Why Doesn’t Sauron Kill Gandalf?
Gandalf is off-screen for a good portion of this movie. He’s wrapped up in the continuing subplot of figuring out what’s up in Dol Guldur. In a surprise to absolutely no viewers, the Necromancer turns out to be Sauron returned, and he easily bests Gandalf in a magic fight (for a great sorcerer, Gandalf sure does lose in magical confrontations in this series). The last we see of the wizard, he’s cooped up in a cage, watching helplessly as an army marches out of Dol Guldur.
But why is he in a cage and not… well… dead? What reason does Sauron have to keep him alive? I would accept the explanation that Sauron wants to interrogate him, but no explanation is given at all. It seems an unwise strategy to keep a wizard alive, which is a mistake the bad guys in this series continue to make.
What’s Going to Happen to the Black People in Middle-Earth?
During production of An Unexpected Journey, a woman claims to have been denied a role as an extra because her skin was too dark. In a possible attempt to rectify this, The Desolation of Smaug features two black extras during a scene in Lake-town. They have the distinction of being the first non-white people who aren’t faceless villains whom we have seen in the entirety of the Lord of the Rings film series thus far.
Here’s the thing, though. Once it’s been established that this universe is in fact not completely lily-white, I’m going to ask what happens to that diversity. This is a prequel to the Lord of the Rings series, after all, where the good guys are a monolith of Caucasian-ness. If there are two citizens of another race in this part of the realm, there are surely more elsewhere. It’s an odd case, caused by an increased sense of progressive awareness since the original films came out. Not progressive enough for them to make any important characters who aren’t white, mind, but still.
How Does Smaug Know Anything About the Outside World?
When the party finally reaches the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo heads in alone to scope out the place and seek out the MacGuffin, the Arkenstone. He soon runs into Smaug, who seems more intrigued than disturbed at having a thief in his midst. The two engage in a verbal tete a tete for a while, through which Smaug is able to discern Bilbo’s motives for being there. It culminates with Smaug taunting Bilbo with the thought that Thorin cares more for the Arkenstone than he does for Bilbo as a companion. The dragon also ominously speaks of a greater darkness that is coming, alluding to Sauron’s rise.
Here’s the thing, though: Smaug has been cooped up in this mountain for more than a hundred years, ever since he first took it. How does he know about Sauron? How does he know that Thorin is seeking the Arkenstone? How does he even know who Thorin is? Did he take time to bother learning the names of the dwarves’ royal lineage before he charbroiled their home? No one could possibly have delivered any news to him, even if he were accepting of visitors, given that the mountain is totally sealed. Is there a seeing stone in the vast treasure horde?
What Was the Logic Behind Thorin’s Plan to Kill Smaug?
The final fight of the film has Bilbo and the dwarves scurrying around the interior of the Lonely Mountain with Smaug in hot pursuit. Thorin comes up with an idea to fight the dragon: light the forges. That is all that he says, and just what this is supposed to do is not clear at all. Even as they go through the complicated steps of getting the forges running again, it isn’t evident how doing so will help. The audience doesn’t catch on to what’s going on until the plan is complete, and the group sends a wave of freshly-smelted gold crashing over Smaug. But it doesn’t work. Smaug shrugs the attack off, flying away with a badass-looking gold sheen.
But why did Thorin think that this would work in the first place? Smaug is a dragon. He breathes fire. He is a creature that is made for the heat. What reason did Thorin have to think that molten gold would kill him, or even hurt him a little? Hell, the dwarves even relight the forges by tricking Smaug into roasting them with his fiery breath. If Smaug can dish out that kind of temperature, it stands to reason that he could resist it.