Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Hobbit And The Dragon (Random Remarks)

Last night, I watched "The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug" and I will probably watch it again today, and maybe tomorrow, too.

I enjoyed it very much.

That said, a few things struck me. What strikes me is probably not at all remarkable, and some of my remarks echo comments made by others about the "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy.

1. The X-Box/Nintendo elements. It is very "gamey".  It's over-the-top in the way the fight scenes are prolonged, excessively athletic, creative, fast-moving, and altogether implausible.... but fun to watch.

Whether one is watching Bond, Lone Ranger, Iron Man, LOTR, or The Hobbit every director seems to try to outdo his predecessors in the stunt department in running/riding/driving one mode of travel on top of another mode of travel while fighting and dodging obstacles and missiles.

Does it matter any more if the audience "notices"? 

For a while, in fiction writing, it was considered preferable if the author effaced himself or herself, and did as little as possible to draw attention to the process of narration.  Has the etiquette surrounding the suspension of disbelief changed?

2. Thorin is a hunk. In fact, I counted at least three hunky dwarves. Gimli in LOTR is a decided throw-back. Of course, if some of the dwarves weren't sexually appealing, the romantic elements would not be acceptable in a fast-moving, wide-ranging epic, where the heroine wouldn't have time to notice an ill-favored enemy protagonist's sense of humor or world-changing intellectual stature.

Why, though, in this day and age must there be a romance at all? And, if there must be a romance on an  epic journey saga where all the original fellow travellers were fellows, why shouldn't there be a bromance?

3. The villains are beefed up. It's good entertainment, but in a prequel that is part of a story arc about a rising danger to the world, it seems to me that the villains should not be as numerous or as excessive, and the danger should not be greater in the prequel than it is/they are in the end.  

And, what's with the ubiquitous rotten teeth? Wild wolves may have an occasional broken or missing fang, but the carnivorous --if not cannibal-- diet and the vigorous use of dentition should not produce the tooth rot that all too many villainous Orcs sport, surely.

4. Not to give anything away, but some of the elaborate equipment and machinery used by the dwarves to fight ....well, Smaug...  did not fit well with my understanding of the dwarvish nature, and outraged me so much that I could not go with the flow. Those who have seen 'Desolation Of Smaug" will know what I mean, perhaps.

My final thought is nothing to do with The Hobbit in particular. Just as there are a finite number of notes in sheet music, and therefore a finite number of note combinations, which has led to "sampling" because it is probably impossible not to duplicate a riff or refrain that someone else played before, will we reach a point where all stunts and fight scenes become derivative?

Off topic: Don't forget to change all your online passwords, and to check all your bank and credit card statements more carefully than usual. #Heartbleed. Here's someone else's list of the sites that were most likely affected, so you can prioritize.



  1. I don't have the DVD yet, but we saw the movie in the theater. At the time, one of the main things that struck me was how some of the "action" scenes reminded me of the Indiana Jones movies. (And as for "gamey," parts looked like set-ups for future amusement park theme rides.)

    I agree about too many threats, too early -- even more in the first film than in this one. Bilbo doesn't have time to "earn" his growth into a courageous hero when he faces orcs practically straight out of Hobbiton. In DESOLATION OF SMAUG, I was glad to see Beorn included, but it seemed they skimmed over his section of the story awfully fast -- probably just enough to "plant" him for a dramatic reappearance at the climactic battle.

  2. Margaret, thank you for your comments. The Beorn episode was brief, but quite skilfully done, I thought. I understand why the chain around his wrist was used, but unless it was magical metal, it should not have survived shape-shifting.