Failed revelry. It seems film adaptations have such difficulties trans-lating mirth to the large screen. Or perhaps, it is exceptionally difficult for me to follow a journey, for which I have some background to compare it against, if this key element is missed. Emerson has famously in-scribed ‘Whim’ on his doorpost and I ‘d very much like to see something I ‘ll try to capture as the author’s whim or ‘character’ better matched. This is the very thing which makes Tolkien so readable — he so naturally (in product not in process, perhaps) communicates: Middle Earth has a personality strange yet familiar to us, nearly forgotten yet perhaps recoverable if we can listen for it.
Ironically, ‘character’ follows an idea of engraving from its Indo-European roots ‘to scratch’. This is what I must have to meaningfully track with a story. It ‘s why I reject all beginnings to any stories of my own generation: if it should ever be different it will be because the engravings present themselves wholly of themselves. Writing should be introducing myself to this other, not parts of myself to a member of the audience. It is this element of ‘engraving’ which endears the ‘Avatar: the Last Airbender’ series to me, while simultaneously causes me to reject as inauthentic M. Night Shyamalan’s rendition.
Tolkien shows the dust of the road and the intermittent boredom which is part of adventure. It’s in the telling that a story becomes mere transitions from one battle scene to the next. Attempts were made to bring us into the joke (certainly in the costume design of Radagast and of the dwarves), but Jackson seemed too caught up in the dramatic flourishes and keen lines to present a 3-dimensional embodiment. Or else, that ‘s what I was hoping to see. We are expected to transport the de-hobbitization of Samwise, Frodo, Peregrin, and Meriadoc into the backdrop of the hobbit. I feel we needed a refresher — certainly if we are to be fed this work in bits.
And speaking of bits, Tom Bombadil’s absence from LOTR should ‘ve been redeemed by an appearance in a film already grasping for whimsy. Tolkien would call Bombadil an intentional enigma, so who better to insert where there is little to cheer or to fret, only varied hordes of dangers to run from and be wared of? Who better to laugh at the smallness of the great world and its cares? Such balance is sorely missing. There was enough care given to the sojourners in LOTR to make up for the grey, but not here.
I completely fail to understand how Jackson hopes to generate enough suspense in these movies when we are well aware of the extended, world-altering sagas which comprise his LOTR rendition. How can such be drummed up again without deeply felt characters? Thorin presents a relatively flat performance, entirely predictable; Martin Freeman as Bilbo can’t surprise when little runs off our expected script; other than Balin, the supporting dwarf cast shows little in range of emotions. It seems we are left to wonder how they shall so nearly escape absurdly certain death again and again. But this was masterfully done in LOTR and the second time it is unsurprising altogether.
–Some may notice I am drawing too near a comparison of the Hobbit and LOTR. Agreed, but the mistake has been made to connect them implicitly by first producing and releasing LOTR so that the proper backdrop is reversed. What should be left to cover the difference is glaringly missing — revelry. To add some positive: Andy Serkis’ performance of Gollum is again superb, but Freeman barely acts up to it and again I ‘m left annoyed that I can’t shake my annoyance. This was so sadly an all-too-expected-journey.