EDITORIAL: The Top 10 Dumbest Reasons for Not Liking the Hobbit
The Hobbit has been pretty divisive. Some folks think it is great, some think not. But running rampant among the naysayers are some very bad misconceptions about the Hobbit, Middle Earth, and J.R.R. Tolkien himself. Here are some of the best.
As box office numbers show, I am not alone in having already seen the new Hobbit film more than once already. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey blew my mind. So much Middle Earth history explored, well written lines, great special effects, the 3D was decent. And most important (for me), it stuck very close to the source material even with things that aren’t in the novel. Of course, if you were paying attention, you knew that the reason Jackson and company made this a trilogy was so he could add things from The Lord of the Rings appendices, and The Silmarillion. Yes, surprising as it may seem, it wasn’t just to make more money.
The move to a trilogy was a great one, if the first film is any indication. The movie paces itself well and at the end of it, we’ve already been treated to the iconic “Riddles in the Dark” (worth the price of admission alone), the meeting at Bag End, seeing Saruman as a good guy, the screen debut of Radagast the Brown, and some great Middle Earth history.
I can’t wait for the next one, so it’s been surprising to say the least that there have been so many middling and negative reviews of this film. I’ve read a few of them, and I honestly can say I’ve never seen such fundamental misunderstanding and idiocy present in critical reviews for any film before. So, therefore, it is my duty as an internet blogger, to set the story straight. Here they are, the TOP 10 DUMBEST REASONS FOR NOT LIKING THE HOBBIT.
10) “The new film is…overlong.” – Bob Garver, Duluth News Tribune
So this one is semi-legit, but since Garver authored the worst movie review I’ve ever read, I think I have to include him as much as possible. Listen, Middle Earth is EPIC. And not in the overused, generic sense that it has become. When I say ‘epic,’ I’m thinking Beowulf, the Odyssey, that kind of stuff. This is not your typical film. You knew it was going to be long going in. That’s what this is about. Of course, Garver starts his review saying he doesn’t like Lord of the Rings in the first place, and that the entire franchise is “nonsensical, confusing, and overlong with poor special effects.” So bravo to his newspaper for even allowing someone who hates this kind of film so much to review the Hobbit. So much for journalism.
9) It was cartoony/the villains sing too much
I’ve seen this is quite a few places. But read the books. The Hobbit is lighthearted. The idea here is that in these days things are not quite as dire, not as serious. If you’re a wizard tasked with defending something, of course you are less serious when the threat is not dire. In the Lord of the Rings basically the world will end and all will be lost if the good guys lose. In the Hobbit, this isn’t the case.
And yes, someone brought up that you couldn’t take the villains seriously when they are “singing all the time,” which is interesting, because aside from Gollum, only one villain sings (the Goblin King), and Gollum’s singing voice is one of the scariest parts about him. Plus anyone that knows anything about Tolkien’s Middle Earth knows the importance of song in it.
8) “It is three hours worth of set-up for the next movie.” – Lori Hoffman, Atlantic City Weekly
Someone explain to this lady what a trilogy is.
7) “Jackson…crowds out a great story with such minor plot developments that carry no immediate importance to the movie or characters.” -Kirk Baird, Toledo Blade
How do you know? This is the epicness of a Tolkien work. Something that seems minor can have a huge impact later. After reading The Hobbit, without knowing anything about Middle Earth, how many people would say that Bilbo finding the ring is the most important part of the book? I daresay that something that seems as minor as a hedgehog being sick could be very significant down the road.
6) “I’m not sure why Gandalf would think that imposing hosting duties on Bilbo would entice him to join the journey.” – Bob Garver, Duluth News Tribune
Then you missed something. Something you don’t even need the book to know. Galdalf picks Bilbo because Gandalf knew Bilbo’s adventurous mother. Gandalf believes that if he breaks into Bilbo’s calm world and drops the scent of adventure in front of him, he will want to come. This obviously works, shown by Bilbo’s curiosity when the company is discussing their journey after dinner. And can’t you just feel it when Bilbo wakes up the next morning? The feeling that Bilbo has that he’s going to miss something big if he doesn’t go on? Well played Gandalf. There’s no way just showing up and asking for Bilbo’s help is working here.
5) “Given this vision of dwarves-as-ninjas, it’s not entirely clear why the expedition needed Bilbo along in the first place.” – Noah Berlatsky, the Atlantic
If by “not entirely clear,” you mean “crystal clear,” right? Because Thorin, from the start, doesn’t understand why Bilbo is such an asset. So Gandalf explains it, VERY CLEARLY. First of all, they don’t need another warrior. A company of dwarves can hold their ground. They need Bilbo to be a burglar, it says so on his contract! Hobbits can move without being seen, says Gandalf, and Smaug won’t recognize his smell, which could be beneficial. Seems pretty clear to me.
4) “The pale orc, Azog, who generously provides…movie-villain cliché bellowing, blustering, and gratuitous execution of minions, all of which Tolkien somehow failed to include in his text.” - Noah Berlatsky, the Atlantic
I’m very picky when it comes to tinkering with source material. But Jackson actually didn’t do that much here. In fact, Azog IS included in the text. Just not the Hobbit text. He’s certainly a Tolkien creation, mentioned in a LOTR appendix, and a key part of the Battle of Azanulbizar, shown in flashback in the movie. The only changes made by Jackson were that it is actually Azog’s son that pursues Thorin and company, and that his pack of orcs don’t actually show up until the Battle of Five Armies. I have no problem with that, as it drives the story in the film.
3) “I also could have done without the trolls, who do little more than behave grossly, and the goblins, who are about as interested in self-preservation as a slice of lemmings.” - Bob Garver, Duluth News Tribune
Oh, so, you would rather they just cut chunks out of the movie/book? You’d rather they skipped finding Sting, and Orcrist? And showing Bilbo being creative in defeating the trolls? To be fair, it could have done better. But cut it out? And even worse, cut out the goblins? This is from a guy who just said that the “riddles in the dark” scene was the best in the film. Yet he still wants to cut out the reason it happens. And so what if the goblins lack intelligence? They are supposed to, they are GOBLINS. The only reason the goblins were a threat was because there were so many.
So yeah, next time you don’t like a film, take the high road and just say to cut out key plot points, that will make things better.
2) “He’s simply added extra bonus carnage at every opportunity.” Basically, it is too violent, it’s supposed to be a message of peace: ‘True courage is knowing not when to take a life, but when to spare one.’” - Noah Berlatsky, the Atlantic.
Berlatsky comes up with some doozies. The biggest of which is that the film is too violent. Now if you’re saying that on a base level that goes along with the “movies are too violent these days” mentality, then we can have a conversation. But Berlatsky builds up a whole case that Tolkien hated violence (true), and some of his characters, like Gandalf and Frodo, say things that are pacifist or compassionate in nature (true), therefore, the fact that there is so much fighting in Middle Earth is indicative of Tolkien being confused about violence and his supposed “non-violent ethic” (false).
Tolkien fought in WWI, he had family in the military, of course he hated violence. Every sane person does. But nowhere in his Middle Earth myth does he present a case for non-violence. He presents the case for compassion, and makes it clear that sometimes it is the little things, and kindness, that are most effective. But he also makes it clear that sometimes force is needed to destroy evil. We miss that in our little pithy culture of acceptance. This is myth, this is legend. Here, there are some races that are always evil, that there is no negotiating with. The orcs will always kill and pillage, the dragons too, Sauron is evil and must be destroyed. Somehow Berlatsky completely ignores the prominence of Aragorn, Gimli, Faramir, Merry, Pippin, Thorin, Gandalf, and COUNTLESS others and their deeds of battle and war, and instead points to two quotes from two characters and says: “Why did you add the violence?!?!?”
Here’s news for you, the violence was there before Peter Jackson. In the course of the first film, ONE battle was added. It was the quick skirmish between the orcs and the dwarves when Radagast tries to draw them off. That was it. Everything else is in the book. And don’t insult Tolkien by telling me he’s confused about the place of violence in his own mythology.
1) “The Hobbit and the Dwarves encounter Orcs, Trolls, Elves and Goblins. All these offensive words for short people are represented as distinct races.” - Bob Garver, Duluth News Tribune
Or perhaps they are all names taken right out of myth and folklore? Hilariously awful journalism. Just pathetically funny.
To do a fact check, six races are mentioned here. In Middle Earth, only two are short in stature (one is actually huge). So, if anything, Tolkien takes away the “small” connotation that may be present in an elf or troll.
Well, there you have it. And this passes for journalism these days. Perhaps Garver wouldn’t have had so many entries if his paper would have had someone else review the film, and not someone who “consider[s] the “Lord of the Rings” series to be painful.”
You can find the original article on my blog: http://hauntedbyhumans.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/hobbit/
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