I remember being so unbelievably hyped for The Hobbit trilogy when it was first announced. The thing is, it originally wasn’t supposed to be a trilogy. At least that wasn’t Peter Jackson’s plan. First it was An Unexpected Journey, then a second film title There and Back Again. However, Jackson’s bosses had other plans, which was basically a trilogy. I remember at the time, I thought it was such an amazing idea. In fact, I naively believed that The Hobbit trilogy would live up to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It only made sense, considering Peter Jackson was returning to direct all three films. Heck, he even brought back Orlando Bloom to play Legolas again! Add in Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Ian McKellan returning as Gandalf the Grey, and Thorin Oakenshield accompanied by his band of very awesome dwarves, Jackson seemingly had an unbeatable recipe for success.
Wrong. I mean, not dead wrong, but still wrong. The introduction of The Hobbit movie was a great start. I saw An Unexpected Journey for the first time in theaters and walked out with a big smile on my face. My favorite part actually had nothing to do with action. I loved it when Thorin’s company of Dwarves were eating everything in Bilbo’s pantry and singing about blunt knives and bent forks. To me, that scene captured everything fun about Middle-Earth. It’s a world where dark lords like Sauron exist, but where there is darkness, there is light. Common people gathering just to be together and have fun is a prime example of what Gandalf loves about regular folk. Now every time I watch that scene, I can’t help but sing along.
The Hobbit trilogy got off to a great start, but after watching Desolation of Smaug, I decided to read The Hobbit novel. I finished it several months before the release of Battle of the Five Armies and once I finished it, my perspective changed. For one, I loved Desolation of Smaug. It brought back Legolas to Middle-Earth, introduced Tauriel to the franchise, a character not from the book. A bold move, but in my opinion, she was a good character. A badass Elf warrior that rivaled Legolas was fun to see, plus she was played by Evangeline Lilly. She killed it and was a welcomed addition to the franchise.
Oh, and then there was Smaug himself, the magnificent dragon. He was incredible to see on the big-screen and his back-and-forth with Bilbo was certainly one of the highlights of the film. The film even ended on quite the cliffhanger, with Smaug flying to Lake Town to destroy it all. That got me all hyped up for Battle of the Five Armies. At that point, I wanted the third Hobbit movie to he on par with the third Lord of the Rings movie. I know, that’s a pretty big bar to pass up, but like I said, I was pretty naive.
After reading The Hobbit novel, I realized the true challenge Peter Jackson had to face in turning it into a trilogy. The Lord of the Rings trilogy worked because there were three books for Jackson to work with. The Hobbit, however, was just one book. So when the journey got to the final battle with the actual five armies, it was all through Bilbo’s perspective. And what happened to Bilbo during the final battle? He got knocked out and he was unconscious during most of it. When he woke up, he discovered Thorin to be mortally wounded and the battle was won.
How could Peter Jackson work with this? Well, his solution was simply to give us a lot of action and animated orcs. Oh, and the animated Legolas. It was fun to watch, but it paled in comparison to the battles in Return of the King. I’d say the biggest difference between them is that The Hobbit battles lacked that urgency that you felt in all three Lord of the Rings films. In Return of the King, the forces of good were always on the edge of devastation. In each battle, they barely escaped from the jaws of defeat and had little time to lick their wounds.
Even after all the forces of good won the battle of Minas Tirith, they still had one last battle to fight at the Black Gate of Mordor. They were outnumbered ten to one and yet they still fought. It was a battle that they couldn’t win, but thanks to Frodo and Sam, they triumphed. That’s what made The Lord of the Rings so intense. The characters were always about to lose, but they still won in the end. That sense of “all hope is lost” was always there and it worked.
That wasn’t the case for The Hobbit trilogy. I can tell Peter Jackson was struggling to come up with ideas and turn each film into a feature length action fest. That’s basically what Battle of the Five Armies was. It was fun, don’t get me wrong. It had its moments and I had fun with it, but it was no Return of the King. In Return of the King, you would see a whole montage of Orcs slaughtering the soldiers of Gondor. And let’s not forget that shot where Denethor gazes upon the inconceivably huge Orc army. All of that put fear into the heart of the audience. It made us believe that the forces of good would lose the battle and all would be lost. That kind of intensity is rare in movies and it’s a shame that Jackson couldn’t capture that in the third Hobbit movie.
I mean, what was the fifth army? Was it that final wave of reinforcements that Azog called? I remember them being in the fight for barely a minute because Beorn and the eagles showed up to literally plow through them. After watching every battle in each Lord of the Rings movies, that was very anti-climactic. I’d say that was the biggest issue with The Hobbit trilogy. It just didn’t have that sense of urgency that the Lord of Rings trilogy had. Add in some animated Orcs and Legolas into the mix, and we got a trilogy that just paled in comparison to Lord of the Rings.
I also believe that Peter Jackson succumbed to the immense pressure of turning The Hobbit novel into a whole trilogy. Want some proof? Watch the behind-the-scenes of Desolation of Smaug and you’ll see it. Jackson sent the crew on an extended lunch break and spent his time brooding on the set. When asked what he was doing, he replied, “I have no idea what’s going on.” Man, that was hard to hear. Don’t blame Jackson though. He deserves immense praise for his work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy. When he was ordered to give us three Hobbit films, I think that’s what did it. Still, Jackson muscled through it and gave us three more films that were very entertaining. It’s just sad The Hobbit trilogy couldn’t light a candle to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
If you want to see more Middle-Earth, just be patient for the upcoming Amazon series. It’s going to be super epic. At least I hope it’s more epic than The Hobbit trilogy. And please, no nudity. It’s not Game of Thrones, so don’t try to imitate it.
Tell us what's wrong with this post? How could we improve it? :)
Let us improve this post!