It might surprise you to learn that I actually enjoyed The Hobbit: The Official Movie of the Game, and quite a great deal, too. After so many years, I've finally found my zone when it comes to them: I treat them much as I'd treat any ridiculous over-the-top blockbuster, which is to say, poke fun mercilessly and complain about how it wasn't like the books. I don't see why that should be such a controversial option, it's the internet, after all.What do you mean, you don't remember the bit in the book where Bard steers a rickety wagon down a street, over his children, and crashes into a troll?
Because I need closure, a series of vignettes from that game's final session. And boy, does this film feel less like an adaptation and more like an RPG gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Die in a Fire
DM: You look out, and see SMAUG THE MAGNIFICENT laying waste to Laketown! Fire and brimstone burn the sky, people are running around terrified, while the Master of Laketown and Alfrid run off with all the town's treasure!
The Elf: Alright, I roll for initi-
(The DM takes the dice off the table)
The Elf: What?
DM: You, erm, have to stay to make sure the children get out alright.
The Elf: Are you kidding? I roll a natural 20, 50% critical chance, armour piercing shots, I could kill this dragon before it opens its mouth!
DM: Ah, but you need the magic Black Arrow, right? Only Bard has that.
The Elf: Then get Bard to give it to me, I'm an insanely good shot, we'll kill it quicker. Or give it to Legolas, he's probably even better.
DM: NO. It has to be Bard.
The Elf: Why?
The Ranger: Yeah, why? I don't have any proficiencies or feats in archery, I'm a bargeman or something.
DM: Because you have to avenge your father! It's all in the book!
The Wizard: Oh, NOW we're sticking to the book, are we?
DM: Look, guys, I have this big set-piece for Bard, it's going to be epic and mythic and everything, just trust me, alright?
(The group reluctantly concedes)
DM: OK, so Bard climbs up the tower, and he's shooting at Smaug, but all the arrows PING off Smaug's mighty scales!
The Wizard: I presume the town's archers' arrows also ping off the scales, like in the book?
The Elf: The town has archers now?
DM: No, they all died. In a fire. Bard's the only archer left.
The Elf: And me & Legolas.
DM: But you're busy.
The Elf: ... I'm too busy saving the town from the dragon to save the town from the dragon?
DM: ARGH, ENOUGH. Anyway, Bard's son comes to the rescue with the Black Arrow! But the windlass was destroyed in the fire, and it's too large for Bard's bow!
(The Wizard mutters something about "don't know why you'd signpost the windlass in the first place if you weren't going to end up using it")
DM: So, what do you do, Bard?
The Ranger: No clue. Can't I just hurl the bolt at Smaug?
DM: I wouldn't recommend it.
The Ranger: Can I make a makeshift bow with my improvised weapon feat?
(The DM grins maniacally, as his wild idea starts to take shape)
DM: OK, just roll for it.
(The dice clinks.)
DM: You pass! OK, so get this: you tie a piece of rope between the support beams of the tower, pull back with all your might, and rest the Black Arrow on your son's shoulder to aim! Your eyes well up with the emotion of it all! A solo wailing woman trills in the background! Everything goes in slow motion! The symbolism! Isn't that THE COOLEST THING EVER, GUYS!?!
(An awkward silence reigns. The Wizard bursts into fits of laughter)
The Dwarf: Even I could tell that wasn't from the books, man.
Alas, Poor Bolg
DM: So Gandalf is still strung up in his cage...
The Wizard: I still can't believe you wouldn't let me play that cool woman. Is she even going to appear again?
DM: Sure, she'll be in the background of some Dale scene, maybe getting some food.
The Wizard: (Sigh) Well, maybe we'll get that Dossouye game started up next year...
DM: Ahem. So, a big ugly orc comes along!
(The DM places a miniature on the table)
The Dwarf: Wow, that's a really good miniature there. It almost looks like a real thing, rather than one of those 3D-printed models where you can see the polygons and vertices.
The Elf: Yeah, that looks great! I remember all your old orcs looked like that, when we did the War of the Ring campaign. They looked like real creatures, not these weird Pixar fiends you're using now. How come you stopped doing it like that, Pete?
DM: You all just don't appreciate the finer points of 3D-printed models. Funny story: this miniature was going to be Bolg, but I decided Bolg should look more like the 3D-printed Azog, so I just made this one some random mook. A shame, my cousin really wanted him for his Game of Thrones campaign, with a bit of paint and green stuff, he made a great Gregor Clegane. Hope he isn't too mad about it.
The Wizard: So you had this great looking Bolg, but because you brought back Azog - who should be dead - you decided he had to look more like Azog, and so made up a new Bolg, who looks like Azog. You changed a perfectly good looking character to make him look like a character who shouldn't even be in the story to begin with. I just...
The Woodsman: Um, Peter? I mean, Dungeon Master. is my character going to appear again soon? I was under the impression I'd at least be a tertiary character, or a secondary one - I mean, he IS a giant bearded warrior who can turn into a bear - but I've only appeared in one scene. Am I going to be back soon?
The Hobbit: ... Anyway, what happens?
DM: Suddenly, a gust of wind! A woman's bare foot treads the ground! A light emanates from the darkness... Galadriel's come to pick up Gandalf! But the Nine are here, and they converge on Galadriel, it's just like at Amon-Hen, only they're WAY SCARIER GUYS. Then, KABLAMMO! The White Council have come! Radagast, Elrond and Saruman bust in, it's like the A-Team!
The Wizard: (looks sternly at the DM) I guess Cirdan and Glorfindel were off fishing again, right?
DM: (ignores the Wizard's grumbles) It's totally awesome, Saruman's doing all this kung-fu action with his staff, Elrond's slashing away with one-liners - "You should have STAYED dead!" - and Galadriel's carrying Saruman to Radagast's Rabbit Sled!
The Wizard: The rabbit sled, the rabbit sled, God give me strength, that blasted rabbit sled...
DM: But even though Elrond and Saruman are kicking ass, they can't put down the Nine. Then, DAAAN-DUUUN-DAAAN-DAAAN DAAN-DUUUN-DAAAN-DAAAN! Sauron's back, and he's in full-on Creepypasta form! He tries to sway Galadriel to his side, but she resists! After a bit of a romance tease with Gandalf, he seems knocked out. Things seem dire... but then... Galadriel starts to glow all green! Her hair goes stringy and clingy like a Japanese ghost! Her voice gets all distorted!
The Elf: Oh, right, that was our favourite part of Fellowship, that weird Evil Galadriel bit. We all loved that. (rolls eyes)
DM: Glad you think so! Galadriel musters all her strength, and BANISHES Sauron to the east! Saruman then says HE will deal with Sauron, but for some reason you can't quite put your finger on, something feels off, almost as if -
The Dwarf: We know Saruman does a heel turn, DM. We did Lord of the Rings. You don't need to signpost it. If you overplay Saruman turning, it just makes the White Council look like a bunch of gullible dorks.
DM: Well, in any case, back to the company. Thorin -
The Wizard: Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa! You're... You're not doing it?
DM: Doing what?
The Wizard: ... Pete, are you serious? The one thing I thought you'd be all over is the battle of Dol Guldur. Are you not going to tell the party what happens?
DM: Em, well, ah, you know, this is a three hour story, and -
The Wizard: Are you seriously telling me comedic pratfalls with and boring romance is more interesting than what Galadriel does in Dol Guldur?
The Ranger: Uh, yeah, what does Galadriel do in Dol Guldur, Pete?
The Wizard: I'll tell you, because Pete seems more interested in giving us his half-baked fan-fiction: Galadriel destroys Dol Guldur. "Three times Lórien had been assailed from Dol Guldur, but besides the valour of the Elven people of that land, the power that dwelt there was too great for any to overcome, unless Sauron had come there himself. Though grievous harm was done to the fair woods on the borders, the assaults were driven back; and when the Shadow passed, Celeborn came forth and led the host of Lórien over Anduin in many boats. They took Dol Guldur, and Galadriel threw down its walls and laid bare its pits, and the forest was cleansed."
DM: A-HA! Caught you out, Ian: Galadriel doesn't destroy Dol Guldur until the War of the Ring, so it couldn't have happened here! (smiles smugly)
The Wizard: Oh, right, so it's fine to bring back Azog, it's fine to come up with these ludicrous action sequences, it's fine to invent characters out of whole cloth, but the one time you could render something kickass that's actually from the books, you decline? You never return to Dol Guldur in the Lord of the Rings campaign anyway, so what point is there in sticking to the books now considering all the mangling you've done so far? If anything, it ties up another loose end between the two campaigns. Hell, I thought you would've been all over Beorn as well, yet I don't think he's been in this campaign for more than ten minutes altogether!
The Woodsman: Yeah!
The Dwarf: Hey now, he could always turn up in the end, man.
The Wizard: I await with bated breath.
Getting Sick Of This
(DM randomly rolls dice behind the screen)
DM: You notice there's something's very wrong with Thorin.
The Dwarf: Check for insight? Think I need a 10 or so.
DM: Ah, you've seen this before - Dragon-sickness! It's a strange malady that has been known to affect those who come into contact with a dragon's hoard. The inherent fixation with gold common to all dwarves is exacerbated exponentially, to the point where they become irrational and possessive...
(The players turn to the Wizard. He nods his begrudging assent)
DM: As the dragon-sickness takes hold, a horrible change overcomes Thorin! His eyes start to glow, his voice deepens and rumbles almost like a dragon's, and he becomes homicidally violent! Only a bizarre Lynchian "cold-turkey" sequence where he hallucinates himself falling into a tunnel of gold could wrest him from his insanity!
The Wizard: That's stupid. This is stupid. You're stupid.
The Woodsman: How about now?
There Were Were-Worms, There Were
DM: You look to the east. The earth trembles ominously! It shakes! It quakes! It starts to rumble! From the ground burst forth great earthworms, with grinding teeth and gaping maws! They must be hundreds - maybe thousands - of feet in length! The wizard says only one word - "WERE-WORMS!"
The Hobbit: OK, Ian, what do we know about Were-worms?
The Wizard: (pinches the bridge of his nose in great distress) You're asking me?!? "Tell me what you want done, and I will try it, if I have to walk from here to the East of East and fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert." That is literally all Tolkien ever says about Were-worms.
The Hobbit: ... So nothing in The Silmarillion? History of Middle-earth?
The Wizard: Oh, I'm sure our Dungeon Master has put great effort into the background of these Were-worms, to make them fit into Tolkien's meticulously crafted world. Right, Peter?
DM: Indeed I have! See, these are like the giant worms from Dune - the orcs use them to make all their tunnels. I figure they couldn't have made all those tunnels themselves, right? So they obviously had something do it for them. Hence, giant worms.
The Hobbit: So where did they come from? Did Sauron make them, or Morgoth? Are they naturally occurring? Are they related to the dragons of the Withered Heath? Were they the things that gave Thranduil those wacky scars? Or are they like the Watcher in the Water?
DM: ... Erm, none can say for sure. Anyway, they disappear back into the ground, out of sight...
The Dwarf: Wait wait wait, I want to fight them!
DM: Too late, they're gone.
The Hobbit: ... So we don't get to kill them? But they don't turn up in The Lord of the Rings, so something must have killed them, right, or Sauron would've used them against Gondor! Those things would've been really useful in burrowing under Minas Tirith, they could've completely circumvented Osgiliath! Between these things and the Stone Giants from two games ago, these giant monsters are a seriously big deal to just spring on us!
The Elf: Come on, Marty, I'm sure we'll get to fight them soon, right Pete?
DM: ... Yeah, sure, heh heh heh... heh...
DM: But harken! Across the hills come a great host of Dwarves from the Iron Hills! Leading them is a doughty warrior astride a great boar, clad in the accoutrements of war!
The Wizard: A war pig? Hah! I get it! Hahahaha!
The Dwarf: Dude, are you sure you haven't mixed up the Middle-earth sourcebook with Warhammer? Because I'm pretty sure I remember war-boars in Warhammer.
The Woodsman: Maybe you could just say I came in with these guys? I really want to play, guys, I've just been sitting here doing nothing, and I'm pretty sure my character would be useful.
DM: Don't worry, you're coming in soon. After much back-and-forth, the dwarves go to fight, Dain leading the way! But lo, the doughty War Pig was slain, but Dain is undeterred. He proceeds to headbutt several orcs to death!
(The Wizard attempts to headbutt the table to death. The attack has no effect.)
DM: So Thorin, Fili and Kili all go up to this big ruin up a cliff face that's miles away from the battle.
The Wizard: How do they get there?
DM: Uh... they ride War Goats.
The Wizard: ... War Goats.
The Wizard: War Goats. To go with the War Pigs.
DM: Yes, the, uh, the Iron Hills cavalry. They ride War Goats. You know. To navigate the mountains with. That makes sense, right? That dwarves ride giant mountain goats? We've already established they ride pigs, after all.
The Wizard: (resignedly) Sure, why not.
The Elf: Are you going to kill them too? I never like it when you kill the animals in your games - all those horses, the big elephants, the dinosaurs in your King Kong game. Sometimes I think you have some sort of vendetta against animals.
DM: Come on, I didn't have the Watcher eat Bill the Pony, what more do you want?
... And Elks...
DM: Now Thranduil rides into the fray. Anyone want to roll for him? Natural 20 to riding feats!
The Elf: I'll go for it.
DM: Oh dudes, you're not gonna - rampaging across the battlefield like the dread Hunter of ancient Elven lore...
(party looks to the Wizard, who just slumps his aching head on the table)
DM: ... Thranduil reins his mighty steed, and ploughs through the ranks of goblins, like a living cow-catcher! By the time he's crashed through the final lines, a dozen goblins are impaled upon the steed's epic rack! Skewered like shishkebabs, Thranduil then effortlessly decapitates them in a single stroke!
The Elf: 8x combo bonus! +100 XP!
The Woodsman: Do I get an XP bonus if I turn into a bear?
DM: And there are these giant troll dudes, not like cave trolls, they look bigger and angrier and stuff, and some of them have CATAPULTS on their backs! They smash their fists down into the ground, and these little goblins crank up the catapults, and CRAKUNK the rocks go flying into Dale! And some others of them have big iron blocks on their heads, and they charge into the walls to break them open, and fall back unconscious and it's funny! And there's a big troll ogre thing with one tiny malformed arm like Jeremy Beadle because deformities are inherently hilarious!
The Elf: I roll for agility - (dice rattles) YES, 20!
DM: You grab onto the bat, and steer it like it was a paraglider! Next, you land on a precarious platform, and the stones give way beneath your feet!
The Elf: Second time lucky? (dice rattles) WOOOO, 20 AGAIN!
DM: Aww sweet man! You jump up the falling rocks with ease, hopping from one to the other as they plummet into the chasm. It's totally radical, dude. Now you take on Bolg, a truly dangerous and indomitable -
The Elf: (rolls die) OOOH, 20, and with my weapon crit bonus, I think it's fair to say I just killed that dude!
The Wizard: No, I don't think so, you see Bolg has to be at the final battle to -
DM: DUDE you hit a Hurucanrana like Rey Mysterio, then you jump about like Neo from The Matrix, and finish him off with a KNIFE IN THE HEAD!
(The Elf and DM high five. The Wizard gapes in astonishment)
The Hobbit: Are the dice loaded or something?
The Dwarf: No, I just think the DM is.
The Woodsman: Peter, can I PLEASE come in?
DM: What? Oh, right, ok, the eagles come in, you're riding one, you jump off heroically like a paratrooper and turn into a bear in mid-air, and start to fight, takes a few seconds.
The Woodsman: Hooray!
You Had One Job
DM: So, Thorin, Fili, Kili, and Dwalin reach the ruins. It appears to be deserted.
The Dwarf: Well, we certainly shouldn't split up, it could be a trap.
DM: Too late! You decide to split up and look for AZOG THE DEFILER.
The Dwarf: HEY!
DM: Sorry, DM intervention.
The Dwarf: This had better not be an excuse to kill off my nephews and best fighter, man.
DM: AZOG THE DEFILER slays Fili.
(The party gasps in horror. No! Not the pretty blonde dwarf!)
DM: THE DEFILER tosses the lifeless dwarf contemptuously off the ledge. In a fit of vengeance, Kili goes after him, but he's interrupted by Bolg. Tauriel tries to save him, but Bolg tosses her away.
The Hobbit: You know, it's really weird how some 7-foot musclebound uruks bred for war are practically unkillable even when double-teamed by level 10 PCs, and other 7-foot musclebound uruks bred for war can be one-shotted by a a level 3 Hobbit throwing rocks at them.
DM: You weren't complaining about those critical hits when they were coming after you.
The Hobbit: Yeah, but you have to admit, if this was really happening I'd be dead. We'd all be. So dead.
DM: You look on helpless, time slowing down to a crawl, as Bolg plunges his sword into Kili's chest!
(The party gasps in horror again. No! Not the pretty brunette dwarf!)
The Elf: No, not my bishi!
The Dwarf: Dammit, you'd better not be killing off Dwalin too!
DM: Oh, don't worry, I won't be killing... Dwalin... Mwahahaha.
The Dwarf: Great, so you're killing Thorin.
DM: I didn't say that.
(The party murmurs)
DM: Anyway, Thorin, time to take on AZOG THE DEFILER!
The Dwarf: Right, so Dwalin -
DM: - Isn't there. It's just Thorin.
The Dwarf: ... Fine, what about Legolas? Tauriel?
DM: Nope. Just you and AZOG THE DEFILER. Dwarfo y Orco. One shall stand, one shall fall. He killed your grandfather, prepare to die. You must take your place in the Circle of Life.
(The dwarf and DM engage in a tremendous battle. It involves a gigantic weight and chain, thin ice, and much silliness. The huge army which was apparently right on top of Thorin & company is either taking its sweet time, or watching respectfully out of the Inverse Law of Ninjitsu. Eventually, Thorin slays AZOG THE DEFILER)
The Wizard: Wow, good job Pete, I was worried you were going to completely -
DM: But you notice something beneath the ice!
The Wizard: Oh for the love of...
DM: AZOG THE DEFILER'S lifeless body floats under the ice. It's really eerie, like one of those weird Scandinavian horror movies. Then suddenly, HIS EYES OPEN! He stabs through the ice -
The Dwarf: Agility che-
DM: TOO LATE HE STABS YOU IN THE FOOT!
The Dwarf: OH COME ON
(the Dwarf angrily kicks the table, causing many of the pieces to shift slightly from their initial placement to the frustration of all)
DM: The great orc launches out of the water like a killer whale. As AZOG THE DEFILER presses down upon Thorin, death seems inevitable. So Thorin allows AZOG THE DEFILER to stab him through the heart - only to then stab AZOG THE DEFILER in return! AZOG THE DEFILER IS NO MORE! Thorin staggers over to the cliffs. He sees the goblins being driven away, and collapses. But he is not yet dead...
The Wizard: If I might interject, Pete?
DM: (sigh) One more time, Ian. That's all.
The Wizard: You've made a complete hash of this. In the books, Thorin is mortally fighting his way to Bolg's bodyguards. This prompts Fili and Kili to give their lives in defense of their uncle, protecting him from hordes upon hordes of orcs and goblins. It is a tremendous moment of filial togetherness, where the three fight and die for - and with - each other. It also provides dramatic irony with the battle where Thorin's grandfather was slain by Azog, Bolg's father, and in turn slain by the young Dain. Family slain, family avenged. Then, it is not a dwarf - or an elf, Peter - who slays Bolg, but Beorn. A character who earlier expressed his extreme dislike of dwarves and was fiercely neutral to begin with in regards to Mannish and Dwarfish matters, now carrying a mortally wounded one from battle, and waxing wrathful at his slayers. I'm just saying, there's a reason I like Tolkien's version better.
DM: Well, hopefully I can make it up to you, as I've decided to use a Tolkien quote for Thorin's last words!
The Wizard: What a novel concept.
DM: Thorin, coughing up blood, looks to Bilbo. His eyes water from the pain and the emotion. He takes back his harsh words. Finally, he whispers... "Go back to your armchair, Master Baggins. And your books. Plant your tree. If everybody valued home like you did, the world would be a merry place." Then, his breath escapes him, and he -
The Wizard: - COUGHS, because he'd like to rephrase his last words, thankyouverymuch. “Farewell, good thief. I go now to the halls of waiting to sit beside my fathers, until the world is renewed. Since I leave now all gold and silver, and go where it is of little worth, I wish to part in friendship from you, and I would take back my words and deeds at the Gate... There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. But sad or merry, I must leave it now. Farewell!" Seriously, what was wrong with that, Pete?
JUST END IT ALREADY
DM: Well guys, you know how everyone hated the endings for the third campaign? How it was all drawn out and long and boring and everyone just wanted to go home? Well good news, I've decided to cut out nearly every part of the ending of this campaign! It'll all be wrapped up in about five minutes!
The Hobbit: Wait, what!?! What have you cut out?
DM: Well, I've cut out anything to do with who gets Erebor now that Thorin and his nephews are dead, and what happened to the dwarves, and any resolution to the conflict between the Elves and Dwarves, and what happens to Dale, and what happens with Sauron, and Tauriel, and that bear guy, and how it all ties into The Lord of the Rings. You know, all the stuff that doesn't matter.
The Hobbit: ... That's not better! That's just substituting one unsatisfactory ending for another! How on earth can you have the conflict between the Elves and Dwarves be the driving force for so much of the story be completely unresolved? How can you leave out Dain being crowned King Under The Mountain given the entire quest was about the dwarves regaining their homeland? You couldn't take a few seconds to show Thranduil laying the elven sword Orcrist which he had taken from Thorin on his grave, and Bard laying the Arkenstone which was taken from his family hoard, to show a symbolic acknowledgement of the King Under The Mountain? You didn't have enough time in THREE HOURS to close those loose ends!?! You've already left out the single best thing you could have possibly done when you decided to throw in Dol Guldur, you've already somehow completely forgotten you had a giant berserk warrior who could transform into a gigantic bear, you've already made a pig's ear of the ending, you've already inflicted unfunny comedy on us and wasted our time with pointless fetch quests - and now you can't even give us a decent resolution!?!
DM: Hey, I'm just listening to criticism, man. If it really bothers you, I'm doing an expanded edition that has an extra 25 minutes!
The Hobbit: Essential plot points and narrative conclusions should not be put in an "extended edition" when they are critical to the entire story, Pete! I JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW YOU CAN EXPAND ONE SMALL STORY INTO THREE BIG ONES, AND STILL MANAGE TO LEAVE STUFF OUT!!!
(After much ado, the game ends, abruptly and to no-one's satisfaction. The DM is convinced it was a great, fun game, and promised everyone he'd set up more Middle-earth games if the game shop would let him buy the sourcebooks, but they're notoriously picky about who gets the Middle-earth sourcebooks. Some of the players are actually rather relieved, having experienced the most recent Middle-earth adventures directed by Peter. Nonetheless, they remain hopeful that Peter will find a new game that's more suited to him, maybe he'll even cook up some homebrew instead of adapting a licensed property. For all involved, it was a fun - if exhausting - series of campaigns.)
Why do I do this to myself?
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring came out thirteen years ago. My cousin, Peter, was five years old, so not quite old enough to see it at the cinema. But he saw the trailers, and was absolutely transfixed: it was like Harry Potter, but... different. His younger brother, Steven, was a bairn of three, and he too liked what he saw.
We three did go to see The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King two years later, when they were seven and five respectively. Despite ending fatigue, they saw it through to the end. They loved it. And they wanted to know more about it: what the filmmakers left out, what other Middle-earth books there were, what other films could be made. We've seen a good few films together - comic films, science-fiction, fantasy - but the Jackson films are special for the opportunity they gave me to tell them all about Tolkien and Middle-earth, with the context of what they saw in the films as an anchor. I could tell them about the Fall of Gondolin, the Lay of Lúthien, Túrin Turambar, Tar-Elmar, The New Shadow - and The Hobbit.
I had an inkling (ho ho) that this wouldn't be the last time we'd see J.R.R. Tolkien's name up on the credits of a blockbuster film. And so, a decade later, my cousins and I went to see The Hobbit films. They're a bit older now, and after a decade of listening to me whinge about the Barrow-Downs and Glorfindel and Beregond, I'm glad they're willing to put up with me. In truth, I actually hope my cynicism hadn't rubbed off on them too much: I wanted them to enjoy these films as much as I enjoyed The Fellowship of the Ring, which came at the rough time I went through my anti-Tolkien phase (yeah, figure THAT out).
While I talked to the lads about Tolkien after the LotR films, I found myself talking about other worlds than Middle-earth after The Hobbit films. The preposterous denizens of Goblin-Town prompted me to talk about Dunsany's Gibbelins and Rossetti's Goblin Market; the silly love story of the second film inspired me to tell them about the much more interesting interspecies romances in the Lankhmar stories; the ridiculous mounts of this film gave me mind to tell them about some of Burroughs' wilder beasts of war, as well as the madness of Warhammer Fantasy. Probably the best way to deal with Jackson's more un-Tolkien elements.
So ultimately, an era of sorts has come to a close, with the same sort of sadness I felt at the last Harry Potter - not because I was sad to see the end of the series, but because it was the last time I'd go to one of this series with my cousins. Yet, as always, there are new stories to enjoy. We saw trailers for Terminator: Genisys, Jupiter Rising, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. You don't need to persuade them (or me) to see the latter two, but I might quite enjoy taking them to the new Terminator while telling them how much better Terminator Salvation might've been if they went with the alternate ending, and the inspirations behind Jupiter Rising. And who knows what might fill the fantasy blockbuster void left by Jackson's Middle-Zealand saga.