Interlude: the Hobbit movies

Right after I started my series on dragon lit for young people, the trailers for the new Hobbit movie came out. I don’t want to wait for that series to wrap up before I briefly mention the trailer, so I’m using this post as an aside on the Hobbit. I’ll get back to the dragon lit later in the week.

Movie teaser poster

Movie teaser poster borrowed from

I’m a fan of Tolkien. Admittedly, the only time I’ve read through The Lord of the Rings in its entirety was when I was eleven, but I acknowledge its superiority above the movies (which I watch regularly) and grew up in a Middle-Earth-loving home.  I was first introduced to The Hobbit when my dad read it to me and my sister as a bedtime story when we were young (much like he did with My Father’s Dragon). I loved it, and having enjoyed the LotR movies, I expected great things from Peter Jackson’s take on the prequel.

I didn’t post about the first movie after I went to see it at Christmas because it hadn’t reached the dragon portion of the story yet (Jackson chose to expand the book into a movie trilogy). Even though almost everyone I knew loved the movie, I wasn’t so crazy about it. I didn’t feel like it kept the heart of the story or characters for me, and too many flashy effects common to today’s action/adventure genre were added in. After part one alone, I wasn’t sure if I would be planning on seeing the other two parts.

Enter the trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Friend after friend posted the link on Facebook as they practically drooled in excitement, so I took a look. As expected, the trailer hints at more material that isn’t from the book, more added drama and action, and just plain more of everything that made me dislike the first movie. The fact that this is the segment involving giant spiders doesn’t help matters any, either–I may or may not have a bit of a phobia. And then there was Smaug.

Smaug, for those of you who don’t know, is the dragon from the Hobbit movies. He’s big, he likes to destroy villages, and his hoard happens to be the destination of the adventurers. The dragon eye shown at the end of the first Hobbit move is impressive; the scaly CGI creation that chases Bilbo around the second trailer is not. For such a high-budget, reputable production, I was disappointed. Even if they didn’t get the characters “right” according to my picture of the story, how can you go wrong with a dragon? Apparently, Jackson and I have far more differences in our imaginations than I guessed after The Lord of the Rings.

Here is my question for my readers: What about you? Why do you like or dislike what Jackson is doing with the Hobbit story? I have the trailer below, so let me know what you think. Am I alone in my disappointment, or are these movies and this dragon really that far off?

Categories: Film Dragons | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Interlude: the Hobbit movies

  1. Having read Lord of the Rings several times and also the Hobbit, especially to my children, I was apprehensive when I found it was to be made in three parts. I watched the first part and it was not as bad as I had feared and so I will probably go to see the second part. But your criticisms are justified in my opinion. I also particularly didn’t like the way they had altered the part with the trolls and the answer to final riddle in the dark. Furthermore, to me, in seeking to make it into a suitable prequel to The Lord of the Rings, they have lost it’s character as a fun children’s tale.

    I would wish to reserve judgement on the dragon from such a small view in the trailer.

    As an irrelevant aside though, as someone with Welsh ancestry who was born in the Far East, I find the fact that in so much of literature dragons are presented as the bad guys upsetting, as to me dragons are beneficent if powerful.

    • Your comment about it losing the “fun children’s tale” feel is one of my biggest problems with what they are doing with the movies. There are too many stereotypical fantasy stories out there right now; don’t ruin The Hobbit by changing it into one of them!

      I’ve noticed that same difference between the Western mindset of “dragons are bad guys” vs. the Eastern mindset of “dragons are good guys.” That is one of the reasons I started this blog–to explore different cultures’ ideas of what dragons are and stand for. When I was younger, I thought big, mean dragons were cool, but now I really appreciate the big, beneficent dragons, as well.

  2. I felt, in Lord of the Rings, that most of the deviations from the books were done for good dramatic reasons. For instance, amplifying the relationship between Arwen and Aragorn, and her choice to become mortal for love of him. By contrast, splitting The Hobbit into three seems arbitrary and a mercantile choice rather than out of love for the material. Using the Elves as antagonists could be interesting, but the addition of so many action rides turns me off. Smaug looks a bit clunky, I have to say.

    I don’t plan to see it in theaters. I’m sure my husband will rent it. Depending how ornery I’m feeling, I might watch it, or I might not.

    • I felt the same thing about the Lord of the Rings. I can’t understand why the Hobbit had to be stretched out into three movies–it wasn’t meant to be a long epic, but more of a children’s story.

      “Depending on how ornery I’m feeling, I might watch it, or I might not.”
      That is exactly how I feel about it! I don’t want to see it, but my close friends and family might be able to talk me into it. We’ll see–I can’t guess this far ahead. If I see it, I’ll have more to say on Smaug.

  3. I have not yet read The Hobbit … although I have read (and seen) the LOTR books/movies. I felt Jackson did a pretty good job with those, but after seeing The Hobbit a few months ago, it has been hard for me to gauge how I feel about it. As a movie, I thought it was great, but I am almost always a fan of books before movie, so am afraid of disappointment once I finally pick the book up. We’ll see! It’s on my oh-so-long TBR list.

  4. Pingback: Hiccup and Toothless Are Coming Back! | Dragon Crossing

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