So, I finally got to see the new Hobbit trailer. Spoilery goodness below the cut.
First things first, as a fan of all things Gondor from before the movies, my deepest condolences to any fans of Mirkwood. It looks like PJ is pulling the same junk he did with Denethor, with the whole this-is-not-our-fight wibbling. And Tauriel. Wes thu FAIL on that one, PJ.
Beyond that, PJ seems content on aping Lord of the Rings yet again. That moment where Legolas trains an arrow on the Dwarves was entirely too similar to Haldir’s pulling the same move in Lord of the Rings. And this hatred of dwarves on sight. What the HECK? First we get Thranduil watching the dwarves slaughtered en masse in the first flick, and then Legolas comes across as an out-and-out racist here. Saying “I will kill you” is understandable, but adding the dwarf at the end makes it seem just mean-spirited, particularly as at this point in time we have no reason to understand why an elf would be so suspicious of a dwarf. And particularly as, canonically, Thranduil doesn’t have half the reason to hate dwarves that Celeborn did. (Marnie covers the latter’s all-too-justified antipathy toward dwarves in her essay “That Tall Fellow Next to Galadriel.)
On that same note, it really bothered me that Thranduil was willing to lock up Thorin to keep him from following through on his Quest. It’s one thing to catch people trespassing across your realm and lock them up until they will answer you questions, or escort them to the opposite border. But unless you’re claiming control over the Lonely Mountain, it seems the height of hubris to try to keep the rightful heirs from reclaiming their homeland, however ill-advised you think that is. This is the same thing that bothered me with Elrond, but it seems like it’s going to be much more central here. Along that same line, Legolas’s character in general just didn’t make a whole lot of sense, either with canon or with what we’ve seen in these movies or the Lord of the Rings. Legolas is too world-weary, too pessimistic to match up with the young elf eager to go off to Mordor in FOTR. It also really doesn’t fit with the whole idea we saw in An Unexpected Journey that Mirkwood was basically a woodland retreat until Sauron showed up directly before the quest began. I’m really struggling to match that picture of the region with the wargs and spiders we get treated to here – and also with the idea that a single dragon would present such an existential threat. Legolas’s characterization, and the picture of the situation in Mirkwood generally, simply don’t seem to match.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to love here. The baddies seem exciting, Bilbo’s wonder at the butterflies is refreshing, and Bard at least seems like a truly interesting take on his personality even if he does seem a little too Will Turner-ish for anyone not played by Orland Bloom. And if you can look at this as an exciting sword-and-sorcery flick rather than an adaptation of The Hobbit it has potential. This isn’t entirely surprising given the film’s length and the amount of written material PJ is working with. (In which case: what will we see in There and Back Again? *shudders*
Mainly, though, I just felt a bit sorry for Elliska, Daw, and other friends who have a real heart for all things Mirkwood. As someone who struggled through the perversion that was movie!Gondor, may you be moved to writing reparative fic rather than anger and tears. Because it really does kind of stink.
I’m interested in other peoples’ reactions, of course. Apparently TOR.n and other fannish sites are overloaded, which has me feeling a little nostalgic. But YouTube seems able to handle the load well enough.