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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
The importance of evaluating apples and oranges

Tol Eressea

Jun 25 2013, 12:49am

Post #1 of 15 (904 views)
The importance of evaluating apples and oranges Can't Post

This is a blanket response to the last forty or so threads that have popped up lately on likes, dislikes, and detests regarding AUJ and the responses that LOTR was better.

I have come to a puzzling question- why are critics comparing apples to oranges?

We have some key factors regarding LOTR that we do not yet have regarding The Hobbit, and so to compare one to the other expecting the same end result WILL be disappointing, because it is not a fair comparison.

Now, I will mention that my parents hated anything to do with magic or wizards (extremely conservative- they even fast forwarded the part in Disney's Snow White where the witch queen made the apple because it was "witchcraft"). And, since I am only 26, and was only 13 when LOTR came into the theaters, I did not have the honor to be introduced to Middle-earth until I met my (now) husband in July of 2007. So, I cannot fully understand the POV from those who saw the TE of LOTR when they were released in theaters, as I never saw the TE's.

I became acquainted with the magnificent and awe inspiring world that is Middle-earth via the LOTR EE's. I can honestly say that the most I had EVER heard of Middle-earth up to that point was a vague memory of Frodo figurines in McDonald's happy meals on a road trip and thinking that he looked very weird with those ridiculously huge feet! (I now know better! Wink)

One evening, my husband's very Tolkien fanatic brother happened to be watching FOTR at the point where Galadriel and Celeborn descend in the light toward the Fellowship after Moria. I was thunderstruck by how mysterious, awe inspiring, and stunning it was. Not a week later, I had borrowed each disc and watched it after work, and got so impatient being stuck in the middle of ROTK after they bring out the wolf battering ram and the second disc ends (his brother was not in town at the time or something-I just remember getting stuck there and not being able to get the last disc for another week!) that I went down to a local book/movie store and bought ALL THREE EE's! I finished it that night, and was completely dumbstruck and totally fell in love with Middle-earth. I was hooked!

I have subsequently watched LOTR EE's more times than I can count, practically have most of the screenplay memorized (although since AUJ came out I have been very Hobbit-fanatic and as such it's fading- I need to watch them again!), can listen to the music and visualize what's happening at the time, etc. It's my absolute favorite movie trilogy of all time (or movie of all time, if you lump them together).

But----those of you who are Tolkien canon-ites (for lack of a better word), this will please you as well. Between my husband and I we now own nearly every Middle-earth book that Tolkien has had published (with exception of lost tales, which I have yet to acquire but did borrow from my brother in law). And I have read them all- except haven't quite gotten all the way through LOTR- I was at Osgiliath when Hobbit came out....and have been rather, shall we say, distracted since then Wink However, I have read several parts of it over and over again, I have read The Silmarillion over and over again, I practically have The Hobbit memorized, etc. And I desperately want the HOME series! As well as the visual guides from the movies, weta's chronicles, etc. But alas, I have two young daughters and not a lot of spare change to buy them right now Frown

Coming back to my original point, these movies have made me absolutely adore Middle-earth in a way no book or movie has ever done before.

Now, regarding LOTR EE's vs The Hobbit-AUJ. I cannot emphasize this enough:

There is no way to fairly compare the two and expect the same level of satisfaction YET.

Think about it- we only have an incomplete (if you count the EE's as complete) 1/3 of a TRILOGY. Whereas, with LOTR, we have 3 COMPLETE parts of a trilogy. We cannot expect that every storyline has been established, resolved, or unexpected presences explained. We cannot expect that we will leave the theater with our curiousity, our expectation of the story arcs, etc satisfied.

My sister is not that familiar with LOTR due to that she still lives at home with my parents, however she decided to see AUJ with me because she put it in the same class of make believe as Star Wars, which ironically my parents do allow (go figure). When we finished at the end, she was extremely confused, and all out groaned when I told her it was part one of a trilogy.

The answer for many of these professed dissatisfactions is quite simply we don't have the whole picture yet. We are very spoiled- yes I will say that- because we are used to, and for most of us, have been used to having a complete 12 hour story that goes from start to finish for thirteen years (fourteen? I cannot remember when FOTR came out in theaters like I mentioned above). So naturally, when faced with an incomplete 1/3 of a story, we will feel that something is missing-because it IS.

I just want people to keep that in mind when they get upset or feel the need to criticize AUJ and its changes. I am all for discussion-it broadens horizons and encourages growing if more than one side are presented and is healthy providing it isn't done in a criticizing, judgmental, or attacking manner. But, it would be far more fair for all concerned (the director, the actors, other fans, etc) to give PJ&co the benefit of the doubt, at least until they have seen the entire trilogy with the EE's from start to finish. And remember, it is the movies that have reached a new generation that did not see the books originally published and turned many an uninitiated into a full blown passionate Ringer (albeit a poor one, at least in my case! Wink)

Only then will we have a fair comparison to LOTR. Until then, it is mere speculation Smile

And there is nothing wrong with that- as long as we remember that is what it is- speculation. Nothing more Cool

Half Elven Daughter of Celethian of the Woodland Realm

Tol Eressea

Jun 25 2013, 1:15am

Post #2 of 15 (512 views)
Sorry [In reply to] Can't Post

but i have every fair right to judge it as a stand alone film, because that is what it is...Or dont SW fans appreciate and judge any one of the different chapters by itself? They do.

Just like i appreciated fellowship as a film, i can appreciate TH as a film as well.

Yes it is originally one book turned- by greed, ego, disorientation, creative decision making? take your pic - into a trilogy, but every one who sits in the theater, can says afterwards, if they like it or not.

Just because its one third of the story, for me, its neither here nor there. It could be brilliant with just one third. What matters is the cinematic quality of the finished product.

As for giving jackson a benefit of the doubt, well....since i understand his style as a filmmaker i dont need to give him the aforementioned benefit, because i dont expect him to do anything unjackson and to verge into Peter Weir territory, for instance or some such great director Wink

Vous commencez m'ennuyer avec le port!!!

Tol Eressea

Jun 25 2013, 1:44am

Post #3 of 15 (469 views)
judging [In reply to] Can't Post

I will always be of the opinion that people are free to judge things as they see fit, whether it be by a trilogy as a whole or by each chapter in comparison with another. If a person wishes to compare, say, TE FOTR to TE AUJ, then that is a fair comparison because they are similar entities. Now, if someone were to compare, say, AUJ to the entire LOTR EE trilogy, that would not be a fair comparison, because they as a whole are different entities. Scientifically, the first instance would be comparing apples to apples, but the second instance would be comparing apples to oranges.

I never said that someone could not express their opinions. I merely wished to remind everyone that there is another factor to consider when evaluating a film in comparison to another and, while I admit I haven't read many of the repetitive threads lately, of the ones I have read this particular factor has not been mentioned yet that I can remember.

As long as comments/critiques/opinions are not inflammatory and lend themselves to friendly discussion, I am all for it Smile I love a good discussion-it broadens the mind and leads oneself and others to conclusions they may not have otherwise thought of Smile

Half Elven Daughter of Celethian of the Woodland Realm


Jun 25 2013, 1:59am

Post #4 of 15 (432 views)
I totally agree with you [In reply to] Can't Post

I will wait for the entirety of The Hobbit to be released in EE version to judge. I enjoyed Fellowship in the theater but when I saw the EE version of it and the final two in the trilogy, I can not enjoy the theater versions. I have only seen essence the introduction to the story. I will wait for the extended version of the trilogy to judge how well it was made.

Why the insistence on a rush to judgement?

Misty Mountain Hop

Jun 25 2013, 3:34am

Post #5 of 15 (382 views)
I agree. Here's my opinion... [In reply to] Can't Post

Another difference that I have noticed, and for me, it stands out more than anything else, is that the LOTR is simply darker in every aspect. With LOTR, every moment is critical, every character could slip away from the fellowship and find a quick death. One wrong move by Frodo and the fate of the world is doomed. There is SO much riding on the quest of destroying the ring. That, for me, is what is so amazing about LOTR.

With the Hobbit, it's a much lighter tone. There's a lot more comedy, many more moments of relaxation and adventure, and you don't feel that any characters are in that much peril, which pretty much follows the book through the first film, AUJ.

Now, comparing the first movie of each series, it again shows that "darkness" has such a large role. With Fellowship, we had multiple deaths, the 'Breaking of the Fellowship', and almost all hope lost. Frodo almost dies, Merry and Pippin are captured, Gandalf is gone, Boromir is gone, and evil seems to be taking over. Where is any of that kind of stuff in the Hobbit? (SPOILER) No one dies in the first film, there were a few moments where a dwarf almost died, but it wasn't as serious, besides Thorin. In the end. they are all together, all in tact, and ready for more of their adventure.

My final point. Bilbo goes There and Back Again, meaning that he went on an adventure, and when he returned, he wanted more adventures. He changed, but for the better. He loved elves, Mirkwood, the Lonely Mtn, and all of that. Whereas Frodo goes on his "adventure" and he doesn't come back the same person. He will always remember that terrible journey, and feel its pain. We all know that so many of the characters are going to survive these films, and that certain things already happen in the future, that it's more of a "sit back and enjoy this movie" instead of on the edge of your seat one. So in my mind, LOTR is so much better in a sense that it's much more serious and perilous as opposed to the Hobbit.

I love every single one of these movies just as much as the next, but before they even made The Hobbit, I knew that they could not come near LOTR in that regard. They are great stories, but nothing like the grand quest that takes place in Lord of the Rings.

The Shire

Jun 25 2013, 4:08am

Post #6 of 15 (364 views)
The Lighter Tone [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree wholeheartedly that much of the criticism directed at The Hobbit stems from comparisons to LotR and the difference in tone of the two stories. There was a gravity to LotR, an epic, mythic quality, that is lacking from The Hobbit - film AND book. I read The Hobbit after I read LotR and, while I enjoyed it as a trip back to Middle Earth, it didn't have nearly the emotional impact on me that LotR did. LotR is poetic, almost Biblical - a tone that I felt PJ captured very well in the films. But The Hobbit isn't like that. The stakes are lower, the quest arguably isn't as important, the characters are not quite as grave and dangerous as the ones we meet in LotR. And there's nothing wrong with that - it's still a good story. But you can't compare the two, for that very reason.

As far as I'm concerned, people are free to judge The Hobbit alone, as one film, theatrical version or EE. I, for one, love it, and I expect that the EE will make me love it more. But it seems to me that, in some cases, people aren't judging The Hobbit on its own merits at all. In many cases it seems people judged it before they ever walked into the theater. The whole issue of it being turned into three movies, for one thing, seems to have poisoned many people against it - and I can't quite figure out why. Is PJ going to rake in a whole lot of money for these films? Sure, and I don't begrudge him a dime of it. This film has brought me a lot of enjoyment and I'm glad there are two more to come; I'll pay my money gladly until the day I feel that PJ and company have desecrated the spirit of Tolkien's work. And I'm sorry, but I haven't seen anything in The Hobbit or LotR that comes even remotely close to that.

I discovered Tolkien's writings through seeing LotR, too, and I have since devoured his works, Middle Earth related or otherwise. I will always be grateful to Peter Jackson for this, and so of course I'm willing to give him some leeway to tell these stories in the way that he envisions them. When I watch these movies, I don't see naked avarice at play, but a genuine love of these stories on the part of everyone involved and in the attention given to the tiniest details of Middle Earth. Are there changes, new characters, timelines altered? Yes, but that's part of the process of adapting the printed word into a film. You can't lift a novel off the page and onto the screen wholesale, and even if you could, why would you? Film allows you to expand and enrich a world, and as a fan of Middle Earth I will never be sorry to see more of it.


Jun 25 2013, 12:00pm

Post #7 of 15 (304 views)
I dont compare LOTR with AUJ [In reply to] Can't Post

the stories and tone are completely different, albeit the same world. But you can take each film as seperate entities, Simply put the quality of Fellowship was vastly superior to AUJ in every way, The changes to Fellowship I can understand were due to time constraints or setting up of a character, but the amount of padding in AUJ is unjustified. I have just watched a purists edit of AUJ, all Azog, Radagast, gross out jokes and hunting orcs has been taken out, its more faithful to the book and I only wish I had seen this version at the cinema. Ten years ago, when I walked out of the cinema havng watched Fellowship I was in awe and I hadnt yet seen the full trilogy, I walked out of AUJ and I was very disappointed.

(This post was edited by Elenorflower on Jun 25 2013, 12:02pm)


Jun 25 2013, 12:45pm

Post #8 of 15 (280 views)
But Elenorflower, are you not comparing AUJ with the LotR trilogy? [In reply to] Can't Post

The first time I saw AUJ I really liked it but was a bit taken aback by the difference in tone to the LotR movies. I think I wanted more LotR and was comparing AUJ to the trilogy.

Then I remembered way back to the first time I read The Hobbit after having read LotR. I was very disappointed in TH because I wanted more LotR. The Hobbit was a goofy little story about a bunch of bumbling idiots on a silly quest. Where was the grandeur, the urgency, the terror and the exhilaration of LotR? The tone and execution were totally different. Later I came to appreciate and love The Hobbit for itself.

So I changed my mind about AUJ almost immediately. I feel that the tone of PJs Hobbit is more in keeping with the tone of the book than that of LotR, as it should be. I would have made is a little less cartoony (only a little) but Im not making these movies.

For me AUJ works. I could do without some things (bird poop, belching etc), but overall I really like the padding, especially Radagast and the White Council. No fan edits for me!

Tol Eressea

Jun 25 2013, 1:34pm

Post #9 of 15 (240 views)
well [In reply to] Can't Post

like eleanor points out , i take as two separate entities and i appreciate them in their own terms...

Now comparisons of auj to the whole lotr trilogy in terms of satisfaction might be premature, however, comparisons and discussions about the style of filmmaking, the aesthetic, the visuals, the camera usage, the cgi, the adaptational choices, the approach form the writers and director, thats all fair i think at this point.

Vous commencez m'ennuyer avec le port!!!

Forum Admin / Moderator

Jun 25 2013, 2:41pm

Post #10 of 15 (238 views)
Funny. I read The Hobbit first [In reply to] Can't Post

and it took me a long time to like Frodo. He replaced by beloved Bilbo and I didn't want that to happen. The Hobbit is still first in my heart, and while I love the LOTR movies, I think I will love The Hobbit movies even more.

It's interesting how our first experience with Tolkien's books can have an influence on our reaction to the movies. Not in all cases, of course, but sometimes our first reading impacts which of the movies we prefer.


Jun 25 2013, 2:55pm

Post #11 of 15 (237 views)
i dont think so [In reply to] Can't Post

because i definately did not want to see the Hobbit to look or feel like LOTR, in fact i didnt like to see Frodo, nor will I be pleased to see Legolas no matter how much I liked him in LOTR. Also I found the cartoony tone you mentioned in AUJ totally wrong, yes, they were a bumbling grumbling shower and they did put themselves in very silly situations, but there is a certain Faerie quality (that beautiful but deadly realm) about the book that attracts me greatly, its power is at its greatest in Mirkwood, the fairy lights and sounds of sweet music and feasting that lures them on in their desperate plight, only to vanish like a mirage before their anguished gaze. I missed that feeling in AUJ.


Jun 26 2013, 3:00am

Post #12 of 15 (150 views)
So true [In reply to] Can't Post

AUJ came across as childish, when it should have come across as beautiful, witty, and enchanting.

"You're love of the halflings leaf has clearly slowed your mind"

The Shire

Jun 26 2013, 3:49am

Post #13 of 15 (148 views)
Personal Opinions [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
AUJ came across as childish, when it should have come across as beautiful, witty, and enchanting.

I disagree. Does it have silly moments far more likely to appeal to children than adults? Yes - and if you're making a film meant to appeal to a wide range of ages (which I assume is every film not given an R rating), what's wrong with that? I could have done without the belching and the snotty troll, but I'm not going to let those minor moments ruin the rest of the film for me! (I could have done without dwarf-tossing jokes in LotR, but it didn't spoil the trilogy for me). And I thought the film was enchanting and beautiful. Seeing young Bilbo in Bag End, his reluctance to go on the journey and his change of mind; arriving in Rivendell, reading the moon runes; the riddles in the dark; Erebor being attacked and falling into ruin; the Battle of Azanulbizar - these things were all quite enchanting and beautiful to me. And I don't see how the movie is any less witty than the book. My favorite line in the whole book is Gandalf's about the invention of golf, and that's in the movie almost verbatim!

So it really all comes down to personal preferences, and you can't blame the filmmakers for differences of opinion.


Jun 26 2013, 4:00am

Post #14 of 15 (162 views)
The problem is [In reply to] Can't Post

If you're making a film to appeal to a wide audience, then why alienate a majority of the audience in the process? Don't get me wrong, there were scenes in AUJ that I thought did a very good job of appealing to both young and old audiences. I just feel those moments were to few and far between.

It annoys me when a film talks down to kids with its use of comedy. Why not make a film that will grow up with a child?

You are right though, it's all opinions. If you enjoyed it, that's great. I just think things could have been done a little bit wiser.

"You're love of the halflings leaf has clearly slowed your mind"

Tol Eressea

Jun 26 2013, 5:58pm

Post #15 of 15 (99 views)
so glad you are on your way to an adventure! [In reply to] Can't Post

I live in an area where there are many people who are very conservative (my school is the one Nova did a four hour special on because they tried to introduce Intelligent Design into a science class). They either view imaginative tales (sci-fi or fantasy) as The Root of All Evil, or they just don't get it. On the other hand, I worked with a Mormon girl who I thought was going to be very conservative, and her entire family loved the Harry Potter series, because they understood it WAS A STORY.

Kudos for forming your own life, for getting out of the Hobbit hole and going on an adventure.

I am a fan of the Tolkien books, BUT it took playing D&D (in which I rolled up a character and the DM said "Play an Elf." and I said, "What, like Hermie in Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer???" and he said, "Read LOTR."... and seeing the Bakshi debacle (and wanting to see how the story ended)... and having a Star Wars fanatic friend who gave me my first set of LOTR paperbacks. Films are an introduction, for many people, to the world of the books.

And films, necessarily, must tell the tale in a very different way. It is a different medium, and what works in a book does not necessarily work in a film. That doesn't mean you can just turn the whole tale into something else, but you do have to tell it a slightly different way. Also, each new generation, each new audience, will need a different storytelling style.

One of the things that PJ has, which I have seen go missing from some other movies and their creators (oh, let's say, Oz the Great and Powerful, Tangled)... is that he has a very large Inner 12 Year Old who shows creative energy and delight in what he's doing.

Go outside and play...


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