Pretty nifty, huh? The three movies of Lord of the Rings in their extended director’s cuts on DVD, taken all together as one, are my absolute favorite movie of all time. I watch them over and over; I watch the making of documentaries over and over; I love every little detail about them, even the stuff I don’t like. (Admit it; you know what I mean.) So I was really bummed out by the first installment of The Hobbit when it came out last year. It was beautiful; the effects were amazing; it was perfectly cast; Martin Freeman is all that is light and light and lovely as Bilbo Baggins . . . but damn it all to hell, it was boring. By the time the trolls showed up, I was sneaking peeks at my neighbor’s watch, trying to guess how many more minutes of dwarven whimsy must be endured before Gollum would finally show up. I love the story of The Hobbit. I’ve read the book half a dozen times. One of my first experiences as an actress was in a children’s theater adaptation where I played no less than three parts – a troll, a hobbit, and one of Smaug’s legs. But compared to the epic narrative of LOTR, this tale of a reluctant burglar and the dwarves who grow to love him is pretty simple stuff, even if you make the lead dwarf all angsty and hunkerrific. Stretching it into three movies is a stretch indeed, no matter how fast and loose you’re willing to play with The Silmarillion to dig up some extra plot.
So now there’s this trailer for Chapter 2. And again, it’s gorgeous, and it does look a lot more exciting than the first one. Except . . . the stuff that looks exciting doesn’t look much like The Hobbit. For example . . .
It looks like they’ve given Legolas some kind of romance. Do what? Don’t get me wrong; I loved the romantic elements of LOTR; I thought they added hugely to the overall experience of the story. But those elements were all at least suggested by Tolkien’s original text. I also really like Orlando Bloom as an actor and as an object for lustful perusal (though more below on how he looks in this). But is Legolas even in The Hobbit? I can totally deal even if he isn’t; they do go to Mirkwood where he’s from; it makes sense that he would be there. But a elven sweetheart? Seriously? The only relationships I remember Legolas having in Tolkien’s original writings were his big brotherly love for Aragorn and his fun bromance with Gimli the dwarf. He’s just not that kind of character. Again, nothing wrong with expanding on the character, I suppose, but if I’m interpreting the tiny snippet from the trailer correctly (which, it must be said, is hardly assured), it looks like they’ve put in an angsty love connection just to bring in the ladies. And this lady isn’t convinced. (The fact that they’ve chosen human-shaped tank top hanger Evangeline Lilly, one of my least favorite actresses ever, to play the Elf Chick doesn’t help.)
And speaking of the elves . . . I hate their digitally enhanced shiny skin glowing with inner light. It looks like they were going for Renaissance angel and hit Tinkerbell in Return to Toys R Us Mountain instead. I get that the actors who play elves are a wee tad older now than they were when they made LOTR, and maybe that needs to be addressed. But they’ve gone waaaaay too far.
Casting Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of the dragon was brilliance; he’ll be awesome. (But oh, the bestial fan fiction the world will be forced to endure – Run, Bilbo, run!)
If we make it into the dragon’s lair in this movie . . . . what the heck happens in Chapter 3?
Why is Gandalf already so fussed about The Ring? It’s been a while since I read it, but does Bilbo ever even tell Gandalf about finding The Ring in the The Hobbit? He might; I just don’t remember. But I do know that Gandalf doesn’t start making big, scary connections to Sauron until The Fellowship of the Ring. I wondered about this when we had the addition of the scary spiders and poisonous forest and shadow in the ruins and blah di blah blah blah in Chapter 1. They’re trying so hard to give this story the same weight and import as LOTR, but it just doesn’t work; it’s not that kind of story.
I will definitely see this; I will enjoy going back into this world. But I’m afraid that just like with Chapter 1, I won’t feel satisfied. I came out of every single installment of LOTR ready to buy another ticket and walk back in. I just don’t see that happening with any installment of The Hobbit.