When was the last time a movie, a book, or a television show left you cold despite all your friends (and/or all the critics) raving about it? What was it that made you go against the critical consensus?
When Peter Jackson’s first of three installments of a children’s book was released almost two years ago, I figured I’d check it out and see what he’d done to further expound on the story of Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit from the Shire who gets caught up in the drama of Middle Earth.
An Unexpected Journey charmed me from the moment I watched it in the theater in 48 frames per second. I wanted to meet Bilbo, and see how PJ filmed the dwarves and shrunk them. I wanted to see how he depicted Thorin Oakenshield, the grumpy old would-be king of the mountain. I had to admit – having read the book years ago and listened to the audiobook as well – I liked it.
And so for the second of those three installments of a children’s book, I went to see it on opening day. When Desolation of Smaug suddenly faded into black, there was no applause in the theater. Instead, the guy next to me and most everyone else in the theater, got up and left even before the credits started rolling. Only the guy next to me said, “That’s it? That’s baloney! Peter Jackson’s not getting any more of my money for the third movie. I’m waiting till it ends up on Netflix.”
I remember chuckling then, but I had to agree with him though. And not that it would matter to him one iota, but Peter Jackson is not having any more of my money either. For a movie that’s supposed to be about the journey of a hobbit, I can barely spot the hobbit. Instead, for Desolation of Smaug, we were introduced to super wonder elves and Sauron-before-he-was-Sauron of Lord of the Rings.
But everyone I know loves it though, even my real life friends, most of whom have never read J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. I just hope that they’ve read the original material, which was a children’s book and therefore didn’t have depictions of war in it. But people who’ll flock in the theaters for
There and Back Again Battle of the Five Armies won’t know that at all.
So I won’t be watching the third film. Instead, I’m going back to the book and hope that people who’ve never heard of Tolkien before, pick up the book first – especially The Hobbit. Because if they see the trilogy first, then the book to them will be boring.
And that would be – and it already is – a travesty.