1.) Radagast The Brown
Not much to say on this one. Just give it 5 seconds with Rad’s bird feces covered face to distract you. Someone in makeup really got on a roll. Originally portrayed as a quirky but noble wizard, Radagast is relegated to bunny driven sleighs and comic relief devoid of comedy. I understand leaving Tom Bombadil out of LOTR, and I would also prefer a Radagast without a principle role that eats up screen time in an already over indulged script.
Not a major figure in Tolkien’s version, but now seems to be slurping up the screen in a vainglorious attempt to showcase CGI. In the book he is reported to have been killed years earlier. I have no problem with creative license as long as it serves to better the story, but the whole Azog backstory just muddies up an already crammed and forced extrapolation. A simple quest story doesn’t need it. The primary villain in Tolkien’s tale is Smaug; The Necromancer is secondary and enshrouded in mystery. With a primary and secondary villain in place, there is definitely no room for a contrived demonstration of total CGI, Azog the Destroyer!
3.) Expanded Discussion of Witch-king of Angmar’s Sword
No one ever needs to see LOTR celebrity brands, Galadriel and Saruman in an extended scene discussing the blade and the necromancer. This whole scene sweeps attention away from the upmost quest: retrieve what was lost under The Lonely Mountain. Understanding that we all perceive what we read differently, and a director’s creative license may deviate from the text, it still should be said that Tolkien’s original tale kept the reader focused on a quest with a simple purpose beset by difficult adventures. The extended witch-king discussion not only shamelessly parades LOTR characters sans pretense, it beleaguers an already languished pace, slowing down the pages and making room for sequels.
Ultimately, what sends this movie that I wanted so badly to be good into Azog the headless orc’s latrine are the diversions from the quest! The soul of an original There and Back Again story turns into Jackson’s bloated exploitation of what has become a very valuable franchise in cinema. It seems more CGI and character branding can earn its keep at the box office and look fair indeed, but surgical modification of a beloved text for the purposes of branding rarely lends itself toward catharsis.