Booksellers vs. Bestsellers
by Jamie Lutton
- The Capitol Hill Times -
I saw “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” the other day. Well, it’s official: director Peter Jackson has lost his mind.
This film was really bad. It’s not so much adding characters, as making characters act like no character written by J.R.R. Tolkien ever would. Tolkien must be spinning in his grave right now. Where to start? This review has spoilers in it, so be warned.
1) Beorn, the man who was also a bear, a “shape shifter” as this movie called it, was barely recognizable after so much of his part was cut, his character truncated.
2) When the hobbits encounter the spiders in the forest of Mirkwood, Bilbo takes his ring off to fight them part of the time, which was not in the book. 3) He can understand their speech while he has the ring on, yet, for some reason, can still understand them when he removes the ring.
4) What’s with the fighting female elf and 5) Legolas, who isn’t in the first book, 6) showing up to fight the spiders and save the dwarves and Bilbo? This is completely made up. We’re not supposed to meet Legolas until “The Lord of the Rings,” which takes place 80 years later.
7) And the female elf is so out of place in Middle Earth. She gets gooey and romantic about one of the dwarves, who appears to be head Dwarf Thorin Oakensheild’s nephew and heir – this, more than most, is out of line. Tolkien created different species to inhabit Middle Earth, they’re not supposed to cross. They are not supposed to be like humans with different skin colors – the different species are as different as cats and dogs.
Okay, this is fine in dirty Tolkien fan fiction, maybe, the wacky stuff that is circulated on fan sites, but not in the filming of “The Hobbit.” There, it’s just heresy.
8) How about the finding of the door into the dwarf city? Well, that scene is ruined. It’s so distorted, it only faintly resembles what was written in the book.
9) And that dragon. Sorry, he’s too talkative. He’s something out of Sesame Street, or The Muppet Show – not a dread creature. And while Bilbo has the ring on, the dragon names the ring; this isn’t in the book, and if this dragon is so smart, why did Gandalf not know about the ring’s origin for decades? The dragon knew that Bilbo had a magic ring – not in the book, not in the book, not in the book. So Bilbo takes the ring off, in front of the Dragon, as if the dragon would forget about it.
10) There is a sequence where the dwarves try to kill the dragon. Sort of clever, lots of computer-generated imagery, but it doesn’t work. It serves just to have the dwarves running about like lunatics in the ruined Dwarf city.
So, the dragon, (this part is in the book) goes off to destroy the human city Dale.
This film is far worse than Peter Jackson’s first Lord of the Rings films. I even say that one decision that Peter Jackson made – having Sam less servile in those three films – worked well and is an improvement on the books. Really. But this film, “The Desolation of Smaug” is garbage.
It’s also worse than the first Hobbit film, where the 12 dwarves have great makeup and are distinctive and interesting, and the scene where they meet Bilbo is very well done.
I left out some other horrible changes (e.g. “they are legion”) but if you watch this movie without having read the book, go get a copy of the book. It’s much better and has stood the test of time.
Peter Jackson didn’t need the money – why did he screw up such a great book, violating the trust of millions of fans?