I was never your biggest Tolkien fan – I had read the Lord of the Rings once as a kid, but the movies got me back in. There seemed to be a genuine desire to stay true to the source material, and most of the changes made you could at least make a case for it being better for a movie. No one scratched their head more than me when it was announced that The Hobbit would be adapted as two movies – it’s shorter than any of the LOTR books, even if you add in some stuff out of the various appendices it’s still not that big. Then three movies? Why? Sadly, having seen all three movies now, ‘why?’ is what keeps coming to mind.
In adding in all the stuff with the ‘Necromancer’, the movie series takes the focus off your title character, Bilbo. Several times things seem to be humming along only for there to be an oddly placed scene all in gray with Gandalf, Saruman and Galadriel. I love these characters, I love these actors, but it’s all a distraction. I hate that Peter Jackson tried to make a companion trilogy to act as a prequel to the LOTR movies, and this story suffered for it. We miss out on more Beorn for a bunch of orc battles? Bilbo was unconscious for most of that in the book! Dune’s sandworms pop in for a visit, why? Because of one throwaway line in the book somewhere?
What kills me is the good story bits ARE there. Jackson overdoes them a bit, but that’s no different from LOTR. The actors are all top-notch, and the movies remain at least mostly watchable on their backs alone. I’m certain that, after The Battle of the Five Armies hits Blu-Ray, some enterprising fan editor will re-cut the movies into one coherent Hobbit story. It will run at most, 2.5 hours, and it will tell the story from the actual book The Hobbit just fine.