Recently, I attempted to re-watch Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy with my kids. They’d recently enjoyed the LOTR movies and were keen to see more Middle Earth adventures.
“It’s probably not as bad as I remember,” I thought to myself. “And maybe the extended editions do a better job of tying everything together.” NOPE.
The artistic failure of The Hobbit is one of the great tragedies of modern cinema. After the huge success of Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, the world was expecting something far grander than the tired and bloated fanfic we ended up with.
Granted, the source material is slighter and arguably less suitable for the big screen than LOTR – but these are obstacles other adaptations have managed to overcome. (Where The Wild Things Are was a picture book. Pirates Of The Caribbean was a bloody theme park ride.)
There really is no excuse. In over nine hours of movies, the only good bit is Smaug the dragon. So what went wrong?
The Everything In Middle Earth YouTube channel explores some of the reasons The Hobbit failed. In addition to nitpicking the film’s artistic flaws (of which there are many) it also shines a light on the poor filmmaking decisions behind the scenes – from Jackson’s initial reluctance to direct to the last-minute decision to split two movies into three.
Fair warning: the presentation is decidedly low-fi – it’s basically a podcast interspersed with movie stills – but it does a pretty good job of explaining why Jackson’s return to Middle Earth backfired spectacularly.
For a slicker and more detailed take, check out Lindsay Ellis’ epic two-part evisceration below: