Monday, December 16, 2013

Am I still the only one utterly unenthused about The Hobbit?

I mean, I predicted the first movie was going to suck on the grounds that the book is crap and also too short to make a trilogy out of. I was right, not only because of those reasons, but also because the movie couldn't make up its mind whether it wanted to be a faithful adaptation of a fairy tale for children or an epic epic of epic proportions, and thus failed to be either, or to achieve any kind of consistent tone.

So after that inconsistent, poorly-paced mess... why is my Tumblr still full of people talking about it? I can't be the only one who is going to see the second movie out of a begrudging sense of duty and a bit of Sunk Cost Fallacy, as opposed to any real expectation of enjoying it, right?

10 comments:

  1. I only watched it on HBO while at my parents' house for thanksgiving weekend, partly because I only go to movie theaters occasionally and partly because I had no belief that I would enjoy it. That's because after watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy once and enjoying it, every subsequent attempt I've made to watch any part of any of the movies has resulted in being bored and quitting after ten minutes. This was no different. The pacing was a complete mess, enough so to ruin the genuinely good scenes (the part with the trolls WAS good, so was some of the stuff with Bilbo vs the dwarves at the beginning if you skipped the part where they broke into song) and make the bad parts excruciating. And my little sisters had no idea what was going on and quickly went back to playing videogames (I also got bored and went back to surfing the internet, but I still could follow because I'd read the book as a kid).

    Also, I swear the dwarf party fought their way up to the top of the goblin lair only to fall all the way back down at least five times, that fight scene seemed to last half an hour and it didn't advance he plot one inch.

    The worst part was the realization at the end that they were not going to even meet the dragon in this movie because they wanted to stretch it into multiple. You know, the confrontation that was actually interesting and had plot significance.

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  2. The book is crap? The book is crap!? My dear sir, these are fighting words! I throw down the gauntlet! I shall meet you on the field of honor at dawn and ask you politely to explain upon what you base that assessment.

    That said, the first movie was an unfocused, abysmally-paced, confused mess. With some excellent casting choices and astonishing visuals. From what I've heard from friends who have seen the second one, it's basically the same and people like it for the sparklyshiny.

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    1. Eh, I like it for Sherlock and Watson as Smaug and Bilbo, Seven as Radagast, and Ian as Gandalf.

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    2. Like I said, stellar casting! I enjoyed the first Hobbit movie while I was watching it. It was only in retrospect that I started to notice the inconsistent tone and odd pacing.

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    3. The Hobbit is unoriginal, boring, has virtually no characterization of anyone other than Bilbo, it's sexist (not a *single* woman in the entire adventure? really?) and racist (oh look, a bunch of short, big-nosed, wealth-obsessed people with beards who live in a diaspora, and whose stubbornness and greed nearly brings disaster to them in the end, never seen that stereotype before). It is easily Tolkien's worst work--even "Farmer Guiles of Ham" is better than this.

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    4. And before you jump on the comment about it being racist--yes, I'm aware of Tolkien's awesome letter to the German publishers. Tolkien taking a stand against blatant antisemitism does not change that he made the dwarves walking Jewish stereotypes. It's why I charge the *book* with racism rather than Tolkien himself.

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    5. I'd argue "boring" but, well, that's pretty subjective. As for everything else... yeah, I agree.

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  3. (Also, for the record, Tolkien's best work of fiction is "Leaf by Niggle." I WILL DEFEND IT AGAINST ANY WHO CLAIM OTHERWISE.)

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  4. I feel the need to comment on you calling racist on the dwarves.

    Their depiction in The Hobbit as "short, big-nosed, wealth-obsessed people with beards who live in a diaspora, and whose stubbornness and greed nearly brings disaster to them in the end" falls in line with every single depiction of dwarves as seen in both Western and Eastern mythology, from the Scandinavian Ulda to the Chinese and Japanese "mountain people." Recall that Tolkien was a mythologist and folklore collector, not a writer, so when he crafted a party of dwarves he drew them from those same mythological sources. Dwarves were short because they lived underground. They were miners by trade and residence, hence the greed and fascination with gold and gems, and were arrogant to a fault because they predated humanity and had huge chips on their shoulders because they were forced underground by whichever group took the land from them (elves, humans, giants, Tuatha de Danan, Celts, etc). Those same people were also shown as taking advantage of dwarven greed and collapsing their closed civilizations. The diaspora can also be tied in with that same factor, as mountains were never seen as "interconnected." in the typical sense. As to the beards and big noses? Those are more modern views of the people, though one can argue that the hairiness and size of nostrils are morphological necessities when living underground for extended periods of time, be it to identify things via smell or keep warm when needed. Bats have big noses and live in caves- those noses serve the same evolutionary purpose.

    Now of course you can accuse mythology of being racist all the same, as it mostly was. But this is reaching a little bit to call them Jewish stereotypes.

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    1. Tolkien was not a mythologist and folklore collector while writing The Hobbit, because it is not a compendium of existing myth and folklore. It is an original work of fantasy, and it was therefore entirely within Tolkien's freedom to decide how to depict the dwarves. The moment he decided to invent hobbits or tell a story not found in previous folklore, he was setting out on his own and could choose how far from mythological sources to go. The entire rest of your argument thus collapses.

      I also think you're heavily confusing diegetic and extradiegetic explanations; dwarves are as they are because the people who made them up (Tolkien included) chose to describe them that way. They did not evolve in the biological sense, and their features are therefore not adaptations to their environments but deliberate, designed choices by their creators.

      As for whether the resemblance of dwarves to Jews was intentional on Tolkien's part, what we see of their language (not the names, which are explicitly stated to be false, Westron names they use among non-Dwarves, but the actual fragments of Dwarven we see such as in the place-names Gimli recites or his battlecry) uses the same phonemes as Hebrew, highly unlikely to be an accident given Tolkien's profession.

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