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Regarding The Hobbit

….I was really disappointed. Now, those of you who’ve been paying attention to the newsfeed from way back when know my controversial opinion regarding the second two Lord of the Rings movies (hint: I think they get worse as they go on…), but as The Hobbit is just a hair away from “rotten” on Rotten Tomatoes, I can rest assured that I’m not alone in my dislike of the film.

Actually to say “dislike” isn’t really accurate. To be fair, there is a good movie in there. There really is–it’s beautifully shot, fantastically acted (especially on the part of one Martin Freeman, who fans of BBC’s Sherlock know as the super charming Watson) and overall incredible to look at. The problem, like the latter two LOTR movies, come from an overindulgent film maker not willing to edit his damn movie.

The Hobbit does not to be 3 movies, each over two and a half hours, long. Two movies I can maaaybe see, but even that’s pushing it. The thing is that the novel is shorter than any one of the LotR books, and before the Ringers come out of the woodwork to bitch, extended cuts with extra, unnecessary crap are what you make for people who desperately want to see stuff that, while cool for fans of the books, doesn’t make sense to put into a movie for pacing purposes. Because ultimately, like in comics, pacing is incredibly important.

One of the big complaints I get from MR fans at conventions is that we’ve been in the tournament arc for 2ish years. And I know and accept that, and because I am aware of this, there’s a bunch of stuff I’ve cut. For instance, every one of the 32 initial fighters had a fight kinda outlined that I totally could’ve included, but chose not to because they’re extraneous and non-essential to the overarching story! Now yes, there’re those of you who’d love to see how the necromancer or the taoist fought, but to show those fights I would’ve had to sacrifice stuff from the main characters’ fights. But hey! If it’s stuff I think is super cool, I add it as a bonus story for the book versions–non-essential to the plot, but there for the fans who really wanna see it. Much like, once again, an extended cut to a film.

The second problem with the movie is that Peter Jackson really tries to recapture the grandeur of his LotR trilogy, which, the novelization of The Hobbit simply is not. I want to put in here that of all the Tolkien’s works, The Hobbit is my favorite. And one of the main themes of the book is that small, unexpected people can become heroes in their own ways with their own uniquely brave acts of heroism. The problem with having it be LotR-style epic is that Bilbo’s acts of cleverness are often overshadowed by having an overblown fight scene take place. And there are =many= overblown and over-"epic” fight scenes. And lots of unnecessary things that, while maybe the hardcore fans found exhilarating to see, were completely extraneous to the overall plot (I don’t want to mention specifics on account of spoilers, but feel free to bug me on twitter or send me an email at savagesparrow @ gmail.com).

Finally, the music of the movie is just…ridiculously pretentious. The overall theme is pretty nice (the one that the dwarves sing in the trailers is the basic theme), but all the music that =isn’t= an iteration of that specific theme is your basic “epic” fantasy music that is really generic-sounding, overblown, and awful. In particular, the bit of music that they played when Thorin was facing down the pale orc (who, due to not having much of a role in the novel is basically resorting to delivering Bond-villian lines like, “I’ll get you next time, Thorin!!” complete with fist-shaking) is SO ridiculous with its choral chanting and 300-style manly drumming that Brion and I couldn’t help but laugh. As much as I like to nitpick the original trilogy (and again, even though I do nitpick I do like the movies overall–RotK not so much, but that’s beside the point), the score and most importantly the use of the score was excellent. There were so MANY wonderful scenes in the first LotR movie where there was simply silence used to build tension. Or to let characters simply have a conversation. I can’t tell you how many conversations were drowned out by either overly ambitious “Let’s have a journey!” music or the movie’s very brooding theme (which was weird when they’d be having a conversation about splitting treasure…). But if you watch the movie, try to count how long the movie can go with it just being…silent. It’s not very long!

To sum it all up, The Hobbit isn’t a bad movie. It’s just the victim of an overindulgent director who no one wanted to argue with because he’s proven he can make a lot of movie with his ‘vision’. I firmly believe that there is a good movie there–the first half hour or so is pretty lovely, the riddle scene is excellent, and Martin Freeman really does a wonderful job making Bilbo into an awesome character you wish the best for. The movie just needs someone to take some scissors to it. Honestly, if the 70s cartoon can manage to tell the whole story in 90 minutes, and do an (arguably) better job, then Jackson with his budgets can manage to trim some fat down. I want a slim cut dvd!

I should also mention that Bakshi’s version of Lord of the Rings has probably the greatest fantasy “adventuring” theme ever. Seriously, when you hear that theme it makes you want to go on an adventure! That’s why I’m cutting this post of here–there’re adventures to be had!

Mystic Revolution copyright © Jennifer Brazas 2009. All rights reserved.
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