Episode 285: The Hobbit: You’re The Man Now, Smaug

The Overthinkers tackle The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather overthink Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in an extra-long episode to fit with an extra-long movie.

→ Download Episode 285 (MP3)

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8 Comments on “Episode 285: The Hobbit: You’re The Man Now, Smaug”

  1. TribesmanSen #

    With a name like this, I’m torn between going to see the movie or listen to the podcast first.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Clearly you need to listen to the podcast on headphones while watching the movie in 3D IMAX.


  2. PotatoKnight #

    Good podcast, it matches a lot of things I felt about the first Hobbit film–I saw it as a chance to enjoy in a visceral way the world of Midfle Earth without the imminent peril of Lord of the Rings.

    *Big nerd glasses-push*
    Minas Morgal and Minas Ithil are the same place. Minas Ithal was the mirror of Minas Tirith on the other side of the river that fell to Mordor and became Minas Morgal. In the movies Minas Morgsl shows up in kind of eerie green death-metal glow while Elijah Wood looks on in bug-eyed fascination.

    More legit comment:
    I haven’t seen the new hobbit film yet but it does not surprise me in the least that they added a female character. The writing team on the LoTR film franchise has consistently–and in my opinion laudably–tried to expand the female roles in the works. In LoTR they give Arwyn the role of saving Frodo & co. (Stealing that from Glorfindel) and foreground her story generally, which in the books is almost entirely relegated to the appendix. They shoe-horn in Galadriel wherever she’ll fit. Eowyn is basically the only female character whose role doesn’t have to be beefed up.

    The Hobbit poses a greater problem even than Lord of the Rings if you want female representation as I don’t believe the book contains a single woman with a speaking part. So just making one up ultimately be preferable to just having toddler Eowyn show up or something.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Yeah, I had a brief moment of confusion between Minas Morgul and Barad Dur. I remmbered there was a fortress that used to be a main Gondor fortress but had been lost to the forces of Sauron. I couldn’t remember off the top of my head whether it was an intermediary fortress between Minas Tirith and Mordor, or whether Mordor had expanded and it was Sauron’s main fortress now.

      Looking it up now, I see that Minas Ithil / Minas Morgul is near Cirith Ungol.

      Really this all goes back to what I addressed on the podcast, which is that while there is rich history in the various fortresses and towns of Gondor — there are no stories that are interesting of people actually _living_ there. Minas Ithil / Minas Morgul and Osgiliath in particular kind of fail to me as “places.” There’s just so much that’s all history, very little current experience.

      And a very good point with the ladies. There should at least be one, for goodness’ sake!


      • PotatoKnight #

        Your post is also a reminder of perhaps the greatest visceral pleasure of the entire Lord of the Rings saga: the mouthfeel of the words. I can pretty much say “the pass of Cirith Ungol” or “riders of the the riddermark!” “Crebains! From Dunland!” over and over again and be content. All the story nonsense is pretty much just an excuse for that.

        I think you can defend the lifelessness of Gondor as part of the point–the fact that it is a empty shell of its former glory where the Stewards spend more time on their ancestors than their descendants. But that still doesn’t mean I’d want to do more than take a guided minibus tour of the ruins there. Lake-town has less pages devoted to it than Gondor, but I nonetheless feel like I have a much fuller sense of it as a place with actual politics and actual people (and it’s a shell of its former self too!) I could see spending some time in their hostel.

        Part of the problem is that Lord of the Rings is about the life-or-death struggle between all good and all evil. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for the personality depicted in the Hobbit. Although Rohan feels pretty alive, so maybe it’s a Gondor issue specifically.


  3. Peter Tupper #

    In this discussion of the pleasures of world-building vs. the pleasures of story-telling, M. John Harrison’s critique of the former, The Clomping Foot of Nerdism is particularly germaine. In that light, you seem to be arguing that the Hobbit movies succeed as films _because_ they aren’t too faithful to the books, and we should even reconsider whether adherence to the books is necessarily a good thing.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      I would slightly clarify that not being too faithful to the books is a necessary condition for the Hobbit movies to succeed in the way they’ve succeeded — but it’s not a sufficient condition. Other stuff needs to happen to in order to call them a success, and it’s tricky to say for certain that it’s happened.


  4. Agam #

    Just to piggyback on the theme of over-the-top material excess as manifesting both within the film’s production and within the film itself: I thought it was kind of interesting that the page from the Dwarven playbook when it comes to dragons and confined spaces has to do with the impromptu forging of a giant statue of molten gold – an attempt to drown the beast in a gigantic, melting, Oscar statue in a move that screams both “surprise attack” and “for your consideration.”


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