Musings & Thoughts for Monday, August 2, 2021, or: Revisiting ‘The Hobbit’ Movie Trilogy and Other Trivial Pursuits

(C) 2021 Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Hello there! It’s late morning in New Hometown, Florida on Monday, August 2, 2021. It’s yet another hot midsummer’s day, and from the looks of it, it is going to be stormy, as well. Currently, the temperature is 88˚F (30˚C) under mostly cloudy skies. With humidity at 61% and the wind blowing from the south-southwest at 7 MPH (10 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 100˚F (35˚C). The forecast for today calls for thunderstorms to move through our area. The high will be 92˚F (33˚C). Tonight, scattered rain showers are expected. The low will be 76˚F (24˚C). The Air Quality Index is 51 or Moderate.

Last night I had a better movie-watching experience than I had on Saturday. Not only did I finish watching  the 4K UHD edition of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, but I watched The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies in its entirety (the 2014 film has a running time of 2 hours and 24 minutes).  

Admittedly, I started watching The Desolation of Smaug late yesterday afternoon – a bit before six, I think – at the point at which I last left off on Saturday, so not only did I choose a more reasonable time to watch it, but I also did not “rewind” The Desolation of Smaug to the beginning. The theatrical edition of the second part of the trilogy is long enough at 2 hours and 41 minutes, and I wanted to watch The Battle of Five Armies straightaway, so I started The Desolation of Smaug shortly before Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) meets the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch).

I didn’t watch The Hobbit trilogy in theaters; at the time, I was busy taking care of my sick mother and at the same time learning how to manage a household. I remember vaguely that I wanted to see An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and The Battle of Five Armies (2014) when they were first announced, but since most of my movie-going friends had moved away or passed on, my only option was to go by myself, and that didn’t appeal to me at all.

I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, a die-hard devotee of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth legendarium; I am, at most, a casual fan who owns The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion in novel form and enjoyed Jackson’s LOTR film trilogy, but that’s as far as it goes. I never played Dungeons & Dragons or bought any Tolkien-inspired collectibles. I like the lore, but I’m not steeped in it, and I prefer lighter fare along the lines of Star Wars and Star Trek.

According to my Amazon shopping history, I purchased the 1080p Blu-ray set in March of 2015. This was the last box set that I ordered while Mom was still alive. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was also one of the last “new” movies I tried to watch with my mother. I say “tried” because even though Mom wasn’t so far gone with dementia that she didn’t know who I was or where she was, by March of 2015 she had a hard time following a movie’s narrative threads. And because we had watched The Lord of the Rings (the extended version) early in her long period of immobility, she insisted that she had seen The Hobbit before.

Maybe it’s because of that bleak experience with Mom that I’ve never warmed up to Peter Jackson’s prequel trilogy to The Lord of the Rings. I watched the entire Hobbit trilogy in Miami just once to justify its purchase, and since I moved out here to New Hometown in the spring of 2016 I think I only watched An Unexpected Journey once. (And, if you’re keeping score, this is the film I skipped when I decided to try out the new 4K UHD editions in the The Hobbit Motion Picture Trilogy box set I received from Amazon on Thursday.)

To my surprise, I enjoyed The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of Five Armies immensely, even though I know that this set will not be watched as frequently as my Star Wars films. I am curious to see if the extended versions are any better than the theatrical editions. I know that the extended versions of The Lord of the Rings improve on the original cuts considerably, even though they do require more stamina from a viewer since they are, natch, longer. I guess I’ll find out when I watch The Hobbit trilogy in its extended edition, perhaps during the holiday season. Right now, as far as Middle Earth is concerned, I’m good.

The radar map from my Weather app.

As for today, I naively hoped that we would get a break from the summer storm pattern – hot, cloudy mornings, afternoons with a mix of sweltering heat and lightning-spewing storms – that is part of every Floridian’s life. Alas, it looks like we’re going to have a dark and stormy day. It’s already gray and gloomy outside; if my room gets any darker I’ll have to turn on a lamp just to be able to see my keyboard while I type.

If I do any more writing today, I’ll have to do it out in the kitchenette on my laptop. I can do that, at least in dribs and drabs, but it’s harder to concentrate “out there” because whereas my room is private and I can close the door to avoid distractions, the kitchenette is public. The refrigerator is only a few feet away, and with five housemates and a dog waltzing in and out, the kitchenette table is not an ideal place for me to write. I’ll try – that’s why I spent so much money on the laptop in the first place – but I am not optimistic about accomplishing much on this rainy Monday.

 Well, that’s all the news that’s fit to print, Dear Reader, so it’s time for me to wrap this blog post up. Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the less soggy side of things.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

7 thoughts on “Musings & Thoughts for Monday, August 2, 2021, or: Revisiting ‘The Hobbit’ Movie Trilogy and Other Trivial Pursuits

  1. I’ve never been able to watch the movies all the way through. I drift off – it doesn’t capture my attention the way science fiction does. However, I think I’ll give it another shot after having read this. I’ve been looking for something to put on while I work that I haven’t seen yet but don’t have to pay real attention to for a potential review.

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    1. I had a tough time getting into Tolkien back in the day; I was in sixth or seventh grade when The Hobbit was, suddenly, back in fashion because of the Rankin-Bass animated film. I checked out the novel from the school library (I’m 90% sure that I was in junior high then) and thought it was pleasant enough to read, although in my mind, whenever I saw the word “Elves,” I imagined tiny beings a la “Keebler Elves” rather than tall, dignified European-like folks who looked vaguely…Germanic. And since The Hobbit is (and was intended to be) a children’s book, it was a quick and easy read.

      The Lord of the Rings? As a book, it’s so different from The Hobbit due to its darker, more adult presentation of high fantasy. I liked the basic narrative, but when I was younger, I skimmed through the three books that comprise the novel to avoid all of the songs and poems Tolkien loved to write as part of the “world-building.” I’ve had The Lord of the Rings in my library since high school, but I admit that it was not until I watched the Peter Jackson theatrical editions that I was able to slog through the whole thing.

      I’m impressed by the two trilogies’ cinematic qualities (otherwise I would not own them on home media), but if you gave me a choice between watching LOTR or Star Wars, which would you say I would rather watch?

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      1. Don’t get me wrong. I saw all three of Peter Jackson’s films in The Lord of the Rings cycle (2001-2003) at the movies. Heck, The Return of the King was the first film I ever saw in the Tampa Bay area when I used to stay with an ex (while, of course, we were still a couple) for weeks at a time. (Mom was still in good health in those days, so I would leave Miami and stay in an apartment with my then-girlfriend June, her youngest son, his girlfriend, and (at least the last time I was here as a visitor,) June’s grandson, who was born in Brandon General Hospital in 2004. I saw the movie at the Brandon Town Center, never imagining that I’d end up living in the same county.

        But I digest…er, digress…..

        The Jackson films based on Tolkien’s books (at least the ones that the Tolkien Estate lets him adapt; he doesn’t have adaptation rights to other bits of the Tolkien Legendarium, such as the history of Middle Earth series edited by J.R.R. Tolkien’s son Christopher or The Silmarillion) are impressive examples of great filmmaking. I own all six films in several formats (LOTR in DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Blu-ray and digital; The Hobbit in Blu-ray and 4K UHD discs and digital) and are enjoyable (especially if you aren’t a Tolkien fan who nitpicks about the films’ accuracy vis a vis the books).

        That having been said, Tolkien and his mythology, while interesting and striking, is a bit too serious in tone for my American movie watcher’s sensibilities. Star Wars may share some thematic connections to Tolkien and other fantasy works and mythologies, but it’s corny, lighter on its feet, and more fun to watch.

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      2. I think you hit it on the head – there’s a levity in Star Wars (and the MCU but that’s another post) that I really enjoy, It’s not taking itself too seriously. I have the blu-rays of the films here. Maybe I’ll try to get through them this week, or at least a couple of them.

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