The Hobbit comes out on DVD and Blu-ray and pisses me off
The home video release of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ arrives this week. If you’re interested in watching a beloved story get both mercilessly hacked to pieces and inflated at the same time, look no further than this gem.
Let me start by warning you that this is more of a movie review than a review of the Blu-ray version of the movie. I’ll get to that later in the post, but for now I’ve got some venting to do.
A couple of years ago I introduced my then 6-year-old son to the world of Middle Earth. I’d already read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit once many years ago, so reading it aloud again for my son was a joy. It was nice to have the story fresh in my head again, with the knowledge that a film version was in the works. For each of the previous Peter Jackson films, I’d made a point of going out and seeing them in the theater, the morning of their release. I didn’t see why The Hobbit was going to be any different. I was pretty damned excited.
Then word came out that Jackson decided The Hobbit was too vast and complex to consist of merely one film. So it was decided that it’d be two films. Alright, I guess a couple of two-hour films could make sense, if he couldn’t fit the whole book into three. I even wrote about my thoughts on where the movies might split. Once that two movies became three movies, my faith in what was going to be included in these films shattered a bit. Was this really being done to include every little detail from that one book, or was it just a means for making more money?
After watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I’m thinking Peter Jackson didn’t decide to make The Hobbit into three movies for money alone, nor to be 100% faithful to the book, but to tell The Hobbit how he thought it should be told; Tolkien be damned. And maybe I’d be OK with that if what he actually produced was truly better, but it’s really mostly crap. And a lot of it.
Firstly, the movie took me three fucking nights to get through. Yeah, I’m not a spry 20- or even 30-something anymore, but I can stay up with the best of ‘em when I want to. And, for this, I really did want to. The problem for me came in that first hour, where we were introduced to characters we’d barely heard mention of. We learn of Azog, the Pale Orc, who was mentioned in one sentence in The Hobbit; yet, in the movie, he plays a huge, pivotal role. And don’t get on me about supporting stories from The Silmarillion and even The Lord of the Rings — this is The Hobbit we’re talking about, and Azog simply did not appear. At all. Yeah, he’s damn cool, but what the hell’s he doing there? But the worst part of that first hour was that it takes longer than that for Bilbo to even leave The Shire! I was falling asleep!
Where in The Lord of the Rings movies some were upset that Jackson omitted some characters and details, it’s the numerous additions that Jackson made to The Hobbit that are truly bothersome. There’s the aforementioned Azog, and then there’s the completely absurd Radagast the Brown. Like Azog, Radagast is mentioned in one sentence in the book, yet he appears in several key scenes in the movie where he’d never appeared before. And he’s just silly stupid. To add insult to injury, he’s being pulled around on a wooden sled through woods and fields by rabbits. What in the holy hell? I’d start in on the mountain giants next, but at least they made some sort of tiny appearance in the book … actually, that’s stretching it too.
I really would rather not get into the details of every issue I had with the movie, because, for one thing, I’m sure it must have been said by many before me at this point. Secondly, I get that a movie is supposed to be fun and entertaining, that this is all fiction and fantasy; I get all of that. What I don’t get is how anyone would consider this the same caliber of film as any of The Lord of the Rings films, nor how any of the additional scenes were necessary or even beneficial. It only seems to point out that Peter Jackson didn’t like how Tolkien told the story of The Hobbit, so he decided to change it. And then, “screw you, movie-goers! I’m going to make you sit through another SIX HOURS of MY telling of this tale because you love me! And if you don’t, nerd hordes will mob you and sit on you until you pop! And now you can buy even more toys, like the Radagast and Azog action figures! Wuahahaa!”
Yeah, I may have stayed up too late again.
I never thought I’d call a Peter Jackson movie crap, never mind taking the time to do so publicly; but The Hobbit was a complete let down. Though I’d probably hold off on showing my son the movie due to his age anyway, I’d rather he make the decision himself to see it many years from now on his own, as I just don’t want to ruin the great story we just read a couple years ago by presenting it to him myself. Do you teach a kid that age that it’s OK to take another’s beloved work and modify it to near nonrecognition? That you shit all over another’s work with a white orc with a chopped off arm because it’s cooler looking? It’s certainly not the first time it’s happened, but, for me, it’s the latest, and it disappoints the hell out of me. At least Chuck agreed it wasn’t a great effort.
As for the rest of the Blu-ray, there’s not a whole lot to celebrate, to be honest. Besides the film itself, there’s a special features disc with all of the film’s trailers, as well as all of Jackson’s video blogs he’d done throughout the filming progress. There’s a small featurette about New Zealand and the movie’s locations, as well as some trailers for the different games based on the movie (of which I’m sure there will be even more, with two movies still to come).
This particular Blu-ray, at least, was not 3D, though I admit I did notice some of those “artifacts” some complained about when watching it in the theater, when it was shown in 48 FPS. Some had said some things looked “too real” — or something to that effect. I had forgotten about that complaint until I started watching the Blu-ray, and noticed a few scenes where things just didn’t look quite right. Was it an artifact of the different frame rate, being carried over to Blu-ray, or just a different filming style altogether?
The Blu-ray and DVD releases of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey arrive in stores this Tuesday.