I have never much cared for The Lord of the Rings movies, and expected The Hobbit films to be the same. I was quite surprised to discover that I actually enjoyed The Hobbit films quite a bit, which in turn, had me pondering upon the differences between these trilogy films and why that is so.
For myself, whether it is books or movies, there is a line where a fantasy story passes from enjoyable to almost torture. I generally cannot stand the really high fantasy stories where there is no evidence of our world, our people, and coupled with so many foreign thoughts (including unpronounceable names and places) that I cannot relate or keep up with. For me, The Lord of the Rings falls into this undesirable category. I have a hard time relating to most of the characters in this film as they are all experiencing things that are so unlike my own experiences. I mean, I can't imagine carrying an evil ring on a quest to save the world, all the while the evil ring is destroying me from within. I can't imagine being a guardian of said person saving the world, fighting evil after evil after evil. For me, probably the most relatable character in The Lord of the Rings, is Gollum. And lets be honest, that is a very sad character to relate to. The only other moment that caught my attention was when Boromir continued to fight to save his friends even when his downfall was set in stone. I get this view of not being relatable is not the same for most, as I am well aware this is a very popular, classically viewed piece of literature. For me, my mind just doesn't work like that. I am battered by too much at once.
But, The Hobbit was a little different. Which is weird for me to comprehend why I liked one set of films and not the other. I think there is slight differences within The Hobbit films that changes where it lands on the spectrum of fantasy for me, leaving it shy of hitting that line that pulls me into torture to watch and read. First off, the quest is much different. The quest is about getting back something that has been taken, and finding where you belong. That is relatable. Very much so. The main hobbit, Bilbo, is so much easier to relate to than Frodo. Bilbo is scared to join in on the quest, but steps up and does so anyways. That is relatable. Bilbo's companions always underestimate his ability to matter in the world and what they are trying to accomplish. Relatable. Bilbo struggles with standing up to do the right thing, while surrounded by others who wont. Relatable. Other characters are also just as relatable. Thorin struggles to overcome a disease. Bard is a standup father trying to do the right thing and protect, relatable and inspiring. Gollum struggles with his inner demons. Tauriel loving one that goes against social acceptance. And lets be honest, Tolkien needed some girl power amidst the world of men. I even appreciated storytelling Balin and Smaug's flaming wrath and greed. These are all characteristics that human's in our world can appreciate and relate to. I get that people see these things as well in The Lord of the Rings, and I myself know they exist, but I can't see through the high fantasy aspect of the story to be able to appreciate it while I read or watch it.
Other things that struck my mind while pondering all of these films, am I the only one that thinks Bilbo in The Hobbit films and Bilbo in The Lord of the Rings films don't quite match up in personality? If I hadn't known their names, I wouldn't have even thought they were the same person. And why is Gollum still alive in Lord of the Rings without any aging compounded with torture when he hasn't had the ring for 60 years, but Bilbo ages super fast being without the ring for a short period of time? I wouldn't think 60 years without the ring is nothing to sneeze at. That didn't make sense for me. Also, I love that dwarves saturated the films so much, as I tend to always feel they are my favorite race amongst all these races Tolkien has created in this world. I was sad while re-watching The Lord of the Rings recently, their absence with but one dwarf was a bit of a bummer, and so much more apparent after watching The Hobbit films.
This does make me want to pick up The Hobbit book and give it a try, but I have a feeling it will not be as awesome as the movies. Am I wrong fellow readers? I mean, it is not a thick book, and to be coming from that same story made into 3 movies, seems like it is almost destined to be a let down now to go to the book. I generally think books are better than movies, but I have a hard to seeing that one small book will hold more details than 3 films. Even so, I will probably give it a go in the near future because I did really enjoy the films. I can get through watching The Lord of the Rings on occasion (like our Gollum Day), but they will never be movies that I will seek out to watch.
I will end this really long rambling post by sharing my most favorite characters in The Hobbit films, in order: Smaug, Gollum, Bard, Bilbo, and Thorin. And I just have to say....
I AM FIRE, I AM DEATH.