Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Peter Jackson’s Fan-Fiction

I wrote out some thoughts in a Facebook discussion about some of the problems with Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy.

I understand that it’s fantasy, but even a fantasy world needs to be properly “tuned” to itself. Sure, Middle-earth is a magical place, but gravity has always worked there. We shouldn’t be seeing a physics-defying escape from Goblin-town. We shouldn’t be seeing Bilbo fall down a massive chasm with no real harm to speak of. We shouldn’t be seeing Legolas bouncing along atop dwarf heads, or running up a staircase of falling stones. (In fact, we shouldn’t be seeing Legolas at all.) These sorts of shenanigans don’t belong in the world that Tolkien created. You don’t read anything like this in the book.

Moreover, the book is not filled with virtually non-stop action. The book is conservatively paced. But Jackson’s retelling wears the viewer out with one epic action sequence after another. And this sort of overused action makes for a boring movie. If everything is epic, nothing is epic.

I’m not saying that book-movies must follow the narrative of the book line-by-line in every detail. But I do think watching the movie should at least feel very similar to reading the book. It should feel like the same story.

Which is a huge part of what’s wrong with the Hobbit movies. They don’t feel like the same story. They feel wildly different. They’re bloated with what basically amounts to fan fiction. Stuff that Jackson and his writers made up out of their head. Stuff that they felt would make the story better. Characters who shouldn’t be there. Plot lines that shouldn’t be there. These don’t add to the story. What they do is make it feel like a completely different story.

Jackson wastes too much time trying to make me care about characters and sub-plots that are entirely foreign to the original story. But I wanted to see The Hobbit. I’m not interested in Jackson’s fan-fictional elf-dwarf romance sub-plot. There are internet sites for that sort of stuff.

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