Saturday, December 14, 2013

An avid Tolkien fan's take on The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug (SPOILER ALERT!!!)

As Christopher Lee said (real life friend of J.R.R.T.) in the extra DVD footage of LoTR: "You do not improve upon Tolkien." I simply think Jackson and company feel that they can..
All things being equal, why not go with the book?
All from memory, forgive if I get any book facts wrong:
An avid Tolkien fan's take on The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
1st, things I liked about the movie:
-The river scene was well done. I loved it!
-Smaug was an incredible work of CGI. Never once did I think about the CGI. He was totally convincing.
-I like the Kung-fu-Panda Bombur. What a hoot!
-Radagast: he has been a nice addition to Jackson's movies and a nice augmentation to Gandalf as a kindred.
-Mirkwood: the scenery of this sickly forest was an artistic pleasure.
-Bilbo: Martin Freeman is an incredible Bilbo. I simply love the way he says, "Smaug."
All of these things I just listed about the movie that I like are entirely detached from my thoughts on the book which now follow:
I have read The Hobbit dozens times over the decades, and once out loud with my daughter. I have read LoTR many times over, and atm out loud with her too we are almost done. I have read The Silmarillion over and over as well, along with tertiary books such as Tolkien's letters, etc. So, here is an avid fan's take on this latest Peter Jackson movie:
This was a good movie and I do not not recommend it. As a movie, detached from its source material, it's worth seeing. Yes, I liked it. I was not bored one minute, and I'm glad I saw it, but an avid Tolkien fan over decades -- I'm an older guy.... The liberties taken in this movie were so much (compared to its source material), that I actually feared what would happen as I'm watching it. It took more liberties than any of Jackson's Tolkenesque films to date, and maybe that's the best word to describe the film: Tolkenesque, because it sure wasn't 100% Tolkien. I audibly groaned at one point so that my daughter asked what was wrong: it was the developing love affair between Kili and this fabricated-for-the-movie female elf. (Note: there would not have been a dwarf found without a beard, at all; these dwarves in Jackson's movies are just too gd pretty IMO, since when do we need to Channing-Tatum-up dwarves? /the-dwarves-are-too-damn-pretty-meme) Spider scene -- why not have the dialogue where Bilbo taunts the spiders? Where is "attercop"? Where is this (and other) wonderful examples of writing wherein, Tolkien isn't just writing a fantasy book, but introducing English speakers to ancient parts of the language, that encourage us to delve further into the past of our language? The dialogue in the book here is legendary IMO, and now masses will replace it with the vacated display of this movie. Lake town -- we have humans, dwarves, orcs and elves ... oh and a hobbit. Reality: there were just humans, dwarves and a hobbit ever in Laketown. Dol Guldor -- all to do with Dol Guldur is 100% conjecture. Bilbo and Smaug -- this is by far my biggest disappointment. Bilbo NEVER took the ring off when talking with Smaug, and this bullshit of Smaug being in cahoots with Sauron is nothing but that: bullshit.... Bilbo named Sting, not some spider. The barrel river scene -- whilst well done in the movie, my daughter and I laughing out load at one point -- was NOT a combat sequence. These orcs were NOT chasing "The Company" the entire movie, they were never in Mirkwood. They were never in Laketown. Radagast was NOT in The Hobbit, and he NEVER had bird shit running down his face. The dwarves NEVER encountered Smaug, at all, much less had a walt-disney-ride tour through Erebor -- Lonely Mtn -- that was nothing less than WoW Iron Forge. Smaug was NOT covered in gold, ever. There was not this great forge scene and Smaug never got covered in molten gold, and I guess the boat or whatever Thorin rides in, in molten gold, does a hellava job dissipating heat. There was NOT some special bow and arrow system to fight dragons -- it was just a plain bow and arrow. The way they meet Beor is fucked up. It is entirely fabricated from the book, and I think the book was better, with Gandalf introducing "The Company" in pairs and such, in an elegant manner. And Beor never said he disliked or hated dwarves. The way they meet the elves is fucked up -- wtf fuck with that at all?. "The vanishing party of elves" in the forest could have made for great cinema IMHO. Oh, and Legolas was NOT in The Hobbit. ffs, Jackson has a dwarf and elf falling in love with each other .. my god.... Ok, and let's be sure to imprison Gandalf again, I mean, that's always a crowd getter! Why mess with principle scenes such as Smaug/Bilbo meeting? When Biblo takes off the ring revealing himself to Smaug, my heart collapsed. The power of that scene is that Smaug is truly baffled by this Hobbit. A thread throughout TH and LoTR is that the hobbits are true mysteries, to even ancient beings such as Fangorn (Treebeard). Bilbo is able to engage Smaug in a lengthy dialogue, mostly, because Smaug is just damned curious about what Bilbo is, and the fact that Bilbo is also invisible, makes the dragon as intrigued as hell. Smaug never knows about the ring. He never makes a single, solitary statement about the ring, at all! And where is one of my all time favorite Tolkien quotes, as Bilbo taunts Smaug just a little too much, making a joke as Smaug's expense, who then tosses a line of flame up the single tunnel (yes, it was a single tunnel that the dragon had always thought he should have blocked-up) to which Bilbo makes a saying he uses from then on: "Never laugh at live dragons." <-- WHERE IS THAT PETER JACKSON!?!? It could have been worse. Aragorn coulda showed up. He woulda been like, idk, 12? Since the 1st "The Hobbit" Jackson carved down the number of dwarves. Oh, and, let's make sure to have a wounded dwarf, who has to stay behind in Laketown (and there was not a 'river gate' that closed, and bottle-necked the barrels; and btw, the barrels were sealed, this is how barrels could float down a river without sinking (you see, because the barrels were sealed -- note: open barrels would quickly fill with water and sink), but now, his brother demands to stay behind too, and then, another dwarf overslept. So now, we have 3 nice dwarfs in laketown, along with legolas and this make-believe female elf -- that was NOT in the book at all. Because -- and you can see this coming in the next movie -- like, there's gonna be all this action-jackson combat fucking shit that filled the screen. 'Sleeping Bombur is 100% done away with, replaced by 'arrow-knee Kili' Bruce Lee would watch these elves fighting and be impressed. Neo would be impressed. My god, just how many orcs are there to die? These orcs vs these 2 elves is like me vs my bag of popcorn.... I worried before I ever saw the first Peter Jackson movie covering Tolkien's work. Upon seeing it, he won me over, and I was on board. I have been great, good and ok with all his "Tolkenesque" work since, until now. This last iteration has me getting those feelings again, that I had before ever seeing the 1st move. Please, Mr. Jackson: get it right, get it tighter, and err a bit more toward the source material. I know that was acerbic, but honest. I understand a movie is tough to produce, must have rhythms, action, ebbs and flows, that books do not have to deal with. I am a Jackson fan, I just would like to leave his movies covering Tolkien with the same feeling I left after LoTR:FoTR. This one is the worst of the lot, and I feel he both can do better, and knows he can. And it was Bilbo who saw the missing scale on Smaug when he had the ring on an when he was flattering Smaug and when Smaug rolled over to show off his body not some fucking kid of Bard who didn't exist in the book. Why take this small thing away? Why not err on the side of the book?
Mr. Jackson: you are tasked (have tasked yourself) with introducing the masses who might never read these books, to the works of Tolkien. Seeing how his writings are some the greatest in English Literature, I feel you should simply err on the side of authentic words he wrote, not a script written by graduate, pressured to sell "HTDoS" cups at Taco Bell.

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