The Hobbit

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.

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12 Responses to “The Hobbit”

  1. Karen Says:

    Thank you for that last paragraph. i haven’t seen “The Hobbit” yet, but I can repeat every line of “Labyrinth” with the exact inflections used in the move, so I’ll be looking forward to that moment in a sick sort of way!

  2. brendab Says:

    I saw the move in 3d as well and think 2d would have been fine as well. I enjoyed the movie with a couple of huge buts. It was too long because every scene was too long. The goblin under the mountain stuff was Indiana Jones runaway ore cart / The next Universal / Disney World /New Zealand Hobbitland Ride of Doom. They could have saved a huge amount of the budget by completely dropping most of this scene. It did not ruin the movie for me but it tried.

  3. WanabePBWriter Says:

    Being a soul cursed Tolkien purist, I could not bring myself to go see it on Friday even though I had the day off. Haveing read LOTR and the Hobbit more times than I can count, what should I expect. Thanks for the rewiew. Life does always have its balancing elements, not being a comic book reader, I get to enjoy just about every comic book movie.

  4. Carrie V. Says:

    I have a friend who put it well: this is less an adaptation of The Hobbit than it is a prequel to Lord of the Rings.


  5. They’ll also be releasing an extended version of this. Not sure how I feel about that.

    I’ll admit, I was not expecting the subplot with Azog, and honestly have no idea where they plan on going with that.

    And, as I’ve said before, I quite liked Jackson’s King Kong, despite the length — one of the scenes a lot of people complain about (the scene on the ice in Central Park) makes me cry every time I see it.

    Also, having visited the location where Hobbiton was filmed, I couldn’t help but think during the scene where Bilbo runs off to join the Dwarves, “Oh dear, I do hope he manages to avoid all that sheep poop.” ^_^

  6. October Says:

    I LOVED this movie. I saw it 2D because I despise 3D. It gives me a headache, because I have to wear my regular glasses under the 3D ones…

  7. Carrie V. Says:

    I also wear my regular glasses under the 3-D. I don’t get headaches, but I do have trouble focusing when things start moving very quickly, and I wonder if the double glasses is part of that.

    My favorite 3D effects are landscapes, where it’s nice and slow and you get a chance to look around, and ooh and ahh. The New Zealand tourism commercial before the movie actually had some of the best 3D scenery I’ve ever seen.

  8. Rebecca Hewett Says:

    Your Brian Froud/Labyrinth observation got me thinking about Tolkein’s comments of the difficulty of telling apart male and female dwarves. Then, into my mind, unbidden, leapt the following exchange between the goblin king and Thorin:
    Goblin: “You remind me of the babe.”
    Thorin: “What babe?”
    “The babe with the power.”
    “What power?”
    “The power of Voodoo.”
    “Who do?”
    “You do.”
    “Do what?”
    Remind me of the babe”
    Then David Bowie leaps into frame and starts singing.

    Thanks a lot. : )

  9. Lesley Says:

    Ok, I wasn’t all that interested in seeing this movie, but that sold me. I have to see it for the Dance Magic scene. ROFL!


  10. Re: last paragraph: I thought of the same parallel! It should be easy for someone to redub that scene when the DVD comes out, right?

  11. Kathleen Hedges Says:

    I enjoyed the Hobbit more than I thought I would. If you think of it as fantasy storytelling rather than as movie making, it succeeds rather well. It takes time for character interactions and things like the dwarfs’ song, which don’t move along the action but build texture. It’s actually a filmed book, not a movie.

  12. Lear Says:

    Watched it in 2D, and had the exact same problems with the blurry action, particularly in the beginning (the swooping in the Dwarf city actually made may eyes hurt.)

    I suspect it is an artifact of the 48FPS and not being used to it, as by the end of the movie I didn’t notice anymore.


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