Wednesday, January 9, 2013

reviews of The Hobbit

I've been waiting for my capsule review of The Hobbit to be published in its first-rights source before putting it up here. From the December issue of Mythprint:
One frequent response to complaints about Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings was that book fans wouldn't be satisfied unless the movie was forty hours long and got all of the book in. No, that wasn't the desire at all, and to prove it, here we have the first installment of The Hobbit. At three hours for six chapters, it's exactly as slow-paced as a forty-hour LOTR would have been, and it still didn't get everything from the book in. Instead, Jackson has stuffed it full of orcs, which he considers separate from goblins: the difference is, goblins are easier to kill and are voiced by comedians. At least it isn't The Phantom Menace: Jackson still knows how to direct a movie, and he has Tolkien's sturdy tale to rely on. Somewhere inside this bloated monster of a film, for which its Hutt-like Great Goblin is a suitable image, there's a clever knockabout entertainment about dwarves and a hobbit trying to get out. But it never makes it. It's been drowned in a sword-wielding videogame and an action-adventure theme-park roller-coaster ride.
Now, more reviews of The Hobbit, a few superlative in various directions that I've collected over the past month:

The most favorable review, and part 2, and part 3. No, I know what you're thinking, but he really isn't being paid off by Jackson to enthuse about it. Shame on you for thinking that. He's a respectable Tolkien scholar, really.

The angriest review. The review that is so angry it cannot move. It cannot eat. It cannot sleep. It can just barely growl. (And sent to me by the author of the review cited above, I kid you not.)

The most pathetic review. It didn't make him want to walk out in the middle; therefore it was worth his time and money, even though he disliked a lot about it. Really, is that your standard for quality?

The most puzzling review. He doesn't actually like the book very much, and actually prefers it as a remake of the Lord of the Rings movies. Then he goes on, in his last paragraph, to identify exactly what's wrong with this movie, despite claiming (see previous paragraph) that he can't do so.

The most arrogant, stupidest defense of the movie. Yes, as its author says, the backstory added by Jackson really does come from the appendices to LOTR. (Most of it.) But did you notice that it's not actually in The Hobbit? It's wrong to say this is the way Tolkien intended the story to be seen. He had the opportunity to rewrite The Hobbit in this manner, and gave it up after two chapters. The book should not be read with all that retroactive weight bearing down on it; it's not meant to carry that pressure. It really is a more lighthearted story. Further, the backstory isn't where the real problems lie (see the complaints in the previous three reviews, and in my own). Those constant orc attacks from the start of the journey ... those aren't from Tolkien, fool.

The most succinct and to-the-point review. 46 words. And no more need be said.

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