Who do we root for?

One of my biggest issues watching this film is despite all these characters, there aren’t a lot of redeeming ones who I want to rally behind. The viewer isn’t really sure who they’re supposed to side with as a protagonist, mainly because they’re kind of a bunch of selfish jerks.  –Yahoo review by Kirsten Acuna

Well I guess skimming reviews for ‘Desolation of Smaug’ is not completely ill-advised (provided you can resist the urge to delve into the spoilers). I struck upon the quote above in the Yahoo review today, which I found rather intriguing. This statement neatly packages the way I’ve often felt reading the final act of the book. I will get into this later on in my reread, but this moral ambiguity among the supposed protagonists is probably one of Tolkien’s most brilliant twists, as well as being a great example to throw back at anyone with the ‘simplistic characterization of good and evil’ argument against Tolkien.

It really does create a confusing atmosphere, where the reader (and it appears the viewer) does not know who to sympathize with. If utilized correctly this confusion is exactly what is necessary to display Bilbo’s true quality, and I am happy to hear it has been translated to some extent into the film (though it appears it may have been taken a bit far). If utilized properly, this moral confusion will yield the great lessons of The Hobbit and what truly matters; not materialistic lust, but the bonds of friendship and mercy.

Hopefully this can help offset the reported loss of hospitality and manners in favor of gratuitous action and violence noted in the National Catholic Register’s review.

Generally the reviews I have drifted through so far make me all the more anxious to see the film. Every indication seems to point towards are great film, with plenty of controversy to chew on, and hopefully enough slivers of the source to let its heart and soul shine through.

Next time you hear from me will be Wandering Path’s official ‘first impressions’ review, with subsequent viewings, reviews and contemplations to follow.

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