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Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Hobbit

I saw The Hobbit this evening and I shall not spoil it for anyone, but here are some interesting notes from my point of view. Happily, I got a discount.

First, it is more like Tolkien, in that the pace is slower and more like a book.

Second, the character development is better than in LOTR  most likely because it is a smaller book divided into three movies.

Third, it is violent and children should not see it under 12 or 13.

Four, it is not a chick-flick, but aimed at men, which is also true to Tolkien in some ways, although the book was written for children.

Five, the ads and trailers for other movies are horrendous and inappropriate for kids.

Six, the music and songs are true to the book and add a lot to the story.

Seven, Martin Freeman steals the show, hands down.

Eight, Galadriel is more like the character in the book, simply because the actress is older and was too young for the first three movies, as Galadriel, as we know, is an elf with a past and should act older and wiser.

Nine, the world of Middle Earth seems less mythical and more like a real world, as Tolkien intended.

Ten, the images are scary and again, not for children under 12.


Matthew Roth said...

Ugh. I really didn't like it. I didn't think it was possible to mess up Tolkien's work any more than they did in the LOTR films but they did...If I become a filmmaker then I will buy New Line/MGM's rights to the books, just to remake them in a proper fashion.

Anita Moore said...

I saw The Hobbit and enjoyed it far more than the Lord of the Rings movies. This movie doesn't take nearly as many liberties with plot and characters as the others (though it does take some, e.g., the presence of characters who do not appear in the book, such as Galadriel). And I agree about Martin Freeman: I think he is a first-rate Bilbo.

If the published letters of Tolkien are anything to go by, he seems to have strongly disapproved of all movie versions of his works that were made during his lifetime (and indeed they were pretty bad); but he might at least have come close to approving this one.

Supertradmum said...

Matthew, I taught LOTR at Notre Dame a long time ago when I taught there. I think this movie is a good interpretation. I would be interested in your comments as to specific things you did not like.

Supertradmum said...

Anita, Tolkien as a creator himself would most likely enjoy the interpretations. Of course, his books are more Christian, although in allegory and intention only, than the movies, but I think the main ideas are his entirely.

His son, Christopher was directly involved in the first three and had real input. Perhaps we can all get more specific about our likes and dislikes.

Frank Schieber said...

I didnt like that a short 300 page book is being made into a 3-3hour movies. The movie was made with a different type of camera, it was pretty much a special effects extravanganze and I was ready to have a seizure. The music was overblown. The director seemed to be combining Lawrence of Arabia with Raiders of the Last Ark. If this is truly a children's story, it needs to be kid friendly. Pretty much the whole movie was about a person trying to prove themselves to others and accomplishing that. That this plot was prolonged for 3 hours put me to sleep. The Hobbit movie is little more than a prequel to the three movies of the Lord of the Rings. Battle scenes are scaled up to epic proportions for no reason. Small subtle events are replaced by massive set pieces that go on and on... and on. The few good scenes remind one of what's been lost. The first scenes in Bilbo's home (even though some of the dwarves are horribly miscast and look like refugees from a boy band) and the Gollum/Bilbo ring discovery scenes are good. And that's because unlike the rest of the movie they more or less stick with the book. Nothing is improved on and lots is lost. For instance, the simple and elegantly told story of the first adventure and encounter with the trolls becomes needlessly complicated and expanded and not in a way that improves on the old scenes. The rest of the action and interminable battles are not in the book and huge-for-no-reason.

Turns out being able to do anything isn't always a good thing. Add unlimited budget and hubris and we're a long way from Tolkien and much closer to the mental illness that seems to overtake certain Hollywood types (even if they're working in New Zealand) of the kind that had producers in the 1930s giving happy endings to Shakespeare tragedies. And now the silliness that passes for creativity knows no limits because there's always some guy with a computer that can add a "cast" of thousands where none is needed. No deaths are simple now. Everything can be played to infinity and beyond. Action without reason is just plain boring. The excuse for how bad this film is is that it was made for children. But the level of carnage, violence and needless clutter "noise" in the form of extravagant needlessly complicated action that accompanies almost every scene precludes any responsible parent from wanting a child to see this movie. Smart teenagers will be bored out of their minds because for all the CGI wonderment the story fails to actually deliver anything new. The simplest scenes in the now ancient Matrix were more creative. And Avatar leaves this movie in the dust when it comes to original creative CGI use. If Jackson undertakes the Jesus story next, expect 10,000 Jesuses to be crucified alongside a million thieves and a crèche scene set in a stockyard with a million head of cattle and armies of wise men in combat hacking their way to the Nativity scene. As for faithfulness to the book, the more you love The Hobbit the more you'll hate this sorry commercialized excuse for an adaptation. Peter Jackson may look a bit like a Hobbit but don't let that fool you. He's Hollywood all the way.

Catechist Kev said...

Our family *loved it*!

We may go see it again today (even our eight year old - he was not bothered at all by the "scary" parts/monsters).

Since we just got 10" of snow yesterday, we figure some hot popcorn and another adventure with Bilbo and Gandalf would be great. :)


Matthew Roth said...

I thought 'An Unexpected Journey' was incredibly cartoonish and many of the sequences are downright implausible (the goblin king's weight didn't kill them. Really?). Jackson used CGI for the sake of using it, and it's just too much. Ian McKellan is much too old for his role. It's also a children's story, and Jackson did not necessarily need to include Orcs of Mordor in their full and scary form. Tolkien is unclear as to the differences between Orcs and Goblins in this work; I think one can reconcile this by making them more like folk-tale goblins. Sauron is not in the open yet, so it's reasonable that the Orcs are not fully developed again.
The Hobbit is so short, so they did not need to make three films. The opening after the introduction had promise, but fell flat once Frodo showed up, and the film never got much better. The changes in how Gandalf is investigating Dol-Guldur makes Gandalf less like the character in the books, and that held true for all the innovations in plot. Thorin is greedy and critical, but not cold-hearted. Radagast is meant to be a druggie, as evidenced by the mushroom jokes which weren't that clever. Greenwood is already known as Mirkwood according to the legendarium.
Also, the scene with Elrond is terrible; Elrond and Gandalf get along well in the book, and Hugo Weaving's Elrond is much too cynical in both film series. I liked Gandalf's mysterious dropping in and out in the book, and I don't like how Jackson changed it in the scene with the trolls, after Rivendell, and in Goblin Town.
The scene with Azog towards the end was just too wild, and it ended abruptly.
I do like how the singing of the 'Far over the Misty Mountains cold' in both this film and the 1977 adaptation resembles chant.
He considers the Hobbit and LOTR to be one giant work; clearly they are not a clear continuation, and in an attempt to appeal to fans of the prior films, the Hobbit mirrors the LOTR films. Gandalf's presentation of Sting and the Goblin Town sequence are one example; it is basically the mines of Moria all over again, just with a massive number of goblins.
I think Cate Blanchett is much too scary and esoteric as Galadriel in both series. There is a Marian quality to her character that is absent.
I agree that Martin Freeman is a good Bilbo. The casting of Hobbit characters is something Jackson did perfectly. But, for someone who likes the continuity with LOTR the choice of fading back into the story after seeing old Bilbo is weird, since there is not much difference in appearance according to the Fellowship.
It was pretty cool that Bilbo only achieved a small puff of smok when Gandalf first arrived, as the growth of the rings throughout The Hobbit symbolize his growth as a man.
Jackson also doesn't convey the linguistic dimensions well. Firstly he ignores the pronunciations that Tolkien gave us. I realize something is going to be lost in taking a written work to the screen, but I don't he effectively covers those elements which can brought up in dialogue. Maybe that's just me...and I could go on and on. I stand by that if it wasn't in the books, it didn't make the film better, and if it was, Peter Jackson more often than not adapted it poorly.
Also, I read that Christopher Tolkien and the elder generation hated the films, and had a very bitter row with his son Simon over his involvement.

Anita Moore said...

In The Hobbit, I liked the comical moments provided by the dwarves and the trolls and even the goblin king. I thought that was in line with the spirit of the book. (By the way, I have not read The Hobbit for many years, though I did read it a number of times. As for the LOTR, I lost count of the number of times I read that after 35.) I found Gollum and his nasty squalor at once contemptible and pitiable, as they should be. I liked Martin Freeman very much as Bilbo. I also liked the fact that Gandalf and Radagast, though they give the appearance of a couple of eccentric old men, really kick serious butt. Also, overall, I appreciated the fact that the story is not rushed, though the point at which it ended kind of brought me up short.

The Hobbit takes liberties with the plot, but I don't think it takes too many liberties with the characters. What irritated me about the LOTR movies is that they took lots of liberties with both plot and characters. To leave out episodes for the sake of time is one thing; but to completely alter them and change characters is something else. For example, I don't understand why they had to insinuate an Elvish army into the Battle of Helm's Deep, or Arwen into the Flight to the Ford. I was most annoyed by how they changed characters. Gimli frequently acted like a buffoon, and the Rohirrim were almost sniveling pacifists. Also, Faramir came across as kind of a punk.

The LOTR movies had their moments, but I much prefer the first installment of The Hobbit.

Anita Moore said...

Matthew, goblins and orcs are the same thing by different names. Recall that by the time of the War of the Ring, a new breed of orcs has appeared that is bigger and stronger than the old orcs, and that, unlike them, can abide sunlight. In The Two Towers, Treebeard says that this is due to Saruman, who has been doing something dangerous to the orcs, perhaps blending the races of orcs and men.

As for the weight of the great goblin not killing the dwarves, recall also that dwarves are made of the very bones of the earth, and are uncommonly strong and hardy. I think it is entirely plausible that they could have survived being smushed by the great goblin.

Matthew Roth said...

The scene was still incredibly silly; the king fell to make fun of what had just been said. And I don't buy it. Fantasy intersects reality; it does not avoid it. Hardy dwarves can still get crushed.
Yes, I know. But Tolkien did not make this clear in The Hobbit and in the film, the orcs of the Misty Mts. are assumed to be orcs of Mordor.