Hollywood awards season is imminent, and studios have saved their best contenders for December release so they’ll be fresh in the public’s mind, but released before the end of the calendar year deadline. Holiday family time also means action blockbusters, 3-D epics, and ensemble crowd-pleasers in the theaters.
December is like Christmas every day for film nerds. We’re squealing with anticipation for each new release. Except, I must take exception to one highly anticipated release, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Maybe it’s the title, which sounds like a Mad Libs prompt. The Hobbit: An [Adjective] [Verb] — Unrequited Noodle, Itchy Philanthropist, Giddy Ice Cube? Or, perhaps I take issue with the hairy feet. Feet are gross.
Maybe my lack of excitement is proof that I’m too easily influenced by TV. Season 8 of Grey’s Anatomy featured a Comic-Con attendee who identified with hobbits as sad-panda underdogs. This season’s Halloween episode of Don’t Trust the B had June dressed as a lady hobbit to symbolize her, “journey of self-discovery.” Both shows took for granted that hobbits are major cultural iconography, but played them as tedious.
Dana Stevens at Slate nails the don’t care sentiment perfectly with her recent review, “Bored of the Rings: The Hobbit looks like Teletubbies and is way too long.” Stevens warns, “Before we ever set foot in the hobbits' shire or lay eyes on any of the main characters, there’s a 20-minute long CGI prologue that provides a Bayeux Tapestry-length account of the mythic fall of Erebor, the dwarves’ once-glorious homeland. Bilbo doesn’t actually pack his bag and leave the damn shire until about an hour in to the movie, which clocks in at just 10 minutes short of three hours.” The film doesn't seem to be about much, and this is only the first installment.
As someone who regularly contends that Battlestar Galactica was the best show on television, and whose favorite childhood book was A Wrinkle in Time, I have no qualms with the genre. Peter Jackson’s latest project looks less like fantasy though and more like fringe-fan fiction.
The success of recent book series turned blockbuster films, like Harry Potter or LOTR, came from their huge appeal regardless of the audience’s level of familiarity with the literature. With The Hobbit, it’s hard to even keep the character’s names straight, (I dare you to repeat that dwarf intro Gandlaf gives), and that doesn’t bode well for mass consumption.
While a huge box office opening has been predicted, whether that can be sustained is questionable once viewers realize the Emperor has no shoes.