The Hobbit

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Say it with me: This is not The Lord of the Rings. This is not The Lord of the Rings. This is NOT The Lord of the Rings.

Of course, I told myself that as much as possible before going to see the movie and it still took a while for me to adjust to this new story of Middle-earth. But Peter Jackson has created a really fantastic movie that, in my opinion, still manages to stay true to the spirit of Tolkien’s book.

It’s going to be easier for me to do this as a list of thoughts. And be warned, there will be spoilers. Lots of them. I intend to write this as if you’ve seen the movie already so if you haven’t, you’ll probably want to wait to read this. One last thing though- I’ve seen the movie twice now. The first time in regular 2D and the second time in the HFR 3D. If at all possible, go see the HFR 3D. It is fantastic. I’m not a particular fan of 3D in general and, since I already have to wear glasses while watching movies, the idea of having to wear another pair of glasses on top of that is unappealing, to say the least. But I did it and I can honestly say that there is no comparison. The HFR 3D is by far the best way to see this movie.

Ok, spoiler territory officially begins below.

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Let me start by saying that I really like this movie. Granted, there wasn’t much chance of me not liking it, but I find that I’m liking it more and more on its own terms rather than because it’s another entry into Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth and therefore am obligated to like it as such.

But there were some things that could have been done better:

  • Editing- I don’t mean here that the movie isn’t cut together well. It is actually a gorgeous movie. What I’m talking about is that this movie is almost 3 hours long and we have just barely gotten started on the journey. There were several bits that could have been shortened or cut altogether, such as the stone giants. It’s a cool scene and it adds a bit of danger to their journey but it wasn’t necessary.
  • The dwarves- the only real complaint I have here is that we hardly saw some of them. A few of the dwarves got little screen time and fewer lines (Nori, Bombur, and Bifur come to mind) but hopefully we will get to see more of them in the next movies.
  • Radagast- His role seemed a bit superfluous. The bird poop that was caked on the side of his head was pretty gross too.
  • The camera work- This isn’t the right way to say what I’m thinking but there were parts of the movie that were so blurry and out of focus I couldn’t really see what was happening. I wondered if this might be because of the regular 2D format and I was right. All blurriness was gone in the HFR 3D version. A bit disappointing though because what is this going to look like on DVD?

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Ok, now the good:

  • Hellloooo New Zealand. Really though PJ, we get New Zealand is beautiful. Must you rub it in our faces?
  • The music- Howard Shore is back as the composer. There’s a lot that’s familiar and that’s ok. There’s also a lot that’s new and that is great. The themes for the dwarves and Radagast are particularly beautiful. And I love the singing in Bag End (both bits) and the small bit of the goblin song.
  • The dwarves- There are 13 of them. That’s a lot of dwarves. Yet they have managed to create individuals who, unlike poor Gimli so often was, are not just comic relief. These dwarves have histories and personalities. I only hope some of them get a bit more fleshed out as we go.
  • Richard Armitage/Martin Freeman/Ian McKellan- Fantastic. All of them. Freeman as Bilbo is perfect, as is Armitage as Thorin (who is not just the grouchy old man he seems to be in the book). And Gandalf the Gray! How lovely to see him again. And excuse the fangirl moment here but Thorin? OMG. The man is perfection. Tall, dark, and bearded. I’m pretty sure I audibly gasped the first time we saw him.
  • Riddles in the Dark- They’ve been working hard on Gollum. He never looked so good in LotR. And Serkis and Freeman together? You almost don’t want it to end.
  • The prologue- I wasn’t really expecting this bit (I tried to stay spoiler free before the movie) so it was a surprise to me how much we got to see. I can not wait to see more of Lee Pace as Thranduil. And Smaug! What a tease. Here’s hoping he will be truly magnificent.
  • Azog- He might not look the best (I’ve heard some complaints that he looked cartoonish- I didn’t think so) and his role has been enlarged from the book but this was a good change. One of the problems with The Hobbit is that it is very episodic. Azog provides a villain and a continuity to the dwarves’ journey and to Thorin in particular. I have a strong suspicion that Azog is going to come back in a big way for the Battle of the Five Armies and might even have a lot to do with Thorin’s (and Fili and Kili’s) ultimate fate.

And so the movie ends with the Lonely Mountain way off in the distance and then one last teasing glimpse of Smaug.

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To conclude, this is NOT the Lord of the Rings. This is not the story of one small hobbit in a life and death struggle to save the world. The Hobbit is a lighter and much more fun adventure story with far less at stake. It can be hard to remember that sometimes, especially as there are so many reminders of the Middle-earth we fell in love with in LotR. But taking The Hobbit on its own terms will make for a much better experience.

Zeus the Paramour

I love mythology and reading different cultures’ myths and legends. Greek mythology is probably some of the best known simply for the sheer volume of what’s available.

Most likely, you already know that Zeus is the main god in Greek mythology. Not only that, but he is also the father to many of the other gods, demi-gods, and miscellaneous extraordinary humans that figure heavily in the myths. Zeus, well, he liked his women, much to the fury of his proper wife Hera. And considering how fruitful he was, it can be hard to keep up with all his lovers and the resulting offspring (and I don’t say children here because not all of them were!).

But I stumbled upon this cool looking chart the other day called Zeus’s Affairs. It names the women Zeus had affairs with and connects them with their children. Clicking on a name brings up a short biography. And all the relationship information is credited to the source that it came from. It’s an interesting way to spend some time and a good way to learn (or re-learn) some Greek mythology.

Dwarves in The Hobbit

Not surprisingly, I’ve gotten a lot of traffic on my post “Casting the Hobbit” over the past few months. Lots of people looking for information about the dwarves we’re going to be seeing in the movies so I thought I would make a post just about them. All thirteen of them. In alphabetical order no less!

Before I begin: Jubilare has been writing a fantastic series on why the dwarves are her favorite race from Tolkien. Check out the posts here: Of the Free Peoples of Arda, Contrariwise, and Khazad Parts I, II (my favorite one so far- who knew caves could be so beautiful?) and III.

Also, I will be mentioning the fates of the dwarves, if known. So if you haven’t read the book and don’t know what happens to the characters, you have been warned.

And now,

THE DWARVES

Balin

Balin is one of the older dwarves in the company and brother to Dwalin. He also stands out in the book as he becomes a particular friend to Bilbo and is one of the first to recognize Bilbo for his worth. He’s a close relative of Thorin’s and at some point between the end of The Hobbit and the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, he and several other dwarves travel to Moria to attempt to reclaim it. They are unsuccessful as it is Balin’s tomb that the Fellowship finds when they are in Moria.

KenStott

Balin is played by Ken Stott, a Scottish actor born in 1955. He’s acted in several TV movies and series and also was the voice of Trufflehunter in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.

Bifur

Bifur is the cousin of Bofur and Bombur. The ax stuck in his skull is not in the book, of course, but is one of the movie’s attempts to individualize the dwarves. From what I’ve heard in interviews, the ax is going to mean that Bifur doesn’t talk much but he’s one crazy fighter. Bifur and his cousins are not related to Thorin and at the time of FotR, Bifur is still living in the Lonely Mountain under the rule of Dain.

WilliamKircher

Bifur is played by William Kircher. A New Zealand actor, he’s been in several TV shows and movies, primarily in New Zealand. A much more in-depth biography can be found on TheOneRing.

Bofur

Bofur is the cousin to Bifur and the brother to Bombur. Not much is known about Bofur but he, like his cousin Bifur, is not related to Thorin. At the beginning of FotR he is still living in the Lonely Mountain under Dain.

JamesNesbitt

Bofur is played by James Nesbitt. An Irish actor born in 1965, Nesbitt can be seen in Waking Ned Devine and Match Point.

Bombur

Bombur is the brother to Bofur and the cousin to Bifur. He is known primarily for being extraordinarily fat, a condition that puts himself and others into danger at times.  But he does have his usefulness as the company cook. Like his brother and cousin, Bombur is not related to Thorin. We find out in FotR that Bombur is still alive at that point but has become so fat that he can’t even move from his couch to the table and that it takes 6 young dwarves to move him. Presumably he is still at the Lonely Mountain with Bifur and Bofur.

StephenHunter

Bombur is played by Stephen Hunter. Another New Zealander, Hunter has been in several TV shows. You can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

Dori

Dori is the oldest brother to Nori and Ori. In the book, Dori is usually the last one to leave and helps Bilbo out  several times. It is likely that Jackson & co. used that to make movie Dori a bit of a worrier who’s always looking out for the others, especially for youngest brother Ori. He is also still living under Dain in the Lonely Mountain in FotR.

MarkHadlow

Dori is played by Mark Hadlow. From New Zealand, he has worked with Jackson before, most notably on King Kong. He was born in 1957.

Dwalin

Dwalin is the brother to Balin and close friend and relative to Thorin. He’s a powerful fighter and distrustful of non-dwarves, but it is his spare cloak that Bilbo uses during the journey (and still has when he leaves after his party in FotR). Dwalin was particularly long lived for a dwarf, finally dying at 340.

GrahamMcTavish

Dwalin is played by Graham McTavish. A Scottish actor born in 1961, McTavish has been in numerous movies and TV shows. Besides this, McTavish is also well known for his voice work in video games such as the Uncharted and Call of Duty series. You can follow him on Twitter.

Fili

Fili is the brother of Kili and nephew to Thorin. As one of the youngest dwarves, he is known for his better eyesight. He is also more sympathetic to Bilbo’s ideas towards the end of the book but follows Thorin’s leadership out of loyalty. He dies at the Battle of Five Armies defending Thorin.

DeanOGorman

Fili is played by Dean O’Gorman. Born in 1976 in New Zealand, O’Gorman has acted in several TV shows and a few movies. Besides acting, he is also a photographer. Check out his website to see some of his work, including some with his Hobbit costars.

Gloin

Gloin is the brother to Oin and a distant cousin to Thorin. Gloin and Oin are known particularly for their abilities to start fires. Gloin is also notable as one of the few married dwarves and as the father of Gimli, who joins Frodo as one of his companions in the fellowship. Gloin is still alive in FotR and it is through his conversation with Frodo at Rivendell that we learn what has happened with the dwarves since the end of the events in The Hobbit.

PeterHambleton

Gloin is played by Peter Hambleton. Born in New Zealand, Hambleton is known for his theater work but has also done some film and TV work.

Kili

Kili is the brother to Fili and nephew to Thorin. Kili in the film seems like he is going to be portrayed as the more reckless of the two brothers due to his youth and inexperience. Like his brother Fili, Kili is very sympathetic to the ideas of Bilbo but follows Thorin’s leadership out of loyalty. Kili also dies at the Battle of Five Armies while protecting Thorin.

AidanTurner

Kili is played by Aidan Turner. Aidan is an Irish actor born in 1983. He is probably best known for his role as John Mitchell, a vampire in the BBC TV show Being Human.

Nori

Nori is the middle brother of Dori and Ori. Nori in the movie is going to be a bit shifty and more likely to steal the silver than use it but he is just as loyal to Thorin and his cause as his brothers. At the time of FotR, Nori is still living in the Lonely Mountain under Dain.

JedBrophy

Nori is played by Jed Brophy. Brophy has worked with Jackson before in Heavenly Creatures and as various parts in The Two Towers and Return of the King (mostly unrecognizable as an orc!). You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Oin

Oin is the brother to Gloin and distant cousin to Thorin. Oin and Gloin are know for their ability to start fires. He is also one of the dwarves that travels to Moria with Balin and is killed a few years after arriving by the Watcher in the Water.

JohnCallen

Oin is played by John Callen. A New Zealand actor, Callen has been in many TV shows and movies and has done plenty of voice work as well.

Ori

Ori is the youngest brother of Dori and Nori. Ori is rather timid and is clearly a journaler. Ori is young and inexperienced but he shows remarkable determination. He travels to Moria with Balin and, in FotR, we come across what is likely the remains of Ori by Balin’s tomb with the record of the dwarves’ attempt to reclaim their ancient home.

AdamBrown

Ori is played by Adam Brown. This is Brown’s first movie but he has been acting for many years as the co-founder of the group Plested and Brown. You can also follow him on Twitter.

And last, but most assuredly not least:

Thorin

Thorin Oakenshield is the leader of the company and king of Durin’s Folk. After witnessing the destruction of his home and most of his friends and family by the dragon Smaug, Thorin has spent the majority of his life in exile. He is now attempting to reclaim his home and the treasure that was stolen from his people. His pride and stubbornness create problems among the company, especially towards the end. Thorin is fatally wounded during the Battle of the Five Armies.

RichardArmitage

Thorin is played by Richard Armitage. Armitage is an English actor born in 1971. He is probably best known for his roles in North & South, Robin Hood, and MI-5.

Ok, so there are the dwarves! That’s a lot of people to keep straight and I’ve only put about a fourth of the information on here that’s available. If there’s something you are curious about that isn’t mentioned here, ask me in the comments! If I don’t know the answer I’ll probably know where to point you. And don’t forget, theonering.net is always an excellent resource.

As a parting gift, enjoy this quick interview with the dwarves (minus Ken Stott and Richard Armitage):

http://www.theonering.net/torwp/2012/12/09/66914-hobbit-cast-interviewed-on-vh1/