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"The Hobbit" Review - Heavy-Handed Peter Jackson Trades In Faux Virtuosity

The Hobbit world premiere in Wellington, New Zealand
The Hobbit world premiere in Wellington, New Zealand
Vincent Malausa

-Film Review-

PARIS – Since December 2001, movie fans all over the world have been divided into two categories. On one side, you have the Peter Jackson fans – the “chosen ones,” possessed by an unwavering and somewhat disturbing faith, and on the other side, you have the heretics, pagans and other trolls of the dark empire who are incapable of recognizing the genius of this insatiable blockbuster machine.

One thing is for sure: After ten years of tireless devotion, the most servile of “the Ring’s” minions will find it hard to convince anyone that this very anticipated (or not) The Hobbit is another masterpiece from heroic fantasy’s big Buddha.

There is a fine line between Buddha and bullsh*t and Jackson crosses it with the grace of a herd of horny midgets.

Without a hint of emotion or surprise, the Kiwi bard strings together scenes like a sausage factory pumping out sausage by the mile – stacking pictorial tableaus one after the other, with no actual direction.

Jackson puts as much personal imagination into the adaptation of Tolkien’s books as he would renting a tractor-trailer. Not once did the filmmaker try to incorporate his own interpretation, his own vision, and the result is like having to endure an endless guided tour.

The Hobbit brings us back to the familiar locations we already know off by heart after having watched the very long 10 hours of the first trilogy, and introduces us to an esoteric bestiary that feel just as trite: big nosed dwarfs, cruel orcas, idiotic trolls, pervy goblins, musical elves. Only the truly obsessional role players will find something interesting there.

Better not have read Tolkien

What’s even sadder is that even the “apostles” favorite tactical argument – you need to have read the book to be allowed to weigh in on this movie – doesn't hold for one minute with this film.

It was never a good argument to being with – no need to have read Stephen King to be able to recognize that “The Shining” is a masterpiece – but it is dead in the water faced with this stack of lifeless shots.

You would probably fare better as a Tolkien “virgin” to be able to experience a minimum of surprise from these run of the mill plots and twists.

The technical aspect was supposed to bring something new. What we have instead is a hi-tech ragbag, a jumble of different formats that experts will have to watch at least four times to be able to determine accurately the number of hairs in Gandalf’s beard.

The Hobbit is purely and solely a copy-paste of what we in the Lord of The Rings trilogy ten years ago: roller-coaster shots of a lifeless landscape, cameras moving non-stop and a battalion of fake characters that look faker than your average garden gnome.

So has-been it’s painful

The inability for Peter Jackson to renew himself or try out new ideas raises this question: did he do it for the money (which is totally plausible since he didn’t want to do it in the first place)? Or, which would be even worse – is it some sort of artistic masochism that forces an author to confine himself to a universe which he has already done to death and of which there is nothing left to exploit?

When you see the incredible feats still being produced by James Cameron and Steven Spielberg – the challenges these men are setting themselves, you have to wonder how Jackson was able to sink so low.

One scene illustrates perfectly how everything fell apart in Jackson’s kingdom of grandiosity and excessiveness: the epic fight between two mountains coming to life in the middle of raging elements. It could have been an unforgettable scene but Jackson filmed it in such a prosaic way that we are left with the feeling that we have just watched a boring old match between two has-been fatsoes in full “Superstars of Wrestling” gear.

When directors think they are giving us virtuosity – that instead is totally devoid of lyricism, breadth and inspiration – they embody the kind of heavy-handedness that is the worst enemy of wonderful.

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