Gandalf at Dol Guldur
Film: Gandalf infiltrating the Necromancer’s stronghold in Dol Guldur.
Book: The book has no passages about Gandalf visiting Dol Guldur. Gandalf’s experiences at Dol Guldur are described only in The Lord of the Ring’s “Council of Elrond” chapter an in the Appendices.
Pro: The film includes relevant events chronicled in The Lord of the Rings to add more depth to Thorin & Company’s adventures.
Con: Depicting these Dol Guldur scenes would require the screenplay writers to invent dialog and other details that did not come from Tolkien himself
Legolas in Mirkwood
Film: Orlando Bloom returns to play Legolas, an Elf who was a member of the Fellowship of the Ring in The Lord of the Rings. As the son of Thranduil, ruler of the Woodland Realm, Legolas appears among the Wood-elves who imprison Thorin & Company. Legolas is more likely to be found patrolling the forest alongside the Sylvan Elves of the Woodland Guard than in the Court of the King. He is fiercely loyal to his father and his people; however, events in the outside world have begun to encroach upon the insular world of the Wood Elves. A growing sense of foreboding forces Legolas to choose between the will of his father and his own conscience.
Book: Legolas does not appear in The Hobbit; however, in The Lord of the Rings, he is identified as the son of Thranduil, who in The Hobbit appears as the Elvenking.
Pro: Although the age of Legolas is never clearly specified, The Lord of the Rings drops hints that he may be several thousand years old and thus would have been alive during the events of The Hobbit. Since Thorin & Company encountered the entire army of the Wood-elves, it is reasonable to assume that Legolas would have been among them.
Con: None of Tolkien’s works makes any mention that Legolas and Bilbo ever met prior to Legolas’ arrival in Rivendell for the Council of Elrond. Any scenes involving Legolas appearing in The Hobbit would require the screenplay writers to invent details and dialogue that Tolkien himself did not write.
Tauriel Bringing The Female Energy
Film: Evangeline Lilly portrays the Woodland Elf Tauriel, whose name means “daughter of Mirkwood.” As a charge of King Thranduil and commander of the Woodland Realm protection troops, Tauriel is very opinionated and passionate about representing what she thinks is right. She proves herself as a warrior with the use of her two daggers and bows and arrows. Like Legolas, Tauriel turns to be extremely quick and agile in battle. She has lived for hundreds of years in Middle-earth, but is still one of the youngest of the Elves and has rarely ventured out of the great forest.
Book: No such character appears in any of Tolkien’s works.
Pro: Hobbit screenwriter Philippa Boyens explained that she and the other writers felt that “the story was weighed down by males” and that they “created her to bring that female energy.” They similarly expanded Arwen’s role for The Lord of the Rings films for the same reason.
Con: It is not necessary to create such a character. Many women enjoy Tolkien’s works as they are.
Open Barrel Boats
Film: The dwarves escape the ElvenKing’s Hall by floating down the Forest River inside barrels, with their heads sticking out of the open end of each barrel they are riding in.
Book: The dwarves are sealed inside the barrels until they arrive near Lake Town, where Bilbo releases them from their uncomfortable vessels.
Pro: It is more interesting for filmgoers to see the dwarf’s faces and expressions as they float down the river.
Con: This is an unnecessary departure from Tolkien’s story.