The hardest part, in general, about the Jackson Hobbit was always going to be selling the dwarves as both Jim Hensonishly ridiculous and action movie heroic at the same time. The movie's over and I'm still not sure which it went--or will go. Time Bandits may have done that trick better.
The most important part, locally, was always going to be selling The Riddle Scene because it is arguably the best written and well-pitched and unarguably the most important scene in the entire LOTR business. And they did that unequivocally. Good job.
The cinematic karma Jackson earned by removing Tom Bombadil from the Rings movies was entirely undone by the decision to double down on
As in Fellowship, another challenge is to keep the audience awake through the rural cliches until you're past Rivendell and it's crappily historyless retired hippie fantasy pseudo art-nouveau woodwork. After that: smooth sailing, more or less.
Evoking the dwarves as a kind of diaspora trying to get home worked in the script, and kind of pulls some kind of complex underhanded re-interpretation of Wagner's subterranean untermensch dwarves that someone could probably write a paper about.
Tolkien is at his best when he is at his most Fairy Tale and Jackson is at his best when he is at his most Metal. So the most successful parts of their collaboration is when it's a little of both. Right in D&D territory, in other words.
I think the Pale Orc was inspired by John Cassady's redesign of Drax The Destroyer. The number of people who understand that sentence on earth is very small, and the number who care is, I'm sure, even smaller, and the amount of space thoughts like that take up in my head is enormous.
The Lord of the Rings movies felt like mid-level D&D, this feels even more like D&D and more low level. It's all about desperation, improvisation, redundant skillsets, fear, luck, jokes, running away and equipment.
Here is a genuinely unusual thing about this movie--and I do not know if it is because we have seen the sequels already or because Tolkien's characters are just thick with history or because the script goes to such lengths to evoke that history or just because so much of it is so goddamn D&D and I play so much of it, but I kept thinking a thing I have never thought during any movie before: these guys are gonna have such great stories to tell when they get out of this.
Oh and man was this ever a warbox. I loved how the goblin king wrote a letter to the orc warlord.