Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #5: The Hobbit Movies

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: Peter Jackson’s film versions of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

I am of the opinion that Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s well-loved classic, The Hobbit, is a wonderful thing. As with his version of The Lord of the Rings, it is a work of love, Jackson’s own spin on Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece. It is Jackson’s film version of The Hobbit, not a film of Tolkien’s version. When you adapt something with such a passionate and devoted fanbase, you’re never going to please everyone. You will most definitely piss people off in some way – their favourite character doesn’t look anything like that! What on earth possessed you to film that scene that way? When does Thranduil ever make a Mean Girls reference? And why on earth is that character in this scene?? – but that’s just how it is. On the other hand, you’ll also have a fanbase devoted to you, or in this particular case, Mr. Peter Jackson, and the way he has filmed Tolkien’s work.

Wait, what? I don’t remember this in the book! (image source)

The Hobbit has been a favourite book of mine for a long, long time. I remember when I was seven or eight, my mum bought me the graphic novel version, and then at the age of eight or nine I progressed onto the book proper. I read The Lord of the Rings for the first time when I was ten, and have re-read it almost every year since, so I would say I’m a pretty big fan! So you can imagine that I was incredibly excited when the films were announced.

I want to talk mostly about one particular film today: The Desolation of Smaug. I watched it the day of release, and although I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as An Unexpected Journey, I still loved it. Maybe I’m one of those types who loves it just because it’s Tolkien and Peter Jackson, I don’t know. But I just want to talk about the things that were completely new additions to the plot:

  • The character of Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lily, and therefore any dwarf-elf flirtations
  • The presence of Legolas
  • Certain events that happen in Laketown [spoiler]Kili, Fili and Bifur staying behind, orcs attacking Laketown[/spoiler]
  • Pretty much anything involving Azog – he is mentioned in the book once.
But you know what?
  • Tauriel is one of the few female characters in the story, AND she was an addition. She’s also a bit of a badass. So kudos to Peter Jackson for choosing to add some more women to a male-dominated story, and extra kudos for making her pretty awesome.
  • Legolas is used to tie together The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, a familiar face, and also clearly shows how elves do not age. He looks exactly the same in both films (okay, apart from his eyes in The Hobbit which are super creepy.)
  • Events like the extra ones in Laketown are used to demonstrate the skills of certain characters. However (book spoiler ahead): [spoiler]I’m not sure why Kili was injured and then healed. This makes me think they won’t kill him off in the Battle of Five Armies at the end? He has proven to be a fan favourite after all.[/spoiler]
  • Azog gave Thorin a bit more of his own story, and also allowed Jackson to showcase the history of the character. He is also a constant threat, when Smaug is nowhere near, making the viewer expect an attack at any time.

And you can’t forget that absolutely brilliant take on the barrel scene…

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Despite the fact that Peter Jackson made a lot of changes to characters and events in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, I still love those films because they are products of Peter Jackson’s imagination, inspired by that of Tolkien. If you’re watching them for a totally faithful representation of Tolkien’s Middle-earth, you will most likely be disappointed. But if you go in with an open mind, you’ll end up watching some truly fantastic films by a genius director, inspired by a genius author. Personally, for me, the additions only demonstrated the skill of everyone involved in making the films.

In conclusion: I see Peter Jackson’s films as a wonderful homage to the works of Tolkien, as well as Jackson’s own home country of New Zealand.

What do you think of Jackson’s films of The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings? Were you happy with his use of creative license?

Oh, and as for waiting another bloody age for the final part of The Hobbit

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19 thoughts on “Fantasy Friday #5: The Hobbit Movies”

    1. Yessss! The Desolation of Smaug clocks in at a total of 3 hours and 10 minutes of amazingness =D Let me know what you think when you see it!

  1. I really enjoyed Desolation of Smaug – one gripe I have (though its not really a gripe) – is that the film was a bit of a “filler” film, that doesn’t diminish the fact it was great visually, and brilliantly acted. I felt that it couldn’t be any other way, the story had to be continued from the first film and set up for the last.

    My MAJOR gripe is that freaking film makers insist on putting goddam Orlando Bloom and Luke Evans in the same films – I swear they are the same person. Hehe.

    I love Tamriel in the film she is as you say an absolute badass. The barrel scene was really well done, and I love how Jackson frames the humorous scenes in with the serious ones. I LOVE THE DWARVES.

    1. Yes, I suppose that’s a good way of describing it, in that much of it was invented for the film itself – because I can’t imagine the book stretching to three full length films otherwise. And you’re exactly right that it doesn’t diminish it!

      Haha! They do look quite similar, actually. Did you know that Bard’s children are actually James Nesbitt’s daughters??

  2. The thing that proves me that these are amazing movies: when the ending is announced, I’m always surprised “ALREADY?” It just doesn’t feel like 3 hours and I want more! 🙂 I LOVE his interpretation of the whole world and all the details. You just see that Jackson has a passion for what he is doing. The casting, the whole atmosphere, the costumes: everything is just how it’s supposed to be. It feels right.

    1. Funny thing is, I thought the film had been going on for a little too long, but when it cut to black I didn’t want it to be over! Shows that they cut out at just the right moment =D
      I think you’ve summed that up pretty perfectly there – his passion is definitely visible.

  3. I honestly used to get really quite annoyed with film adaptations being so inaccurate in places, but I think the joys of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and a number of Studio Ghibli animations have eroded the edge of my previous rages – they are just such beautiful films and I really enjoy them for the visual spectaculars and joy that they deliver when I watch them 🙂 It also means I can go back to the books and re-read them and rediscover parts that the films may have temporarily erased from my mind which is fun and not horrifying as I once thought.

    However I will say that I think it depends on the film. I still have bug bears about Eragon and The Golden Compass. Eragon the book I bought many years ago and enjoyed it, but got annoyed in the subsequent books when they came across as massive rip offs of other books, and then the film was disappointing. The Northern Lights is a treasured book and despite watching it a few times, I just don’t get on with the film adaptation of it.

    I do think that the evolution of CGI has allowed me to forgive a lot in fantasy and sci-fi films these days, but I often see that genre of films as entertainment more. I was chatting to someone about the problems of films when they made a very good point… in films on the whole you have to rely on looks and actions, some voiceover is acceptable, but you can’t have an entire internal monologue voiceover as a character just stands there for ten minutes looking pained – there is where a book is better.

    Points of squealing in the Desolation of Smaug:
    – Smaug
    – The pugs

    I so agree with you about Legolas’ freaky eyes though! :O

    Ok ramble over 😀

    1. Yes, it’s always a total joy to re-read a familiar book and discover bits you’d forgotten about! It’s so much easier/quicker to watch the film that often I suppose we turn to those instead of the books, depending on time.

      I did hear that the Eragon and Golden Compass films were bad, but I’ve not actually read either of those books. Well I started Northern Lights, but never got on with it – however, that was when I was about 13 so I’m planning on re-trying.

      It’s for the whole internal monologue thing that I don’t think Terry Pratchett books translate to film very well. The narration and the author/narrator’s internal rambling often tends to be the funniest bit, and I’m not sure how that would work on film.

      I FORGOT ABOUT THE PUGS!! I love pugs ❤ I think they actually looked right in Middle-earth, which was surprising!

  4. I love the idea of this feature! I might join you on a few Fridays 🙂

    I really enjoyed The Desolation of Smaug – as you said, it wasn’t a perfect representation of the book, but filmmakers can have their creative license. I agree that it was awesome that Tauriel was included. But Legolas annoyed me to no end! He was just this brooding, jealous, creepy elf in the background and he didn’t actually do all that much. I think he’s just in there for the eye-candy.

    I loved the way the dragon was portrayed! Smaug was incredibly frightening, with his deceptively lazy voice and slow rumbling around. It definitely made poor Bilbo even funnier in comparison 🙂

    1. Oh yay, please do! =D

      Yes, but I guess it kind of shows how Legolas has grown up/matured in the sixty or so years between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings – which is nothing to an elf!

      Benedict Cumberbatch was PERFECT as Smaug. I loved the bit where the dwarves made the gold statue and he was just staring at it like ‘Oooh shiny!’

  5. I think what they have done with The Colour of Magic / Light Fantastic, The Hogfather and Going Postal have been fun – Oh agreed, a lot of the humour in the pages is lost but I think it is entertaining and enough Pratchettness comes through 🙂 (Plus in my mind, Charles Dance as Patrician is just wonderful 😀 )

    Oh I think definitely give Northern Lights another shot, I read the trilogy when I was 11 and loved it 🙂 Eragon I must have bought when I was a few years older than that, and it was a lovely fantasy book, but I got fed up with the subsequent books when he seems to get items of awesomeness etc. piled upon him.

    Oh yes – I had a moment of “wait a minute..!!” and then bounced in my seat 😀

    1. I didn’t realise they’d done Going Postal! Plus I kind of have Eric Idle as Rincewind stuck in my mind, thanks to the Discworld computer games.

      I’m definitely planning on it. Not so much with Eragon though…

      I just watched the newest Sherlock, and he is really growing on me! I still don’t quite understand the obsession but he’s a brilliant actor =)

  6. I still haven’t seen The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug yet. Ahh I’m going crazy here. lol
    I do think you make some very interesting points here. This *is* Jackson’s interpretation of Tolkien’s story made into a film. There are a few layers that separate this movie series from its inspiration. And I know this was made with the same amount of respect and all that Jackson had for LotR (which is substantial). I will say, however, that I can see why fans would be a bit disappointed. At times the additions that Jackson added to this film series seem a bit…excessive. I could also see how people could make the argument that he’s just trying for more money.
    Maybe that’s true, but I actually was a fan of Jackson’s LotR before I read Tolkien’s books. So I’m always going to be a fan of Jackson’s interpretations of Tolkien’s world, I suppose.
    Now hopefully I can get to the theatres to see this movie soon!

    1. I’m glad you agree! It’s clear from the final product that Peter Jackson loves J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, and that’s the most important thing. I know some additions have perhaps been unnecessary, but in the end I’m just glad they were made by someone with so much passion.

  7. *raises hand slowly* I haven’t read the book, as with LOTR. But unlike LOTR, I already have the physical copy of The Hobbit sitting quietly on my desk, beckoning to me.

    BUT I saw the movie. Before I saw it, my friend told me she had watched it twice already and was planning for a third. At that point, I was like “Gurl, u mad.” Then I watched it. After I came out of the theater, I immediately tweeted her “I’m sorry. Totally understand why you had to watch it so many times now.”

    If I had the DVD in my hands right now, I would have played it every weekend to get over my DoS hangover/withdrawals. THAT BARREL SCENE WAS FABULOUS. Also, Tauriel’s healing scene and then Kili’s killer of a dialogue. And I’ve always been overly partial towards elves in these films despite having only seen clips of LOTR? (Gosh, I am committing so much blasphemy in this comment by admitting to what I have not read and watch, don’t throw stones at me!!!)

    1. TORY! READ IT! NOW!

      Haha, just joking – it’s definitely something (LotR at least) that you have to be ready to read. It’s a big commitment! 😉

      I really want to re-watch it to reassess my thoughts to be honest. There were some annoying teenage girls next to us in the cinema who kept whispering and giggling and rustling sweet packets, so it would be nice to watch it away from people like that…

      I KNOW I LOVE THE BARREL SCENE SO MUCH! The whole cinema was roaring with laughter for about five minutes straight =D

      I won’t throw stones at you, your punishment (although actually it’s a treat)instead is to read and watch The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings sometime this year!

      1. GOSH, I really hate noisy movie-goers. I’ve always told my aunt that special halls should be dedicated to empty-handed OR solo movie viewers. Peace and quiet to enjoy the movie 100%!

        Yay! You bet that I will totally read AND watch them this year. Or re-watch, in The Hobbit’s case… before the next Hobbit movie comes out in December 2014! That’s almost a year away BUT hopefully the upcoming array of awesome films will make me forgot that! 😛

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