Last week I commented on my growing frustration that a number of Trek fans who have enjoyed the new film are dismissing those fans who didn’t enjoy the new film as just suffering from original-series sour grapes. I’ve now realized this is deja vu all over again.
While going through notes on possible blog posts, I rediscovered my unfinished review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I never finished writing the review because my daughter and I talked about the film in our podcast, Generations Geek (Episode 4: The Day the Geek Stood Still). There in the review was a rant about a similar topic, but with Star Trek scratched out and Middle-earth written in. So, begin Hobbit rant:
I need to comment on an article with a title that really burned my lembas: “Dislike Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit? Then You Don’t Know Tolkien.” Granted, the article is a little more focused than the headline would lead you to believe, replying to specific negative comments from professional critics, but it still rubs me the wrong way.
I first read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in high school and although I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve reread them, I’d guess well over a dozen times (including once aloud to my then baby daughter). I’ve also read, among other things, The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The Children of Hurin, and the twelve-volume The History of Middle Earth. I’m very excited that the fiftieth anniversary edition of The Lord of the Rings finally says “They can go ten miles north to Brandywine Bridge” instead of “twenty miles.” (Those of you who know what I’m talking about KNOW what I’m talking about. Am I right?)
I own the animated The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but not the animated The Return of the King because it’s a train wreck (people who think Bakshi’s LOTR film is bad really need to check out this “kid-friendly” version of the last book by the same people who made the lovely cartoon Hobbit: it includes orcs singing the song “Where There’s a Whip There’s a Way,” which is simultaneously the worst Middle-earth song ever and the best S&M song ever). I own Jackson’s theatrical and expanded versions of his Lord of the Rings movies.
All of that background is to say, ZOMG, if I wasn’t thrilled with the first Hobbit movie, don’t presume that means I don’t know my frakkin’ Tolkien. I’m not going to tell people they shouldn’t like the film simply because of my own lukewarm response, so do me the courtesy of not dictating that I should like it by questioning my Tolkienitude if I don’t.
End Hobbit rant. So, people, please: if you enjoy a film, that’s great, you got your money’s worth. Tell me why you love the movie, I’d like to hear your opinion. But if I don’t like the film, don’t undercut my point of view by implying I just don’t understand or I’m not open to new interpretations. Listen to what I’m saying about the movie. The film you love may not be perfect, but I’m not saying you shouldn’t still enjoy it. As filmgoers, we weight the various elements of a movie in different ways, so our scales will balance out differently. One person’s minor flaw is another person’s final straw.