However, Ben Witherington has seen it. Here’s his review; it confirms what I expected: no longer the children’s story Tolkien wrote, too much Lord of the Rings read back into it, too much violence, too much development of characters not in Tolkien’s story and too little development of those who were, etc. etc. In a response to one of the comments he mentions ‘…the interminably battling which never really results in anything… either the defeat of some particular evil group or any serious loss to our heroes. It is indeed like a video game’.
Todd Hertz has also seen it, and in his review for Christianity Today he writes:
‘The divisive issue is not omissions, as is often the case with adaptations; in fact, all major events of the book’s first six chapters are fairly depicted. The issue here is that Jackson has made wholesale additions that make it all feel less like the book and more like the darker cinematic journey Jackson took us on not long ago with his Lord of the Rings trilogy. And that seems to be exactly Jackson’s goal.’
I also note my review of Jackson’s ‘The Lord of the Rings‘ movies (written several years after I first saw them, after I’d had time to consider), in which I explained why I thought they were ‘deeply flawed’, and my initial reaction when word of the Hobbit movie came out (at that time, we were only expecting a two-part production!).
I like Martin Freeman and I like Ian McKellen, so I expect I’ll enjoy their characters. If I’m wrong about the rest of the movie, I’ll be glad to retract my predictions (I was happily surprised about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, though not about the movies that followed it). However, I don’t expect to have to do so.
I love The Hobbit dearly, and when people talk about it in the future, I want people to talk about the characters and the story that Tolkien created. That’s why I’m apprehensive about going to see the movie. But I will go, and I’ll let you know what I think.