Just what can we expect from The Hobbit: There & Back Again?
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.
HUGE SPOILERS TO FOLLOW
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.
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.
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.
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?
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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