Who’s actually going to see all of these Hobbit movies?

Hobbit

I just saw a trailer for the third Hobbit movie, titled “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” (Here’s a link; I didn’t find the embed code right away, and wasn’t interested enough to keep looking.)

And I had to wonder, not for the first time: Who is paying to go see all three of these things?

I watched the first one — after it became available on Netflix. It was… about like the beginning of the book, only dragged way out.

Haven’t seen the second. But what I’m wondering is, where is Peter Jackson getting all the material? From that one slim little book?

It’s been many years since I read the book, and here’s what I remember: The Hobbit gets pulled into an adventure against his inclinations, and it involves dwarves and orcs and trolls and some giant spiders. He and the dwarves are on a quest to get something back from a dragon. The eventually do that, and go home. The one significance of the narrative to the imaginary history of Middle Earth is that Bilbo runs into Gollum, and obtains the One Ring, thereby setting the stage for the trilogy.

I don’t remember anything about a Battle of Five Armies. That sounds more like something out of Return of the King. It was a small story, an intimate story. Not a spectacle involving a CGI cast of thousands.

Basically, this just seems ridiculous. The three “Lord of the Rings” movies made sense. There were, after all, three books. But this was one book, one little adventure story, and I don’t see how it sustains three long films.

I like Tolkien. I’m not one of the fervent fans, but I like his stories. I’ve been a Martin Freeman fan since the original “The Office.”

But come on, people. What’s next — The Silmarillion, stretched into nine movies?

17 thoughts on “Who’s actually going to see all of these Hobbit movies?

  1. Bryan Caskey

    Not to dork out on you, but the Battle of the Five Armies is the big battle at the end of The Hobbit.

    Basically, after Smaug gets killed, everyone starts bickering over the treasure…until the goblins and wargs show up. Then the dwarves, elves, and men all kind of realize they need to stop arguing about the treasure and fight the common enemy.

    After they fight off the bad guys, and divide the treasure. Feeling all the good vibes from defeating the goblins and wargs, there isn’t as much bickering.

    THEN, Bilbo goes home.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh. I don’t even remember any of that… I remember battles in The Two Towers and Return of the King, because they involved multiple characters in which I was invested at that point.

      I barely remember there being elves in The Hobbit, and don’t remember men…

      And this is probably for a counterintuitive reason: I read it too recently. If I had read it as a kid, it would probably be seared into my memory, and I’d probably also be a much bigger Tolkien fan. But I read it as an adult, about the time my own kids would have read it, and it just didn’t make that huge an impression.

      You know what struck me about Tolkien, reading him as an adult? The lack of sexuality. That sounds silly, but basically, aside from some unrequited pining on the part of Éowyn toward Aragorn. For their part, the guys didn’t seem all that interested in the womenfolk. After reading four books, I began to wonder how these folks reproduced. Which is, in part, what makes it seem like something I would have appreciated more as a child.

      I’m not looking for dirty parts, mind you. I just noticed after awhile that there wasn’t much of anything going on between the sexes.

      Sam Gamgee was the only one who actually wanted to start a family, and did so, with Rosie Cotton. He thought a lot about her while on the road. All the other guys were too busy thinking about the quest, which seemed unrealistic to me…

      Reply
      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        They included that stuff between Aragorn and Arwen in the movie, although it wasn’t in the book. At least, not in the main narrative. I see it was in the appendices…

        Maybe I’d have a lot more comments on my blog today if I did a separate post called “Sex in Middle Earth.” Maybe I will, later.

        But speaking of the facts of life in Middle Earth… I see these scenes in which elves are marching, stern-faced, into battle, and I wonder: Elves are immortal, right? So… can they be killed in battle? If not, that kind of removes all the drama. Why the grim looks, guys? Everybody on your side will still be standing at the end. You CAN’T LOSE.

        If you’re a man or a dwarf or a hobbit, just get the elves on your side, and it’s over. No need for all this running around with rings stuff…

        Reading or watching, I tell myself that battle is the ONE way elves can be killed. Otherwise, I lose interest… But is that true?

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I mean, it might take him awhile, but couldn’t Legolas eventually take all the Orcs himself?

          First orc comes up to him, swings a scimitar at him, it has no effect; Legolas kills the orc.

          Another orc comes up to him, swings a mace at him, it has no effect; Legolas kills the orc.

          And so on.

          The biggest danger to Legolas, it seems to me, would be a potential repetitive motion injury. If elves can get that…

          Reply
  2. Bryan Caskey

    Since you asked: Elves can be killed. They just are naturally immortal, meaning they don’t die of heart attacks, cancer, disease, or just plain old age. Their bodies don’t naturally break down.

    But you can definitely kill an elf.

    Wow. I’m really upping the dork factor today.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      No, I appreciate it! Because I’ve wondered about this stuff.

      So, if you’re an elf, you’ve gotta be really antiwar, or anti taking any kind of chance, unless you’re just tired of life.

      If you’re human, you’ve gotta die of something, so why not go out in a burst of glory saving the world from Sauron. But elves have a lot more to lose.

      That explains why Galadriel walks the way she does. If you’re an elf, you’re gonna want to be extra careful in all your movements, especially walking around on rocks. Why take unnecessary chances?

      Reply
    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      And I think you have your dorkiness under control. Now, if you’d taken me up on the “sex in Middle Earth” meme, they might have drafted you as a cast member on “The Big Bang Theory.” Which wouldn’t be such a bad thing, come to think of it. I hear they just got some hefty new contracts. Leonard, Penny and Sheldon are going to be pulling down a million an episode.

      In Seinfeld parlance, they’re getting the Ted Danson deal

      Reply
  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    Seriously, I appreciate you engaging, Bryan.

    I’m finding it harder to get a good thread going these days. I guess it’s the Dog Days, but I’m surprised at some of the posts that NOBODY is biting on…

    Yeah, I know — I slacked off while at the beach, and it always takes awhile to build up audience after a slump like that. I have to be patient…

    Reply
  4. scout

    Warning – this will contain spoilers.

    Well sorry I’m late to the party, but I’m a dork that will watch all these movies. I’m just glad he’s not planning a fourth movie called Bilbo goes home, because that was boring even in the book. He stopped and talked to the elves forever.

    I read it when I was young, but I also reread it recently after the first movie came out. I don’t doubt that Peter Jackson could drag even such a slim book out to three movies, but he actually included a lot of material taken from the appendixes of The Lord of Rings which accounts for some of the length. The added things lay the ground work for the Lord of the Rings by hinting that something dark and evil is developing and gaining power.

    One thing from the appendixes for example is that Gandalf instigated the whole thing because he knew that Sauron’s power was growing and that if Sauron were to gain control of Smaug, the dragon, it would be especially bad, so he found Thorin and subtly suggested that he go take the mountain back. That scene is at the beginning of the second movie. It doesn’t say in the movie that that’s why Gandolf does it, but it says so in the appendix.

    The men in the hobbit lived in Lake Town which is near the mountain. It is, in fact, a man that kills the dragon.

    Also, they have created a completely non-Tolkien girl elf to provide a romantic sub plot in the second movie.

    I thought the second movie was the better of the two so far.

    Reply
    1. Rose

      I thought the second was better, too, except that it was more The Dwarves than The Hobbit….
      the CG on Orlando Bloom’s face so he wouldn’t look older than in LOTR was weird and distracting. And unnecessary.

      Reply
  5. Silence

    why do I keep getting comments stuck awaiting moderation? Is it b/c I’m trying to post comments containing URL’s?

    Reply
  6. Rose

    also late to the discussion…and a MAJOR Tolkien fan…

    Brad, I am one of the people who will have seen all of them in the theater, and over and over at home, despite some criticisms of Jackson’s additions (I CAN’T STAND LIV TYLER but I’m okay with the hot young dwarf nephews :-) They definitely weren’t like that in the books.)

    I think Jackson got much of the books very right, and other things not so much. I’ve read all of the appendices and the additional publications of his unfinished works, as well as The Silmarillion, so I can spot the elements pulled from those – it’s a very richly developed world. You’re right in that there is a distinct lack of female presence in Tolkien’s books, especially The Hobbit. Eowyn, at least, is a shield-maiden of Rohan, and goes into battle where she slays the Witch-King of Angmar, fulfilling the prophecy that no man could slay him.

    {SPOILER ALERT}

    I originally wasn’t keen on the addition of Tauriel to the Hobbit movies, but I think that the BOFA chapter of the movies will have the most emotional pull of all of them, if Jackson holds to the fates of certain characters. He’s upped that emotional content with the introduction of the Romeo-Juliet style romantic subplot between Kili and Tauriel. I can’t see Jackson taking such a major deviation from the book that would allow a happily-after-ever ending. I think that kind of emotional connection to characters was missing from LOTR.

    Reply
  7. AndrevSlovik1982

    Much like the Lord of the Rings, I found myself drawn and enthused by the second movie more than the first or third. I personally disagree completely with this review, I think it falls completely short of the mark and my strongest impression was that the reviewer was too tired to make any meaningful assessment of the film. I’d rate Battle of Five Armies a 9/10, Desolation of Smaug 9/10, and An Unexpected Journey 8/10.

    The scenes with the White Council are spectacular, and expand the story somewhat. I learned and gained respect from those scenes where in LotR there was very little expansion of the characters. I openly disliked one of those characters in LotR, and BoFA completely changed that stance.

    As for the battles, they were excellent, the CGI looked great, and the HFR version is worth the effort. The acting is top-notch, I felt Bilbo was brought to life, and throughout the films, I loved how subtly integral he was to the fortunes of the company. He was literally the most important member, far more than anyone else, countless times. And the sweet, quiet composure of Martin Freeman makes for such an endearing character, Bilbo felt like a friend from the first film to the last. Again, a character barely established in LotR, and he walked out as a favourite, for me anyway. As for Smaug and Benedict Cumberbatch, wow, just wow. Amazing performance.

    Overall, I have to say I was deeply impressed, moved, and entertained by all 3 films, and as far as I’m concerned I think this review is far too harsh. Check out Imdb.com and see the overall rating, in addition to the comments. More people liked this film than disliked it, and while the trilogy isn’t as perfect or as epic as the Lord of the Rings, it does have a lot more subtlety and charm. The first and second films are downright pretty at times, you just feel like you’re in such a beautiful fantasy realm, it’s so immersive and endearing. Something I really liked, even though I didn’t think I would, there are rousing songs, and also a solemn mournful song that’s really touching, and this element adds something special. The third film’s tone is less light, but it was a really good, epic action movie. I say check the films out, they aren’t better than the Lord of the Rings, but they definitely have a lot of charm and depth.

    Reply

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