Last week, when the final trailer for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies debuted, long time Tolkienites were treated to an ominous message. Well, ‘treated’ might not be the word for such an occasion. Perhaps ‘insulted’? ‘Humiliated’? ‘Crushed like so many Rohirrim riding against an Oliphant’?
You guys REALLY hate Jackson, especially when he plays fast and loose with Middle-Earth canon. And make no mistake, Peter Jackson totally took some liberties in The Battle of Five Armies. Particularly with the Siege of Dol Guldur. In that classic…
Wait a second. Massive spoilers ahead!!! Turn back if you want to retain your Tolkien chastity.
Okay, now that the warning’s out of the way… In that classic piece of Middle Earth lore, the White Council exiles Sauron (who hasn’t yet regained his badass physical form) from Dol Guldur. Eventually, his wandering spirit returns to Mordor, leading to the events in the Lord of the Rings. Now, this whole Dol Guldur skurfuffle was never included in The Hobbit. It’s canon, of course, but only accessible to readers through the appendices at the end of the LOTR. In that way, it’s not properly part of the book’s narrative. But Peter Jackson adapted the Dol Guldur scene and several other Sauron-heavy plot threads in order to connect the two trilogies.
For the most part, none of these extra bits are non-canonical. And besides the gluttonous CGI segments, the Sauron sub-plot pisses off Tolkienites the most. They would prefer if The Hobbit film focused entirely focused on Bilbo and his adventure. While refocusing the story on a broader war, Bilbo Baggins and his heroic journey are lost in the shuffle.
Not that I mind. Sure, I’d be curious to see a more Bilbo-centric film, but this badass Dwarf vs. Dragon vs. Human vs. Sauron vs. Wizards saga is right up my alley.
Well, continuing his long tradition, Peter Jackson’s added a Saruman vs Sauron duel. At least, that’s what the latest trailer implies. In a brief scene, we witness Elrond and Galadriel rescue Gandalf from Sauron’s Dol Guldur Palace. The scene quickly cuts to Christopher Lee’s Saruman (who’s looking kinda haggard) as he utters “Leave Sauron to me” in his best impression of a generic 80’s action star.
That last bit was meant to be a joke, but it has some truth to it. Christopher Lee is far too old to film action scenes, so if he battles Sauron in any way, he’ll almost certainly be switched with a CGI version of the White Wizard. You know, I defend these movies as much as I possibly can, but even I question the overabundance of CGI in Middle-Earth. Sigh.