Many people know of Peter Jackson’s award-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy, but one thing many people try to forget is his overstuffed Hobbit trilogy. So this is part one of 4 or more articles about why the Hobbit failed.
So the main thing that I want to focus on in the part is the hobbits and the problems with what we got. Actually the problems with what we didn’t get. What I am talking about is the severe lack of character development. Take this for example. Towards the end of the third movie The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies there is this big emotional scene where Bilbo Baggins says goodbye to all 13 of the dwarves. Let’s see how memorable they are. I’m willing to bet that you didn’t remember many of Thorin, Balin, Dwalin, Fili Kili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, and Bomber. Why don’t we go through their backstories and see how much you know?
First, we have Balin. Did you know that he was the one who funded the journey to the mountain yet he still has his doubts about them succeeding? Most likely not.
Then we have the brothers Fili and Kili who turn out to be the nephews and therefore heirs of Thorin. But Peter Jackson didn’t think that was worth noting until the middle of the second film.
And that is just three of thirteen unlikable dwarves. The problem is that without any scenes to develop and put emotional weight in the dwarves, all I can figure out is that their either fat, ugly, or stupid. When we get to the BEHIND THE SCENES we find out that Gloin is the banker of the clan, Nori is on the run from the law, and Bofur is mute and has part of an Orc ax stuck in his forehead. All they should have done was gotten rid of the Fili (or was it Kili?) and Tauriel romance and add-in a few scenes where we learn that Bofur can only speak in ancient dwarvish hand language. Maybe one where Gloin starts complaining about how much money they’ve lost in weapons, clothes, food, and arrows, like in the book. How about a scene where we see Nori hiding from his old village. is that too much to ask for. Oh, wait you can pay an extra $32 to see some, of the scenes I mentioned.
Another thing the dwarves from this trilogy lack is setups and payoffs. Take for example when Kili (or was it Fili?) is being taken captive by the Elves of Mirkwood. A guard searches him for hidden weapons and finds some in his hair, boots, and down his pants. What they could have done was have Kili (?) hide lots of weapons on him when the company is preparing for the battle of the mountain.
Next, we get to the point that every single dwarve is interchangeable. For example, In the first movie of the trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey we see Dwalin (I think) see the leader of the company, Thorin, step onto a loose rock on the side of the Misty mountains and slip. He is only able to stay alive thanks to Dwalin grabbing him and pulling him up. This could have just as easily been Fili or Balin or even Bombur (well maybe not Bomber since he is so fat he can’t bend over)
In an interview with Andy Serkis, who did the Mocap and visual reference for Gollum, Peter Jackson said he dreaded the Hobbit films because of the thirteen dwarves. “Thirteen dwarves is one of the reasons I dreaded the Hobbit.” That is what Peter Jackson said in that interview, word for word. Why don’t we look at a scene from one of the movies? In this scene in The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies Thorin is being corrupted by something called Dragon Sickness (this I am fairly positive was never mentioned in the book) and Dwalin tries to talk him out of a battle with the Elves and Men.
What we see is Thorin tell him that he should leave or he will kill him. Besides this being an awful scene, we have seen nothing in the two movies before this that would suggest that Dwalin would be here. It would have made much more sense for Balin to be here as that would carry more, albeit not much, emotional weight. Balin was there with Thorin when he saw his father killed and his kingdom destroyed. Thorin asked for Balin’s advice at Bilbo’s house. The contract for Bilbo is signed by Thorin and witnessed by Balin. When the company rests for the night Balin tells Bilbo about Thorin and how that “There is one I would follow. There is one I would call king.” When the door to Erebor won’t open Thorin immediately goes to Balin. When Thorin refuses to make a deal with Thranduil he goes to Balin.
If Peter Jackson had made only one film then having the dwarves being background people would have been fine, but if you are going to have nine hours of content you really need to do better. So that was just part one of a few articles based around why the Hobbit failed. See you at the next one.