*Contains minimal spoilers*
After Peter Jackson confirmed his intention to bring The Hobbit to film, I reacted like any true Lord of the Rings fan might—by watching the entire trilogy in extended edition, quoting obnoxiously, and anticipating Jackson’s ability to knock the prequel out of the park. At the same time, I worried that this risky endeavor might taint the reputation of Wingnut Films. After seeing the first Hobbit preview, my anxiety grew. Now, I can only sigh and wonder how this star-studded, record breaking film could miss the mark by a mile.
Let’s attempt to deconstruct this unfortunate cinematic stumble.
- The fantastical Hobbit does not translate to film with the same grace as the darker Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit is a fairy tale with culinary trolls, goblins with gobblers, and giant golden eagles reminiscent of The Rescuers Down Under. Peter Jackson befuddles a compelling story through his desire to convey the enchantment of Tolkien’s world. His whims and regrets from his first trilogy work only to overcomplicate a simple novel. The singing dwarves and the tidbits from Tolkien’s appendixes prove to be in a world of their own.
- The Dwarves – After giving Gimli the role of comic relief in the Lord of the Rings, the dwarves of The Hobbit struggle to be heroic. Thank goodness Thorin and Kili get the most screen time. To recreate the success of Legolas, Jackson swaps the blonde wig for a brown one and forgets to give Kili a new weapon.
- Three films? Was this truly necessary Peter? When a novel gets broken up into a film trilogy, I assume the worst: the filmmakers care more about making profit than they care about making a quality film. At the most, I feel that two films would have gotten the job done. Goodbye Frodo Flashbacks and Rabbit Sleds. Later awkward romantic moments with Gandalf and Galadriel.
- Bilbo v. Frodo – Elijah Wood’s Frodo possesses an otherworldliness that Bilbo’s character cannot recreate. Bilbo is a stuffy, persnickety Hobbit who eventually realizes his inner potential and courage. Yet, I realize now how a simple, inept Hobbit that blunders along for a while isn’t nearly as fun to watch as he is to read about.
Alas! All of my grievances are out of the way and I can now admit that some of The Hobbit did not disappoint.
Dear Kiwis, Thank you for:
- The Riddles with Gollum – Andy Serkis cannot go wrong. The scenes in Gollum’s cave continue the magic of the previous trilogy. One of the best loved moments from the novel is executed with a combination of tension and humor.
- Introduction to Smaug – Smaug’s fiery assaults look stunning in 3D and they clearly show why a bunch of manly dwarves might run like hell if a dragon showed up.
- The Battle Sequences – Great CGI work as usual.
- The Landscapes – The long shots of Middle-Earth make us all want to book a flight to New Zealand.
- The Eagles – They definitely show up when they are most needed—like in a slow-moving film. Visually incredible and I look forward to seeing them again in the Battle of Five Armies.
Ultimately, the answer is yes: I will see the next segment of The Hobbit. The opening wasn’t an Oscar-winner, but I do believe that this new trilogy can only get better. I respect Peter Jackson and I recognize him as a perfectionist who puts years into his creations. With many angry critics on their heels, Jackson’s team will hopefully get to work on making the future installments top-notch. Yet, with the rest of the trilogy already in post-production, how much can really be done? It will truly be an unpredictable journey for Wingnut Films.