Sensationalism and the new Hobbit

I think I’m allergic to the physical sensationalism that has crept into films.

Here’s what I mean:

In the original Matrix film, Neo learned Kung-Fu through a form of technological osmoses. (Side note: I hope someone invents a similar device so I can challenge Tim Ferris to a kickboxing match.) Later Neo engages the seemingly invincible Agent Smith in mortal combat. The fight scenes provided delectable eye-candy, while being somewhat believable.

In the second film, the sensationalism increased. Characters were jumping higher and the punches were flinging people further. At one point Neo uses a street light to practice his batting skills on agents by hitting them across a courtyard.

In the third film, we have the final showdown between Agent Smith and Neo. Smith would punch Neo, and Neo would fly 600 yards and crash into a building. Neo would act like it hurt, but then dust himself off and deliver a mega punch to Agent Smith. Smith, of course, would then fly 700 yards and crash into another building. And so the fight went.

I’m convinced that if the Wachowski Siblings ever made a fourth Matrix, Neo and Agent Smith would be punching each other onto different continents.

Here’s the progression:

Matrix              Punch each other across the room
Matrix 2           Punch each other across the courtyard
Matrix 3           Punch each other across the city
Matrix 4           Punch each other across the continent
Matrix 5           Punch each other across the solar system?

By the way, the Wachowski Brothers are no longer the Wachowski Brothers, since one of them had a sex change. I digress…

Even Starwars fell into this pattern.

It was a struggle for Luke to force to pull a light saber out of the snow from 18 inches away while hanging upside down. He later learned to effectively block phaser fire and even force choke Gamorrean Guards. Of course, Vader could use his telekinesis to fling objects at his son (someone please call CPS on this dude).

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1999 rears its ugly face and the Starwars world has changed. Luke’s powers now seem as pathetic and as underdeveloped as my writing style. The Jedi can now run super-fast, turn quasi-invisible, jump massive heights, and even pull down entire Star Destroyers from the Stratosphere using a mental strain reminiscent of high-level constipation. Why would the Empire need a Death Star to destroy planets? Why not hire a couple of Dark Jedi, give them plenty of constipation inducing cheese and bananas, and let them force push the planets into each other? Besides, The Empire seems to have a problem defending its Death Stars from a bunch of shaggy-haired teenagers.

Bigger! Larger! Longer! Higher! Further!

If only my 401k was this exponential.

I won’t even get into the Lord of the Rings films, mostly because the blogging experts tell me that I should not exceed 1000 words.

That brings us to The Hobbit film.

The last homely house, Elrond’s house, was just that—a house. Enduring the playful teasing of the elves, the party was lead along a simple stone path, over a narrow bridge and into a hall with open doors. But the new sensationalism cannot allow a simple hall in the woods. In the film it’s more of an ornately carved Elvish paradise.

In the book the Stone giants were simply giants throwing rocks at each other in the storm. By the way, the ‘Stone’ in Stone Giant, is not a description of their biology. They are not literally made of stone. They are called this because, unlike Tim Tebow, they can throw a projectile across a field. They are not made of stone.

The new physical sensationalism demands that we do it bigger. So the Stone Giants become 300 foot all behemoths made of shards of sedimentary rock, whose girth can bring entire mountains down.

What about the Goblin King? Tolkien describes him this way:

“There in the shadows on a large flat stone sat a tremendous goblin with a huge head.” The Hobbit, page 59.

In Jackon’s film, though, he had a goiter draping from his neck grotesque enough to make Elaine Benes cringe. It honestly looked like cross between Jabba the Hutt’s rear end and a Ballchinian from Men in Black 2. There are other, more accurate descriptions of the Goblin King’s goiter floating around the internet, but as Gandalf says, “I will not utter [them] here.”

All that to say, I wish producers would lead with great story telling, compelling dialogue, and solid acting. The eye-candy should be used like The One Ring: only when necessary!

Oh, and please stop changing Tolkien’s story.

Amazon affiliate link if you want to read The Hobbit.

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