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« Winged you, yer bastard! | Main | Happy New Year from Mannionville by way of Scotland »


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Interesting post, Lance. Young Reader and I saw the film yesterday and he found some of the "liberties" taken by Mr. Jackson rather offputting. His reaction overall was not unlike your take - as much Lord of the Rings as The Hobbit. Liked it nonetheless, but given that his Language Arts class is in the midst of a six-week exploration of the book he had many, many points to make. I'll provide him a copy of your review so that he can see just how many things you and he agree on!


Interesting take.

I tend to agree with several points you make;

1. This isn't "The Hobbit"; it's "Peter Jackson's 'There and Back Again Based on an original story by J.R.R. Tolkien'" and enjoyable in its own right as such. Bemoaning the lack of fidelity to the text misses the point.

2. That said, I thought that Jackson made a couple of bad decisions;

a. The entire sequence inside Erebor. Smaug-as-stock-character-dragon and the whole Warner Brother's Cartoon dwarf-chasing undercut what should have been a terrific piece of subtle and terrifying wordplay between the little guy and the big-ass wyrm. What should have pierced the viewer's intellect like a stiletto was like a loud and messy bludgeoning - that didn't come anywhere close to the same effect.

b. Bilbo-as-Ringbearer. I strongly disagree with you on this. Agree on the whole Frodo-as-saint-and-martyr business. But I don't get Bilbo as "hero"; I get Bilbo as "burglar".

The Ring doesn't seem to work on him because he DOESN'T get the connection between the Ring and Power Almighty and, what's more, he couldn't care less. For him the Ring is just a nifty gimmick that lets him turn invisible, the better to sneak around and get busy; it's not so much the Tookish strain of heroism as it is the Tookish hardheadedness and love of getting the better of people (and dragons, when necessary). Once back at Bag End he spends years walking around with the thing in his pocket using it to duck busybodies and prank his neighbors. I thought that the single biggest problem with the film was using the Ring to yank it bodily closer to the LotR cycle. YES, it's the "prequel" to LotR; NO, it's not "The Phantom Nazgul Menace", and the single biggest reason is the difference between Bilbo's casual use and attitude towards the Ring and Frodo's Christ-with-his-cross pilgrimage.

Most of the rest of the deviations from the text I was OK with (though I thought that the whole Tauriel-Fili romance was pretty cynical - unless Jackson is going to do a wholesale revision of the casualty list of the Battle of Five Armies we already know where that's going. Poor ol' Tauriel might as well be the green kid who shows the rest of the squad his family pictures. "Tauriel" is apparently Sylvan for "Deadmeat"...) and the overall tone fine; Jackson's vision for the series clearly avoided the jolly bucolic Tolkien voice which, given the content of the story, was just as ridiculous as you point out.

Lance: I've been holding my hand away from the keyboard like Dr. Strangelove since Sunday, but the Whovian in me can no longer resist: Would Gandalf trust Radagast more if he knew it was Sylvester McCoy, not Barry Humphries?

Happy new year!

El Jefe

The above poster,

+1. My inner Whovian's been saying the same thing since I read this (wonderful, really -- no harm done, Lance.) And I think the Seventh Doctor was a lovely choice for Radagast (he's always done slightly wonky characters, I even remember his Renfield in Frank Langella's -- or Larry Olivier's, if you prefer -- Dracula), just feral enough, un-civilized enough to belong as much to the natural ebbs and flows of the magical, lost West as to semi (pseudo?) civilized Middle Earth. And of a lovely piece with McKellen's pretty damned definitive Gandalf and Christopher Lee's further claim to being one of the most awesome humans of two consecutive centuries as Sauruman. And really, despite the rather ham-handed CGI involved (untypical for WETA) Barry Humphries managed as the Goblin King what you correctly pointed out was denied Cumberbatch through effects overload: a real performance.


You mean Tauriel is, gasp!, a Redshirt? Say it ain't so! ;)

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