One of the biggest things that divided fans of Tolkien were the many extended edition scenes that were added to The Hobbit trilogy in order to bulk out one book across three movies. Some of the scenes added and expanded upon things that were already in the books (such as Gandalf’s trouble with the Necromancer), simply inflating and exaggerating them, and others were made completely from scratch (like Tauriel and her clash with Thranduil).
These scenes were difficult to creatively fit into the storyline of The Hobbit, and also caused the crew some very difficult scenes in terms of the technical aspects of filming them, with many challenges across withstanding freezing cold water, animating large quantities of gold, and creating realistic tactile scenes amidst the many badly CGI moments in the films.
Legolas is just one such character who was needlessly added into The Hobbit trilogy, and whose amazing skills and miraculous abilities actually caused Orlando Bloom, and the filming crew, quite a lot of trouble. Lots of the scenes involving Legolas are fast-paced, extremely elaborate feats of physical ingenuity, which were difficult to set up, and for the actor to perform. There are many examples of this, but one of the most notable is when Legolas jumps onto the bridge in Lake Town to shoot his bow, at some invading orcs, which took a ridiculous number of takes to get right.
Another example is in the Battle of the Five Armies, when Legolas grabs a hold of a giant, flying bat from Gundebad, hangs upside down from it’s clawed feet, and single-handedly takes out an entire troupe of ors from this upended position. Not only have many fans complained that this scene was ludicrous and terribly over-done, it was also a difficult scene yet again for Orlando Bloom to film, because of the blood rushing to his head as he was suspended upside down in the studio.
There are two difficult scenes involving barrels within The Hobbit films, and both were highly unpleasant for the actors involved. The first is when the dwarves were hiding inside them to try to sneak into Lake Town. This involved Bard concealing them beneath the hoard of fish caught that day. Instead of using prop fish, Peter Jackson decided to make it more authentic by using real fish, which are extremely heavy, large and slippery, and smell awful.
The biggest problem with filming this scene was that Adam Brown (who played Ori) was completely buried beneath the weight of large fish, to the point where he almost suffocated. The second barrel scene that was very difficult to film was the one in which the dwarves and Bilbo escape from Thranduil's dungeons in Mirkwood by riding the empty barrels down the river. Not only was the water freezing cold, the dwarves were all also wearing body suits, which became dangerously heavy and impossible to maneuver in once wet, which posed a serious problem for the safety team in making sure that none of the actors drowned.
The Battle of the Five Armies is one of the biggest moments of the whole trilogy, with so many things happening all at once, including CGI orcs, people in prosthetics, mechanisms, birds and beast, and many more variables. The hardest thing about filming this momentous challenge however, wasn’t even the work that went into creating it, it was the lack of preparation beforehand.
Peter Jackson openly admits that he and his team had absolutely no idea what they were going to do with the scene when they first started shooting it, because they hadn’t had valuable preparation time and space to plan it in advance. This battle put the whole schedule behind, because the entire team at Weta Studios were forced to take a hiatus to allow Jackson time to actually put together a plan for the scene, which many fans feel still ended up as a shambles regardless.
One especially laborious and demanding scene for the actors to create was the scene in which the thirteen dwarves are caught by the giant spiders in Mirkwood. This involved lots of work for the prosthetics team to cover the entire Mirkwood set in large sticky stringy webs, which would bounce and have the desired ricochet effect upon impact. But even worse than this was that each of the thirteen actors had to be wrapped from head to toe in this same substance, to the point where their arms and legs were pinned and useless.
They were then stuck like this for extended periods of time in between shooting their scenes, as it was impossible to unwrap and re-wrap them between takes. The actors were extremely uncomfortable, overheated, and even dehydrated by the end of the day.
But above all, the most reportedly difficult scene to create in the entire trilogy was on behalf of the digital effects team at Weta Digital, who had to animate millions of individual jewels and coins moving in the halls of Erebor. In the famous scene where Bilbo finally comes face to face with the mighty dragon, he can be seen running through a volley of coins, sending them flying as he goes. Smaug, also, slithers through the treasure like a serpent, moving them out of his path with his claws, his wings and his lavish tail.
This was an immensely difficult scene to animate, stemming partially from the fact that Smaug was too large to actually fit inside the remits of the halls for Erebor, so they had to make the place seem architecturally sound, at the same time as designing him smashing through pillars and stone turrets to make room for his large snake-like body, but mostly because of the time and attention to detail that it took to move every single piece of treasure in the hall, one by one, with no continuity errors. When it came to Thorin realizing his own madness, they decided to go with the liwuid gold floor instead of the coins, to avoid having to animate this nightmare all over again.
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