While The Hobbit trilogy isn’t an atrocity quite on the level of the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy (and I will fight anyone who says the movies “aren’t that bad”), there is no denying that it was quite the step down from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But, of course, that comparison isn’t quite fair.That last film in the trilogy was so strong that it pretty much swept the Oscars back in 2004 in an unprecedented event. Following it up in any way would be rough.
But where did this franchise actually go wrong? Of course, we can point to the fact that they tried to stretch a single book into three two-plus hour films. That’d be hard for anyone to do, no matter their experience. However, in an interview with YouTuber Lindsay Ellis, actor John Callen, who played the dwarf Oin, shared his own experience on the set (via Screen Rant).
“Even though we were in the core cast, we really did feel at some point that we were actually becoming the world’s highest-paid extras. Whether it had to do with the fact that the studios had said, ‘Actually they’re all right, these dwarves, yes, but the real stories are the battle between Thorin and the evil orcs, it’s the story of the relationship between Radagast and Gandalf and finding Galadriel again and getting her help.’ If that is what the studios were pushing for, then they certainly got what they wanted. What I think they missed out on was the heart that we started with.”
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I think that statement pretty much sums everything up pretty nicely. Rather than actually focus on the main narrative and emotional throughline of the story, director Peter Jackson allowed himself to get bogged down by the mythology of Middle-Earth. It became less about Bilbo Baggins’ journey and relationship with the dwarves and more about connecting it to the bigger world.
While this is all great for people who love world-building, it doesn’t necessarily make for a rich story. By the end, we were left with 10-plus characters who we cared very little about all stuck in a conflict we don’t care about. It became a big light show with small stakes.
What do you think of Callen’s comments? Do you agree with my own reading of what he said? Let us know your thoughts down below!