Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Battle of Far Too Many Armies

I saw the final Hobbit movie on Friday. I guess I can cross that off my list. You know, seeing all the Tolkien movies in theater. But, uh, it wasn't all too great.

Now, I've seen the Lord of the Rings movies a lot. I own the extended editions. They are great fantasy movies bolstered by Tolkien's sharp sensibilities and classic myth making. Even though the movies are not perfect (Faramir, Galadriel, and certain other themes are missed), they do work as a whole. I still enjoy them now.

The Hobbit movies, however, are almost all Peter Jackson and as a result, markedly inferior. When the movies center on Bilbo, they're usually enjoyable. As well they should since Bilbo is the title character and protagonist. So when you have a whole movie that he's barely in, well, you've got a problem. Which is a shame because Martin Freeman is a perfect Bilbo Baggins.

The first movie was sluggishly paced, and missing much of the whimsical charm of the books. The second movie crams most of the book into one movie, destroys a core scene in the story to make it an action sequence out of a theme park and ends at a bad location. The third movie, well, the third movie was not a movie I was all too excited to see, and my fears were not disproved upon seeing it. It just continues with my problems.

I like the cast, the acting is well done, and the lines taken from the book are just too good. The problem is that almost nothing in this final film is in the book.

The first twenty minutes is basically the climax of the last movie (where it should have been placed) and the rest is little more than the conclusion of a very hackneyed love story and fight scene after fight scene. Bilbo's journey back to the Shire isn't even in the film version, it is simply cut to after the end of another fight scene.

I'm under the impression that someone could make a decent (decent, not great) Hobbit film here by cutting the dead weight and editing it to around a comfortable four to five hours, but it certainly isn't Peter Jackson who is up to the task. He extended a 300 page novel into three 3 hour movies, one of which has almost nothing in common with the book. Meanwhile, he extended a 1500 page novel into 3 near four hour movies. It doesn't take much to realize which one was the better idea.

As it is, I'm glad the films were made so no one has to wonder "what might have been", but I don't see myself re-watching them any time soon.

Stick to the books.

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