Excrudescences and Deviations: The Desolation of Tolkien (From Dec. 2013)
Tonight I saw the second movie installment in Peter Jackson's curiously twisted version of The Hobbit (The Desolation of Smaug), and, though it was a relatively entertaining (despite bloated and poorly-edited narrative confusion) story replete with high-body-count action sequences (orcs and orcs and orcs and orcs. And did I mention orcs? And River Elves and giant spiders and a magnificent Smaug. And did I mention orcs?), I was only capable of finding it so if I attempted to divorce this film from Tolkien's masterpiece (which was difficult considering Jackson and cohort's usage of the title and character names and the occasional event from the book). Despite it being a passably entertaining film (did I mention orcs?), it bears less and less similarity to the story Jackson and crew highjack in order to make more money. New characters, characters from The Lord of the Rings who did not appear in The Hobbit, "character development" of characters already developed in The Hobbit (but which don't fit the desired filmic pattern of the producers and director) in new and puzzling directions motivationally speaking, romantic developments for the purpose of bringing in those female box-office receipts, all make their prominent appearance as film-lengthening filler (got to have enough content for that next bloated but lucrative sequel, after all).
Don't get me wrong. I understand that some adjustments need be made to adapt written narratives to film versions: some scenes may need to be cut, much interior thought and assessments be discarded, perhaps even characters left out, in service of making the story compelling and concise in the theater. But what Peter Jackson et al. have wrought in the bogus rendering of this story is arrogant hubris or callous financial exploitation, or both. Jackson told the world (both about his Lord of the Rings movies and his Hobbit films) that these films would be faithful to Tolkien's books. I can't imagine what he meant by that, unless it was to sucker the masses of Tolkien fans into paying to see the films, since, especially in these Hobbit movies, there is increasing dissimilarity to the book.
Again, I didn't dislike the movie overmuch, as a discrete movie. But, as a version of Tolkien's story, it's as though the characters and a few aspects of the plot were simply adapted to a script conceived to aggrandize Jackson's reputation and pocketbook with no concern whatsoever for the integrity of the story or the greatness of its author. What a disservice to a great and enduring tale, sacrificed to the ego and greed of a lesser creator and his sycophantic cohorts. You might want to see this film (apparently Peter Jackson really needs your recognition and money, since he sacrificed his integrity to get them); like I said, it's not a terrible movie. But, if you're a Tolkien fan, you may want to disengage any expectations that the film has much to do with his work (many U2 fans had to do the same thing with the Zooropa album, though I liked it) if you want to enjoy it, difficult as that may be. And did I mention orcs?