Why The Lord of the Rings Was A Better Movie Adaptation Than The Hobbit

So, here I am again, recovering from the most recent stomach bug I caught, to bring to you another wonderfully written opinion piece about movie adaptations.  It would seem that this field is a bit larger than I expected – almost every movie that I’ve watched in recent years has been an adaptation from a novel or other literature.

Today I’m touching on the ever popular J.R.R. Tolkien big movie adaptations.  And yes, as the title indicates, I am not a big fan of The Hobbit as seen on the big screen.  I’m not sure that others will agree with my reasoning, but here it goes anyway.

First and foremost, I think that The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was a much more faithful movie adaptation.  I didn’t get lost trying to figure out who characters were as they appeared in the movies or trying to figure out what was going on.  There was little to no deviation in those regards.  In The Hobbit, we’re introduced to characters and circumstances that didn’t take place in the novel.  For instance, Radagast the Brown.  Having only read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, I don’t recall this character as someone that was introduced.  I decided to do an internet search and found the reason why – he’s only mentioned 3 times in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  (http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Radagast)  So, if you know why he’s in the movies, please enlighten me.

Although The Hobbit was a stand-alone novel and didn’t mention much about what Gandalf was doing when he wasn’t in the company of the dwarves and Bilbo, the movie does.  The movie adaptation focuses on these instances and adds some scenes that aren’t from the novel itself – like when Gandalf meets with Galadriel and Elrond about the Ring.  Galadriel doesn’t make any appearance in The Hobbit.  Neither does Orlando Bloom… errr, Legolas.  I understand that the movie’s purpose is to be a prequel, but the novel wasn’t intended this way.  Well, that’s the impression I got from reading it.

Secondly, the structure to this particular novel was simple and straight forward – Bilbo goes on a journey, Bilbo fights the dragon Smaug, Bilbo gets rich and goes home.  And somewhere in there he just happens to meet Golem and get the Ring and some other exciting stuff happens.  There wasn’t deviation from the main story – it was a hero’s quest – Bilbo overcame his fears and lives happily ever after, in a sense.  The Lord of the Rings has a more complex story structure and follows many different events that lead up to the defeat of Sauron and the destroying of the Ring.  Therefore, it makes sense that the movie adaptation of the trilogy deviates from a main story thread – that of Frodo and Sam going to destroy the Ring – to tell of events going on elsewhere.  These events are essential to the action.  Also, it happens in the novels.   In my opinion, The Hobbit, as it is aptly named, is the story of Bilbo and therefore the movie adaptation doesn’t need to deviate from his main story to go off on seemingly random tangents that don’t appear in the novel.

So now we get to my favorite part.  Why has The Hobbit been adapted into three movies?  Beats me!  The Lord of the Rings needed three movies to tell the complete story – and that’s without deviations from the main story-line.  The Lord of the Rings is a trilogy, therefore, a movie trilogy makes sense.  And let me tell you, in my opinion, those books were heavy.  And the movie trilogy didn’t even cover everything that happened in the novel.

But The Hobbit?  Not so.  It took me a day to read the book.  With pauses.  At work.  Would you be surprised if I told you that in 1977 the animated version of The Hobbit was a whopping 90 minutes long?  Ok, just visit the IMDb site (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077687/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1).  I haven’t seen this version, but have it on good authority that it covers the novel pretty thoroughly.  In 90 minutes.  So, why does it take 3 very long movies to do the same?  I’m not saying that listening to the dwarves sing the Song of the Misty Mountains wasn’t thrilling.  Nor am I complaining about the CGI dragon… that took up the last 30 minutes of “The Desolation of Smaug” chasing the dwarves around …  Ok, so maybe I am.  Cool CGI effects, but Smaug is going to see some more action in the third movie so, why bore me with another “Apocalypto”?  Was Mel Gibson directing this film?  Oh, no, wait a second… it was Peter Jackson.  Who also did the movie adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.  Seems as though someone got a bit money hungry along the way.

The question still hangs in the air – should I spend my hard earned money on the third installment of this trilogy?  Should I pass it up?  I’m still on the fence about this one.  To be fair, I really enjoyed the first installment of the trilogy.  But “The Desolation of Smaug” was deviated too much from The Hobbit for me to be 100% satisfied.


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