The Hobbit (Now in theaters)
I read the Hobbit for the first time when I was in 5th grade and it opened a world of possibility to my young pre-pubescent mind. Many people have probably not read the book, it was written many, many years ago and if that specific sub-genre isn’t your cup of tea then chances are you’ve either seen the animated movie that was made in the seventies or you haven’t seen anything at all. J.R.R. Tolkien is the grandfather of what has become the fantasy genre that we’re all familiar with today, if you have ever played Dungeons and Dragons, watched a movie with Elves and Dwarves or read any of the many badly written knock off fantasy novels that have come along since then you should take a second to thank Tolkien, because without his inspiration those myths and legends wouldn’t be as prevalent today.
Printed in 1937 the book is considered by many to be a seminal fantasy text with Tolkien having written what is often spoken of as one of the greatest fantasy epics and beloved children’s stories of all time. The Hobbit has been adapted numerous times, most famously as a cartoon and translated into numerous languages throughout the years. So the question becomes how well does this adaption hold up in comparison to the cartoon and many others that have been made over the years?
Pretty well actually….
The story is a Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit who is wrangled into going on an adventure with a band of Dwarves to help recover a lost treasure of gold horded over by the dragon, Smaug. That was the gist of the story in the book, there were many more twists and turns during the printed adventure and they do the same in the movie version if not for any other reason than to stretch the film to nearly three hours in length. I thought that Peter Jackson has done an excellent job of conveying the world of J.R.R. Tolkien to the screen, his ability to translate it accurately leaves a little something to be desired though. Like most Hollywood movies where a book is adapted, some coming to mind like ‘Jumper’, the other ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies and others too numerous to list, Hollywood has taken it upon itself to ‘spice things up’ and add some action by taking out key plot points. I would argue that ‘Jumper’ suffered the worst in this category, but then again I might be a little biased….
The Hobbit gets similar treatment to those aforementioned movies in that things that were brushed over in the novel, say the mentioning of ‘character x’ went off and met ‘character z’, is actually expanded on in the film. Peter Jackson also saw fit to add a protagonist where there was none and action sequences where none were needed. So was this a bad thing? Not so much and for those who don’t have some sort of encyclopedic knowledge of the source material it’ll pass completely un-noticed.
The problem becomes they are stretching a three hundred plus page book into three, 3 hour movies. As a result I feel and fear that we’ve not seen the last of Jackson’s ‘subtle additions’ to the story of the Hobbit.
3 stars out of 5 for all the mortals huddled in the theater waiting for accuracy.
Total Recall (On DVD now…)
Total Recall is the second of two book to movie adaptions this week, taken from the Phillip K. Dick short story ‘We can remember it for you wholesale’ this movie somehow manages to be a remake of an already famous previous adaption of the same material.
This time around instead of going to Mars with Arnold (I’ll be back) Schwarzenegger, we get Colin (I have a barely passable American accent and not the brother of Will Ferrell) Ferrell in the same part playing out a movie that only has a passing resemblance to either the original movie or the short story itself.
As a remake, is it a bad movie? Surprisingly, no.
The action holds up well and Colin Ferrell does his very best to keep things moving right along. We get a few nods to the original and thankfully no cameos that I could spot. The return of a certain tri-breasted prostitute occurs, as well as action sequences that are only possible in movies. It’s funny how much this movie looks and feels like ‘Minority Report’ (Also written by Phillip K. Dick and co-staring Colin Ferrell….) as I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the two films. Colin Ferrell does a wonderful job with what he is given; Jessica Biel is head and shoulders better than Rachel Ticotin playing the part of Melina the resistance fighter and my god Kate Beckinsale runs wild through the movie as the murderous Lori Quaid. Beckinsale, to me, makes the movie pulling off the action like an action star pro and getting what is one of the funniest lines of the movie (The line has to do with getting a kiss goodbye….) so with all that said the movie turned out to be as good as the original, but in different ways.
In all fairness to the 1990 version of the movie, the biggest complaint that I hear about this version of Total Recall was that it didn’t have Arnold in it. While the original is well over twenty years old now and I’m not one for remakes this movie seems to be somewhat closer to the original source material (as Mars isn’t in the original short story at all…) than the Schwarzenegger version was.
3 stars out of 5 and you won’t have to remember it wholesale!
Keith Kilburn and his wife, Dawn, live in Leesburg with two cats and dog named Godzilla. He’s written for Herorealm.com before they were bought out by corporate interests and has written a novel that he’s working on publishing. It’s rumored that he’s seen more movies than Blockbuster rents in a year and knows more about comic books than Stan Lee himself!