I Thought It Was About The Hobbit

When was the last time a movie, a book, or a television show left you cold despite all your friends (and/or all the critics) raving about it? What was it that made you go against the critical consensus?

The source material for the 9-hour trilogy
The source material for the 9-hour trilogy

When Peter Jackson’s first of three installments of a children’s book was released almost two years ago, I figured I’d check it out and see what he’d done to further expound on the story of Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit from the Shire who gets caught up in the drama of Middle Earth. 

An Unexpected Journey charmed me from the moment I watched it in the theater in 48 frames per second.  I wanted to meet Bilbo, and see how PJ filmed the dwarves and shrunk them.  I wanted to see how he depicted Thorin Oakenshield, the grumpy old would-be king of the mountain.  I had to admit – having read the book years ago and listened to the audiobook as well – I liked it. 

And so for the second of those three installments of a children’s book, I went to see it on opening day.  When Desolation of Smaug suddenly faded into black, there was no applause in the theater. Instead, the guy next to me and most everyone else in the theater, got up and left even before the credits started rolling.  Only the guy next to me said, “That’s it?  That’s baloney! Peter Jackson’s not getting any more of my money for the third movie. I’m waiting till it ends up on Netflix.”

I remember chuckling then, but I had to agree with him though.  And not that it would matter to him one iota, but Peter Jackson is not having any more of my money either. For a movie that’s supposed to be about the journey of a hobbit, I can barely spot the hobbit.  Instead, for Desolation of Smaug, we were introduced to super wonder elves and Sauron-before-he-was-Sauron of Lord of the Rings.

But everyone I know loves it though, even my real life friends, most of whom have never read J.R.R. Tolkien’s works.  I just hope that they’ve read the original material, which was a children’s book and therefore didn’t have depictions of war in it.  But people who’ll flock in the theaters for There and Back Again Battle of the Five Armies won’t know that at all. 

So I won’t be watching the third film.  Instead, I’m going back to the book and hope that people who’ve never heard of Tolkien before, pick up the book first – especially The Hobbit.  Because if they see the trilogy first, then the book to them will be boring. 

And that would be – and it already is – a travesty.

 

20 thoughts on “I Thought It Was About The Hobbit

  1. I have not seen Desolation yet, so it’s interesting to hear your take on it. And sad, given how faithful Jackson was to the spirit of LoTR in the first three. I had a bad feeling after seeing the first hobbit installment, though. It seemed clear that he was milking it far too much so he could make another trilogy. Seems he’s contracted George Lucas disease!

    1. I came in with high hopes for Desolation of Smaug but I guess I was expecting too much (as far as PJ being faithful to the book). The disappointment set in when the superwonder elves appeared, led by Legolas (whom I loved in LOTR). And then Indiana Jones Oakenshield appeared, and by then I was done.

      I haven’t seen any of the Star Wars prequels though so I’ll take your word for the George Lucas-itis 🙂

      1. Yes, I noticed that Thorin was very heroic in the first film. They didn’t give him the crotchety, stubborn folly of the original. I remember him from the book as a comic character with flashes of nobility, whereas in the movie it was just the opposite–plus a certain romantic aura lent by Mr. Armitage…
        I would not bother with anything Star Wars after the first three. The rest are shockingly bad.

  2. Having read everything Tolkien ever wrote including the lost volumes, I agree that Sir Peter might have gone a “tad too far” in DOS. Still I loved the movie and can’t wait for BO5A. I think for me, it had more to do with watching Sir Peter weave his cinema magick than whether or not he stuck to the book. The only movie I can recall in recent history that closely followed the book was Lincoln. They kept to the story that he was the 16th president and he was shot at Ford’s Theater.
    Now that being said, I support and will defend my best friend’s opinion, and I will support her to my last fingernail.

    1. Thank you for the support, Arkie! I love that you love DOS and will certainly love BOFA (why do I always think of the bank? LOL), too! I’ve yet to read Lincoln first and then watch the movie. It’s on my Kindle, too, so I better get crackin’

      🙂

  3. I’m actually waiting until they’re all out on Blu-ray 3D and then I’ll buy the set, I haven’t seen any of them.
    As you say, the book was a kids’ book and quite short, so they had to add a lot of material to fill three films!

    1. Blu-Ray 3D is hardcore! 🙂 I did like the 48 frames per second in the theater, but only when they were filming the scenes inside Bilbo’s hobbit hole, and it looked like you were really there. The action scenes in 48 fps didn’t look as nice though, but hopefully when the 3D version comes out, they’d have worked out the kinks by then 🙂

  4. I also own most of the Lost Tales and Christoper Tolkien edited stuff and remember The Hobbit as one of my favourite books as a child.
    Altho I’m no Tom Bombadiller, I’ve been disappointed with both movies in TH, more so with DoS. For DoS it seemed like the good stuff (Mirkwood) was cut out in favour of unconvincing Necromancer and always-unwelcome Azog stuff.
    In fact you could sum up my issues with all TH movies in one word: Azog.

    On the plus side, I’ve liked the casting of main roles (except Bilbo) and the addition of Tauriel (tho not her story-line so far).

    1. Yep, I hated that they took a lot of scenes away from Mirkwood to make way for the superwonder elves and Thorin Indiana Oakenshield but I guess that’s for the super extended extra special DVD version.

      I hate the addition of Tauriel.

  5. Btw, there are lots and lots of other movies which have had critical acclaim or audience popularity which I’ve really hated, or found ‘meh’. Some of my friends claim that for me most movies fall into the latter category. :-I
    Bah humbug. What do they know?

    1. It’s always gonna be that way though. We go to movies for many reasons and sometimes we may like what we see and sometimes we may not. That’s the way it works.

      That’s why I don’t go ballistic when people like TH films, or even the Saw films. We all like what we like and dislike what we dislike. If we liked all the same things, blockbuster, indie or not, then it would be such a boring existence.

      1. I go ballistic when people like the Saw films and all torture porn, and I’ll probably never stop doing so. It’s dangerously desensitizing.

      2. The news is different. It’s not entertainment; it’s reality and it’s what shit like Saw desensitizes us *to*. (Bad grammar, I know, but I can’t be bothered to write it elegantly). Saw and Hostel and their ilk are worse than drugs because people watch them and eventually start treating real violence and death as just another special effect.

  6. I have been a Tolkien fans since childhood (my mother introduced us to the books) so I felt the same as you about the films. The book is named The Hobbit. The hobbit is supposed to be the center of the story rather than Broody McHotDwarf and his multiple prolouges. And given the extreme amount of time allotted to tell this story, the lack of attention on the titular character and the lack of character development for the other dwarves is a horrific failure. When you consider how high powered the cast is, it’s criminal.

    (But Smaug was awesome. Smaug always was my favorite character and he was perfect in the film.)

    The book I can’t stand and others raved about was Catcher in the Rye. All my artsy friends were wandering around saying “Oh, Holden is so me!”

    “Really? I did not know you were a hypocritical whiner.” Seriously, that book would have been vastly improved with a fatal mugging in chapter one.

    1. I don’t remember reading Catcher in the Rye even though it seems so familiar to me. Probably something we had to read in high school but which escapes me at the moment.

      I would have wanted to learn more about the dwarves in this one. With LOTR having a lot of information about elves, this would have been a chance for PJ to work on each of the dwarves’ characters (even though source material was still scarce to begin with). As it is, they’re almost really just comic relief for the narrative. And I wish there was more about Bilbo really, because it was really his story.

  7. The really depressing and irking thing is there are fans who think that Thorin is the main character of Tolkien’s book, rather than the background Bilbo’s story plays out against. I’m serious. They have read the book called The Hobbit, and that think that it is all about Thorin.

    Thorin is also a hero above reproach who’s every action is just or excusable.

    Hotness rationalizes everything.

    1. And therein lies my sadness for the people who don’t read the book, don’t want to read the book, or having read the book, find it boring or not as good as the movie. But thank goodness it’s just one of those things in my life now that I’ve learned not to worry too much about. Heaven knows I’ve already put more into it than I would have wanted to 🙂

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