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The Hobbit


Dee Yun Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2012-12-27 07:40:03

Radagast...


...was such a minor character in the books, so "Why are people so offended by his appearance in the film?" Peter Jackson apologists ask.

JUST LOOK AT HIM. He's RIDICULOUS. That's a GODDAMNED RABBIT SLED. And the fact that this minor character is such a significant character in the movie only magnifies the effect.

Radagast aside, Peter Jackson's The Hobbit (Part 1 of 3) is a kaleidoscope of quality, repeatedly oscillating between good and terrible.

All the character moments are terrific. Ian McKellen, even in phone-it-in mode, is a brilliant actor, and the guy they cast as Bilbo is a joy. Ultimately, the core of the tale is related intact with sufficient pathos.

One source of problems is Jackson's goal of tying this film so intricately to his Lord of the Rings trilogy. The side story of the Necromancer takes up all of a couple of lines in the book, but spawns into what could be its own feature in Jackson's hands. (And is responsible for Radagast's prominent role. :P) Truthfully, I didn't have any geek rage at all over Jackson's extrapolations. Even the bits he fabricates out of whole cloth are at least passably compatible with the extended Tolkien histories and appendices (a more accurate title would have been "The History of Erebor: The Hobbit").

It's more that the books are completely disparate tonally, causing this film to suffer schizophrenic shifts. Is it a kid's "there and back" adventure or an EON SPANNING EPIC? The shift between goofy pratfalls and Galadriel telepathically TALKING TO YOUR SOUL about mother fucking Suaron-- is jarring.

Radagast aside, my primary complaint is directed at the dwarf party chase sequences. So far, I've described character beats interspersed with expository histories, and the action sequences should have broken up that demanding concentration with thrilling acts of derring-do. Unfortunately, it degenerated into a Looney Toons feature. Between fighting on mountains, mountains crashing on them, and falling down yet other mountains, I simply couldn't accept that these dwarves could all survive the Wile E. Coyote spills. It was all so silly that any sense of actual danger was dispelled, and I found myself bored to tears during the very parts of the film meant to activate adrenal glands. Despite the ponderous wealth of material stuffed into this film, this core dwarf quest is just too thin to carry so much running time, much like "butter scraped over too much bread."

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