I saw the midnight opening of this and…it was MARVELOUS! It’s shorter than its predecessor, the pacing is tighter and smoother, the humor feels more precise and balanced, and the self-references to Peter Jackson’s other works felt purposeful and like a good joke between old friends rather than spin-offy. Also, I cannot wait until Thranduil’s headpiece becomes a common look. Go forth and enjoy!
Other thoughts (SPOILERS for those who haven’t read the book):
-I’m definitely going to need the barrel-riding to become a theme park ride.
-Lee Pace’s Thranduil turned out every inch as glorious as I wanted him to be, and I desired Excessive Glory.
-Many in my midnight theater yelled “sshh!” at the dwarves’ exclamations when Bilbo released them from Thranduil’s prison.
-Gandalf’s entrance to the Necromancer’s domain can be perfectly timed to “I always think everything could be a trap, which is why I’m still alive.”
-Does anyone else think Thorin’s sword on reaching the Lonely Mountain is shaped suspiciously like that of Theoden, King?
-Bilbo’s face when Smaug fully rises from the gold and he kneels down to hide is utter perfection.
-Isn’t it marvelous gold that doesn’t melt in dragon flame even though it’s historically been shaped by forges that can be lit by dragon fire? Perhaps intention can somehow be read.
-Yet more evidence that “But no one withstands the machine!” can only keep criminals down for a short timespan.
-Can we all take a moment to bask in the beauty of Smaug, particularly when shaking off gold?
-Isn’t it interesting how Legolas’ character seems tougher in this timeframe than when he’s actually fighting for the fate of the world? Perhaps that’s maturity, for you. He goes from “Step off or I will kill you!” to “I’ll have to kill you anyway, so step wherever, enjoy your short life while you can.” Or perhaps that is exhaustion and he was showing signs of it more than we knew.
-Stephen Fry is working his wig.
-Gandalf’s visit to the tombs immediately made me think, “See, this is why we miss Erebor so much-it’s the only cavernous place that has real stairs!”
-Really, all these Tolkien films are a cautionary tale about what can happen to a society with no professional librarians or archivists. Archivists would keep up these tombs and let people know if spirits escaped, so wizards wouldn’t have to abandon other quests to do this research work. They would also curate the history books that explain Sauron’s One Ring reveals its secret through fire so they wouldn’t be so dusty and make a research guide so Gandalf wouldn’t have to spend time paging through the memoir to find the right information and maybe the hobbits could have got a head start on the ringwraiths. Just think how much smoother everything would have gone if all wizards had a librarian/archivist working for them, to do their research side-trips and settle questions about which evils are and aren’t abroad in the world in a timely and efficient manner. They would have staged outreaches reminding everyone to check all magic rings in fire, too, so Bilbo might have avoided some possession. I’m just saying.
Huzzah for “The Hobbit”!