Filthy Hobbitses! We Hates Them!

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.

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3 thoughts on “Filthy Hobbitses! We Hates Them!

  1. Nathan Waddell

    I thought I would leave a longer and (hopefully) more thoughtful reply here where I’m not limited to 140 characters.
    It’s interesting that you prefer the Hobbit (book) to Lord of the Rings. And you were exposed to LOTR first yeah? Just more fun? I reread the Hobbit just recently and enjoyed it very much, though I can look at it more critically then when I first read it (my Gramma gave me the Rankin Bass edition for Xmas nearly 30 years ago- 1984 I think!) and kind of see how some parts are anti-climactic and can use some fleshing out. I agree with your list of embellishments that you enjoyed- I loved Tauriel and the barrel ride with orcs was great, and the Thranduil and Bard scenes were good. I actually did think to myself at the part with the Master and his little wormtongue analog that I would have cut that from the movie if I was editing it.
    You find the attention to detail lacking? Do you mean in the fantastic little nods to things like chapter titles and such that LOTR has? I got the Art & Design book for Unexpected Journey (love those Art of books!) and saw all the thought that went into stuff even how each dwarf has a different silhouette and what they carry, but I can see what you are saying too. The first movie had a lot of heart that I enjoyed, and the theme of finding a home, whereas this movie didn’t seem to have a central theme other than all action all the time. Did you? I often don’t see these things on first viewing… but I don’t think I missed anything like that. Actually I’d love it if i did and then Id have even more appreciation. I didn’t want Smaug to leave his cave in a huff and then get shot off-screen as happens in the book. And I love orcses so the more orcses the better for me.
    When I was a kid I loved going back, after reading LOTR, to the Hobbit to try and glean more info about the Necromancer and Dol Guldur and the Ring and see how much Tolkien embedded in there about the Ring which was tantalizingly not quite enough for me! So I love how PJ is expanding on how exactly Gandalf drove Sauron out of his Mirkwood hiding place.
    Anyways, rambling but not as much insight as I would like here! Sorry!

    Reply
    1. Jen Post author

      My first introduction to Lord of the Rings was when I saw Fellowship in the theater when I was 16 or 17. Until then, I wouldn’t have even classified myself as interested in fantasy, but something about it drew me in. It quickly became my go-to movie when I needed something to watch (even though it usually put me to sleep – I find it very soothing for some reason.) I probably read the books when I was 19 or 20, and then shortly after that I picked up the Hobbit. I likely need a reread of both the series and the Hobbit because my memory of both are a bit fuzzy, but I remember enjoying the Hobbit more for its light-hearted tone.

      I completely agree that a lot of the Hobbit (and even a lot of Lord of the Rings) wouldn’t have been as strong if they stuck entirely to the books. Shooting Smaug offscreen would be terrible in a film version, and the barrel ride would have been more than a little dull if there weren’t a chase scene with it.

      I think, for the most part, I liked the way they handled the story – it’s just the addition of the whole necromancer side-story and the orcs that I’m not enjoying (I really, really don’t like the CGI orcs. Everything in Lord of the Rings looked so real – except those dumb ghosts at the end – and the parts of the Hobbit that I’m enjoying the most are the parts that have that same sense of realism. The orcs just don’t do it for me.)

      At this point, I don’t really see where they’re going with that storyline, so it feels unnecessary and drawn out. Perhaps Lord of the Rings is like that too, and I’m just more forgiving of it. Most of the things I don’t like about the Hobbit, I can also point to examples of in Lord of the Rings, so it’s probably more a matter of managing my expectations. I wanted the Hobbit to be as good as Lord of the Rings, but that can’t ever happen – not because the films aren’t good, but because nothing will ever compare to my favorite movies. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Nathan Waddell

    You’re so young! Hopefully the 3rd movie will pay off for you, I think the Battle of Five Armies will be truly epic, which of course you aren’t really asking for, but maybe Bilbo’s part in it will be expanded (he won’t be unconscious for most of it I hope!) and the heart that we lost will be back. I have my workout gloves on so typing is a pain but I am always up for more LOTR discussion!

    Reply

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