On November 8th, Mythgard Academy is holding its fundraising webathon, and I have foolishly agreed to face off with The Tolkien Professor in a debate about “The Hobbit” films — so I need your help!
As you may know, Corey Olsen has been examining the Hobbit movies in some detail since even before the first one was released on his “Riddles in the Dark” podcast. If I may venture to summarize his argument here, he has essentially shown that Peter Jackson’s team has done a brilliant job of adapting Tolkien’s texts for the screen. Nearly every little change of plot, introduction of new material, visual choice, etc. can be shown to have a relationship to something Tolkien was thinking sometime, somewhere, in some notebook or draft or other.
In short, Corey argues that the Hobbit films are excellent adaptations.
I am going to argue that they are bad movies.
See, it’s important to know how to evaluate an adaptation. It won’t do to base its worth on how close it sticks to the original, because form changes content, medium changes message. I believe that any work must be judged on its own artistic merits.
And I believe that the Hobbit films are pretty bad movies. So that’s what I’m going to try to convince Corey to concede. Or at least to have a fun and lovely time discussing the topic.
Here, then, is where I need your help. Please reply in the comments below if you can provide any of the following:
1. Recommendations for works of film theory I should read to learn how to critique a movie intelligently.
2. Links to the best online reviews of and forums about The Hobbit movies that offer sober, mature critique (NOT rants).
3. Your own evaluation of wherein the badness of these films consists (again, NOT rants; rants will be deleted).