Friday, January 16, 2015

Wrapping Up The Hobbit, Part I

I love The Lord of the Rings. Though I didn’t watch the movies or read the books until I was in my mid-teens, I don’t consider that a bad thing. On the contrary, I believe that experiencing it first when I was older contributed to my deep love of the story.

Anyway, when a movie adaption of The Hobbit was announced, I was thrilled. Not only would there be more Middle-Earth, but I would get to see it on the big screen! I was ecstatic! With The Battle of the Five Armies, out in December, Peter Jackson has concluded his cinematic adaption of Tolkien’s adventure story. I’ve seen all three movies, I own the first two and their soundtracks, but my feelings about the trilogy are mixed.

This isn’t a review; let me make that completely clear. My intention is not to give information of the movies. I simply want to organize and share my many thoughts and emotions about the trilogy. Thus, there will be plenty of spoilers. If you want to jump in with your own thoughts, please do. I’d love to discuss this topic with you.

First of all, I neither love nor hate An Unexpected Journey, Desolation of Smaug, and The Battle of the Five Armies. Honestly, there are few, if any, things in any of them that I truly hate. Ultimately, I’ve come to think of the trilogy like that one song that you sing a little too long, a little too loud, and, occasionally, a little off key, because you love it so much. As I said, I was ecstatic about The Hobbit. I wanted to love it. I love Middle-Earth; I love Tolkien’s elements – his characters, his themes, etc. And so, in tThe Hobbit Trilogyhat way, I do love the movies for giving me more of that. There are, however, a lot of those too long, too loud, and off key moments.

Things I Loved

  • Bilbo – What a brilliant casting choice for Martin Freeman to play Bilbo Baggins. His facial expressions, his wordings… Everything about his performance as Bilbo felt true to Tolkien.
  • Fili and Kili – Whether you agree with me or not, I truly loved most of what was done with the characters of Fili and Kili, nephews of Thorin Oakenshield. I don’t think Fili got enough focus, though. Sure, Kili’s adorable, but Fili was my favorite, and I wanted more of the dependable, kindhearted older brother. In the book, they were always mentioned together. I feel rather slighted that Fili got essentially overlooked in favor of his younger brother.
  • Balin – Every story needs a mentor, and Peter Jackson found his in Balin, warrior of Erebor and oldest member of the Company. Now, it is true that, in the book, Thorin is older than Balin. The movies’ writers chose to change that, and, honestly, I’m not particularly bothered by the choice. I love the character of Balin. He sees the good and the bad in Thorin; he senses the potential in Bilbo; he truly cares for each member of the Company. He adds a necessary element of heart to a story dominated by action.

What I Didn’t Love

  • The CGI – I was probably more disappointed by the obvious use of CGI in these movies than by anything else. During An Unexpected Journey, I thought the visual “quirks” I was noticing must be caused by the new style of filming (48 frames/sec.). Lord of the Rings had such fabulous, innovative uses of effects, from its “bigatures” to its costuming to its sets, that I assumed The Hobbit couldn’t be as CGI-heavy as it seemed. Desolation of Smaug (and the profusion of Internet complaints) convinced me otherwise. I feel like not as much focus was given to making these films as natural-feeling as possible. It seems like they defaulted to computer graphics more often than they strictly had to, and it pulls me out of the story.
  • The Length – Strictly speaking, it’s not the actual running time that bothers me. Obviously, LotR is longer than average, and that’s not an issue for me. I like long movies. In this case, though, the movies feel too stretched out. I don’t really have a problem with the story being broadened (more on that in a later post). I just think it was extended too much. I’m curious about what wasn’t included, though, since apparently there’s a lot of filmed footage not in the movies. Three films was all right; I just wish they had been tighter, especially the first two. The stretched pace of Journey and Desolation set me up poorly for The Battle of the Five Armies, which, despite its length, felt like it rushed along without breathing room. Was I the only one who felt that way? I think the makers didn’t want their time in Middle-Earth to end, which I fully understand. I can forgive a lot of the slightly bloated scenes because I, too, want to revel in Tolkien’s world. Unfortunately, on the whole this indulgence came at the sacrifice of the story.

My Favorite Scene

There are plenty of little scenes I love, but I think my favorite may be the Riddles in the Dark scene in Journey. Andy Serkis’ performance as Gollum was brilliant in LotR, and I feel that it only got better here. More of Smeagol’s personality comes through in his interaction with Bilbo, whose reactions were priceless. This scene contains exceptional acting from both participants, it includes definite chunks of Tolkien’s words, and it sets up the events of LotR. I always love watching it. A close second is Fili’s protectiveness when the orcs attack Bard’s house in Desolation.

My Least Favorite Scene

The climax of Battle of Five Armies. No contest there. Fili, Kili, and Thorin’s deaths tore me apart, especially Fili’s. I’ll go more into detail about this in a later post, but that scene is definitely my least favorite in the entire trilogy. I didn’t appreciate how it was done, for the most part, and the gut-wrenching lack of closure did me an incredible amount of emotional harm.

This is far from a complete hashing out of my thoughts, but I’ll finish here for today. I’ll do one or two more posts on this topic, in which I’ll deal more specifically with other aspects of the movies. Now I’d like to hear your thoughts: What are your favorite and least favorite aspects/scenes of the trilogy? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Oh please do more posts on this!!!! I just came back from Battle of Five Armies, (like, three hours ago) and it was AMAZING, but... it wasn’t the same as the book. Not that I expected it to be at all, I enjoyed how more stuffs and story was added, but the book was happier. More light hearted. That’s the reason I like the Hobbit more than LotRs, it’s less dark and heavy, and the whole world seems to be more cheerful. (The books I mean. And I do love Lord of the Rings too; don’t get me wrong ;)) The Hobbit movies though aren’t quite as light...
    I loved...well, the first movie, the whole thing, not the parts in the fortress. (For the love of me I can’t remember the name. Something with a D maybe?) Bilbo and Bofur are my absolutely favourite characters, but everyone was amazing. Oh and Thrandiul. He was amazing too.
    Oh, and just a thought, what did you think of Kili and Tauriel with their whole thing??

    1. I know what you mean about the difference in tone between The Hobbit, LotR, and their respective movies. The Hobbit, as a book, is a fairly lighthearted children's story. The movies are anything but, in my opinion. In some ways, that did annoy me. I, too, enjoyed the way they expanded the story, but the tone was quite different. I think the writers tried too hard to duplicate LotR, when The Hobbit is a completely different story.

      You mean Dol Goldur? Yeah, those were pretty intense.

      *grins* Ah, and now we come to possibly the most controversial topic of the trilogy. I'll touch on this in a later post, but, overall, I did like their romance. It didn't feel entirely natural (too contrived), but I still did love them together. As I said, though, more on that later. ;) What was your opinion?

    2. Yes, yes, that's exactly it, the tone of the movies was completely different. :D
      Yes, Dol GoIdur!!!! That's what it was.
      I liked their romance, I thought it was sweet and I loved the whole mix up of and Elf with a Dwarf, especially since Thorin and Thranduil don't get along very well, and then two of their peoples fall in love. :)

    3. I enjoyed the mixed-race factor of their relationship, too, especially since, as you alluded to, their people don't like each other. :)

  2. I liked these movies, but I agree with you, they were a little longer than they should have been. Especially the last one, that was probably my least favorite.
    I /really/ loved the scenes with Smaug. They were pretty epic. xP
    And I enjoyed Legolas in the Lord of the Rings, but I think he was too overdone in The Hobbit. His moves were too unrealistic. It actually became humorous to watch him play out in the movies.
    My favorite character... *thinks* Besides Bilbo, it'd have to be Bard. I really admired how he cared for his children in the midst of the battle and kept them in his mind.

    1. I was very impressed with how they did Smaug, though, on a second or third time watching Desolation, the whole "chasing the dwarves through Erebor" scene seemed a bit unrealistic. In my opinion, anyway.

      On Legolas, I completely agree. I didn't mind the darker attitude of his character as opposed to his later self in LotR, but I think you're right on him being overdone. Which is sad, because I like Legolas.

      *slaps forehead* How could I forget Bard?! *determines to wax eloquent in next post on him* I truly do love Bard, so you've brought up a quite distressing lapse in my post.

      Thanks for commenting!


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