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 Post subject: No-longer-first impressions: delving into AUJ and DoS
PostPosted: March 17th, 2014, 9:24 pm 
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Hey all,

Instead of taking over the "First impressions" thread, I'd like to start anew so we can delve deeper into the material of the Movies and how they help us understand Tolkien and the wonderful world of Middle Earth that he has left for us.

To start us off, I want to shamelessly quote one of my replies for the First Impressions, to help us get some of the more superficial stuff out of the way.

Meganelf wrote:
I really think that everyone should take a couple hours and go listen to the podcasts by the Tolkien Professor (Corey Olsen, who is actually a college professor that teaches Tolkien Studies).

I find that sometimes we (as Tolkien fans) can be the *most* critical of any adaptation. Professor Olsen reminds us that it IS just an adaptation, and that there are some forms of criticism that aren't worth our time...

Here's the Tolkien Chats, which the two at the bottom (#16 and 17) are his reactions to the DoS.
Or here are direct links for parts 1 and 2:
Reactions to the Desolation of Smaug-Part 1
Reactions to the Desolation of Smaug-Part 2
You can also find them on iTUNES

Also, to quote my own earlier post (because every once and a while I have these awesome moments... :innocent: )

Meganelf wrote:
Maybe I'm just less cynical than most of you... ;)

I didn't walk into the movie expecting it to be the book reincarnated.
I don't WANT it to be the book reincarnated.
Because then, honestly, why would anyone read the book if they could just sit for a few (*coughninecough*) hours and watch the movie and get all the same stuff out of it. And that's not fair for Tolkien.

The Movies are just an adaptation. They are PJ/FW/PB's adaptations. I use them to amplify my own understanding of Tolkien.


Just some additional food for thought. Maybe we can really delve deeper into not the WHY of how the characters came into being, but the WHAT effect it has on the story, and WHAT it reveals about Tolkien's world.


So, there's a billion topics to get to, especially because PJ et al left us with some interesting questions. Where shall we start first? (first poster gets to pick the topic!)

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 Post subject: Re: No-longer-first impressions: delving into AUJ and DoS
PostPosted: March 24th, 2014, 8:29 am 
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Okay, since no one has jumped up to claim the first topic I'll gladly do so myself :)

One of the biggest questions for me after seeing DoS was how Gandalf was ever going to escape from his cage in Dol Guldur in time to return to for the Battle of the Five Armies. Right now, his situation was pretty hopeless, being stuck in that cage while seeing the forces of Dol Guldur marching off to the battle field. But I also wonder why Sauron decided to lock him in that cage. Will he leave him behind, all by himself? Surely he might expect that Gandalf would find a way to escape, and it would only be easier when there's no one to guard him.

And what's the role of the White Council in this matter? Doesn't Sauron suspect that Gandalf came to Dol Guldur on their behalf? If yes, why does he leave him behind. If not, is he really so ignorant of what is going on in Middle Earth?

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 Post subject: Re: No-longer-first impressions: delving into AUJ and DoS
PostPosted: March 24th, 2014, 6:44 pm 
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totally never saw this thread before.... boo

I thought that the film's perspective on the whole White Council storyline was really interesting too Lhuna. I know we don't get a lot in LotR to tell us how Sauron was ousted from Dol Guldor, but I got the impression it was a joint effort by the White Council. It's interesting that getting rid of Sauron seems to be all on Gandalf, with Galadriel as his personal psychic cheerleader in the film, so I'm intrigued as to how that storyline will resolve itself.

I think it's actually a really complicated sub-plot to portray, as I get the impression it needs a similar set up to the end of RotK- a big battle for a physical defeat of evil and someone working unnoticed to take out the source at the same time. I suppose its easy in the books to say the White Council made Sauron flee to Mordor, but how? Especially if Gandalf, who's doing all the work, is elsewhere.

I'm also interested in the roll Radagast might play, Gandalf's Hobbit-staff has been broken and Radagast's is a match for Gandalf's FotR-staff- I wonder if we'll see him sacrifice himself to save Gandalf. It - sadly- explains why we don't encounter him in the LotR films.

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 Post subject: Re: No-longer-first impressions: delving into AUJ and DoS
PostPosted: March 26th, 2014, 4:34 am 
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I also thought that the removal of Sauron from Dol Guldur was a result of the combined efforts of the White Council. And maybe that's why Sauron was always a bit weary of Galadriel and Elrond afterwards, because he had seen and felt their power and how it could be used against him. In the movie I got the feeling that Gandalf was merely functioning as a lookout or scout, prompted by Galadriel to go and find out what was going on in Dul Guldur. And yes, since they seem to share that psychic connection, maybe she will also be the one who helps him escape?

And I'm also interested to see how they will resolve that. If I remember correctly, the Orcs and Wargs weren't under Sauron's command in "the Hobbit". On the other hand, nothing was described about Sauron or a similar person, so we might as well assume that there was indeed some darker force driving the bad guys together to start a war. Maybe if all the attention is directed at the Battle of the Five Armies Sauron will see his chance and escape to another stronghold? Or maybe he only does so after the Battle of the Five Armies goes ill for the Orc/Warg groups.

That's a very good point about his staff! I thought Gandalf had the same staff in the Hobbit as during FotR, but we've now seen it destroyed. So does he keep a stack of them somewhere? :p It would be really nice if Radagast was the one coming to rescue him, I like that he was given more serious role in the second movie, opposed to the funny and cute role he had in the first movie. Maybe he will eventually work together with the White Council?

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 Post subject: Re: No-longer-first impressions: delving into AUJ and DoS
PostPosted: March 27th, 2014, 5:36 pm 
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Gonna try to organize my response. Excellent topic pic, Lhuna!

Broken staff-I'm not entirely sure that Radagast's staff is the same as Gandalf's in FotR. Radagast's seems much more... frazzled? they are similar, definitely, but not identical.

I do hope that Radagast does not die. But if he does, I'm interested to see what they do with it (I really loved the passage in RotK when Saruman finally dies and his spirit rises up and looks west but then the wind blows it away...).

The White Council is something I've loved seeing in these movies because they are so behind the scenes in the book version of the hobbit. First, we can't have too much tension between Saruman and Gandalf et al when they finally do turn to Dol Guldor because he still has to be seen as the "wisest" and a "councilor" at the beginning of FotR or else we will just be left wondering why Gandalf is going to him for advice about the Ring.
Second, I believe the text (at least as I remember it) from the appendicies regarding the downfall of Dol Guldor was that Celeborn led the elves of Lorien to besiege and Galadriel "cast down the walls" using the power of her ring (I AM STOKED FOR THIS TO HAPPEN ONSCREEN. I hope Galadriel still gets to be the butt-kicker here)
I can definitely see Radagast alerting Galadriel and she and her host show up and save Gandalf, possibly behind Saruman's back. He didn't seem too enthusiastic about the idea of a necromancer, and pretty much in denial that it could be Sauron at all.
I do believe in the book (please correct me if I'm wrong) that the white council was still not entirely sure that the necromancer was Sauron. In the movie, it is pretty much asserted that the spirit IS in fact Sauron and that he is already in control of orc armies and such. Yes, Lhuna, you are right--Sauron did not really have any part in the goblin and warg armies that marched to the Lonely Mountain; those were instead the still-upset goblins that came from the misty mountains led by Bolg to avenge the Goblin King.

I am very interested in the Sauron-angle of the battle of 5 armies. He seems to have set up for Azog to lead for the battle itself, so I personally doubt that his defeat/relocation to Mordor will have an effect on the battle itself (as it did in the end of RotK).


My personal questions go along the same lines as the ones Lhuna brought up: How will Gandalf get out, especially since I fully expect him to be present at the battle of 5 armies? Will the whole White council come to oust him and banish the necromancer or will it just be the forces of Lorien as in the book (and Radagast)? Will Galadriel have an awesome white inky cloud to combat the nasty black one of Saurons?

I really do hope that our Lady of Light gets to strut her stuff. Talk about a STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER. And that would make her even more terrifying in FotR when she considers taking the Ring....

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 Post subject: Re: No-longer-first impressions: delving into AUJ and DoS
PostPosted: March 30th, 2014, 2:10 pm 
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This discussion is getting more interesting with every reply :)

I also think Radagast won't die. It just wouldn't make sense, given that's he still supposed to be alive during FotR. Of course he wasn't in the movie, but I can't think of any good reason why he should have to die in the Hobbit. But if he should die, I also hope they make something good out of it!

Yes, I agree completely on the Saruman/Gandalf relationship. It's already a bit obvious that Saruman is trying to downplay the dangers Gandalf talks about, yet he doesn't openly contradict or oppose Gandalf. Probably because he still needs the other White Council members to see him as one of their own. I also don't think Saruman is already completely 'evil' at this timepoint, even though his motives and desires are already more focused on gaining power for himself.

As for the fall of Dol Guldur, I believed that only happened at the end of the War of the Ring. Of course Sauron had abandoned the fortress already, but I thought he left one of the Nine in charge of the castle, so he would be able to keep a stronghold in that part of Middle Earth. But when it was thrown down, it was absolutely because Galadriel played a role in that, and I'd love to see something of that. Her role in LotR was still a bit powerless compared to the character that's described in LotR, where she's completely kick-ass in a very subtle way :)

Maybe the Battle of the Five Armies is just a nice diversion for Sauron, so he can sneak away to Mordor when all eyes from the surrounding lands are focused on Erebor? And that he'd lose some Elves, Dwarves and Lakemen during that battle wouldn't hurt him either. It would only make upcoming fights in that area easier to win. So maybe film-Sauron just tapped into the already existing anger in the goblin/warg troops - and added some more fuel in the process - so they would unknowingly follow his masterplan.

Gandalf'd better be present at the Battle of the Five Armies! Isn't he supposed to be a bit of a peace maker between the different groups that are fighting together? But than the White Council will have to hurry up, since the goblintroops are already on their way to the battlefield. It will of course take them some time to reach Erebor, but still...

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 Post subject: Re: No-longer-first impressions: delving into AUJ and DoS
PostPosted: April 17th, 2014, 5:11 pm 
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Bringing up another White-council related question: Do we think they will be playing a role in the Siege of the Lonely Mountain? I think this could be feasible given that Gandalf was already there (in the books), and I presume once released from the cage (by, what I believe will be some faction of the white council) he will be heading over to the lonely mountain? Will the gang come with him? What sort of impact would their presence have during the debating (between Thranduil, Gandalf, Bard, and Bilbo)?


Lhunardaien wrote:
As for the fall of Dol Guldur, I believed that only happened at the end of the War of the Ring. Of course Sauron had abandoned the fortress already, but I thought he left one of the Nine in charge of the castle, so he would be able to keep a stronghold in that part of Middle Earth.

Ok, I caved and looked it up. :D Dol Goldur was taken (mostly just Sauron was forced out and into Mordor) during the time of the quest for Erebor. However, he sent 3 Nazgul to re-occupy it 10 years later after openly declaring himself to be Sauron. The FULL (like Galadriel throwing down the foundations) fall coincided with the destruction of the One Ring.
So, it's conceivable that Jackson and Co may bring the full downfall forward in time, just so they don't have those loose strings that were never addressed in the LotR trilogy.


I think we should start switching to the next topic (if possible!)... which I think should be about our favorite Elf, Thranduil!

I think we don't get a lot about Thranduil in the books, nor about many of the other elves in Mirkwood. I was very interested to see how, well, mean they made his character. In early drafts of Tolkien, Thrandy was pretty stuck up, but because we see so few elves in the books he made the change to Thranduil being less of an antagonist. But in the movies we don't have that problem (the lack of elves) so... Thranduil is back to being full of himself.
I do wonder though if we may get some more backstory for him, perhaps to explain what's up with his face?! Or maybe explain more of why he is so stuck up in the first place...

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 Post subject: Re: No-longer-first impressions: delving into AUJ and DoS
PostPosted: April 24th, 2014, 2:24 pm 
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I'm not sure about whether the White Council will actually play a role in the BoFA. After all, they didn't hesitate to send Gandalf on his own to figure out what was happening in Dol Guldur, so maybe they feel the same way about this battle. And on the other hand, Gandalf seems to be the only one who is actually concerned with the fate of Smaug and the Dwarves, so maybe the White Council decides to just sit and wait to see who comes out on top, before they start playing any role in that. At least, that is how I see the Council now; they are concerned with the events in Middle Earth, but maybe not with every minor event (like the possibility of Thorin re-claiming Erebor?).

And Thranduil was one of my biggest and favorite surprises in DoS. I still like Elrond and his gang, but sometimes they're also a bit annoying because they are always doing good things and speaking nice words and being friendly to everyone. I just can't imagine someone to be so nice all the time, even if he's lived for thousands of years. So yeah, Thranduil was a nice change! I think they made him so different from Elrond and Galadriel to maybe show the difference between the High Elves and the Wood Elves, even though Thranduil isn't originally a Wood Elf. He's merely been their king since the Last Alliance, so no doubt he's taken over some of their characteristics during those long years. And he's also kind of a less 'safe' place, with his realm being constantly attacked by spiders, orcs and other foul creatures from Dol Guldur. But I do hope we get to see a bit more of his personality and character, besides his obvious antipathy towards Dwarves :lol: And some more scenes without Legolas or Tauriel would also be nice.. They already get a lot of attention in the movie, and they kind of take away the spotlight from Thranduil, who only has three scenes in total.

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 Post subject: Re: No-longer-first impressions: delving into AUJ and DoS
PostPosted: May 16th, 2014, 4:33 pm 
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I will keep my fingers crossed for some White Council throw downs in BoFA (still getting used to that one). After all, they seem in the literature to take a more active stance once Saruman is no longer in charge and holding them back.

Thranduil... I still don't know how I feel about him. Kinda gives me the creeps. haha. He's borderline acting like Thingol with his gem-lust (if you've read the Sil; he's an elven king that ends up getting killed because of his greed)... but even Thingol had a good side! I mean, he had to be awesome enough for ALL his people to hang around looking for him for YEARS and for Melian to fall in love with him...

Tolkien did assert in the Hobbit that elves are Good People (caps his, not mine) so I hope they don't make him into a total demon with the wheeling and dealing in the BoFA during the siege of the lonely mountain. Or at least give us some more backstory (*fingerscrossed*) as to why he is the way he is...

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 Post subject: Re: No-longer-first impressions: delving into AUJ and DoS
PostPosted: October 18th, 2015, 10:12 pm 
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My review of The Hobbit

I finally had the opportunity to watch The Hobbit - AUJ and, taking into consideration the number of reviews I read beforehand, and the dulling impact they had on my expectations, I didn't find the experience as painful as I anticipated.

Let’s start with the positives:

Elrond - a pleasant surprise. Feeling as I did about the way he was portrayed in the trilogy, I found him somewhat transformed in AUJ. Here he presents a more “Elf-like“ demeanour, if I may use that term, extending genuine hospitality to a less than friendly group of Dwarfs; and wielding a sword while leading his guard against some enemies, even if all we saw were glimpses of capes and horses' legs.

Thorin - as presented in the AUJ, I liked him. Although the character was sharp-tongued and moody, it didn't strike a false note with me. I think the early scenes of Smaug's arrival, and the destruction of Dale and Erebor, set the tone very nicely with regard to his temperament and burning drive to regain his kingdom. It will be interesting to see how he fares in the next two parts.

Bilbo - I didn’t find Bilbo one thing or another, frankly; the portrayal was okay. There were a couple of nice moments: his confusion when the Dwarfs start arriving; and his show of "Hobbit" courage when Thorin is injured during the Orc attack. Otherwise, his persona just seemed to be over-whelmed by those of the Dwarfs.

Now for the negatives:

The Dwarfs - after falling in love with Gimli, who at least looked and acted like a dwarf (at least in accordance with my imagination), I was appalled when I saw the companions. To borrow a phrase from Elizabeth Barrett Browning, let me count the ways:

Firstly, with regard to the beards (or lack thereof): those Dwarfs who had beards, sported beards so outrageous (think Balin) that I found myself focusing on the damn things, instead of listening to what they were saying. As for those who were essentially beardless, did Gimli not jest with Éowyn about the bearded aspects of his people in TTT, or did I imagine the entire conversation? As for the costuming: for a war-like race they certainly eschew the wearing of any kind of armour, preferring instead the "waifs from a Dickensian musical" look.

Secondly, what’s with the swords? If memory serves, axes and maces are Dwarfs' weapons of choice. It hardly seems logical that a race only four feet in height would use swords against much taller opponents. Well, I guess they could cut them off at the knees and then stab them, but that seems like a waste of time and effort. Tolkien did give Thorin Orcrist, but I've always felt he meant it to be more symbolic of his status, than a weapon he would actually use in battle.

Finally, what happened their manners and intelligence? When they arrive at Bilbo’s door, they act like a bunch of hooligans. No wonder he was reluctant to join them on their quest. When they arrive in Rivendell, they act like children, although Thorin comes around somewhat when he finds out Elrond can be of use to him. And, with the exception of Balin, they come across as uneducated rubes. Why treat these characters with such disrespect? Fodder for jokes? Even the seven dwarfs in Snow White were treated with more dignity.

The Great Goblin - er, at first I had no idea what I was looking at: he looked like a giant gummy goblin with a ...... thing hanging off his chin? Then I realised, oh dear, that is his chin. Good grief! Didn’t anybody look at him and go: "What the hell were we thinking?" Mind you, he did have a spiffy education for a goblin; sounded like a fake English barrister. I’m surprised his minions didn’t off him just so they didn’t have to listen to his precious accent.

The Three Trolls and Azog - OMG! What can I say? Ugh!

Galadriel - looked great, or rather I think she looked great. Not sure: it seemed as though she were being filmed through several layers of gauze. Perhaps to obscure the effects of aging we mortals tend to display after two decades? Also, I know the Eldar had telepathic capability, but I didn’t realise they could teleport so it came as a surprise when she “popped” out of her scene with Gandalf without so much as a fare ye well.

Gandalf - looked a tad peaked if I may say so. There were a several times when I thought the old geezer, well, looked like an old geezer. Oddly enough, Saruman looked much the same, but then he had the moxie to stay seated during his scenes.

He just didn't seem to be the Gandalf I loved in the trilogy. If the old Gandalf had arrived at Bilbo’s and seen the mess the Dwarfs had made, he would have given them the rough side of his tongue, not treated it as some sort of joke.

There seemed to be a wink, wink, nudge, nudge, quality to his acting at times that had me wondering how Ian McKellan, the actor, really felt about Gandalf, the Wizard, this go round.

Gollum - there was something really "off" about this performance. Perhaps it was the audio, that put me off. If I hadn’t been familiar with the scene and known what the riddles were, I would have been lost, the quality of the sound was that poor (at least in the version I watched).

Also, the Smeagol-Gollum-Smeagol transitioning does not occur until he encounters Frodo and the Ring some sixty years hence, and I'm not sure why it was included here since it didn't add anything of value to the sequence.

My overall impression:

Too often, I found myself watching scenes and going: “A yes" ….. (pick a scene of your own) - my personal favourite is the butterfly going to the Great Eagles for help.

Gandalf seems to have some kind of contract with the lepidopterae population of Middle-earth, such that he will only use them in times of crisis like some personalised 911 service.

The ease with which I was able to make these comparisons began to annoy me as the film progressed. It was almost as if they were using a reworked version of the LotR script for some of the sequences: "Hey, folks, rather than waste time coming up with a new scenario, let's just reuse the one we used in in the trilogy."

At least they made no real attempt to disguise this apparent laziness. PJ even went so far as to have the Dwarfs, with Bilbo and Gandalf, strung out across the same ridge of the same mountain as he had .... (come on, you can name them) .... in TTT.

Weta, who are known world-wide for their superlative CGI creations, must have been closed for holidays during filming, how else can you explain the amateurish work? I couldn't believe how cheesy the wolves? wargs? looked. If Weta weren't on holiday, then what happened to the awesome craftsmanship of twenty years ago? I was again left wondering about the depth of the committment to the project.

Finally, we come to the length of too many of the scenes. They went on and on and on and could have done with some serious editing. The escape from Khazad-dûm the goblin lair, being the one that springs to mind . They reminded of Bilbo's comment: “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” Or, in this case, to much film spread over too little script.

Mind you, watching The Hobbit - AUJ did do one thing. It made me realize just how special the Lord of the Rings films were, and still are. The magic that captivated me is still there, lurking on discs I can see on the shelf across the room from where I'm sitting, waiting patiently for me to to take them out of their sleeves and watch them again.

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