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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Professor Michael Drout Slams PJ !

Tol Eressea

Dec 29 2012, 8:16am

Post #1 of 24 (2878 views)
Professor Michael Drout Slams PJ ! Can't Post

Professor Michael Drout, editor of The Tolkien Encyclopedia and co-editor of Tolkien Studies, has lambasted pJ and Boyens in his review of AUJ, here:


"I had some issues. These are all more in sorrow than in anger, because I think Jackson had the opportunity to make a great film but missed itóin part because of the lowest-common-denominator needs of global Hollywood, but also in part because he and screenwriter Philippa Boyens didnít entirely understand their material or trust their audience."

Go get 'im.

admins - hope this isn't in the wrong place

Registered User

Dec 29 2012, 8:49am

Post #2 of 24 (1963 views)
He has some issues with the film, but he still liked it. [In reply to] Can't Post

"But despite all these flaws, in overall assessment The Hobbit is a good, fun film (Iíll go see it again, and I never thought that about The Two Towers). Films are, after all, primarily a visual medium, and when the visuals are so good we can forgive other things (things that books will always do better, anyway)."

"And give Jackson the credit he deserves: Bag End is perfect, the unexpected party legitimately funny and over all far better than I would have predicted"

"Andy Serkisí Gollum may actually have gotten better: Riddles in the Dark is very well done indeed"

"Utterly consistent with the previous Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings films, The Hobbit has the same strengths and the same weaknesses as those movies. It is visually stunning from the large scale to the small. The landscape is lush and beautiful, and so perfectly rendered in the 3d format that it often feels as if you are looking out of a window rather than at a film, and the details of sets, costumes and make-up are remarkable. The CGI material is seamlessly integrated, making it almost impossible to find the boundary between the computer-generated and the traditionally made. Casting is excellent. The characters look right, and the acting is extremely well done within the limits of the script and the directing. Ian Holm, Andy Serkis, Ian McKellen, Kate Blanchette are as good as they were in The Lord of the Rings, and Martin Freeman (Bilbo) and Richard Armitage (Thorin) interpret their characters well. Balin the dwarf is kind and warm-hearted as he should be, and the decision to give each dwarf bizarre and distinctive facial hair and other ornaments was a good one (but there are still a lot of dwarves to keep track of, and I donít think I ever did get it entirely clear which ones were Oin, Gloin, Nori, Ori, and Bofur)."


Dec 29 2012, 9:15am

Post #3 of 24 (1923 views)
I certainly wouldn't call that a "slam". [In reply to] Can't Post

It's a pretty positive review, on the whole, and I agree with it. I'm surprised he didn't focus on the ending, with the very premature reconciliation between Thorin and Bilbo, which felt very tacked-on and unnecessary to me.

N.E. Brigand

Dec 29 2012, 9:33am

Post #4 of 24 (1960 views)
Tom Shippey also has some complaints, I hear. [In reply to] Can't Post

And Shippey and Drout were, in the main, admirers of Jackson's LOTR films. So, to approximate Bilbo's remark to Gandalf at the Council, not having trusted their good reviews before, I'm not sure I could trust their bad reviews now!

However, like the others, I hadn't read Drout's review as negative, overall. (I didn't re-read it now, but saw it about a week ago via the Mythopoeic Society list-serv.)

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Dec 29 2012, 10:16am

Post #5 of 24 (1881 views)
I know it had it's problems ... [In reply to] Can't Post

And there are several departures from the book that I don't particularly like, but it's a far better *adaptation* than any of the LOTR films, in my opinion.

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Dec 29 2012, 11:22am

Post #6 of 24 (1828 views)
It's certainly a better adaptation [In reply to] Can't Post

If you take out everything that was ADDED to the film, you are left with an astonishingly faithfull adaptation.

However, I don't think it succeeded as well as a film. I love it because I love LOTR and The Hobbit. I have my problems with it, but they are minor. All in all it comes just a few hairs shy of being on par with LOTR. I can live with that though. The LOTR films are a part of my childhood, I wouldn't expect anything to replace them in that manner.

"You're love of the halflings leaf has clearly slowed your mind"


Dec 29 2012, 11:44am

Post #7 of 24 (1801 views)
Seems to me that's a very good review... [In reply to] Can't Post

He enjoyed the film, despite what he perceives to be shortcomings in the adaptation. He praises the visuals and the acting. He discusses the points of the adaptation with which he takes issue - as you would expect, approaching it from an academic point of view. I'd agree with him on many of them (though I still l ove the film) - and note that he also argues against some of the other criticisms that have been made.

If I were Peter Jackson or Philippa Boyens I'd be very happy with that review - and I'd think over some of his criticisms, with the next two films in mind

And he will go and see it again. That sounds like praise to me....


Dec 29 2012, 11:46am

Post #8 of 24 (1935 views)
Tom Shippey's Review [In reply to] Can't Post

It was published in the Times Literary Supplement last week, and is subscribers only for another week.

Like Drout it's a reasonable and balanced review. He discusses how the dramatic moments in The Hobbit book are silent moments of Bilbo finding his courage. Jackson creates more showily dramatic moments, and uses every opportunity for an action scene, but that these changes may not necessarily contain much drama.


Dec 29 2012, 12:08pm

Post #9 of 24 (1777 views)
What makes it a more successful adaptation to you Dan? [In reply to] Can't Post

Do you see a more successful adaptation as the tone is closer to the book or the actual details from the book are more closely adhered to etc?


Dec 29 2012, 12:47pm

Post #10 of 24 (1776 views)
ok, John Rateliff didn't slam PJ! [In reply to] Can't Post

John Rateliff gave the Hobbit a very good review. A man by the way who wrote the two volume History of the Hobbit in very much the same style as Christopher Tolkien did with the Histories of Middle Earth. A work which Christopher Tolkien gave his personal blessing two. This is someone who has looked and studied the evolution every draft including the 1960 attempted rewrite and listened to every radio adaptation of the book.


I'll throw a Go get'im! in for good measure. Wink

Tol Eressea

Dec 29 2012, 1:07pm

Post #11 of 24 (1782 views)
Oh, no you don't - John's had his day in the sun.. [In reply to] Can't Post

- this thread is an attempt to bring attention to Prof. Drout's review, rather than having it lost in the general reviews thread. I chose the title of the thread in order to attract attention - (and, it's a lot less inflammatory than another one I'd thought of, along the lines of 'Drout Roasts Our Peter Over an Open Fire With An Apple In His Mouth!!!' ) Wink

As it happens, I do think Drout's review is fair and balanced - I know this because there's stuff there with which I agree, and some which I don't agree with at all. Much like John Rateliff's, in fact. Here's a link to the Rateliff thread.


psst - Bomby - about your comment in the Rateliff thread: John isn't a professor, as I'm sure he'd be the first to point out. Smile

(This post was edited by geordie on Dec 29 2012, 1:10pm)


Dec 29 2012, 2:59pm

Post #12 of 24 (1690 views)
Oh yes I did! [In reply to] Can't Post

Wink See how fun this is. You don't have to be a professor to be more intimate or informed on the source material. I think John R. credentials with the Hobbit novel speak for itself. Now as to their ability to review a movie, well Professor or scholar of the Hobbit and its writing is probably irrelevant beyond evaluating how the source material was adapted and even that boils down to personal taste.


Dec 29 2012, 3:36pm

Post #13 of 24 (1667 views)
Flop and Roast [In reply to] Can't Post

It is a pity that this film has caused a rift among the fan base. What is strange is how one side likes to inflate or distort the intended meaning of critics and reviews to fit in their critical mentality. The film has been labelled a flop despite its accruing box office successes and now a well balanced review has been unfairly used as fodder by the detractors. As others have quoted and said this review in no way amounts to a roasting or substational bashing of PJ's the Hobbit. There is a middle ground between positive and negative perspectives and there is no need to create a false dichotomy. The film is simply a flawed but moderately faithful adaptation which captures the innocence and brevity of the Hobbit while aspiring and times meeting the emotional dramatic heights of LOTR. We should all embrace the films shortcomings and it's achievements together as a whole rather than conveniently ignore certain aspects of its character.

Tol Eressea

Dec 29 2012, 4:08pm

Post #14 of 24 (1645 views)
Absolutely right - [In reply to] Can't Post

- in response to:

"You don't have to be a professor to be more intimate or informed on the source material. I think John R. credentials with the Hobbit novel speak for itself. "

I was just bein' pedantic. In fact, technically speaking, Drout and Rateliff have equal technical qualifications. as they are both Phds. Drout's title of professor is a job description, really. So was Tolkien's - I have a photocopy of an application form filled out by JRR, in which he states his title as 'Mr. John Ronald Reul Tolkien', and his occupation as 'Merton Professor of English Language and Literature'.

Come to think of it, the word 'Professor' is used differently here in the UK, and in the States. In the UK it applies only to men and women who hold a Chair in a subject; so, Tolkien was holder of the Rawlinson and Bosworth Chair of Anglo-Saxon in the University of Oxford from 1925- 1949. Both Tolkien and C S Lewis were often mistakenly referred to as 'Dr Tolkien', and 'Dr. Lewis', though neither of these gents took a degree higher than a baccalaurate.

But enough digression. Of course one doesn't need to have qualifications in English Literature in order to have an opinion of pJ's movies. I'd be proper stuck if that were ever the case.



Dec 29 2012, 4:27pm

Post #15 of 24 (1631 views)
Is it a question of which? [In reply to] Can't Post

Or can I say both? I think AUJ sticks close to the tone of the book, and sticks to the details of the book very closely.

There isn't much *not* included, it's the stuff that is made up that we all agree is a bit iffy.

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Dec 29 2012, 4:36pm

Post #16 of 24 (1665 views)
geordie, I read that interview when you first posted it... [In reply to] Can't Post

and I wouldn't call it a slam nor give the assertion it was an exclamation point.

Come on, you can be more objective than that.

Then you encourage us to 'go get 'im' when I know you probably agree with him.

You are purposefully trying to stir things up rather than encourage thoughtful, civilized conversation. This is, frankly, disappointing to see.

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Dec 29 2012, 5:15pm

Post #17 of 24 (1614 views)
I agree with nearly everything in his review (positive and negative) . [In reply to] Can't Post

It wasn't a slam on Peter Jackson...


Dec 29 2012, 5:18pm

Post #18 of 24 (1605 views)
Hmmm ... not quite ... [In reply to] Can't Post

This looks like a level headed and sensible criticism based on solid facts from the source material and the films themselves.

I don't happen to agree with everything here, but at least I see where most of it is coming from and it is sensible and coherent.

I can't agree that this is a personal slam on PJ. This is a critical thinking ridden review (and at that ... I think it is pretty fair and worth reading). This is not a string of slamming senseless personal attacks that have nothing to do with reality as most of us know it.

I don't think it is as negative as it is made out to be in the original post. It does cite weaknesses, but who and what doesn't have its weaknesses? Actually, having a solid sense of your own weaknesses is an integral part of an attitude of continuous self improvement - something I expect to see in this series of films.

Captain Salt
Tol Eressea

Dec 29 2012, 5:49pm

Post #19 of 24 (1586 views)
Agree with this - the overall experiance outweights the (significant) flaws...for now anyway. [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
"But despite all these flaws, in overall assessment The Hobbit is a good, fun film...

My Top 5 Wish List for "The Hobbit"
5. Legolas will surf down Smaug's neck
4. Bilbo will be revealed to a Robot
3. Naked PJ cameo as Ghan-Buri-Ghan
2. Use of not only 3D, but smell-o-vision, plus the inclusion of axes coming out of the seats and poking the audience when appropriate
1. Not only keep the claim that Thorin & Co. ran amok in Mirkwood "molesting people", but depict said incident in vivid detail!!!!!


Dec 29 2012, 6:22pm

Post #20 of 24 (1545 views)
Mods Up! // [In reply to] Can't Post


Tol Eressea

Dec 29 2012, 7:23pm

Post #21 of 24 (1541 views)
Yes, I apologise for that - [In reply to] Can't Post

- and, apologies to all here. As you say, I'd posted about Drout's review before now and, well, that thread didn't go as well as I'd hoped or expected, given that (in my view at least) Drout's review deserves its own thread at least as much that of John Rateliff's.

I hold both men in high regard and it seemed to me (rightly or wrongly) that the way for this thread to avoid the same fate as its predecessor might be to attract attention with a pithy title. Now I've cooled down a bit and have had time to think about the way I went about posting this thread, I see I acted irresponsibly by putting up a pugilistic stance - if others had responded badly, then the blame would have been mine, and that could not be easily excused.

Of course Drout's piece is not a 'slam' of the movie; as I'd said earlier, I think it is a fair and balanced piece of work. I find criticism by the like of Drout, Shippey and Rateliff help me to look afresh at the works they are criticizing; and, as it happens, I agree with a lot of what Drout says .

I'm sorry if anyone here feels I've been acting in an underhand manner. I find the attention which this thread has attracted has been, without exception, as thoughtful and considered as Drout's tone, for which I thank the contributors so far.


Dec 29 2012, 10:18pm

Post #22 of 24 (1433 views)
Darn [In reply to] Can't Post

*takes off boxing gloves*

I thought it was a fair assessment on Drout's part. Most of this kind of 'guardians of canon' type of writings are bound to arouse some feeling one way or another.

I'm glad we have something to talk about!


Tol Eressea

Dec 30 2012, 12:00am

Post #23 of 24 (1395 views)
Thanks, Rostron [In reply to] Can't Post

That means a lot. Smile


Dec 30 2012, 1:11am

Post #24 of 24 (1376 views)
Tips Hat to geordie [In reply to] Can't Post

As a side note to Drout and others. Everyone has a valid viewpoint or criticism (well, trolls and haters excepted) I really wish there was a realistic way to put some of these people together on a panel and broadcast it all over the world. What is said in print is not always what you'd say to someone's face, as well. Then you could get real feedback.

Again, thanks for the thread.



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