Enjoyed stage two of The Hobbit more than stage one. It had to be Jackson to direct this, the movie Moguls got that right. Enough of Tolkein’s lovely language and rich imagination to satisfy the likes of me, enough Pirates of The Caribbean style swashbuckling action comedy and romance to keep the teens happy, and the way that this prequel references and harks forward to the Lord of The Rings movie trilogy is a bonus that would have been less available to a differently styled and directed movie or movies.
I found the added battle, dwarves/versus dragon under The Lonely Mountain in the dwarf halls at the end of the movie a bit over the top, but it wasn’t boring, and the scriptwriters put in so much of Smaug’s dialogue with Bilbo from the book that these scenes did retain some Tolkienesque veracity.
Jackson and his co-writers really are bridging the gap between the hobbit and LOTR – making the ring ‘heavy’ for Bilbo as it was for Frodo.
In this rerwrite it so isn’t an ordinary magic ring, it is clearly the one the other movies have already introduced. As one example, when Bilbo puts it on to fight the spiders he at once understands their spider language, which is presumably a dialect of ‘the black speech’. And this makes sense, because in this version the spiders have recently been spawned by Sauron in Dol Guldor, a bit more convincing than Tolkiens explanation in the book, which was, more or less, that the spiders spoke a debased form of ‘common’, as we would say in D&D. I can accept that Trolls might speak ‘common’, as it could be useful for them, in their dealings with other races, but to me this never rang true for Mirkwood’s spiders.
Though Tolkien doesn’t explicitly state the spiders are from Dol Guldor in The Hobbit, he does make that connection later in the LOTR appendices. So Jackson further shores up Tolkein’s belated bridge between LOTR and Hobbit, making the Hobbit/LOTR saga as a whole more cohesive than could a Hobbit movie series faithful to the book alone.
As for the mighty goblin and warg armies of Mount Gundabad with their legions of accompanying bats that block the sun, in the book they were at first aroused and enraged by the slaying of the Goblin King by Gandalf and Thorin’s party, then later lured by rumour of the dragon’s hoard, now up for grabs in Erebor. So like the Goblins in Tolkien’s Father Christmas Letters, also written explicitly for children, they are not so much slave armies of a Sauron or a Saruman as independent evil minded denizens of the dark places of the earth.
Its clear from early in The Hobbit that ‘The Necromancer’ of Dol Guldor was no ordinary foe: when Thorin says: “We have long ago paid the goblins of Moria, we must give a thought to the Necromancer.” Gandald replies: “Don’t be absurd! He is an enemy quite beyond the powers of all the dwarves put together, if they could all be collected again from the four corners of the world.”
And this prepares the way for Gandalf’s so-important business with the White Council, which was to drive the Necromancer out of Mirkwood and make the Greenwood a safer place ‘for many a day’. In The Hobbit this may just have been a plot device; Gandalf did need a very good excuse for suddenly abandoning Bilbo and the dwarves mid-quest.
However in The Desolation of Smaug we learn that many of the warg and orc/goblin forces now massing for battle are at this moment being spawned in Dol Guldor to serve ‘master’ Sauron, which means The Battle of Five Armies is to be, as Tolkien himself later painted it, the first main battle of the major war that was not very far away.