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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Was anyone else slightly disappointed with Smaug's design?

The Shire

Apr 20 2018, 2:51pm

Post #1 of 11 (3924 views)
Was anyone else slightly disappointed with Smaug's design? Can't Post

Let me start by stating that I love these movies, despite their flaws, and actually prefer them to the LOTR films. I love the visuals, set design costumes and makeup, including Smaug. The CGI for him is some of the best since Kong. However, I wasn't initially thrilled w the way his face looked. Like the Rankin and Bass cartoon, it was slightly mammalian. I was really hoping for a strictly reptilian classic dragon look. More specifically, I wanted him to look meaner. That being said, what they used works and he still looks fantastic, and his interaction with Bilbo and Bard were phenomenal. It didn't break the movie, but it wasn't exactly what I wanted. Is that how he is supposed to look based on the book?

(This post was edited by OhioDude72 on Apr 20 2018, 2:52pm)


Apr 20 2018, 4:16pm

Post #2 of 11 (3891 views)
I have quibbles. [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh, I don't mind the overall design, though I was still hoping to see a six-limbed Smaug (four legs plus a pair of wings). The final design worked well visually. I do think that both Smaug and the treasure/treasure chamber were just too big. Our dragon is as much as five times the size he appears to be in the book according to Tolkien's own illustrations. This exaggeration was the reason why an over-sized Black Arrow needed to be introduced along with all the baggage that went with it (the windlance and Bard's improvised ballista).

Smaug's design in the animated Hobbit television movie was deliberately a bit cat-like to reflect his nature (avaricious and evilly playful).

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Apr 20 2018, 4:17pm)


Apr 20 2018, 8:00pm

Post #3 of 11 (3867 views)
No I was not disappointed at all [In reply to] Can't Post

I was thrilled. I liked everything about Smaug and think he was probably the crowning achievement in special effects in these movies.

That he doesn't conform to the book dragon or that he's impossibly huge doesn't bother me at all. In the book the dragon was just another plot point to me and not particularly interesting in himself.

But to my surprise, I loved movie Smaug - his appearance, the way he moves, sounds, speaks and ultimately dies. The Smaug and Bilbo scenes and the dragon's attack on Laketown are amongst my favourite and for the most part I even like the battle between Smaug and the Dwarves.


Apr 21 2018, 10:59am

Post #4 of 11 (3845 views)
Smaug needed facial expressions... [In reply to] Can't Post

Because Smaug is a talking dragon he needed two things..

1. To be able to convey various emotions with his face. If he had a mean reptilian face the entire time he would just be looking angry too much. Think about a reptile looking happy or sad or surprised, it's a difficult facial structure to work with.

2. To speak convincingly. Lizards don't have lips and their tongues move very differently to mammals. If Smaug's snout was too long then it ends up looking like a hand-puppet flapping open and closed, it would be too comical. However, while a smaller snout is more convincing it can look too human or too cutesy like in Dragonheart.

They really pushed the reptilian features further than I thought possible while retaining those expressions and mouth movements. He has a realistically reptilian look to him, like a real lizard, rather than a "designed to be scary" look and I think it works really well.

My favourite feature on Smaug is his jaw line. Lizards, particularly crocodiles, have very weak muscles for opening their mouths (part of why its hard for them to talk). But incredibly powerful lower jaw muscles so that they can snap closed very quickly. I gives them this very distinct jawline and I loved seeing that on Smaug, I'd never seen it on a dragon before and it makes him look so powerful and dangerous.

My least favourite, I agree with Otaku, I would have liked to see four legs plus wings, to set him apart from the Nazgul's beasts and to look more like Tolkien's illustrations (and the picture on the map).

The Shire

Apr 21 2018, 1:50pm

Post #5 of 11 (3828 views)
Yeah good points [In reply to] Can't Post

Couldn't they have made his face less square and smiley though? His grin is a bit goofy.


Apr 22 2018, 1:37am

Post #6 of 11 (3798 views)
Such things are subjective... [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't see any square or goofiness personally. Except in the first trailer, his face looked odd at that angle Unsure But I personally love what we got.

Have you looked at some of the concept art for Smaug? I'm sure someone here knows a good link to some. Or you can google "Smaug Concept Art". The art for The Hobbit is astonishing. Designs for everything, from Beorn to trolls and even dwarven armour are fun to look at and wonder what could have been Smile

I'd be interested to know which Smaug designs you like?

(This post was edited by AshNazg on Apr 22 2018, 1:46am)

Petty Dwarf

Apr 22 2018, 7:03pm

Post #7 of 11 (3753 views)
I was hoping for four legs. [In reply to] Can't Post

It is very popular in fantasy movies these days to have "realistic" beasties, and since there are no six-limbed vertebrates in nature, that means all dragons have to be two-legged, two-winged wyverns. I was hoping that the Hobbit films would buck the trend and give us something close to Tolkien's own designs, which they did in AUJ's prologue, but Smaug somehow lost a couple of limbs between films.

"No words were laid on stream or stone
When Durin woke and walked alone."

mae govannen
Tol Eressea

May 8 2018, 12:32pm

Post #8 of 11 (3241 views)
Totally agree with you on all your points// [In reply to] Can't Post


'Is everything sad going to come untrue?'
(Sam, 'The Field of Cormallen', in 'The Return of the King'.)


Jun 10 2018, 10:30am

Post #9 of 11 (2508 views)
GDTs Smaug would have been very different... [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder how he could get out of his contract after Warner had put a lot of money into his films?


Jun 10 2018, 3:02pm

Post #10 of 11 (2494 views)
GdT's Smaug [In reply to] Can't Post

And I still to this day want to see the 6-foot tall maquette that was made from del Toro's design! Mad

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jun 10 2018, 3:03pm)


Jun 10 2018, 5:03pm

Post #11 of 11 (2478 views)
I hope we will see this too... [In reply to] Can't Post

And more some day!


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