Welp, the last Hobbit movie has finally come out. Before we go any further, let’s pour one out for the franchise—this is the last time (barring a Peter Jackson Silmarillion adaptation—fingers crossed) that we’ll be able to see a new Lord of the Rings movie in theaters. I didn’t have high hopes for the final installation in the series, since the first two were a little bit too long for my tastes. So I don’t know if it was a result of my low expectations or what, but I was surprised to find I actually enjoyed Battle of the Five Armies.
The trailer for the final film in the Hobbit trilogy has finally been released, and to paraphrase Thorin Oakenshield, I’ve never been so torn about something in all my life.
Spoilers ahead for those of you who haven’t read a 75-year-old book.
I am, quite obviously, a huge proponent of adding more ladies to everything. Strong ladies, weak ladies, ladies of color, queer ladies; just put more ladies in things. However, in my latest Hobbit review, I noted that I had a few problems with Tauriel, an elf lady who was created for the film as a way of increasing its gender diversity. I was one of her strongest defenders pre-film, and found many if not all of the critiques of her inclusion ridiculous, varying from canon overenthusiasm, to gay fetishization (“If she has a romance with Kili, it undermines the meaning of Legolas’s—non-canonical—romance with Gimli”), to flat-out misogyny.
That said, the internet seems to have polarized into two opinions about her. One side, which I have generally avoided interacting with, continues to decry her being included at all. The other side, in a rather overcompensatory show of support, has been singing her praises in such a loud voice that it refuses to acknowledge any but the most inconsequential problems with her character. And here’s the thing: there were definite problems with her, namely that she was both the only adult woman in the film with a name, and a flirtatious nobleminded warrior sassy soldier healer with a love triangle and a forbidden romance. There are two ways the movie could have fixed this.
Just like last year, I went to the Hobbit movie’s midnight premiere. Unlike last year, I didn’t stay up after getting home from the movie to write a review. I know, I know: get my head in the game. Our readers are dying to know what I thought! Well, wait no longer, as my opinions can be found, along with plenty of spoilers, right below this handy-dandy jump.
Less than two weeks till The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug premieres in theaters, so the time is as good as any to talk about this trailer. If I sound a little less than enthusiastic, it’s because I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The new filming technology was fine, it was just… well, it was boring. And the book was emphatically not boring. The film was so boring I actually fell asleep in the last ten minutes and only woke up when Thorin was thanking Bilbo for saving him from the Orcs.
Thing is, The Hobbit was just one book—a relatively short book, at that. There’s no real reason the adaptation has to be three movies long. But since it is, it would help if Peter Jackson decided to flesh out the Hobbit world with interesting things. In the first movie we got an extended look at Radagast the Brown and cameos from Galadriel and Saruman, who were not in the book at all. In this movie Jackson’s going to add a side plot with Tauriel, a Sylvan Elf. None of these things are inherently bad, but they’re not related to the main plot of the Hobbit at all, and as long as they come off as detours from the plot rather than additions to the plot, they’re always going to feel extraneous. Is it fun to see Saruman and Galadriel again? Yes, but unless they add to the plot I’d just as soon rewatch all three Lord of the Rings movies, thanks.
Still, I am excited about Tauriel. She’s not a canon character, but Lord of the Rings is notoriously bad at women, and adding another woman to an almost-womanless cast can only be a good thing. From a storytelling perspective, it shouldn’t be hard to fold her seamlessly into the narrative, as the gang is going to be stuck in Mirkwood for quite some time. Having said that, I hope that Tauriel’s entire plotline won’t revolve around Legolas and his possible feelings for her, as the trailer implies. It would be a shame to finally have a female character in the Hobbit-verse, only to have her defined by Legolas’s interest in her.
So in Desolation of Smaug, I would love to see more of King Thranduil and the Wood Elves, and we should, since we’re getting to that part of the book. Lee Pace brings amazing sass to this role, and I was beyond disappointed when he only got a couple minutes of screentime in the first movie. Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug is going to be incredible, and I look forward to the explosion of Cumberdragon art after the movie premieres. I would also, obviously, love to see that possible cameo by Stephen Colbert that he’s been hinting at for ages.
On that note, I’ll leave you with Stephen Colbert asking Peter Jackson the nerdiest Hobbit question of all time. (For those of you who don’t want to reread the book, this is an excellent way to brush up on your Mirkwood history before seeing the movie!)
It has been announced over at Entertainment Weekly that Peter Jackson is introducing a new character. Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly of Lost, is the captain of the Elven Guards. Additionally, she is a Sylvan Elf, which means she is an elf of a lower status than Legolas, Elrond, Galadriel, etc.
The Everyman (or Everyperson, as the case may be) is one of the most underestimated and important characters in storytelling. The Everyman is a character with no powers or special abilities outside of those that a normal person might have. The Everyman is not the chosen one; they usually are the stand-in character for the audience (though not always); and they can be the main character or supporting in the story. But the biggest and most key factor here is that they must be a completely and utterly ordinary character. This character represents what a normal person would be like in an extraordinary situation.
Many movies, TV shows, and books like to indulge in our fantasies by revealing that an ordinary person is actually someone amazing. These stories say, “Are you an awkward outcast and loner? Well, that’s actually because you’re a wizard/demigod/slayer/the chosen one!” And while this particular plot is great and all, at some point when watching or reading about one of these characters, you might wonder what it would be like if you were in the story. You then quickly realize that you are not a mutant/fairy/genius/alien and that you would be extremely screwed if you were to step into the story just as you are now.
But what if you weren’t? The beauty of the Everyman isn’t just that they are completely normal and average, but that they somehow survive against all odds in impossible circumstances.
So without further ado, here are my Top Ten Everyman Characters in Geekdom:
She’s at it again! Tessa Netting, fangirl extraordinaire, is doing her Broadway/Sci-fi/Fantasy fanart in this awesome little musical masterpiece. If you don’t recognize the tune, consider this my Christmas gift:
Tessa was a member of the original Broadway cast of Billy Elliot the musical which was where I was first introduced to her. She was hilarious as the Broadway’s original “Spastic Starfish” and I loved her so I’m very glad that she now does fun stuff like this online and on stage. She often does events with other awesome creative fans like the StarKid folks.
I thought this would be worth sharing since I think we’re all pretty fond of Tolkien around here and Tessa’s gone ahead and made an awesome video with his characters. I’ve gotta say, her costumes and wigs are pretty impressive! I mean they’re not like, convention-level cosplay but they’re pretty varied and detailed enough to make the characters distinct and recognizable. Her re-written lyrics fit the measure of the song very well so I have to say kudos to Tessa for a job well done.
Plus she’s combined The Hobbit with Rent and Christmas, making for an awesome video for fans of all kinds to enjoy during the holiday.
If you’ve read The Hobbit or any other Tolkien books or pretty much any fantasy story where dwarves exist as a separate race, you might have noticed that dwarf ladies are sadly lacking representation. Although there aren’t, in fact, any female characters at all in The Hobbit, in The Lord of the Rings at least we have examples of powerful women (or at least existing women) from every race but the dwarves. As someone (I think Gimli?) in Lord of the Rings notes, Middle Earthling dwarf women are seen so rarely, and so resemble dwarf men (sporting plenty of facial hair and… pants and axes, I guess?), that most other races assume dwarves are a single-gendered species who spring from the rock fully formed rather than one that engages in sexual reproduction.
Peter Jackson, in the scene in The Hobbit movie showing the fall of Erebor and the devastation of Dale, does show us a number of dwarf women living under the mountain with their male cohorts. I was surprised, however, that he had given them far more feminine clothing and features than I expected.
These are certainly not characters who might be misgendered as men, and furthermore, the clear difference in presented gender gives the lie to any suggestion that dwarf women are so rare/often misgendered that they are considered mythical creatures by other Middle Earthlings. Continue reading