|tanithryudo (tanithryudo) wrote,|
@ 2014-01-01 11:09:00
|Entry tags:||lotr, movies, reviews|
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
So I saw The Hobbit (Part 2) lately, and found I do have some stuff to say about it.
The good part is that as always, PJ is doing a good job with immersion and world building. The Middle Earth of the movies is an incredibly rich world to play in, just like how Tolkien's world-building spawned an entire fantasy sub-genre.
But. There are still issues.
Biggest issue: Pacing is still a problem. It's slightly better than part 1, but part 2 has its own issues, and I can foresee more issues in part 3 just due to how things are playing out.
In and of itself, this movie does not even try to hide the fact that it's a "part 2". It cannot stand alone by itself. There was no climax because there was no resolution to what was intended for the climax (the extended fight against Smaug inside Erebor). Every single plot thread ended at a cliffhanger to be addressed in the next movie. All through the movie there was a lot of foreshadowing...that never came to anything (until the next movie). That's... not good storytelling.
Compare to the first two LOTR movies. FOTR had a cliffhanger on the Uruks carrying off Pippin & Merry, but that was the only one. The story thread with Frodo & Sam splits off but in a very clear way that it was a new beginning and not a cliffhanger. Boromir completes his character arc with a redemption and death scene that concludes the climatic fight of that movie. Two Towers obviously had the climax and conclusion to the Battle of Helms Deep, which requires no explanation.
And then consider, what do we now have left for part 3 of this trilogy? The death of Smaug. The Battle of Five Armies. Driving the Necromancer out of Gol Guldur (there has been waaay too much foreshadowing & plot in that setting without having them do something with it). There is like THREE major plot points to be carried out, and that is going to make it really hard for part 3 to both give each of them the gravitas they deserve, and to avoid the pitfalls of anti-climax at the end.
Here's what I think they should have done:
1. Cut short the scene where they escape from Mirkwood and sneak into Laketown. Yes we know the elves are BAMFs at acrobatic fighting. This isn't a story about the elves. We don't need more than a token reminder and maybe a few face shots of Legolas/Thranduil for the fanservice.
2. Cut short or cut entirely the fight scene with Smaug in Erebor. Honestly it sucked as a climax and there was very little suspense since everyone knew that none of the dwarves/Bilbo are going to be dying at this point in the narrative, and we already know from heavy handed foreshadowing that Smaug is only going to fall after attacking the town and getting hit with that last black arrow. I get the impression they stuck in that fight scene and made it drag on as long as it did just so they could geek out and build a complete scale model of the insides of Erebor and then set it on fire. Ugh. Save that for the extended edition folks.
3. Have the climax of part 2 be Smaug attacking the town and then finally get taken out by Bard. Duh. And then they find out from the orcs that the armies of the Necromancer will be on them soon. That will leave the Battle of Five Armies and the fall of Dol Guldur as the main concentration of the next movie.
4. Have Gandalf's side-arc end ambiguously in the showdown between him and the Necromancer, instead of him being stuck in a box at the end. Then, when he shows up in the next part of the movie, you can then flash back to his escape from Dol Guldur and use that same flashback to introduce the main threat they'll be facing.
The second major complaint I have is Tauriel. Yeah, the token female character. When I first heard of her existence, I was going to hold off judgement until I saw the movie. Now I have and I am really disappointed in what they chose to do with her.
I was hoping for an Eowyn or movie!Haldir. Instead what we got was movie!Arwen. I don't mean in terms of fighting ability. What I mean is that her entire character revolves around romance. She is not held as a distinct character from any other character by her abilities or actions, by rather by who is into her and who she is into.
Would it be so impossible to give her and Legolas a Hawkeye/Black Widow relationship of professional camaraderie instead of one sided crush? They've obviously been working on the same "team" for hundreds if not thousands of years now - so why is Thranduil just starting to get concerned of a possible romance now?
And then her thing with Kili... What. The. Hell. They exchange one conversation in the middle of her killing a bunch of spiders and he hits on her while they're locking up the dwarves, and then all of a suddenly she's falling for him, having private conversations at his cell, and then haring off against the orders of her liege-lord because she heard he got poisoned with a morgul arrow? And she pretty much leaves her prince to run off without any backup (after he came along as her backup when she ran away from her job) once she sees Kili (and this was before she saw the athelas that would've let her be able to save him). What. Just...what? Because a female professional obviously cannot be trusted to actually do their job and hold their loyalties when they "Fall In Love"! Right?! *screams*
This is the exact same thing they did to the movie version of Arwen! I find it ironically frustrating that the canon females that Tolkien himself wrote (when he didn't even put any female characters in The Hobbit and can hardly be accused of being feminist-conscious) are actually BAMF and plot-relevant without being defined by romance. Look at Eowyn! Even though she hit on Aragorn and was rejected, her main relevance to the plot was slaying the mini-boss in defense of her king! Look at Galadriel! Who obviously wears the proverbial pants in her marriage and only gets mildly amused by random dwarves falling for her (see: Gimli).
Tauriel, as she is now, is seriously very close to a fanon Mary Sue. The love triangle, the way the audience is obviously meant to sympathize with her Love-woes and side with her providing her oh-so-conflicted help to the protagonists... Ugh.
IMO, if I was writing this movie and had to stick a major female character into the plot, here's what I would've done...
1. Kill the romance angle with Legolas. Instead, I would have her function either as sister-type relationship with Legolas, or maybe a mentor/surrogate mother (since Thranduil's queen is nowhere in sight). She could also be a voice-of-sanity/conscience role to Thranduil (who seriously had his creep factor played up in the movie - in fact, the lack of a Foil to Thranduil was also one of the things that bugged me... it smacks a little of being very shallow in the interpretation of his character).
2. Instead of having her randomly fall for a single dwarf, rather have her be more generally sympathetic to dwarves in general. Have her allow Gloin to keep the pictures of his family when the guards/Legolas were about to confiscate it. Have her try and fail to convince Thorin that their only chance to complete their quest is to agree to Thranduil's demands while returning him to his cell. Have her be amused by Kili's attempts to flirt but not return it. Have her rebuke Legolas when he's spewing some of the more racist sentiments.
3. Cut the bit with the captured orc mentioning the morgul arrow wound thing. That shouldn't be a factor in Tauriel & Legolas going after the band. Play up insult factor of the orcs just waltzing through their kingdom, rewrite the vague threats the orc captive makes, and maybe cast some doubts on whether Thranduil is responding rationally in this specific instance (could have them comment/agree he is acting strangely). It might be better to have Legolas as the young hothead who wants to go after the orcs, and Tauriel going along to back him up (which also gives her an out on her professional side of things as she is obligated to protect the royal family and thus can't be said to be abandoning her job for personal reasons).
4. When they save Kili and the others at Laketown from the orcs, have Tauriel recognize the morgul wound and have athelas on her as part of the standard wood-elf travel kit (can't see why it shouldn't be if they know its medicinal value). Then have Legolas take off after acknowledging she's going to be doing the healing thing so it's more on him being overconfident than on her abandoning her charge. That will have the advantage of promoting character growth for Legolas (biting off more than he can chew and then learning humility) as well as re-enforcing Tauriel's compassion and racial tolerance.
In summary, I would much rather have a major female character that is defined by her virtues rather than by her romances. She would additionally get the role of being a foil against the more racist sentiments of Thranduil/Legolas, as well as a catalyst for the character growth of Legolas and some of the dwarves (Kili, his brother, the others that are saved by their intervention in Laketown).
Sigh. I really think the Hobbit would've been better off as a one or two part movie at the most. But even as a three parter, it feels like they didn't really try with this one as much as they should have.
Taking off the critic's hat and speaking purely as a fangirl - I am feeling more and more uncomfortable with the characterization of Thranduil and Legolas in this film series.
For Thranduil, I think they are trying too hard to capitalize on the HP fandom and trying to turn him into another Lucius Malfoy. While I'm not opposed to making him a far harsher lord in parallel to Mirkwood's darkness and in contrast to the other two more wiser (Elrond) and regal (Galadriel) elven rulers, it still rather feels they are taking some of the more shallow fanon interpretations of Thranduil. In the book canon, he had better reasons for how he treated the dwarven party that crashed an elven party with Suddenly!Spiders! and then refused to say why they were there. Still, I am going to hold off on all full judgment until the last movie comes out and see how things go. While my...willingness to accept this version of Thranduil is strained, it's not hit my limit yet.
Legolas... the problem I have here is that I think they are trying too hard to incite the elf/dwarf conflict and are not paying attention to their own continuity! The Legolas of this movie is arrogant, hotheaded and acts like a brash youth. However, going by the prologue scene in FOTR, he appears at the Last Alliance of Elves & Men - meaning he should be over 2000 years old at this point! Also, he appears to be more willing to run his mouth and trash talk people randomly, either out of racism or arrogance - this is very much *unlike* the loyal, mostly quiet Legolas we see in LOTR, just a few hundred years away. Unless we see some really fast paced character growth in the next movie, it really strains my SoD to think this is the same character we see in the LOTR films.
This entry was originally posted at http://tanithryudo.dreamwidth.org/429638.h