The Hobbit: Why Go There and Back Again?

Peter Jackson's return to Middle-earth is just like the Tolkien tale: many marvels and a whole lot of trudging

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Nine years ago, Peter Jackson completed his film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings fantasy novels to cheers that circled the globe — plus 17 Oscars and $2.9 billion at the worldwide box office. Now, like Sam Gamgee at the conclusion of that gigantic achievement, Jackson says, Well, I’m back.

Back again and back in time, to The Hobbit, the 1937 book in which Tolkien introduced Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Grey and the splendor and travails of Middle-earth. Having made three three-hour movies of the 1,359-page trilogy (not including appendices), Jackson has brought the same capacious vision and maniacal attention to detail — and perhaps the same lavish running time — to a three-film version of Tolkien’s earlier 287-page story.

(LIST: The Lord of the Rings on all-TIME 100 Movies)

You could probably read The Hobbit aloud in less time than watching the three movies, after The Desolation of Smaug is released next December and the final installment, There and Back Again, is released a year after that. It’s another matter as to whether a parent with a flair for the dramatic could carve images into a child’s mind as vivid as the goblins and trolls and orcs — and Smaug the dragon — that come to plausible life in this first episode, called The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

And if children have seen the Rings cycle, they’ll want to revisit the actors, now older, returning to play younger versions of their characters: Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Ian Holm as the elderly Bilbo, Andy Serkis as the treacherous, piteous Gollum, Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett as the Elf royals Elrond and Galadriel, Christopher Lee as Saruman the White Wizard and, briefly, Elijah Wood as Bilbo’s nephew Frodo, whose honor and burden in the Rings films was to carry the One Ring to Mount Doom.

(MORE: TIME’s Review of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring)

By stretching a medium-length prequel into three long movies, Jackson is almost begging for his Hobbit to be compared to another movie trilogy: episodes 1 through 3 of Star Wars, which both expanded and diminished the achievement of the 1977–83 films. So, you ask, is An Unexpected Journey better than The Phantom Menace? Easily, yes — it would take a real effort to make it worse — though the appearance of the wizard Radagast (Sylvester McCoy), a flighty Doctor Dolittle, has stirred the unhappy memory of Jar Jar Binks in some early viewers. Does the new movie boast spectacular visual effects? Undoubtedly. Does Jackson’s shooting at 48 frames per second instead of the standard 24 impose a unique clarity on The Hobbit? Absolutely, and at times almost blindingly so.

But the movie lacks majesty. Grand in parts, it is too often grandiose or grandiloquent, and the running time is indefensible. It’s like the three-hour first cut, assembled by editors, of even the most modest film before the director says, “O.K., now let’s make a movie out of this.” This Hobbit plays like a rough cut, with no deleted scenes left for DVD.

(MORE: TIME’s Review of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers)

This scrupulous rendering of the story reminds reader-viewers that it involves quite a bit of trudging through hostile terrain and throws this Fellowship into a series of scrapes before the party is rescued by Gandalf, who at this stage of his 7,000-year life was a bit stingy and capricious in his use of magic spells. And so faithful to the book is the movie that Middle-earth geeks will be flummoxed by the few changes (replacing Tolkien’s songs for the elves and goblins with other airs) and deletions (like Bilbo’s dismissive line to Gandalf — “But please come to tea … Come tomorrow! Goodbye!” — that sets the whole quest in motion).

In any adaptation of a beloved book, there’s a fine line between fidelity and fealty, care and obsession. Jackson originally assigned Guillermo del Toro, the Mexican master of Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy films, to direct the Hobbit films (then planned as just two feature-length parts). Then Jackson took over; he wanted The Hobbit for himself, just as he had possessed the Rings movies. In this backstage story, there’s a touch of the sad, covetous Gollum, who kept the Ring for ages and was corrupted by its possession before losing it to Bilbo and then Frodo.

(MORE: TIME’s Review of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)

Not that Jackson is Gollum — he’s a more likely Gandalf — or that the movie should be called The Hoard of the Rings. But the director’s nearly two-decade involvement with filming the Tolkien books seems to have stoked a belief that he should put virtually every scene of The Hobbit onscreen. Once or twice he inflates a few sentences, like the thunder battle, into huge FX production numbers. In editing a film, a director has to kill some of his darling scenes for the duty and glory of entertaining 100 million children and adults. Watching this plus-size Hobbit, viewers have to do their own editing, savoring the strong scenes and napping through the weak ones.

Oh, Jackson might sarcastically reply, and I suppose you’d want the 13 dwarves in Tolkien’s story pared down to seven, because that number was plenty for Walt Disney (the animated feature Snow White opened exactly three months after The Hobbit was published). The answer would have to be yes, at least on the evidence of the first film; the dwarves get a great deal of time without more than two or three registering as distinct personalities.

(MORE: Twenty-Seven Animals Died During Making of The Hobbit, Say Handlers)

Chief among these is Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), a more glowering and ambivalent simulacrum of Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn in the Rings movies. Thorin leads the quest to return to and regain his people’s kingdom inside the Lonely Mountain, where the dwarves were routed and his father and grandfather were killed by Smaug. (“Dragon?” one dwarf says to Bilbo. “Think furnace with wings.”)

In this mission — merely a field trip, compared with the earth-saving pilgrimage undertaken in The Fellowship of the Ring — Thorin enlists Gandalf, who brings along young Bilbo (Martin Freeman), whom he advertises to the dwarves as a pre-eminent burglar. Bilbo has not that skill nor the taste for mortal adventure that the journey entails. But eventually, or just before Christmas 2014, moviegoers will discover that the complacent Hobbit has reserves of heroism.

(MORE: Google Maps Easter Egg: ‘One Does Not Simply Walk into Mordor’)

The flashback that begins the film, of the dwarves’ defeat by Smaug, is brilliantly choreographed — the movement of both action and camera — as is a climactic confrontation with the goblins. In the intervening few hours, though, things can get pokey and silly. A good time to end a scene is when the slowest viewer says, I get it; but Jackson, so determined to deploy all his CGI resources, often can’t let go. He leans heavily, as Tolkien did, on ethnic stereotyping: the dwarves are more or less Scottish (hardworking and greedy), the trolls Cockney (comically loutish), the blond, refined Elves super-Scandinavian. Stately and twee, the Elves inhabit a kind of Middle-earth Renaissance faire. The reunion there of McKellen, Lee, Weaving and Blanchett is not epochal but perfunctory, a tepid attempt to convene some of the star personalities of the Rings movies.

The Hobbit‘s most startling innovation — shooting at 48 frames per second — is also the most challenging. Filmgoers have been trained for almost a century to watch movies at 24 frames per second. Doubling the rate keeps the image from blurring when the camera moves, which is ideal for Jackson’s action sequences but disorienting in the more static interior scenes, where the scenery upstages the characters. The clarity of the image is sometimes magical, occasionally migraine-inducing. (Mike Ryan of the Huffington Post wrote that “the picture is so clear that in one scene I could see Ian McKellen’s contact lenses.”) At first, in the Smaug battle, I thought I was watching a video game: pellucid pictures of indistinct creatures. After a while my eyes adjusted, as to a new pair of glasses, but it was still like watching a very expensively mounted live TV show on the world’s largest home TV screen.

(MORE: TIME’s Review of the 1978 Lord of the Rings)

What’s curious is that, in this cathedral of high tech, the most telling moments are scenes of intimacy, like Galadriel’s solemn, seductive promise to Gandalf that “if you should need my help, I will come” — one of the movie’s few pulses of adult connection. As Bilbo, Freeman provides the anchor of humanity: ordinary and troubled, and not impervious to the Ring’s corrosive power, but with a good nature and capable of rising to greatness. The British actor is known for playing Tim Canterbury on the original run of The Office as well as Dr. Watson in the BBC series Sherlock. (Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Holmes, supplies the voice of Smaug in the Hobbit trilogy.)

You wait two hours for the meeting of Bilbo and Gollum, and it satisfies all expectations. We know from The Lord of the Rings that this emaciated figure of doomed dementia was once the Hobbit Sméagol. After a half millennium in subterranean solitary confinement under the Ring’s influence, he is a sibilant wraith, arguing with himself as Norman Bates did with his late mother. Like Frodo’s encounters with Gollum, Bilbo’s game playing reveals the pathetic future of any Hobbit who holds the Ring.

(MORE: TIME’s Review of The Ring Sings, the LOTR Stage Musical)

Serkis, aided by Jackson’s CGI gurus, revives the old sick poignancy in a creature who is more haunted than malevolent (and he is very malevolent). In an adventure, villains usually get the best roles; add a touch of madness and the result can be magnificent maleficence. Serkis soars as Sméagol sinks, and if the next two Hobbit films hold hope, it is that this Peter Lorre–esque skulker will get more chances to work his evil magic. Given the fitful inspirations and frustrating longueurs of this middling Middle-earth fable, one wishes that Tolkien had written a darker companion volume called The Gollum. Now that would be worth a trilogy.

53 comments
Fla4Me
Fla4Me

Putting all the "who did what and when" debate, I will say that the film left me feeling like there should have been more.  The amount of story put forth was not enough and made me feel that this should have been two movies with less added Jackson filler.  

malcolm
malcolm

Reality check here ..70% of all performances of The Hobbit wont be in 48fps but in 24fps so why are we constantly being hit over the head in these reviews that its filmed in 48fps and all the problem that format may have,why  are  they reviewing it in this format and not the normal(2D/3D) 24fps which most people who see it will be watching

Ive seen the film a couple of times now and frankly think most of these paid for a bad opinion critics should consider  posterior cranium extraction  immediately before their condition gets to serious 

PdCJonas
PdCJonas

*Gollum was never a Hobbit. He was a Riverfolk, whom we know little of, but one main difference is that, as the name implies, they live close by the river, and like to fish, etc... whereas the Hobbits, as seen by Sam in The Two Towers, can't swim, or swim really badly. Easy mistake to make though, since they both look alike.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

And now, The Hobbit's been the #1 film for 3 weeks straight, and been atop the Box Office.


Manwe
Manwe

Time magazine?! Full of idiots!

BarbaraWarren
BarbaraWarren

Anyone who has followed the back story of the making of the Hobbit knows that PJ didn't "take it back" from del Toro. Del Toro backed out, and Jackson somewhat reluctantly stepped in. 

Talyseon
Talyseon

The movie is 169 minutes long.  And this is described as "indefensable"?  The Book is 320 pages long, should it have been cut too 200?  Does it's length offend your sensibilities?  I am amazed.  Most movies, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, etc, they whine and complain; "They took too many liberties with the plot; its not like the Booooooks!"  Now, you have a very close approximation of the book, amazing really, and "Its soooooo loooooong!"  There is no pleasing some people, and most of them become film critics.  http://bit.ly/U2GsZX

PaulSerrano
PaulSerrano

Jackson butcher and razed Tolkien's work when he made LOTR; as someone who grew up with the novels I was frankly stunned by the way he gutted a modern classic and turned it into basically a dungeons and dragons movie; turned Elrond from a noble heroic figure into an ass, and completely omitted the actual climax of the story, the hobbits returning to their home to find it had been taken over by Gandalf's enemy so as to give it a happy ending feel - I saw them once and NEVER again; Jackson got lucky he helmed a franchise that had generations of fans to buoy it's box office - fool me once - the Hobbit may be successful, but it will not be nearly the hit his LOTR disgraces were...

VitalyKlitschko
VitalyKlitschko

Speaking purely for myself, I'm not interested in watching dodgy uncle Gandalf taking little Bilbo on an "adventure" with his gang of hairy chums. Especially when that "adventure" equates ugliness, bad hygiene and poverty with Evil. The Orcs are heterosexual working class laborers, who are despised because of their skin colour and social status. There is not a shred of decency in Tolkien and Smaug is entirely justified in 'might is right'. Sauron even more so, since he cares for the welfare of the poor and disposed and, more to the point, desires to help them via industrialization.

IsaacSmith
IsaacSmith

I'm sure the author was expecting plenty of nerd rage for this critique; I'd like to save some nerds the trouble.

He needs to brush up on his rhetoric: "But the movie lacks majesty. Grand in parts, the movie is too often grandiose or grandiloquent" Just bust out your trusty dictionary and you'll see the author doesn't understand the definition of those two big, pretentious adjectives. I wonder what he gets paid to write these- couldn't be much if his editors don't even grammar check him...

Beregond
Beregond

What a misinformed, mean-spirited and obtuse review!  Jackson did not grab the film back from Del Toro; the latter quit.  You seem to have no understanding that you are reviewing the first third of one film.  What you dismiss as longeurs and unnecessary padding is no doubt  the required setting-up of events to come.  You criticise changes that Tolkien himself wanted to make.  And so on.  You might want to do, say, five minutes of research before you make such a fool of yourself in print.

KarnKowshik
KarnKowshik

you do know that the Hobbit (the book) came out AFTER the LOTR trilogy? Tolkien published LOTR first (and all together) and the hobbit after. 

If you don't like the movies, or it offends that that somebody would turn The Hobbit into one, two, three or a series of eleven movies, I have a solution that might help : DON'T WATCH IT!

islandboy461
islandboy461

I really can't take this reviewer seriously, given that he gave Dark Shadows - without doubt one of the worst films ever made - a decent review. So I'm actually somewhat glad he's been negative about this film, as I'm more likely to take the opposite of his word as truth than what he actually writes...

csif
csif

Your review being so long is also indefensible.

cuthbert
cuthbert

No, he didn't turn a 287-page book (The Hobbit) into 3 movies. He turned a 287-page book into 2 movies and used 125 pages of notes that Tolkien published after Return Of The King for the third movie. 

Doesn't justify the ridiculous running times of his farce of a trilogy, but makes it more understandable.

MikeBirman
MikeBirman

Mr. Corliss lost me when he wrongly writes that Peter Jackson insisted that he direct The Hobbit, grabbing the project for himself and away from Del Toro. As anyone who has paid even the slightest attention to events knows, the project was in limbo for several years and Del Toro resigned to devote himself to other projects. Jackson still (generously) gives the Mexican director writing credit. Corliss also makes some other factual errors in his review. There is a detectable element of pique in his review which makes me wonder if there is some other motive at work here. In any case, no one who loved the LOTR books and movies will be dissuaded by a reviewer, no matter how wrong headed!

340520
340520

Although not glowing by any stretch i read this review as C+/B- in nature....then over at rotten tomatoes i see its rotten under his review...am i the only one reading it this way

And not that any review would stop me from seeing this movie, as i've been waiting feverishly for it to get made, but i just found it odd.

StubbornGorilla
StubbornGorilla

Anyone that believes that successfully translating the Lord of the Rings into a great trilogy should gain Peter Jackson the benefit of the doubt for stretching this single, shorter book into movies of the same length clearly did not view his King Kong.  He doubled the length of the original King Kong movie, and took a great classic monster movie and turned it into a bloated self-important bore. It seems that the main thing Peter Jackson learned from his Rings success is that movies are supposed to be at least three hours long.  I'm sure these movies will be successful, and there will be people who defend them.  For me, there is no worse sin for a filmmaker than to waste their audience's time.  Unfortunately, it seems that Jackson has become a master at that.          

MichaelWellman
MichaelWellman

While 3 hours is a long time for the majority of filmgoers... I'd have to say that most of the fans (not even diehard fans, just normal fans) didn't have any problems sitting through 3 hours of extended-cut DVDs each time they came out.  Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my entire family watched the entire extended cut trilogy... that's almost 10 hours of movie, and we never got tired of it.  So, in a sense, The Hobbit is giving us (the fans) what we want, and not making us wait until an extended cut gets released mid-way through 2013, because they know we're going to buy it anyway.

mbauer8286
mbauer8286

I'm looking forward to watching this.  But there's no way The Hobbit should have been turned into 9 hours of film.

Seanmyr
Seanmyr

I don't care what anyone says, especially a film reviewer, because I absolutely loved all those books and I definitely plan on seeing all 3 of these movies.  I tend not to pay too much attention to what a film reviewer says anyway as it's just their opinion.  I can't figure out how anyone could actually make a career out of reviewing movies anyway.  My opinion on movies is usually way different than the reviews I've read of them.  Not always different but usually.

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

If you change Orcs to Goblins thats one thing.  If you change the story so much that you're adding characters...putting characters in places they don't belong, creating new relationships etc. it becomes something other then the original.  Maybe we should call it Under The Mountain....a Peter Jackson story inspired by the works of JRR Tolkien.

monshatt
monshatt

@PdCJonas As I recall the Riverfolk were Hobbits, but of a more river-dwelling type than the Shirefolk. I forget if it's in Letters or the Appendices to LotR.

withdron
withdron

@VitalyKlitschko My first reaction to your post - "What an idiot".  Tolkien's very thought was to point out the evils of industrialization which ultimately give the power to one or a few and subjugate the masses for the Powerful's profit.
But then seeing some of the replies to your post - I see many others seem to have missed the point too. It's not just a battle of good vs. evil. (Thought that was delightful to watch) because we did see many shades of grey in the characters as they struggled.
I've not looked for the racism and/or social status hate in the story you've pointed out. Perhaps another visit to Middle Earth, via the written word, is in order.
That said - I've seen and read all of the above - and love them for what they are and what they show me.

Anna888
Anna888

@VitalyKlitschko Are you nuts? It's about the battle of good and evil, not class struggle! Sounds like you are spouting the communist party lines from the former USSR. 

Mosby
Mosby

@VitalyKlitschko That's the biggest load of rubbish I've ever heard. You're reading into it too deeply, for all the wrong reasons.

PaulSerrano
PaulSerrano

Corliss never says he 'grabbed!' the movie from Del Toro; the fact is Jackson DID want to direct the film, however he got into a lawsuit with the producers over royalties and was dismissed, being retained in a producer role - Jackson was publicly angry over being pushed out of the directors chair.  There has been public speculation that jackson did maneuver behind the scences to delay production, in fact, hoping Del Toro would bail on the project, which he in fact did.  Either way, Jackson doesn't hold a candle to Del Toro as a film maker; looking forward to "Pacific Rim" to see an actual master director at work.  Do yourself a favor if you haven't done so and watch Del Toro's first film 'Cronos' a masterpiece.

PaulSerrano
PaulSerrano

@Beregond either way, Del Toro is ten times the film maker PJ is, he would have made the film a classic, as he did "pan's labyrinth' a movie Jackson could only dream of making; I wasted my money on his previous butcherings of JRRT's works, I won't make the same mistake again - I mean, adding Legolas to a story he never appeared or needed to be in, to what, boost the take at the box office since Orlando Bloom is such a draw? Are you serious?  Jackson is a hack..

BarbaraWarren
BarbaraWarren

@KarnKowshik Not so.  The Hobbit was published in 1937 -LOTR in 1954. Also, LOTR came out in 3 books with Fellowship published in 1954, through Return of the King in 1955. It was NEVER published as one book, though that is how Tolkien wrote it.

David85
David85

@KarnKowshik You realize he's a movie reviewer right?  It's his job to watch and review movies...

islandboy461
islandboy461

@KarnKowshik What are you talking about? The Hobbit was published in 1937, 17 years before the Lord of the Rings. 

islandboy461
islandboy461

@cuthbert Well, that's not quite accurate. The last film will be based on the book's narrative, it's just being supplemented by additional story threads from the appendices. These threads have already been begun in the first movie i.e. Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond, and Saruman meeting to discuss the what to do about the Nercomancer. 

PaulSerrano
PaulSerrano

@MikeBirman he never says Jackson 'grabbed' the film from Del Toro, just that he 'took over' which is true - nevertheless, Jackson is a HACK compared to Del Toro, arguably the best film maker working today - jackson couldn't make a film like 'Pan's Labyrinth' if his life depended on it.

bebop
bebop

@MichaelWellman The Hobbit only serves as the A story in the trilogy. Jackson has also incorporated the B story of the Necromancer, which will help to add content to the lengthy tale. Also it should be noted that the events surrounding the necromancer where devised, realised and written about by Tolkein himself in the Silmarilian. These events, while not expanded upon in the book The Hobbit still happen during the time in which The Hobbit takes place, and are equally relevant and significant.

sandifjm
sandifjm

@NamecNassianer Why would you say that? I love The Hobbit, and The Lord of The Rings, and re-read them every few years.  I've even read the Simarillion, Peter Jackson showed in the first trilogy that he is more than up to the task or turning these incredible books into compelling films. He's certainly earned the benefit of the doubt. I can't wait to see The Hobbit, although I would have guessed that two movies would have been enough to tell the whole story.

adnan7631
adnan7631

@mbauer8286 

And good thing nobody did that! The third movie will not be chronicling any of the plot from The Hobbit but rather filling in what happened between Bilbo's story and Frodo's. 

David85
David85

@Seanmyr Ok cool, thanks for commenting on this movie review then.  

Beregond
Beregond

Well, that's exactly what Jackson and company did in LOTR.  There is hardly a character in those films that bears much resemblance to Tolkien's and the plot was likewise radically altered.  I can enjoy his first trilogy on it's own terms, but it certianly is NOT Tolkien's LOTR.

malcolm
malcolm

@PaulSerrano  

some of your post is correct but out of context,there was a lawsuit but it had been resolved before Del Toro came on board ...it was  MGMs looming bankruptcy problems  that caused the delay in green-lighting The Hobbit not any machinations by Jackson ....

BarbaraWarren
BarbaraWarren

@PaulSerrano No, in fact Jackson did NOT want to direct the Hobbit at first. And the "grabbed" statement is actually quoting PJ. Here's the context from an interview that PJ did last winter:

“I wanted to be involved as a producer and screenwriter at the very least, because I wanted to put my stamp on the movie,” he says. “I felt a little protective of it. But I initially didn’t want to direct it because I felt like I would be competing with myself to some degree with the previous films. Having Guillermo in the mix solved that, because we’d have a fresh director with a fresh eye. I really enjoyed working with him and started getting into Tolkien all over again. When Guillermo left, I understood The Hobbit more. We weren’t just copying The Lord of the Rings. It’s largely new characters with a different tone — even comedic at times — so I decided to grab it for myself.”

KarnKowshik
KarnKowshik

@islandboy461 @KarnKowshik Yea, you're right. I just googled it. The person who gave me the books when i was 13 or 14 (that's 17 or 16 years ago) told me tolkien wrote the hobbit first, and i just always believed it :P Damn. And I read everything at least once every couple of years (well, until i discovered songs of ice and fire). 

But the rest is true. I see the movies and books as two seperate entities (unlike most other movies that start out as books). The Hobbit hasn't released where I live yet, but i'm sure i'll love watching it.

MikeBirman
MikeBirman

@PaulSerrano @MikeBirman 

"Then Jackson took over; he wanted The Hobbit for himself, just as he had possessed the Rings movies. In this backstage story, there’s a touch of the sad, covetous Gollum, who kept the Ring for ages and was corrupted by its possession before losing it to Bilbo and then Frodo.'

Read this quote and tell me it does not say that Jackson, like sad old Gollum and the ring, wanted the film for himself. Your obvious bias seems to blind you to the manner in which Corliss describes how Jackson took the project from Del Toro (who is a brilliant director but has never helmed as titanic a production as LOTR). The obvious implication is that Jackson grasped the project away from Del Toro.

mbauer8286
mbauer8286

@adnan7631 interesting... I was unaware of that.  Is it new material?  Taken from the Silmarillion?  I have read the Hobbit but admit I don't have a strong familiarity with the rest of the LOTR universe. 

BarbaraWarren
BarbaraWarren

@Beregond  I think it is as much Tolkien's LOTR as "The Once and Future King" is the mythic King Arthur. Tolkien was writing an entire mythology. Peter Jackson interpreted that mythology for film, as many different artists have interpreted it in the past for other media. No, it was not identical to the books. I loved and still love the books. I also really love the films. The books still exist for our revisiting and enjoyment. The films don't take that away. On the contrary, the films add another rich dimension to Tolkien's mythological world. And having just seen "An Unexpected Journey"  (twice so far) i feel much the same about Jackson's most recent venture.

PaulSerrano
PaulSerrano

@malcolm @PaulSerrano point taken malcom, however my brother actually WALKED OUT of The Hobbit - he was simply disgusted by Jackson's liberties, and the film resolution caused him a migraine - I'll watch Jackson's version when it comes out on cable one day, however I simply have no respect for him as an interpreter of Tolkien - his wholesale butchering and rewriting of LOTR finished him for me, I was literally depressed that a new generation will never see the stories first in print as I did, and appreciate JRRT's original vision - if only Del Toro had hung in there, I would have at least given the films a chance.

MikeBirman
MikeBirman

@psatnmsqt @mbauer8286 @adnan7631 Neither the several hundred pages of appendices  nor The Silmarillion should be characterized as filler! Tolkien considered all of this material (and it is a vast amount) indispensable to understanding the history of Middle Earth. We keep reading here that Jackson turned The Hobbit into 3 films. He didn't. He turned The Hobbit and the appendices into a history of events prior to those in LOTR. Given the density of this material, Jackson could have made more than 3 films.

psatnmsqt
psatnmsqt

@mbauer8286 @adnan7631  The Hobbit is indeed being turned into 9 full hours of film. There will be no bridge film, Aragorn will not appear, none of that. Filler to pad the Gandalf bits is indeed being taken from the Appendices and Silmarillion, but the 3rd film will end with Bilbo's return to Hobbiton. The idea that the third film is an in-between portion is a theory that's about 8 months or more out of date - adnan7631, that's been debunked both officially and unofficially. We know for a fact that the second film chronicles the period from Beorn to the death of Smaug, and that the third film covers the aftermath and the Battle of Five Armies. Indeed, the films were planned as two parts of The Hobbit, with the original split at the Elf-kingdom in Mirkwood (photo evidence came from the film 1 banner before comic con, which covered bag end up to this zone), but when they decided to make three, they curtailed the first installment to end at the Eagles. 

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

@BarbaraWarren @Beregond I'm left wondering how far a rich new dimension can stray from the actual work and still be considered as such.