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There's been a bit of back-and-forth news re: the Hobbit movies the last few days. It seems that a lot of the dwarf actors weren't getting flown out to the London premiere of the final movie and the list of attendees were released to the media and journalists went to Oin's actor and got a distraught reaction out of him. Apparently it was a miscommunication and the whole company is going to the final premiere, in LA. Or maybe that was New Line's or whomever's way of avoiding the PR problem. You can read the details here and make of them what you will.

But the whole thing has me thinking about the Hobbit movies and particularly how long-term fans of the book view them. I don't just mean are there parts that drive us up the wall or parts that are particularly moving or well-done, but at a more fundamental level, how do we feel about them as Tolkien (as opposed to Jackson) fans. Are we glad they were made, and if so for whatever reason - because it's a reasonably faithful adaptation, or because it practically kept people interested in Tolkien, or what? Can we enjoy it outside of Tolkien, as just a good adventure story? I'd be interested in hearing from people who were fans of the books before the movies came out (which is I think most people reading this, but I don't want to assume). Are you glad these movies were made or not, and why or why not?

Speaking for myself, I had my qualms about the first movie but found it reasonably convincing as a telling of that book. The second movie, though, was just... I'm having a hard time explaining it but it just wasn't Middle-earth. Too much violence, too much revenge and trickery from "good guy" characters, and just too ... low-brow, I guess? Also too much of trying to make this a battle-for-the-fate-of-the-world like LOTR (the parallels were almost funny at times), when the real beauty of the story for me reading it was that this was only one of many such skirmishes in the lead-up to the Ring War, that heroic men like Thorin and Bilbo and Bard were having to make stands like this all the time (and that they did). It felt like twisting something I loved deeply, and while there were bits I am so glad I got to see (pretty much everything with Bilbo and Bard and Gollum, and some of the flashbacks into Dwarvish history), as a whole I find myself wishing it wasn't made at all. It was okay as an adventure story and when I've rewatched, if I forgot it was The Hobbit I could enjoy it at that level, but that hardly seems like a good standard.

If anyone else has thoughts on the movies, I'd be interested to hear it.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 1st, 2014 06:03 am (UTC)
I'm not in the Tolkien fandom, I can't cite chapter and verse like some people, I've never read the Silmarillion. But I have read LOTR and the Hobbit a few times, and I am a fan in the sense that I *care* about middle earth, even though I don't write fic or go to cons or collect first editions or anything like that. (although my dad has first edition LOTR that he bought back when it came out, so perhaps I will inherit it!)

so, that said... Peter Jackson is dead to me. I saw The Fellowship in the theater and had a few gripes, but mostly thought "well, it could have been worse." Then I saw The Two Towers and I was done. It felt wrong to me, and decided right there I wanted nothing more to do with those movies.

With Cumberbatch as Smaug, I have softened to the point where I am willing to watch a few scenes from the Hobbit, just to see/hear him and Martin. But I disconnect it completely from the book. It's basically a Sherlock AU to me, and nothing to do with Tolkien.

I have a friend who is the same way with Sherlock. I try not to even mention BBC Sherlock around her, because she is so deeply invested in ACD Sherlock that this version feels like an insult. I think for me, Tolkien was such a huge part of my childhood, that I'm very protective of the books as I remember them. I want them cast in amber, not updated and reimagined and whatnot.
Nov. 1st, 2014 07:31 am (UTC)
I had a good time watching the movie as long as I didn't make any attempt to connect it to the actual Hobbit. Part of the problem stems from trying to make three three-hour movies out of a book that only has enough plot for one, so any given Hobbit movie will end up being mostly filler. Honestly, the best review I could possibly give of the second Hobbit movie is that it is totally this scene from Love Actually:

Nov. 1st, 2014 07:38 am (UTC)
I've only seen the first one and thought it pretty grim. I did for a while get more readers, though, even though I don't write the Hobbit characters.I wish they could have made a film about Aragorn's adventures as Thorongil.
Nov. 1st, 2014 10:40 am (UTC)
I am enjoying them for what they are: fanfiction of The Hobbit.

I think as adaptations of the book, they are rather poor compared to PJ's LOTR. There are flashes in them of the Middle-earth I love, but they are seen through the filter of PJ's ideas and imagination much more so than LOTR was. They are much more a prequel to the original trilogy of movies than a faithful adaptation of the book, and I have far more "nits to pick" with them.

That said, as fanfic, they are a fun AU. It's not Tolkien's Middle-earth, but it is recognizably Tolkien's sandbox. But I do believe if I had seen these movies first, before I had seen LOTR and before I was familiar with the concept of fanfiction, I probably would have hated them, which is a shame.

I think ten years from now if someone who's read the books is introduced to these movies by watching TH first, they will never be able to enjoy the entire series.

If I were reading it as a fanfic instead of watching it as a film, I'd probably recommend a beta to help with a lot of the OOC moments and to tone down the occasional inappropriate humor.

That said, I still am enjoying PJ's strong points: visual imagination and scope. He's always been better at those things than he has at scripting.

Nov. 1st, 2014 11:57 am (UTC)
I am thoroughly enjoying them. In some ways, I am enjoying The Hobbit films more than I did the LotR films because it doesn't bother me that they are not an exact interpretation of the book, whereas I had a few things about LotR that annoyed me in the films. A couple of the changes introduced in the Hobbit films did produce a "hmm, that's interesting!" comment from me, but other than that, I have no problem with them. I also don't have any problem with the film being made into three films, because for me that just means more of what I love seeing -- interesting characters being fleshed out and the geography and scenery of Middle-earth being revealed.

It is possible that this ability to enjoy them is partly due to not really being as invested in The Hobbit as a book as much as I was with LotR, so that it doesn't bother me to see the films stretching things to make a good movie. But it may also just be that I went into watching this trilogy knowing that it was going to be different than the book no matter what, and that it was okay for that to be true. The things I care about -- characterization and the visualization of previously only imagined places -- are well done, in my opinion, and so I am enjoying myself immensely. I am very much looking forward to the extended version of Film 2, and the opening of Film 3 in December.
Nov. 2nd, 2014 03:33 pm (UTC)
I've been managing to enjoy them by watching them with the Small People, under mutual agreement (since all 3 of us know and love the book well) that we consider them Very Loosely Inspired By Tolkien's text, no more.

As with LoTR, oddly enough, the first film was (on the whole) much more faithful than the second, with the interpolations mostly being background-canonical stuff like the references to the White Council. The second one, frankly, felt as though they'd written the video game first and then worked backwards to the movie!

The first film, in particular, had some fabulous moments - mostly involving Martin Freeman (and Andy Serkis). And oh, that great golden Eye at the end! On the whole, the visuals are great, the plots and the characterisations are mostly ludicrous - as others have said upthread, they're pretty much AU fanfic. With a bigger budget than we get :-)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )



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