I’m a Tolkien fan from way back, and while I loved Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy for The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit is proving somewhat problematic. I saw The Desolation of Smaug last weekend in the theater—in 3D and high frame rate, as the filmmakers intended. And before I tell you what I’ve found to be wrong with these films, I should point out that I enjoyed this movie, and the first one, as they have much to love. But Tolkien purists and anyone who remembers the book well will likely stumble in their appreciation of Jackson’s adaptation.
I understand that translating a book to a movie is an adaptation. Different mediums require different things. So I’m not particularly put off by the addition of extra action sequences in the movies, although I do think some of them go on a bit long and contain some action that’s just a little too hard to believe. Having the orcs chasing the dwarves all across the land adds tension to the journey that really isn’t there in the book; I get that.
Where I feel Jackson and his crew have failed is in preserving the basic difference between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. As many others have pointed out, I’m sure, The Hobbit is a book of completely different tone than LotR and is often considered a children’s book. Essentially, the book recounts a series of loosely related adventures on the way to their destination, the Lonely Mountain. Although Bilbo and the dwarves are repeatedly put in jeopardy, there isn’t the great sense of approaching doom that necessarily pervades LotR. The Hobbit is a fun romp by comparison—a sense which is completely absent from the films. Continue reading