Smaug is the one bright spot in ‘Desolation’

Review of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Directed by Peter JacksonIn case it wasn’t obvious enough from An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug does not tell the story of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved book, The Hobbit. The characters, names, and events are all there, but the strands of the story weave together into something else entirely. It’s not “the enchanting prequel to The Lord of the Rings” as experienced through the eyes of Bilbo Baggins. Instead, it purports to be an epic … [Read more...]

The Hobbit: Second Verse, Better Than the First

Review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Directed by Peter JacksonYes, the new Hobbit movie is better than the last one. No, it doesn’t compare to Return of the King. But that’s an unfair comparison: few movies in the history of cinema approach the heights of Peter Jackson’s 2003 masterpiece. The Hobbit is a lesser tale; the movies lighter fare. They were always going to suffer by comparison. Jackson was right to try to avoid directorial duties for this trilogy. Alas for the del Toro ve … [Read more...]

Middle Earth is Inherited by the Meek

A Review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Directed by Peter JacksonBy KENDRICK KUOAfter hearing the good reviews, including our very own Paul Miller's take on the film, I decided to watch The Hobbit on New Year's Day. There are many ways to review a film adaptation of a book—fidelity to the book's plot, how well the characters make it to the screen, or other criteria. I will simply say read Paul Miller's review since I agree with everything he has said about Peter Jackson's w … [Read more...]

Seeking a Better Country Than Middle Earth

A Review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Directed by Peter JacksonBy PAUL D. MILLER I previouslyblogged about the surprising darkness and pessimism in J.R.R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit. That book is often mistakenly called a children’s book, and even though there is nothing childlike about its tales of genocidal war and cynical realpolitik, it will continue to be considered beloved work of fiction no matter how it is labeled. However on second reading I found it to be uneven, epis … [Read more...]

Lord of the Rings: A Timeless Trilogy

Review of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Directed by Peter JacksonBy PAUL D. MILLERIt is hard to remember how firmly entrenched the conventional wisdom was that The Lord of the Rings was unfilmable. A disastrous animated attempt in 1978, stuffed full of 70’s cheese, covered just half the story. The film only made $30 million, studio executives refused to fund the planned sequel, and a generation of children were condemned to confusion when the film ends and the ring has not been d … [Read more...]

Deconstructing Bilbo Baggins

Review of The Christian World of the Hobbit by Devin Brown By COYLE NEAL Based on my limited experience, there seem to be two kinds of Tolkien scholars. The first sort are those who truly love and delight in his works and want to know more—they want to plumb the depths of Middle Earth and relish the world he has created. The second sort are those who disdain his writings, and want to kill the joy of others in reading his books. They exist seemingly solely to remind us that we’re reading f … [Read more...]

There and Back Again

Review of The Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienReviewed by PAUL D. MILLERI first visited Middle Earth when I was in middle school. I owned a thick, dark yellow copy of The Hobbit (1937). It smelled musty and old, which is just right for a book like this. Like many a ten-year-old, I fell under the spell of the elves and dwarves and wizards and daydreamed my way through 6th grade by fighting great battles against goblins and trolls.As is my habit, I went back again to Middle Earth recently to f … [Read more...]