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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Movie thoughts: The Hobbit

By J.R. Wagner

I've been dreading writing this post since I watched The Hobbit on opening day (at 12:01 am).  I have such a love for the three Lord of the Rings films and it pains me to think that Peter Jackson has fallen down the same well as George Lucas. I will try to avoid including any spoilers but I make no guarantees. I'm assuming that you've read the book.

Before I begin my rant you must know that I'm an early riser so a midnight showing isn't an easy thing for me to sit through.  I actually felt myself falling asleep in parts not because the pacing was slow or boring but because I'd been awake since 4:30.  With that in mind, even I question my clarity when it comes to discussing this film and I hope that when it comes out on Blu-Ray and I am able to view it during normal waking hours, I may come to a different conclusion.  It isn't likely but there is always a chance.

Onward. If I were asked to say one word about The Hobbit, it would be disappointment.  Perhaps the expectations were simply too high for Peter Jackson and company but if you step up to the plate, you're going to play ball.

I was disappointed almost immediately simply because Jackson felt the need to tie in characters from LOTR (*cough* Frodo) when they weren't needed.  It did nothing for plot progression, and came across as filler material to get that nearly 3 hour run time that Jackson is famous for.

So, almost out of the gate, I was annoyed.  The scene with the Dwarves was very true to the book and I have to give Jackson credit for not rushing through this part -although, when has Peter Jackson rushed through anything?
Martin Freeman

On a positive note, Martin Freeman did a phenomenal job as Bilbo Baggins.  Perfect.

As the film progressed, it quickly became apparent that more and more irrelevant characters and scenes were sprinkled throughout the film.

For instance (spoiler alert, sorry I can't help myself) Jackson created a new character (he may not be new to the books but he sure as hell didn't play this much of a part), I can't recall if he is a goblin or an orc, regardless this fella (It may be Azog) apparently fought in the battle with Thorin, leader of the Dwarves and killed his father.  (And, as I said, this may have been mentioned in one of Tolkien's books, appendices or some other Tolkien work.) Anyway, throughout the film he and his army are hunting down the company of Dwarves (plus Bilbo and Gandalf) adding a completely unnecessary and irritating plot point.

This is akin to George Lucas' General Grievous (Star Wars episode II) Totally unnecessary. Every time he shows up on screen, I felt myself rolling my eyes. there are more than enough bad guys in the original story, which isn't slow whatsoever.

I watched the movie in 3D, which I really don't like.  I'm hoping this is just a fad and goes back to the 70's from whence it came as soon as possible. Don't get me wrong, the 3D was cool, I just find it irritating to watch. Beggars can't be choosers when it comes to midnight showings.

So the story moves onward, other obscure and pointless characters are introduced until finally we wind up in the caves where Bilbo meets Gollum. This part was great -everybody loves Gollum from LOTR and he didn't disappoint (all while staying true to the book). There were some inconsistencies between how Bilbo from LOTR picked up the ring and how Bilbo from The Hobbit picked up the ring but, in PJ's defense, I'm sure he didn't think he'd be going back and shooting this scene in its entirety and you can't go back and change that scene with Martin Freeman...can you?  God, please don't let PJ start messing with the LOTR films like George Lucas did to Star Wars (like when he completely cut out the actor who played the Emperor in The Empire Strikes Back and digitally inserted the actor who played him in the prequels. Train. Wreck.)

Yup, he just cut the poor guy out

 No, Peter, Don't do it!!!

It ends more or less where you'd think it would end and leaves you wondering how you've only gotten to this point in 169 minutes.  I believe one could read up to that point in the book in 169 minutes.

Needless to say, I've become a crotchety, old, picky, moviegoer who wants things the way he wants them so please, if you had any intention of seeing The Hobbit, see The Hobbit. Don't let my impression deter you. As I said earlier, I may go back and watch it again only to enjoy it.  (It happened with The Fellowship of The Ring).  Then again...I may be right!

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  1. Speaking of unnecessary additions..."more and more"? Only need the one, the "and more" is just additional verbiage.

    I have also read that the battle scenes are much more intense than the book, is this true?

  2. I didn't really like the 3 LOTR movies. I thought they were horribly mis-cast except for Andy Serkis and Ian Mclellan. Yes, I even hated Sean Bean as Boramir...

    The first movie was the best of the 3 IMO. I thought that the 3rd movie was tedious; they took a VERY short book and turned it into 3 boring hours of listening to Sean Astin whining.

    Don't get me wrong, for the most part the 3 LOTR movies followed the books very well and seeing some of the characters come to life was interesting, but I just never pictured John Rhys Davies as Gimlie when reading the books.

    So, I don't actually have super high hopes for The Hobbit...which is unfortunate, because it is my favorite book about Middle Earth.

  3. @Stonemason
    emphasis, ever heard of it?

    The Hobbit is my favorite childhood book so I had very high hopes. (but I also loved the LOTR trilogy)