The end of 2014 didn’t just mark the end of another spin around our solar system, it also marked the end of an era that brought us more hours of film adaption from J. R. R. Tolkien’s works than there are hours in a month.
This in and of itself is no slight on Tolkien, or the man who most recently brought his stories to the big screen in grandiose style, Peter Jackson. Well, maybe it’s a small slight on Jackson for his trilogy-based take on Tolkien’s, The Hobbit.
My last statement isn’t said with any type of malice towards The Hobbit movies themselves, seeing as I found them entertaining in their own right. Alas, my concern has more to do with stretching a 300 page children’s book into a graphic three-film epic that rivals most Jerry Lewis Telethons in runtime. By no means am I singling out Jackson either. Even though I’m one of two people on the planet who enjoy Michael Bay’s Transformers movies (Bay being the other), the ADD in me will admit that a good 60 minutes could have been cut from each installment. Particularly since they’re not based on any written source material outside the instruction manuals that came with the original toys.
Nevertheless, it should also be dually noted I have yet to read The Hobbit or its supplemental pages known as The Appendices. Thus, my 2 cents on the matter is probably worth the equivalent of an iPhone to Bill Gates.
Despite having not read the written source, fans of the book have educated me quite thoroughly on the discrepancies between the novel and films. As many of you are probably well aware of, there was quite a bit of fluffing that took place to get The Hobbit to that magic word which makes Hollywood executives squeal with delight: trilogy. With the incredible box office success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I wouldn’t be surprised if the studios and Jackson discussed expanding The Hobbit into a 10 movie experience billed as the viewing event of the decade. Hell, if you cut the current trilogy into 90 minute intervals you’re over half way as it is.
On the same Tolkien (see what I did there), I’m also the first person who will argue that most feature films based on books are butchered on-screen since there isn’t entirely enough time to include all the elements that made the source material so popular. Keeping with that sentiment, I haven’t been against the somewhat recent trend of splitting books, specifically the final book in a series, into two separate films. It’s the one situation that can be a win-win-win-win for the studios, the creator and the fans in having the opportunity to experience the best screen adaption possible. Notice my emphasis on the word opportunity. Theory and execution have, and will always remain, two different entities.
All of this rambling and I still haven’t written a word about the third film of The Hobbit franchise, The Battle of Five Armies. Call me crazy, but it’s probably because I feel as if I’ve written the review at least a few other times with the first two Hobbit movie entries. That’s not even mentioning the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, which for the most part, has much of the same feel to it. With that said, I think some of my meh-ness about all The Hobbit movies is grounded in my knowing everything takes place before LOTR, and I already know how that tale ends.
Again, I found all three Hobbit films to have their merits. The visuals are grand (minus Jackson’s overuse of CGI in this series), the action intense, and the acting well performed. Admittedly, I even lost a few ounces of clear liquid from my eye sockets during the more touching scenes throughout the three flicks. As mentioned in a prior review, I even loved Evangeline Lily’s character and her relationship arc (both of which were supposedly not in the book whatsoever). In the end though, I felt the story of The Hobbit could have been compressed into a much tighter film. Maybe two 90 minute films at most? But three close-to-three hour extravaganzas following another set of three hour epics that take place in the same universe took a Middle-Earth sized toll on this Outlaw.
I guess what I’m trying to say – even though I don’t understand my own reasoning 98% of the time – is that while I’m perfectly okay with proper justice being given to a long-running series of novels for the big screen, it’s another ball of wax to divide individual books themselves into a multitude of three-hour bladder stretchers if it can potentially be done more efficiently.
Hey, I love McKellen’s Gandalf as much as the next geek, but that doesn’t mean I want to look like him when I leave the theater.