It’s no secret that I’m mildly (okay, majorly) obsessed with the Lord of the Rings movie franchise. Like, my idea of a great Saturday is watching all three extended editions back-to-back, and then watching the behind-the-scenes extras. I’m a geek, and I’m cool with that.
But as far as Tolkien’s books go, I prefer the Hobbit – so much so that I used Roads Go Ever Ever On (not to be confused with the Road Goes Ever On and On from Lord of the Rings) in my wedding program to describe my love for my husband.
Yeah, I’m a geek. I’m really, really cool with that.
But after watching the Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug last night, I said to my husband, “Think about what the Lord of the Rings movies would be like if Peter Jackson did to that book trilogy what he’s done to the Hobbit as a standalone book. We would need nine movies. NINE. What would he have to add to fill that kind of time?”
The answer, my friends, is this: he’d have to add a bunch of filler that detracts from the spirit of the books, creating an unnecessarily long movie series that is, quite frankly, boring at times.
Well, at least that’s my assumption based on the Hobbit movie series so far.
Now, I don’t believe a film or TV adaptation has to stay completely true to the novel it’s based on. There were a lot of embellishments to H:DoS that I enjoyed: the introduction of a female character in Tauriel; a higher-stakes barrel ride down the river; a deeper look at characters like Bard and Thranduil.
But the things I love about the Lord of the Rings trilogy – the obsessive attention to detail, the sparing use of CGI on things like the orcs, the strong characterizations (even on characters I hate – looking at you, Eowyn) – are sadly missing from the Hobbit franchise.
Despite the excessive length of the Hobbit movies, or perhaps because of it, Jackson hasn’t managed to imbue as much heart into the Hobbit movies as he did in Lord of the Rings.
The Hobbit, as a book, is a different beast than Lord of the Rings. It’s more whimsical, less serious. But Jackson has given it the Lord of the Rings treatment, trying to create an epic saga where none exists.
The Hobbit is a great story – better than Lord of the Rings, in a lot of ways – but Jackson has been so focused on tying it to Lord of the Rings – and making it like Lord of the Rings – that he’s lost what makes the Hobbit truly great.
The Hobbit isn’t about a battle against Sauron, the greatest darkness Middle Earth has ever seen. Smaug is a big enough bad guy for the movies (literally); we don’t need Sauron. No, the Hobbit is about the adventures of one cheeky little hobbit using his wiles to go up against a dragon and to turn the tide of a war.
That’s the movie I want to watch: a tale of Bilbo’s travels. A tale of the little guy beating the big guy with his wits alone. A tale of dragons and treasure and silly – not sexy – dwarves.
I want to go on an adventure – and Jackson is just taking me on a wild goose chase.