Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey did all kinds of things to spoil my hopes for a great big-screen version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s great adventure novel…
(If you want to know why, read my original coverage of the film.)
Today’s Entertainment Weekly story about a new character played by Evangeline Lily has dealt a heavy blow to my hopes that this series will improve.
In the article, Lily says, “I think if anyone knows how to respect Tolkien, it’s Peter, Fran and Phil.”
And, in saying this, she has flaunted her own ignorance of Tolkien. It isn’t “respectful” to change the story in such as way that it dishonors… and even contradicts… the central themes of the source material. (I wrote about this in detail in Through a Screen Darkly, noting that when Steven Greydanus and I challenged Peter Jackson in person about his revisions, he came right out and admitted he wanted to change the story because he wanted the story to mean something different.)
The biggest problem with the first film in this grossly over-extended Hobbit series is that the stuff Jackson and Company added to the story was unimaginative, silly, exhausting, damaging to the narrative arc of Tolkien’s story, and even more damaging to the themes that Tolkien explored and the insights he conveyed in that story.
You might as well add Justin Timberlake as a singing, dancing elf at this point and it wouldn’t make much difference.
Or why not add Zach Galifinakis as an obnoxious, farting, expletive-spewing dwarf?
How about Jaden Smith and Asa Butterfield as gnomes. What? There aren’t any gnomes in The Hobbit? Let’s fix that! Think of the merchandise we could sell! Think back to the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi, and how well that worked out!
When I posted the EW story at ArtsandFaith.com, someone quickly responded with this…