Gollum Sucks

Gollum Sucks
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I’ve been playing a lot of Shadow of War lately, and like in Shadow of Mordor before it, Gollum just goes through the motions. He menaces, he cowers, he tries to bash somebody’s head in with a rock. Then he says something zany and bounds away.

Gollum has become the Jar-Jar Binks of Middle-Earth.

I’m not even joking about the rock thing. It’s one of the first things sentient stick-up-a-human-arsehole Talion talks about when he’s reunited with everyone’s favourite artist’s rendition of what Skrillex will look like in 600 years.

Oh that Gollum, when’s he gonna do one of his endearing heel turns? When’s he gonna pull off his single, solitary, painfully predictable trick? It’s a MYSTERY TO ALL OF US.

Don’t get me wrong: the hunched, seething bag of bile and bones did not always suck. In the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings books and movies, Gollum served as a fascinating foil to the hobbit heroes, a glimpse into a future that hung around Frodo’s neck like a lodestone, dragging him ever closer to the soil’s cold embrace.

Gollum’s struggle for redemption, too, made for a tension-ridden tug-of-war between his personalities, one cut tragically short by rash actions on Sam’s part.

Or perhaps Gollum was always beyond redemption, a tormented and abused creature who couldn’t stop his own transformation into monstrosity? It’s open to interpretation. Anyway, he eventually fell into a volcano, or, according to J.R.R. Tolkien himself, was pushed into a volcano by god. Either way, he died. End of story.

That, friends, is ALL we ever needed to see of him. Part-character, part-plot device for a set of very specific characters, he fulfilled his purpose. And yet, everybody who dabbles in the increasingly loose and implausible series of events that constitutes the Lord of the Rings movie canon keeps digging him out of his well-earned grave to be a glorified mascot.

As a result, he’s gone from a believably tragic figure to a parody of himself, a loincloth-clad vessel for a procession of voice actors’ soulless Andy Serkis impressions.

It’s not like they have much to work with. Gollum’s arc is set in stone, and outside of it, he’s thin to the point of basically not even being a character. Without Frodo, Sam, and other characters he’s meant to play off of, he’s reduced to rehashing his greatest hits, but with a fraction of the impact or meaning behind them.

It’s hard not to wonder why he’s even there beyond the fact that he’s not tied to any movie star’s actual likeness, making him a recognisable face companies can slap on a box without having to fork over Viggo Mortensen money.

Don’t think about that, though. Gollum just said “precious!” You remember “precious” don’t you? You know, from that period of about three months in 2003 when everyone was quoting it? Because what every modern video game needs is a warmed-over meme from back when George W. Bush was still President.


  • You do realize that following Phantom Menace, Jar Jar Binks’ role in Star Wars was reduced and his silly antics all but removed, right?

    With that in mind, that’d make Gollum the exact opposite in regards to arcs, being a serious character and then turning into a walking punch line, which ironically is what I imagine waits for them at every convention these days.

    • I direct your attention to the Clone wars TV series which is considered cannon.

      Jar Jar keeps up his wacky hijinks there.

      Agree they toned him down for the movies. Other media not so much

  • So true (but I am resisting the urge to disagree, with a lot of words, about Gollum being a plot-device hehe)

    its like anything that becomes ironic, ultimately it either becomes overused or parodied so much it becomes normal. See also… Christian Bale’s Batman voice. Stunningly brilliant in the first two films but by the third we had all seen way too many parodies for it to still have the same effect.

  • Isn’t Shadow of War just going through the motions at this point? I Can’t imagine Monolith games having made a worthwhile story actually worthy of the prestige that The Lord of the Rings entails … Or use to, I just base that assumption on Shadow of Mordor’s lackluster story. Just an opinion not asking 4 a toll to cross my bridge .

    • I’ve only seen the movies but what was there wasn’t the be all and end all, maybe the Silmarillion(sp?) is a little more dense, but I definitely agree with Shadow of Mordor being really generic in regards to it’s tale, however from my 60 or so hours in Shadow of War I definitely feel it’s done a better job in regards to story.

      • Don’t let me ruin your fun, If your able to a have a good time then great :), Media adapted from books almost always loses something in the process, I suppose Middle earth gained the Nemesis system so that’s a plus.

    • Liam is a great voice actor though. Of anything to accuse his work off, ‘soulless’ is the last one on the list.

  • “Gollum was killed by god”? Not really, that theory is that Gollum was killed by “a god”. That and Tolkien is the George Lucas of LOTR; the creator whilst somehow also being the worst thing to happen to the series.

  • At least he didn’t wear out his welcome in SoW the way he did in Mordor. He shows up like… three times to lead you to the now-sexy-spider-lady then is gone forever. I’d forgotten he even turned up.

    So, very much like Jar-Jar… Fans hated him, so his later appearances were mercifully brief.

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