Today was supposed to be the day that I gave all of you my review of The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. I was going to watch it yesterday afternoon while enjoying my uncharacteristic Wednesday off, and then review it for you today. But, in case you couldn't tell from the fact that all of this is in past tense, I did not do that. I couldn't. For a number of reasons.
I mean, I physically could have, probably. I was right next door to the movie theater. I even stood in front of the ticket counter for a few minutes before walking away. It probably would have been more logical for me to see it than not see it, but I just couldn't. Or I didn't want to. Or the idea of watching this movie was so unbearable to me that I had to leave. Either way I finished up my Christmas shopping and then went home and laid on the couch watching Rehab Addict until dinner.*
So instead of actually giving you a review of the movie today, I thought I'd explain why I have no desire to see it. This is not to say that I won't see it. I probably will at some point, and it might even be in the next couple of weeks. But this is why, even though I was right there and had nothing better to do, I could not bring myself to watch the final Hobbit movie yesterday afternoon.
It's the end of an era.
You probably don't all know this, because it's a fact that massively predates this blog, but I was grandfathered into the Lord of the Rings fandom. I really had very little choice in the matter, not that I'm complaining. My parents both love the books and read them to us when we were little. The first time I heard the whole trilogy I was two. Then again when I was six, and I read them for the first time on my own when I was eight. We had a painting of Goldberry hanging on the wall in our living room. We currently have a painted tree from a set for a play production of The Hobbit hanging in our dining room. Basically my whole family are giant Lord of the Rings nerds, and I grew up with all of the stories.
We even had that terrible animated version of The Hobbit - the one where the elves were green and had German accents for some reason - and I watched it over and over as a child. These books were full of magic and mystery and epic stories and admittedly very very few female characters, but still. They were perfect fuel for an obsessive little nerd like me, and from the ages of eight to about fourteen they were my life.
I was thirteen when the first movie (Fellowship of the Ring, that is) came out, and I went to see it in theaters seven times. This is impressive not just because that's a lot of times to see a three hour movie in theaters, but also because the nearest theater showing it was half an hour's drive away, and I was thirteen. I could not drive. Let that sink in for a minute and now I hope you understand why I like my parents so much.
Our whole family was obsessed. We bought the DVDs as soon as they came out, then waited again and bought the extended editions when they came out. We sat down as a family and watched literally every single commentary and special feature on both DVD sets. I used to be able to name which stunt-people played which orcs, and so on, because I cared so much.
And this isn't even getting into how I tried to learn Elvish (Quenya, specifically), how many of my Halloween costumes were remarkably themed, and how I wore a cloak to class for two years in college because I could. I still own a veritable library of appendices, bestiaries, language guides, maps, and other tangentially related Middle-Earth miscellany. I was given a first edition of The Silmarillion for my birthday one year, and I cherish it.
Okay, so all of that is to establish that I am a huge nerd and always have been. But it's also to explain that I have had my obsessive moment with the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movies, and in a very real way, I have also burned myself the hell out on them.
Like I said, I saw The Fellowship of the Ring seven times in theaters, but I only saw The Two Towers twice. And Return of the King, while great, only got me into the theaters three times. One of those times I pretty much dozed through all of the Sam and Frodo scenes on Mount Doom. By the time I graduated high school, for all that I still loved the story and had participated in Hobbit Days** and marathons in theaters and even acted out scenes in drama class, I was kind of over it. I was tired of Lord of the Rings, and ready to move on to something else.
So I did. I spent college becoming more and more interested in pop culture in general, from Buffy to Doctor Who and Heroes to Supernatural and finally I ended up going to grad school for screenwriting because I loved it all so much. And Lord of the Rings played a very big part in all of that, but it was a part that was over. It wasn't until my early twenties that I could actually enjoy watching the movies again at all, because I'd so thoroughly worn myself out.
And then I found out that they were going to make The Hobbit into not just one, not just two, but three more movies, and I'll be honest. The reaction I had was not glee or joy or squee, it was exhaustion.
It's not that they're bad movies exactly, because they aren't. It's that something in me has changed. Maybe. I'm not the same person I was when the first Lord of the Rings movies came out, but that's not a bad thing. It just mostly means that while I can appreciate these movies for what they are, they don't hold the same emotional, gut-wrenching tug for me as the first ones.
Also, and I know that some people might not want to hear this, I'm pretty sure they're just not as good.
That's the second reason why I couldn't bring myself to watch the movie yesterday. Because, based on the previous two movies in The Hobbit series, I have a sneaking suspicion that I might not like it very much. It's not my style. It's all glam and special effects and greenscreen and CGI and not so much with the dirty, gritty feeling of the previous movies. It feels like a fairy tale, and I've never been much for fairy tales.
I know this is unecessarily poetic language, but The Hobbit never made my soul sing with joy. It's a cute story, definitely, but it's not epic like Lord of the Rings is. It's not about the battle between good and evil and the movements of kings and armies and a righteous war, it's about a bunch of greedy people arguing over some gold. And it's a perfectly fine story, but it's not nine hours worth of story, no matter how you slice it. I'm definitely not the first person to say this, but the Hobbit movies feel bloated and laggy. There is too much movie and not enough story and I just don't enjoy watching them anymore.
Now, I fully admit that all of this is coming from a person who has not finished the trilogy. That's the literal point of this article. So maybe I'll go see the movie next week with my family and I will be amazed at how wonderful it is, how moving, and I will deeply regret all of the mean things I said here. That could happen. It probably won't, though.
And yet, for all of this, the last and final reason why I didn't watch the movie yesterday is because there's still a part of me that doesn't want it to end. I mean, it's a weird part of me, because the rest is all raring to go and wants to move on with my life, but there's that happy little thirteen year old in me that will be really sad when this is over. When I watch The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, that's going to be the end. There will be no more Lord of the Rings movies to see after that.
I'm just not ready for that to happen, for all that I have been ready for a very long time.
*I really love that show. She makes the houses look so pretty!
**Where you dress up like a hobbit and watch all three extended editions back to back while eating hobbit-like food constantly. It's pretty disgusting. And very fun.