Saturday, December 15, 2012

Review of The Hobbit


If you really must see every movie based on Tolkien’s novels, then see The Hobbit.  Most other people can give this a pass.  The Hobbit is a big disappointment after seeing The Lord of the Rings.

WARNING:  SPOILERS
(But not really.  You must already know that Middle-Earth has elves, dwarves, wizards, etc.)

What weakens The Hobbit the most are irritating attempts to bring in actors we’ve seen in The Lord of the Rings.  This has the effect of making The Hobbit less of a story in its own right, and more like an expensive piece of fan fiction.  Especially in the latter part of the movie, Bilbo feels like a minor character.

The desperate attempt to make the this movie look like just a missing piece of The Lord of the Rings starts with an unnecessary prologue where Frodo appears.  As to why prologues are unwise, see Kristin Nelson’s vlog on the subject.  For The Hobbit, everything before the words “An Unexpected Journey” appear on the screen should have been cut.  It should start with Bilbo sitting around, enjoying the air, when Gandalf walks up to him.

Another excuse comes from the end of the book, where Gandalf makes a short reference to how the White Council drove out a fellow named the Necromancer.  This becomes a major part of the movie, so the dwarves end up seeming like puppets who have no idea how they are being manipulated as part of a more important plan.

As for the rest of the movie, it has a slow plot, punctuated by battle scenes.  In particular, the underground battle scene with the goblins looks like impossible CGI animation, to the point of silliness.

I may be biased, having read The Hobbit eleven times, but the best parts of the movie are where they stick closely to the book:

The unexpected party, where the dwarves almost eat Bilbo out of hearth and home.

The folk song of the dwarves“We must away, ere break of day”—which tempts Bilbo to go on the quest.   

Bilbo’s distress over not having any pocket handkerchiefs on the journey.

The ethereal, elvish beauty of Rivendell.

Bilbo’s sparing of Gollum, when he could easily have killed him.

An awesome scene involving eagles—if you don’t know which side they’re on, they are really scary.

So if you do see The Hobbit, despite my criticisms, you’ll have some gems to take away with you.  And if you agree or disagree, please leave a comment.


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