It’s rarely wise to divide a good book in half. But wisdom and Hollywood don’t always go hand in hand.

Hence, a dark tradition of the 2010s, when movie studios chopped up adaptations of beloved novels into multiple franchise entries. Some examples: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows split into two parts for the franchise grand finale, similar treatment for the Twilight movies with Breaking Dawn, and one in two parts Mockingjay closing what should have been otherwise Hunger games trilogy.

A story of reasonable size, cut and separated into two artistic entities… the audacity of such a thing. And yet, not even as daring as it is with this beloved fantasy franchise, in which a single children’s novel was turned into not one, not two, but Three movies quite.

Based on the book of the same name by JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit trilogy is Peter Jackson’s sequel to his award-winning the Lord of the Rings movies. Among the more robust fantastic franchises (extended editions can kill an entire day), the the Lord of the Rings trilogy gains its length of execution. The three Hobbit movies, on the other hand? Not really.

The Hobbit focuses on Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), a hobbit who loves adventure as much as he enjoys skipping meals – which is not much at all. But adventure finds him all the same, as Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and his small army of dwarves recruit Bilbo on a quest to reclaim the lost glory.

Next to the Lord of the Rings MVP Gandalf the Gray (Ian McKellen), who is very into the novel The Hobbit the films are based on and LotR veteran Legolas (Orlando Bloom), who is very do not in the novel, Bilbo and his company embark on an adventure that sees them cross paths with elves, eagles and even a dragon. Not everyone makes it alive, but it’s still a somewhat thin story with a mostly happy ending.

Except that it is do not a slender story, at least not in the movies.

A single novel spread over three films, The Hobbit the trilogy wasn’t even meant to be a trilogy at first. A beleaguered production that first saw Guillermo del Toro direct and Peter Jackson produce, The Hobbit was originally meant to be two movies. After stepping in as a director, however, Jackson and his company decided that there was so much material (thanks to stories from Tolkien’s own extended works) that it wasn’t possible to fit everything into two. movies. And so, a third film was born, a dark work that is not unlike the One Ring itself.

It is less than The Hobbit The trilogy is bad and on top of that it’s utterly unnecessary and misguided, a bloated attempt to repackage that flash of Lord of the Rings. A single movie would have been more than enough, as evidenced by popular fan montages that narrow the movies down to a single four-hour story. But there are still reasons to enjoy Jackson’s Hobbit movies, both historically, but also for certain moments that are truly next level – Bilbo’s confrontation with Andy Serkis’ Gollum is one. of the best scenes of any live adaptation of Tolkien. .

(See also: Benedict Cumberbatch’s work as Smaug the Dragon; his scenes opposite Freeman’s Bilbo are the CGI-filled fantasy version of Sherlock we never knew we needed it.)

With Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings show, more people than ever will be looking for previous films. These new fans are strongly encouraged to discover Jackson’s the Lord of the Rings movie, with a single asterisk: view the extended editions. Oddly enough, the opposite advice for the Hobbit trilogy is the wiser one – look for a lean cut – but with yet another asterisk: watch the full trilogy so you can fully appreciate how stuffed this thing was.

The Hobbit the movies are as daring as the fantasy genre, so much bigger than you need to be that you almost have to respect the bloat. It’s a daring adaptation filled with hidden gems, but you have to get under the hood of so much material to find the treasure. No better time than now to sift through gold, before Amazon’s dragon-sized Lord of the Rings tracker flies into town.

the Hobbit trilogy leaves HBO Max on April 30.

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