What Was the Exact Moment When Peter Jackson’s Hobbit Movie Series Went Off the Rails?
J. Clifford’s one-image review of the new Hobbit movie by Peter Jackson reminded me that this third movie in the series had come out. I had forgotten, honestly, and that’s saying a lot. I have watched every minute of the making-of footage of each of the three Lord of the Rings movies by Peter Jackson, repeatedly. I listened to years of Corey Olson’s The Tolkien Professor podcasts that started with a strong academic treatment of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works (before it slumped into fandom). I counted the days until the release of the first Peter Jackson Hobbit movie…
… and then I thought I’d give the second movie a chance…
… and I’m not even bothering to go to the theaters for the third installment.
Why? The moment when I lost all enthusiasm for Peter Jackson’s version of the Hobbit was the moment in the mountains when Bilbo Baggins’ company of dwarves made their way out of goblin captivity not by running away, but by finding 397 ways to cut open goblin bodies. The small band of dwarves are shown on film slashing through hundreds of wildly aggressive goblins, killing them in cartoonish fashion with hyperathletics that defy physics and without so much as a scratch to themselves. In the second film, this absurdity is repeated as the dwarves slice their way through dozens of orcs that are supposed to be bigger, tougher and stronger than they are.
The charm of J.R.R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit is that it follows little people making their way through a frightening world and ultimately succeeding because of their small acts. The charmlessness of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movie series comes, in my opinion, from the transformation of little, vulnerable souls into stock superheroes in a videogame slashfest.
I have yet to encounter a person who believes that Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movie series is anything but a financial success. If you saw any of the three movies, what was the moment for you when the series went off the rails?