In Defense of: The Hobbit

This is the 2st installment of a 5,257 part series on the Spew: ‘In Defense of:’. This series is meant to defend the helpless, the meek, and the bullied in our pop culture.

I always feel sorry for a sequel, prequel, or whatever-quel, that follows a modern day classic. How many times have we seen this next iteration of the story just get slaughtered by fans and critics alike just because….well….it was not as good as the original.

True, many times the x-quel is not as good and its not even close (reference: Jaws/Jaws 2, 2001/2010, Iron Man/Iron Man 2, etc.) But not all. Some are victims of the previous story’s past success.

This is true with The Hobbit series.

I know, I know. The Hobbit series is a somewhat bloated retelling of the quaint children’s novel that spans about 250 pages. Yes, the overall story is not as vast and grandiose as Lord of the Rings, so it calls into question why three movies were needed. Also, there were just too many dwarfs. Dwarfs are not the best characters and, well, there were just too many of them. but I consider that more an issue of the source material rather than a film maker mistake. Anyway……

Was The Hobbit that bad?

I say NO!!! Some Tolkienites ripped these films to shreds like my dog on a bacon strip, but that is so not fair.

And here is why…….

1. Martin Freeman

Yes, Martin Freeman is a national treasure (well, at least a UK national treasure). Most of his work outside of the embarrassment of ‘Love, Actually’ has been of high quality. The Hobbit is no exception. Freeman was perfectly cast for Bilbo and he did not disappoint for one second. His subtle facial expressions and almost silent-film/mime movements made the character of Bilbo far more endearing and personable than the book ever did. In fact I would argue that Freeman played a hobbit better than any of the other actors in LOTR.

Hmmmmmm, there is Samwise…….and Elijah was fantastic…..I am not sure about that last statement. But it is safe to say that Freeman was the equal of them. I would also argue one of the biggest faults of The Hobbit series was that Freeman did not get enough screen time. Too many dwarfs.

2. The Hobbit served as a prequel to Lord of the Rings

Even though the book was set 80 years prior to LOTR, the story really did not serve as a prequel for things to come. Yeah, Bilbo got the ring in the book, but that was like only a chapter. Most of the main characters in The Hobbit do not make appearances in LOTR. So what Peter Jackson did was shape the small story of The Hobbit into a prequel that serves to flesh out and deepen his magnum opus of 10+ years ago. In other words, The Hobbit:LOTR :: Flavor Flav:Chuck D. Jackson added some filler from the appendices (that’s good), added some fan fiction (that’s bad), and made some tie-ins and explanations to what we saw in LOTR (mainly the stuff about Sauron).

I like that. Even though this tactic makes The Hobbit less of a stand-alone film series, I like the way Jackson tried to tell more of the story of Middle Earth. I know this is less true to the spirit of the book, the love affair of Kiri and the girl from Lost was lame, and that henchmen of the Master of Laketown (Stephen Fry’s character) was horrible, but I am willing to endure those missteps for a bigger and more ambitious film series.

3. There is nothing wrong with visting Middle Earth a bit longer

I really never understood the universal complaint from fans that when they see a movie, they think it is too long. Sure, from a critic’s perspective or from a casual moviegoer, I would agree that 2 1/2+ hour films can be tedious and don’t serve the story well. But as a fan…….give me more!

The Hobbit film series is about 9 hours. It could have been told in less than 3. But why would I, as a nerd for this shit, want to spend less time in the world of Middle Earth? Its not like I have anything better to do with my time. I mean when I saw any of the installments in the theater, it was not like I had to do anything pressing like cure Typhoid or negotiate with President Assad. I had time, or at least I had an extra 45 minutes to enjoy the film. If you are so fuckin’ critical to the world and felt you needed to leave, well you shouldn’t have gone to the theater in the first place, you self-important ass.

Anyway, I know the run time was not for all people, but as a fan I did not mind at all.

Agree? Disagree? Well, you probably disagree. It is hard to change people’s minds on such polarizing matters as the quality of a heavily maligned film. But let me ask you one question…..

How does it feel to be so wrong?