Monday, January 5, 2015

Comparing The Hobbit Movies

Yesterday, I posted my review of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Now that Peter Jackson's trilogy (based on one book) is complete, it was inevitable that someone would compare it to the animated film, produced by Rankin & Bass, back in 1977.

"Evilx180" compiled just such a comparison, just over a year ago and posted it on YouTube (see above).

Reading through the comments, one thing is for certain:  There is little--if any--middle ground about "that seventies Smaug," voiced by Richard Boone, in his last television role.  Folks either love or hate the old-school Smaug.

While Jackson's trifecta of films is a grand epic, I'm still a fan of the Rankin/Bass cartoon.  I think the animation still holds up when compared to other productions in and around the same time period. 

The same goes for the voice-over acting, especially with an all-star cast consisting of: 

Orson Bean (as Bilbo Baggins), Hans Conried (Thorin), John Huston (Gandalf), Otto Preminger (the Elf King/Thranduil), and Brother Theodore with his chilling performance as Gollum, that still gives me goose bumps.

Also, despite my admiration for Jackson's treatment of Tolkien's work, Rankin/Bass did a better job with dialogues, monologues and soliloquies in these scenes:

1. Smaug's boasting, shown in the above comparative video. 

2. Bard's Black Arrow soliloquy.  I understand there was no room for this in Jackson's version because the black arrows were giant quarrels launched from a ballistae.  But it would have been cool for Luke Evans to say something similar prior to letting fly.

Even with vintage animation, this is still an incredibly heroic image:

3. Thorin's farewell to Bilbo is still a tear-jerker.  True, Richard Armitage said something similar, but it didn't make me reach for my hankies.

Now, to be fair, the one thing I don't like about the Rankin/Bass cartoon is that the elves were portrayed like this...

...instead of this:
Overall though, I like both films.  Each one has it's strengths and weaknesses.

The 1977 version is much shorter and more family-friendly.

The 2012--2014 epic is made for binge-watching, especially if you get the extended version DVDs/downloads.

Happy viewing!

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