Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Problems With "The Hobbit"

I've been a Tolkien fan for most of my life because my dad is a big Tolkien fan. When I was very small, he would read to me from The Lord of the Rings. But my dad never liked The Hobbit as much and that opinion rubbed off on me.

I loved The Lord of the Rings movies and even though I didn't like The Hobbit as much, I went to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at midnight. I adored the movie - you can read my review at GeekMom - and I've seen it five times in the theater so far. But I was fuzzy on the details of what happened next. The last time I had read The Hobbit was for the GeekMom Book Club last year.

Well, I just finished my re-read and I know why my dad and I didn't like The Hobbit as much as The Lord of the Rings books. I'll pause here because there will be book / movie spoilers from this point on.

Everything in The Hobbit seems rushed and not very well fleshed out. I know that it was written to be a kid's book, but the style is so unlike The Lord of the Rings that it turns me off. I am a more is better kind of person which is why I always read all the appendixes when I read The Lord of the Rings.

The climax of the book is the Battle of the Five Armies - a battle that Bilbo spends most of it knocked out. We don't see how Thorin gets mortally injured and his death is really, really anti-climactic. I also didn't remember that Fili and Kili die too. Though their deaths in the book are summed up as pretty much, "oh yeah, Fili and Kili die because they were related to Thorin."

Also BookThorin is kind of a jackass and a jerk. I remember now that I never liked Thorin because his motivation is the gold and the Arkenstone. MovieThorin is so much more fleshed out - his motivation is reclaiming his homeland. I really dislike BookThorin and I love MovieThorin, so I'm really intrigued how the 2nd and 3rd movies are going to play out because BookThorin gets jerkier as the book goes on. Honestly, Bard kills the dragon which something the dwarves don't even try to do but BookThorin is so stubborn about parting with a little gold that is pretty much starts a war. The only reason a full war doesn't break out is because the goblins and wargs attack and then BookThorin (and I'm assuming MovieThorin as well) dies.

After reading The Hobbit again, I have even more respect for Peter Jackson. The book doesn't really flesh out the characters of the dwarves, except jerky Thorin, but Peter Jackson gave them all different personalities that helped bring the characters to life. And not just the dwarves - the Great Goblin in the book only had a few lines of dialogue before he got killed. I liked the movie version of that better as well.

I was looking forward to seeing the next two movies, but I'm really curious now how Peter Jackson is going to handle the story that is set out. Also there is very little mention to what Gandalf does when he leaves the company, just that he and the other wizards defeated the Necromancer. I'm assuming the movie will show what Gandalf does to defeat him - though it isn't a final defeat since the Necromancer is Sauron and thus will be back.

The only other character that is fleshed out at all in the book is Bilbo, since he is the main character. MovieBilbo is much more heroic already than BookBilbo since MovieBilbo decided on his own to go on the adventure and BookBilbo had to be pushed out of his door. I don't really dislike BookBilbo, but the constant "I wish I was home" got a little grating. I adore MovieBilbo (honestly both of them - Martin Freeman and Ian Holm) because he is a little awkward, but tries his best to help the company along.

The character I like best from both the book and the movie is Balin. He has always been my favorite dwarf and the movie solidified that for me. Yes, Fili is awfully nice to look at (and it makes me a little sad that he and Kili are doomed to die for no good reason), but Balin is wise and loyal but still has a sense of humor. I love Balin.

Anyway, that's just to rambling thoughts on The Hobbit. I'm starting to re-read The Lord of the Rings next, which I've probably read over 20 times.. And after that, I'm going to finally tackle The Silmarillion which I have not read before.

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