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The Hobbit

I AM in shock.

You say: "How awful. What has occasioned this scare or jolt?" I will tell you, madam: the new Hobbit film.

I'd looked forward to it for ages. But what a let-down. The departures from Tolkien's original text have now reached absurd levels. Worse still, it doesn't FEEL like Tolkien any more.

Young persons online, prone to deploying the word "awesome" with generous offerings of exclamation marks, are broadly enthusiastic. But they dominate discussion only because serious citizens are too scared to speak out for being branded "purists".

But we're not. Peter Jackson's four films prior to this took great liberties, but we didn't mind. We know: a book is a book and a film is a film.

I enjoyed the three Lord of the Rings films. I enjoyed the first Hobbit film, even with the absurd addition of rabbits pulling a sleigh.

Hell, I even booked tickets for this second film, The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug, three weeks before it opened. But Jackson has gone too far this time. He should bill his trilogy "very loosely based on The Hobbit".

There are too many textual departures and invented characters to quantify here. I don't mind Tauriel the elf as such, but the idea of her fancying a dwarf is crass.

And nowhere in either Tolkien's canon will you find a reference to trousers, or at least not to their contents.

As for Beorn, my favourite Tolkien character, jeez, I could have wept. Who is this berk with a mullet and a tiny cameo talking as if he'd just come hotfoot from The Godfather?

The movie has good points. The architecture is wonderful, as are the costumes and swords. Smaug the dragon is terrific.

But many battle scenes — of which Jackson, unlike Tolkien, is over-fond — look like computer games. And his depictions of Esgaroth and, before that, of the inn at Bree, are too sordid.

Sordid is for the real world. Speaking of which, I don't like the New Zealand scenery either. That is, I like the New Zealand scenery, but not here. It's too real, flat and boring. It's everyday, not fantastical, beauty.

I hope someone will now do a CGI version of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The floodgates of film have been opened, so let's not allow Jackson's to be the only sullied water that sloshes through.

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