Steven Greydanus’ review of first installment of The Hobbit is up, and it looks like the movie is going to be disappointing.
I can’t say I’m surprised. Even the movie versions of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which Greydanus asserts far surpass The Hobbit, I’ve found to lose replay appeal.
In fact, though I’m the proud owner of all three extended editions, complete with Minas Tirith jewelry container and Gates of Argonath bookends, I haven’t watched any of the DVDs for years.
Something was missing from the movies; Jackson and Company didn’t capture Tolkien’s beautiful milieu and bonhomie. The changes to the story and to the characters to conform to Jackson’s chosen themes also detracted from it. Faramir is another conflicted modern man who falls for the ring’s temptation instead of virtuously shrugging it off.
Granted, I’m a hardcore fan of Tolkien. My Texas license plate once read LOTR (rhymes with “boater,” just so you know). When devout Catholics asked, I affirmed it stood for (our) Lady of the Rosary; with everyone else it was Lord of the Rings. I read the trilogy twenty times or so, read the encyclopedias, the complete guides, the almanacs, the appendices, the Silmarillion, the Book(s) of Lost Tales, Tolkien’s other fiction, etc.
That said, I don’t demand perfection, and just seeing Middle-Earth on the screen with moderate fidelity was oh-so worthwhile. I will watch the Hobbit eventually, maybe when it streams to amazon or youtube for $3.99. But by Greydanus’ account it’s even more of a sell-out than the trilogy, with inappropriate jokes, tone, characters, and story changes.
What Jackson needed was one Tolkien appreciator who could watch what he was doing as the drug-culture jokes got written and say: “Please don’t do that.”
Watching the behind-the-scenes of the trilogy on the DVDs revealed how these types of bad ideas got put in. The movie-makers bragged about them, thinking they were great novelties, never realizing that they were losing the truth and goodness of the stories little by little.
Well, it is what it is. I almost didn’t think the disappointment was worth a blog post, but decided to right one up anyway. It is just a movie, and fortunately the books stand the test of time, even when the movies will not.