First of all, let me acknowledge that+
1) it’s hard to make films for fans because we’ll complain no matter what you do, if you please the 1 percent hardcore you’ll alienate the other 99 percent. I get that.
2) It’s hard to go off-canon, because you have to include a real ‘tolkien-ish feel’ without being ‘derivative’. The classic problem of ‘viewers want the same exact thing as last time. . . .except different’, which problem dates back to the beginning of hollywood, and is not at all limited to hardcore nerds.
Therefore, I was actually OK with dude going off-canon. The way he went off canon in the first 2 was well done: he was fleshing out the backstories and eccentricities of minor characters from the real books. That is a good compromise.
But this shit.
The dragon dying in the first 15 minutes?
Worst of both worlds: giving part 2 a totally unsatisfying ending, and part 3 an equally anticlimactic beginning. Cliffhangers are ok if you’re making buck rogers serials in the 30s, but that’s because in the 30s YOU ONLY HAD TO WAIT 2 WEEKS, for the next installment, not a fuckin’ year. It feels like they put the dragon-slaying in film 3 just in order to have some canon-ish hook to hang the rest of the movie on. Like ‘we’re starting from the real book here, give us a break!’. Fuck that. Jackson should have had more balls, killed the dragon at the end of part 2, and blatantly said ‘part 3 is gonna be all shit I made up. I done did 5 films of canon, I gave you nerds what you wanted, now this next one is for Peter.’
Word to ice-t.
“I MAKE RECORDS FOR YOU, BUT THIS ONE’S FOR ME!”
Or if they totally OWNED the anticlimax of part 3 – like if Smaug caught a spear to the chest while responding to an ‘urgent’ text in the middle of raping the village, or if the humans poured so much rainbow glitter on him that the computers could no longer render him, so he just glitched up and stopped moving. Or if he just keeled over in the first 5 seconds from Lyme Disease, and then a huge-ass Dragon Tick spits out the Arkenstone, and it lands on the head of a sleeping Son Doobie, and then the next 10 minutes is a Funkdoobiest video about Lyme Disease and the importance of early detection and treatment.
Also: I’m kind of ambivalent about the plot-holes. I don’t like films that take the fantasy-land politics too seriously, and over explain shit that no one cares about.
But at the same time, if they have 20 minutes to waste on redundant scenes of dwarf-king-guy brooding over and over, then they definitely had some time to sew up some of the many loose ends: what happened to the arkenstone? What did the main human revolutionary guy do after they defeated the orcs? Did he ever get his money? Did the elves ever get their bling? Who became the new dwarf king? What happened to the gold? Why did the elves abandon the dwarves the FIRST time the dragon came ‘round? Did the Russel-Brand-lookin’-ass greasy human in the granny costume with titties full of stolen gelt ever get his comeuppance? Did Bilbo ever plant his wacky tree? Did the elf lady ever French the suave dwarf? What about the other 2 main wizards besides Radagast, Gandalf and Osama bin Saruman? I was hoping they’d get their own backstory. And is T-Funk still doing the Tomahawk Chop now that the Redskins are officially racist as fuck? Again, any one of these issues is super nerdy and I forgive Jackson for not making a super-fanboy movie, BUT since Jackson is so clearly desperate to pad out the movie to 2 hours, he should have gotten into SOME of that shit, rather than: “I’m still brooding” “is he still brooding?” “Yes he is still brooding.” “how about now” “Nope, still brooding.” “that is SO WEIRD he’s still brooding.” “Whelp, what can you do. Should we check again? “I don’t see why not, there’s still 89 minutes to go….”
And what SHOULD be done with the arkenstone? It’s clearly presented as a sort of off-brand Ring O” Power. And I’m ok with re-doing the classic Tolkien bits in an effort to make the off-canon stuff feel ‘real.’ But you got to take it in some new direction. As it is, they just forgot about it halfway through the movie. At one point we’re told it’s ‘the birthright’ of ALL dwarves. At other points, it seems to be ‘dragon-cursed’ and just plain evil. Should it be destroyed like the One Ring, or, what? Broken into pieces and one piece given to every dwarf? Or set up like the English Crown Jewels or the weird-ass asteroid at Mecca so all the dwarves can see it once a year, single-file? Or what?
Maybe it’s dorky to get all RAND-institute-white-paper-ish re: the serious dwarven-government-policy issue presented by the arkenstone, but that’s the stuff that excites me. Compromise: I’d be happy to stop my nerdy overthinking of the issue, if Jackson had cut out all 40 minutes of excessive King-brooding-re:arkenstone scenes. But since it’s so important to the first half of the film, you don’t have to be a Dwarvish-policy wonk to wonder what happens to it in the second half.
Plus, not for nothing, but humans, orcs, elves, and dwarves is only four armies. I guess it’s five if you include the half-dozen eagles as a whole army, but then you’d have to also include the corny-ass bats too, and then you’re up to six. So what the fuck. I feel like I just watched Resivoir Dogs and I’m the only one who didn’t realize who shot Mr. Pink. (edit; just checked a Tolkien Wiki and it said the fifth army was Goblins, but they are on screen for even less time than the bats, so what the fuck) (I mean if you include goblins, you’d have to include the fake Dune worms, AND the giant-ass tactical trolls, and then you’re up to seven armies. Which would be cool if the fake Dune worms had their own backstory and the whole movie was intercut with scenes of Worm General Command, in some underground Situation Room, arguing about which Funkdoobiest song was the best, and whether the early ‘90s really was the Golden Age of Hiphop, (the minority faction – First Lieutenant Vermiface and Colonel Rockbarfer – contend that the whole ‘golden-age nostalgia’ is at best pedantic and at worst borderline haterish, but Rockbarfer has a less-than-rad ass engraving of Puffy, so she’s fairly suspect), and then almost coming to blows re: Lynch vs. Jodorowsky’s adaptation of Dune, before all going to Sauron’s house to demand more of the Mordor Defense Budget, accusing him of being Soft on Defense and part of the Blame Mordor First liberal elites).
And who’s the main elf lady (Google search for “main Elf broad that Gandalf has a Plus Five boner for” yeilds the result: galadriel, so I’m going to go with that). Did anyone else think it was, like, strategically weird that Galadriel used 99% of her magic strength just to take out a single, solitary, non-deluxe orc that was guarding Gandalf??? She was like “OMG taking out that solitary non-deluxe orc was hella hard, bro. I’m wiped out, I think I’ll just pass out from sheer exhaustion while you guys do your thing. Oh, by the way, just as an afterthought, how about I SINGLEHANDEDLY WHIP SAURON’S SPECTRAL FLAMING ASS with the last remnants of my magic points?”
Amirite, fellas? The guys know what I’m talking ’bout!
Plus, besides his damsel-in-distress-role-reversal, gandalf does nothing cool. I was stoked to see Radagast make a cameo, but even he just duplicates powers and spells and rabbits he had in previous films, I was hoping that they’d do what they did in the first joint and flesh out his character more, flashbacks, new and exciting feats of wizardry, or at least more drugs.
Plus, another problem: nobody says things that a regular person would say in that situation. Nobody ever tells their opponent some simple piece of information that would make the opponent say, “Wha–? Really? Oh shit, we’re on the same side, here. Why didn’t you say so. Jesus, we almost did some dumb shit there!” Which is by no means a problem unique to this movie. In fact that exact issue – where you are so frustrated you want to yell at the screen “JUST TELL HIM THE OBVIOUS THING! WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR PROBLEM?”. It’s such a common issue of movies there really should be a word for that exact phenomenon.
Like when Big Mohawk Dwarf guy shows up, nobody says to him, “King-Broody-Pants done got Dragon Sickness! He’s gone nuts!”.
Or when Main Human meets the Dwarves/Elves/Gandalf, he never says, “Guess who killed a motherfuckin’ dragon? THIS GUY. THIS GUY RIGHT HERE.” And then he never points to his own chest and goes “Deeeeyamnnnnn.”
And at no point in the 4 hours devoted to tedious negotiations over the Dwarven Loot does any human, dwarf, elf, halfling accountant, Goblin corporate arbitrator, Ninth-level Ent contract attourney, or transgender half-Urik-Hai Financial Settlement Specialist ever think to ask, “How MUCH of the money do the non-dwarfs want?” (OK I get that the Main Dwarf was fully Gollum-ized by that point (or is it fully Theoden-ized? Or fully Denethor-ized? Or any of the million other Fucked Kings of Tolken (see also: “going off canon but trying to keep it real by recycling older tropes”- difficulties, as I mentioned at the beginning),. . .. anyway, I get there was no reasoning with the Main Dwarf, but still the characters should say the things that YOU in the audience would say if you were them.)
Another scene where obvious dialogue was willfully suppressed: “Hey elf-lord! If you don’t belive old Gandalf that a bajillion orcs are on their way, why not ask Elrond, WHO I WAS JUST WITH WHEN HE KILLED 9 ECTOPLASMIC NAZGUL!” (and the elf guy would be “Oh you mean they take ectoplasmic form until they have absorbed enough Evil Energy to make a physical body?” and then Voldermort would be like “Aww yeah! Isn’t that how everyone does it???” (Also: Voldermort was so FAT in the last couple of movies. I would love to see a director’s cut of the last Potter film where someone photoshopped a big sandwitch into his hand in every scene. All pesto sauce and mayonaisse running down his cheeks. All napkin tucked into the top of his muu-muu. All Brando from Apocalypse Now popping in the frame, going, “You gonna finish that?”))
Also it would of been rad if the eagles flew into the battle, took a look around, and went like, “Naw, fuck this.”
Or if they came swooping in but they only saved Funkdoobiest, and Gandalf was all, WTF man, i thought you guys were cool. And the main eagle was like “AWK! SHITTIN ON ‘EM! SHITTIN ON ‘EM! AWKKKKK!”