The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the greatest cinematic achievements of all time. In terms of fantasy epics, the genre has never been done better. What Peter Jackson was able to pull off with J.R.R. Tolkien's opus is something we may never see again in our lifetime. So when the Hobbit films were announced, all Middle Earth nerds were incredibly excited. However, when the first installment was released in December 2012, the world collectively sighed with apathy.
A lot of what made The Lord of the Rings special was gone. The CGI was not as good as it was 10 years more advanced. The screenplay was arbitrary and rushed (because it was). Also, it's the whole trilogy felt padded and stretched out to make 3 movies. As Bilbo said in the Fellowship of the Ring, it was thin, kind of stretched. Like butter scraped over too much bread.
So, it has become en vogue to hate on The Hobbit trilogy. However, that is not quite fair. Sure, it did not almost live up to its predecessor. But, what in the past two decades has? We have to give credit where credit is due regarding Peter Jackson's follow-up trilogy. After Guillermo del Toro left the project, Jackson was almost forced to swoop in and take the helmet to make sure he kept the franchise authentic. There are many failures and weaknesses for sure, but there are certainly things for every Tolkien fan appreciate. Here's 10 things that make The Hobbit worthwhile trilogy.
Honesty, the casting of Martin Freeman as Bilbo may be the most inspired casting of the entire franchise. Bilbo's character arc is really what's holding the Hobbit trilogy together. He starts off as the cowardly, a proper neat freak when he is enlisted to be a member of the dwarven party. However, by the end, he is a brave, wise, and battle-hardened adventurer. More than any other character, Martin Freeman's Bilbo is different because of his quest. Not all of that, but Freeman brings the cheerful delight of the Hobbit race better than any of the previous actors. Quite simply, when a trilogy is named for one character, that character better live up to it. Freeman definitely pulled that off.
One of the strongest parts of the original trilogy was Howard Shore's score. It is one of those rare scores that is immediately recognizable and has several different themes. Just through the score, the audience can tell if the story involves Shire, Rohan, or the ringwraiths. The Hobbit trilogy is no different. The theme of the dwarves is just as exciting and unique as anything in the original trilogy. Howard Shore's music is one of the most powerful connections that the viewer has to The Lord of the Rings. The score is both original and nostalgic, and that makes it special.
Speaking of music, The Hobbit trilogy has some excellent original songs as well. The Lord of the Rings movies set the bar pretty high with Enya's May It Be and Annie Lennox's Into the West. However, Neil Finn's Song of the Lonely Mountain and Tolkien veteran Billy Boyd's The Last Goodbye are fantastic. These songs perfectly put that all-important exclamation point at the end of the first and third movies, respectively. Ed Sheeran's I See Fire is ok from The Desolation of Smaug end credits. Though, it does not hold a candle to the other two. Take a listen above. They stir emotions in ways that really enhance the legacy of The Hobbit.
The Fellowship of the Ring with a lighthearted, joyful affair. The Bilbo's birthday celebration was a great way to introduce us to Gandalf and the Hobbits. An Unexpected Journey is a similar thing in its opening scenes. The unexpected arrival of the dwarves to Bag End is a delightful sequence. Bilbo is confused and frenetic, and the dwarves have terrible houseguests. It puts the audience in a good mood and introduces us, albeit briefly, to the cast of characters. Most people will still be on board with the new trilogy at this point because the scene is so much fun.
The realization of Tolkien's most famous dragon was spectacular in The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies. Smaug was so well done that he could be the greatest cinematic dragon of all time. Benedict Cumberbatch performed a motion capture for the dragon, so it's impressive on its own. However, the phenomenal CGI and his dulcet baritone voice is where he excels. There are moments in The Hobbit trilogy where the CGI is missing, for sure. However, Smaug is rendered perfectly. Though, that creepy, booming voice makes the hair stand on the back of your neck and makes it truly memorable.
People anticipating The Hobbit movies wanted a lot of what they loved in the original trilogy. However, Peter Jackson had to bring some little nuggets of uniqueness to the newer films. One of the best of these is Radagast the Brown. Played by Doctor Who, Sylvester McCoy, Radagast is a wizard unlike we've seen before. Saru