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.

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10 thoughts on “The Hobbit

  1. jubilare says:

    ” 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.” Not so “tall” exactly, but my friends and I are right there with ya.

    ” Azog provides a villain and a continuity to the dwarves’ journey and to Thorin in particular.” I agree. This is a change I really liked. There are a few changes I didn’t, as with LotR, but overall, I like this film. My biggest issue was with Bilbo’s character arc coming so far so early, and the scene in which it happened. I want that soundtrack now, though. NOW! But I have been forbidden from getting it for myself prior to Christmas. I think I have the shakes from Dwarf-song withdrawal. …I doubt anyone has ever had cause to say that until now! πŸ˜€

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    • Mary says:

      Ha, you’re right! It’s easy to forget how short the dwarves are supposed to be when they are in proportion to everything around them, especially when I know that Armitage is over 6 feet.

      Freeman plays Bilbo with a bit more spunk than we see in the book and it was a little strange to see how far he came so quickly. I’m wondering if they did that to make it easier to buy him as the soon-to-be (kind of) leader of the company.

      Make sure to get the extended version soundtrack! I can promise you that it’s wonderful.

      What were your thoughts on the dwarves? Pleased or not?

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  2. jubilare says:

    Yay, Dwarves! And yay, Armitage, too. πŸ˜‰

    Freeman is absolutely fantastic as Bilbo! But I still have issues with that moment. It seemed forced, to me. My brother called it an “overly-indulgent” scene, and I think he is right. Even so, he likes the film, overall, too. In some ways, I wish I could come at this film without knowing anything about the writing behind it. I wouldn’t be wondering how all the changes will work through the films. But I wouldn’t know Tolkien, and that would be sad.

    Nothing less will do.

    I want to see the film again before giving a final opinion, but my first impression is good. They still played a lot with the stereotypes, but in a much more self-aware and playful way, and they give exceptions. The Dwarves showed individuality and some character depth. They were far more than simple “comic relief” or “proud warrior race.” That’s all I’m asking for, really. πŸ˜‰ I was glad that they were more effective in the film than in the book.

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  3. Briana says:

    I really liked the movie, too! I thought it was a great mix of being funny and light-hearted enough to capture the spirit of the novel while being “epic” enough to match The Lord of the Rings movies a little better.

    I saw the movie only in 2D and I also had complaints about the blurriness. Despite how cool I thought the prologue was, I couldn’t actually see most of it. And I was horrified at the time, just praying that the entire movie would not be out of focus. When I go to see it gain, I will try to push my friends towards 3D.

    I agree that the acting is wonderful, and Freeman is perfect! Also, that they mostly succeeded in “differentiating” the dwarves, besides the fact that some of them never really did much. I am also hoping they get larger roles later.

    I actually didn’t particularly like Azog. He was fine, until he became too much. And then he never died, and it became painfull obvious that he will be the “connecting thread” for all three movies. I don’t really think he has to be.

    I was also grossed out by the bird poop, and was unsure whether they overdid Radagast’s nuittiness.

    I loved all the little nods to The Lord of the Rings movies, too.

    I was hoping they would do the Elf song, when the dwarves enter Rivendell, because I wanted to see how you can make that not sound ridiculous. Apparently they couldn’t because they just left it out. :p The other songs were fantastic, though.

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    • Mary says:

      Haha, I can’t even imagine how silly it would have been to see or hear the elves singing the tra-la-la stuff. Although they did get a little silly at the dinner with the harps and the flutes.

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  4. lightningjcb says:

    I’m sorry, but I won’t hate on Thorin – but Kili was my fangirl moment came – Tall, dark, and bearded. You can have Thorin, I’ll settle with Kili πŸ˜‰

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