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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Why do most people dislike Alfred? Even those who love the movies?
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Jan 17, 9:16pm

Post #26 of 36 (2577 views)
I can't speak for him... [In reply to] Can't Post

... but my problem with Bard and Thranduil's roles aren't that they were expanded, it's that they weren't expanded enough.

We see the seeds of an arc in Thranduil, but they aren't brought to the surface, as the connection between his wife and the necklace are never clear enough to complete the circle of his reluctant move from isolationism to reconnecting to the larger world.

Bard's arc is structurally problematic because of the change from two to three films. In one, we would see his rise in stature from resistance hero to leader of Laketown. But the three film split ends his arc just after the death of the dragon. He doesn't play any significant emotional role in the Battle of Five Armies, and his arc capper with Alfrid only demonstrates that he's fundamentally gone through no emotional change since we've met him, a family man through and through.

I don't object to a larger role for Legolas, but he again has the pretense of an arc that has no emotional weight. Theoretically, he, like Thranduil, is supposed to have his eyes open to the value of alliances and interference in the larger world. But, shoehorned mother references aside, his main function in the trilogy is to kill endless hordes.

I think Dol Guldor is the most successful subplot in the adaptation, but again, because of the three films' split, its significance falls to the wayside, specifically in BOTFA. I would have loved to see Howe / Lee's original storyboards of Gandalf following Sauron's spirit to Rhün. In many ways, the trilogy is more undercooked than overcooked.

I see this again in the role of Tauriel. Besides loving Kili and helping Legolas sort out his mother issues, I really don't understand why she is ever onscreen in BOFTA. As I type this, I realize the fundamental problem I have with the Hobbit trilogy is BOFTA. If it had been firing on all cylinders structurally and character-wise, it might be easier to forgive some of the trilogy's lesser sins.


Jan 17, 11:04pm

Post #27 of 36 (2561 views)
BOTFA is definitely the weakest [In reply to] Can't Post

and this comes from someone who REALLY LOVES these movies. I don't know that I agree with you about Bard, because I don't think he needed an emotional change. He's sort of like John McClain, rising to the occasion because he has to more than wants to. Thranduil, yeah, I wish they'd kept the scene where Gandalf reminds him that he has a son. It would have really helped fill out his character. Legolas, yeah it makes sense that he'd be there, but I wish his part had been kept smaller. I mean, the stupid grudge match between him and Bolg over a nose bleed? Compared to Thorin's grudge match against Azog over his grandfather's death? Yeah, that was weak. Beorn could have arrived & killed Bolg just like in the book, and I think most of the fans would have liked that, books and movies both. I also liked the Dol Goldur subplot, but I think it served its purpose of bringing back Sauron and tying the Hobbit to the LoTR series. So I don't think it fell by the wayside, it was simply a story arc that was completed. Tauriel - I once described her as "the obligatory kick-butt female that has to be in every movie nowadays." But really, why not a female elf? Elves aren't like the Dwarves, their gender population is 50/50, just like the race of men (give or take a point). Like many, I could have done without the "love story." I think a friendly curiosity would have served the story better. She could have been fighting the Orcs because it was the right thing to do, instead of just trying to save her sweetheart. Having said that, I like the fact that SHE went out to save HIM (at least initially), instead of the other way around. I also kind of like the fact that she was bested by Bolg, who pretty much bested Legolas. It makes the Elves less superhuman, less perfect. It raises the stakes for them. She may not have had as much purpose as Legolas or Thranduil, but I think she had more emotional weight than both of them put together, so I'm glad she was there.

Chen G.

Jan 18, 2:46pm

Post #28 of 36 (2490 views)
I still think that title belongs to An Unexpected Journey [In reply to] Can't Post

It’s much too slow. I like the choice to make the first film of the series lighter, but that should have been followed through in the running-time, presenting a more traditional, kinetic action-adventure film that people (especially new, younger audiences) can watch and than immediately want to put The Desolation of Smaug in afterwards.

As for the subplots, I don’t think a formal character arc is necessarily the only way with which to judge this matter: very often you’ll have characters without substantial arcs (a flattened arc ) still be narratively satisfying.

Specifically, I really like Tauriel because her globalist outlook is a good foil to Thranduil’s isolation. This dynamic is not only highly relatable (she’s basically me) but also extremely relevant to this trilogy, where so many of the characters have nationalistic or patriotic motivations. E.g. the Dwarves wanting to reclaim their homeland.

The romance is a bit trickier. What makes or breaks a romance is film to me is whether the two lovers are compatible with one another. That is to say, something in the characterization of each of them should explain why the like their counterpart.

In that regard, the romance does have a foundation: Kili has a liking for Elves, namely because he’s adventurous in ways that the others aren’t. Tauriel is also adventurous, she’s curious of the outside world, of which Kíli is not only a part of, but has actually seen quite a bit.

But, I feel like it’s the kind of romance that would have worked better as an air of romance rather than an outright love story. That’s why the pivot point where it becomes too cheesy for its own good is the line: “do you think she could have loved me?” fast-forwarding that line works magic.


Jan 18, 2:56pm

Post #29 of 36 (2486 views)
well... [In reply to] Can't Post

yes, I dislike significant deviations from the text as I am a fan of the book, and don't feel it called for the drastic changes PJ seemed to think it did. Minor changes for the sake of adapting it to a different medium I can accept, but there was no need to change significant elements of the plot, and basically, all of PJ's invented characters and what he did with them felt noticeably out of place in what was supposed to be Tolkien's Middle-earth. Tauriel and the love story, by PJ's own admission was only there to attract a female audience (ie larger ticket sales), and goes to show where their minds were really at with this. The character and its subplot are not necessary, did not improve the story and would have been better without it. Legolas was there I suppose to remind people that this is a LotR movie, but he was overused and his action scenes were unbelievably over the top and completely ridiculous. As for the other changes, I didn't like them either. Perhaps a better writing team could have pulled it off in a way that didn't constantly remind you that this is a deviation from Tolkien, but that is a talent PJ and Co. does not possess.

(This post was edited by 2ndBreffest on Jan 18, 2:58pm)

Paulo Gabriel

Jan 19, 4:16am

Post #30 of 36 (2310 views)
They did this in LOTR too [In reply to] Can't Post

Since The Two Towers came out. It only grew worse with time (the self-indulgence).


Jan 19, 1:24pm

Post #31 of 36 (2255 views)
true... [In reply to] Can't Post

however in Lotr, the indulgences/deviations were a bit more spaced out than they were in TH, so they didn't stand out quite as much. But you are correct, Lotr had some real low points as well.


Jan 19, 1:59pm

Post #32 of 36 (2255 views)
Fair enough. [In reply to] Can't Post

I hear you about TH movies even if I don’t agree.

Though LotR will always be closer to my heart, I am a fan of the Hobbit book too. However I recognize that there was never any chance that a literal adaptation was going to be made of the little children’s novel. I accept that changes were going to be made, major changes. Perhaps a different writing team would indeed have created an adaptation that was more to your liking, yours and others who share your opinion; I am mostly happy with how the movies turned out.

PJ was charged with making two (and then three) epic movies out of a slim book; it was inevitable that additional story and characters would be included to expand and extend the world of TH into the Middle-earth we know from LotR. Movie making is an art but it’s also a business designed to make money, so naturally some decisions were meant to please the audience, most of whom had probably never read TH but had seen LotR.

Legolas’ stunts are crowd pleasures; personally, I find them amusing. According to the BOTFA Appendices, the original thought was to make Thranduil even more ninja and kick-ass than Legolas but they decided that so much age and experience would rather have made him more precise and economical of his movements. So it could have been worse.

Tauriel was designed in part to please women and little girls and why not? I grew up in a world in which adventure tales like TH always featured boys and stories about girls were all pretty staid. Many young women today have different expectations and I'm glad to see them met. Though I was slightly disappointed with the way her story went in BOTFA, for me Tauriel was a great character.

It seems that the female audience’s appreciation of all the male eye candy in LotR wasn’t lost on the film makers and so in TH we got Thorin, Fili, Kili, Bard, Thranduil and of course Legolas. The idea of “hot” Dwarves would never have entered my mind but it's my opinion that both that and the general variation in the Dwarves’ appearances were inspirations.

I agree that some of PJ’s excesses in LotR were low points – Avalanche of Skulls and Pirates of the Anduin anyone? Some of those bothered me more in LotR than in TH because the latter was always going to undergo a major transformation and because of the lighter, less portentous tone of most of TH.


Jan 19, 9:39pm

Post #33 of 36 (2213 views)
It is not that I dislike him, but rather how he was ultimately used. [In reply to] Can't Post

My immediate impression was Black Adder comes to ME. There is some room for light comic relief but I did not understand why Bard would rely upon him in several key areas when he was a well known fraud. That is writing for a specific character arc that does not make sense for the film as a whole. His last moments were too over the top. I would rather have wished to see him slink away from town with a handful of gold to a dismal future in the wild.

I think Ryan Gage did a terrific job in the role . Any character excesses came from PJ and the writers.

(This post was edited by Eruonen on Jan 19, 9:40pm)


Jan 19, 10:28pm

Post #34 of 36 (2202 views)
I agree [In reply to] Can't Post

It makes sense that the Master of Laketown would have a councillor type sidekick, and Ryan Gage did a decent job with what he was given. Tauriel makes far less sense as a character in Tolkien's Middle-earth, and it's only in PJ's modernized re-imagining could it ever make even the slightest bit of sense.


Jan 22, 2:50pm

Post #35 of 36 (1922 views)
I agree about Ryan Gage and Alfrid. [In reply to] Can't Post

The Master must have had sidekicks/councillors. But Thranduil must have had a captain of the guard as well.

These movies, LotR and TH, were made in the 2000s (more or less) and have to reflect modern sensibilities enough to appeal to today’s audiences. PJ wisely toned down the class differentiation/prejudice and some other ideas expressed in the book. On the other hand, I suspect that the highlighted notions of honour and self-sacrifice, though somewhat alien today, were part of the appeal of the movies.


Feb 12, 10:58pm

Post #36 of 36 (764 views)
I've never understood the dislike [In reply to] Can't Post

I've never understood the dislike for Alfrid's character, especially in Battle of the Five Armies, and actually think the filmmakers were smart to expand his role in the way that they did.

In Desolation of Smaug, you get this feeling that he and the Master are "equals" in a way despite the servile nature of Alfrid's duties, but once the Master is gone, it comes out that Alfrid really is just a hanger-on who latched himself onto power for the same of feeling powerful.

He also serves as this really great 'foil' for Bard even as Bard's rise in status exposes Alfrid's true nature and weaknesses.

His death is also quite hilarious and fitting because it's so ignominious.

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