Sunday, 23 December 2012

"So tell us, Alex, was the Hobbit the Tokien Phantom Menace?"

As those of you who follow me on Twitter or in real life will know, I love to say "I told you so". With the release of the Hobbit, I have decided that in the spirit of inferior additions to popular franchises, I will write a follow up to my popular 2011 blog post "The Hobbit: Tolkien Phantom Menance?".

Firstly, I have to say this: The Hobbit is nothing like The Phantom Menace. Beautifully rendered, well acted, solidly entertaining and consistently enjoyable, The Hobbit is a good, well made film. Yet it suffers from a couple of the same problems. 

I don't want to blow my own trumpet (if I could I'd never leave the house), but everything I predicted about The Hobbit has come true.

Upon writing, on April 4th 2011, I bemoaned the decision to slice the Hobbit in two. That sounds like what would happen if there was a Lord of the Rings/Saw crossover, but that may have actually been less horrific than this decision. What I didn't know at the time is that Jackson and team would be sharpening their swords once again to chop it into three. This remains the biggest problem with An Unexpected Journey in that there's just not enough going on.

The fact that the Hobbit was never going to reach the heights of Lord of the Rings was true from the start, and is down to the source material. The lighter tone (perfectly captured, I might add) detracts from its epicness, but this is necessary. Basically, they should have made the films the other way round to avoid anticlimax. As I said previously "How is seeing Sir Ian take Tim from The Office to steal some treasure going to compare with the epic battle with the Balrog, or the painstaking crawl up the slopes of Mount Doom?" If you want to add grandeur to a story, hiring that bloke who played various nondescript, interchangeable characters in various things is probably a mistake. Also, having a Goblin King that resembles Boss Nass? You would have thought Star Wars Episode 1 imagery would be avoided at all costs.

The modest source material is comparable to Star Wars prequels being tied down by their explanatory duties, but contrary to Star Wars, the Hobbit turns its prequel nature to its advantage to explain aspects of the Lord of the Rings in a way that wasn't done in the book due to it being written first. Also, the fact that the book was written first means it's a good story in its own right, rather than just a path to what follows.

I also complained about the number of Lord of the Rings actors who were signed on for the Hobbit, whose characters don't appear in the book. I stand by this, and since writing my original blog more were announced such as Christopher Lee and Orlando Bloom. The things in part one that were additional to the book were brief and felt peripheral to the main story, but I still believe they might pay off more substantially in part two and three. But as a standalone film, the scenes in part one with Galadriel, Radagast and Saruman felt irrelevant and didn't go anywhere. (Although as a huge fan I still enjoyed seeing these event put to screen)

So while there are some points on which the Hobbit was like the Phantom Menace, to brand it a failure in the same way is innaccurate and unfair. Its lighter tone is to be expected, and its only real failing is the fact that not enough happens due to being split in three to make more money, slightly akin to the Phantom Menace.

The final point on which I was right was that the Dark Knight Rises would be awesome. I told you so.

Thanks for listening to how right I was. For more accurate future predictions keep reading my blog.

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