The Hobbit 3 & Dwimmermount

I forgot to mention yesterday that I saw the Hobbit over my busy weekend because that was how forgettable it was.  But seeing as I run a fantasy & gaming blog, I feel as though I would be remiss for not commenting on it.

Smaug dying before the title drop is just one more sign of the overall flawed pacing of the movies. The second movie’s payoff is delivered in the first moments of the third, so what’s left? A two hour denouement that leaves you feeling kind of empty and blah.

Battle of Five Armies is a movie that constantly feels as though it wants to be more important than it is.   Its dramatic moments end up feeling forced because it knows what it is: a cynical cash-in that only exists in its present form to con the Weinsteins out of money and compete in a world of media in which people watch procedural dramas on Netflix or USA 9 hours at a time. The Shakespearean tragedy of Thorin and his madness is, in the end, completely overshadowed by all of the other ridiculous non-sense that has cluttered the films. Whatever gravitas Richard Armitage brings to the performance is lost in the poorly paced and predictably direction style we’ve become accustomed to in Jackson’s adaptations.

Killing Fili & Kili to make the Elfy Sue feel bad and understand what is love was less awesome than them fighting to the death to protect a mortally wounded Thorin until Beorn showed up to save him (spoiler: Thorin dies anyway). Given all the time devoted earlier to the goblins and that Beorn was even in the 2nd movie, one would think you’d’ve seen more goblins & wargs and Beorn would’ve shown up all super-bear to rescue Thorin.

Between this and the light cavalry successfully charging a line of heavy spearmen in RotK, I’m thoroughly convinced that Peter Jackson doesn’t actually know how to direct battle scenes, even ones that are spelled out explicitly in text.

Even more bizarre are some of the major geographical mistakes in the dialogue used to justify plot stuff. I mean, it’s bad enough that all of Middle Earth is within 20 miles of the Misty Mountains, but claiming that the orcs are after Erebor because it’s the key to reclaiming Angmar(over some 700 miles west of Erebor and on the other side of the Misty Mountains), showing Mount Gundabad (500 miles west) to be within reasonable walking distance for Legolas and Tauriel to go scope out, and Gandalf telling Legolas that he should go into the North (which would’ve sent him into the barren wastelands of the Forodwaith) to look for Strider made me want to pull my hair. Sauron being banished into the East for Dol Guldur I guess I could understand if we look at “East” as ideological or cultural concept rather than a cardinal direction (Mordor was very south and only slightly east), but the others were kind of baffling.

All in all, I think they would’ve done better to cut things off with Smaug’s death and given an American Graffitti style run-down of which characters died and who became the lords of what pre-credits. I find myself wishing that Middle Earth had gone out on a better note.

Now that I’ve crapped on Hobbit 3: Revenge of the Sith, I’d like to take a minute to talk about something that lots of other people have taken the opportunity to crap on: Dwimmermount.

Dwimmermount is finally a thing, and has been for some time, not that you hear much about it. Still, I find myself more curious about it than I thought I might be. While I can say ‘the brand is somewhat tainted by the kickstarter debacle and ensuing “OMG, OSR IS DEAD” drama in the wake of its delays’, I can’t really comment at all on the quality of the final product, and that’s something I’d like to change.

After nearly two years of Dwimmermount being something of a joke in the gameblog community (just google “9 rats 2000 copper”), does JM’s megadungeon deserve a fair shake? I wouldn’t even be wondering this if it weren’t for Jeffro Johnson’s glowing review. Previous things I’d read, based largely on those who’d been backers & gotten preview stuff, had been fairly ‘blah’ on the whole thing at best, with much more enthusiasm shown for the various ‘hacks’ such as Devilmount. So now that someone whose opinion I value in the gaming community has come out and basically said that everything I thought I knew about Dwimmermount is wrong, maybe I ought to give it a chance?

Even if I do end up crapping on it, it’s only fair to give it a chance before I do. I mean, I waited until having seen Hobbit 3: Escape from Fantasia before dumping on it, so I can surely extend Dwimmermount the same courtesy.

15 responses to “The Hobbit 3 & Dwimmermount

  1. I am genuinely sad in relation to ‘The Hobbit’. I am ashamed to let my kids look at this, because I know that by doing so I fill their heads with idiotic lies about something that was actually fantastic. ‘The Hobbit’ was the first book I read voluntarily (…), when I was 11 years old. I even read it in English (after having been permanently cured of all interest in Norwegian literature by the school system). It remains as one of the most important book-memories in my life, only surpassed by ‘The Lord of the Rings’ — that I read a few years later (and then another time, some years after that).

    Now, I have not seen the third film in this series yet, and although I am sure I will one day, I don’t look forward to it. I will probably wait until I can buy the extended version on DVD, for 5 or 10 EUROs in some super market….

    In the meanwhile I feel a need to read the book again, like some sort of therapy after having had my fond memories crushed, spat upon and shit upon by the two first ‘The Hobbit’ movies, that I have seen.

    (I think even the cartoon version of ‘The Hobbit’, from 1978 I think it was, is *less* cartoonish than Jackson’s version….)

    Whatever Hollywood touches, turns to shit… I have said it before, and I must say it again. There is nothing else to say. R. I. P. Tolkien. You and your books had deserved better….

    • Yes, if there is any good to come from seeing this, it’s the desire to reread the book. Given Jackson’s penchant for tedious slow-mo death scenes, it was somewhat surprising and rather appalling how this movie cheapened the deaths of important characters. There are a few moments where a tiny glimpse of potential for what could’ve been shine through, but they rare. I would’ve liked to have seen Richard Armitage as Thorin in a better movie.

      If it’s any consolation, there’s very little left to be wrung out of the franchise. While people joke about “Beren & Luthien” or “Children of Hurin” being adapted, those works are probably far too obsure outside of devout Tolkien fandom for studios to gamble on and would be met with a resounding chorus of “Whur’s Gandalf?”

      • The problem is that they have the rights, so there will never be any *good* Tolkien-based movies…

        And they ruined MERP as well, with this shit. 😦

  2. Now that all three films are out, I wonder how long it will be before a fan cuts them together and removes the drek to get a 90-minute “good parts” version.

    Wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants.


    • It could be trimmed down into a passable movie, perhaps, but I do feel like changing the death of Thorin is one of those undermining decisions that no amount of editing can really fix. Namely I’d cut out all of the elf drama, all of the Gandalf x Galadriel shipping, and probably all but about 15 minutes or so of third movie.

      • The dragon scenes were pretty fun. Unfortunately, by the time that they happened, I was already sick to death of the second movie. The escape down the Black River was a special kind of tedious.

        Also, partly in reply to what Mike mentioned about Tauriel, I think I would’ve minded her less if she was used as an in-movie means to explain about the different races of Elves (“Why do the other blonder elves treat you like shit, Tauriel?” “Well, because when gods said ‘come join us in the paradise we created’, I and my kindred abandoned the journey; we became the Nandor, ‘Those who turned back’. Moriquendi, Dark Elves, for we never saw the light of the Trees.” “Gee, that sucks, Tauriel.”) instead of just being there to make the movie less of a sausage fest.

    • I don’t mind the length of these movies. I only have a problem with the contents… and even a 90 minute movie made from this material will be shit.

  3. Books are books, movies are movies. If you want a dramatization of the book, listen to the audiobook read by Nicol Williamson.:)
    I read the book to my daughter (twice!) before we watched the films, and frankly after getting over the nerdrage of “Tolkien defiled!” I felt on first seeing the parts 1 &2, I now think:
    1) I’m ok with Jackson et al. adding female roles to the stories. Even if they are elves. The idea was to tie the stories of the films together more tightly. Fine.
    2) Beorn was a great character in the book, and barely in the films. Fine. After cutting one of the best scenee in the book IMO, where the dworves slowly get intro’d to Beorn, I don’t care that Beorn is blink-&-you’ll-miss-him in part 3.
    3) Utlimately the Jackson Middle Erath movies are some of the best D&D movies out there. Someone else said part 3 was actually a Warhammer movie, which is pretty accurate.
    4) The book is almost always better than the adaptation. It just is. I think some folks are bothered that more people will see the movies than read the books, but they weren’t gonna read the book anyway, so what is the harm? And if they do both, they’ll prefer the one they prefer. That’s on them.
    5) In hindsight, I think you have a good point about the pacing.

    • The main problem I had with Tauriel was that she didn’t really add anything of value to the film or story other than gender representation.

      If Beorn wasn’t going to play a major role in rescuing Thorin during the last battle, for pacing purposes, he should’ve been left out altogether.

      I will consent to point number 3, but at the same time will note that Tolkienian fantasy and D&D fantasy are vastly different animals, wherein lies some of the complaints against the films’ aesthetics.

      Agree on point four.

      Point 5, while I don’t think it would make a great movie, substantial reduction and editing could’ve pared the Hobbit down to an Okay movie. Or maybe it couldn’t. Lord knows that I tried really hard to trim Kerberos Panzer Cop: Stray Dogs into something watchable, but it was beyond me.

      • I haven’t seen any “extended” versions, if they are even released yet, but I am guessing Beorn is more visible in the extended part 3. Granted that does little to rehabilitate the character. Jackson’s Beorn is not the least bit interesting in part 2. So really he probably should have just been cut entirely.

        I’ll have to check with my wife & kid about whether Tauriel’s *mere presence as a female character* added anything. I guess I was assuming she did, somehow, but … did she talk to another female character at any point, about something other than one of the male characters? No. Though I am not sure how to ascribe gender to elves. 🙂

        Still, Azog & Bolg were badASS orcs, and the wargs were more wofllike, and dwarves riding goats and boars. Great stuff there.

      • Tauriel only existed for Legolas to project his feelings on and to fawn over Kili in an awkward attempt to give additional weight to the Fili/Kili characters, both of which felt unnecessary. The former because Legolas’ presence in the movie was unnecessary to begin with, and the latter because, had they been handled better in the first place, Fili & Kili and their deaths already would’ve had considerable weight.

        Tauriel was also a missed (wasted) opportunity to give an in-movie explanation of the sundering of the elves. The only time it ever came up that she was a dark elf was in the press releases to Hollywood Reporter that were trying to justify her inclusion in the film.

  4. Re Dwimmermount, my unsolicited advice to JM was to just collate the (excellent) stuff he’d written describing his process of designing the setting and house rules as a booklet rather than to publish the actual dungeon. I suspect the finished product bears little resemblance to what we was running, both because of the other hands finishing it and because most DMs don’t actually have details about the entire megadungeon they are creating, just notes and ideas, so he probably felt compelled to flesh things out that were not so in his game. But I have no idea, and am curious too.

    • Interestingly, that seems like a much more “old school” way to approach it. Personally, I come up with a lot of stuff on the fly, so I’m not someone who has a ton of problems with the blank, empty rooms. If players insist on examining empty rooms and looking at walls, if it’s appropriate, I’ll throw them bones, like “the walls are covered in bas relief depictions of elves sacrificing goblinoids to their 8 armed ape god” or something, because a lot of the stuff I’ve been running is devoid of atmosphere beyond what the DM adds on their own.

  5. Pingback: RETROSPECTIVE: Dwellers in the Mirage by Abraham Merritt –

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