Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[movies] The Hobbit (with spoilers under cut)

So I went and saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journeyimbd&ndsp;] yesterday. Lisa Costello and [info]the_child took me over to Clackamas Town Center (the cinema at the mall where the recent shootings took place), where the usual suspects met up with us. I took off my sunshield face mask to walk into mall, figuring on not causing any more problems than needful. My face did not burst into flame from 3 minutes of UV exposure.

We saw the film in its traditional 2D presentation. It's my hope to go back this coming week and see it in 48fps 3D, but that's a junior film geek thing more than an "Ermahgerd, must see again nao lolz!" My basic expectation for the film was absolutely fulfilled: two and half hours of Jacksonverse Lord of the Rings fan service was what I was expecting, and it's actually what I got.

The Hobbit is the world's most expensive piece of fan fic ever.

As such, I loved it.

As a film, not so much. My critical brain never turned off, which is a bit of a pity. Given the lack of density of the source material (and I mean this specifically in contrast to Lord of the Rings I suspect the full Hobbitfilm trilogy would have been a pretty tight single 130 or 140 minute film. As it stands now, the amount of padding and divers alarums and excursions required to take a third of a small book and make it into a epic length trilogy really shows at the seas.

I wound up in the odd position of simultaneously loving the film and spending the last hour and change wondering when the hell it would be over. That would be my reader/fan brain in a pissing match with my writer/critic brain.

Don't get me wrong. It's gorgeous. The Hobbit absolutely lives up to the beauty and vastness and haunting glory of Lord of the Rings. Martin Freeman was born to play Bilbo. Gandalf is Gandalfy as ever. Jackson has even restored some measure of dignity to the dwarves, which was shameless stripped from Gimli in the first film series in the name of (apparently) comic relief. If you're any kind of a fan of the Jacksonverse version of Tolkein's work you will love this film. If you're not, it will probably bore you.

Some incomplete spoiler notes:

The Hobbit was almost too much an homage to the predecessor films. A number of scenes were eerily familiar, to the point of being almost boring. It almost felt like a rip-off of itself.

Jackson has a thing about ledges. Alright already, we get that. Ditto the spiders, though admittedly they're important to the source material in both books.

I was oddly disappointed to see clearly female dwarves in the Erebor scenes during the narrative prolog. It's clearly established in both the source material and the Lord of the Rings film trilogy that most outsiders cannot tell male and female dwarves apart.

Thranduil's choice of mounts took my breath away, it was so well presented.

This movie's conclusion suffers from the same problem that the conclusion of The Two Towers suffers from — it begs the question of why Gandalf didn't ask Gwanhir for help in the first place. Obviously what we'd wind up with is a sixteen minute short film about the wonders of aviation in Middle Earth, but the issue smacks of Idiot Plot.

The meeting of the Council of the Wise wherein Saruman makes a brief cameo was just silly. Gandalf must have been stoned out of his mind on Old Toby not to see through Saruman's attempts to manipulate the situation.

Radogast the Brown is the Jar Jar Binks of the Lord of the Rings universe. Can we please throw him back? I'm guessing there's a reason Tolkien didn't write him into the novel.

I want the whole Misty Mountains song, sung by the dwarves, please.

Tags: child, family, friends, movies, personal, radiantlisa, reviews

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