By R.J. Huneke
Understand that the scrutiny with which the live-action film The Hobbit is described here comes from more than just a fan but a Tolkien-ologist that has coveted and studied the book for over twenty years with love.
Suffice to say, the Peter Jackson movie adaptation was extremely entertaining and funny, but utterly devoid of the spirit, realisticness, and meticulous attention to written Tolkien details that made The Lord of the Rings film trilogy such a masterful blend of on-screen magic and incredible story-telling as professor Tolkien might have wanted it viewed.
Peter Jackson and company’s loosely based version of The Hobbit was fun as a return to Middle Earth but continually disappointing as the novel’s story was repeatedly ignored or trumped by blatant disregard for reality or seriousness and replaced by overtly cartoony CGI and terrible Hollywood writing throughout the entire three-plus hours of film.
This movie was made to be visual eye-candy and comedic relief, utterly dumbing down, chopping up, and replacing the background, the history, and the legendary story with a mishmash of disjointed Hollywood ideas used purposefully to stretch one story that would have filled one three-hour-plus movie beautifully to three greedy shells of the written Tolkien material that they are supposed to be based off of.
What comes to mind, and causes great pain, is that this new Hobbit edition trilogy reminds one of the Star Wars prequel saga in both its harsh lines, complete disregard for the original films’ non-green screen special effects where actual physical sets and locations made the wonder real to the eye. Now the Episodes I, II, III from George Lucas are enjoyable and entertaining and give hungry Star Wars fans more time to spend in the amazing mythic universe that they long for; but the original trilogy is pure art and myth done to near perfection, and the newer versions overly relied on new technology as an easier way to film expensively (without all the brick and mortar building and carpenters) and the eye-candy, marketing to really young kids with cartoon-like characters and laughs dumb down the entire series.
So it is now with The Hobbit trilogy. What was once a cornerstone of Jackson’s career – his amazing makeup and effects team – gave way to a cheaper and easier method of CGI as is seen most clearly in the cartoon character of the White Orc Azog, who Tolkien wrote died in the battle that Azog now miraculously survives from so that we, the moviegoers, have the visual 3-D stimulation of seeing a sled pulled by rabbits and the poorest imagination of Radagast the Brown ever (let’s make him an idiot that lives with bird crap on his face) running in circles to have Azog’s mindless minions follow them around and forget the dwarves they are hunting (all of which never happens in a Tolkien book).
The book’s story was stripped and overwritten with Tolkien allusions so that three movies could be made to gain more profit by the studio than one film. The screenwriting that Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson so arduously went through to use Tolkien lines in almost every instance of dialogue in The Lord of the Rings is totally forgotten; Guillermo del Toro (who I love, as Pan’s Labyrinth is not just great but amazing) and Jackson and the other writers here went for the quickest and easiest way to achieve the goal of bastardizing the great story for three lesser ones to appease the powers that make money in the film company.
The lines are often so awful that the whole scene seems to stop and become ruined by them, like when the Great Goblin (that also looks awful in its carton CGI) gets cut by Bilbo and says, “That did it” as he falls to his death.
Lastly, Bilbo’s great character arc from the book is trampled, quite like Peter Parker’s in Spiderman 3, as he is Thorin’s doormat only until he earns the dwarf’s respect when he saves his life . . . yet this never happens in the book! Bilbo instead slowly finds more of courage and gets the dwarves out of more jams (with the barrels I assume will be ignored in the next film) and his growth and reception are natural progressions that eventually pit his wit and fear against the wicked and cunning dragon Smaug.
To sum up, not only does the look, feel, and writing fall far short of anything pertaining to Jackson’s first trilogy, but the protagonist is ruined as well, so that the stellar acting – and it was stellar with Martin Freeman and Sir Ian Mckellan and the rest – becomes wasted amidst this flurry of outside story plots, twisted Tolkien ideas, and an overall 2-D, IMAX, 3-D, 3-D 480FPS film experience made specifically for five-year-olds and extremely stoned human beings that will sit with short attention spans and soak up the computerized eye candy and way too overt and unnatural jokes that Jackson made out of all of Middle Earth in The Hobbit.
Impulsive Review Grade: B-