Hello Rebels, and welcome back to my life.
It’s Tolkien Tuesday, the day that we talk about J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, and any exciting real-life happenings in the fictional world of Middle-earth.
Back in the middle of last year, I was telling you the story of the creation of the world.
Not the real world. Middle-earth. Which is a real…fictional world. It’s a very complicated wibbly-wobbly kind of thing.
But today as we return to Tolkien Tuesday, I want to reflect on the most significant Middle-earth event to take place in recent history.
It’s been more than a year since the Hobbit film trilogy came out, and so now we can look back on them with some distance, some objectivity, and hopefully some wisdom.
I found many things enjoyable about the Hobbit films. I thought the casting was very good. Martin Freeman was a wonderful Bilbo. Ian McKellan, just, IS Gandalf. And the dwarves—well, the dwarves were very well CAST, I mean, the actors were FINE.
The Hobbit films were all right. They were not the Star Wars prequels, packed with cringe-worthy dialogue and wooden acting.
Most of my problems with them were from a purely technical standpoint. For example, the cinematography was notably different from the Lord of the Rings films. Which is weird, because it was the same cinematographer, working with the same director.
The Hobbit films turned everything into typical Hollywood orange-and-blue, and if you don’t know what that is, google it. You probably don’t even realize how many movies you watch are ENTIRELY shot in orange and blue.
And a lot of design elements—particularly the dwarves—just looked ridiculous.
I feel like the design of the movie dwarves was supposed to help us differentiate them from each other. But it didn’t.
Other than the dwarves who are vitally important to the plot, the VAST majority of moviegoers would never be able to name one of the dwarves if you held up a picture of them.
And that design problem LITTERS the movies. The goblin king? Thranduil’s…freaking MOOSE? And Beorn?
Especially Beorn. If you’ve never read the books, or the graphic novel…oh, man.
A lot of the stuff that was ADDED to the story didn’t bug me a whole lot.
Except for Gundabad. I don’t…why?
But the stuff that was CHANGED was heartbreaking—see my earlier Hobbit Review videos on Thorin’s death.
I will…I will never get over that. Ever. It SHOULD have been as good as Boromir’s death, and…it very much was not.
So…why? What’s the reason for all this? And what does it mean for us in the future?
I think the reason is pretty clear: Peter Jackson wasn’t going to direct the Hobbit films until less than a year before filming began. Before that it was going to be Guillermo Del Toro, but then he quit.
There’s a story I’ve heard, which I don’t know if it’s true or not, that Warner Bros called Jackson in and said “We want you to direct the films.” And he said “No.”
And they said, “And you can have complete creative control. We won’t touch it.” And then he said yes.
If this story is true, I think there was one more thing that they said: “But you have to start shooting on schedule.”
I think that’s where we fell down. I think the Hobbit films look like a Del Toro world as conducted by Peter Jackson. And Peter Jackson has said in interviews that they were winging a lot of the filmmaking.
I think there was a lot more CGI in the Hobbit films because they simply didn’t have enough time to plan out the practical effects the way they did with the Lord of the Rings.
If the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films had been made in book order, I would be a super happy camper right now.
Because it would have started off with a cool, but slightly off, trilogy of films, and then ended with my favorite movies of all time.
But facing the reality of the films, going forward in the future…here’s the thing, right? The Lord of the Rings films didn’t GO anywhere.
I want you to do something for me. I want you to block out your next available weekend, and I want you to sit down, and do the Tolkien film marathon.
All six films, back to back, extended editions if you’ve got’em.
Saturday might feel like a chore, although you might enjoy it more than you think.
But Sunday…Sunday will remind you, and me, and everyone who does this: Middle-earth is still RIGHT THERE. It’s RIGHT THERE, on our DVD shelf, for all time.
We’ve got twenty-four freaking hours of Middle-earth, and if twelve of those hours aren’t quite as good as the other half…it’s still Middle-earth. And man, it’s a cool place to be.
That’s it for today, Rebels. I want to give a shoutout to my supporters on Patreon who make my YouTube channel possible. If you want to be one of them, here’s a link, or if you need something to read, here’s where you can get signed copies of my books.
Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you tomorrow. Byyye.