The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I saw the midnight opening of this and…it was MARVELOUS! It’s shorter than its predecessor, the pacing is tighter and smoother, the humor feels more precise and balanced, and the self-references to Peter Jackson’s other works felt purposeful and like a good joke between old friends rather than spin-offy. Also, I cannot wait until Thranduil’s headpiece becomes a common look. Go forth and enjoy!

thranduil___the_elvenking_by_iary-d5itrwu

Other thoughts (SPOILERS for those who haven’t read the book):

-I’m definitely going to need the barrel-riding to become a theme park ride.
-Lee Pace’s Thranduil turned out every inch as glorious as I wanted him to be, and I desired Excessive Glory.
-Many in my midnight theater yelled “sshh!” at the dwarves’ exclamations when Bilbo released them from Thranduil’s prison.
-Gandalf’s entrance to the Necromancer’s domain can be perfectly timed to “I always think everything could be a trap, which is why I’m still alive.”
-Does anyone else think Thorin’s sword on reaching the Lonely Mountain is shaped suspiciously like that of Theoden, King?
-Bilbo’s face when Smaug fully rises from the gold and he kneels down to hide is utter perfection.
-Isn’t it marvelous gold that doesn’t melt in dragon flame even though it’s historically been shaped by forges that can be lit by dragon fire? Perhaps intention can somehow be read.
-Yet more evidence that “But no one withstands the machine!” can only keep criminals down for a short timespan.
-Can we all take a moment to bask in the beauty of Smaug, particularly when shaking off gold?
-Isn’t it interesting how Legolas’ character seems tougher in this timeframe than when he’s actually fighting for the fate of the world? Perhaps that’s maturity, for you. He goes from “Step off or I will kill you!” to “I’ll have to kill you anyway, so step wherever, enjoy your short life while you can.” Or perhaps that is exhaustion and he was showing signs of it more than we knew.
-Stephen Fry is working his wig.
-Gandalf’s visit to the tombs immediately made me think, “See, this is why we miss Erebor so much-it’s the only cavernous place that has real stairs!”
-Really, all these Tolkien films are a cautionary tale about what can happen to a society with no professional librarians or archivists. Archivists would keep up these tombs and let people know if spirits escaped, so wizards wouldn’t have to abandon other quests to do this research work. They would also curate the history books that explain Sauron’s One Ring reveals its secret through fire so they wouldn’t be so dusty and make a research guide so Gandalf wouldn’t have to spend time paging through the memoir to find the right information and maybe the hobbits could have got a head start on the ringwraiths. Just think how much smoother everything would have gone if all wizards had a librarian/archivist working for them, to do their research side-trips and settle questions about which evils are and aren’t abroad in the world in a timely and efficient manner. They would have staged outreaches reminding everyone to check all magic rings in fire, too, so Bilbo might have avoided some possession. I’m just saying.

Huzzah for “The Hobbit”!

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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?

 

 

Tolkeinmas Tale-ols 2: “The Two Towers”

The next Christmas carol I’ve bent into service as a festive song to celebrate Peter Jackson and his Tolkein films commemorates “The Two Towers” to the tune of “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.”

 

“Walking through a Rohan Warrior-land”

 

Uruks come,

couldn’t miss them.

Theoden,

Are ya listenin’?

Saruman the White, besieges us tight,

Walking through a Rohan Warrior-land.

 

Gone away is Eomer.

Here to stay is Aragorn.

Protecting us when, it begins again,

Walking through a Rohan Warrior-land.

 

At helm’s Deep we can fight by the elves

And pullback behind our rows of walls.

They will try to kill us as we slay them,

And Aragorn will see we never lose our balls.

 

Later on, at 5th sunrise,

Gandalf comes, with our good guys,

Now fight unafraid-uruks’ll get PAID.

Walking through a Rohan Warrior-land.

 

At Helm’s Deep we can fight with heroes,

And charge out for ruin and the red dawn.

We will win the day for the Rohirrim,

As the ents face Saruman on his lawn.

 

Later on, with the hobbits,

Isengard’s forced to stop it.

Now mankind’s been saved,

the way has been paved,

Walking through a Rohan Warrior-land.

 

For the “Fellowship of the Ring” carol see: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/tolkeinmas-tale-ols-1-fellowship-of-the-ring/

Tolkeinmas Tale-ols 1: “Fellowship of the Ring”

For the upcoming release of “The Hobbit”, I have decided to get festive.  The advent of more/mas Tolkein could do with a few carols, or tale-ols as celebrations of Peter Jackson’s past fine work.

Part I is “Fellowship of the Ring” commemorated in song to the tune of “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

 

“Will You Go Where I Go?”

 

Said Frodo Baggins to his gardener,

“Will you go where I go?”

As I set off on a quest so far,

“Will you go where I go?”

Due east, due east, into Sauron’s land

with the orcs as numerous as sand?

With the orcs as numerous as sand?

 

Said Elrond to the gathered lords,

“Will you guard the hobbit?”

As he goes toward fiery Mount Doom,

“Will you guard the hobbit?”

“With sword, with axe, and with elven bow,

We will guard wherever he may go!

We will guard wherever he may go!”

 

Said Gandalf to the company,

“Fly, you fools, and leave me!”

As I fall down deep in Morria,

“Fly, you fools, and leave me!”

They ran, they ran, in woods, on river beds,

Protected by Aragorn ahead,

Protected by Aragorn ahead.

 

Said Aragorn to those who still stood near,

“Hold true to each other!”

As the fellowship no longer shared their cheer,

“Hold true to each other!”

Let’s fight, let’s fight, and save the hobbits bold,

Let’s keep Sauron from spreading his hold!

Let’s keep Sauron from spreading his hold!

 

They kept Sauron from his ring of gold!

Happy National Hobbit Day!

I have been reliably informed by hallmark that today is National Hobbit Day!  Therefore, I did my humble best to pay tribute to this momentous work (as well as attempting to act more Hobbitably).

 

Bilbo Baggins meets Thorin at his home of Bagend:

 

Bilbo’s Trolls:

 

The goblin king stands over his hoarde:

 

Riddles in the Dark:

 

Invisible!Bilbo sneaks inside Lonely Mountain:

 

Smaug emerges from Lonely Mountain:

 

(Special guest appearances by Silast as Smaug and Rattafin as Invisible!Bilbo.)

 

 

 

Ode to Sir Ian McKellan!

Today’s the birthday of a most esteemed gentleman!  Link to pictures: http://kiltsandlollies.livejournal.com/856922.html#cutid1

Sir Ian McKellan’s Birthday Shall Not Pass!

 

Today SHALL NOT PASS!

without raising a glass

to Sir Ian the Gray.

It’s Gandalf’s birthday!

 

Balrogs and hijnks shall go down-

Find a hobbit to buy the next round!

This knight errant we can’t overrate.

Let everyone go in awe and celebrate!

 

Today will be good-I can tell

If Ian grins it’s even Friday in Hell.

So think of the man and know good cheer,

for Sir Ian’s a marvel.  McKellan! Hear, hear!

 

(And if the party should go overnight

we’ll just call it for Ian the White!)

 

Incidentally, today is also International Geek Day.  Apparently it was chosen for the first premiere of Star Wars, but I hereby declare that it is today to coincide with this famous wizard’s birthday (and I mean that in both the Tolkeinesque and McKellan-is-an-acting-wizard ways).