I saw the new Hobbit film yesterday. Overall I enjoyed it, especially the integration with The Lord of the Rings and how it felt part of the same, big universe. I think the extended scenes with Radagast and the White Council added depth that went beyond the original children’s tale; ultimately by the end of the third film the story should integrate well as a complete six episode tale.
My main gripe is Peter Jackson’s focus on battle scenes. There were far too many. The original tale really didn’t focus so much on combat as it did on running away from combat. And a related problem is that goblins and orcs really aren’t that interesting as characters, so the introduction of Azog didn’t help improve the story much. Whereas in The Lord of the Rings, sure the orcs were the enemy, but the real enemy was the corrupting power of the ring; the struggle was as much an internal one within the fellowship as an external conflict. I think the story will pick up in The Desolation of Smaug next year as the rivalry between the elves and dwarves develops further though. This conflict should introduce more grey characters into the story than the black and white rivalry between Tolkien’s heroes and the forces of darkness. Boromir and Gollum were some of the better characters in LOTR after all.
The extension from two to three films was not a problem IMO. There’s more than the enough material in The Hobbit’s back story for it, and although I thought some of the fighting went on for too long, the slow introduction to Bilbo and the dwarves at the start allowed more development of their character compared to the rushed feeling that I got from the first LOTR movie. So, I think it was a good decision to turn it into a trilogy.
I’m really liked the extra detail they allowed themselves to delve into with The Hobbit. I felt with LotR that sometimes it wasn’t allowed to explain it’s self in some respects and certain parts lost a little bit of their impact because of it (although I can’t imagine now the film series being any longer than the three films nor taking any longer).
It’s funny because the two people I’ve talked to said they were disappointed by The Hobbit because it didn’t have the same feeling of grandeur, mysticism and epicness that the LotR series did. Which, I suppose, is the opposite of what you’re saying to a degree.
Personally, I couldn’t really fault the film. It’s been a very long time since I read the book so the details were hazy, which might’ve been to my benefit in the end. I took the film for what it was, comparing very little of it to the LotR film series or The Hobbit in book form. Overall found it extremely enjoyable and while I was hesitant at first at the prospect of them making it into three films I now eagerly look forward to the next two films.
The extended editions helped explain the back story a bit more, especially in The Two Towers with Faramir’s decision to take the ring to Gondor. I agree though. Especially the in the first film, it felt like the Hobbits were chased by Black Riders non stop all the way to Rivendell, whereas in the book there was more downtime between encounters. There was only so much they could fit into a three hour film though, and I think they did well given that limitation.
To an extent - I don’t think all the battles necessarily add to the grandeur and mysticism of the story. Moreso, those aspects of the story come from experiencing a huge wide world for the first time from a hobbit’s perspective. This is something that is hard to pull off in a film, since most of Bilbo’s experiences in the book are conveyed in the form of thoughts running through his head.