Y’all are in luck; this review will be much more coherent than last year’s post on An Unexpected Journey (wherein I made the mistake of writing immediately after watching and was still on an adrenaline high). Now I actually have organized my thoughts in a more coherent manner and can come across with at least a modicum of intelligence.
It started out brilliantly, with Beorn the Skinchanger appearing almost right away as the biggest bear on the face of Middle-Earth. Seriously, he was huge. And awesome. His awesomeness almost made me willing to forgive Peter Jackson for leaving Tom Bombadil out of The Fellowship of the Ring–and then he had Gandalf describe Beorn as “being under no enchantment but his own”, a description given to Bombadil in the books. It was bad enough that they gave some of Bombadil’s lines to Treebeard in the movies, but actually using Bombadil’s description for Beorn was just another reminder that BOMBADIL WAS BLATENTLY ABSENT FROM THE MOVIES! AND SO WAS GLORFINDEL FOR THAT MATTER!
Ahem. As I was saying, Beorn was brilliant, and it wasn’t long at all before our brave company ventured into Mirkwood, and Bilbo was fighting to free the Dwarves from giant spiders (although I wish his “Lazy Lob” song had been included). And then the Elves were introduced in a manner that was completely different from the book.
It was from this point onwards that the movie began to diverge wildly from the book. I’m serious; the longer it went, the more it diverged from the original plot, so much so that it was barely recognizable at the end. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but when you throw in a love story that does absolutely nothing for the plot (and wasn’t even in the book in the first place!) and have the Dwarves completely forget that Durin’s Day is marked by the last sun of summer and first moon of autumn shining in the sky TOGETHER, I’m going to get mad! That’s right; the Dwarves forgot an important detail about the most important day of their people’s year. And that Kili/Tauriel romance was just a bad idea. Some people have complained about the cross-species aspect of it, but that’s not really the point because there were a couple of Elf/Man romances in Tolkien’s work. It’s the fact that this was between an Elf and a Dwarf that annoyed me–Elves and Dwarves had been enemies for centuries; that was why Legolas and Gimli’s friendship was so remarkable. Including this romance was not only pointless in the extreme, it also diminished the special friendship between Legolas and Gimli.
Smaug, on the other hand, was the best part of the movie (with Bard the Bowman a close second)! Benedict Cumberbatch has the perfect voice for the role. Smaug, Beorn, Radagast, and Bard were the bright spots in a movie that was kind of disappointing in spots, and I hope they do a better job with There and Back Again.