The Hobbit: Or, Here We Go Again

Mama Fisi
Mama Fisi's picture

Sir Peter Jackson must have a closet full of costumes, props, and sets crowding up his home, because that's the only explanation I can think of for why he would want to make a three-part film of JRR Tolkein's "The Hobbit."

Now, I haven't seen this film, mostly because I don't live in New Zealand, but from what I have seen in the "official trailers," I am not enthusiastic about it. Them. Whatever. And I've been a interested in "The Hobbit" since I was in the sixth grade. Interested as in the "Isn't Bilbo Baggins adorable?" sense. Later, I designed my house to look a good bit like Bag End. I even painted the front door green.

So I was really looking forward to seeing a big-screen adaptation of one of my favorite books, but now, having had a look at the trailers for the film, I'm no longer so sure I'm going to like this. In fact, I may just wait for the DVD, rather than going to see it in the theatre. Never mind the complaints about it being shot at 48 frames per second, and the clarity giving some people nosebleeds; it's the quality of the story that concerns me.

The trailers made the film look noisy, dark and brooding, which I guess is de rigeur for fantasy films these days, but a film about a short guy with furry feet ought to at least have a few spots of humor in it. The actor cast as Bilbo has a certain amount of charm, but I had to squint really hard to find it. And is it just me, or does it seem *weird* that the hobbits, dwarves, elves, and humans are all being played by regular-sized men, only cheated down in scale in the CGI department? They look more like several different sets of dolls being used, rather than completely different species. I mean, I know that they can do all sorts of cool stuff with CGI nowadays, but I kinda miss the days when little characters were played by midgets.

The Husband complained to me that he felt the characters in the 1977 animated Hobbit cartoon put out by Rankin/Bass were ugly and rumpled-looking. But at least they *looked* like they were non-human characters. And despite what decades of Star Trek-type movies say, you can't just stick pointed ears on a human and say he's a non-human.

Then there's the casting. Thorin Oakensheild as a matinee idol? No. Emphatically no. Dwarves are short, stout, with heavy beards, bulbous noses, and bright little eyes. This guy looks like Viggo Mortensen with a thyroid problem.

Doesn't anybody bathe in these films? I'm sure that soap was a bit of a luxury item on a quest through places with names like Mirkwood and the Misty Mountains, but come on--! Gandalf's hair looked like it hadn't been washed in centuries. Gandalf the Tattle-Tale Grey, indeed! No wonder Galadriel dumped him for Celeborn. Or at least that's what it seemed like in the trailer. She was either fondling his hair in affection, or about to ask him if he wanted the number of her stylist. (Maybe it wasn't Galadriel, but hell, one elf chick looks like another in this franchise--!)

And what's *with* all the extra elvish machinations stuff? Do we really need to stretch this story out into three two-hour movies? I've read that Tolkien himself wanted to revise "The Hobbit" after he'd been working on the "Lord of the Rings," and those who read his draft revisions told him NOT to go ahead with them, because adding all that serious mumbo-jumbo ruined what was originally a charming little fairytale.

"The Hobbit" was Tolkien's first idea, and to go retconning it by adding in stuff from Tolkien's more mature works would be like telling a story backwards--instead of starting off with an innocent child, you open with the bitter old man complaining about how his life sucked. It may be the same story, but it has an entirely different feel to it. We want the fairy tale, not the monster movie. We want the charm and the humor of a story about a cunning little hobbit who succeeds almost in spite of himself, and we don't need to look at it through the hindsight of what came later.

For my money, Rankin/Bass did it better, in less time, and with nicer songs.