The Hobbit

the-hobbit_00294921Many uncountable years ago, Dwarf King Thráin ruled a beautiful and complex underground city of Erebor, carved inside the Lonely Mountain.  For too many years, his grandson Thorin watched as Thráin’s want for gold and jewels became an obsession, and too much was collected and kept inside the mountain.  How much gold is too much?  When it attracts the one creature with a hunger for gold greater than any – a dragon.  Specifically, a dragon named Smaug.  (Think of the “ou” in “house” to pronounce “Smaug”)  When the dragon arrives, most of the dwarves are killed, incinerated, and the mountain kingdom taken by Smaug.  King Thráin’s son, Thorin, and others were scattered around Middle Earth until the time was right for the heir to assemble whatever willing dwarves he could find for an “adventure” to reclaim Erebor.  If you happen to know what a Balrog is, then you’ll know that what happened at Erebor wasn’t the first time that dwarves had suffered dearly because of their greed.  (I’m sure I got something wrong in there.  If not, then something yet to come.)

628x471The story of The Hobbit opens momentarily at the end, which is actually only moments before the very beginning of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (the first one) when Gandalf (Ian McKellen) arrives for Bilbo’s farewell party.  Frodo (still Elijah Wood) wants to read Bilbo’s story, but it’s not ready so Frodo instead runs out to greet Gandalf as he arrives in the shire.  In LOTR I, after the party, Bilbo gives Gandalf the One Ring of Power.

The Hobbit (which is Bilbo, which is Martin Freeman) is about two significant events:  the above story of reclaiming Erebor and how Bilbo managed to find the Ring.  Bilbo is writing his account of the “adventure” of how he came upon the One Ring of Power.  That story, which is this story, is called “There and Back Again” and begins when a strange, grey wizard happens upon Bilbo’s front gate to ask if he’d like to go on an “adventure.”  Hobbits are known for cooking stews, tending gardens, and entertaining friends – not for adventures.  After Bilbo makes it clear, mostly clear that he’s not interested in any adventures, Gandalf leaves, but not without scratching a scrawled mark on Bilbo’s door.

THE-HOBBIT_510x743That mark alerts a company of a dozen dwarves plus one to appear for a dinner at which they discuss their plans to return to Erebor and take back their home – and their gold – inside the Lonely Mountain.  The only catch is Smaug, the dragon that chased them from their home – and their gold – many years prior.  If Bilbo hadn’t already been certain he would have no part of the adventure, he is even more certain to have no part when presented with a contract informing him of possible “laceration, evisceration, incineration.”  Despite a haunting and memorable song “Misty Mountains” sung by the dwarves, led by Thorin (Richard Armitage), Bilbo sticks by his rejection, prompting the wizard and dwarves to leave.  What’s not exactly clear is why Bilbo changes his mind the next morning as is shown in a memorable moment when the large-footed Hobbit sprints (as best a Hobbit can sprint) through the Shire proclaiming “I’m going on an adventure!”

From this point on, there are five things we have to accept.

1. This is the first of three movies, so you’re going to walk out slightly disappointed at having to wait until June of 2014 before it’s all over.

2. That the shorter-than-average troupe is going to get into what seems like an endless and insurmountable string of death-defying predicaments.

3. That Gandalf is going to save them from several of those predicaments.

4. That Gandalf could probably just finish the mission all by himself.

5. That dwarves can kick the crap out of creatures two, three, and four times their size.

If you can nail that down, then The Hobbit rocks.  If not, then go see Lincoln.

To explain all of the scenes that follow would be a waste of time.  There are numerous creatures (orcs, goblins, wargs, trolls, etc.) that want to slice, dice, fry, roast, boil, sauté, and eat the dwarves.  There are some that want to just lop off their heads.  There is one that just wants Thorin’s head.  And there are mountain creatures – made of mountain – that kick the crap out of each other as if it was a Flintstone’s version of Jackass.  Although it runs 2:49, there isn’t a moment to spare to run to the bathroom, so either drink your soda slowly or wear a diaper.

?????????????????????????????????While the guts of the story is about the return to Erebor, there’s no doubt that the most significant part of the film is when Bilbo meets Gollum.  The “Riddles in the Dark” scene plays out wonderfully and sparked more laughs than I expected from the audience.  It is a younger, slightly younger Gollum still played by Andy Serkis, and played even better with more innocence – until Bilbo escapes with the ring of course.

Devout Hobbitorians (?) will complain that it strays too much from the book.  There are added moments to create a more prominent connection between The Hobbit and LOTR, such as references to the Witch King, the Ringwraiths, and Sauron, but those moments seemed enjoyable regardless of the purity of the book.  I didn’t like the contemporary dialogue, but I understand marketing.  I also didn’t like how much humor was mixed into the dialogue, such as the joke made when Thorin slices open the goblin king’s belly in order to cross the bridge and escape from inside the mountain.  However, it’s all good.  Uh, I mean great.  Greater than great.

41 thoughts on “The Hobbit

  1. I enjoyed it but not as much as LOTR. I hope the next two films are just as entertaining. I wish Jackson had stuck more with the book but it’s not enough to keep me from seeing this film again or purchasing the blu ray when it comes out.

  2. OK, didn’t know it was 3 parts. Figured on 2. The first one was excellent and, you are right, no time for the bathroom. I take two water pills each day and have to…well, never mind, suffice it to say I took the second one AFTER the movie.
    I enjoyed all of the parts you said you didn’t like, but I always like more humor and contemporary dialogue (well “always” is not a good things to say any time lol sorry about that pun in a pun). It doesn’t have to stay right with the book, but my hope is that it will always add to the story not compress it – you know like 1 1/2 hour cartoon trying to capture the entire story!
    Scott

    • that was a most silly cartoon. thanks for reading. i have no trouble with straying from a book as long as there’s a good reason. i think there was in terms of the story, but i guess dialogue is more important to me than most people. however, they weren’t making the movie just for me. it was for most people.

      • You know they have those movies with the varied endings. It’s too bad they can’t have a movie that changes for all the different types of people. Since I am stretching it this far, they may as well be able to show them at the same time, through a filter, so that I can watch the gory version, while my date sees the pg version at the same time. Maybe special glasses that filter out the bad stuff. Hmm, headsets for the dialogue too, I guess. Wow…
        Scott

  3. When we were getting ready to see the first LOTR movie, I told my family (mostly my husband and younger daughter) that if they were going to quibble at every difference from the book, I wouldn’t go with them. (Bill is a veritable walking tome of information on LOTR, The Hobbit, the appendix, etc.) I anticipated trouble but not that even I would find things that just weren’t right. However, in the end, after the talking through post-movie discussion, we decided the movie was in the spirit of the book and we’ve seen no reason to change our minds since, including “The Hobbit.” There was one notable exception (as I mentioned to you, Rich)–the treatment of Faramir. The movie took away his honor by having him take Frodo, Sam and Gollum to his father, even though he was interrupted and then let them leave. Honor is not to be taken lightly.

    When I went that first year to buy the first movie, I was given good advice by the clerk at FYE–wait for the director’s cut. There we found many things that had been left out as well as all the little interesting things about making the movie, etc. I’ll look for that for “The Hobbit”, too.

    Not many movies, as you say, Len, can stand up to the book. I think LOTR and “The Hobbit” may be the best of the attempts. The hardest non-vital thing we’ve done recently was realize we have to wait another two years until the end of the series. I foresee lots of LOTR re-watching in the meantime and book re-reading.

    Happy 2013!!

    janet

  4. 🙂 i enjoyed the movie, and Martin Freeman was a great Bilbo. Was a little lighter than LOTR in that it had a bit more humour in. Might just be the characters, and I guess it is a lot more fun novel in that sense… I did think the special effects had definitely improved a lot since the first trilogy too….

  5. After LOTR, I knew I had to separate my knowledge of the book from the movie. There’s simply no way to do a “faithful” movie series about LOTR or The Hobbit in our world.

    Still, to give The Hobbit three films as LOTR had, is too much. I think two would have been better.

    As for the lighter, more humorous touch to The Hobbit, it fits the story. The book does have a more childlike quality, which befits its origin as a bedtime story for Tolkien’s children.

    In regards to the Balrog, it did come later in time. After Thorin and the dwarves of his generation reclaimed Erebor, then they tried to retake Moria. They released the Balrog at that point, who would then give Gandalf a hell of day….

    • yup. i was mentioning the balrog to bring up another time when the dwarves paid for their greed. thanks for adding to it. i’m sure you know more than i do.

  6. I read the book the first time when I was 10, then the LOTR between 11 and 12. I loved them all. I read them with my sons when they were around the same ages. I love the story of the Hobbit, always have. I will likely wait until I can sit in the comfort of my own home to see them all together.

  7. I’ve not read the book in ages. Went to the cinema today and saw the film and enjoyed it, but the two Sisters I went with were a bit less enthralled – one found the violence a bit much.

    I liked the humour, but then I’m strange like that. I’m going to go and read the book again at some point over the next few weeks.

  8. Rich,
    Can I mock you for knowing the names of these characters? The only thing I am retaining from this movie, so far, 1/3 into it, is the bright colour of the grass, a giant looking bald beast who loses an arm, some godawful songs which make Nickelback sound like an angel’s fart, Elijah Wood’s large blue eyes and Magneto.
    Le Clown

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