I did get the extended version of The Desolation of Smaug – the second installment – as a belated Christmas present, and after binge-watching the entire Lord of the Rings extended movies, I have been watching the first two Hobbit movies here and there, in bits and pieces.
Watching in flash installments like that gives you a chance to think about various scenes as they go by. If there’s one thing that Peter Jackson is good at, it’s putting a huge amount of information on the screen to absorb at later viewings. It’s just not possible to appreciate everything that is poured into the camera frame in the first viewing, but the richness and detail does add a quality that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in another movie.
Later viewings let you spot the incredibly detailed and authentic-looking sets, the costumes, the props and more.
Because of this leisurely run through the first two movies, I’ve also been thinking about Thorin Oakenshield.
I wasn’t totally sold on him the first time around. He’s “majestic” – and that’s a running in-house joke, apparently – and Richard Armitage plays the stuffing out of the role, too. I appreciated both those aspects. In the book edition of The Hobbit, Thorin is a bit of a cypher, but Jackson brought his character out wonderfully, with a full arc development and (I’ve heard) a great resolution. (Do not give me any spoilers!)
Now I’m starting to grow more inclined to view Thorin favourably. Those muscle-ripped forearms and the eyes help a lot, but it’s one particular scene that I keep returning to in my mind. It’s actually from the first movie, when Thorin overhears Elrond and Gandalf discussing the madness that runs in Thorin’s family and the odds that Thorin will go the same way as his father and grandfather.
That scene kick starts the whole Thorin-Bilbo relationship. Until then, it wasn’t much of one. Thorin knew Bilbo was a gutless stay-at-home, and Bilbo knew that he knew, and agreed with him.
But Bilbo was there in Rivendell and saw how Thorin reacted to Elrond and Gandalf’s assessment of his family and him, too. From then on, the tension between the two builds – Thorin openly and scathingly calls Bilbo useless, then takes it all back at the end of the first movie when Bilbo is the only one to step up and shield him.
In the second movie, the odds just keep getting stacked against Thorin. He had to get to the mountain now. In his mind it’s the only way he can defeat all the talk about his family’s madness and his lack of prospects.
I only wish I had got to see Thorin’s face when he realized that he had unleashed Smaug upon Dale and Laketown. Perhaps the third movie opens with that. I know I will be watching with careful interest.