Originally Posted by Kaplan
Warning: Long - please scroll by if this subject bores you. Thanks.
First off, I have a very precious(!) relationship with the book, as some of my earliest memories are of my mom reading it out to my sister and me, making what felt like very long train rides from Denmark to Sweden into a magical journey. I love the story and have re-read it several times, last time about a year ago, after the 2nd Hobbit movie, to remind me that the it was as great as I remembered and not the dreg that I had just seen in the cinema.
Now, I'm not a rabid book purist when it come to movie adaptations. I love the Lord of the Rings books too, and understand why Tom Bombadil was left out of the films and I wasn't one of those that griped about Arwen getting screen time. To me, an amazing amount of great decisions was made in the filming of LotR, so much that they are among my personal favourites, especially the first one. I think their great success stems from them working both as rather faithful adaptations and as movies in their own right (though I of course can't judge that last bit 100% objectively, having read the books).
Now, for the Hobbit movies, it seems an inverse amount of bad decisions have been made. For me, the problem is two-fold. First, they're all but ignoring the original story, making it an extremely poor adaptation. Second, what we have instead is not a set of great movies as much as an incoherrent CGI fest.
As for the first bit, what makes The Hobbit such a great book, is how relatively simple the story is - the story of Bilbo Baggins and his trip There and Back Again. It's a perfect, gradual introduction into the magical world of Middle Earth, seen through the eyes of the everyday man Bilbo. More fairy tale than LotR epic. There's a reason that 'The Battle of Five Armies' takes up less than 5 pages in the book and that Bilbo is unconscious for the final part of it.
But somehow, Peter Jackson and his team (who showed such great respect in adapting LotR) felt they had to out-epic LotR, blowing the less than 300 pages up to nearly 8 hours of film and in the process losing the beautiful story and leaving Bilbo as a supporting character. It's like a really bad piece of fan fiction.
As for the second bit, what the movies actually gave us, there again seems to be made so many bad decisions. First some good: Ian McKellen is still perfect as Gandalf. But as much as I like Martin Freeman, I just don't think he makes a very good Bilbo (I'm perfectly prepared to be in the minority here, though). He has an annoying tendency to send tell-tale looks out to the middle distance that makes him look aware that his being filmed. Probably a leftover from his The Office days, but not very befitting for the earnest character of Bilbo. Ian Holm did it infinitely better.
Speaking of casting, there just isn't enough great characters/actors for the bloated run time. It wouldn't have been a problem had they stayed true to the story, as experienced by Bilbo, but the stuff they've dreamed up to pad the story take away more than it adds, like Stephen Fry's annoying mayor (complete with his own Wormtongue). Bard in the hands of Luke Evans should have been at least as compelling a character as Boromir, but wasn't (maybe it was the mullet). Not even Stephen Colbert's cameo can save it.
And all the kids. I assume they feel like it gives younger audiences someone to identify with? But since when has this really been a problem? I for one had no issues seeing myself in Luke's X-wing when I was in single digits or imagining myself in Indy's Alden boots, out running great boulders when I was 10. And having kids killing Orcs on their own really lessens the suspense. These aren't your lethal LotR orcs, that's for sure.
Speaking of orcs, how much better did they look as real make-up and prosthetics in LotR? The all CGI ones we now got looks like they fell out of a computer game. Though that's maybe befitting for the cartoonish barrel jumping action we now got.
I have so many more points, but I'm just getting sad thinking about it. Not so much because the movies are bad on their own, but because I would have loved to see the story I love get the treatment it deserves and more so because PJ and company showed with LotR that it should have been possible. (My preferred solution? Make one 3 hour movie, staying true to the book and Bilbos journey. Then make a ½ hour longer extended version for the DVD, incorporating the best stuff from the Return of the King appendix, like seeing where Gandalf goes when he leaves the group as it enters Mirkwood. Done.)
And don't get me started on the elf-dwarf-elf love triangle