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devil duck

So about this "Hobbit"...

I'm not complaining about taking liberties with the book -- every movie-from-a-book does that. There are some slight spoilers in the following, but most of them are either well known or pretty predictable so I make no apology.

Yes, they added a lot more fight scenes, because an action movie needs a lot of fight scenes. Yes, they renamed the "goblins" of the book as Orcs, because they already had Orc costumes in the Weta warehouses and it's simpler than explaining the difference. Yes, they inserted Legolas into the movie, because Orlando Bloom. And they inserted hot-elf-maiden, because otherwise there would have been no female characters at all, and because "Hunger Games", and "Brave", and "Hunger Games". And they had Stephen Frye, who might have been good as a dwarf but those parts were all taken so they had to write a sort of schizophrenic Stephen Frye character into the story.

What bother me are the inventions and insertions that make no sense at all, except as an excuse for a cool visual effect or star fan-service. Many of the fight scenes are preposterous in the same ways as those in "Pirates of the Caribbean": no, there's no reason for the characters to do this, but wouldn't it be cool to see them do it?

A small example: Legolas is fighting some Orcs with a knife in a small room, then pulls out a bow and shoots one at a range of a foot. Why? Five minutes later, he faces the baddest Orc of them all at 10-15 yards range, so this awesome archer pulls out... a sword. WTF?

A larger example: you're in a dragon's lair, with your life threatened from second to second. So naturally you find "the forges," which haven't been used in fifty years (and you seem surprised that "they're stone cold"), light them with a handy dragon (and no visible source of fuel), and start an industrial manufacturing line in order to melt a couple thousand tons of gold so you can go surfing on it, then cast a 100-foot-tall gold statue (having presumably built the mold in a few seconds off-camera) which, as soon as everybody's gotten a good look at it, starts spontaneously re-melting so you can try to drown a dragon (who lives, eats, and breathes gold and fire) in molten gold. Gee, who wouldn't think that was a good plan?


Well, yeah. I try not to get too up in arms about it. I chant to myself "folk process, folk process" and try and leave it there. Sometimes.
Sometimes it looks like Legolas sets himself little challenges, to keep the fighting interesting. "I wonder if I can kill that ork with...hmm. This wet diaper. Yes, that shall be entertaining."
The Master of Laketown is canonical, and he is supposed to be greedy and untrustworthy; he comes to a bad end in the book.

I really desperately hate how uncanonical this segment of the story is. I'm a literary snob purist about translating books to film, even for books that aren't my favorite fandom. But it's worth noting that (a) the second segment of the LotR movies was the weakest canonically as well, and (b) the second segment of a trilogy is usually the weakest, just on principle.

The surfing on gold thing particularly offended me, because Science. The mould for Thror's golden statue that was in process at the time Smaug destroyed the community is supposed to be yet another symbol of how far under the sway of the (apparently bad) Arkenstone Thror had fallen. But it's really only there for the surfing moment, and for that lovely instant where the rising dragon shivers off the gold leafing. That was a splendid cinematic visual, and I'm glad to have seen it no matter how ridiculous it is.

But the sheer audacity of tricking a dragon into relighting the long-cold forge? It's pure Elder Days brilliance. If the movie makers really thought the larger story of The Hobbithad to be reworked smaller, to make it about one group's return from exile (in the same way that LotR was re-worked into a story about one man's doubts of his adequacy), then I'm glad they at least decided to make up and add that particular scene.
Yes, I remember the Master of Laketown existing, although I don't remember nearly as much action taking place in Laketown -- particularly not a political struggle with its own Wormtongue -- in the book as did in the movie.

Is the statue mold mentioned in the book? (I haven't read it in a lot of years.)
Thank you for putting so clearly my exact issues.