Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Disappointment

I have never been one to go to very many movies, and it's harder where I live now. We have one 4 screen theatre, and they rotate movies weekly. A really popular movie will last 2 weeks. By the time I figure out something's on that I want to see, it's gone.

I liked the LORD OF THE RINGS series, so I wanted to see THE HOBBIT. It's in town on a rare 3rd week of showing, but I guarantee it will be gone this week. So I caught it before it disappeared.

For LOTR, I though Peter Jackson did an amazing job of condensing the books into their essence. He kept the story moving. He made the characters engaging. His special effects augmented the story, not dominated it. He took three long books and made 3 long movies. 

THE HOBBIT is not like that.

Jackson took one short book and is making 3 long movies. He padded the beginning of the movie with stuff to tie it to LOTR, including an appearance by Frodo. He padded pretty much every scene with junk not in the books and not really true to the story. Examples:

  • In Rivendell, both Galadrial and Sauruman show up. Neither is in the book.
  • In Rivendell, the dwarves "escape", and Elrond isn't pleased with them. In the book, Elrond wishes them luck and escorts them away with music.
  • Gandalf has a fellow wizard called Radagast show up who rides in a chariot pulled by rabbits. Not in the book. Radagast has a morgul-blade sword. Not in the book. Radagast saw a necromancer in the Greenwood (that has become Mirkwood). Not in the book.
  • After leaving Rivendell, they are caught in a storm in the Misty Mountains -- a storm that takes only 3 paragraphs in the book. This is a 10 min scene in the movie where they cling for life on a rock ledge (not in the book) while rock giants fight (in the book, but it doesn't affect them, and its a 3 line throwaway).
  • After the storm they hide in a cave, where the floor falls in and they drop on a huge slide to the goblin's dungeons below. Not in the book. In the book, the back of the cave opens and the goblins come in and capture them.
  • At Weathertop, it's Gandalf's arrival that causes the trolls to turn to stone at sunrise. In the book, it's Bilbo's wit and skill that trick them into ignoring sunrise. Gandalf isn't even there. It's Bilbo's first demonstration of his true worth to the dwarves and Jackson wrecked it.
Jackson spent $180 MM mostly making silly battle sequences. Is it me, or:
  • Do all folks who live underground have rickety swinging bridges that fall apart on a moments notice?
  • Does no one understand the concept of "railings" on stairs or bridges or platforms on the precipices of 2,000' drops?
  • Is there magical some way hobbits/dwarves/orcs/goblins survive 1,000' falls into rocky chasms that would kill everyone else?
  • Do all underground caves have natural lighting systems?
  • Does every battle scene look like it's designed to become a video game or ride at Disneyland?
I could go on; my list of complaints is nearly endless. In THE HOBBIT, Jackson covered 6 chapters and 107 pages of the 279 page book. Each of the LOTR volumes is over 400 pages, and took only one movie. I guess he had to pad in order to make his billions. THE HOBBIT has been out about 4 weeks and has already made $850 MM. No wonder they're making a trilogy.

I've read that Jackson is a stickler for Tolkein details, and has merged stuff into THE HOBBIT from books like THE SILMARILLION and the appendices to the LOTR. For instance, Saruman is there because he actually turned evil already and wants the ring.

Horse hockey. Let him go make a prequel to LOTR. He should have left the book -- an excellent book, a wonderful story -- alone.

1 comment:

Edwin said...

Well that was just one great read on an otherwise rather uneventfull sundaynight. One trip to the movies that I can now spare....