The Problem with “The Hobbit” Movies

SmaugI just saw the second installment of “The Hobbit” movies, “The Desolation of Smaug“, and thought it suffered from the same problem as the original, which is no real surprise as they were filmed at the same time.

I don’t care about the characters or what happens to them, or if they succeed. None of them have anything to lose, since the dwarves already lost everything a long time ago and Bilbo Baggins is basically just bored before it starts.  In fact, I was bored before the quest started, too, (in the last film) and quite often after it did start.

We know almost nothing about these dwarves, who are a bit annoying if anything. I might enjoy seeing them get eaten by a dragon.  At least it would be interesting.  Unless I wasn’t paying attention (it’s possible I drifted off a few times), none but the main dwarf gets any back story.  They seem to have no family, either, so no one even cares about them.  It comes as a surprise when we learn some of them are brothers or something, but even then, I didn’t particularly care.

Of course, they can lose their lives, or their souls, but the book/movies fail at a basic story problem – the characters can walk away any time  In fact, they did so 60 years ago.  They don’t have to go back.  Wanting to wasn’t enough (for me). There’s no dramatic tension there.  Nothing bad happens if they just give up, so who cares?  In fact, they’re the ones who cause something bad to happen when they disturb the dragon.

Bilbo Baggins
Bilbo Baggins

For Bilbo, the film suffers from the knowledge that I already know what happens to him, so there’s no tension there, though the changes in him are at least of interest.  He’s appropriately the best character (besides Gollum, who isn’t in the second part).

As for Gandalf, I personally have never found him to be interesting, really.  He’s the only one who sees a reason to do anything on the grand scheme and that he can’t walk away, but again I know he survives just fine, so at best his exploits are a passing curiosity.

Even the dragon wasn’t interesting.  I’ve never seen a less majestic depiction of a dragon.  He was all gray and black.  The only time he looked even remotely cool was (spoiler alert) when he was covered in liquid gold for all of two minutes.  His size was impressive, but that was it.  Even his voice didn’t do it for me, as it was so suave and, well, human.  At least the other beings sounded like other creatures.


I’m glad I waited until this came out on DVD so I could watch it while making use of my time on the computer simultaneously.  I have little doubt the last film will feel the same.  I don’t know that these movies are doing the fantasy genre any favors.  Since fantasy films almost never get made and usually suck when they do, I was hoping for better, but I guess I’ll take what I can get.

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3 thoughts on “The Problem with “The Hobbit” Movies”

  1. I liked Smaug. Thought he was the best part of the movie and the book. I’d like an example of a better dragon. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any. And what dragon has Smag’s presence? Talking cinema here. However, I do agree with the other points. These movies missed the mark because, well, the book missed the mark. They’re basically about setting, I think. Anyway…

    1. Thanks for commenting! I read that Tolkien just wanted to write a kid’s adventure and it comes across that way. No harm in that, but to some extent, he lacks some storytelling basics, such as not including irrelevant stuff.

  2. The basic problem is that THE HOBBIT was written to be an adventure story for children, but Jackson decided to turn it into this epic-tastic trilogy. It’s a shame really, because while I thought the casting for the film was spot-on, the story was twisted beyond repair because a) pointless love triangle with characters who have been shoe-horned into the story, and b) adding Sauron where he didn’t belong. Yes, there is this Necromancer in the book, but NO one knows what he really is, not at the time. By showing characters in THE HOBBIT knew Sauron was trying to return, all the reveal and “oh s**t it’s that bad” moments in LOTR become moot. THE HOBBIT was meant to be about an adventure to get back their home, and the painful consequences when one turns against one’s friends/good samaritans. This could have been an amazing family film. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

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