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Undoubtedly the dramatic high point of the film, the ‘Riddles In The Dark’ segment doesn’t waste the book’s only Gollum moment, giving LOTR’s most complex character another chance to shine.
For such a brief, self-contained scene, it doesn’t leave you wanting.
FX aficionados get Gollum looking more vibrant and tangibly textured than ever before, with a staggering amount of precision in his facial expression (and he gets to run through many here).
Seriously, he puts a lot of humans to shame.
Secondly, Martin Freeman is at his very best in what’s essentially a two man play (and let’s not forget, he’s acting opposite a Second Unit director in a mo-cap suit).
Bilbo’s fear, wit, intelligence and trepidation come alive through him, and his face bears the weight of so many emotions when he holds his sword at Gollum’s throat (with Gandalf's earlier advice about true courage no doubt reverberating around his head).
Despite the scene’s confinement, it shares remarkable links with the larger story elements.
Gollum’s internal (or should that be external) debates with himself hint at what’s to come, and his betrayal by a ‘Bagginses’ sheds new light on his encounter with Frodo in The Two Towers, with the type of additional backstory that deepens, rather than cheapens, the characterisation that follows.
And Jackson’s doesn’t attempt to recreate Bilbo’s discovery of the ring from the Fellowship prologue, opting to retell the event anew.