This Atlantic Monthly article really nails the thematic issues. The problem can be summed up like this: "As for Bilbo, Gandalf tells the elf-queen Galadriel that it is not great power but rather the everyday deeds of ordinary folk that defeat evil. It's a nice sentiment, but not one that the film buys into even for a moment"
That's right: the entire point of Bilbo and the book was taken out back and shot.
I'd like to add yet another problem though. Not only was the movie thematically off and unnecessarily violent, but why all the CGI? The Lord of the Rings had wonderful special effects, beautiful (and sometimes grotesque) makeup, amazing set design and costumes, breathtaking landscapes. What happened Jackson? Sheer laziness?
|This looks like a Disney poster|
And then there's this fellow.
|He talks to birds, like Cinderella|
In order to drag out the movie into a trilogy, Jackson created this chap out of nowhere, for no good reason. He rides on a sled carried by rabbits. You read that right. A rabbit sled of CGI.
I agree with these guys: watch the actual cartoon, not the cartoonish live-action. It's creepy but it doesn't take itself too seriously. And don't you love this Bilbo?
These goblins terrified me as a kid.
Probably because they sang this:
(If you're a South Park fan, they cribbed the cartoon's theme song for Lemiwinks. Can you tell?)