30 September, 2013

Painting a Clown Face on the Mona Lisa

Subtitled:  "The Hobbit: The Never Ending Journey"

I tried to resist writing this, perhaps for long enough that it's no longer topical and nobody cares. Then I went to IMDB and was horrified to see the 8.1 rating of The Hobbit. I looked out of curiosity, and I have very nearly lost my faith in humanity.


Story: 10/10. It's the Hobbit. It's one of the greatest stories ever told, in my opinion.

Execution: I'm too offended to give a number.

The Hobbit is not the crowning achievement of Tolkien's. Lord of the Rings changed Fantasy Fiction forever with its anthropological depth and detailed world building. But as far as the quality of narrative, The Hobbit is an unassuming, honest story that reads brilliantly from beginning to end. By contrast, LOTR delves for long passages into desultory details of the world that are fascinating if you've already decided to make yourself love Middle Earth, but rather laborious if you haven't. Again, LOTR is ingenious, but The Hobbit is honest, good fiction, and better told in my opinion.

Why belabor this point? It's exactly what the film failed to accomplish. The book is simple, short, punchy, beautiful. The trilogy (TRILOGY!!!) of films will, in the end, go on for 9 hours.

Is there plot and/or character material to keep the story going for that long.  H*** F*****G **IT B**CH NO!!!!!

The first fight scene probably lasts around thirty minutes. I am not exaggerating. The story is padded not with character or plot or setting or anything of value. It's not even padded with really cool violence. It's padded with dwarves falling off cliffs. Seriously. Not exaggerating. You must spend a good twenty minutes of the film just watching dwarves fall off cliffs. Then they hit their heads after 100-300 metre drops and still feel fine. Much of the rest of the padding consists of things that could make a dwarf fall off a cliff, like orcs, or rock monsters, or more orcs, or some other less interesting monster.

It could easily be forty minutes of dwarves falling off cliffs. I lost count when my brain turned to mush. Either way, there's probably 1.5 hours here of dwarves fighting and falling. I'm not exaggerating.

You will spend a good 2 hours, probably 2.5 hours, watching fight scenes and landscapes. There is enough story in The Hobbit for maybe, at a serious stretch, 2 and a half hours. A punchy, compact and excellent story could not exceed 2 hours.  The story of The Hobbit would make one of the best 2 hours of cinematic experience you'd ever see.  It is a superb story, worthy of a superb movie. What Peter Jackson has done is not only make something offensively garish out of one of the best stories ever told but he's created an offense to art itself. He has made a clown drawing and called it the Mona Lisa.

Honestly, and again I must stress that I'm not exaggerating, I would like to see Peter Jackson punished for this. I would like to see law suits, violence, him falling off a cliff for at least 20 minutes, fighting orcs for one and a half hours. Make him fall off a cliff for 40 minutes just to be safe. Then see if he shakes his head and feels fine afterwards. If so, make another two films out of it. This film is an offense to cinema, to Fantasy Fiction, to Tolkien and to the artistic traditions of our culture.

If I were in charge of the Tolkien estate, I'd be filing a law suit.

Burn, Peter Jackson. I hope you hang your head in shame for at least two hours of every day, and it should probably be two and a half hours just to be safe. If the next movie doesn't begin with a personal apology, I'm not watching it.

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