The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

hobbit

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Bilbo Baggins sets off with a group of dwarves on an adventure to travel to the Lonely Mountain and kill Smaug the Dragon.

This review not only contains MANY SPOILERS, it is full of SARCASM and STRONG LANGUAGE. Stupid and gullible people must have adult guidance to read any further. You have been warned.

Dear Mr. Jackson,

I just saw your new movie, The Hobbit, and felt compelled to express my feelings to you personally. You may not know this, but many people have already read The Hobbit, some (like me) more than once, and many of us have strong feelings about it.

I now have strong feelings about you and the movie you made of it, and those feelings are not good feelings. There are many things that I did like about it- it was VERY pretty, and cinematographic, and the costumes and special effects are excellent. I liked the dwarves and the care you took to differentiate them from each other. I liked Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins- he’s quite good.

In fact, I wanted to like the whole movie.

Oddly enough, my first intimation that I might not like the whole movie came this summer, at Comic-con, where I discovered that this film, made from a book that is about 2/3 the length of the first volume of Lord of the Rings alone, was going to be made as not one…not two…but THREE MOVIES.

Seriously? I said, THREE movies? how can that be? it’s just not that long a book.

But yes, as it turns out, this is just the first of three movies.

Hm. I was not thrilled with the idea. I found out more about what was planned and was not thrilled with that…the words ‘milking the franchise’ and ‘overwriting’ kept bobbing up in my mind, but I resolutely pushed them down. No, I said, this is PETER JACKSON. Whatever quibbles I had with some of the changes and plotting in the three Lord of the Rings movies, he really did right by them; he was pretty faithful to the books, and I was overall very happy with them. Surely he won’t muck up The Hobbit, which is much more simple and straightforward. Surely he’ll totally get that it is a simple children’s story and not a BIG OL’ THUNDERIN’ EPIC, and treat it appropriately.

So now it’s December 21, 2012. The day the world is supposed to end. And of course it hasn’t, except insofar as my illusions about your respect for Tolkien’s work and the legions of people who love this book have shattered like the continents caught in the throes of Armageddon.

Because, Mr. Jackson, you have failed. You have totally betrayed me. You have screwed with That Which Must Not Be Screwed with. You have, in two words, FUCKED UP.

You have taken this simple, straightforward, charming and amusing story and rewritten it to make it EPIC. PORTENTOUS. MEANINGFUL. While, at the same time, putting in all kinds of references and scenes that refer to the Lord of the Rings and that were simply not there in the original book…because THEY DIDN’T NEED TO BE.

See, the part you don’t get is, it’s this simple little story that sets a lot of balls rolling for the books that follow…but it’s SIMPLE. Because the most important things usually have the most commonplace antecedents. (This is a point actually made in the Hobbit itself, in case you missed it.)  And they don’t need a lot of boom and whango and foreshadowing and backstory and stuff. They’re better if you just LET THEM BE.

Not everything needs to be shown or explained, or have additional plot written for it- it’s enough that the dwarves got thrown out of their home by a dragon, we don’t need Thorin and the big ol’ white orc to have a vendetta and keep running into each other. We know that there’s bad stuff in Mirkwood, we don’t need to have Galadrieil show up and talk with Elrond and Gandalf about the Necromancer in Dol Guldur.* By that point I was just facepalming, seriously. I was tired of whispering to Mr. Otter, That’s not right!

And then there are a whole lot of unnecessary chase and action scenes that really add nothing but a special-effects budget to the whole production. Yes,  they’re pretty and cool to watch and all that, but the words PADDING PADDING PADDING were reverberating through my brain.

Simple, Mr. Jackson. This is a word you have evidently expunged from your moviemaking vocabulary.

I could go on, but what would be the point? either you get it or you don’t…and unfortunately, like George Lucas (may he go to That Special Hell reserved for those who change beloved movies when they are finally released on DVD) you now have such a big budget that you see nothing wrong in spending all of it on whatever sounds good to you, whether or not it really is a good idea, helps the movie be a BETTER movie, or is an affront to decency and good taste.

You make me sad, Mr. Jackson. And although I will probably go to see the second and third movies, I have no hopes that they will be good, or that I will enjoy them.

When Ma’at weighs your soul against a feather…I know how that one is going to come out. And I will not be sorry. Not one bit. Not any more.

Yours more in sorrow than in reproach,

Otter

*I have heard that a whole lot of the second Hobbit movie is about this, which was just a mention in the Hobbit, and was also only mentioned in bits and pieces in the LotR books and appendices. Speaking of overwriting and making stuff up.

One Response to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

  1. mizshoes says:

    I disagree about the cinematographic aspect. The high frame rate 3-D nonsense turned what should have been a rich visual feast into something that looked like a Thomas Kinkaid painting. There was no depth: it all looked like early-technology video. I hated every frame of it. Further, there was a Tolkein scholar listed in the credits. What did he do? Put his hands over his ears, close his eyes and go “LalalalalalaIcan’thearyou” while they created the brown wizard with the giant hypersonic bunnies? Awful. All of it. Just awful.

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