Why I Didn’t Enjoy The Hobbit 2 As Much As I Hoped I Would

Posted: December 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

This morning I read a review of the new Hobbit movie that eviscerated it. I thought he was overly harsh but… there were some things that bothered me when I saw the movie last night.

Oddly enough, I disagreed with nearly every complaint the reviewer had, but had different ones of my own.

First off, I do NOT think it was a bad movie. It was a very good movie, but Peter Jackson set the bar really, REALLY high with Lord of the Rings. It is collectively my favourite movie ever so that is a tough act to duplicate. With the first Hobbit movie, he didn’t quite reach that level, but it was still very entertaining.

This one had more problems.

First off, let me say that when I saw the first Hobbit, it felt garish to me. The new filming process bothered me. It didn’t both me this time. I guess I got used to it.

Oh, this is going to be SPOILER filled. You have been warned.

Let’s start at the start…

Beorn was… not good. Hands up, how many people recognized that thing that Bilbo saw as a bear? When Gandalf asked him if he had seen a bear, I was surprised when Bilbo said yes. I hadn’t seen a bear. I saw that Wargish thing that Bilbo was looking at, but no bear.

The ONLY time it looked bear-like at all was when just his face was sticking through the door.

I also didn’t really care for ‘human’ Beorn. Maybe that’s just me. He wasn’t imposing enough.

The whole scene with Beorn in the morning was not… intense enough. Did you ever get the feeling that he was a threat to the Dwarves? I sure didn’t.

Plus, the scene was so short! When it was over, Ruthanne leaned over and said, “That’s it?”

When it was announced that the Hobbit was going to be three movies, the first question was, where are they going to get all that material?

Under those circumstances, why rush through a great scene like Beorn’s house?

Speakign of rushing… oh my. Did Mirkwood ever get shorted in this film. Mirkwood is the heart of the book. The dwarves journey through it is what makes the journey epic. In the movie, when Bilbo said the movie seemed wrong, I agreed with him. Where was the oppressive, heavy, deep wood from the book? This was just some gnarled old trees that let a LOT of light in. It wasn’t heavy at all! They had to follow the path VERY carefully because it would be easy to just go the wrong way, since there is no real PATH anyway. This is not the Mirkwood I visualized.

But it didn’t matter, because how long were they in there before running into the spiders? An hour? Less? More?

It should be DAYS. This was a long, dark, depressing march through a forest that seems like it would never end. In the movie the forest looked to be no more than, what, a half-days walk from side to side?


Speaking of disappointing, but when Bilbo rescued the dwarves, that was right. In the fight that followed, though, did it seem like Bilbo was the only one killing spiders (until the elves arrived). Maybe not.

Speaking of elves… now we get into a different problem Jackson had… one that he has had all along.

Tolkien wrote the Hobbit first, and then Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit was written a certain way and then Lord of the Rings cranked up the threat.

Let’s talk about the Uruk-Hai and other Orcs chasing the dwarves. This didn’t happen in the book.

Let me capitalize this to make it clear: ORCS DID NOT EXIST WHEN TOLKIEN WROTE THE HOBBIT.

Instead, they fought Goblins. The problem was, when he switched to LotR, goblins weren’t scary enough. So Tolkien turned them into Orcs to crank up the threat level.

The problem Peter Jackson has is that you can do that, but it is much harder to go the other way. How do you make goblins a legitimite threat after fighting orcs?

This was even mroe apparent in the first Hobbit movie with the trolls. How do you take the cave troll from Fellowship and turn it into these tough rail-riding hobos that get tricked by Bilbo.

It is tough.

I am actually not complaining about any of that.

No, this is where I am complimenting him.

Legolas was wrong on LotR. Hey, I enjoyed the way he was portrayed in those movies as much as anyone, but the way he was portrayed did not match the way Legolas ‘should’ have been portrayed.

This also goes back to the evolution of Tolkien’s writing. The elves in the Hobbit are pretty much the model for elves in D&D. They are forest creatures who favour bows and wear green and brown and are pretty much ranger types.

The Rivendell elves were a little ‘higher’. Snootier.

Then in LotR they cranked that up even more with Lothlorien. Elves became ethereal and very… high. Snooty. Regal.

Legolas wasn’t one of those, though. He was a Mirkwood elf. He should have been clad in green and brown and been more… earthy than he was.

So, here, Jackson has created this idea of an elven caste system. There ARE good old fashioned Mirkwoof elves. (Or Sylvain Elves, if you will) They are ruled by the high elves which included Thranduil and his son Legolas.

Okay. That works, I guess. It also let’s him introduce Tauriel, who is GREAT. Ruthanne complained that the introduce a female character and immediately put her in a love triangle, and I get that as a grumble. I think that is okay because otherwise they would pretty much have had to kill her at the end to explain why there is no mention of her in LotR. That aside, Tauriel is a great addition. She is a lot better than Arwen as expanded female presence and that is largely because she gets to be a wood elf and not one of these flitty high elf waifs. (Speaking of waifs, it is kind of funny that Legolas looks more solid and distinguished the… younger he gets. Blame the fact that we human shave to deal with the normal progression of linear time.)

Thranduil – well, I didn’t like him. He is smarmy and comes across as more evil than misguided. Nope. Didn’t like it.

Then came a BIG change from the book – the barrel ride. Those barrels should have been sealed, yes, but instead we get one of the best fight scenes in Tolkien movie-dom. That was just plain awesome. That was the highlight of the film as far as action goes, even though there were still some good action scenes to come and a decent one already past (the spider fight).

In fact, the final third of the movie worked a lot better for me. Laketown worked. Bilbo sneaking into the mountain worked. Smaug.
(Aside, one of the things that always bugged me but wasn’t really a complaint in LotR was the way the pronounced Gamgee. In my mind there were always two hard Gs, not just one. We have that problem again. I think Smaug should be pronounced Smog. Oh well.)

The one thing from the review I read this morning that I agree with is that Smaug is a little too worldly. He shouldn’t really know about Thorin and his quest. He never comes out of the mountain!
The big thing about the end-game is that Jackson clearly felt he needed a huge action scene to end the movie. The dwarves don’t fight the dragon in the book. Instead, Bilbo steals something, Smaug knows it and gets mad. That’s it. The dragon is petty and avarice-filled. THAT IS THE POINT, because as Thorin starts to act more and more like the dragon we SEE that. We feel it. Instead we get a noble profile like his carven fore-fathers and Thorin’s greed seems undercut by need. (Though the greed is still there.)

So… I still enjoyed the movie overall, but there were a lot of things that lessened that. Disappointing. I hope it finishes better.


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