Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Hobbit ... in 3D

By now, the first showings of the Hobbit have happened and millions of people have seen this film. Many of them are counting down the minutes, hours, days and months to the next installment of the story. I understand there are two more installments coming. Whew.

My favorite part of this film was the fantastic beards. The dwarves don't just have beards; they have BEARDS with BRAIDS, BEADS, and BEAUTIFUL designs. Best part. Hands down.

As per usual, something that seems to be gobbled up by popular culture is something I don't really seem to have a taste for. I'm not sure what that's about. I know when I was a kid, my mom's philosophy was that we didn't want to "see ourselves walking down the street." Translation: do not wear what everyone else wears. When I was a kid, though, there wasn't a good enough reason I could think of not to wear those cool clothes that everyone else wore, except that my loving mother wouldn't buy them for me. Boy was I glad when I could afford my own CALVIN KLEIN jeans!

When our own children were younger, Greg used to read aloud to them most every evening. We read through many, many books, including the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hobbit, all of the Chronicles of Narnia, The Phantom Tollbooth, and many more. It takes awhile to get through all of the pages of Tolkien's wonderful stories. Somehow, through all of the reading aloud, the kids absorbed some interest in reading and re-read Tolkien, CS Lewis, and JK Rowling numerous times. When the original LOTR movies came out, Valerie, in particular, knew exactly which parts of the movies were faithful to the books, which ones weren't, and which ones were additions that didn't fit with the story.

Although I have seen bits and pieces of the LOTR movies, they were really too much for me visually, aurally and experientially. Somewhere along the way, those who run movie theaters made the decision to jack up the volume, perhaps to cover up the fact that what was on the screen was problematic in any number of ways, perhaps to keep the attention of the majority of us whose attention spans are shrinking. And, in the Hobbit the other night, the volume was up as per normal.

Overall, for me, the Hobbit was too long, too loud, and too unfaithful to the book. 

I suspect my opinion is the one held by a minority of movie-goers. As a matter of fact, probably the ones who don't like the volume, and who love books are the ones who tend not to go the movies anyway. (Not that moviegoers can't love books.) Be that as it may, I really didn't like the Hobbit as a movie.

The first film covers the first 110 pages of the book, by my estimation. The book is 304 pages long, so that is a logical break. And though Peter Jackson is truly a master filmmaker, there are entirely too many battles and chases, and too little portrayal of the creativity that Tolkien put into the dialogue and character development in this story. In the book, the range of emotions is broad. In the movie, the range was rather flat.

My biggest beef with the film was that I knew many younger kids would be seeing it. It got a PG-13 rating, but I would not want any of my kids under the age of 14 to see it. Way too much violence. Non-stop violence in several scenes. True, it wasn't gory or bloody, which I suspect was avoided to garner the PG-13 rating, but VERY violent never-the-less. Do we really want our children to watch violence in such a de-sensitized manner that such things don't really bother them?

How could anyone really absorb the emotional impact of the visual coupled with the dramatic music that just seemed to get louder and more intense as we went along? Even the young, agile brains of my sons who were along with me (ages 18&17) had to have at some point turned "off" in response to the ever-increasing demands of the visuals and music. I wonder.

What did YOU think of the Hobbit film? How did you experience the frenetic pace, the dramatic music? If you loved it, tell me about that!