December 17, 2012
I don’t suppose there’s any chance of Martin Freeman getting nominated for any acting awards for this, is there?
Not a whole lot to say, really. If you’re inclined to love this movie, you will love it. If you want to find things to criticize about it, you will. If you’re not likely to love a carefully crafted epic filled with all sorts of fantasy squee, you probably shouldn’t go see it. If you are, you’ll be in heaven.
When they cross the pass into the Misty Mountains, which are actually laden with mist and shadows — oh my goodness, did I smile. And when the dwarves really did sing “That’s What Bilbo Baggins Hates” — I mean, I don’t even like the song, but it was just so perfectly done. The film has lots of little moments like that. It made me happy. And Martin Freeman. Did I mention that he’s just wonderful as Bilbo? Well, he is.
I’m one of those who’s skeptical that The Hobbit needed to be drawn out into three very long movies. When early reviews complained of bloat, I understand completely the concerns, because I sat through Peter Jackson’s King Kong, which is so full of cinematic bloat you could remove every other frame of film and have exactly the same movie at half the length. I’m still a bit skeptical, and rather wish they’d done something like they did with Lord of the Rings: release a streamlined theatrical version, then release extended versions for all the true geeks. And I’m saying this as someone who loves the extended version of Lord of the Rings. But I would also love to see a version of The Hobbit that had a little more focus and a little less pretension.
This is going to be a trilogy because the movies include much of Tolkien’s appendices and external material. I don’t really mind this. I appreciate the depth and richness. But I also happily read The Silmarillion as a teenager, so there you go. By biggest — I’ll call it an observation rather than a complaint — observation is that not only does the movie include a great deal of peripheral material, it appears to be inventing a plot to string them all together. And that’s what makes the story feel a bit contrived. The appendices are extra because they don’t really fit anywhere in the two novels. Trying to force them to fit. . .well, I’m not convinced. I’ll still happily watch the movie again, just with a bit of a sigh whenever the pale orc what’s-his-face appears.
I saw it in 3-D, and was not entirely impressed with the 3-D. The action scenes were mostly downright blurry and hard to follow. I think I’d like to see it again, but in 2-D.
**Completely nerdy, spoilery digression that may change how you see a certain scene in the movie forever, so I won’t inflict it on you unless you really want to keep reading**
So, we got to the scene where the dwarves are taken prisoner by the goblins under the Misty Mountains, and I noticed that the goblins, for all their grossness, are a bit like Brian Froud goblins. Not directly, just a distant inspired-by kind of thing, like the special effects guys grew up watching Labyrinth. (Froud did the goblin design in Labyrinth.) Froud goblins after a really bad couple of years, maybe. They’ve got large round eyes, hairy pointy ears, goofy expressions, a bit of personality. So the goblins bring the dwarves to the central square to meet the Goblin King, who speaks in a clear British accent. And a squirrelly corner of my brain yelled out, “Sing ‘Magic Dance!’” A couple of scenes later, when the goblins really do start singing, with the Goblin King kind of stomping around, I nearly ruptured my gut trying to keep from laughing out loud. I could not stop laughing. I do not think this was the intended response to this scene.