The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS.

 

I saw this at the midnight opening.  Yet, there were no lines, there were available seats, and although only 2 hours before midnight, my party got to choose prime seats.  This is not the nerd-experience I expected.  Fun, in several ways more familiar than I was expecting, but just profoundly not the thing I’d been looking forward to.  The film itself I found to be: Exactly Like That.

 

The main, overall issue that I have with Jackson’s new first film of a Middle Earth trilogy is this: it tried to be exactly the same as his last first film installment of a Middle Earth trilogy:

-Why did it start with an overarching backstory narrative instead of one of the most famous first lines ever?  Because “Fellowship of the Ring” starts that way.  (Don’t get me wrong-that sequence was perhaps my third favorite, but as the opening of a “The Hobbit” experience-hell, no, do the line we know and love, please.  By the way, my reaction to this is a very good indicator of my reactions to the movie in general.)

-Then both have a party in the shire, though the dwarves do change the tone of the comedy.  Both Bilbo’s party in “Fellowship of the Ring” and the dinner party in this one end up with somber proposals for an expedition at Bagend itself.  This particular similarity I don’t mind as everything from dwarves singing about breaking dishes to dwarves singing about the Misty Mountain is definitely my second favorite thing about the whole film, but still-it is there.  Not to mention the fact that the segues to these parties are set on the exact same day, with the exact same cast.

-There are heroic action shots of a journeying company in the exact same manner as the fellowship was shot.

-The fighting stone giants scene is the Hobbit version of the fellowship trying to cross the mountain pass and being turned back by Saruman.

-After which, they wind up underground in caves filled with enemies where all seems inevitably lost and Gandalf faces down the one biggest, toughest, bad guy of all and then falls down into darkness.  The fact that the dwarves fall with him in this version is not that big of a deviation.

-Thorin has been changed to resemble Aragorn-battle-worn, dark-haired, warrior leaders separated from their homeland.  This is fine, until scenes start changing to make the dwarf prince start charging around and being epic-ly glorified.  While pretty, it just kills any thoughts that this might start resembling canon sometime.  Kili is clearly the Hobbit’s version of Legolas.  I cannot find it in my heart to dislike this one, but still it took me straight out of the movie and into comparing shots and going, “Oh, PJ, couldn’t you do something new?”

-It ends with a looming sense of danger and a glimpse of the dark enemies ahead, just like “Fellowship of the Ring.”

 

The second thing I had a major issue with was that this film kept changing things in order to glorify Bilbo Baggins.

-Firstly, Bilbo Baggins is one of my favorite book characters and he NEEDS no glorification.  I felt insulted on book!Bilbo’s behalf that PJ felt he needed to do those things.

-Secondly, it took away from other characters’ moments.  The troll scene is a great favorite of mine from “The Hobbit” and the trolls get turned to stone because Gandalf copies the trolls’ voices and insults them.  This causes a fight and distracts them long enough for dawn to ossify them.  I was dearly looking forward to seeing this and feel cheated.  When actually thinking about what did happen in the scene, I do realize it was well done, and humorous, and Martin Freeman did it well.  Unfortunately, it’s just not what I wanted to see.  The other time this became a really clear issue was when Bilbo charged the orc to save Thorin.  If it had simply stayed that way and then the eagles had rescued them, it’d be okay.  But instead-like 30 seconds after Bilbo charges the other dwarves follow.  I’m sorry, but if the dwarves were physically capable of charging to save their leader, who they’ve actually known all their lives, are akin to, and believe in, it’s utterly implausible to me that they’d arrive behind Bilbo.  And if I make myself believe it did happen…instead of liking Bilbo better I simply like the dwarves less.  I cannot like the dwarves less at the end of the first film involving them if I’m going to be excited about seeing the second.

 

Third big movie thought: Riddles in the Dark was glorious.  I’m fairly certain Andy Serkis’s Gollum is incapable of doing anything without being awesome.  Additionally, this was the scene where Bilbo felt more like Bilbo to me.

 

Other things:

-Thror’s beard is hypnotic.

-Galadriel’s clothes are so ridiculously, dazzlingly, beautiful it was hard to pay attention to anything else.

-I am totally good with the blatant reunion scenes like Galadriel and Saruman showing up at Rivendell.  It’s just so good to see them.

-Radagast the Brown threw me for a loop.  I sat there going, “I have no memory of this.”  On the other hand, it’s been long enough since I read “The Hobbit” that I couldn’t be completely sure I hadn’t just forgotten.  Once I assured myself this actually was a new thing, it kindof rocked.  I’m a fan of smacktalk involving bunnies, saving hedgehogs, and mysterious ghost blades.  Also, Saruman’s scolding about mushrooms even outdoes his chiding of Gandalf in “Fellowship of the Ring” about smoking “the halflings’ leaf.”

-All the elves and their new accoutrement: it is glorious.

-I’m reacting to the Pale Orc the same way I do to purely decorative but not very tasty frosting: I understand why it’s there, so I tolerate it, but I’d sooner it were gone.

-It truly bothered me that at the end no one thanks the eagles for saving them, even a little bit.  No wonder they take so long to show up in Lord of the Rings.

-In the book Bilbo’s grand rejoining of the company after the goblins’ mountain was far more rockstar.  I don’t understand passing up this opportunity.

-With three films to fill I was expecting more of Tolkein’s songs.  Think we’ll get more of that in the next one?

 

 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sinistmer
    Dec 25, 2012 @ 22:00:19

    I agree with you, Jackson was really trying to make The Hobbit into the Lord of the Rings. LotR and The Hobbit are extremely different stories, and I think Jackson should have respected the tone of The Hobbit more than he did.

    I really liked the scene in Bag End with the dwarves juggling the dishes. And, Riddles in the Dark was brilliant.

    Reply

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