Finally watched the extended edition of the third Hobbit movie. Took a while because we wanted to carve out the consecutive evenings to watch all three extended editions in close succession, in hopes it would improve the experience. And it did.
Because I’d enjoyed the first one, really liked the second one (best movie dragon by far!), but the third one, in my view, suffered from the year long separation from the previous editions – the emotional payoffs weren’t there among the endless action bombast.
However watching The Hobbit Trilogy not as three movies but as one extended fantasy adventure saga, like you might binge watch a Netflix series, works so much better. Unlike the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, where each film can stand individually, The Hobbit trilogy really only works when seen as one multi-part “miniseries”. And you can make it a three parter or a four or six or 10 parter, choosing your breaks where it works for you (for example, watching all the Dragon parts as one uninterrupted section, from the last 50 minutes of Part 2 to the first 12 minutes of Part 3 really is ideal).
Yes, there is even more “bloat” in the extended sections, but for the most part it is very fun bloat, in particular adding a lot more humor to all the action of the third movie, which in its cinema edit came off as just too grim. Plus the extended edition gives us the final fates of secondary characters like Alfrid and Dain, unclear in the edit released in theaters.
And more importantly: the emotional relationship stuff, like between Bilbo and Thorin, Tauriel and Kili, Legolas and Thandruil, finally resonates when binge watched over several days in a way it just didn’t when interrupted over three years over three movies (a problem the more superior LOTR trilogy avoided – yes, those movies are also best seen in close succession in their extended editions; but each individual LOTR film also stands alone as a fully satisfying individual experience, which is something I cannot say of the third Hobbit movie).
(Speaking of Kili and Tauriel, this track includes my favorite themes from the Hobbit movies, closely associated with the Kili/Tauriel story line:)
Kingsfoil – Howard Shore
So now I love The Hobbit Trilogy well and better. The movies may still be “hobb-led” a bit by the attempt to give Tolkien’s children’s story the same heft and depth that Tolkien would later give his epic Lord of the Rings and his expanded Middle Earth lore. The strain shows somewhat. Two movies, as originally planned, may have made for a more satisfying stand alone cinema experience. But enjoying the extended trilogy like a lavish miniseries at home; that’s where The Hobbit really comes to its own in all its eight and a half hour, over the top generosity.
It’s one of the great cinematic fantasy adventure stories we can enjoy; and it would be churlish and unfair to expect it to equal that once in a lifetime masterpiece that is The Lord of the Rings. But then, that extended trilogy experience is eleven and a half hours long. 😉
And while I’m at it, and to get a little music into the discussion, how about I share the three end credit songs from the Hobbit movies, each featuring male vocalists where the end credit songs from the LOTR trilogy had featured females. But then The Hobbit is more male centric, with 13 Dwarfs plus one Hobbit dominating the story line (the movies had to create the character of Tauriel just to get at least one more prominent female after Galadriel on the screen, and even Galadriel isn’t in the book). Each song works beautifully, yet the most winning one is also by the most famous singer, Ed Sheeran. Nonetheless, it is sweet to hear Billy Boyd (LOTR’s Merry) work his lovely singing pipes again. (As good a place as any to direct you to his band Beecake.)
Song of the Lonely Mountain – Neil Finn
I See Fire – Ed Sheeran
Billy Boyd – The Last Goodbye