The big problem with reviewing epic movies is that you can never cram in all the things you want to talk about. And by the end, when it’s all formed into one cohesive, coherent piece, you find that there are a lot of little things you forgot about or had no place for, which is quite sad. So I will do my best with this, because it was a lot of the little things that made this movie so enjoyable.
Since I saw this in the theatre, as opposed to what I do normally—which is watch things on my laptop while I’m wearing my pajamas and eating chocolate chips by the handful because reasons—I wasn’t able to pause the movie at various points to take notes and think about things and also get more chocolate chips because I ate the whole bag. So this is gonna be a little scattered, and you’re gonna deal with it, and you’re gonna like it, because your only alternative is Thom, and he doesn’t like fantasy or sword fights or anything awesome ever.
I know there was a lot of criticism because of the liberties Peter Jackson took with the plot. (Ha ha. It’s funny because I said Took… get it? No? Moron.) But let’s be honest here: before Jackson got his hands all over the story, it was one of those things that belonged solely to the geeks of the world. You know that stereotype about the forty-year-old man who lives in his mother’s basement and has lightsabers on the walls and a life-size Stormtrooper costume and an extensive comic book collection and can tell you exactly what Infinite Crisis is? Yeah, that stereotype doesn’t really exist any more. Those people got their personal hygiene together and used their fan status to create lasting tributes to their favorite stories, bringing them into the public consciousness and into popular culture. So you know Lord of the Rings now, that awesome thing with Viggo Mortenson and his facial hair? You only got to enjoy that because of Peter Jackson. Before that, any adaptations that existed were totally lame (I’m assuming. One of them was animated and looked pretty darn silly). So shut your stupid faces and enjoy the damn movie.
First off, I loved the way it started—the same beginning as Fellowship of the Ring. Frodo was far less annoying than he usually is, partly because he was only around for about five minutes before he ran off to annoy Gandalf instead. Speaking of which, I have always been a huge fan of Sir Ian McKellen (and yeah, I’m one of those people who uses the title before the name because I want to be knighted myself, and I will be a “Sir” and not a “Dame,” because “Dame” makes you sound about a thousand and a half years old and also it sounds like “damn,” which I’m not allowed to say in front of my mother, which means I wouldn’t be allowed to brag about the fact that I’m a knight, and what’s the point of being a knight if you can’t brag about it to your mother, anyway, and Mom, if you’re reading this, I didn’t want to say “damn” but Thom made me do it because that guy is a bad influence).
The “good morning” exchange between Gandalf and Bilbo basically set me up for life, as it was impeccable in every way. It was one of the few parts I specifically remembered from the book, which I haven’t read in years (although since it’s basically five for a penny at Chapters at the moment, I ought to grab a paperback or several). It was the perfect blend of wizard wit and hobbit simplicity, and it made me squeal like a teakettle at second breakfast.
The one scene I loved most, which I’ve been looking forward to ever since I read the book years and years ago, and feared might not show up until the second film, was the riddle contest. You know the one: “If Baggins loses, we eats it whole!” This whole scene has been a source of contention among fans, I think, since Bilbo has now told two different stories of how he got the Ring. Either way, though, it seems to me that he found it, was unfortunately stuck with it, and had to carry on and hope for the best, as we must do now. The scene was everything I hoped it would be, complete with the dank, gloomy cave, the water lapping at the rocks, rising tension, and, of course, plenty of “precioussssss.” I’ve always loved Gollum for being such a complex, interesting, and tortured character; this scene reminded me of that.
As far as characters go… like I said, it’s been a while since I’ve read the book, but I was pretty sure the white Orc wasn’t in it. After a quick Wiki search, I now know that Azog the
Impaler Defiler was, in fact, the leader of the goblin horde even though he was an orc. And after another Wiki search—and you may as well know that I’m going back to that site after I’m done writing because it’s so gosh-darned interesting—I have learned that goblins and Orcs are apparently the same thing. So. Azog is following the merry company of Dwarves, wizard, and burglar around Middle Earth, which apparently never happened because Azog was beheaded in the battle in which—according to the film—he only lost an arm. Which was pretty gross, as he basically stabbed a spike through his arm stump, attached a claw to the end, and was good to go. That’s nast. I also thought it was really funny that Thorin believed Azog died of his wounds, even though he only lost an arm and that happens all the time. “He died of his wounds!” “How do you know?” “BECAUSE REASONS THAT IS WHY.”
Even though Azog wasn’t supposed to be in the film, I’m glad he is, arm-spike and all. He’s the force propelling the group forwards, keeping them on the road (or lack thereof) towards Erebor, and generally keeping the trip from being a jolly little jaunt through the world, peppered with picnics and mild misadventure. Other than Smaug, who was busy taking the world’s most uncomfortable nap, there really wasn’t a major antagonist in the novel. You might choose to count the Necromancer, though (who is apparently Sauron, and that is a thing I am supposed to know).
Thorin is basically Aragorn if he were a Dwarf, didn’t speak Elvish, and didn’t get all hot and bothered over an elven lady who doesn’t even know which end of a sword to hold. They both sing for absolutely no reason, for one thing, and their voices even sound the same. But as much as I loved Aragorn(‘s facial hair), I find myself liking Thorin even more. My favorite line of his came early in the film: “I cannot guarantee his safety, nor will I be responsible for his fate.” But this doesn’t make sense to me! Shouldn’t I be angry that he wouldn’t give his life for Bilbo?
Let’s reason through that. First off, Thorin didn’t know Bilbo, who, in his eyes, was just some random hobbit who was intruding upon his glorious dwarven quest to find and retake his ancestral home. (I’m also fairly certain that he had no use for Gandalf, despite his mad firework skills.) Second, Bilbo was worse than useless and Thorin knew it. You don’t need a gigantic glowing eye like Sauron’s to see that Bilbo is the last person you want on a road trip.
Unless, that is, you want your life saved from the monstrous Orc you previously thought was dead, and oh yeah, he’s been tracking you the whole way from the Shire, in which case Bilbo is the sort to have around. It was lovely to see Bilbo’s transformation from the homebody to the adventurer, although he never forgot the comforts of home. He kept his sense of self but gained a better understanding of who that self was. Part of that deals with Gandalf’s earlier admonition, upon presenting him with Sting (and I’m not explaining what that is, because you ought to know): “Courage is not knowing when to take a life, but when to spare it.” This was also a damn fine piece of filmmaking, because when Bilbo later had Sting poised to kill Gollum, the range of emotions that crossed his face reminds the viewer of Gandalf’s earlier words without having to resort to a cheesy voiceover. So even though Bilbo accidentally swiped Gollum’s piece of pretty, he’s still a stand-up guy who’s realized at least a little bit of who he is. I’m excited to see how his character turns out.
The greatest thing about Thorin and Bilbo’s relationship is that Thorin was always riding Bilbo (and not in the kinky fanfiction way, although I’m sure there’s plenty of that in the deep dark of the Internet), always being the proud Dwarf and excluding him, always deriding him for loving his home. But when Bilbo saved his life, Thorin readily admitted that he was wrong. I have no shame in admitting that I cried at that point, because I am a girl and ruled by my hormones and also guys are really hot when they’re being emotional (also, beards. I really cannot emphasize that enough).
The main problem with the background cast was that, other than a few clever lines tossed around by Fili and Kili (for whom I have so many feels that I simply cannot hold them all), none of the characters really had any character. This is usually the case where a large story and a large cast are concerned, but I feel it strongly now, since the LOTR trilogy suffered from no such problem. Even Boromir, who was only around for the first film and a flashback in the second, had the distinction of being a son of Gondor, whose desire for the ring stemmed from wanting to see his land returned to its former glory. I feel like the Fellowship was strongly portrayed, and even though there’s apparently a ton of story that never got told, everyone still has something to offer. So I just hope that Peter Jackson delves a little more deeply into his characters (hey-o) in the upcoming films.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy had some excellent music, and The Hobbit did not disappoint. Two songs in particular stand out for me. First, the song in which the Dwarves are tossing the dishes around, singing about all the things that Bilbo Baggins hates, was quite clever and made me laugh. It was also catchy, in the Merry and Pippin “Green Dragon” kind of way. Second, “Over the Misty Mountains Cold” positively gave me chills. I love a cappella music, and this was absolutely stunning. The one thing I don’t like is that I can’t sing along, since my voice is about four octaves too high and it just sounds ridiculous.
I think that’s probably it as far as analysis goes. I really can’t bring myself to dissect the film any more, partly because I liked it too much to be very critical, partly because it’s just so friggin’ huge that it would take the entirety of this website to do it justice, and partly because this is only the first film in a trilogy, which means there’s going to be more to the story. And the story promises to be sweeping, majestic, and all-encompassing, changing me and my perceptions of my world. So I’ll leave you with this final thought: “Can you promise that I will come back?” “No. And if you do, you will not be the same.”
Final Grade: A
- The Dwarves looked a bit odd. They basically looked like hobbits, except more manly and with cooler clothes and they wear shoes. They were shrunken humans, is what I’m saying. This is a departure from Gimli, who was short and stocky and very solidly built and quite obviously Dwarvish. However, I only remembered that these guys were Dwarves when Gandalf showed up and they all stood next to each other.
- I spotted an aging problem. If Bilbo got the Ring when he looked like Martin Freeman, he should look like Martin Freeman forever and that is that.
- Bilbo: “EVERYONE STOP, WE HAVE TO GO BACK. I’VE FORGOTTEN MY HANDKERCHIEF.”
- What was up with the rock giants? Those guys were just plain weird.
- People seem to fall a lot and nobody ever gets hurt. Fantasy physics apparently work a lot differently than the regular kind.
- Bilbo running after Fili and Kili with the bowls of stew. Bilbo, just… just put them down, okay? Just… okay?
- Troll scene: “What? We’re not infested, no, not a bit.” *nudge* “OH YES SO INFESTED, WE’RE POSITIVELY CRAWLING WITH THEM.”
- When the Goblin King was standing on the bridge, facing off with Gandalf, I fully expected Gandalf to slam his sword and staff together and shout, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” I was actually pretty disappointed when he didn’t. Also, was I the only one who noticed the Goblin King’s enormous man-boobs? I mean, it’s not like I was looking or anything, but they were staring at me pretty hard and I couldn’t help but notice. That is all.