Friday, December 14, 2012

The Hobbit - For A Shorty, You're Very Long

The Hobbit - For A Shorty, You're Very Long

The number one complaint I'm hearing about the hobbit right now is that people are dumbfounded in how you can take a 300 page book and turn it into three 3-hour films. My answer to that is that this has got to be the dumbest complaint about the movie ever. The audio book version is 11 hours long. That's just someone reading the book out loud. And then you have the fact that if in the book there is a like like "they fought off the golbins", that one line translates into a few minutes fighting on screen.

You need to have it long in order to cover everything - and I mean everything. Because even though The Hobbit was only 300 pages, the supplemental material in the other books explaining why the events in the Hobbit happened need to be there. Or would you rather just have Gandalf leave and come back abruptly and not follow in his adventures?

A lot of the critics are saying that the film is bloated. That it's stuffed with so much extraneous material that it often barely feels like Tolkien at all. For example, Tolkien didn't write a prologue about the events in the film, but then again he didn't write a prologue for Fellowship either. Let's be honest here,t hat was pretty great in that movie as it is in this one. 

So folks complaining about the family ties of dwarfs need to relax, all of that was always part of the story as you can see from the back of Return of the King. The question to reclaim Erebor was necessary in telling the story of how the dwarves were forced out of Erebor in the first place. And since Thorin is a far bigger and prominent character in this film than he was in the book, it really does make sense to give him a push in his motives here. He's fighting to reclaim his homeland, win his birthright and  avenge his forefathers before him.

And if you don't need to go into the appendices for this, all of this stuff was in the actual book of the hobbit. It's right there, pages 32-35. Thorin goes through it all ina big monologue about Erebor, Dale, Arkenstone, Smaug, Azog and Moria. It does get fleshed out after Return of the King when Tolken was revisiting The Hobbit in connecting the two, but

I think that a lot of people look at Fellowship of the Ring with some massively rose-tinted glasses. Nobody except for Frodo had any real development arcs underway by the end of that film. Legolas, Gimli, Merry and Pippin were all window dressing. Boromir and Gandalf are pretty much missing by the end and we get a very faint sense that Aragorn has some grander quest to fulfill, also he's got a chicky-pie that may or may not come back up. In all, it was a very rough film and we all still loved it when it was all said and done.

The characterizations in LOTR were pretty stiff, to be honest. Every character in LOTR is basically the same. They were all warrior kings and princes and champions saving the world from that faceless external threat and it's pretty much all there is to it. Apart from the elf-dwarf buddy film, they never really developed beyond that because they were all perfect people from the start of the fellowship. Here, on the other hand, we have what in the book was a homogenous lump of dwarves, but the film just completely has me sold that they were actual characters with reasons for being there.  

Just consider this film to spending its running time like Fellowship did - in that it was used to introduce viewers to the characters and sowing the seeds for their arcs. We can all look back and see that yeah, Pippin redeems being a fuck up and Legolas and Gimli become best of buds and so forth, but there wasn't any signal that those things were coming up unless you were already familiar with the books.

This is the only questionable thing to the film, the Hobbit movies are going to be a lot of uncharted territory to roam because we have 13 dwarves that don't really go anywhere in the books, but do have to go some place character development wise in the films. Even in a two-part movie, this would have needed to be done. So perhaps a little faith would be helpful on this regard. 

So far we got a lot. Of the six that did get any development, we had Thorin who is trying to reclaim his honor and lost kingdom, Balin is the sensible voice in his ear following out of love for his friend. Dwalin is the loyal soldier and badass in the field. Kili and Fili are young and idealistic, with Kili also being beardless-legolas for the ladies, and Bofur just wants the best for everyone. So far there's already a lot of character development for these fellas who in the book are just background who have names that sound similar.  

Besides, if the film tosses us new stuff like Radagast's rabbit sled, who can actually complain?

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