Now that with the Desolation of Smaug (for a review click here) we've had two out of the three Hobbit films, is it possible to predict what Peter Jackson is going to give us when the third and final instalment, There and Back Again, comes out next year? Let's give it a try.
So as things stand at the end of The Desolation, Bilbo Baggins and the Dwarves have made it into the Lonely Mountain and have driven Smaug the dragon off to seek fiery revenge against the men of Laketown.
Meanwhile Gandalf has been captured by Sauron and witnesses the gathering of the forces of evil into a great orc army preparing for a war that will cover the land in darkness.
Given that Peter Jackson deviated quite spectacularly from the book in the Desolation of Smaug we can expect quite a few surprises in part three, however taking the deviations he's made so far and the core story of the book there's a few things that we might be able to predict with some accuracy.
The Death of Smaug
We can be pretty sure that this will happen early in the film. We've even had some helpful indications as to how it's going to happen. In the book Bard shoots Smaug with his longbow and the "Black Arrow". It seems almost certain that it's still going to be Bard who takes the shot but he'll be using a Dwarf ballista with its last remaining bolt, which coincidentally is called a black arrow.
The only question is will his daughters be killed in the attack. They don't exist in the book and so might be considered expendable for the sake of an emotional scene. Seems unlikely as this film is going to have its fair share of tragedy (see Battle of Five Armies below) and killing off teenage girls seems rather bad taste for a film like the Hobbit.
Free Gandalf the Grey
In An Unexpected Journey Galadriel promises Gandalf that if ever he should need help he only needs to call on her. In the Desolation of Smaug he's captured by the Necromancer. That would seem to qualify.
We know from the book that the Necromancer is driven out of his fortress by the White Council (i.e. Gandalf, Saruman, Elrond and Galadriel). Will this be in the form of a siege in which an army of elves clashes with a host of orcs or will it be more like the Middle Earth version of Avengers Assemble?
The latter is the more likely course as all the elves and orcs will presumably be busy fighting in the Battle of Five Armies outside the Lonely Mountain rather than indulging in sieges in sallies in Dol Guldur.
Thranduil Gets Even Meaner and Thorin Can't Take it Any More
Thranduil the Wood Elf king is a violent, greedy, isolationist, snob in the film. In the book his mere presence sends Thorin into fits of rage and provokes in him an insane stubbornness that leads to a battle between the Dwarves on one side and the Wood Elves and Men of the Lake on the other.
Given Thranduil's apparent popularity with the fans it's a safe bet that his trolling of Thorin (and everyone else he meets) will get even worse. I would be surprised if he didn't put in a good showing at the Battle of Five Armies.
The Battle of Five Armies (aka Who is Going to Die and How?)
This has to be the big set piece of the trilogy. Men, Dwarves, Elves, Orcs, Wargs, Eagles and Beorn should all be making an appearance and contributing to the glorious last hurrah.
Not that it was necessary but Peter Jackson apparently wants this to be a real tear-jerker of a battle.
Why on earth did he decide to make up a love story between Kili the dwarf and the fictional female elf captain Tauriel? Presumably to make audiences cry when Kili dies in the Battle of Five Armies, along with Fili his brother and Thorin Oakenshield (you were warned about spoilers!). The question is will Tauriel also be killed in the battle, leading to yet more tears from Legolas, or will she be condemned to an immortal life without her one true love Kili the Dwarf?
While heroism is expected from the forces of good in the battle, will we also see some from the evil duo of Azog the Defiler and Bolg? Interestingly Bolg is not revealed to be Azog's son in the Desolation of Smaug.
Is Peter Jackson saving this for later or is he going to change this bit of the story completely on the grounds that orcs having children is too horrible to contemplate? If he does what will the dynamic in their relationship be? It's anyone's guess.
Also who will get to kill Azog and Bolg. In the book Bolg is killed by Beorn. Azog however was not even around at the battle. He was actually killed by Dain the Dwarf (to be played by Billy Connolly in the third film) during the battle in the first film (where he merely loses a hand to Thorin). Will Dain do the deed in the third film, will it be Thorin, or will it be someone else entirely?
Peter Jackson has put a lot of effort into making the Hobbit trilogy link with the Lord of the Rings. There will no doubt be more of this in part three. Given that Tolkien wrote very little about what happened between the two, Jackson will have a lot of scope for creative expression here (aka making it up). In An Unexpected Journey he pulled it off, the same cannot be said of The Desolation of Smaug. We'll have to wait and see what he comes up with in There and Back Again.