Make way for the biggest goblin of them all …
When you think you’ve seen all sorts of goblins, orcs, and other foul creatures in Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle-earth, there comes a fancy chap by the name (or rather, title) of the Great Goblin.
When you read The Hobbit, this character comes across as a highly sarcastic individual; a vain leader of sorts; and, to a certain extent, a narcissist.
The Great Goblin makes his abode in the deep subterranean caverns beneath the Misty Mountains, in a lovely place going by the equally welcoming name of Goblin-town.
In illustrations, this character is often portrayed as a pompous, larger-than-life individual. Peter Jackson has used the term “Great” in a very literal way – expanding his physical stature to almost 4 times the size of a normal goblin and thrice that of a man. This towering, blobbing mass of fat and egocentricity was brought to life thanks to two important names: WETA Digital and Barry Humphries.
Some people have been repulsed by the physical appearance of the Great Goblin (and the other goblins general), deeming him too disgusting – especially that particularly grotesque sack under his chin …
Personally, I’ve looked beyond that and really focused on the performance and overall impact of the Goblin-town sequence. Peter Jackson’s decision to differentiate goblins from orcs, making them appear like a disease-riddled race, was a very interesting touch and added more breadth to the already expansive universe of Middle-earth.
Barry Humphries emulates all the necessary qualities of this character, both through his voice and physical performance. Needless to say, WETA’s motion capture technology (although nothing can surpass Gollum and Smaug’s realistic rendering), gives life and a compelling personality (or lack of, in case of a goblin) to a CGI character.
At certain moments I could see how the Great Goblin was being cleverly portrayed from the pages of the book to the cinematic screen.
A feast of emotions spew forth from Humphries’ performance as he provides anger, humour and mockery in one clever sequence. One minute he’s sneering, the other he’s singing (or shrieking) at the top of his voice. He behaves like a theatre actor and explodes with fury.
Whether you hated him, found him repulsing, or thought the CGI wasn’t realistic enough, I find that Peter Jackson’s Great Goblin is one of the highlights of An Unexpected Journey (whether for the wrong reasons or not, it’s up to you to decide).