Just what can we expect from The Hobbit: There & Back Again?

Feature NP Horton 7 Apr 2014 - 07:07

The third and final Hobbit film is on its way, but what's left to happen in it?

Warning: This article contains speculation that may include spoilers for The Hobbit: There And Back Again. And we also discuss what happened in The Desolation Of Smaug.

After the suspenseful cliffhanger/stopping randomly mid-scene (delete as appropriate) ending of The Desolation Of Smaug, with the titular dragon finally ceasing to talk and instead flying off to presumably torch Laketown, we are left with just one more Hobbit film to go. It’s taken us over five hours to get this far, and whether or not you feel the journey has been a satisfying return to Middle-Earth or indulgent and over-padded nonsense, there’s no denying the frisson of excitement that comes with a concluding part of a film series. But what can we expect from the final part of Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy? Below we’ve marked out what key things to expect. For those who have not read the book though, lots of this may veer into spoiler territory…


Bard the Bowman saves the day

Luke Evans’ Bard the Bowman was perhaps the most important new character introduced in the last film. Set up to be a hero and doer of good in a town gone bad, he was last seen being arrested after desperately trying to find and fit the last black arrow into a windlance crossbow as Smaug came to wreak destruction upon his home.

Bard is the one human to root for in this trilogy, he’s essentially the proto-Aragorn. Last of his line, destined to be King, charged with a duty to destiny. In this case, it’s slaying Smaug. With some big plot lines still to play out, this pivotal moment will have to happen reasonably early on. Expect a big opening scene with Smaug laying waste to Laketown, with Bard stepping up to the plate to cap it all off.

The Battle oOf The Five Armies

So I promise not to refer everything back to the Lord of the Rings, but the Battle of the Five Armies is The Hobbit’s Battle of Pellenor Fields. Will it be as spectacular? I really, really hope so. And if not, at least it won’t have a ghost army riding in to save the day.

Anyway, the battle comes about in the book due to Thorin holing himself up in the Lonely Mountain and refusing to pay any compensation to the either the humans of Laketown (who have lost their town after all), or to the Wood Elves (who have less of a claim). These two aggrieved parties then siege the mountain, before everyone discovers there’s an orc and warg army on the way. Then it’s all friends again. This is really the centre-point of not just the last film, but the trilogy as a whole. Name three highlights of The Hobbit and most people would say Smaug, Riddles in the Dark, and the Battle of the Five Armies.

A noble death

Jackson wouldn’t be Jackson doing Tolkien without putting in a noble death – especially a redeeming noble death of a character who’s been flirting with madness. Sean Bean’s epic death scene as Boromir is the benchmark here, and it’s a tough one to beat.


But if something can come close, then it may just be the death of Thorin Oakenshield. By the time he bites the big one, we’ll have got to know him over three films. Richard Armitage’s performance has been one of the best things about the new trilogy, making you believe that a hairy dwarf, so often the comedy element of the LOTR films, can be a heroic, tortured, and dangerous badass. So to watch him succumb to his inner crazy before sacrificing himself should be an emotional moment.

The Attack On Dol Guldur

Not actually in the book itself, Gandalf’s investigation into the Necromancer at Dol Guldur has been a major component in the film trilogy, ending with him coming face to face with the Necromancer himself, who then went full-on Sauron and (presumably) captured Gandalf. A neat way to explain his disappearance from the main story, the Dol Guldur storyline has actually been my favourite part of the new material Jackson and co have inserted. I didn’t expect them to reveal Sauron so early and completely in the last film, so I’m looking forward to him doing some more evil and being attacked by the White Council. I assume Radagast will convince Elrond, Galadriel, and a reluctant Saruman to come to the rescue, and try and put an end to Sauron. While defeated, expect a flaming eye to make an appearance toward the end.

Elijah Wood

Young Frodo opened the new trilogy, so expect him to be there at the end. If he isn’t, I’ll eat my wizard’s hat.

More padding

It’s a 320 page book. By the end it will be eight hours of film. You do the maths. Even fans must admit that there is a lot of unnecessary filler in these movies. While I love being back in the world of Middle-Earth, and can happily settle down to watch as much of this as possible, The Hobbit trilogy is by no means great film-making. It’s not a tightly edited masterpiece, it sags for most of its running time, and no film should have two dwarven song numbers in the first 30 mins. So expect a few more extra scenes where there’s no need. They love to take the long way round for everything.


Mithril Armour

We’ve seen the origin story of Sting, so expect another one for Bilbo’s Mithril armour. Given as a gift to him by Thorin, I’ve always thought this soft-focus shot chainmail looked more like a night-gown then actual metal armour, but I guess that’s the point.

Legolas v Orcs

It made actual sense for Legolas to be in the Desolation of Smaug, given that the story took Bilbo and company to his home, but I don’t know how necessary it was to have him travel to Laketown. I guess he just loves chasing them Orcs. Lacking any company this time, I expect we’ll see lots of helicopter shots of Legolas chasing Bolg and his Orc raiders across mountains and discovering Azog and his army marching towards the Lonely Mountain – thus becoming the one who is able to end the siege and unite dwarves, elves and men against a common enemy.

Legolas – Tauriel - Killi love affair

As invented characters go, Tauriel was a pretty good one. I understand the need to put more female characters into Tolkien’s man heavy world, and it was good to make Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel a cool elf fighter, but then they had to give her a confusing love triangle between her, Legolas, and Killi. I guess it’s an attempt to ape the Arwen-Aragorn-Eowyn one from LOTR, but it fell a little flat. Still, expect more of it in this film, and maybe the world’s first dwarf/elf kiss on-screen (did Galadriel kiss Gimli?! Does that count?)

Angry King Thranduil

Easily my favourite bit of the Desolation Of Smaug was Lee Pace’s turn as the unhinged King Thranduil, aka Legolas’ dad. Expect more of him and his giant elk as he leads the forces of the Wood Elves against Thorin at first, and then Azog. As long as he chops more heads off and condescends to everyone I’ll be happy.

Eagles to the rescue again

The Battle of the Five Armies looks to be lost for the good guys until Beor and the Eagles come to the rescue. While I imagine the battle will play out like this, part of me wonders if Jackson will balk at using the eagles yet again to stage a miraculous intervention. It would be a bit different to see them in full on battle mode, but we’ve already seen them save the day once in this trilogy and it might set up another few years of ‘why didn’t the eagles just do this at the start?’


More Lord Of The Rings characters

So far we’ve had Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf, Gollum, Saruman, Elrond, Galadriel, Legolas, Sauron, and Gimli (in picture form). I’m not sure if Brett McKenzie was meant to be the same character or not – can anyone enlighten me? While some people may be expecting another one to pop up, they’ll probably be disappointed. Unless Sam puts in a cameo in the closing book-end, I just can’t see where they’d naturally fit in. I fully admit to be proven wrong when baby Aragorn turns up.

Saruman’s turn to evil

While Saruman was evil before Gandlaf came a calling in The Fellowship of the Ring, don’t expect much more than hints at his true nature in the film. For one, we’ve already seen him turn to evil when he captures Gandlalf in Fellowship, so we’d just be repeating a scene which for my money is nigh on perfect. Also, he’s nominally on the forces of good here, although his real reason for attacking Sauron and Dol Guldur is to help in his own search for the One Ring. Perhaps we’ll see him find the Palantir and make contact with Sauron though?


The Silmarillion

While Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy has failed to set the critical world alight in quite the same way as Lord Of The Rings did (don’t expect a big night at the Oscars next year), it has been incredibly successful financially. Will Jackson be tempted to return once more to Middle-Earth? The obvious source would be an adaptation of The Silmarillion. Tolkien’s original and most beloved of his works, The Silmarillion would be a Middle-Earth war epic, rather than a personal tale of a hobbit’s bravery against the odds.

While seeing the war against Morgoth (Sauron’s boss),and the seduction of the Numenor (Aragorn’s ancestors) by Sauron would be truly epic, it might be a little dry for the averageaudience, as well as taking up about 20 films. Still, here’s hoping.

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There's not nearly as much padding in the two Hobbit films to date as some would have you believe, some people mistake character building and dramatic context as padding but they'd be wrong! The Frodo cameo and the dwarves' dishwashing sing-a-long clearly should have been cut, that's a given, but that's about four minutes of screentime all told... not exactly stretched thin, is it?

People are mistaking 'The Hobbit' films with 'The Lord of the Rings' films... the two are completely different stories, Peter Jackson fully understands this, which is why the 'Hobbit' trilogy is more playful than the LOTR trilogy, which was apocalyptic in both tone and content, that is simply not the case with 'The Hobbit' and neither should it be made as such.

And just for the record, I happen to think the two 'Hobbit' films to date ARE great films, but's that's just me...

I agree completely. I think the only people who complain are action nuts, smokers and people with either short attention spans or weak bladders.
Beautiful films, superbly done. You are not alone in your appreciation of them.

The Silmarillion next? No. The rights are still in the hands of the Tolkin estate and there is no way in hell they are going to hand them over to Peter Jackson. They didn't like his LOTR adaption and I can't see them thinking any more of The Hobbit.

It was clear enough in 'An Unexpected Journey' that Sauron had already accepted his backhander from the "Nothing Going On At Dol Guldur" lobby.
I fully agree that his final switch to overt evil has to remain untouched in LOTR, so all that remains is for him to quietly stick his staff in the spokes of an otherwise well-orchestrated Council plan.

Please... no more.... stop... I can't take this meandering and wandering anymore...

Have you heard of money?

I can see this final movie working well with most people who have more problems with the other films. It will no longer be about traveling somewhere, for one, and there will be much more interesting debates, battles, character moments, and major character deaths. I'm ready and hoping for a very satisfying conclusion.

Actually the padding that annoys me the most is the very extended Action sequences (Warg chase before Rivendell, Stone giants attack, Orc attack mixed into the barrel sequence, Orc's attack Lake-Town, Smaug chasign the Dwarves around the mountain etc.)
Quite a few of these scene felt like Peter Jackson was inserting because
a.) he feels like the audience were getting bored without an extended action sequence and
b.) he was trying to make the tone slightly more 'epic.'

What bothers me about these sequences is that if he had been tighter with he editing, or got rid of a couple of the unnecessary sequences, he could have given more attention to characters that are actually in the books (i.e. someone like Beorn, who appeared for all of 3-5 minutes.)

The Tolkien Estate has made it fairly clear over the years that they are more interested in protecting the reputation of Tolkien's works, than they are about making more money out of selling the rights.
Whether or not you agree with their views about the films, or how they could even help the reputation of his other works, you have to respect the fact that they don't just see these works as an easy way too make money.

I love these films. The author of the articles revealed their own prejudices against them all the way through this with carefully chosen words. I don't think the films are bloated. They have as much care and love and excitement in them than the Rings!

I remember reading somewhere that they weren't going to allow a movie of The Silmarillion to be made, Plus I think Peter Jackson has said he doesn't want to make a movie of it.
The Silmarillion is much harder book to read compared to The Hobbit and LOTR. So I really can't see it working as a film anyway. there's a lot more of middle-earth mythology involved and most of the stories contained are pretty depressing.

I agree totally with this, The barrel sequence and the dragon chase in particular seemed needlessly elaborate. I struggled not to cringe watching the Looney Toons inspired bombor spinning barrel attack along with the bit in the well where Thorin appears to be tap dancing on the dragons snapping snout.

I think the Hobbit movies have been really excellent so far and I really cant wait for the last one. Any opportunity to see Middle Earth up on the big screen and be immersed in this amazing worlds characters and events is a real privilege and one I dreamt about since I first picked up the books as a young teenager. Especially cant wait to see Smaug attack Lake Town and the Battle of Five Armies. People just complain for complaining sake and its disrespectful. These movies and the LOTR trilogy are an absolute technical triumph made by people with real love and affection for the source material. To say things like 'its too long' is utter rubbish. Considering the amount of detail and craft that goes into each Peter Jackson movie, they aren't long enough!

Like Beorn exactly. I was gutted. "What, you've made three films and yet you still felt you didn't have time to put Beorn in properly?!"
Here's hoping he'll be back for the Five Armies war, or they've wasted a fine actor on that role.

Just this... Tolkien himself sold the rights to LOTR and the Hobbit back in the 60s as he thought them unfilmable. The Sil and Unfinished Tales have always been controlled by his son Christopher Tolkien, who would never sell them off. But, he is in his 80s...

I love the Hobbit movies! I'm looking forward to the Battle of the Five Armies, where a Dwarf army(!) headed by non other than Billy Connoly as King Dain will make what will be garantied big enterance.
Also the Attack on Dol Guldur will show us one kickass Galadriel. How? Well, think that mirror scene in Fellowship.
The Silmarillion is the Bible: Middle-earth edition, to put it bluntly. So it will be an impossible task to adapt it to screen. As far as I know the Tolkin estate has the movie rights closely to its chest and isn't going to let it be selled of. Apparantly they aren't happy with the current movies, which is understandable because Tolkin himself wasn't keen on adaptions of his works, not even illustrations. Why they did sell the LOTR and Hobbit rights, is anyone's guess.

Ageed! What Jackson and Walsh have done with the story is just put in the stuff that was in the Appendices and put it in the story. It just makes for a more complete retelling.

He probably will have more screen time in the extended version in November.

Than Middle-earth isn't the place for you!

Believe it or not, Hobbit 1 is actually my favourite film of the entire Middle Earth story to date. I love the characterisations and the playfullness Jackson employs actually recognising that this is a different tone to LOTR, thus reflecting the tone of the books. PJ played down this playfulness in H2 and it was all the worse for it.
My big problem with PJ has always been in padding out the love story elements NOT in the books (thus increasing Livs role in LOTR and Evangelines in Hobbit whilst decreasing that which IS in the books ie Eowyn and Faramir).
Cant wait for H3

"Tolkien’s original and most beloved of his works, The Silmarillion"

Tolkien's probably one of the few who's actually bothered to read the Silmarillion. An impressive work, yes. An interesting read, not so much.

Apparently, it's more for the elven archer that uses his bow and arrow as melee weapon - but exchanges them for short daggers once his arch-nemesis is in clear range, a couple dozen meters away...

Maybe The Silmarillion would work as a long TV series a'la Game of Thrones? Not that I can remember much of it, all the names and family trees made my head hurt.

Jackson said that this was his last trip to Middle Earth - but if he does decide to do the Silmarillion, he has to hurry up because Christopher Lee is 91.

Also Brett Mckenzie is playing Lindir, the same as FOTR

Don't forget the troll treasure. Bilbo needs to pick that up on his way home. I think that will be in the movie.

As far as I can remember, having not read the book in years, the dishwashing song is actually in the book anyway. I'd also have liked the warg scene to have been more faithful, and had the song the goblins sing at that point. Also I'm a little annoyed the bit at the majority of the bits with the eagles being cut. It would give more context to them coming to help at the end.

It's interesting that while there seems to be a consensus that the films are overlong, for everyone who would cut the barrels someone else would cut the songs, and never the twain shall meet.

Oh my god, I'm laughing to death.
I've tried to imagine a Silmarillon adaptation… it would be such a mess !!
I rather agree with you : Jackson could milked, at least, 20 films from that book :D

I'll take a shot at answering the question posed by the title: Lots more CGI.

IMHO out of the two seen so far, I find that I enjoyed Unexpected Journey a lot more than Desolation, the first film had some intense scenes, like when Thorin and Azog finally met, that was great, while the second film I found just...bland somehow.

Didn't he play Figwit in FOTR?

Actually they really haven't put stuff in from the Appendices; they have, at best, borrowed some names of characters and events from the Appendices and then made up the rest of the details themselves (if not making up things entirely of their own accord.)
It's one of those myths about the Hobbit adaptation that really doesn't hold up if you actually read the LOTR appendices, instead its mostly elaborate fan-fic created by Peter Jackson and the other writers too make the original Hobbit story more 'epic.'

I think that kinda sums up the problems with the films, the 'having cake and eating it too' attitude that seems to go into making it.
Rather than just choosing one approach, being aware that it will disappoint some of the audience, they try too have it both ways and end up satisfying neither side of the audience.

I find this hard to believe also.
"Tolkien’s original and most beloved of his works, The Silmarillion". Most beloved by whom???

Bard is hardly the last of his line, He is literally pictured with his son

I think that is true to an extent, although the the box office figures suggest that they have done enough compromising to engage very large numbers. So I'm not sure both sides are "dissatisfied", just that they have some side orders they could have done without (in their own conception).
Tonally, the Hobbit always seemed a trickier prospect than Lord of the Rings.

Funny. I would say almost completely the reverse. I found the first film far less engaging than the second. For me, the first was lacking in narrative thrust. It seemed hampered by the text rather than taking hold of it and shaping a clear story from it.

Ah. The only thing that people value in the 21st century. Tolkien would be turning in his grave. LotR is all about true values, not monetary ones.

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