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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Revisiting The Hobbit movies
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Chen G.

Feb 23, 2:44pm

Post #26 of 125 (21684 views)
So I've rewatched this film, too [In reply to] Can't Post

which I didn't do in a long, long while; and I shall watch the other two before long. I've made it into something of a roadshow, with suites of Howard Shore's score in between the pair of blurays, exit music after the credits, etcetra.

This film is gorgeous. It looks like it was shot on 65mm like an old epic, and I couldn't think of a more appropriate format for Middle Earth. Jackson uses more long takes than in The Lord of the Rings, which is a great choice to help "sell" the setting.

I like that this particular film is the lighter of the six, physical humour and all. It gives it a unique flavour, and allows for escalation to occur in the next entries, as the story turns much, much darker and more confronting.

The opening prologue does a similar function to that of The Fellowship of the Ring: its an action-opening (like a James Bond or Indiana Jones film) to "hook" us into the film. What makes the prologue such a unique "Peter Jackson device is that it also sets the stakes and the antagonist (Sauron in The Lord of the Rings, Smaug here). But, unlike Fellowship, here we also meet our protagonist for the trilogy: Thorin.

In a world of tentpole franchises rehashing The Hero's Journey narrative (Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Marvel, The Dark Knight), it was really refreshing to see this trilogy focusing on a tragic character, and this first film was crucial to setting up his positive attributes before he spirals down. Here, he's heroic, he puts himself in danger, and while he doesn't care for Bilbo, he risks himself numerous times to save him.

Watching it as if it were a roadshow helps alleviate the pacing issues, but they're nonetheless present. The plot progression is kind of staggared: it only ever really picks up (fortunately, gloriously so!) once the Dwarves leave Rivendell. The entire first half of the journey, when there isn't a present antagonist and the objective (Erebor) is too remote, should have been raced through much more quickly.

***1/2 out of *****

(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 23, 2:44pm)


Feb 23, 2:46pm

Post #27 of 125 (21677 views)
I would agree with a lot here [In reply to] Can't Post

For me AUJ is by far the best but that isn't say a massive amount. AUJ is about 6/10, the start of the film is the best bit, and goes downhill and the other two films are really not very good at all.

All posts are to be taken as my opinion.

Thor 'n' Oakenshield

Feb 23, 4:10pm

Post #28 of 125 (21654 views)
Yeah, Thorin is the main character - but Bilbo is the protagonist [In reply to] Can't Post

Or, at least, that's how I see it. And I always feel like they both get relatively equal screentime: I don't know why, but I never felt like Bilbo was cheated of any screentime by Thorin. Certainly not to the point where the story should be renamed "The Dwarf". The story is about Thorin, yes, but it's seen through Bilbo's eyes.

Chen G.

Feb 23, 4:23pm

Post #29 of 125 (21649 views)
Yep [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
The story is about Thorin, yes, but it's seen through Bilbo's eyes.

Couldn't put it better myself.

Bilbo's the audience surrogate.

(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 23, 4:23pm)


Feb 23, 7:24pm

Post #30 of 125 (21616 views)
It would be irrelevant for me too... [In reply to] Can't Post

If I would have enjoyed the movies like you. I was open for changes and additions but it did not turn out great for me at all, except a few parts.


Feb 23, 7:49pm

Post #31 of 125 (21627 views)
same here [In reply to] Can't Post

I was open to changes for the sake of adapting it to film if it still managed to remain true to Tolkien, and resonate with me as a lifelong fan of the book. Unfortunately it did not, and I now find it incredibly difficult to muster any amount of enthusiasm to see PJ and Co. are associated with anything in regards to Tolkien and his works.

Chen G.

Feb 24, 12:40pm

Post #32 of 125 (21574 views)
Rewatched The Desolation of Smaug [In reply to] Can't Post

I love this film, warts and all. If it came out with minor trimmings and without being preceded and followed by the other, lesser films, I think this film could have been a highly-acclaimed entry. Whenever I'm in the mood for watching just one film from the six, I always turn to this one.

If the first film focused on the character of Bilbo, this film is kind of about the company in its entirety - up to a point, anyway. After the midpoint, the film does have a lot of subplots, but the editing never lets the story get away from the main plot. Towards the climax, where a less assured director would have pilled the different subplots one ontop of the other, Jackson instead strips them out of the story one by one.

In spite of the titular dragon being the most spectacular in film history, you can't really say that this film has a central antagonist: Smaug is only in it for sixteen minutes, and Azog is in it even less. Instead, it is the demons within Thorin that form the true antagonist of the picture. Even when he reprimands Thranduil, we understand his point of view, and yet we sense his own vanity and spite, at the same time.

The film contains less action beats that stretch credulity like the previous film, and most of these are contained within the first half of the film. While it is considered a darker chapter, the sense of foreboding doesn't seep into the narrative too much until two-thirds of the way into the story, so the first two-thirds still have that action-adventure feeling, with beautiful vistas and lively colour, as well as the more over-the-top action moments.

While I don't want to get lost in talking about the setpieces, I have to mention Mirkwood as a standout. So much the delirious impact of the forest's air is presented in truly cinematic ways: with light, colour, movement, composition and sound. Its great stuff, and benefits enormously from the extended cut.

There are two moments that "sell" this film, for me, one of which coincides with the shift in tone: The first is when the Dwarves behold the silhouette of the mountain. Its a delicate, Spielberg-like moment of awe and reverence that I find immensly touching. The second is when Thorin is being ferried across to Erebor. Its a similar beat, but here Thorin's zeal for the quest has increased significantly, and the moment becomes dour. That's when the film truly turns dark, and I love it for that.

****1/2 out of *****

(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 24, 12:50pm)

Paulo Gabriel

Feb 24, 7:33pm

Post #33 of 125 (21520 views)
I don't understand this... [In reply to] Can't Post

LOTR had similar flaws, yet people still say it's the greatest trilogy ever made. I guess everyone is entitled to their opinions, but it's annoying when contradictions are so present.

LOTR had bad lines. ''Nobody tosses a Dwarf'' should NEVER belong in FOTR. Gimli makes a lot of bad assertions in TTT and ROTK. Silly action sequences: bingo. Crude bathroom room: bingo.

I can accept your criticisms, but only if you admit that LOTR had the same problems, even if on a somewhat lesser scale.


Feb 24, 7:59pm

Post #34 of 125 (21506 views)
absolutely... [In reply to] Can't Post

LotR most certainly had similar flaws , they weren't quite as frequent as they were in TH, however, LotR is far from perfect in many many instances.

Paulo Gabriel

Feb 24, 8:39pm

Post #35 of 125 (21494 views)
The truth is... [In reply to] Can't Post

that PJ and Co. grew more and more self-indulgent with time, with the culmination being what we see in The Hobbit trilogy. I think almost everyone agrees that both TH and LOTR are better in their book versions.


Feb 24, 8:41pm

Post #36 of 125 (21488 views)
yes... [In reply to] Can't Post

I am in agreement with this.


Feb 24, 10:23pm

Post #37 of 125 (21468 views)
Thanks Kili, for more or less expressing my feelings about AUJ. [In reply to] Can't Post

By the way, I too liked the Stone Giants. But I like Radagast except for the stick insect. Azog and Bolg donít bother me, aside from the fact that Orcs are boring.

I go back and forth between AUJ and DOS as my favourite of the trilogy. I love AUJ because it is closer to the book and DOS because it is not, because it expands the story and characters into a larger Middle-earth more like that of LotR. DOS is close behind in my regard, especially the EE.

To my mind The Hobbit trilogy, for all its childish humour, is something of an adult version of the childrenís book in that its scope is wider and more complex. That doesnít make it better than the book, just different. A lovely literal adaptation of the childrenís book for children and nostalgic adults could be made but not by these filmmakers and not after PJís LotR.

I wouldnít say that the books are better than the movies, nor would I say that the converse is true. The movies are one artistís vision (with hundreds of collaborators) of the books. There could and likely will be other visions and versions, but these six movies satisfy me.

While I agree that PJ became more self-indulgent in RotK (skull avalanche?), to my mind TH movies are more the result of a deliberate change of tone, to a lighter and sillier ambiance which the director at least felt better suited The Hobbit. As in the book, that tone changes upon the Companyís arrival at Erebor but it had been darkening throughout DOS. CGI, big action sequences and humour, sometimes dark and sometime childish, are all part of PJís toolbox and were to be expected. He is what he is and how TH movies turned out was pretty much predictable.

It seems that we are back to - fidelity to the book = good movie, divergence from the original = bad movie. I strongly disagree.


Feb 25, 12:29am

Post #38 of 125 (21455 views)
Oh, for goodness sake! [In reply to] Can't Post

Look, you don't like it, fine, but DON'T say he "changed basically everything," that is simply NOT TRUE! I've read the books and I know what the story is. The Good Morning scene, straight from the book. Blunt the knives - book. Trollshaws - book. Rivendell - book. Goblin tunnels - yeah, some OTT action but still, it was in the book. Need I go on? No, didn't think so.


Feb 25, 12:31am

Post #39 of 125 (21446 views)
Exactly! [In reply to] Can't Post



Feb 25, 12:44am

Post #40 of 125 (21439 views)
Not better, just different [In reply to] Can't Post

I for one cannot say the books were better, because I honestly didn't care much for "The Hobbit." I've said why several times, a quick summary is underdeveloped characters, Gandalf disappearing & reappearing for poorly explained reasons, going all the way to the final battle & then having Bilbo get knocked out & missing it (completely baffled why Tolkien did that), and killing off both nephews - yet another thing that was exactly the same as the book. I appreciate that PJ at least attempted to develop the Dwarves better, and the addition of the Dol Goldur subplot (ALSO from the LoTR Appendices, not fanfic material) helped explain just why Gandalf had to bug out. Plus it tied The Hobbit to LoTR. Some are book fans, some are movie fans, and most people on this site can actually like both. It's not impossible.


Feb 25, 1:55am

Post #41 of 125 (21428 views)
If anyone likes long in depth YouTube reviews [In reply to] Can't Post

Check this one out.


Itís not just someone talking to the camera itís actually with movie clips etc Redlettermedia style but not so negative. I think it sums up what 90% of people on here think about AUJ. He has a review for DOS too.

Chen G.

Feb 25, 6:20am

Post #42 of 125 (21391 views)
Also Michael Winn Johnson [In reply to] Can't Post

A screenwriter, who spoke very favourably of The Hobbit, especially The Desolation of Smaug:


But I agree with Noria and Kilidoescartwheels: Films and books aren't comparable. Each is its own thing. You can critique the book as a book, or the film as a film.

At the end of the day, the basic plot structure and major themes of The Hobbit are there in the trilogy. That's enough as far as adaptation goes.

Battle of the Five Armies coming soon!

(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 25, 6:28am)


Feb 25, 8:02am

Post #43 of 125 (21359 views)
LOTR had the same problems but... [In reply to] Can't Post

these scenes were very short compared to those pompous ones in TH. Just take a look at the barrel riding.

Chen G.

Feb 25, 8:23am

Post #44 of 125 (21352 views)
Fun action scene! [In reply to] Can't Post

If you want to talk more specifically about the Bombur ricocheting out of the water, than fine, but the sequence as a whole is memorable and unique.

One of the important things about films is for them to be iconic, which is to say that, if you ask a person about the film several years removed from its theatrical run, there'll be something for them to latch unto: "oh, right, that's the film where *that* happened." The barrel sequence, as the Smaug sequences, fit that bill.

(This post was edited by Chen G. on Feb 25, 8:28am)


Feb 25, 9:55pm

Post #45 of 125 (21251 views)
Well, the other two come in the mail next week [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm nervous, but excited. In the meantime I think I will watch and review the Rankin-Bass!


Feb 26, 8:54pm

Post #46 of 125 (21165 views)
Watched part of it [In reply to] Can't Post

and I don't think the guy could have been more off-base if he'd tried. He didn't think Bilbo's finding the ring was important to the plot??? Did he even read the books??? For someone who claims to love the LOTR movies so much, that statement was both baffling and made me think he didn't know what he was talking about.


Feb 27, 5:17am

Post #47 of 125 (21136 views)
The next two EEs are in the mail. In the meantime, I decided to watch Rankin-Bass... [In reply to] Can't Post

The next two EEs are in the mail. In the meantime, I watched the Rankin-Bass Hobbit, which I had seen as a kid, and didn't really enjoy it.

The animation is mostly quite poor. The songs are cute in small doses but quickly become overbearing - I thought "The Greatest Adventure" was charming as the opening credits song but it's so overused that I even said out loud "shut up"! And while it's very literally faithful (though with Beorn and the Arkenstone cut), everything just feels so episodic and disjointed that it's hard to feel any real connection or build any plot momentum. The dwarves' transformation into warriors is so abrupt, for example, and then Thorin's alliance with Thranduil even more so. Two very bizarre, though fairly harmless, changes toward the end are killing half the dwarves off for no reason and having Gandalf hint that he knows about the One Ring.

While simple bad execution with the animation and other things is a big reason the movie doesn't work, it also shows the dangers of an overly literal adaptation I think. It captures very little of the book in spirit for me.

The Erebor flashback is good and the Smaug scenes (where I think they spent most of the animation budget) are decent. Besides that...meh. Gollum and Riddles in the dark is a catastrophe. Even judged as a children's cartoon, it hasn't aged well. They make a decent stab at developing Bilbo's character, but almost everything around him feels so thin that it isn't very compelling.

(This post was edited by kzer_za on Feb 27, 5:23am)

Chen G.

Feb 27, 5:53am

Post #48 of 125 (21128 views)
Rankin and Bass [In reply to] Can't Post

There are a couple of principal issues for me with the Rankin and Bass adaptation. One is how incredibly Americanized it is - compared to the British sensibilities and almost-entirely commonwealth-based cast of the Jackson adaptation.

There's also the issue of the design of the Woodland Elves. Clearly "Elves" were confused for sort-of Goblin in this work, although The High Elves came out unscathed, so go figure.

I will say I liked one thing: the opening narration very well sets-up something that the live-action films never did explicitly, which is to set Middle Earth in our own prehistory.

Chen G.

Mar 1, 1:53pm

Post #49 of 125 (20280 views)
The Battle of the Five Armies [In reply to] Can't Post

I know this is a lot of people's least favourite, and I can kind of see why. It certainly doesn't join Return of the King in the extremly-exclusive category of satisfying third entries. But I do like it more than An Unexpected Journey.

I love that this film opens with the death of the dragon. Its a similar structural concept to, say, The Joker being caught only half-way through The Dark Knight, but taken to the extreme. Where any forumlaic adventure story ends with the slaying of the dragon, here the intrigue only launches off of his death.

In lieu of an adventure story, the first part of the this film - contrary to what the title will tell you - is not a war film, but a political thriller. The action is centered in one location and revolves around a refugee crisis and remunerations.

Even once the battle kicks in, the underlying theme of isolationism continues to underpin the narrative: at different stages of the battle, both Thranduil and Thorin refuse to offer aid to their would-be allies.

The subplots drag this film down a bit, but fast-forwarding through a handful of Tauriel and Kili's lines, one superhero-moment of Legolas and a comedic beat of Alfrid's - a grand total of two minutes - alleviated the issue greatly.

The grim tone of the picture can seem distasteful to some, but I think it is conducive to telling Thorin's tragedy. Because of course when he does charge out of the Mountain, he ends up playing into Azog's trap. I find it all incredibly haunting.

To comment about one specific change to the narrative of the book, the film turns The Battle of the Five Armies into the opening skirmish of the War of the Ring, which I love. Tolkien did of course explain in the appendices that had the Orcs won, it would have served Sauron's cause (and guarenteed his victory in the War of the Ring) all the same.

Interestingly, the end of the picture always puts me in the mood to pop The Fellowship of the Ring on, which is in fact what I'm about to do right now. So, for a prequel, it did its job.

**** out of *****

(This post was edited by Chen G. on Mar 1, 1:58pm)

Thor 'n' Oakenshield

Mar 2, 3:49am

Post #50 of 125 (19966 views)
I agree on many points [In reply to] Can't Post

For instance, BOT5A is definitely my favorite of the Hobbit trilogy, better than AUJ in my opinion - but I feel like way too much stuff gets dragged on, and on, and then on a little more. The entire scene where the refugees are fighting over blankets...*snore*
Then there's Alfrid, who, again, deserves to be fast-forwarded through in this film. You've got Legolas and Tauriel going off to Gundabad for basically no reason, and then coming back. The highlight of the first act is definitely the Dol Guldur stuff, for me: I always love that bit, and it is, in my opinion, the only part of the film that is too short! I also feel that the color palette of the film makes it feel a bit more subdued, and dull: the first film has a constantly changing palette, going from bright colors in Hobbiton to the autumnal ambience of Rivendell, to the dark Misty Mountains, then to the harsh orange Goblin-town, and so on. But Battle of Five Armies is almost entirely a flat earth-color, sprinkled with snow. The colors just bore me, and don't do anything to keep me visually interested.
It is, however, my favorite of the trilogy: Thorin, perfect. Bilbo, perfect. Gandalf, Galadriel, and the White Council, all perfect. The characters are what matters most to me, and in this film they are - most of them - well crafted and each their storyline - in most cases - brought to a good conclusion. Obviously, Tauriel stands out as one character who simply...disappears, because apparently after Kili's death she's not even worth mentioning in passing.

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