Well, I went to the latest Hobbit movie (Desolation of Smaug) with the lowest of hopes, I thought. Not low enough as it turns out. About 20-30 minutes of the movie come from the book — the rest is made up whole cloth as if it was Hobbit: The TV Series. I knew it was going to be bad when I spotted a piston pump in the streets of Bree. The best that Bree could have hoped for was a lever for hauling a bucket out of the well, but instead they got a 19th century piston pump, which means that no one on the set must have grown up on a farm. As for the rest…
By the way, I was vindicated on the pronunciation of Smaug’s name. Balin mentions it three times. The first and last time it is “Smah-oog” and the middle time it is “Smog.”
Beorn got turned into the last of a race of slaves to the Uruk-hai, no talking dogs at Beorn’s house. Since the dwarves ran to him for protection, the dwarves again got to look useless.
Legolas, aka. Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Book, makes his appearance with Thranduil, who now has a creepy facial scar he hides by glamour. Thraniel, aka. Female-Kick-Ass-Elf-Who-Appears-in-No-Book, is another elven kicker of Uruk-Hai butts. And yes, I know Saruman made the Uruk-Hai, and therefore they couldn’t be in this movie, but you can compare the orcs and Uruk-Hai from the LOTR series.
And they certainly aren’t goblins:
Yet “Azog the Goblin” was how Gandalf named him in the Hobbit (you know, the book). He’s also identified as one of the orc chieftains in the Mines of Moria. Otherwise, he didn’t appear in the Hobbit, but in the movie he is one of the key baddies.
The barrel ride, which made sense in the book, turns into a flume ride that will later appear in Disneyworld or some other theme ride. Those barrels kept going over waterfalls and underwater, yet they mysteriously bobbed to the surface each time. Azog and his buds chase the dwarves (never happened in the book), who were stopped by an Elven dam (never happened in the book), so Kili could take a poisoned arrow (never happened) and continue his love affair with Tauriel (never happened). Then the dwarves have a fire-fight with the “goblins” in which the dwarves, although still on their flume ride, actually do ok. So then Legolas has to show up and demonstrate that elves are still better and that dwarves are comic relief, by jumping from one dwarf head to another and then standing on one foot on one dwarf while shooting two goblins with the same arrow.
Later, Legolas turns into kung-fu master and fights Azog toe-to-toe, even head-butting him (although Azog’s head is half iron — one would think that would hurt!) and later decapitating a goblin with two blades. You know, I used to like Legolas, but now I hate his corn-rowed cranium.
Back to the Laketown, where Bard smuggles the dwarves in an incredibly-overweight scow. The dwarves are covered with fish, Bard bribes the guard, and then brings the dwarves in through his toilet. More misery for the dwarves. Bard’s longbow is now a dwarven four-ribbed crossbow with javelin sized arrows. Hilariously, Smaug refers to “those damned Lake-men and their long bows” later in the movie. Continuity issue there. Smaug’s weak armor is now the result of repeated shots with the dwarven bow, but the lake dwellers remember that it knocked off a scale under his left wing. Why? Bilbo’s conversation with Smaug becomes instantly pointless. Will the thrush still report to Bard? I doubt it. The goblins AND the elves show up in Laketown (not in the book) and the populace, which spotted the dwarves straight off, apparently don’t hear either the goblins on their roofs or the fierce combat with Legolas. Sigh.
Enter Peter Fry and a Grima Wormtongue lookalike to stretch out the Laketown moments and add pointless drama. I kept flashing back to Scrooged and expecting Mary Lou Retton to do her backflip routine on the Laketown bridge as the big ending. After all, “Children love an acrobat!”
By the way, the reason one has a Laketown is for security. The gate to the bridge is usually locked and guarded.
Tauril cures Kili with athelas, an herb brought to Middle Earth by the Numenoreans, and one only remembered by the Rangers of the North, but apparently both elves and dwarves know it too. The dwarves split up (didn’t happen), Gandalf is still off on a separate quest, the dwarves fight Smaug (nope) and dip him in boiling gold (no effect).
This film actually depressed me, as it replaced a charming book of my childhood with yet more Hollywood trash. If you haven’t read the book, please do!