The Hobbit Movie Disappoints

SPOILER ALERTS. You’ve been warned.

You may hear more about this on my Hobbit Broadcast, but I could not believe the film that I saw last night.

I still hold to the reasons why I was excited, giddy event, to watch a master story-teller at work once again.

All of those factors, however, rely on a good story. I took for granted that The Hobbit would be, at the very least, good.

That was not my experience. A few years ago, after the first 30 minutes of Jackson’s King Kong, I had to turn it off. I blamed it on attempting a distinct style, and failing. I inserted the LotR extended editions back into my player and called it a night.

Apparently it was LotR that was a fluke. [UPDATE 6:23pm: I have yet to see Heavenly Creatures, which I’ve also heard is very good.]

My opinions have nothing to do with technology and everything to do with story. Rather, the pitiful lack thereof. For the record, plot is what happens and story is the meat, story is character development, story is what makes the world go round.

Story is the why.

When you tell us why, when you wink at everything related to the trilogy, when you tell us everything instead of show us (#1 rule of story-telling), you insult the audience.

If you think the material should have been treated differently because it’s aimed for a younger audience, then you insult the intelligence of children.

Let’s start with the spoon-feeding.

Why on earth should we care about the dwarves we haven’t met yet? Why weren’t we introduced to the characters whose journeys we are supposedly following first, given reasons to care about them, questions to ask of them, then shown their history while we learn of their mission?

The Frodo part of the story might have been a good idea if they never talked, or in this case, narrated and telegraphed to the audience exactly what anyone who saw Fellowship gets immediately. Here’s a unique thought: if members of your audience don’t understand the exact reference you’re making as you’re making it (and repeating it, and repeating it, and beating the dead horse), maybe that’s okay. Maybe they’ll watch it again and get it, or maybe they won’t. Strange, that’s a lesson I continue to learn from re-watching the original trilogy.

I could give more examples, at least three hours worth. But here is where I gave up on the movie:

The first camera shot that was completely lifted from The Lord of the Rings. Beginning with the prologue battle and re-creating shot for shot Isildur slicing the ring off Sauron’s finger in Fellowship, to some aerials that I swear were replicas of Aragorn, Gimli & Legolas running, the exact same pull out to Gandalf smoking….these were simply lazy. If Jackson tried to make a statement about cycles of life and death and war, there were better ways.

I am not a purist. I’ve read The Hobbit  a few times, and dreamed of Jackson’s interpretation from a jolly good book to exciting adventure.

There is more, and the Broadcast today should be interesting, but this is just a start to my reaction.

UPDATE 6:23pm: I do not even have the energy to discuss the wargs.

The Hobbit : A Likely Story & Broadcast Friday!

UPDATE: I saw it. Disappointed, to say the least. More after coffee and digesting Connecticut’s horrible news today.

I was a late Tolkien lover, although a C.S. Lewis novel, Till We Have Faces, made me re-think everything I knew as a teen about story.

Where we bookmarked our last LotR extended editions & appendices marathon (earlier this week)
Where we bookmarked our last LotR extended editions & appendices marathon (earlier this week)

Since the two authors were close friends and I love/write fantasy, you’d think Lord of the Rings would have been a standard-read-at-least-annually series for me. Somehow, I missed it and didn’t start reading them until my husband insisted we buy the Extended Editions of the movies as they were released (it also had to line up with our finances at that point, being newlyweds ‘working’ in the arts).

Hooked. Line, sinker, unabashedly hooked: so much so that our close friends call December 25th Lord of the Rings Day in our house, as we watch them all in a row with coffee then pizza and beer, typically in our bathrobes. I’m sure that my 4-day stint stage managing for Sir Ian McKellen in 2005 had something to do with it all as well. (TANGENT: Not to brag – but I will – I held Glamdring multiple times, and had to call lighting queues properly by breathing with McKellen performing Richard III. I also taught him how to burn a dvd with files on it; that’s how long ago this was.)

Given all of this, many people asked my reaction to The Hobbit being three movies instead of two. My first reaction was BRING IT. For a number of reasons, and in no particular order:

  • The first movie, which I’m seeing in a few short hours, will likely feel a little long in contrast to the sheer amount of plot we’ll receive. That’s pretty much how the book runs as well. The creators are ready for mixed feelings on #1. The Hobbit is one story and isn’t as semi-neatly divided into segments as LotR. Even that one couldn’t seamlessly integrate the book chapters as they appeared in the film trilogy, if at all.
  • Audiences are smarter than Hollywood Marketing Suits want or believe us to be. A good story well told can sustain our attention for longer than 80 minutes. Risk-taking energizes your audience, and I really wish the industry would see that. Look to GATZ (a live show that lasted eight hours with dinner break) for proof. That theatre company played out the entirety of The Great Gatsby word for word with a simple office set and five actors, and audiences (even non lovers of the book) can’t get enough of it. Because:
  • Audiences long for experiences that make the trip worth it. I honestly don’t remember the last time I was psyched to see a movie in the theaters. My last experience was Samsara  and before that, I can’t even remember; it may have been The Dark Knight (and I didn’t forget the word Rises). I know this is not common practice, but it is mine. Audiences in all arts need to feel they are part of an experience and attending a movie (besides the popcorn) just doesn’t usually do it for me. With forums and comments and live tweeting TV shows so embedded (pun intended) in the consumer experience, movie and live theaters must find ways for their patrons to feel connected to both the space and others watching the art plus others in the audience, to create a situation where the entire event was just as thrilling as the work itself.  With The Hobbit, I KNOW that everyone there at 12:05a.m. wants a certain experience, having much to do with simply being together for this event.
  • Personally, I only watch the Extended Editions of LotR, so to me, three movies is better than two. This is, of course, sight unseen, so we’ll see how I feel tomorrow. I doubt it will change too much, even with potential critique. (And I am in no way looking for a debate on whether Return of the King’s official viewing should be theatrical or extended cuts. I prefer the extended cut.)
  • 48fps. When I bought our tickets, I had THREE CHOICES as to how to see this movie. Controversial as they all are, and I am not an ardent lover of 3D movies, I was awed by the choice. Besides the technological breakthroughs for good or for bad, and I hold my opinion until tomorrow (see below), what an amazing way to continue and stir conversation around the premieres and Tonight – the Event. See what Jackson did there? Friends of mine are seeing the movie tonight at the same time but in 24fps, and we all got to choose that experience for ourselves, then have the option to try a different experience, ultimately deciding which we prefer.

There is more, but I leave that discussion for tomorrow. I knew that I had to build a Broadcast around The Hobbit somehow, and two excellent guests fell into my lap. Therefore:

FRIDAY 12/14

2-3pm PST


w/ Guests Joshua Gilliland, ESQ & Noah J. Nelson

joshua gillilandJosh wrote A Hobbit’s View of Property Rights, is the author of the two time ABA Journal Top 100 Blawg Honoree Bow Tie Law, Litigation World columnist and founder of Majority Opinion LLC. Josh has been published in American Lawyer Magazine.

Mr. Gilliland is a California attorney and nationally recognized thought leader on electronic discovery with his blog “Bow Tie Law.”  Josh has conducted over 350 Continuing Legal Education seminars on e-Discovery all across North America.

Josh has organized webinars with Magistrate Judge John Facciola and other e-Discovery leaders; guest lectured at McGeorge School of Law and has been published in American Lawyer Magazine.

Josh founded Majority Opinion LLC in 2011 to develop iPad Apps for litigators.

Josh also ties a mean bow tie.

noah nelsonNoah J. Nelson is a Tech/Entertainment Writer for Turnstyle News, occasional contributor to NPR. @areyouthatguy

WATCH us Friday 2-3pm at the video link that will replace the red above, and send your thoughts or questions via comments!

————–For More Arts Broadcasts————–

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Bechdel Test Talks EP6: Holiday Fare

Caroline Sharp
Etta Devine
Cindy Marie Jenkins


are a monthly series where my co-hosts and I look at various types of entertainment through the lens of The Bechdel Test.

Etta Devine & Caroline Sharp join me every month!

The Bechdel Test asks 3 basic questions for every story (originally applied to film):

1. Is there more than 1 female character (with a name)?

2. Do they talk to each other?

3. About anything besides men?

These perimeters are not meant to be judgement calls, but simply starting points for discussion.

WED 12/12 at 4pm PT, we’ll discuss Holiday Fare!

Article on Holiday Specials Caroline Mentions

Watch Bechdel Test Talk Ep3: Children’s Stories

Watch Bechdel Test Talk Ep4: Who’s Breaking the Gender Glass Ceiling?

Watch Bechdel Test Talk Ep5: Fantasy & Sci Fi


See the full schedule

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Don’t miss a segment @CindyMarieJ

Holiday Indie Gifts Day 4

With so many independent artists, there’s a variety of unique gifts you can give. I’ll highlight one a day through the New Year!

Day 1 – Holiday Gifts by Adam Emperor Southard Photography

Day 2 – HUCK FINN: The Robotic Edition & The Selling, a supernatural comedy

Day 3 – Fund an education Shakespeare Puppet Video in someone’s name

DAY 4 – The Puppet Maker’s Bones by Alisa Tangredi

The Puppet Maker’s Bones (Death’s Order)
Loneliness can drive a man to madness, but Pavel Trusnik is not a normal man. After committing a crime that leaves him shunned and isolated, he has only the fading memories of his tragically flawed life, and his one great love.  When a violent sociopath sets his murderous desires upon the elderly shut-in, only an ancient order that knows Pavel’s secrets can come to his aid. But for Pavel, the vicious intruder is the only company he has had in decades….

Barnes & Noble
Powell’s City of Books
Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena

WATCH Alisa’s video interview when it was first published.

My 1st Dia de los Muertos !

I began as Outreach & Marketing Director for 24th ST in August, and have been looking forward to tonight ever since:

Their 7th Annual Dia de los Muertos Festival!

My job is to document and pull stories from this major community event to weave into the overall 15th Anniversary Story-line.

Here are all the ways you can keep in touch with my adventures tonight:

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ YouTube (quick uploads to mine then more on 24th ST’s) ~ Instagram @cindymariej (all tagged #24thST) ~ Pinterest ~ Tumblr

Spooky Shakespeare Brings me Joy

Follow him @ShimermanArmin too!

The Antaeus Company hosts Salons every Monday to really dig into some aspect of the classics and theatre in general. They all sound really interesting, but the evening I signed up to attend immediately was Ghosts, Demonology & Fairies in Shakespeare, moderated by Armin Shimerman!

I’m a huge text analysis nerd, but even more so because Armin always puts the play in context of the society and culture (audience) for whom it was originally written. This means long-standing psychological and dramaturgical fights vanish (pun intended) when confronted with simple realities like who was in Shakespeare’s audience.

A few days beforehand, attendees were told to be familiar with Hamlet  and Macbeth. Two of my favorites, so no problem. Then instructions came to familiarize ourselves with King James’ Daemonology Treatise. Fascinating stuff.

However, I don’t recommend anyone make the mistake I did, and in order to understand slightly archaic language, read it out loud while on a public bus. I wondered why people moved away from me.

So a lovely casual conversation ensued. Armin clarified at the top that we were looking at the Ghost in Hamlet and Witches/Lady Macbeth if we had time. Although not necessarily Halloween-themed, he said : “Religion for me is always spooky.”

I personally always like to remind myself before these things start about why I wanted to attend, and spend money on an evening like this. Besides the fact that Armin holds so much knowledge that I’d pay to listen to him discuss the finer attributes of taxes, I also realized that I don’t get excited about Shakespeare as much as in the past. One recent exception was two weeks ago when I watched 3 separate performances of 24th ST’s special engagement Nearly Lear, and found joy and discovery within every single viewing.*

I’ve also heard about Macbeth from Armin a few years ago when he was guest at a workshop rehearsal I directed, so I was glad we started with Hamlet.

Okay. There is no way I can properly relate to you everything we said, learned or discovered, except for this main theme that keeps running through my head:

Hamlet is a mystery. 

For those of us who grew up knowing Hamlet‘s plot before ever seeing it onstage, that is hard to fathom, never mind remember. How often is a story ruined by creators forgetting that their audience doesn’t know the plot? Sad, really.

Here are some other tidbits, in no particular order:

  • The Senecan Ghost: If I weren’t a Halloween curmudgeon, I might have found a way to go as one. In almost every Senecan Drama, a ghost appears in something like a white sheet (sound familiar?) and tells everyone how horrible things are and how badly we need revenge.
  • There are distinct differences between how a Catholic and how a Protestant would consider/approach Hamlet’s Father’s Ghost. It actually forms the crux of the whole play, since whether the Ghost was telling the truth dictated what would happen to Hamlet if he believed him and murdered his Uncle in revenge.
  • Armin: “The actor must pick one meaning [for a line] and the audience can have two. That’s poetry.” This was a throw-away line, mind you. He’s just that amazing.
  • Somehow, amidst all of his religious currents, Shakespeare never got arrested. His plays linger and live in the contradiction between Catholics & Protestants at the time, but he was never thrown in jail.
  • Protestants literally believe there is an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other (“My shoulder angel!” for all you Emperor’s New Groove fans).
  • There is actually more to heaven and earth than can be dreampt of, or scholarized, and it is just so easy to take Shakespeare down the wrong path by remembering what you were taught vs the facts and words directly in front of you.
  • Taking Joy in Shakespeare really helps fuel a creative mind.

Antaeus only has 3 more Monday Salons left. Take any opportunity to hear Armin Shimerman talk Shakespeare.

*FULL DISCLOSURE: I am Outreach and Marketing Director for 24th ST. but am not required to include them in my blog, nor see the shows more than once. This one was really just that good.

Web Series Watch Ep2 : Vampires, Zombies & Werewolves!


WED 12pm –  w/ Cindy Marie Jenkins & Patty J. Robinson

A new monthly series to bring you the best in that wild west of entertainment: the Web Series!

Today we’re Halloween themed: Vampire Mob, The Hunted, Vampirism Sucks, Vampire Zombie Werewolf & Zurvived!

WATCH the 1st episode

2nd episode:


See the full schedule

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Behind the scenes on

Don’t miss a segment @CindyMarieJ

Go Beyond the Blurb on Mondays

Arts Outreach is a huge part of The CMJ Stories. Every Monday I go Beyond the Blurb of an indie artist’s work, non profit or cause to cultivate more of their audience. Wednesday is Wild Card Day, and usually includes live streams with great speakers!

Here is a clip of the theme song, composed by Adam Emperor Southard.

The playlist of interviews conducted so far:

YouTube channel