I started last week by watching The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. I ended the week by watching The Desolation of Smaug. As you might guess, I have Tolkien on the brain, and some observations about the movie. If you’ve watched it, I hope you find them amusing. If not, well—I’m trying to avoid spoilers.
First, how can a movie change absolutely everything about a story and still be the story?
Second, is it okay to laugh through an entire fight scene?
Is it more or less okay when the orcs are losing their heads right and left? I’ll admit that I was slightly worried about seeing Legolas again. It seemed such a perfect chance to ruin things, but somehow he tops even skateboarding on a shield. And, I’ll never underestimate Bombur with a barrel again.
To go back to the orcs, however—as was shown in the Lord of the Rings, some orcs simply cannot be killed, no matter what. In my opinion, Dark Lords would be better served by spawning those orcs in fewer quantities than by spawning prodigious hordes of red-shirt orcs. I could be mistaken, though, since it might just be the difference in technique when one is fighting a single orc rather than a whole gang of them.
What about ADHD dragons who can’t decide which dwarves to chase first? Sure, Smaug showed a lot of inconsistencies, but he did have a lot going on after years of boredom. And, he obviously has trouble making up his mind. It’s no surprise, then, that he has unfinished business to distract him at crucial moments.
On the other side of things, with apparently too much time on his hands, we have Thranduil. All I’m going to say on that score is—if Thranduil and the rest of the elf army should flake out again and end up MIA for the battle of five armies, everything will still be okay. Legolas and Tauriel can be an army by themselves.
Speaking of Tauriel, I’m not going to complain about that particular change. It hardly seems important after some of the other changes. I understand some people just want to see more strong female characters, and others can’t stand a story without a romance plot of some kind. To be strictly honest, though, adding Tauriel hardly passes the Bechdel test, while as for the romance story…
No, I’m more upset about that whole morgul arrow thing, because…what am I supposed to think? That Aragorn learned his herb-lore from ‘watching’ this version of the quest? I can just picture the scene, when Gandalf and Bilbo finally make it back to Rivendell:
(As Bilbo finishes the story, probably related to him by Oin or Bofur…)
Elrond: “What? The dwarves knew about athelas?”
Gandalf: “It’s true, Elrond. I hardly believed it myself, though lucky for them that one at least had some sense to find the plant before it was too late.”
Elrond: “But how did they learn of it? Dwarves do not usually care to study such matters. Aragorn, go ask Arwen if she told one of the dwarves about athelas.”
Aragorn: “She didn’t, uncle Elrond—I did. At least, he heard about the library and wanted me to show him, and he saw your scrolls on healing craft. He told me all about the mines of Khazad-dum, too. Is it true that the dwarves woke something in the deep places, with their digging?”
I mean, if Peter Jackson can do it, I can too. (The only thing I’m holding against him right now is how he makes the story just slightly less magical—I insist upon having a talking thrush or raven or something.)
Finally, as for whether or not dragons monologue—of course they do! It must be lonely living alone in a cave for hundreds of years with a mound of treasure. Besides, dragons are the sort of creature that would love the sound of their own voices. Such a rich, golden sound it is, too…