It’s the holidays again, and the movie gods have decided that, for another three-year stretch, Middle-earth mania shall once again reign supreme next to jingling bells and wrapping paper. On December 13, the next chapter comes out, which I have christened The Hobbit 2: The Middle One, officially (and less originally) titled The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
This is the second film in a bloated trilogy, a trilogy made up of nine hours of fluff unceremoniously ripped from a slim, 300-page children’s book. Almost nothing from the first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, was actually in the book, and the characters have been changed from their iterations in the source material. Both of these problems plagued Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, and really were all that prevented it from earning the title of “masterpiece.” Returning writer/director Peter Jackson failed to realize this (which probably has something to do with the distraction of the approximate $3 billion worldwide box office take for that trilogy) and returning co-writers Fran Wash and Philippa Boyens haven’t changed their altering ways. So the Hobbit trilogy, under the exact same leadership, is failing in the same ways The Lord of the Rings did.
But, good or bad or bloated or nonsensical, the Hobbit films should not exist in the first place. New Line is ending at the start, telling a story with no stakes. Everyone has already seen The Lord of the Rings, and nothing in The Hobbit matters nearly as much as the events of that previous trilogy. The audience already knows that hero Bilbo (Martin Freeman) will survive The Hobbit, already knows that the magic ring he finds will turn out to be the evil, all-powerful One Ring, already knows that Bilbo’s nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood) will have to go on a successful quest to destroy it, already knows that wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) will lead the successful war against the true bad guy, the dark lord Sauron.
So the real reason these films are coming out is the money, not the story. These Tolkien adaptations make money (again, over $1 billion worldwide for An Unexpected Journey) and – sadly – no studio is crazy enough to actually try to bring The Silmarillion to the big screen (article here). So, we get three movies out of The Hobbit. At the most, we should have had one, and it should have been released in 1999.
About the author:
Steve Hawco spent too many hours in the shadow-strewn offices and steamy alleys of 1941 San Francisco. After suffering one too many double-crosses in his search for a black figure of a bird, he decided to put his fedora away and enter the sunny world of Rant Pad criticism. His favorite films include Seven Samurai, Once Upon a Time in the West, Blade Runner, Aliens, and Sunshine. He’s an occasional guest commentator on our podcast, and he also has Kind of a Movie Blog.