Just over a decade ago we saw the end of an epic trilogy that rivaled the grandeur of the Holy Trinity of movie trilogies. Many will argue as to what IS the Holy Trinity of movie trilogies: Back to the Future, The Godfather, Indiana Jones (not counting Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). But for me it was Star Wars. Although there were a few issues that I have with the story but for the most part I loved the vision, the characters, and most of all was the fact that we would never see a movie (or trilogy) of its like again. Case and point the horrible prequel trilogy. It tried to mimic what Star Wars was almost forty years ago and failed! Now, when it comes to the Hobbit I will not say it failed but I will not say it was a success either.
True to the Story
For the most part it followed the story of Bilbo and the Company of Thirteen fairly well with several embellishments that are forgivable but did not deviate from the overall aspect of the Hobbit. The dwarves did reclaim their long forgotten gold, they did fortify their dwarven hall, they faced off against two armies: one of men, the other of elves, an army of dwarfs led by Thorin’s cousin did come to pick a fight (casting Billy Connolly was a terrific choice I must say), they were eventually attacked by an army of orcs far greater in number than all three armies combined, the three armies join forces, many deaths ensue including several of the company of thirteen Thorin chief among them, and Bilbo returns to his hole in the ground. All of this did happen and the portrayal of it was magnificent. Still, there were several downfalls that I feel could have been avoided entirely.
This will always be my biggest complaint about this trilogy: IT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN A TRILOGY!!! I have read the book, it is not more than 250 pages. I have it as an audio drama (you must remember I am a big fan of those) and it spans eight thirty minute episodes. I also have the animated movie that was made back in 1979 that was not more than 80 minutes long and still managed to encompass all the main elements from the novel. We did not need three feature length pictures to tell this story. I am all for the movie industry making money but give me a break! Peter Jackson! Did you not learn the folly of George Lucas or are you trying to make bank the way he did? Please say no, please. This movie could have easily been made into one movie, now it may have been nearly four hours but I would have seen it just as many times in theaters. Return of the King was almost five hours with the extended edition DVD and still was awesome. Now had they just made the Hobbit as one movie I think a lot more could have come later. Which brings me to my next issue with this trilogy.
The Lord of the Ring References
Yes, we all know that the Hobbit is a precursor to the Lord of the Rings but constantly including those references were not in the original story. Was Gandalf there? Yes, he brought the company of thirteen to Bilbo and did travel with them and leave many times throughout the narrative. Was Elrond there? Yes, the company went to Rivendale and he looked at the map for them. Was Gollum there? Yes, Bilbo did exchange riddles in the dark with him and find the ring (which we would find out sixty years later is the ring of power!) which helped him to escape the mountain of the goblins. All these other references should not have been there which includes a fat Legolas (see Doyle’s rant about that one), one of Bilbo’s ring wearing moments where he sees the burning eye of the Dark Lord, and, of course, the visiting of the graves of the nine kings of men. All should have been left out and all those that have not read the book, or books just to hint that there are quite a few stories that Tolkien wrote, would be none the wiser for missing these things. But, now we go on to my biggest issue with this trilogy that began in the second installment.
The Love Story
Okay guys, we know not all women get these kind of movies even though there are a fair amount of geeky girls out there that do know about the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings but, Hollywood, not every story is supposed to have a love story in it! In this trilogy it is pointless and distracting from the main plot! Further, and chime in fellas if I am wrong, I have read many fantasy stories that feature elves and dwarves and not ONCE has either ever been said to be attracted to the other. There has always been a silent (snigger) animosity between the two races. Why, I beg you, would you try to have it happen in the Hobbit of all movies? And to make it worse, you then incorporate a love triangle of a fashion to it! Argh! In short let me be plain and clear: If it is not in the source material do not ad-lib, please, for all our sake. *Deep breath* Rant ends, let me say what I did like.
The World of Middle Earth
Peter Jackson does do one thing with these movies that I have not really seen in that many films which is incorporate the one really unnamed character that many that do not read realize exists: the world. This is not some hippie remark but it is an actual character of many story tellers that is easily overlooked. The world they create is a living thing that goes un-noticed by many and the fact that he takes time to let you visualize this on the big screen is just breath taking. The first time I saw the Shire, Gondor, Rohan, even Mordor I was rendered speechless. I had never pictured those places like that (hard to believe given how descriptive Tolkien got later on after the Hobbit) in such detail. The way Lake Town was designed, Goblin town where the dwarves are taken prisoner, Mirkwood and the realm of the elves, and of course Lonely Mountain. Absolutely phenomenal.
To sum up, would I watch these movies again? Yes, I will even own them but that will not keep me from ranting about the issues with them or stop me from rolling my eyes when the lovey dovey flirting takes place, I will focus my energy on the part that makes me smile the most: the story of the Hobbit and the beginning of the Ring of Power.