Friday, December 14, 2012

One Disappointed Hobbit

I went to my first midnight movie screening last night, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, with my wife, sister-in-law, and sister-in-law's fiancee.  The experience itself was enjoyable and mildly exciting, with a long line stretching out into the parking lot even though we had shown up 30 minutes earlier than our screening time.   We waited out in the cold with all the other excited midnight moviegoers.   The staff of the movie theater was abuzz, all hands on deck, managers walking around in suits coordinating the lines, the popcorn machines hardly pumping out enough to satiate the hungry mob.
"Good Looking Dwarf" Numero Uno

And then the movie happened.  I didn't have high expectations after learning the story of the Hobbit had been split into three movies, but I was still very disappointed.  I think my malcontent started the second the first of the "good looking" dwarves showed up, peaked with Radagast the Brown's entire run in the movie and then just sort of ended with a whimper when I could have given a shit if every one of the dwarves somehow managed to jump from tree to falling tree and finally skydive to the safety of the soaring eagles below or not.

There were highlights for sure, the beautiful landscape of the middle earth being chief among them for me.  Gollum was beautiful to look at and matched my childhood imaginings eerily well.  But the story they chose to tell here really was not the Hobbit that I remember.

I guess I will have to watch it again when it does not end at 3 AM and give it a fair shake.


  1. Yeah, it was pretty disappointing. Not so much The Hobbit as "based on The Hobbit". Oh well.

  2. Did we see the same movie? I thought it was fantastic! It was based on the children's story and was not supposed to be serious cinema. Would the exact text children's story to movie have been as good movie as this one?

  3. I didn't mind that things were changed, as I expected that based on Jackson's version of Lord of the Rings. But this installment did have some pacing issues, and seemed uneven in tone. Part of it wanted to be the fun book version of the Hobbit, and part wanted to be the darker and more mature epic of LotR. They didn't always mesh well, purely from a storytelling point of view. I'd also rather have seen the Hobbit as a simpler, shorter tale, like the book. I didn't hate this movie, but it was a little overwhelming and felt like a burden to sit through at times. Too bad the moneymen at the studio insisted it be three parts -- it suffered for that, clearly. The story was just not meant to be that kind of thing.

  4. The only thing that was particularly different from the book and my childhood memories (aside from the embellishments they added from the Lost Tales and other sources, apparently) was that the dwarves seemed a lot more competent here...and had much more elaborate and eventful action scenes. That said, I was very happy with the movie, and am sorry to hear it didn't work for you.

    1. "aside from the embellishments they added from the Lost Tales and other sources, apparently"

      This is the entirety of what ruined the movie for me, and if I could just set it aside in my mind as easily as you do in parenthesis I have no doubt I would have liked the movie a lot more. It was not that much worse than the LoTR movies which I enjoyed a fair amount. I did not love them, but I liked them all. The problem for me was that they added an awful lot of material to what started out as a straightforward adventure story.

      They did this to stretch out The Hobbit into three movies. I understand this. I also hate this. And when the material that they *did* add turned out to be complete fabrication that in many respects outright contradicted the established Tolkien canon... it ruined it for me. I had heard, as you mention, that the added material that was going to pad out this movie was from the appendices that Tolkien had written.

      Smaug's attack on Erebor at the beginning of the movie was awesome, and a great example of what the added material should have been - an opportunity to recreate in all of the Peter Jackson's cinematographic glory more scenes from middle earth that we had only been able to imagine before.

      Instead we mostly got complete fabrication, like the entire subplot of the orc Azog (who did exist in Tolkien but this entire plot line is fabrication) chasing the company with a pack of orcs on wargs (personally I did not like the CGI orcs in comparison to the live action version that I actually really enjoyed in the LoTR movies)and Radagast the Brown discovering signs of evil and a mysterious necromancer in the ruins of Dol Guldur.

      Radagast the Brown rubbed me wrong in so many ways. His sled pulled by rabbits (what the hell is that? Certainly not Tolkien...) zipping away to and fro across the hills chased by comically inept packs of wargs was the lowpoint of the movie. Those orcs weren't even there chasing the company in the first place in the book, so why the hell do we need to have Radagast the Brown come swooping in on a damn rabbit pulled sleigh?

      Number one, it is already established that Sauron has returned in the original cannon. Having Radagast discover an unknown necromancer believed to be Sauron is directly contradictory to the books. Number two, Radagast with his bird crap smeared face and cutesy Disney-style animal friends completely turned me off. My wife was having an emotional moment watching Radagast's hedgehog friend die, and half the theater was laughing at how ridiculous Radagast was. Even in this supposedly touching moment, his complete over-the-top comic appearance was making a good portion of the audience laugh.


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