Love it or hate it, it’s undeniable that the world of Middle-Earth has created a massive powerhouse film franchise for Warner Bros. The original THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy was a huge hit for the studio, both critically and commercially, so it only made sense when the studio began work on THE HOBBIT. However, the film was stuck in development hell for several years, changing directorial hands, going from a single film adaptation to a film that was going to be split into two parts, until finally it was decided that THE HOBBIT would become its own trilogy. Tonally, there also seemed a discrepancy that the films took when compared to the original source material. Continuing this trend, Warner Bros has announced that an extra twenty minutes will be added to the extended DVD and Blu-ray (being released in October and November, respectively), and that this additional content will result in the film’s rating being bumped from a PG-13 to an R. If you don’t want to purchase the DVD, you can actually see the extended addition in theaters for a Fathom Event in October.
Generally, I am an advocate for film and television adaptations of books, and will often defend them from overly critical fans of the source material, since they are translations to a different medium and should be judged on their own merits as a product of said medium. After all, some of my favorite films are adaptations that took massive deviations from the original books, such as JURASSIC PARK, THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (please don’t judge me for that last one, I’m a sucker for the musical. Also, if you want a faithful adaptation of TNBC, you can indeed find one). However, at the risk of sounding like someone who can’t accept an adaptation for being “different from the book”, the saga of the adaptation of THE HOBBIT genuinely perplexes me, as the original book was intended to be more of an adventure story for children than it was an epic dark fantasy like it’s LOTR predecessor. That’s not to say that there weren’t dark elements in the prequel, simply that the overall tone was much more whimsical than the tone of the LORT. Giving the film an R-rating seems to be another misstep in a long series of missteps in bringing JRR Tolkien’s work to the big screen. Ever since THE HOBBIT was announced, there seemed to be a strange fixation from the studio to turn it into another LORT, changing the tone, length, and focus of the story to become a dark trilogy rather than allowing it to be a fun prequel like the book. There also seems to be a general misunderstanding on the studio’s part as to why fans of the LORT film trilogy were excited to get the extended versions of those films in the first place. Fans were ecstatic to see scenes from the books that were cut from the film for time. For THE HOBBIT, the opposite is true, since the studio had to add an incredible amount of padding to fill out the run-time for three films. An extended run-time doesn’t give fans scenes from the book that they were denied due to the need to keep things concise for a theatrical release, but instead just seems to come off as more padding so that an extended version of each of the films could be sold on DVD and Blu-ray.
For me, when I sat down to watch the final chapter of THE HOBBIT, I was exhausted from all the filler. Although I adored the character of Smaug in the second chapter, I simply couldn’t enjoy all the action sequences by the time the third film hit theaters (seriously Warner Bros, if you wanted to put me to sleep, all you had to do was leave me with a copy of THE SILMARILLION, you didn’t need to make two extra movies). Adding more violence to the final entry in the series doesn’t fix the problem of a bloated run-time, it just exemplifies that the studio doesn’t understand (or simply doesn’t care) why fans were upset by the trilogy to begin with. However, I shouldn’t be surprised, as this was the same studio responsible for starting the trend of unnecessarily splitting film adaptations into more parts than were necessary when they released HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 1 and 2. I don’t believe I’ll be sitting down to watch the R-rated take on THE HOBBIT, but needless to say this news makes me far more skeptical of any other book series Warner Bros will be adapting in the future. Let’s just hope they don’t get the rights to THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR, or they might just turn it into a horror movie.
What do you think of the news? Are you excited to see more action in the BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES, or do you think it’s just too bloody much? Be sure to let us know @TheMovieChickk!
Are you a fan of the original trilogy? You can purchase the extended versions of all three at Amazon.com!