Well, dammit. Peter Jackson can’t make a hit movie that doesn’t involve small gay men with big hairy feet. So he’s at it again.
There will be two more Tolken movies, this time based on The Hobbit. I loved the books in high school, thought the Jackson movies were pretty on the big screen, but thought they were a snooze on video. Seriously, when I need to sleep and can’t, I go watch one of those stinking Lord of the Ring movies.
But that’s not even the worst of my complaints. And the complaints, they are a legion. No, my biggest gripe is that the actors can’t act. Oh, they are pretty, pretty people and they can read their lines with dramatic flair. But every line, every stinking line is Very Important. Everything is Very Important, Most Special and Quite Thrilling. It’s like that scene in The Ten Commandments where Charlton Heston, as Moses, learns that the first born sons of every house in Egypt (without the blood above the door) will be dead by morning. Heston chewed on the scenery quite a bit in that scene with lots of staggering, proclamations and gnashing of teeth. Every scene is like that in the LOTR trilogy.
Every word must be caught, wrestled, wrung, grappled, and subdued until it lay panting and submissive at the actor’s feet. No word is unimportant. No word is wasted. No word is to be left unpunished. And the words? They are punished aplenty. But because no sentence is spoken more or less than another, nothing is emphasized. And that’s just the words. Every fall of a leaf is Essential. Every gust of wind is Vital. Every chicken scratch, bird flight, grass growth and horse fart is a Very Important Action. All of this Importance runs together in one giant conglomerate of emotion that leaves me completely emotionless towards the characters’ plights.
I didn’t care which pretty, pretty girl whats-his-name chose. I didn’t care that that guy died in the first movie. I didn’t care if pretty, pretty Legolas… well, I don’t really remember what Legolas’ problem was, unless it was finding time to tweeze his eyebrows and wash his hair between battles. I didn’t care that Frodo is something of a crack addict towards the end of the movies.
And the poor actor who played Frodo was something of a one trick pony. After watching the first movie, you know exactly how Frodo will react to any given situation. A group of Dementors (or whatever the black-robed baddies are called in LOTR) has cornered Frodo. Oh No! What will Frodo do? You know what he’ll do: Cue trembling lip. Cue teary eyes. Cue hand to ring on necklace under shirt. Cue death grip on ring. Cue heavy breathing. Cue glazed eyes. Cue yearning look on face. True, he does it very well. But that seems to be all he does beyond the first movie. I have no doubt that some college students somewhere have turned this very reaction into a drinking game. “Trembling lip! Drink!” Well, perhaps they haven’t; they’d probably fall asleep before they get drunk, which would defeat the purpose of the drinking game.
Not that the LOTR trilogy isn’t good. It is. It’s right up there with watching Cleopatra, Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments. Those are all great movies. They’re also all boring movies. They’re seriously boring movies. They’re the kind of movies that you watch when they come on late at night on some Turner station when you can’t sleep. They’re the kind of movies my college roommate and I turned on late at night when we wanted background noise that wouldn’t disturb our last minute cramming for finals. They’re the kind of movies your crappy tenth grade world history teacher makes the class watch during first period for a week when his college buddies are in town and he wants to sleep off his hangovers. Simply put, they’re not the kind of movies you watch for fun. They’re the kind of movies you watch when you want to suffer, and suffer for a long time. They’re a fairly masochistic activity.
So no, I’m not looking forward to two more hobbit movies. Frankly, I wish that Jackson would leave Tolken the hell alone.