The Hobbit Review: A Look Back at Middle Earth

Last night I saw a new Lord of the Rings movie for the last time. Yes, I suppose it was technically a Hobbit movie, but let’s be honest here: Jackson’s Hobbit movies are prequels to Lord of the Rings first, and adaptations of The Hobbit second.

And I am perfectly fine with that. No–even more. I love it.

I know there are Hobbit lovers out there who are really disappointed in Jackson’s Hobbit films. They take the book they love, and they Legolas it to death. There’s dwarf/elf love. sandworms, evil elves, and more. Stuff Tolkien never mentioned in his children’s book–and all very valid points. But you don’t hire the director of the Lord of the Rings to do the Hobbit and have him adapt the Hobbit as-written.

You hire him to do the prequels.

The Hobbit (book) is so different from the later works. It’s a children’s story. Simpler. Less complex, with characters that do things for straightforward reasons. Any of the extra complexity that it’s developed over the years is due to what we found out after the fact from Tolkien. And honestly, if I want to watch an adaptation of The Hobbit that’s faithful to the book, I’ll watch the Rankin & Bass version. (Haven’t seen it in forever, but I have fond memories of the movie from when I watched it as a kid.)

Me? I’m all for Jackson’s take on the material. I know it’s his own spin. I don’t expect him to hold perfectly to the canon of Tolkien. It’s an adaptation. Changes must be made.

Sitting down in that theater, I was reminded of the time way back when, when I was sitting in the theater at the midnight release for Fellowship of the Ring. My biggest feeling then? Fear. I was so worried that the movie was going to be awful. That it would be like so much of the other fantasy movies produced at the time: corny, with poorly developed characters and awful special effects. (The example I always think of first? Dungeons and Dragons: The Movie.)

Instead, the movie was tremendous. Outright amazing, in my book. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the few movies I will happily watch again, and again, and again. Extended editions, of course. Why? Because I would happily sit there watching Jackson’s world come alive for every extra second of it he’d be willing to show me. It’s such great attention to detail, in world building, costume design, set design–you name it.

In preparation for this, the final Hobbit movie, Denisa and I watched the extended editions of the first two Hobbit movies back to back. Again, I prefer the extended editions to the theatrical releases. It seems to me that Jackson takes his time to present the story the way he wanted it presented in those extended editions. They flesh out things and smooth out the pacing in ways that are hard to describe, but noticeable. In fact, when watching the third movie last night, there were a few spots where I’m fairly certain things will go better once the extended edition is released. Parts where it seemed like something was missing. Nothing egregious–just spots I noticed where I felt the lack of the extended version.

What did I think about the movie?

I loved it, of course. Loved every last piece of it. I’d go out and buy the extended version today if I could. These movies are completely made for me. Yes, there was a lot of fighting. One ginormous battle that takes up the bulk of the movie. People complained of the first movie that it took too long to get going, and they’ve complained of the last movie that the climax took forever to get through. Me? I view all three movies as one very long film. Seen from that angle, it all feels just right.

Yes, there were many changes to the source material. (But come on–we get the chance to see the White Council duke it out with the Necromancer. How awesome is that?) Legolas seems to have been written for these films to find as many ways to have him being incredibly, unbelievably awesome as possible. Honestly, now I want an alternate version to Lord of the Rings where at the council of Elrond, when they’re asking who will take the ring to Mordor, Legolas just snatches it, catches a passing giant bat, and ninjas his way through one long obstacle course until he chucks it into the volcano and turns around to pose for his close up.

In these movies, Jackson looked at the story of the Hobbit and asked how it would fit with the world he created in Lord of the Rings. People freak out about Legolas appearing in the film, but I have 100% no problem with it. Why? Because of Thranduil. (Pardon me while I get my geek on.) Thranduil is in the Hobbit. He’s Legolas’s father. Does it make sense that the elf prince would be playing a significant role in these happenings? Of course it does. Legolas is in The Hobbit. He just isn’t mentioned by name.

Time and time again, Jackson is looking at The Hobbit through the eyes of a realist (from a LOTR point of view). Why would the elves refuse to let the dwarves go? Why would the dwarves be so concerned with getting back to Erebor. Why why why. To make a movie that would fit with LOTR, these whys had to be answered. He couldn’t get away with glossing over things, and so sometimes he created answers, and other times he found answers in the appendices that fit the bill.

Again, I’m all good with that.

Will you like The Battle of Five Armies? I don’t know. What did you think about the other movies? This will be more of the same. It won’t change your mind about anything. For me? It’s a 9/10, and I’m almost certain it’ll be a 10/10 once I see the extended version.

Loved every second.

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