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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
It starts with Azog...it comes to fruition with Radagast....
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Jan 22 2013, 4:04am

Post #1 of 31 (1435 views)
It starts with Azog...it comes to fruition with Radagast.... Can't Post

I want to start by saying this:

When I first saw the film...I loved it. I instantly knew it wasn't as good as Lord of the Rings but, at the same time, I thoroughly enjoyed it for what it was. Now, I still really enjoy the film, but I've come to a realization latley after countless viewings.

The film, both as an adaptation and a cinematic venture, really begins to go down hill once Azog and Radagast enter the picture. Everything up until the flashbacks to Radagast and the battle at Moria is pretty much perfect.

This is interesting, because I'm talking from both the standpoint of the book, and the standpoint of a cinematic story. For me, it is dramatically apparent how clunky the story becomes once it veers away from Tolkiens book. Radagast feels totally out of place. His arc has no payoff whatsoever, nor does it have anything to do with the quest. Same goes for Azog. So far, neither of these characters, or the stories in which they embody, have anything to do with the dwarves reclaiming Erebor, or Bilbo growing personally. And then, once the company enters Goblin Town, the film feels right again. Riddles in the Dark is a great scene that certainly highlights the film.

Now, this could be remedied in the next two installments. If it is, it will prove that the film needs the other two in order to work in it's own right (a problem that none of the LOTR films had). If it isn't, it really just seems like sloppy film making. If anything is evident, it's that the 3 film split has already proven to hurt the films. I really wanted to believe that The Hobbit could be tied beautifully to LOTR, but at this point, it just doesn't seem like it's going to happen as well as I thought it would. The invented material has robbed the story of it's charm. Combine that with the off putting visual aesthetic of the production, and the lack of character development, and you have something truly disappointing on your hands.

I need to re-state that I really enjoy the movie. However, i feel a lot of sympathy for board members who have expressed their problems with the film. I feel, if you have to extensively rationalize why the film is actually great, you are kind of kidding yourself. Critics aren't being overly cynical, nor are people who dislike the film. I've always been very positive about this whole experience, even a few weeks after opening day, I was defending certain aspects of the film. Then I realized... "if I need to defend this, and try very hard to make sense of it, there must be a problem".

In conclusion, when the film sticks close to Tolkien, and the style and aesthetic associated with the LOTR films, it shines. When it veers drastically away, and tries too hard to connect the two trilogies with imaginary plot lines and shallow characters, it really falls flat.

"You're love of the halflings leaf has clearly slowed your mind"


Jan 22 2013, 4:24am

Post #2 of 31 (743 views)
I don't feel the need to rationalize why I like it... [In reply to] Can't Post

...no more than someone should feel the need to rationalize why they don't. It would be nice if people could just accept that others have differing opinions without making it seem like one side is right and the other is wrong. You don't like azog or radagast- many others share your opinion. Other people did like them, and didn't think they were detrimental at all. There is no right or wrong answer - it's a movie.

My whole reason for liking the movie? I enjoy adventure, action, and characters that I can root for. I'm not going to be sad or feel sorry for someone who doesn't like the same movies I like (otherwise, I'd have to be upset with pretty much everyone I know at some point). I'm not arguing, I just don't understand why people are taking this so seriously sometimes.


Jan 22 2013, 4:29am

Post #3 of 31 (684 views)
No, no, I'm not taking it very seriously... [In reply to] Can't Post

Just merely expressing my sympathy towards members who have been told they are wrong for NOT liking the film.

Obviously, no one is wrong are right. It's all in opinion (as is literally every single aspect of life). Just simply stating where I feel the film goes south. Like I said, I enjoy the movie a lot!

And my comment regarding rationalizing bad things about the film is geared towards my own experience, not the experience of others. I felt that I was trying too hard to tell myself some things were good that really weren't. I was just putting that out there to see if any one else had a similar experience after watching the film many times.


"You're love of the halflings leaf has clearly slowed your mind"

(This post was edited by jtarkey on Jan 22 2013, 4:33am)


Jan 22 2013, 4:40am

Post #4 of 31 (647 views)
That's fine.. [In reply to] Can't Post

I've seen the mudslinging both ways. It's like politics in that regard (really kind if silly, when you think about it). If I like a movie overall, I tend to look forward to certain parts of a movie and ignore what I don't like without it affecting my enjoyment. Not everyone can do that, but that's just how I am. It's a form of escapism, so I treat it as such- real life is enough to deal with, lol.


Jan 22 2013, 4:48am

Post #5 of 31 (661 views)
I've been into filmmaking my whole life... [In reply to] Can't Post

So I always look closely at what works and what doesn't. I actually care more about these films succeeding as FILMS, rather than trying too hard to stay close to the source material.

It just seems ironic for me, that when I feel the film takes a turn for the worst, it's when it departs from the text. This is a problem I didn't have with the LOTR films. I felt most of the changes were justified in order to achieve a better cinematic experience.

And this could all come down to me being a bigger fan of cinema in general, than a fan of the books themselves (cringes for inevitable stoning). It would be interesting to see opinions of the movie from a standpoint of book fans, to cinema fans.

"You're love of the halflings leaf has clearly slowed your mind"

Grey Havens

Jan 22 2013, 5:39am

Post #6 of 31 (626 views)
two cents from a book fan and a cinema fan [In reply to] Can't Post

The only problem I really had with Azog and Radagast was the way they were introduced. Having a flashback scene followed by a cutaway to a completely new character probably wasn't the best storytelling choice. Some people I saw the movie with felt like they were overloaded with information during that particular area of the movie. And even though I loved the Battle of Azanulbizar and Radagast's introduction, I could just feel the movie's pacing drop dead.

I think tightening up that area of the movie would have helped, maybe even cutting out Radagast's intro altogether and saving it for the extended cut. It couldn't really be shifted to a different part of the movie, unless they had just told it through quick flashbacks like the bit with the Necromancer when Gandalf is talking to Radagast. I'm not sure if that would have worked very well either, but it would have at least helped with the pacing.

The fact that they cut out Radagast's "real" last scene in An Unexpected Journey didn't help either. I'm pretty sure he was supposed to go with Gandalf to the High Fells and check out the Nazgul tombs. I think that was shown briefly at Comic Con. I don't think he actually went into the tombs with Gandalf, so he probably didn't do much in those scenes. But keeping him around even just a little bit longer might have made him feel less like a random character.


Jan 22 2013, 6:25am

Post #7 of 31 (591 views)
I thought Radagast's intro and the moria flashback were done well [In reply to] Can't Post

Alot of movies have parts where you're overloaded with information and introduced to new characters but you just accept it and know you'll probably find out more later. Most people aren't so easily confused and if you hadn't read the book you wouldn't be overthinking the pacing etc.

One thing I do wish they did was keep the scene with Radagast and Gandalf finding the tombs. The White Council stuff did feel incomplete and Radagast was forgotten about after he lead the orcs away on his sled, we never found out whether he crashed or was captured.

So this High Fells scene would've been somewhere between Rivendell and Goblin Town? is someone able to copy everything about it from the movie book? I remember a comic con reviewer wrote about Radagast sneaking up on Gandalf when he's investigating the tombs then they find they've all been broken open. If they had kept that scene there would've been a better resolution for that particular storyline since they discover an old enemy and it would be a good set up for the next film.


Jan 22 2013, 6:29am

Post #8 of 31 (639 views)
like Saruman vs Gandalf in FOTR [In reply to] Can't Post

For me too everything is spot on, until Radagast appears, in particular when his bunny sled appears. Interesting thing however - when watching FOTR the first time, everything was spot on as well, until Gandalf met Saruman, and they started that Jedi Force duel, throwing each other across the room, so unworthy of Istari. That brought me out of the movie then. Interesting thing, that it is always a wizard that breaks the immersion - and it's because PJ starts inventing things.

After 5 viewings I find Azog actually less movie breaking than the bunny sled, because Azog does manage to be menacing, even if he's not there in the book. But PJ made multiple mistakes with how he used Radagast:

- invented, cartoony bunny sled
- if you want to add a cartoony, invented bunny sled, you better make sure you put more work into it than into Gollum, and make it look as realistic as possible, because it will by default pull people out of the movie - and make sure you nail the physics. But the bunny sled is the worst effect with the weakest physics of the entire movie, even worse than that rolling rock (you'd need some 20 sticks of dynamite to make it accelerate and roll the way it did, can't wait for Mythbusters to prove that :P).
- if you're about to use invented, cartoony bunny sleds in you epic movie, you better use it in a very engaging and spectacular action sequence, that will keep your audience on the edge of the seat, so they don't have time to nitpick or realize how silly it is. However the 'chase on the plains" is easily the weakest and most stagnant, and directionless sequence of all 4 movies. The chase is for me the lowest point of AUJ. The only redeeming quality there is the nice landscape so I try to focus on it, ignoring what little silly stuff is happening on it.
- if you can't ensure all the above is met, remove it from the screenplay or cut it out, which PJ failed to do :(

I so wish PJ would remove all the action between Radagast warning Gandalf, and the dwarves falling into the tunnel leading to Rivendell, and shot something else to replace it. Ideally, they could hear the wargs approach, Gandalf would notice the tunnel entrance, and Radagast would head off to distract them - but we'd never see it, cut straight to the dwarves in the tunnel.

"The past tempts us, the present confuses us, and the future frightens us. And our lives slip away, moment by moment, lost in that terrible in-between."


Jan 22 2013, 7:58am

Post #9 of 31 (587 views)
If you compare it to the LotR [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think the LotR movies are without fault. There are many, many parts that felt so wrong to me. And you're right -- it's mostly the parts that deviate from the books (and this is me speaking as someone who is totally NOT a puristI) The thing is, they happened to get a lot of things right as well, so I'm willing to forgive a lot.

The Hobbit is a good adaptation. So far they have gotten more things right than wrong, so I'm happy with that. Smile


Jan 22 2013, 8:58am

Post #10 of 31 (636 views)
On Azog... [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll repeat this:

I actually viewed the look between Gandalf and Balin as one of 'let Thorin believe he killed Azog' rather than doubt, when it came to my subsequent viewings of AUJ

There are four possible key features of Kingship in myth and legend, birthright/ordination from a higher power(in this case, coming from a line of Ringbearers, even if one actually isn't bearing one of the rings of power, this could make for an interesting exchange between Thranduil and Thorin in the films), great deeds, power through wealth(gold), and a glorious redemptive death in battle.

During the flashback, we saw a youthful Thorin challenge Azog, and the symbol of that great deed, the Oakenshield being something he carried with him, as a mark and outward reminder to himself and his people of whom he is because of what he thought had done. At the end of AUJ, we see an older(ok not old enough for some of you Wink) Thorin facing off Azog and in contrast to the dwarf of Azanulbizar, Thorin is slung to the ground with ease and rescued by a halfling and the Oakenshield(appeared) to be left behind.

During AUJ, Thorin has two features of Kingship, birthright and great deeds, at the end he only has one.

I think Azog isn't just a simple plot device for mainstream audiences so that they have an easy villain to follow but something that could be part of a major character arc. This loss of great deed, means Thorin has to persue the other viable Kingship option, wealth(Gold), that puncturing of his own myth gives cinematic weight to Bilbo's arc too, making him more plausible as the de facto leader of the company.

i think it is highly possible that Azog will be killed by someone other than Thorin, preferably Dain, just to cement the myth puncturing

Grey Havens

Jan 22 2013, 9:40am

Post #11 of 31 (520 views)
Or, maybe not, just possibly. [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To

I instantly knew it wasn't as good as Lord of the Rings

But that's your opinion (which is fine!). "As good as" is pretty subjective, isn't it? I know you're making your argument below for why you don't think AUJ is as good as the LOTR trilogy, but I don't think this is fair in part because you're comparing a single movie (AUJ) to a complete trilogy. What does it mean for a movie to be "good"? Is there really a universal standard of goodness? I'm actually serious with this question. What's good to me isn't necessarily good to you, or to everyone. In all the criteria I use to judge what to me is a good movie, AUJ passes with flying colors.

I really wanted to believe that The Hobbit could be tied beautifully to LOTR, but at this point, it just doesn't seem like it's going to happen as well as I thought it would. The invented material has robbed the story of it's charm. Combine that with the off putting visual aesthetic of the production, and the lack of character development, and you have something truly disappointing on your hands.

But we have two more movies to go -- isn't it a bit early to pass judgment on how well the two trilogies tie together? I think the story has heaps of charm, and in some ways even more than the LOTR trilogy. The "invented" bits do nothing (for me) to detract from that. I'm not sure which visual aesthetics you find off-putting, but I found very little that put me off visually (troll snot and guano aside, perhaps), and a fair bit of the visuals (for me) were somewhere between impressive and spectacular. Lack of character development, really? Even without comparison to the book, I think Thorin's characterization has been extremely well done, and when compared to what we get in the book, it's even better. Bilbo's got a heap of character development too, and what we get for the other 12 Dwarves is much more well developed than in the book, where most of them are pretty interchangeable. For me, this is much more like a gift than a disappointment.

In conclusion, when the film sticks close to Tolkien, and the style and aesthetic associated with the LOTR films, it shines. When it veers drastically away, and tries too hard to connect the two trilogies with imaginary plot lines and shallow characters, it really falls flat.

I don't actually think that the inclusion of Azog is any sort of attempt to connect AUJ to the LOTR trilogy. And I do think that the reason for the inclusion of Azog in particular, along with (later) his son Bolg, is very deliberate and will not be fully revealed until TABA. I strongly suspect the theme of sons seeking vengeance for the sake of their fathers will be quite important and worth a fair bit of poignancy (by the end of TABA, at least). As for the inclusion of Radagast -- well, he wasn't in the first trilogy, so again, he's not making a link between the two trilogies. But the White Council *did* sack Dol Guldur during the Quest of Erebor, so it's (in my opinion) perfectly reasonable -- expected, even -- to have him in this trilogy given that the sacking will be part of the story. Are these two characters shallow? Debatable, of course, but (to me) they're adequately characterized for the part they need to play. So I guess I really don't get your conclusion that AUJ falls flat when it tries to connect the two trilogies with imaginary plot lines and shallow characters -- I really don't see that it's trying to do this at all.

Anyways, all of this is, of course, just my opinion. The point I'm really trying to make is that *all* of this is just our opinions -- and I think it's important to remember that!


Jan 22 2013, 9:56am

Post #12 of 31 (580 views)
Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh simply can't write [In reply to] Can't Post

This was equally apparent with The Two Towers and The Return of the King. Whenever they stray from the words of Tolkien it all turns into a choppy, messy, nonsensical train wreck filled to the brim with done do death clichés.

Grey Havens

Jan 22 2013, 10:02am

Post #13 of 31 (533 views)
Fascinating insights, glor. [In reply to] Can't Post

That's the first argument I've seen that makes me doubt my original assertion, that it has to be Thorin who kills Azog. Maybe you're right. But he'll (presumably) get one of the key features -- glorious redemptive death in battle -- at the end, after he's obtained the key feature of wealth. Will he be fit to be king in our eyes -- or the eyes of his followers -- by the end, if the character arc heads in this direction? Interesting thoughts to ponder.


Jan 22 2013, 10:07am

Post #14 of 31 (528 views)
It also explains the nazgul theme [In reply to] Can't Post

..The Nazgul were kings whose arrogance, vanity and belief in their own place in history allowed them to take the Nine Rings of Power, Kings that faded (literally)

I wonder if the notion of Thorin as a King with the power of the legend lessened, as his belief in the death of Azog is now a fallacy of his own vanity, the fading of his Kingship, is why they incorporated the Nazgul theme into the final Thorin/confrontation in AUJ.

Grey Havens

Jan 22 2013, 10:27am

Post #15 of 31 (499 views)
Well, that goes along with [In reply to] Can't Post

what I've argued before: that the (so-called) Nazgűl theme references Thorin, not Azog, and is a very deliberate choice. Your suggestion is certainly plausible, if a bit more complex than what I'd been thinking. I'd taken it to represent Thorin's giving in to his anger and hatred; going over to the Dark Side, as it were, which then nearly brings about his demise. The hobbit saves him this time. Next time, he won't be so lucky: when his anger and rage get the better of him again and he has his "meltdown" (as RA describes it), presumably directed at Bilbo over the Arkenstone, he crosses over to the Dark Side again; but this time the hobbit doesn't save him -- at least, not from death, though Bilbo may be the catalyst for his redemption in the end. Will we hear the (so-called) Nazgűl theme again? Can't wait to find out!

Grey Havens

Jan 22 2013, 10:44am

Post #16 of 31 (505 views)
So you think they can only wrong? [In reply to] Can't Post

Bit harsh, really. I'm watching Return of the King as I type and I have yet to see a train wreck, nonsensical or otherwise (actually, I'd be curious to see a sensical train wreck). In fact, I just watched my favorite scene in the whole trilogy: the lighting of the beacons.

"Filled to the brim with done [t]o death clichés" is sort of circular, isn't it?


Jan 22 2013, 10:50am

Post #17 of 31 (506 views)
Radagast is given the duty of discovering the darkness growing in mirkwood [In reply to] Can't Post

This directly ties into the rise of Sauron.

Sure, the movie displays the sub plots and connections to LOTR, but I just feel like they weren't very creative with it.

We knew for a long time that radagast would notice a growing evil in the greenwood. And that's exactly what he does. Nothing very creative was done with his character or his discovery of the necromancer. His role can be summed up in a single sentence, yet he gets more lines than half of the dwarves.

It just doesn't make sense to me. Why give a secondary character more involvement with a story that already has 15 main characters? Not to mention the Fact that nothing in radagasts arc has anything to do with the main narrative in the first film.

IDK, it just seemed very sloppy to me.

"You're love of the halflings leaf has clearly slowed your mind"

Grey Havens

Jan 22 2013, 11:11am

Post #18 of 31 (479 views)
Wait, though. [In reply to] Can't Post

Now you're arguing that what was done with Radagast wasn't creative, and that this lack of creativity is a problem, but earlier you were arguing that straying from Tolkien (isn't this the same thing as getting creative?) makes the movie fall flat. I don't feel qualified to argue whether what was done with him was or was not creative, but I will argue that it makes sense to me to include him given that he likely has a significant role to play later on (in the sacking of Dol Guldur), and we might as well get to know him a bit now.

I'm going out on a giant limb here, but I think one could also make the argument that Gollum's arc has nothing to do with the main narrative in AUJ -- yet clearly his inclusion is critical (and, okay, faithful to the book). But we don't really know this until we get to LOTR.

And with a bit of creative effort which I'm lacking right now, I think I could sum up every character's role in a single sentence. Probably even an incomplete sentence. While we're at it, we could do the characters from LOTR too. Doesn't mean any given character's role is more or less important, just means we're good at summarizing.


Jan 22 2013, 11:37am

Post #19 of 31 (473 views)
its just my opinion... [In reply to] Can't Post

Radagasts role in the film was not in the book. Gollums was and it is one of my favorite parts of the films.

This is the irony I'm speaking of. Its a problem I didn't have with LOTR, but for me, is apparent in AUJ. The parts that deviate from the book don't work in the film, for cinematic storytelling reasons, not for the agenda of a purist.

"You're love of the halflings leaf has clearly slowed your mind"


Jan 22 2013, 1:11pm

Post #20 of 31 (445 views)
your argument is a circle [In reply to] Can't Post

you think it falls flat when it doesn't follow the book, because in your mind it should follow the book to be a good film.
it is very clear that Radagast's involvement is relevant to the overall story and his arc is obviously not over yet.


Jan 22 2013, 1:41pm

Post #21 of 31 (435 views)
They write for the masses [In reply to] Can't Post

Fact is, most people enjoy Hollywood cliches. If we took a poll, most people here are in favor of the cliched Throin/Azog battle, complete with slow-motion walking through fire and "epic" music. Or how about the ending with Thorin/Bilbo and the angry...no wait it's a compliment?

Emperor: I've heard a great deal about you, Fa Mulan. You stole your father's armor, ran away from home, impersonated a soldier, deceived your commanding officer, dishonored the Chinese Army, destroyed my palace, and... you have saved us all. (then they hug)

Yeah, Mulan already did that. Cliches begat cliches it seems. I wouldn't consider them good writers by any stretch, but the films did what they set out to do, make a ton of money, and they won a lot of Oscars on the way.


Jan 22 2013, 2:23pm

Post #22 of 31 (414 views)
Cliches work... [In reply to] Can't Post

...because they connect with the audience on some level. If they didn't, no one would use them, and they wouldn't be cliches. Cliches can work if the movie uses them well.

The cliches you mention (azog/thorin, thorin's half apology) work because they illustrate Thorin's character arc of accepting Bilbo. It had to be done in this movie, and without the Mirkwood episode, they had to find a way to put it in there. These happened to be my favorite scenes in the movie- does that mean that I'm too dumb to realize they are cliches? No, I full-well recognize that they are. Did it bother me? Not in the least, because it was still an emotionally satisfying scene for me. And I doubt the writers of these movies put them in to try to win awards...there are plenty of awards-pandering movies out there (Les Mis, Life of Pi), and this movie was clearly not written with that in mind. Besides, Tolkien's "The Hobbit" is hardly award-winning fare in modern Hollywood.

(This post was edited by bborchar on Jan 22 2013, 2:24pm)


Jan 22 2013, 2:55pm

Post #23 of 31 (385 views)
Well said [In reply to] Can't Post



Jan 22 2013, 3:54pm

Post #24 of 31 (374 views)
As a film enthusiast, I disagree about Azog [In reply to] Can't Post

While I thought his design was kinda....boring....I felt like he added tension to the story when there just wasn't any. The addition of a revenge arc I thought also helped deepen Thorin's character a little. The battle at the gates of Moria was impressive, but I do agree that it totally stops the story dead in it's tracks. It always amuses me when I see posters on this forum clamoring for more flashbacks - PJ gives too many as it is!! They always slow down a story, and when you're making a quest or "road movie", you gotta keep things moving along!! That said, the warg chase outside Rivendell is one of the most boring action sequences I've ever seen, with 0% tension or even urgency.

I was a fan of Radagast overall, but I agree he was too silly (the stick insect and pipe weed shouldn't have made the final cut). His introduction was terrible and completely through off the pace, and there was no payoff in AUJ! You have spiders attack his house.....and then just leave?? What an underdeveloped scene. And Radagast reciting plot points for the audience was just amateur. "Not good!" "it's not as if it's witchcraft!........ohhhhh but it is!" As a writing and filmmaking enthusiast, that scene just curls my toenails. I liked his performance tho, when he's not being played up for laughs. His "serious" moment with Gandalf, telling him about the dark power of Dol Guldur, was excellent, and I can't wait to see the High Fells scene. I hope PJ uses him to better effect in DOS.

I felt PJ did a decent job at making the first 3rd of a book into it's own movie, but he certainly didn't knock it out of the park. The Radagast plot is just forgotten about with no kind of payoff, the Mora flashback isn't integrated all that well (Thorin staring of wistfully at the moon is pretty cheesy) and I personally feel that Thorin should've killed Azog during their showdown. He's not really supposed to be in the story anyway, it would've given some emotional resolution to at least one of the arcs, and it would up the stakes for Blog's revenge in the next 2 films.

I saw AUJ for the 3rd time this week. It's pretty good, and I definitely enjoyed it as a Tolkien enthusiast, but it certainly was not one of the best films of the year (whereas LotR always were). I'm looking forward to the next 2!

"There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go."


Jan 22 2013, 4:42pm

Post #25 of 31 (340 views)
Interesting [In reply to] Can't Post

I didn't really get the impression that Thorin was diminished however. Not by the fact that Azog isn't really dead, or by what happens at the end of the movie.

What he did at Azanulbizar is the same whether Azog died or not. He faced him and turned the tide of the whole battle. Azog either dying from his wound or recovering from it doesn't affect what Thorin did, and I don't think his people would be less apt to follow him if they thought Azog wasn't really dead.

And at the end of AUJ, I didn't feel that he was defeated because he was older or less of a warrior than he used to be. I can definitely see that perspective, but to me he just didn't have much of a chance. If I was fighting someone two feet taller than me, I'd be at a huge disadvantage but if the circumstances were just right, I could see myself getting the advantage; as Thorin did when he was able to cut off Azog's hand. If I was on foot and that person was now on a horse... it seems much more unlikely that I'd be able to get the upper hand. Azog didn't need to do much - just let the warg run him down and then swing at him from a safe distance.

I think they really wanted to use this scene to build Bilbo's character, and also show the desire for revenge burning in Thorin's heart. I don't think it was meant to take away from Thorin's leadership or ability to be king.

That's just how I see it though, and your point of view is very interesting and I think it's just as likely as mine.

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