Full disclosure: I am a long time LOTR fan. I had a great time at the movie theater. You may read anything else as a justification of something I liked. Feel free! But the thing is, I have spent all day today on justifying mode when I was expecting more of a sharing-the-pleasure feature. So… what’s the problem, guys?
• “It was no faithful to the source material.” “They should have changed the title.” “This did not happen like that.”
Easiest first: I agree, it was not a particularly literal adaptation. So what? Did you really want a line-by-line rendering, book to movie? The moment the film creators decide on a three course serving, that was an impossibility. So let’s all agree it’s more like a movie “based on the works of Arthur Conan Doyle” and enjoy it (or not), grounding the effort on its own merits: just like watching Sherlock, or Elementary, or the Guy Ritchie movies with Robert Downey Jr. Of course if you like the original sherlockian canon and only that, you will declare that anything but the lovely Granada Jeremy Brett series is but poor fare to your tastes. That’s the problem with narrow tastes: I am more of a mixed cuisine girl, I like to mix and max and I have no problem with pastiches, as long as some effort is put into presenting something worth watching/reading. I, personally, dislike the remake of The Hound of the Baskervilles (with Christopher Lee!). That’s my problem with that particular movie, and I can go on and on about it. But it has little to do with “faithfulness” or “not like that”. The Hobbit team choose to open the field and even take new skein and spin new plots and characters, like any good rhapsode would do with The Illiad. I like the idea of 9 hours of Tolkien-like more than 3 hours of Tolkien-literal, so please, let’s try to decide why did you not like the movie, nor why it shouldn’t have been made that way. Did anyone notice how in the TV version of Game of Thrones Arya Stark and Tywin Lannister meet and have those great conversations. I don’t remember them in the book; to be fair, I have friends also angry about that.
• “The dwarves do not look like dwarves” “The special effects are slapdash/not good enough” “Places look fake” “48 fps blah blah, 3D blah blah.
Huff… Second easiest. Perhaps it is so. And again, unless it’s so tremendously bad that “throws you out” of your happy Middle Earth place, what’s the problem? Dwarves do not exist for you to cast them. Middle Earth neither, to do those perfect shots you want. And I am very, very, very sure that tons and tons of money have been spent in making things realistic. So I propose a different spin on this particular problem. One, acknowledge that we are visually very spoilt lately. We have seen unimaginable wonders on screen, and moments of perfection on doing the impossible look real. Two, not everyone is James Cameron. Acknowledge it. Really. Three, Middle Earth and its many sized denizens and locations are a very, very thorny problem to solve. Four the movie is very ambitious at times. Ready for the conclusion? Is this: we have probably reached the limit, again, on what’s technically feasible on a movie screen. Do you remember when no superhero movies could be made because there was no way to represent their powers realistically? Do you remember when “fire scene” meant you had to actually build the thing and burn it? Do you remember how in original Star Wars lasers did not always aim true? There’s always something! LOTR original, Legolas jumping the Oliphant? Troll battling in Moria? There’s no easy solution: the producers, I guess humbler ambitions. And for the audience, please work a little more on your suspension of disbelief. If you are a veteran of classic Doctor Who or, hell, of classic Star Trek, you know what I am talking about. As for the technical debate, I just don’t know enough to gauge if it was a good idea or not.
• “It’s over long” “I was bored”. “Too much happens” “To little happens”
Aha! Let’s delve into subjective perception of time. First, what’s the good length for a movie? That’s very debatable, isn’t it? Of course narrative rhythm and emotional involvement affect the perception of the audience … I did not find it overlong, but I acknowledge perhaps you did because you where out of it due to not perfect effects, dwarf songs or authenticity rants. It could certainly have been shorter. “Too much happens” is what I hear mostly from those that dislike the, eh, “add ons”; “to little happens” I hear from those that want that, if a dragon should be shown at the beginning of things, a dragon should be fired before the end. Sorry! I really had fun most of the way through.
• “It was not The Lord of the Rings”
And finally, finally, truth comes out, although this argument was not very well expressed in many conversations I had today. No, it is not LOTR. There’s no “other” LOTR. This is The Hobbit: the story is different, the tone is different, and although a very deliberate effort was made to associate one thing with the other (visually, plot wise, hell, even in music!), it’s not the same story, and it shows. I disliked of the Hobbit the exact same things I don’t specially like in The Holy Book in question: Excess of Dwarves, Plates Flying, Troll Feasting and Silly Goblin King come to mind. Sigh! I would really have loved to see LOTR II. But I went to see the Hobbit, riddles and all. I would have liked to see other things, just like most of everybody. Specially, not surprisingly, those *not* familiar with The Hobbit.
Did you not find Martin Freeman made for a very nice Bilbo? Was not Gandalf, eh, gandalfy enough? Wasn’t Gollum his usual selves? Was not Thorin as noble and undiplomatic as it could be desired (and rather hot)? Was not the bloody thing a labor of love, and did it now show through?
I think the movie was as rambling as it could be expected, not so “rounded” as TFotR. I don’t know if going for "the Trilogy" was the best idea. I understand the nitpicking: we have been a decade without being able to nitpick anything Tolkien-wise. Or do you not remember the “Arwen versus Glorfindel” debate? The “what’s Haldir doing there” controversy? The “how the hell did Elrond go there” one? Let’s nitpick, and let’s go for it, let’s do a Internet crowd funding for special effects on The Desolation of Smaug if it’s what it takes!!
But let’s not lose the forest for the trees: Don’t tell me it’s a bad movie, please, because it just does not seem very fair. I was glad to return to Middle Earth. I had lots of fun. People clapped at the end. I *want* to see what more wonderful inventions will Part II bring. Please, try not to ruin my fun because, really, really, really, there were *not* midi-chlorians in this one!