actually really enjoyed it. I thought it gave Smaug a stronger motivation for flying off to wreak havoc on Lake-town, and it also gave the Dwarves something to do besides wait around outside for Bilbo.

    But we really needed to see Smaug's attack on Lake-town. Everything was building up to that moment, and just as you're starting to think "Here we go..." the movie ends. What? Why? Now this movie has no actual ending, no payoff. It just stops. And now apparently we won't see the attack at all. What?! How can they just skip over it like it's nothing? It's arguably the climax of the whole story. It seems Smaug has become the Saruman of this trilogy.

    All that said, I still really, really liked the movie. I thought the Barrels Out of Bond sequence was just thrilling, possibly the best action sequence in the trilogy so far. I saw this in 3D and in High-Frame Rate, and it might just be the most beautiful movie I've ever seen in theaters. I was a little hesitant about HFR (I only saw AUJ in 3D), but I didn't have any problems with it at all. The picture was noticeably sped up, but I loved the more realistic look that gave it, along with the amazing sharpness and clarity. And I thought the use of 3D was well done, particularly in the vast halls of Erebor.

    Overall I give The Desolation of Smaug an A-. An improvement over An Unexpected Journey with some terrific visuals and some outstanding action scenes, but I felt they cut out a little too much stuff they should have kept in, and added in a little too much stuff they didn't need to add. And the removal of Smaug's attack on Lake-town really, really hurts the ending.
     
  2. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    If you're going by Mr Light's post, it seems that it would have been more appropriate 3 1/2 months from now....
     
  3. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    Click the article links :lol:

    I never trust a quote!
     
  4. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    Damn it! :alienblush: Sorry, in my haste to write my review I just skimmed over the previous posts and didn't click any links. :lol:

    Well, that's a relief. I still think they should have kept the attack for the end of this movie, but obviously they have a better idea of where they want to go with these films than I do.
     
  5. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    They definitely should have put Smaug's ending in this movie. Though the way Jackson is drawing events out, the ten minute battle I'm envisioning is probably going to last an entire hour :eek:

    Maybe on the way to Laketown Smaug changes his mind and attacks the Elven kingdom first instead and we get a big action scene there, THEN he heads back to Laketown :lol:
     
  6. 777

    777 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    ^^ I wouldn't mind. I found Smaug's design so impressive I could watch a 10 hour movie of just him undertaking normal everyday activities :)
     
  7. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    The good:

    1. It has a totally different feel to its predecessor An Unexpected Journey. While AUJ was more ponderous and lighter in tone, Desolation of Smaug was brisk and down right sinister at times.

    2. Of the five middle earth films I think this one is the most sinister and darkest. Whereas in LOTR the villains are really lumped together in one dark force (which is still pretty awesome): Saruman, orc armies, the nine and other dark beings all of which are at Sauron's command. In DoS Sauron finally has a menace about him and Smaug is... I'll save that for the third point.

    3. SMAUG! Best. Dragon. EVAH! Wicked, vain, greedy, cunning and destructive to the very last, Smaug has a presence -- pardon the pun -- about him which gave me the creeps at times. More importantly we see exactly why Smaug is so dangerous and so feared, something which AUJ didn't do too well in conveying. Another cool thing is the fire which builds up in Smaug, that was a very nice touch.

    4. Elves vs Dwarves. This is an interesting aspect which the LOTR film trilogy briefly touched upon but AUJ and even more so DoS expanded upon. I think Tauriel played a very important part in this, and I thought it was clever how Fili began to comprehend the majesty of the elves whilst Tauriel sees beyond the stereotype of dwarves being nothing more than filthy greedy little rascals.

    5. Integrity of the dialogue. A lot of the scenes where not from the book or significantly altered so as such a lot of the dialogue did not come from J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbit. But the dialogue was a good emulation of Tolkien's style and a feature that has always impressed me about all five of PJ's Middle Earth films- the dialogue is never dumbed down.

    6. Laketown, Mirkwood, the base of the Lonely Mountain and the Wood Elves realm look exactly how I imagined it to be.

    7. The Eye of Sauron is actually explained. It is nothing but Sauron's shadow and that scene where Sauron's eye infinitely regresses was rather cool, a nice little nod to unceasing perpetual darkness.

    8. Bilbo becoming steadily consumed by the ring. Of course as Sauron becomes more powerful this is only going to get worse, and while Sauron cannot sense the ring's presence just yet, Bilbo is definitely beginning to feel Sauron's presence.

    In case you are wondering why the ring didn't just consume Bilbo far sooner in the movies, well Sauron is going to be defeated in the third movie and I guess he will lose a lot of his strength. Plus both the books and the movies hinted at a correlation between the ring's potency in lieu of Sauron's strength or proximity.

    9. The disintegration of trust between Bilbo and Thorin. This was something which crept up in the end and it's going almost unnoticed what with all the scenes with Smaug. But the undoing of this friendship was one of the more meaningful moments of the film.

    10. In a clever twist the keyhole to the secret doorway into the Lonely Mountain is revealed when the moon casts its light. In the book what actually happened was that the sun set behind some clouds above the horizon, but then the sun made one last appearance and thus revealed the keyhole. The film takes a far more clever and subtle take to 'the setting sun with the last light of Durin's Day'. Technically the moon was reflecting the sun's light and the sun was still setting (below the horizon), so it truly was the last of Durin's Day. It was a subtle thing but it was good to see in a film rather lacking in subtly.

    11. The Master was a slimy asshole and wonderfully portrayed by Stephen Fry. My only gripe is that I wish there were more scenes of The Master.

    12. Peter Jackson's cameo role as that fat man with the carrot.

    13. The Kili/Tauriel romance was more symbolic than anything and more implied. Thank God it was not ruined by some stupid kiss.

    14. DoS did something which only Return of the King managed to achieve; you felt a great sense of doom for the forthcoming victims of the evil about to destroy them. The Two Towers tried to do this with the battle of Helms Deep but it did not quite pull if off. Whereas this was ROTK's strong point, indeed one of the most powerful moments of the film is when you see Sauron's legions butcher Minas Tirith's soldiers, men, women and children.

    DoS pulls off that same feeling because Smaug the Dragon was brilliantly done and you felt his power. So when you see Smaug fly towards Laketown you know Laketown and its people are going to be FUBARed, and you're going to care about it.

    15. I loved how PJ used the ROTK appendices to build upon Sauron's first attempt to regain power after his defeat at the end of the Second Age of Middle Earth. It also explains about the Orcs and the dark forces, outside of Smaug, shown in AUJ and DoS. Plus it will explain why the Orcs attacked the Lonely Mountain in the third film. Alas in the book the Orcs just appear simply to claim the Lonely Mountain's underground wealth for their own. But their organization and how they built such a large army was never really explained.

    16. Finally DoS feels like the polar opposite of AUJ. While AUJ took its time, DOS flew by.



    The bad:

    1. Less depth compared with AUJ. While AUJ was a little less cohesive and occasionally childish, it more than made up for that with some incredible themes and character interactions. Sadly there was nothing in DoS which compared with the following: the Dwarves song in Bilbo's home, the scene with Galadriel and Gandalf, Bilbo understanding the dwarves' plight and last but not least every single moment of Smeagol.

    Well with the exception of the interactions between Bilbo and Smaug which really shone great insight into this villain, DoS was pretty light-weight in that regard.

    2. If you thought Legolas being an ace-shot, riding shields down staircases whilst killing orcs and singlehandedly taking on Oliphaunts (or Mûmakil) was silly, the silly factor has been cranked to 11! Now Legolas traverses a raging river using dwarve heads as stepping stones plus he uses them as footrests whilst shooting orcs. :wtf:

    In Legolas' defence it does explain his superhuman, pardon superelvish, abilities in the LOTR film trilogy.

    3. I know they expanded Bard's role in the film but he still felt underdeveloped.

    4. To many decapitations. In the first LOTR film trilogy it was over in a split second, in DoS they're a distraction.

    5. I wish Tauriel was further developed as a character because she is the most ordinary of all the elves we have seen in the Middle Earth movies. Galadriel, Thranduil and Elrond are all very regal figures whilst Legolas is an Elve prince and Arwen is akin to the second-coming of LĂșthien. What irked me was the lack of a second reason for Tauriel deciding to follow the company of Dwarves. If it was strictly because she had feelings for Kili then such a change of heart was not adequately explained. Here's hoping the Director's cut will address this.



    The ugly:

    1. The love triangle between Fili, Tauriel and Legolas. I thought Fili/Tauriel worked but wedging in Legolas was just pushing it and it was only hinted at once

    2. Bombur's barrel scene. That is the most ludicrous action sequence I have ever seen in a film.

    3. That dick joke where Tauriel comments about what's under Fili's trousers. Shame on you PJ!


    So with that all considered I'll give this film an A-. I actually thought AUJ had a slight edge to this film and it's the most action-packed film out of all five Middle Earth films. But this came at the expense of some in-depth moments and at the expense of screen time of interesting characters like Beorn, Bard, The Master, Tauriel and Thranduil.

    However it is incredibly well-paced and action-packed, and I loved the inclusion of the material from the ROTK appendices and even a slight nod to the Silmarillion when Thranduil makes that reference about something very precious to him. Hint; the three jewels, the Silmarils.

    Finally they did not mess up with Smuag. Smaug, much like Gollum, was going to be pivotal and the line between cringeworthy hokum and a brilliant character was very thin indeed. Smaug was worth the wait.

    As for the conclusion it marks a change in style but I think it's a good thing. It means There And Back Again will have a fiery start and if Smaug had been killed in DoS many viewers -- not versed in the book -- would have believed it to be the end. Furthermore there would have been a finality to such an ending for DoS and it would cast a shadow on the Battle of The Five Armies. So I think a cliffhanger is the best way to go.


    What to expect in the third film (having read the Hobbit and studied the ROTK appendices):

    1. Reading between the lines here, but I predict one heart-throbbing scene between Tauriel and Kili, where Kili, wounded from the Battle of the Five Armies, dies and Tauriel is left heartbroken.

    2. A very bitter-sweet ending because Thorin, Kili and Fili die in the book and will most certainly die in the third film. Actually having cheated death so many times I'm not sure if their deaths will come as a surprise to the people who haven't read the Hobbit, or whether the deaths feel a bit weak considering the cheating death bit.

    3. Ten, maybe fifteen, minutes of Smaug before he is killed by Bard. Sadly Smaug's character will not be developed any further, but hopefully PJ will stick to the plot and keep Smaug's role in the third movie to be strictly confined to destroying Laketown... Before being slain by Bard.

    4. A greater depth, something more akin to AUJ, as after Smaug is defeated the Elves, Thorin and company, plus the men of Laketown quarrel over ownership of the mountain.

    5. Sauron is going to get his ass kicked (and I think by Lady Galadriel) and he and the nine flee back to Mordor.

    6. A return to Rivendale at the very end of the movie where Bilbo and Gandalf reflect on all that has happened.

    7. The trust and friendship between Bilbo and Thorin continues to disintegrate. Eventually Bilbo will have to decide between his loyalty to the company or betraying them to avert a conflict between the dwarves and the elves.

    8. The Master will come to a sticky end.

    9. Gollum will not make an appearance. I've checked and Andy Serkis' role in There and Back Again is strictly confined to Second Unit Director.


    Overall I would say the third film has the potential to be the best film of the Hobbit trilogy.
     
  8. Starbreaker

    Starbreaker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    I've had a week and change to process. Really loved Smaug and the barrel chase. Disliked the weird opening, though. I've accepted these as LOTR light. We'll never get another rousing speech from Theodin, words of wisdom from Gandalf, or emotional moments from Frodo and Sam in these movies.
     
  9. sttngfan1701d

    sttngfan1701d Commodore Commodore

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    Then put it at the end of the second movie because viewers deserve a proper conclusion to the SECOND MOVIE'S VILLAIN and because that's where it belongs in the first place and not on a money-grab DVD edition?

    I swear, Jackson is worse than Tarantino and Judd Apatow combined when it comes to cutting his movies and making pacing decisions.
     
  10. Nightowl1701

    Nightowl1701 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    My gut says Fili and Tauriel are both mortally wounded and die in each other's arms...with giant mounds of slain orcs lying all around them.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013
  11. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    Ah yes I forgot about the opening scene with Gandalf and Thorin. I loved that scene, but that absolutely belonged in the FIRST movie and not the sequel.
     
  12. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    I don't agree with that. I think it played out perfectly as a prelude to the rest of the movie, and made for a great lead-in to Bilbo as he scouts out the Orc pack. Where in the first movie should it have gone? The beginning? No thanks, I prefer the way Thorin was introduced in AUJ.
     
  13. Unicron

    Unicron Continuity Spackle Moderator

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    It's worse when you notice that even though Laketown has some measure of armed forces (military/police) who arrest Bard later in the film, not a single person seems to notice Bolg's force of goblins when they attack Bard's dwelling in the middle of the night. Legolas and Tauriel do almost all of the fighting and make plenty of noise, but nobody else seems to notice. :p

    I agree with you on Fili's poisoning. I didn't necessarily mind the Fili/Tauriel efforts, but I do think they could have been handled better.
     
  14. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    Good point! Laketown security seems pretty porous :lol:
     
  15. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    Visually, the film was expectedly amazing.

    Otherwise, the film was really fun and generally decent. I was very happy that the stupid physical humor of the first installment was gone. No stupid crap like the troll blowing his nose on Bilbo.

    The action scenes were very physically interesting and well choreographed.

    However I still have to say I disagree with the decision to have the barrels open for the escape rather than closed like in the book. I find a stealthy exit more interesting and I think the escape we got suffered from Stormtrooper Syndrome. That is, they only survived because the bad guys couldn't hit the broad side of a barn.

    Also, while I thought Smaug was visually spectacular, I found his personality kind of generically villainy and boring.

    And I can't help but point out the continuity problem that Gandalf has much more information about the resurgence of Sauron than he did at the beginning of Fellowship. That scene and all the Raddagast stuff was just so unnecessary, felt like padding and threw a wrench in the pacing. Why can't the film just stand on its own without going way out of its way to set up stuff from LOTR? Do films need to be three hours to be epic? Without the padding this trilogy could have been three two hour movies or two three hour movies. A man can only hold it in for so long, god damn it!

    Generally the film was decent. I in no way regret the ticket price, but I don't think I'll watch it again. They should have just focused on Bilbo's adventure instead of all the 'Hey look SAURON' garbage.

    On the day Return of the King opened I spent the day watching Fellowship and Two Towers. I have no inclination to do the same the day I go to see the last Hobbit film. Maybe I'll watch the LOTR trilogy again.
     
  16. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    It's not like Peter Jackson and company made up all this stuff about Gandalf learning that the Necromancer in Dol Guldur was, in fact, Sauron. Tolkien himself came up with that, in order to better tie the story of The Hobbit to that of The Lord of the Rings.
     
  17. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    Yeah, but if the website I read was correct, he didn't go to Dol Guldur and get captured.

    And it's not the departure from the source material that bothers me at all, pretend the source material didn't exist for a moment. He was more surprised at the beginning of Fellowship than he should have been given the information he came upon in this movie.

    The retconning isn't half as bad as the Star Wars prequels, but let's call it what it is. Bad retconning.
     
  18. Klaus

    Klaus Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    From The Tale of Years:

    2060 The power of Dol Guldur grows. The Wise fear it may be Sauron taking shape again.

    2063 Gandalf goes to Dol Guldur. Sauron retreats and hides in the East. The Watchful Peace begins. The Nazgul remain quiet in Minas Morgul.

    2460 The Watchful Peace ends. Sauron returns with increased strength to Dol Guldur.

    2770 Smaug the Dragon descends on Erebor. Dale destroyed. Thror escapes with Thrain II and Thorin II.

    2850 Gandalf enters Dol Guldur, and discovers that its master is indeed Sauron, who is gathering all the Rings and seeking for news of the One, and of Isildur's Heir. He finds Thrain and receives the key of Erebor. Thrain dies in Dol Guldur.

    2851 The White Council meets. Gandalf urges an attack on Dol Guldur. Saruman overrules him.

    2941 Thorin Oakenshield and Gandalf visit Bilbo in the Shire. Bilbo meets Smeagol-Gollum and finds the Ring. The White Council meets; Saruman agrees to an attack on Dol Guldur, since he now wishes to prevent Sauron from searching the River. Sauron having made his plans abandons Dol Guldur. The Battle of Five Armies in Dale. Death of Thorin II. Bard of Esgaroth slays Smaug. Dain of the Iron Hills becomes King under the mountain (Dain II).

    2951 Sauron declares himself openly and gathers power in Mordor.

    So this is greatly compressed, as PJ has had to do in LotR too... they already knew Sauron was in Dol Guldur and had known for almost a century!! And the White Council didn't drive him from Dol Guldur, he left on his own before the attack apparently... I doubt PJ will have it work out quite that way, though.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013
  19. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    I'll go on record and say that ending DoS with Smaug's attack on Lake Town would have been a mistake - and I long held out hope that we would get exactly what transpired on screen: The buildup of Smaug, but not the resolution of his story. I think meeting him and dispensing with him in the same film would have been far more unsatisfying. It's true that DoS should have had a more defined arc to its story (in the way that AUJ was the story of Bilbo discovering his courage and purpose in the quest). But ending Smaug's story wouldn't have given either Bilbo, Gandalf, or Thorin or any major character a suitable arc in the film - not even Smaug himself, since we only just met him in the last third of the movie.

    More than anything, I thought they would have (and should have) at least concluded Gandalf's excursion into Dol Guldur (with whatever assistance he is going to receive from Radagast and Galadriel). If that ends with Sauron basically saying, "You can drive me out here, but you cannot stop events I have set in motion," then the climax of his defeat at Dol Guldur nicely sets up the specter of the Battle of Five Armies as a major threat that needs to be resolved in Film 3. As it stands now, that threat is only vaguely hinted at (the Orc/Goblin armies that have mustered at Dol Guldur).

    The lack of a defined arc in DoS is a legitimate criticism. But ending it with Smaug's attack on Lake Town wouldn't, IMO, solve the problem.
     
  20. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Grading & Discussion (Spoile

    Ala Romeo and Juliet style? That could be cool.