Having second-guessed none other than Clive Barker on adapting his own story The Hellbound Heartinto Hellraiser, I'm going to move on to bigger game. I'm going to discuss how I would have done Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which I saw earlier this week.
Spoilers will be abounding, so be ye warned:
*I really enjoyed the scene where the White Council (Saruman, Elrond, and Galadriel) invades Dol Guldur to rescue the captive Gandalf, however much I didn't like that Gandalf had been taken captive in the first place. I would have had Gandalf, once freed from the crow cage, given a new staff and then he can join the others in fighting the Nazgul and ultimately driving away Sauron. In the film Gandalf lies there semi-conscious the whole time and ultimately has to be removed because Dol Guldur is supposedly sapping his life away. I would have also nixed the quasi-romantic stuff between Gandalf and Galadriel and wouldn't have Galadriel collapsing after driving out Sauron, however impressive she was going into "Dark Queen" mode and speaking in that scary deep voice. Instead all four members of the White Council can exert their power and exorcise Sauron and the Ringwraiths so nobody gets burned out. Finally, I'd nix Sauron's comment about the oncoming "Age of the Orc." Sauron doesn't want to replace Elves, Men, and Dwarfs with Orcs--he wants to rule the Earth forever, worshiped as a god. He has Men as well as Orcs among his servants, and there are references in canon to Dwarfs serving him as well. Instead he could make some comment about this being only a setback but victory shall be his or something like that.
*I would have had more surviving Lakemen. It seemed there were only a few hundred survivors of Smaug's attack on Laketown and a lot of them were women and children. They simply didn't have the numbers to make up one of the armies in the Battle of the Five Armies--it seemed more like they were allies/auxiliaries of the wood elves. They also wouldn't have the numbers to realistically defend the reoccupied city of Dale against the Orcs, even if the latter hadn't managed to breach the walls. Not too numerous though, since they're the survivors of a city that's been devastated by a dragon that inflicts the equivalent of the WWII firebombing of Tokyo.
*I would have also made the Lakemen more formidable militarily, especially once they've reoccupied Dale and reclaimed the city's abandoned stashes of armor and weapons. They visibly recoil at the approach of Dain Ironfoot's Dwarfs despite being in the midst of the uber-disciplined Elven formation and most of them don't seem to have armor. Despite this they do far better than they realistically would against the Orc army storming Dale, especially once they breach the walls. Given how they're basically a civilian militia (even though we do see them drilling in one scene) it'd be more realistic if their main focus was holding the walls of Dale. Perhaps when the Orcish armies appear, Thranduil orders Bard to retreat to Dale and hold it against the Orcs to give the Elves and Dwarves a safe place to retreat? The Dalemen wouldn't have the battle experience of the immortal Elves or the ornery Dwarves, so holding the walls and gates of Dale against Azog would be a more fitting task for them.
*The gigantic "earth eaters" (some kind of huge mutant earthworm) that Azog deploys to bring his army into the Dale region via surprise tunnels could have won him the battle if he'd deployed them intelligently--by attacking the Elves, Men, and Dwarfs. Even if they managed to kill them (mass elven archer fire and the Dwarfs jumping on them), their formations would be out of order and even easier prey for Azog's armies. I would have had just one "earth eater" used to dig one huge tunnel to bring Azog's army in and then have Azog make it charge the Free Peoples. The Dwarfs and Elves will kill it, but it will do a lot of damage.
*The dwarfs seem like a functioning military tactically, including forming a shield wall with pikes and then using a svinfylking to break the Orcish lines once Thorin and his men enter the battle. The elves, however, seem to fight more individually rather than as a unit. Given how each elf probably has hundreds if not thousands of years of combat experience they could probably make this work, but I would have them function more like an organized military. Rather than leaping over the Dwarf shield-wall to engage the Orcs directly I would have them volley-fire arrows into the oncoming Orcs might like they did at the Battle of Dagorlad at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring and then once they go hand-to-hand, advance as a big square bristling with swords. They'd go into the less-organized Orcish formation like an advancing slice-and-dice machine quite literally chewing into the enemy the way the Elven front ranks sliced into the advancing Orcs at Dagorlad.
*On a less grand level, I would have had Alfred (the Master of Laketown's slimy deputy) killed in the fall of Smaug along with his boss. He's apparently supposed to be funny, but I thought it was obnoxious. He's the one who hails Bard as King of Dale, but that could be saved for the end of the movie.
*I'd like to see more of a familial/paternal relationship between Azog and Bolg. Bolg is explicitly described as Azog's son, but we don't see much beyond him being referred to as such. The Orcs are sapient beings, being the descendants of mutilated/mutated Elves, so they'd have families, emotions, etc., albeit twisted.
*On the matter of the end of the movie, I would have ended it with the surviving King of Erebor (since Thorin dies) sharing out the gold with the Men of Laketown and Elves as promised and the crowning of Bard as the King of Dale. Bilbo is there much like how the Hobbits were at the crowning of Aragorn as the new King of Gondor and then he heads back home. Drawing parallels, you know. Since Bard's grandson Brand is killed in the Battle of the Dale during the War of the Ring and Dain Ironfoot is killed defending his body, perhaps we could see Dain and Bain (Bard's son) being friendly at the end. Foreshadowing.
*Finally, the dialogue between Kili and Tauriel when Kili leaves with the Dwarfs to go to Erebor and Tauriel leaves with Legolas to scout out Mount Gundabad was just awful. I wouldn't have had this love triangle in the first place, but that would have required changing more than just the first movie. Their later interactions and Tauriel mourning Kili's death were fine.
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