When Jackson did The Lord of the Rings, I was excited to see it. The images they released looked amazing and he spoke about how closely he wanted to follow the books. Sounds great! Then the ominous signs started appearing. First, they added a love interest. There is no reason to do that in The Lord of the Rings, and someone who really was trying to be true to the books would know that. Then some of the actors started giving interviews and they mentioned that the script couldn’t just follow the books because The Lord of the Rings doesn’t really concern itself with character development.... because The Lord of the Rings doesn’t really concern itself with character development.
WHOOP!! WHOOP!! WHOOP!! Retard alert!
...because The Lord of the Rings doesn’t really concern itself with character.
Sure enough, Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings was very pretty. And as generic fantasy stories go, it’s pretty good. It’s certainly better than Dungeons & Dragons and Eragon in that regard. But it’s an emotionally dead film. You don’t care about any of the characters because they are all generic... they are all Hollywood Reluctant Hero, Standard Grade™.
What’s really frustrating is that Jackson was handed a series of books with everything already in them. All he needed to do was put what he read on screen and he would automatically create a deeply, emotionally-satisfying film. But he stripped all of that out. If there is a moment where you learn something about the values, beliefs and worth of these characters, he took it away and replace it with Hollywood Reluctant Hero Anguish, Extra Strong™.
So I watched it. And you know what? Zzzzzzz.
The film opens with Jackson showing right away that he intends to make a dull film. Like a declaration of failure, Jackson opens the film with the story of Smaug. This is wrong. The Zen of The Hobbit, the book, is the way it grows. The story starts small. Gandalf is a bumbling old fool who seems to pick Bilbo at random to fulfill a contract... but he proves his worth little by little as the story grows. The dwarves are blowhards with no experience doing what they are about to do. They are quickly exposed, but little by little prove their worth as well... only to prove too stupid to know when they have won. Bilbo opens as a fussy wimp, a whiny, neurotic, defeatist homebody who is out of his element the moment he leaves his house. But as the story goes on, he find his inner strength. He learns the difference between confidence and arrogance. And he becomes a hero. Middle Earth too is like a puzzle, a puzzle you assemble bit by bit: you start in the safe shire. Then you are in the wild. You discover trolls. You meet the elves. You come to the Misty Mountains and you learn about Orcs and Goblins. Little by little, this amazing world reveals itself until you come to the climax of the story, the story of Smaug and the battle to take and keep the mountain.
Jackson skips to the end and hands you a cheat sheet at the opening. He thereby wipes out the growing wonder. It’s like leaving your Christmas presents unwrapped.
Jackson tosses all of that out. His dwarves are all Hollywood Badass, Generic Grade™, meaning they are tough and competent and their only flaw will be overconfidence... they are all the same. Bilbo is Hollywood Reluctant Hero, Standard Grade™, meaning his only flaw is that he’s not willing to admit yet that he’s a hero (look at the determined look on his face in the images... is that anything but a hero?). There will be no growth here, as each of these characters are already fully complete. In fact, the only moment of growth will be when the dwarves decide to honor Bilbo by telling him he has earned their respect. Yawn.
Put simply, the film bored me to tears.
Now let me be clear. I am not saying that this film stinks because it wasn’t the book. I knew it wouldn’t be the book and I’m fine with that. What I’m saying is that it stinks because it was a lifeless, dull movie. And the reason it was lifeless and dull is because you just can’t care about the characters. And the reason you can’t care about the characters is because Jackson doesn’t give them any chance to grow, to become better, to give us anything interesting. They are machines, traveling from point A to point B executing the plot.
Seriously, think about this. Do we really care that Bilbo played a rather lame riddle game with some frog-creature? Does that make a good film? Hardly. Imagine Superman and Batman doing that in their next movie. What made that scene with Bilbo and Gollum so great was that it showed Bilbo shedding his fear, gaining confidence, and pushing things too far to arrogance. It is something we can relate to. Jackson’s Bilbo doesn’t do that. He’s just going through the motions. Zzzzzz.