Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

And thus does one of the most ill-considered experiments in franchise extension end precisely the way it was bound to end. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the grand finale of director Peter Jackson’s three-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 children’s novel, feels like a weirdly-shaped movie fragment and not a movie at […]

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug had every reason on Earth to be clearly and significantly better than The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but it’s much closer to being a dead heat. This ends up being far, far more depressing than An Unexpected Journey was in isolation, for there was still hope after that movie. […]

The very best thing I can think to say about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is this: it has left me with absolutely no reason to assume that 2013’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is going to be half as much of a slog. If nothing else, that sequel’s title, in relation to the […]

My primary objection to the massively successful, award-winning, generation defining The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2003’s conclusion to the film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s multi-volume fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings, is not an original one, nor a clever and insightful one, nor a […]

“But Jackson was just following Tolkien’s lead!” one might say. No. In fact, Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings as a six-part narrative, bound for convenience in three volumes, and it was partially Jackson & Company’s efforts to force it into a three-part structure that gave the films some of their narrative problems. But […]

The task of making a cinematic adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s gargantuan, six-part fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings that was, on the one hand, comprehensive enough that it didn’t feel like a rushed and perfunctory illustration of plot points masquerading as a dramatic narrative while also being, on the other hand, a manageable object […]

Our tour of the particularly strange little corridors of filmed adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth stories now takes us from the Soviet Union and its hallucinatory 1985 TV version of The Hobbit, north to Finland and that country’s 1993 adaptation of both The Hobbit AND The Lord of the Rings, a TV miniseries gathered […]

The standard history of Tolkien adaptations ushers us right from the terrible 1980 Rankin/Bass TV animation The Return of the King to Peter Jackson’s monolithic big-budget blockbuster trilogy starting with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring over two decades later; but that is only because the standard history is written by […]

Did I not say just recently of the Rankin/Bass animated TV special The Hobbit, that it is “the most emotionally and tonally accurate adaptation of [J.R.R. Tolkien’s] work that has yet been released”? Well then, it is with no small amount of amused irony that I take us to the same studio’s 1980 television adaptation […]

It took many years and false starts to get a feature-length adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth fantasies, but once they started to happen, they happened fast: just barely less than a year after the Rankin/Bass The Hobbit premiered on U.S. television screens, United Artists released a theatrical adaptation of the author’s later, longer, better-known […]

It was only in the process of reviewing the animated 1977 The Hobbit – the second-ever filmed adaptation of a work by J.R.R. Tolkien – that I discovered that the first-ever Tolkien adaptation was as close as a YouTube search. And thus it is that I present the much-rarer 1966 short version of The Hobbit, […]

The road that led to the first successful adaptation of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien was a long and tormented one: attempts started as early as the 1950s, only to fail in the face of Tolkien’s disapproval of scripts and filmmakers terrified at the thought of condensing the massive totality of The Lord of the […]