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Mar 242013

The Hobbit Review Part Seven ~ The Coming of Smaug!

In the Seventh and final Part of Mordor’s Review of The Hobbit, we will continue our look at the Dark Creatures in the film. There will be Spoilers… so if you have not seen the film yet beware!

In Part One of Mordor’s Review of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” I discussed the over all look and pacing of the film, focusing on the story line which I believe should receive a very high score! I touched on many of the areas that critics and reviewers have mentioned and hopefully addressed most of them. In Part Seven of this review, we will discuss what we have seen so far concerning Smaug. I know that Peter Jackson is saving the great worm for the next film, but he did make several appearances, through certainly small ones in the first film… so… we discuss! I also want to make a few remarks about the trolls and their encounter with the company.

For those who have not seen the film… there are spoilers in these latter six reviews.

So… put on your climbing boots because we are about to scale the Lonely Mountain and see if we can coax Smaug from his hiding!

Please go HERE to our Hobbit Review Page for all seven parts of the Mordor Review!

Well… considering that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has now been out for well over two months, I suppose it’s time to wrap up my review!  We also have the Online Preview with Peter Jackson coming for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in just a few hours, so from here on out we will be focusing on the next film! Make sure you read all seven parts of the review!

Lets begin with a quick look at the Battle with the Trolls.

I did not give the troll encounter it’s own review, because I felt that there had already been a lot of discussion about this scene, before the film was released. The trolls were one of the set pieces in the film that was used for promotion, so that a lot of the troll sequence was know before the film premiered.

However, there are a few elements I would like to discuss. Over all, I thought this sequences was very well handled. The performance capture helped create a sense of character and realism that was necessary for this scene. In addition, except for just a moment or two the characters of Tom, Bert and William looked very real. Bert is played by Mark Hadlow (Dori), Tom is played William Kircher (Bifur) and William is played by Peter Hambleton (Glóin). The digital skin placed over the Motion Capture works really well. A real leap forward from the trolls in The Lord of the Rings.

In the film version of this scene, the loss of some of the companies ponies is what leads Fili, Kili and Bilbo to the Trolls campfire. One of the trolls has stolen several ponies one of which is Bilbo’s pony Myrtle. In a previous scene we see Bilbo sneaking an apple to Myrtle to show a kinship and fondness for his pony, which then plays out further in the scene with the Trolls. In the book Bilbo is sent to find out what is the source of a campfire fire seen during a rainstorm.

Bilbo finds the three trolls, but before he returns to tll the dwarves, his Tookish side comes out and he decides  to steal one of the trolls wallets to prove that he really is a burglar worth his salt. However, in a whimsical turn the ‘magical’ wallet speaks up when Bilbo tries to lift it and so the trolls discover him. In the film version, Bilbo tries to free the Ponies which are tied up and he tries to steel a knife from one of the Trolls back pockets and is of course discovered! A slight difference from the book version of events, but one worth taking note of. In may ways, I think practically, it works better then the scene in the book as far as believability goes, it also helps establish the character of Bilbo who will do what he can for these he cares about.

I felt like the performance capture worked great in this scene and helped bring the character of the three trolls to life. Tolkien wrote them into The Hobbit with a fanciful turn, but still made them feel real. I think the film also achieves this quite well.

Peter Jackson expanded on this scene to further show that Bilbo is as yet still totally inept as a bugler and is a burden to the company… and yet in the very same scene, he also shows Bilbo’s cunning in distracting the tolls until the morning, so the Gandalf can crack the stone and let the light of day fall upon the trolls. In the book, it was Gandalf who distracted the troll by throwing his voice, but I think for the film  version works perfectly as device to show that Bilbo is made of sterner stuff than outside appearances would suggest.

The scene with the three Trolls is such a pivotal moment in the books and is the first indication of a larger and more dangerous world beyond the borders of the Shire. In the film, it also works as a plot element to tells us that Middle-earth is undergoing a change as darker forces begin to grow in the east. Peter Jackson make use of this in Gandalf’s argument to the White council, saying that troll and coming down from the mountains as part of his argument that something dark is afoot in Middle-earth, which of course is rejected by Saruman. The troll scene serves as a part of the every growing threat from the Shadow growing in Mirkwood.

Smaug the Magnificent

We have already had our first glimpse of Smaug, he made his first appearance in the prologue which opened the film. We see the grandeur of Erebor and Dale go up in violent flames at the great worm descends of the Lonely Mountain. The filmmakers are clever in how they show the coming of the dragon… a rush of wind over the treas, a bit of wing, a lash of tail, crushing claws and of course the fire!

We also get just a taste of what’s to come in the final scene of The Hobbit: AUJ. As the company stands upon the Carrock after being rescued by the eagles, Bilbo intones… “Well I think we are over the worst of it” HA! The camera zooms up upon the shoulders of the Lonely Mountain to the very doors of Erebor. We see the famous thrush cracking a nut… then the camera cuts to a scene inside the lonely mountain, we zoom down over mountains of gold and jewels piled in the heart of Erebor. The camera slows and we see a great breath shoot out of a hill of gold coins… then the snout of Smaug emerges… more coins fall as we see the great beast roll his huge head to the side, the left part his face becomes visible… then the camera zooms in again upon the closed eye lid of the vast head which suddenly pops open, revealing a sinister and deadly eye filled with malice!

So far… so good.

I’m very excited to see how Benedict Cumberbatch uses not only his deep voice but also his acting abilities to create the persona of Smaug. Go HERE to see out Lord of the Rings and and Star Treks “Into Darkness” trailer mash up to hear his voice. I feel like he is the prefect actor to create the character of Smaug.

I expect it will be a very an interesting challenge to translate the actors portrayal of Smaug through performance capture…. that of a man into the body of a huge Dragon.

I would assume they will focus primarily on facial features… but even that will be difficult. My biggest concern about Smaug is whether they will have the time needed to bring Smaug to life completely and realistically. The bar has been set really high with the performance of Andy Serkis as Gollum which shows off the incredible advancement in performance capture and digital animation.

However, precisely because the bar has been set so high, audiences may be disappointed with Smaug if he is only reaches the same level of CGI as the Goblin King and Azog… which though superbly rendered are just not as believable as Gollum. As much as I love these two characters… the Great Goblin and Azog, you can clearly see the they are both CG creations, even with the wonders of performance capture and the wonderful performance of the actors underneath the CGI. I believe if the animators had more time, they could have achieved the same level of believability as they did with Gollum, but every filmmaker must deal with the limits of time and money in every film production.

I want Smaug to be on the same level of believability as Gollum… who looked so real and was leaps and bounds beyond how he moved and articulated in the Lord of the Rings films.

It will be interesting to see what Peter Jackson show us today in the Desolation of Smaug Sneak Peek Live Event! Will we see Smaug? Most like not, but we can hope. yes?

Finally I want to touch on the Arkenstone and what we know about it so far.

The Arkenstone…

Now… I’m going out on a limb here… but it seems like the script writers have expanded the role the Arkenstone will play in Peter Jackson’s version of The Hobbit. I have a feeling that Sauron not only wants Smaug in the service of Mordor along with all the gold and Mithril  to be found in the dragon hoard of Erebor, but he also desires and covets the power of the Arkenstone itself.

In the Hobbit: AUJ there are hints that Peter Jackson may have bigger plans for the part the Arkenstone plays that Tolkien envision in the book. This is a sense that the Arkenstone has with it it the power of greed that can darkn the hearts of those who possess it. With the power of the Arkenstone, Sauron might very well be able to control the dwarves of Middle-earth.

Either way… possessing the Arkenstone would increase the wreath and power of Sauron. I do believe he wants it!

We will just have to see where peter Jackson is going to take this part of the storyline!

Well… this concludes our final chapter in Mordor’s review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey… now we will look forward to the next film as we explore the Evil Creatures and Dark location we  expect to see in the next film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug!

 March 24, 2013  Posted by at 12:32 pm

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