I didn’t see a single Hobbit film in theater and I’m comforted knowing that. Because, had I paid for any of them, I feel that I would’ve been deeply discouraged with anything Peter Jackson might touch from this point forward. Luckily I watched the story of Thorin Oakenshield* unfold from the pillowy cushions of my couch and here’s what I have to say about it.
(you can also read my review on my blog: PhoenixWave)
Let me start by saying that I was a HUGE fan of the first trilogy. By HUGE I mean, I’ve read the books, I’ve got the extended EXTENDED versions of the films, (you know – the 4 hrs+ ones) I’ve watched them each at least two times, and I’ve also watched the special features. I was in love with this brilliant movie making phenomena. Years later I catch rumors rumbling through the interwebs that the Hobbit is going to be made but with a different director at the helm. Next, Peter Jackson is now taking over for the Hobbit because all other directors (Guillermo being one of them – sadface) turned it down. (hindsight being what it is now – I see why) Then those rumors turned into even more rumors telling us that the film would be split into two, nay, three films!
Sure we can all argue there was other motives involved outside of Peter’s control why the story was split into three films but suffice it to say that it was still a bad idea regardless. So after viewing the first of this trilogy (wait, do we even consider this a trilogy?) I think it was safe to assume that Peter Jackson had spent entirely too much time in Middle Earth. I understand wanting to do the story justice and to pay homage to a Tolkien fan favorite but when you include so much filler (from the Silmarillion and appendices) just to elongate a story for the sake of spreading it across three films (in order to make the $$), people tend to get upset.
Because I’ve not reviewed any of the films up to this point and I don’t want this to be a SUPER long post about all of them, I’m going to touch on some positive and negative aspects of each in a quick list format. Keep in mind I had just read the book prior to the first film coming out and might be a little more picky about what transpired on screen compared to someone who hasn’t read the book in quite some time.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
- a LOT happens in this film compared to the other 2
- the Dwarves showing up at Bilbo’s hobbit hole one by one was fun but tedious
- coming back to Middle Earth and hearing the score from the LOTR films made me smile quite a bit
- the casting was superb
- that Troll scene was exactly what I was hoping for, except I don’t recall Bilbo saving the Dwarves…?
- riddles in the dark with Gollum was delightfully fun and scary all at the same time
- the haunting song by the Dwarves was excellent
- I personally loved the sequence where we met the “Goblin King” (though the CGI in my opinion could’ve used some more tweaks)
- Azog who?! why the hell is he in this movie?!
- wait a minute, did Gandalf have a fling with Galadriel?!
- when did Bilbo get to be so heroic? (saving Thorin from Azog’s beast)
- um, is it just me or was anyone else pissed that they included Radagast but for whatever reason they left out Tom Bombadil in LOTR?!
summary: The slow pacing of the first installment bogs down an otherwise fun trip to a familiar place.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
- Azog is still around? sigh.
- hold on, why is Kate from LOST in this movie?
- wait, was Legolas in the Hobbit…? I’m confused.
- I thought Bilbo saved the Dwarves from the spiders?
- I’m happy that they didn’t forget to include Beorn, but we don’t see him enough
- there’s dwarf/elf love stuff going on? wow, did I watch the right movie?
- barrel riding along with CGI elves and orc skirmishing makes for an unhappy Lucas…
- Bard and Laketown are actually on point and well done (could’ve done without the lord of Laketown and his leery squire dork)
- FINALLY we’ve reached Smaug and he is magnificent! the dialogue by Cumberbatch is spot on! the last 30 – 45 minutes is worth waiting for and I don’t care if they bend the story of the dwarves interacting (the molten gold) to build up some intensity towards the third film
summary: Takes quite a long time to get to what everyone has been waiting for and definitely too much filler used in order to get there…
rating: 6/10 (Smaug sequence 9/10)
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
- the first title was better…
- I understand we need a face for the evil nemesis but Azog? In the actual book BOLG (the son of Azog) is who chases the band of Dwarves around Middle Earth … Azog was killed long before this happened. I’m perplexed.
- Smaug’s attack upon Laketown is cut way too short
- hold on, Bard’s son sure is heroic and was never mentioned in the book
- yeah, that’s how I’d imagine him taking down Smaug … what’s wrong with a good ‘ol bow and arrow attempt from not on top of a burning/collapsing structure? really – his son was the guy holding the “bow”? -come on
- oh good I was afraid we wouldn’t see the lord of Laketown’s leery squire dork again … and again … and again, wait why is he even important to show?
- is it just me or did they really make Thorin out to be more batsh*t crazy than necessary? I never got the sense that he was this over the top in the book…
- oh yeah, I forgot all about the love triangle … and how much I missed it…
- the entire scene of Cate Blanchett and crew storming in to help Gandalf is laughable, stupid and completely nothing more than filler and a way for Peter Jackson to tie everything together (apparently the ring wasn’t good enough for this) if Galadriel was so powerful then why not have her just zap everyone and take care of business the first go around? I just get fired up talking about this scene so I’ve gotta move on…
- did some Dwarf just show up riding a pig completely done in CGI?! are you kidding me? so the other Dwarves we’ve walked around with this entire 7 hrs+ were ok to be in makeup and practical effects but we throw one on a pig and he must be CGI? for shame Peter, for shame.
- holy sh*t where did those tremor/worm things come from!? (shout out to Sheena there) … but wait, where did they go? they could’ve torn through the Elf and Dwarf ranks in no time!? odd…
- yes we know from LOTR that Legolas is a force to be reckoned with, so why do it all over again with him twirling about…? remind me again why he’s in this?
- oh boo hoo, Tauriel’s crying and no one cares
- “seek out the Ranger named Strider…” really? you really need to tie in the LOTR that much more?
- wow is this battle still going on while we watch all this other stuff?
- FINALLY the Eagles are here to save the day oh and they decided to drop off Beorn too! (they disperse of the hordes upon hordes of baddies awfully quick though)
summary: Such a long time coming and the movie falls under it’s own weight. Smaug isn’t given enough time, the battle is too drawn out, too many tie-ins to the LOTR to count, and far too many feeble attempts at creating character development this late in the game.
So there you have it! My “review” of the entire Hobbit trilogy. If you were to combine the scores and take the average it gets a solid 6 out of 10 on my scale. Which, all in all is ok I guess but when you compare it to the astounding accomplishment that was the Lord of the Rings then it’s nothing but sad. I’ve already written about how I felt the Hobbit animated movie was far better than the live action trilogy – and you can read about it over at Unreality if you like.
There are many people out there that would’ve appreciated just one film or if anything two; but they spread it across three and made their money disregarding quality for $$. There was a disgruntled fan that took it upon himself and cut all 3 films into a 4 hour film that utilizes only the scenes that are directly out of the Hobbit text. I’ve downloaded his cut appropriately titled, “The Tolkien Edit” and plan on watching it to see if I enjoy it more.