The Hobbit - movie review

From January 6, 2013

I enjoyed the Hobbit, but did feel that it was overly extended... by a lot... and there's still 2 films to go. I once saw the LOTR films described as the books, but scarier... or the books, but more intense. I’d say that ‘The Hobbit’ is like the book, but with WAAAAY more stuff in it... and it’s not for kids, like Tolkien’s 1937 novel is.

I liked that the 13 dwarves were differentiated enough that you could follow who they were. It was very good that each dwarf has his own look and personality because I get confused about who is whom while reading the book. Also in the book you don’t get to know the majority of the dwarves as they have no lines, they’re just names on the page (that Tolkien got from a Medieval text that gave a list of dwarf names).

The Howard Shore score was amazing as always. Try to NOT sing “The Pines were roaring song” after you go home. I think it was a good idea to introduce the Arkenstone in the beginning back story because it comes up suddenly in the novel.

It’s funny that the dwarves greet each other with a head butt. Not only does it show their fortitude and that they have a different culture than anything you the viewer are used to, but it’s also funny because this is a take on how the stunt people in the original Lord of the Rings’ trilogy would greet each other: with a head butt. This was taken up by others, such as Viggo Mortenson, who talks about it in the LOTR DVD Appendices.

I’m not sure where Peter Jackson and the writers got Thorin’s back story with Azog the Defiler. I assume they didn’t make it up. From wikipedia: “He is referred to in a single remark of Gandalf’s in The Hobbit: "Your grandfather Thror was killed, you remember, in the mines of Moria by Azog the Goblin.”  In the films, his role is greatly expanded. In the Return of the King appendices he is described as being fully protected by iron armor, however in the Jackson films he is bare-chested and scarred.”

It’s good that Gandalf explains about the 5 wizards. I like the portrayal of Radagast the Brown. He seems like people I’ve seen shambling around the streets of Berkeley, CA. Although I didn’t like the scene where he fought the Witch King’s spirit. It’s funny that Gandalf recommends Old Toby weed to Radagast to calm him down, but the smoke coming out of his ears was a bit too Tex Avery to be in a LOTR/Hobbit film.

I like that the animals do not speak in the film (as Guillermo del Toro was worried about doing when he was still involved with the picture), or at least not directly in English. They squeak and squeal as animals do, and Radagast is able to understand them.

It’s weird to hear the Trolls speak, especially in a cockney accent. But they did speak in the book (although that was because Tolkien hadn’t developed them, as with other things in ‘The Hobbit’ like the Elves and the Ring). In the contexts of the films, I guess the Cave Troll in ‘Fellowship of the Ring’ was kept feral by the Orcs. And the Morder Trolls in ‘Return of the King’ could have been able to speak, but just weren’t shown doing so.

I still want to live in Rivendell. They should build it for real in the Remarkables (a mountain range in New Zealand) as a resort hotel or something.

I didn’t really like the Stone Giants. In reading the book, I didn’t really get that’s what was being described. I don’t know. Everything in the LOTR/Hobbit that isn’t in our world, like Trolls, Orcs, Hobbits, Wargs, Dragons, etc. is at least alive. But giants made from STONE? Meh. Smacks a bit too much of ‘The Neverending Story’ for my liking.

The crazy little messenger Orc seems inspired by Guillermo del Toro’s involvement. It wouldn’t surprise me if del Toro designed the character. Andy Serkis steals the show yet again.

The Orc King was really strange, nothing like in the book, where he’s in a throwaway line. I disliked the part where Gandalf and the dwarves ride on the bridge through the underground. It was too much. Silly.

I think the heart of the movie (and book) is in some great dialogue Jackson and team gave to Bilbo: “I know you doubt me. I know you always have. And you’re right, I often think of Bag-end. I miss my books. And my armchair and my garden. See, that’s where I belong. That’s home. And that’s why I came back. Because... you don’t have one. A home. It was taken from you. But I will help you take it back if I can.”

I can’t wait to see ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ and meet Beorn, Smaug, and the rest!

PS: I chose the poster below because it’s better than the American ones.