by Brenda W. Clough
All the pernicious influences of modern cinema are fully on view here. Too much CGI (those armies, really?), too many theme-park ride moments, too many combats that are like video games. Coolnesses are set up (Bilbo’s acorn, the messy fate of Alfred) and never followed up on, the screen time instead sacrificed to portentous and ponderous conversations and tight facial close-ups of people emoting. They got involved in their fancy stuff and lost track off the heart and soul of the story. The viewer’s mind wanders off onto minor but irrepressible questions. Like how troops in massive armor holding long spears are completely walked over by a helmetless opposition wearing cloaks and carrying butter knives. My guess is that Orcs go to the same military academies as the Emperor Palpatine’s Storm Troopers. Or why the spectacularly picturesque roughness of the terrain has apparently no effect whatsoever upon troop movements.
Would it be better if one could sit down with parts 1, 2 and 3, and view them one right after the other? Possibly — at least then one would get a sense of the arc of the thing. Better is the idea that one fan has proffered, of taking all three and doing a Tolkien cut — dropping everything that was not actually in the original novel. That might get you a quite brisk film.
However! Life is long. This is not the first screen version of The Hobbit. With luck it won’t be the last. We have not yet seen the true, ultimate movie of this story.
My newest novel Speak to Our Desires is out from Book View Café.