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Adaptation Awfulness: The Hobbit

The Hobbit was my first introduction to J.R.R. Tolkien, as I think it was for many fans. A friend gave the book to me for my ninth birthday, and I have since worn that copy to tatters by reading it I-don’t-know-how-many times. It’s a funny, exciting, beautiful book, and a great entry point into the awesomeness of Middle Earth.

So ever since The Return of the King came out on DVD, I’ve longed for a Hobbit movie (the cheesy cartoon didn’t count). I was thrilled when I learned that Peter Jackson was finally making one. I wasn’t even too worried when I found out he was making it into a trilogy (despite the fact that The Hobbit is, at most, only a third of The Lord of the Rings‘s length). He did such a great job with the original trilogy, this one would surely be amazing too! Right?

Wrong.

Two Hobbit movies have now been released, with another one approaching all too soon, and I officially do not trust Peter Jackson anymore. I won’t list all the reasons why, since that would make this post too lengthy, but I will list the three things that made me cringe the most during those movies.

Disclaimer:

Let me be fair here. I don’t hate everything about the Hobbit movies. The first one didn’t even make me feel betrayed, until the ridiculously long slow-motion White Orc battle at the end. Martin Freeman is stupendous as Bilbo. He was born for the role. I love him to bits. And Benedict Cumberbatch voicing Smaug? Perfection. The Riddles in the Dark scene in the first movie was worth the price of admission all by itself, which is good, since I paid extra to go to the midnight showing. So, there. Those are the things I liked.

Back to the things that made me cringe:

1. I feel like I’m watching a video game. One of the many great things about The Lord of the Rings trilogy was the gritty realism of its cinematography. With the exception of a few obvious CGI moments, everything looked like it could be happening on a live news feed, even the huge battles, whose epicness has never been surpassed. The people and the monsters and the setting all look so real, it’s as close as any of us will ever get to visiting Middle Earth ourselves. But both Hobbit movies, thanks partly to old Pete’s decision to film them in 3D at 48 frames per second, look like video-game quality cartoons. EVERYTHING is CGI, and even the live actors are so heavily made-up that they almost look animated. And it doesn’t help that most of the uber-long, uber-unnecessary action scenes look like they came straight out of Mario Kart (falling wooden bridges, physics-defying barrels, etc.). This is NOT how Middle Earth was meant to look!

She should have stuck with him. At least they have equally fabulous hair.

2. I feel like I’m watching a bad fanfic. This applies only to the second movie. I was trying really hard to like The Desolation of Smaug…until the elf-dwarf romance happened. After that, I spent the rest of the movie trying to decide whether to laugh or cry. I understand Pete’s desire to add a female character, I do. It’s rough to have a whole movie trilogy completely devoid of ladies. I could even forgive him for wanting Legolas to have a love interest (which is what I assumed Tauriel was at first). But to make her Kili‘s love interest?? And then create a weird, super-awkward love triangle between him and Legolas??? I’m sorry, that’s the kind of absurdity I would expect a 13-year-0ld girl to post on her Tumblr page. I don’t care how hot the movie version of Kili is–dwarves do not carry on with elves. They are VERY different species–way more different from each other than elves and men. I’m pretty sure it’s a biological impossibility. *shudders at every implication*

Healing your interspecies love interest with athelas and glowing light. What does THIS remind you of?

3. I feel like I’m watching a bad Lord of the Rings remake. I think it’s pretty clear by now that The Hobbit does not contain enough material to fill three three-hour movies. So, to fill up space, the first two movies borrowed material from the original trilogy. They said it was from The Silmarillion, but it’s really all just a rehash of certain scenes in the old movies. For example: the Evil White Orc is to the first movie what the Black Riders were to The Fellowship of the Ring. He even gets the exact same theme music in his fight with Thorin at the end. Sure, he’s named after the goblin Azog from The Silmarillion, but that guy died centuries before the time of The Hobbit, and the movie version is totally different. He’s just a stand-in for the creeping menace of the Ringwraiths (until he starts randomly showing up all over the place in the second movie, which is when he just becomes ridiculous). There are multiple examples in TDOS: the gratuitous opening scene at the Prancing Pony (wouldn’t Butterbeer’s grandfather have at least rearranged the furniture between then and TFOTR?), Esgaroth (basically Rohan on a lake–complete with short, black-clad evil adviser), and Gandalf’s captivity by the Necromancer (I’ll bet anyone fifty bucks he talks to a moth in the next movie). Need I go on? I mean, where the heck did all Pete’s originality go?

I will probably end up watching the final Hobbit movie, but I’m going to try and wait until it’s available at RedBox. I just can’t pay thirteen bucks to get my Tolkien fangirl’s heart ripped out again. Fortunately, I still have my worn-out copy of the book to read!

Okay, rant over. Namarie!

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One thought on “Adaptation Awfulness: The Hobbit

  1. Yeah, I hate the White Orc, totally unnecessary addition. i can’t be too upset about the movies though, because watching is like hanging out in Middle Earth for a couple hours each. I love hanging out in Middle Earth.

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