The Hobbit on Steroids

In a public library, there waited The Hobbit. And in a cineplex, there screened The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

These two things are related. But only somewhat.

I vividly remember Mrs. Tuttle, a children’s librarian in Portland, Oregon, putting a book by J. R. R. Tolkien in my hands when I was only seven years old. The book began simply, introducing me to a hobbit and his habits. Bilbo Baggins was a likeable, fastidious fellow, fond of good food, smoking, and safety. I liked him. But he was clearly a little too comfortable and contented, lacking any interest in engaging the world beyond his neighborhood.

The excitement in Tolkien’s narrative began with the arrival of a wandering wizard on Bilbo’s doorstep. That led to a parade of unexpected visitors—dwarves gathering to plan their quest eastward into a dragon’s lair to regain their conquered kingdom. Bilbo became their reluctant accomplice, accepting the risky job of “burglar.”

He’d suffer a near-death ordeal at the hands of trolls, and recover among elves in the mysterious beauty of Rivendell. Captured by goblins, tested by a subterranean fiend called Gollum, and driven up into treetops to escape hungry wolves—this hobbit pilgrim’s progress intensified from one adventure to the next.

The movie, on the other hand, does things differently.

Filmmaker Peter Jackson, having already produced three massive Lord of the Rings films, knows we’re familiar with Middle-earth’s thrills, enchantments, and evils. Adapting The Hobbit—a small and simple prologue by comparison—he can’t resist the temptation to snatch the narrative away from the young children (and children at heart) for whom it was intended. He’s driven to burden it with the concerns, nightmares, and trials of that far-more-adult adventure.

His movie straps us to a rocket and launches us into a dramatic tale of Middle-earth history. We ride a rollercoaster through an ancient dwarf kingdom inside a mountain and the settlement called Lake Town on the water outside. Once we’ve glimpsed their glory days, we’re shaken by terrifically terrifying scenes of a dragon smashing the town and filling the mountain with fire.

Swords, shields, arrows, flames, screams, madness, chaos… death! And we haven’t even heard “In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.” Not yet.

Having dazzled us with thunderous destruction, Jackson allows the movie to quiet down for Bilbo’s introduction to the wandering wizard. But the scene feels incidental, obligatory, just a chance for us to catch our breath.

The arrival of thirteen dwarves steers the movie back toward the novel’s playful richness. A lively bunch, they’re surprisingly distinct in their costumes, hairstyles, voices, and personalities. And when they sing a fireside song about their lost kingdom, there’s magic in that music, just as the book described, rising with sparks through the chimney into a starlit sky.

It’s one of three scenes that kindle genuine wonder, giving us reason to care.

The second highlight is Gollum’s riddle-game. Watching actors act, uninterrupted by vertiginous cinematography and violence, I felt like I’d stepped into another movie altogether. And the scene culminates in a show of compassionate restraint that Rings fans will recognize as a moment crucial to Middle-earth’s salvation.

The third involves enormous eagles. They were a welcome sight in Return of the King. Here, their powerful wingspans and talons are positively breathtaking.

But for each of these pleasures, there are several unnecessary, excessive scenes of crisis and inconsequential calamity. The visit to Rivendell doesn’t come until Jackson unleashes a vicious orc swarm to attack the dwarves. Later, they’re caught in a prolonged battle between “stone giants,” who appear only briefly in the book. Still, nobody seems capable of injury. Thus, there’s little suspense.

Worse, Jackson dreams up “the Pale Orc,” a nemesis for dwarf-captain Thorin Oakenshield. It’s about as unimaginative as anything these storytellers could have invented, staging an inevitable showdown.

Tolkien was better than this. The Hobbit never stooped to mere smack-down storytelling. Bilbo was heroic precisely because he saw typical warlike behaviors as madness.

“Saruman believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check,” says Gandalf to Galadriel. “But that is not what I’ve found. I’ve found that it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love.”

Jackson seems unconvinced. He’s too fond of muscular power, drawn to show characters dueling instead of developing. He’ll seize any mention of strife in the story and exaggerate it into absurdity. (The dwarves’ escape from goblin captivity is a suspense-free amplification of Fellowship’s Moria sequence.)

Make no mistake—when it comes to proving himself the world’s greatest producer of fantasy spectacle, Jackson is four-for-four.

But where Tolkien served the head and the heart, Jackson serves the appetite for adrenalin rush. In this sense, he’s Bilbo’s opposite. He’s only comfortable doing what is outrageous and chaotic. For him, it would be a real adventure to delve into quieter moments, soul-searching, and a thoughtful sense of pacing and progress. But every time he takes one step forward, he stumbles two steps back into the familiar.

“All good stories deserve embellishment,” Gandalf tells Bilbo. That’s not true if embellishment contradicts (and even crushes) what made a story good in the first place. Presented in 3D—at the much-hyped forty-eight frames per second—An Unexpected Journey has more in common with amusement parks than literature.

A friend predicted that making The Hobbit into a trilogy would make the story feel like Bilbo himself felt when he said he felt “all thin … stretched … like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.” She was right. Just as steroids compromise an athlete’s integrity, Jackson’s injections compromise The Hobbit. Imagine what the inevitable extended edition will be like.

As fun as it is to watch, this is not Tolkien’s The Hobbit. That enchanting story of a peaceable traveler who knew the virtue of restraint is now lost to the vision of filmmakers who have none.

  • Dorfl

    I saw it yesterday, and I agree with pretty much all of this.

  • jeff jeffington

    While I feel that the chase before entering Rivendell was extraneous, almost everything else was from canon. You’re letting childhood nostalgia, how you feel and remember the book rather than the actual text of the book, cloud your review – a bad practice. Many of your complaints are grounded in the original adventure, but you ascribe them to Jackson.

    The “pale orc” isn’t invented whole cloth; it’s Azog of Moria. Exactly as the movie says, he slew Thrór in 2790 when dwarves fleeing the sack of Erebor tried to recapture Moria. In fact, the books were more gruesome. He tortured Thrór, beheaded him, branded his name across Thrór’s head and sent the head to the dwarves with a bag of money stuffed in the mouth. Jackson showed restraint, not excess, in that scene. The real deviation from text is that afterwards Thráin, understandably angry, gathered an army and in 2799 attacked the orcs once more, and Azog was killed. (By Dain, King of the Iron Hills, not wounded by Thorin.) The “pale orc” of the film should be Bolg, Azog’s son, rather than Azog himself; but Bolg Azog’s son was indeed a chief of the goblins of the north and did pursue and battle the Company of Thorin.

    The flight from the Great Goblin again, is as described, there simply wasn’t much detail beyond that the Great Goblin was killed and the dwarves fled through the goblin-tunnels, occasionally fighting their way out. There were minor differences from the text (the Great goblin should have been killed at the beginning of the chase, not the end, and Frodo was dropped by Dori during the chase, he didn’t fall on his own before it began) but these are minor, not great inventions out of the air. The goblin-town wasn’t described much in the book, and not much was said about them beyond that they liked complex constructions and engines, gears and wheels and instruments of death and destruction. This seems pretty fitting with the presentation in the film.

    In the book Bilbo isn’t so bewildered as you might remember, and begins accepting his role fairly early. In fact, I would say in the film he takes longer to accept his role in the adventure; recall in the book he decided to *rob* the trolls to test out his burgling skills; when he and the dwarves were captured he wasn’t rescuing ponies; he was /stealing a wallet/. And in the film, in the mountains he decided to leave, since he’s not cut out for adventure, while in the book he never considers abandoning his job once he’s accepted it, and by the time they escape the goblins, he’s pretty well on his way to becoming the leader of the company, not just finally being accepted as a member of the team. In the end, the film was surprisingly faithful to the text, though your memories of the text may not be so faithful to the reality. I suggest you go back and read again.

    • Jeffrey Overstreet

      You say, “While I feel that the chase before entering Rivendell was extraneous, almost everything else was from canon.”

      Yes and no. I knew all about the Azog thing, but I had a 1000-word limit to my review, and had to cut quite a few descriptions of the book-to-screen process.

      I can see the material that *inspired* the “pale orc.” But it’s obvious that he’s a consolidation of two characters who do not play prominent roles in the book… and promoted in a way that upsets the slow-build of the tension in the book.

      And I’m fairly sure there are no scenes in the book involving a Pale Orc who hunts Thorin while Bilbo and the company are on the road. That is invented, and an entirely unnecessary embellishment that serves just to tack on another big, menacing, ugly villain to the story so Jackson can have his juvenile tough-guy-hero-versus-snarling-villain subplot.

      (Let’s not overlook an additional scene that the AV Club describes as “a life-or-death chase where orcs pursue Radagast and his rabbit-drawn sledge.” That was a ridiculous sight, and an implausible one, especially since it’s revealed that Gandalf’s company can climb under a rock, step into a tunnel, and boom! They’re at Rivendell!)

      When I interviewed Jackson about The Return of the King, he was very frank about saying that, in short, “audiences want heroes” who win by fighting… and he wants to give us that so (he said) we can believe that we can save the world. He expressed grave reservations about weaknesses of the character of Frodo, and rejected outright Tolkien’s desire to show that “Frodo failed” and that human history is a “long decline” that can only be redeemed by Providence. That’s a fundamental difference between Jackson and Tolkien as storytellers, and it affects all kinds of decisions in Jackson’s films… from the behavior of the ents to the climactic scene at Mount Doom.

      And I read The Hobbit every couple of years, so yes, I’m quite familiar with it.

      You say: “The flight from the Great Goblin again, is as described, there simply wasn’t much detail beyond that the Great Goblin was killed and the dwarves fled through the goblin-tunnels, occasionally fighting their way out.”

      So… it’s “as described” and yet there “wasn’t much detail.” Again, the detail that Jackson adds, makes this ordeal even more elaborate than the Mines of Moria sequence, which is a poor choice when “The Hobbit” has always been a simpler story. Worse, the goblin-escape sequence is full of falls and spills and trials that the dwarves seem to survive without any apparent bruises when it should have caused all kinds of damage. After that scene, I didn’t feel a shred of suspense.

      You say, “Bilbo isn’t as bewildered as he might seem….”

      I’m not sure what you’re referring to. I don’t have any argument with your description of Bilbo’s role in the book.

      It’s not nostalgia that I’m feeling. It’s the fact that I know many parents who will wisely keep their kids home from the movies, or regret having taken them, due to the intensity of Jackson’s embellishments (and the scenes that are described very simply in the book are filled out with Two Towers-level ferocity).

      You have your interpretation of the book, I have mine. They’re both based on the details of the book. But I’m only one of a host of die-hard Tolkien fans expressing dismay at what has been introduced and added to the story told in the book, and how it has taken the story from children and given it to moviegoers seeking another move forward in fantasy filmmakers’ ongoing game of battle-scene one-upsmanship.

      For a second opinion, I encourage everyone to consider this review from my favorite film critic, Steven Greydanus at Decent Films. He’s a lifelong Tolkien fan, a stickler for details, and passionate about storytelling for children… like I am. We called each other and compared notes after the screenings, and we had definitely seen the same film and had the same reactions to Jackson’s vision. And lo… turns out he, too, has given the film the same “B-” grade that I turned in at Rotten Tomatoes.

  • T.Martin Lesh.

    Your review also concurs with NPR’s assessment of the film this morning . Seem you may of both saved me a bit of money as well as the aggravation and disappointment of seeing a Tolkien story mis-told . I’ll pass . .. and thanks .

    • Jeffrey Overstreet

      Well, I hate to discourage anybody from skipping the movie. It has enough highlights that I gave it a “Fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes. It’s an enjoyable movie; it just isn’t the great adaptation I was hoping for.

    • NateW

      Everyone I was with (including myself) really enjoyed it despite some extraneous silliness and orcs. Definitely worth seeing! The tone and themes are very faithful to the book overall and, in fact, I found that the movie does a better job than the book of making me care about the quest. In the book I just kept thinking that it seemed like an awfully trite thing for Gandalf to get caught up in. Now I feel like I understand it better.

  • Andrew Shewmaker

    Thanks for your thoughtful review. I imagine you’re right that many of Jackson’s changes are at odds with Bilbo’s character. It’s part of a larger trend in cinema to transform children stories into spectacles more suited to “adults”. Part of me is disappointed, but another part accepts that all stories can and should be retold. It makes us richer to have more versions–more perspectives–of a story. Perhaps we should think of this version as how the story unfolded through Gandalf’s or Thorin’s eyes instead of the orignal as seen through Biblo’s?

    If I were making The Hobbit into a movie, I wouldn’t show Smaug at the beginning. I would allow him to loom mysteriously, shrouded in smoke and shadows. Gandalf, Thorin, and anyone who had seen a dragon would be reluctant to discuss Smaug, and when they do their faces would cloud over and they would shudder or turn or force the conversation to brighter topics. I would avoid even mentions of Smaug until the party was at the footsteps of his lair and I could avoid him no longer because dragons deserve to be built up until the tension threatens to rip your frayed nerves apart.

    But I’m looking forward to seeing the movie — even if it is not quite the retelling that I would prefer. It sounds like it has some wonderful moments and that many artists and actors brought all they had to this movie. I just spent a month in New Zealand, so I can attest that Hobbiton itself is absolutely beautiful.

    • Jeffrey Overstreet

      Good thoughts, Andrew. I think you’ll enjoy the movie. I did. When it’s good, it’s very, very good.

  • David Kern

    Jeff, my fear for the film isn’t so much that’s it not like the book, so much as that’s it’s just not a good film for being stretched too thin. I know that Jackson and Co. purchased Tolkien’s notes on the story, as well as some other work he published, and that large swaths of this new trilogy will cover that material. Which I’m fine with. I don’t have a problem with a series of films that aren’t just THE HOBBIT. But, in your estimation, is this film a poor film or just a poor representation of the book itself?

    ** I don’t mean to suggest this isn’t a valuable review. On the contrary. I’m just curious how the film stands apart in and of itself which the review didn’t seem to discuss. I apologize if I’ve missed it.

    • Jeffrey Overstreet

      David,

      Is it a good film? Yes and no. When it comes to pacing and story arc, no, absolutely not. It’s just a rollercoaster from one scene of extreme tension and violent to another, up and down, up and down. When it comes to memorable moments, or the “three great scenes” definition of a good movie… yes. There are at least three great sequences. But there are more than three sequences that made me wince, and one in particular involving an army of orcs chasing Radagast the Brown (on a rabbit-drawn sleigh) that is preposterously bad.

  • Randy Morrison

    Every movie is the same now. Same stupid effects, same stupid explosions, fart jokes, chase scenes, and dumb downed dialogue. The only difference between this and the new Star Wars or Star Trek or Transformers or whatever is the costumes they wear everything else is fast food crap. It really sucks!

    • Jeffrey Overstreet

      Randy, sometimes it certainly seems like every movie is the same. But I’ve seen a lot of memorable, unique films this year that have kept my excitement about the movies alive. I think The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a good movie… it’s just not the great adaptation I was hoping for.

      Here are a few I saw in 2012 that really impressed me: Moonrise Kingdom, A Separation, The Kid With a Bike, Holy Motors, Lincoln, The Master, Margaret: Extended Cut, The Loneliest Planet, Brave, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Django Unchained, The Avengers, The Cabin in the Woods, Bernie, Skyfall, The Deep Blue Sea, Sinister, Argo, Blue Like Jazz, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Looper.

  • Amy Lama

    I highly enjoy your reviews and respect your opinions, Jeffrey, so this is not at all meant to be critical or argumentative, especially since I have not yet seen the film so I can’t reasonably agree or disagree with anything you said.

    But if I may offer an opinion… In my mind, there are two different ways to view a film adaptation of The Hobbit: as an adaptation of the book, or as a prequel to the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Personally, I can’t see the two coinciding very well. The Hobbit is so different from the Lord of the Rings, I don’t think a film that stayed true to the style of the book would make a good prequel to the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Somehow I can’t see Hugo Weaving’s Elrond or Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel singing, “O tra-la-la-lally, here down in the valley!” :-) However, I also don’t think a prequel to the Lord of the Rings film trilogy can do justice to the book, because, as you said, it essentially changes the story from the lighthearted tale for children it was meant to be.

    So the way I see it, in order for a film adaptation of The Hobbit to be the lighthearted, imaginative adventure it is in the book, it would have to be done separately, without the connections to the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and in order for it to be a good prequel film that fits in with the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, it has to lose some of the essence of the book.

    That is NOT to say the attempt to reconcile the two couldn’t have been better, or that everything Jackson chose to do with the film is justified. I too grow weary of filmmakers’ “ongoing game of battle-scene one-upmanship.” I’m just saying that, in my mind, there is an essential distinction between a faithful adaptation of The Hobbit book and a good prequel to the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Whether this IS a good prequel to the Lord of the Rings film trilogy is another matter, one I can’t comment on until I go see it tomorrow. :-)

    • Jeffrey Overstreet

      Amy, those are all good points.

      I don’t know if this can be considered a “prequel,” technically… since it begins with scenes that take place during The Fellowship of the Ring, and since it frequently assumes we know things that we could only know if we’d seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy already.

      Still, you’re right that the film works better as an addendum to Jackson’s Lord of the Rings than as the original children’s book source. I just happen to think that much of the material is weak enough to diminish the whole more than enhancing the whole.

      Thanks for your comment! I hope you have fun at the movie. For all of my gripes… I did.

  • Josh Wilson

    Like I posted on the DecentFilms Facebook page, this is disappointing, even if predicatable. Does anyone else remember KING KONG? A similar situation actually, in adapting a relatively simple and episodic adventure tale into a bloated mess. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I may actually skip the Hobbit in theaters and check it out when it comes to video.

  • Jane Beth

    I just returned from watching the Hobbit, and being a Tolkien fan since I was in grade 5, (I’m 20 now) I have read every piece of Tolkien I could lay my hands on. I love this movie. Maybe I’m easy to please, and maybe after the next two installments come out I’ll change my mind, but for now, I loved this movie. I’m already planning on seeing it again! I think that this wouldn’t be a correct book-movie adaptation, but for Tolkien fan, I love that they cover so much more back history. I think it sets the LOTR up nicely. Can’t wait for part 2 and 3!

  • Adam

    It seems, when writing this, you were solely focused on pointing out why you didn’t like it… (just the impression I got) Because simply you had doubts going in, I am not sure.
    And to make it clear, the Pale Orc wasn’t a “Peter Jackson dream” or invention. The Orc’s name is Azog and was originally created by Tolkien. Though, it is true… He was not actually a character in the Hobbit.
    As I must agree with you on one thing; the book (most books) is far superior to a movie adaption. No movie can possibly capture the depth, detail and overall experience the author originally intended.
    Of course, we all have our own imaginations and we probably all can say that we would change SOMETHING here and there. Therefore, the writing in a book is for the reader to imagine based on what the writer (Tolkien) writes. Great film I thought. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jeffrey Overstreet

      Adam, thanks for your thoughts.

      But if I had been “solely focused on pointing out why [I] didn’t like it”, I wouldn’t have given five paragraphs to the scenes in the movie that I found to be brilliant.

      As I said in an earlier comment, I was well aware that Azog was one of Tolkien’s inventions. But in a 1000-word review, I couldn’t go into detail about everything. It’s Jackson’s invention that Azog is alive, and that he is playing a part in this story.

      I’m glad you enjoyed it more than I did. I was disappointed, but as I said the review, I found some things that I really enjoyed.

  • James

    I just saw it today. I think you’ll find it enjoyable if you keep your expectations at the right level. No, it’s not going to be LOTR. If you read the LOTR book first, followed by the Hobbit book, the latter would probably be pretty disappointing if you expected it to be something along the same lines.

    At the same time, you can’t expect the Hobbit film to be just like the book. Having come after Jackson’s LOTR, the story had to be told in a different way. All of the grave and important things happening, only hinted at just off the edges of the page, are already known, so the film needs to acknowledge them and fill us in on the backstory.

    Jackson’s attempt at doing this is not entirely successful: Some things work and others don’t. I thought the White Council scene was a bit disappointing after the initial joy at seeing Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman. It was underwritten and uneven. It’s clear that Jackson, Walsh and Boyens had to write the scene from scratch, without a template from Tolkien to adapt (compare the “Council of Elrond” scene in LOTR, long but interesting and critical to advancing the plot; Tolkien devoted a whole chapter to the scene in the book).

    Some of the Radagast stuff was a bit silly, but overall I enjoyed that; yes, he’s pretty dotty, but he’s not a bumbling incompetent. The film makes clear that he is surprisingly powerful despite his initial appearance; I look forward to seeing more of him, hopefully not as comic relief.

    I was somewhat disappointed in the use of CGI. Not as many “bigatures” this time, with more sets and backgrounds being computer generated. It’s well done as it goes, but as the camera sweeps about, it has more of a video-game feel than the majestic, soaring shots around, over, under and through the wonderfully detailed scale models in LOTR.

    Also, regrettably all the baddies are computer generated, and I didn’t like the cartoonish design of the main villains (Azog and the Great Goblin). Hard to feel suspense in the battles with them.

    There are also too many cartoonish CGI-constructed action scenes that go beyond the limits of plausibility (in Goblin Town, the whole company surfing/riding a roller coaster ride of collapsing wooden scaffolding and bridges hundreds of feet to the ground completely unscathed is one; another is the over-the-top stone giant fight in the mountains.)

    One great triumph of CGI is the familiar-but-improved Gollum 3.0. He’s terrific, and his scene with Bilbo is the best in the film.

    Okay, I know most of these comments are criticisms, but I DID enjoy it and look forward to the next two installments. It’s a long, leisurely, rollicking, spectacular adventure story, but without the truckloads of pathos and thematic and philosophical depth of LOTR.

    The only times I got misty-eyed were when characters from the earlier films showed up (Ian Holm’s Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, Rivendell and the Shire themselves). Of course, 1/3 of the way through the book, there weren’t any weepy moments either. I look forward to seeing what Jackson and co. do with Bilbo and Thorin’s relationship in the 3rd film.

  • http://robert.epictales.org Robert Treskillard

    Jeffrey,

    BTW — I ran across a photo of Bolg, Azog’s son, and he apparently has a role in the following two movies. Why they need Azog, then, I really don’t know, except to provide another “boss” to fight in a video game.

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-atJfB4vzFB4/UIXjqIVhC_I/AAAAAAAAN7c/jJhvEJj8PLw/s1600/TheHobbitBolg.jpg

    I also didn’t like turning Bilbo into a hero so early. He wasn’t the one who saved the day with the trolls, and he didn’t stand guard over Thorin while the other dwarves cowered. But … since Jackson split the movie up into three, I can understand why he’d want Bilbo to show some heroic growth in the first movie. Still … I wish he had stuck to Tolkien’s plot more carefully.

    -Robert

  • Hannah

    I agree that the film was much more action-packed than I was expecting, but I don’t think it is Peter Jackson’s fault necessarily. I noticed during the credits that they’d added Guillermo del Toro to the writing team. If you look up his IMDB page, the action-adventure-hero-centered feel of the film will make much more sense.

    • Jeffrey Overstreet

      They credited Del Toro because he was, at first, the *director* of the film. But then they parted ways because he was more interested in the “fairy tale” elements of the story (that’s how Phillipa Boyens explains it). Frankly, I wish I could have seen Del Toro’s version. I think it would have been much more intimate. He loves to tell stories about childlike characters. Of course, it might also have been darker, as he’s the fellow who made Pan’s Labyrinth and Devil’s Backbone (two films I love very much). I think that giving him a writing credit was their way of acknowledging all of the work he did on the film in the early stages. But I think we see very little of his contribution, and he says that leaving the project was the most painful experience of his career.

  • Jeff

    Having seen the film last night, I too think it is best taken as part of the LOTR films rather than a faithful adaption of the book. It’s more enjoyable in that context. After reflecting on it today, if I had never read the book, I would be wondering why the movie is called The Hobbit. While Biblo plays a major role, this movie is about Thorin primarily. Bilbo is Thorin’s bumbling sidekick rather than the emerging hero. Thorin is already a hero and proves it throughout the movie. Sure he gets a few doses of humility. But while the book is told from Bilbo’s point of view via the narrator, the movie doesn’t give much of that perspective. I’m sure that’s difficult to do with so many dwarves on the screen, but they received most of Jackson’s attention in my opinion. Whenever Bilbo is by himself on the screen, the action seems faithful to the book, but as soon as the dwarves roll in, they steal all the attention.

  • http://carolesmithturner.com Carole Turner

    I disagree with a lot of what you say in your review but not everything. I reviewed it Friday after attending a midnight showing, http://www.carolesmithturner.com/2012/12/the-hobbit-movie-was-mind-blowing.html

  • http://northierthanthou.com northierthanthou

    The tone and emotional arc of the story reminds me a lot of The Lord of the Rings, even the music is the same. It’s a shame too, because we don’t need three more installments of The Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit is it’s own story, or at least it would be, if Jackson would let it.

  • http://jamesfinn.me James Finn

    Wow! Dead on. I don’t read movie reviews. I don’t watch movies, so hence the absence of my need for movie reviews. But I did watch The Hobbit. I did read The Hobbit. And after reading this, now I know why the world needs movie critics. This was written by an insightful pro familiar with the material about which he writes.

    Hopefully Mr. Jackson will read this.

    My question is: Where is the Tolkien family in all this? Whoever in their clan is responsible for the management of JRR’s estate should be taking action here. Don’t make the same mistake the Lewis family made. Narnia was a disaster.

  • http://bethmorey.blogspot.com/ Beth

    I totally agree. I only ,ade it about halfway through before I couldn’t stomach anymore. I think the choice to make this into a trilogy was an insane one, and created so many problems that coud have easily been avoided. The fact that Jackson opted for a trilogy makes me feel that he cares more about money and fame than craft, something I did not feel after LOTR. It’s very disappointing.


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