For many fantasy fans, the Lord Of The Rings franchise hailed the beginning of a new era in cinema. Finally the technology of CGI had reached the creative pinnacle everyone was waiting for. Possibilities and budgets expanded exponentially and film makers could now faithfully deliver not only the vast and astounding worlds from the greatest minds of fantasy literature, but scores of authentic non-human characters and epic battle scenes never before realized so skilfully on film.
With director and producer Peter Jackson at the helm, The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy was a visual masterpiece as lovingly faithful to J. R. R. Tolkien's mythology as it was an outstanding conquest of storytelling. Jackson's follow-up trilogy, The Hobbit, had all of the same ingredients, so why was it so disappointing? Luckily a super-fan has just offered a theory that cleverly justifies the trilogy's flaws.
The Hobbit trilogy has been criticized for its overuse of CGI and inclusion of aimless subplots in an unnecessary attempt to flesh out Tolkien's comparatively modest book into three movies. Jackson's affection for his material undermining, in this case, the flow of his storytelling and misplacing that elusive line between acceptable stunt and absurd showboating within fantasy action sequences.
A post on Reddit by user Questiondbp shrewdly theorizes that there is a good reason for the more outlandish aspects of The Hobbit movies and that reason lies with our narrator; Bilbo Baggins. He presents his idea as an "internal justification" and explains:
"What Bilbo actually experienced during his adventure with the Dwarves was probably far less significant and monumental than the movies make it out to be, because the movies show how Bilbo retells his adventures, not how he actually lived them."
The Hobbit is actually Bilbo's memoir of his adventures - 'There And Back Again'. Therefore, it is perfectly likely that our halfling hero took some liberties with embellishing his great adventure after the fact (he is an author, after all). Questionbdp goes on to surmise that returning to the mundaneness of Shire life to find his neighbors auctioning off his belongings is further motivation to exaggerate events. Whether or not this convenient theory justifies the Olympic gymnast level prancing of Orlando Bloom's Legolas - hopping up a collapsing ice fortress during The Battle Of The Five Armies - it certainly makes sense.
Within the later The Lord Of The Rings time frame, Bilbo is presented as an eccentric, elderly uncle figure. His wild tales and penchant for the dramatic are well acknowledged, as is his fondness for pipeweed - never mind the mind-altering effects of possessing the all-powerful One Ring. This theory fits into Tolkien lore felicitously and reminds us that The Hobbit is a children's story with a different tone to its more serious counterpart. Uncle Bilbo is entertaining the younger generation of hobbits around the fire with the story of his legendary adventure.
A disappointing offering from Jackson is still arguably an example of magnificent film making. The negative criticism only vaguely tarnishes his crown as one of the real masters of this genre. For those who cannot get over The Hobbit trilogy's flaws, this theory offers an explanation that could make re-watching the films a lot more enjoyable.
The Hobbit trilogy is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD.