The Hobbit Films – A Review (or Rant)

Typically, you may notice, we try to shape this blog into really focusing on games, gaming, game creation, and our game, of course, in particular. While I have discussed other media, it’s often with the intent of bettering our storytelling. It’s hard to keep coming up with subjects to write about, though, so today I will answer a question from the ever-cool Otaku Judge: What do I think about The Hobbit movies, as a person whose read the books? My one-word answer to him in one of the below posts? Yuck. Let me expound, though.

A quick disclaimer: I did not see the first movie. I did not see it on principle. I did not see it on principle because I do not think this book should have been three movies. I was ready to accept two movies. But three? Really? For a book that’s half the size of any of the books from the LoTR trilogy? Three? I knew that it would’ve been inundated with bland filler material, and probably non-canon plots — and I was right.

Now, I understand that many of the elements they added are canonical Tolkein devices that they pulled from other tales of Middle Earth, such as the Brown Wizard. However, do they appear in The Hobbit, the work in question? Does a cooky old guy jump on a sleigh pulled by bunnies and lead ORCS (not goblins) on a wild… er… rabbit chase? No. No, he does not.

So I did not see the first movie, though Justin and my brothers (all of whom have read the book) did. And that was enough for me. I did, however, recently see the second movie. Here are my thoughts:

1) Let’s get this out of the way: I thought it was an adventurous movie. It had a lot of battles, it was fun though long, and has some truly likable characters. I really enjoy seeing Watson/Tim Canterbury play Bilbo (okay, okay, I know his name: Martin Freeman), I do like the characterizations of Fili and Kili, and Thorin has grown on me as the embodiment of what I imagined as a child. Benedict Cumberbatch, of course, does a superb job in his voice acting role as Smaug. And Orlando Bloom’s second role as Bard is a surprisingly good human (I’m just kidding – but has anyone else caught the resemblance?) By some accounts, I would think it’s a good movie had it not been so long while accomplishing so little.

2) They’re really reaching for tie-ins. For example, they changed the goblins pursuing the group into orcs, and have used that to introduce the Uruk-hai, who in Tolkein’s writing did not appear until the attack at Gondor in The Lord of the Rings. Gandalf is depicted as having an encounter with the Eye of Mordor/Sauron – which, again, did not occur in the book. And let’s not forget the whole Legolas/Tauriel/Kili thing. More on that in a moment, though. Suffice it to say, stretching out material for one movie into three has introduced several prolonged, superfluous story lines.

3) Okay, the love-triangle. W-T-F? There is no love-triangle in my edition of the adventure-fantasy novel. Maybe I should’ve gotten a smutty daytime television version instead? I like Tauriel, and the addition of her, and I believe there was room for her given that not every elf that appears in The Hobbit is named, or gender-defined, or even really commented on. So that’s fine. Given, also, that the King is Legolas’ father, I even accept his presence. However, I would have thought that Legolas really would’ve made a mere cameo, rather than some starring role as a romantic hero/other-man. And now, spoiler: in the novel, Kili dies. With that in mind, I just cannot anticipate how they will resolve this plot in a satisfying manner without further violating the source material. I understand that that thought may very well be the creator’s intention to keep engaged audiences who would’ve otherwise thought that they knew everything (such as myself), but honestly, it’s not engaging so much as it’s frustrating. Or infuriating. Or perhaps engaging, but not in such a way that I’m particularly motivated to see the next film. It’s engaging in that it gives me something to complain about. I’d be just as happy to wait until someone posts the whole synopsis on Wikipedia. Or on an angry WordPress rant.

From what I can theorize, either both Kili and Tauriel die, which would just be awful from a story-telling perspective given that the second movie spent SO long keeping the little sucker alive, or they both survive and Tauriel and Kili run off together or rule over Durin, displacing Dain as King Under the Mountain. In either case, if Kili dies for any reason other than in the service of Thorin or likewise if he survives while Fili and Thorin die, it detracts from Tolkein’s picture of loyalty unto family, with a special connection between maternal uncles/nephews. If he does die in the same manner, but Tauriel survives, it’s just a disappointing watch for all of the build-up.

4) What’s with Legolas’ dad, anyways? He moves like Voldo from Soul Caliber. I don’t really know why they remind me of each other, but it’s the way he kind of sways around. Or maybe he’s also sporting a purple thong and orange chaps.

5) I do like Bard’s larger story, the connection between him and the “man who missed his mark” but didn’t really. That part was good. In fact, I think it was superior over what was presented in the novel. There, I said it.

Overall, those are my current impressions. What about you guys? What did you think? Am I way off here or do you agree?

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5 thoughts on “The Hobbit Films – A Review (or Rant)

  1. I completely agree with you! I wasn’t going to see the films either but then my kids friends saw the films and (now my kids have all read the books and so were mighty confused when their friends, who hadn’t read any, were telling them THEY had got the plot wrong!!) so I felt I had to see the first one, for their sake. Of course I expected to be disappointed and of course I was – same reasons as you state. I will see the second when it comes out on DVD and the third, despite my reservations, but it galls me all the same that the film industry constantly takes the title of a well known book (or sometimes a mythological story) and then just does whatever i thinks will make money with it. It’s disrespectful, both to the author and the fans. (sorry to rant on – I will stop now!)
    Blessings, Bia

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