Dec 14 2012 11:00am

It’s Okay to Shamelessly Enjoy The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

A spoiler-free review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

It seems that ever since Peter Jackson announced that he was going to split The Hobbit into three movies, people have done nothing but predict disaster of epic proportions. Some immediately heralded the dawn of a new George Lucas, while others who had never been pleased with his interpretation of the initial Lord of the Rings trilogy triumphantly crowed, “I told you so!” to anyone within shouting distance.

So I’m awfully pleased to say it—The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is lovely. Please just go and enjoy it.

(Minor spoilers for the film.)

I should start this review by informing the super-fans; I love Tolkien’s books. They are very dear to my heart, and have been for some time. But I am not at all pedantic about how they are adapted, and minus a few quibbles, I adored Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. So when people shout at me about the finer pronunciation of Sindarin, or the bits in the appendices that were altered and butchered, or rage about Gimli’s function as comic relief, I begin to tune them out. Like I said, I have my own personal irritants, but as film adaptations go, Jackson did something unimaginable to most minds and pulled it off. Give the credit where it’s due.

That said, there is something that I feel needs to be clarified about these films; when you step into the theater, you are not signing up to watch Lord of the Rings the Book Movies. It has been quite clear since 2001 that when you sit down with your popcorn, you are watching Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth. If that’s not for you, that’s completely fine. You can read the books again, or watch the animated versions, and everyone can get what they want and be happy.

It makes sense for Peter Jackson to want to fill out his canvas. Film can show certain things that prose cannot (and vice versa, obviously). But more importantly, when Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, he had no idea how far he would continue to expand upon this world. Not only is the first book very clearly aimed at children, but there are all sorts of gaps that need filling when you hop between it and Rings proper. If Jackson had simply taken The Hobbit’s text at face value, we would have wound up with one short film that was at complete odds tonally with the other three films he had created. So Jackson pulled from extra material that Tolkien left us and knitted it together. He grounded Bilbo’s story in context. We won’t know the full picture until we see all three films, but so far, it’s hitting some impressive marks.

And if you like Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth, this movie is sure to delight.

I’ll start with the bad; the pacing in the first third of the film is jumpy at best. Though we nicely get to spend lots of time watching dwarves tear apart Bilbo’s pantry, the introduction to extra story and plot elements don’t blend seamlessly into the narrative, and it causes strange cuts to characters we don’t know, or weird asides where they don’t seem to belong. This isn’t quite so surprising because the framing device of the whole tale (of Old Bilbo recording the story for Frodo’s posterity), while charming, is not anywhere as neat as Galadriel’s Fellowship of the Ring voiceover. Once we get over these hiccups, things are pretty smooth from there on in, with a few exceptions.

Speaking of Fellowship, this movie very clearly mirrors elements of that first film with some incredibly effective results. It follows a similar plot structure, of course, and there are certain shots that drive the point home. In fact, Jackson is entirely aware that he has built up this visual vernacular for his audience, and knows just how to use it. Gandalf’s silhouette is employed at several impacting points, the intrepid band treks across mountains as we look on from above, and watch the first time the ring slips onto Bilbo’s finger—it is a beautiful matching moment to the first time it slips onto Frodo’s finger in The Prancing Pony.

For those who are worried that the humor inherent in The Hobbit was abandoned altogether, there’s no reason to fear. A few of the sillier parts have been toned down, but the overall lightness of the story remains. While some have complained at the abundance of action sequences, these scenes all have a sense of whimsy about them that Lord of the Rings never possessed. They are fun to watch, fun to root for, and aiming to make you smile.

The additions from various areas of the text are at times staggering in their poignance. The first appearance of the Necromancer is chilling, and the White Council scenes are perfectly integrated and powerful. Radagast the Brown is not, as some have implied, the newest Jar Jar Binks—his first few minutes on screen are perhaps puzzling, awkwardly earnest, but he quickly becomes relevant to the plot and is very interesting to view opposite Gandalf.

Richard Armitage plays Thorin Oakenshield with a poise and ferocity that the character has always deserved, and his band of dwarves are a treat to watch. Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis return to their roles as Gandalf and Gollum respectively, and seem to have somehow impossibly gotten even better in their portrayals as the years have passed. It is particularly interesting to see how they chose to interpret younger versions of their characters. (The same is true for Saruman, Galadriel, and Elrond—look at Hugo Weaving smile in this movie.) Gandalf seems a bit smaller in scale, still learning, but that glint in his eye remains along with his knack for impeccable retorts. I won’t say anything more about Serkis because you really just need to see Gollum to believe him.

But the movie belongs to Martin Freeman, who has imbued Bilbo Baggins with all the appropriate fidgeting, nervous stammering, and pure heart that we could wish for. To say that he was born for a role like this is an annoying cliché, so instead I’ll say that no one could have pulled the part off with half his level of honesty (to say nothing of comic timing). Far from letting Bilbo become a parody of himself, Freeman has given the hobbit a moral complexity that is truly gorgeous to behold. He will likely make you cry, so be prepared.

So that’s a no to outright perfection, I suppose, but The Hobbit is still a win in my book. Do yourself a favor sometime soon and go see it. Don’t reread the book right beforehand because the story will be immovable in your mind. Just have fun, sing along. Prepare your pantry and have an unexpected party—it’s the perfect way to close out the year.

Emily Asher-Perrin was so happy to see bitty Frodo again. She welcomes dwarves to anything in her pantry besides the spicy pickles. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

Christopher Morgan
1. cmorgan
I honestly couldn't have put it any better. This the only movie I've gone to see at midnight in long a while, and it was worth the 3 1/2 hours of sleep I'm running on today.
Ethan Harris
2. eeh
Couldn't have said it better cmorgan!

I came into work this morning blurry eyed and exhausted, but reminded myself (as did all of my coworkers! there was probably 80% of our office at the showing last night!) that it was very, very worth it.

All in all, it was full of the kind of adventure that fills your heart with warmth and I'm glad I was able to be part of it :)

(Just to add to the excitement, by the end of all of the extended edition installments we'll have close to 24 hours of Middle-Earth goodness! Yippee!)
Rancho Unicorno
3. Rancho Unicorno
Like @cmorgan, I'm running on short sleep today after last night. And I agree it was worth it. There were a few things that really stood out to me:

1) SwoopyCam when you have been up for almost 24 hours makes your head spin almost the same way ShakeyCam makes your stomach spin (regardless of recent rest);

2) Armitage's portrayal of Oakenshield and Jackson's inclusion of material from other sources worked together really well. I've always found the character in the novel to be a bit too douchey for me to get into supporting the survival of anybody beyond the (somewhat) unwillingly co-opted burglar; here, everything worked together beautifully;

3) There was a bit too much calling back to the earlier movies. It got a lot of laughs out of the Alamo patrons (which made me miss a couple lines, grrrrr), but I thought it was too much. A little makes you smile and nod. A lot makes it seem like the same movie, different skin;

4) The movie is at its best when you haven't reread the story recently. I was rereading some of the comparisons between the original and revised chapter 5 yesterday afternoon thanks to the reread (and ended up reading a bit of 6), and as a result I couldn't help making a direct mental comparison and being a little frustrated as I thought that Jackson could have had better visuals had he stuck to the story; the rest of the movie I found easier to sit back and enjoy - this is not a failure of the movie, just my own experience;

5) I thought the interwoven structure was carried off better than Emily does; although the 60 years earlier card felt chintzy and irrelevant. It's clear that Bilbo is much younger, and I don't see how calling out the exact difference in the movie helped;

6) Martin Freeman was Martin Freeman. The others were great support;

7) This was a strange movie. The levity helped hold on to the children's book underpinnings, but it felt more adult than Fellowship. I don't know if that makes any sense.

I wanted to make 13+1 points, but I seem to have run out of steam.
Heidi Breton
4. AnemoneFlynn
I loved this movie so much! Everything good said about it above I agree with, and in addition the Riddle Game was BEAUTIFULLY done! Gollum is a triumph of art & Andy Serkis is amazing.
Mordicai Knode
5. mordicai
Radagast the Brown is not, as some have implied, the newest Jar Jar Binks
Kristoff Bergenholm
6. Magentawolf
I'm sorry, but axe-in-head Bifur is still going to make me rage. :(
Liz Bourke
7. hawkwing-lb
Hobbit Hobbit Hobbit Hobbit HOBBIT HOBBIT HOBBIT HOBBIT!

Every translation is a fresh recension, and the same goes for adaptations: it says as much about the translator and the era as the original text. Jackson's Hobbit utterly delighted me, and I'm going to go see it again at the first opportunity.
Rancho Unicorno
8. Granger
It was much much more a prequel to the other movies than an adaptation of The Hobbit. Jackson basically did what Tolkien set out to do in his wisely abandoned 1960 re-write. Even when they did make a show of following the book there were some little missed opportunities. One minor example is changing "the ends of worms" to just "worms" in Bilbo's introduction. Words were Tolkien's profession, so when he was introducing Bilbo by saying his home didn't contain "the ends of worms" he was almost certainly aware of the other meanings of "ends" (motives) and "worms" (dragons). Taking one word out of the line removes this (I admit almost imperceptible) bit of playful foreshadowing about Bilbo's character. This is especially frustrating since the movie had just made such a show of the greedy motives of Thror and Smaug. I wonder why they felt the need to make such cuts to Tolkien's narration and dialog in a movie that is elsewhere padded out beyond belief?
Rancho Unicorno
9. tigeraid
So for the tl;dr folks, basically a) don't watch it in 48 fps and you'll love how it looks and b) the first act is slow so if you're impatient, you won't like it. Otherwise, you'll love it.

I'd been seeing so many negative reviews, it was refreshing to see a couple good ones today.
Alan Brown
10. AlanBrown
I will be seeing it on Monday afternoon, as I have the day off. I had asked my wife to accompany me, but after reading the reviews, determined that even though I will like it, it is full of the kind of things she doesn't like in a movie (not to mention being an hour longer than she thinks a movie should be).
JJ Eberly
11. JohnBem
I couldn't wait to see this movie so I convinced the boss to let me have the afternoon off. What a great treat! Instead of sitting in the office doing drudge work, I was sitting in a theatre with a Coca-Cola and a box of Goobers. And I loved the movie. I actually caught myself whispering to myself, "This is so awesome, I'm back in Middle Earth!" Definitely not a perfect movie, there were some mis-steps (I really did not care for a certain messy element of the troll scene), but most of the flick was sheer brilliance. It was a nice mix of visiting old friends (Rivendell took my breath away again, I fell in love with Galadriel all over again; like Sam, I've been infatuated with her ever since I first met her in the books 30 years ago and it's uncanny how screen Galadriel very closely matches the image of her I'd built up in my mind's eye) and meeting new ones (the Dwarves, of course, each and every one of 'em; and I really enjoyed the eccentric portrayal of Radagast). I actually became engrossed in the framing device of the first part of the movie; the Dwarves' backstory may've been one of my favorite sections. And, just like in the book, I thoroughly enjoyed the way Thorin and company were introduced and the time we spent with them in Bag End didn't seem very long at all to me. Finally, I'd just finished re-reading (for what marks about the 12th time in my life now) the book at breakfast (so, about 8 hours before I saw the film) and found that having the text fresh in my brain enhanced my enjoyment of the movie, but did not lead me to be more critical of the on-screen experience. I suppose because ultimately I view book and film (as I did with the trilogy) as two similar but different things. In this regard, Emily's observation that the movies represent not Middle-Earth but Peter Jackson's Middle-Earth are spot-on. OK, that's it. I just had to enthuse a bit because I absolutely love this new Hobbit movie.
Rancho Unicorno
12. Sidders
Just took a friends grandson to see the film, we both loved it.
And the new 3d knocked our socks off. |The grandson jumped in a few places, and when returned to his father spent the whole journey home telling him about the film.
So a definite yes from both of us.
Rancho Unicorno
13. pilgrimsoul
I have to wait about a week to see this, so slavrying. Most of all I'm waiting to see what Sir Peter et al have done with the Dwarves--mostly just names in the The Hobbit and other suggestions from the story. Only Radaghast with bird poop and bunny rabbit sleighs? Er... No.
Christopher Johnstone
14. CPJ
I'm in New Zealand visiting friends and family, so luckily enough got to see The Hobbit a bit early.

The critical response is a bit baffling. It's not a perfect film, but it is a very good film. These are my feelings on the various inclusions and things people are talking over (spoilers of course):

- My feeling is that PJ skipped the theatrical release and went straight to the extended edition with The Hobbit. If you liked the extended editions, you'll probably like The Hobbit. If you preferred the theatrical releases, you might find The Hobbit a bit long.

- I thought Radagast was interestingly imagined. I can't decide if I liked the character or not, but he was certainly an imaginative interpretation of the character. He's no Jar Jar.

- The axe in the head isn't even mentioned. I can't even fathom why it was included in the pre-release material. I wouldn't have even -known- he had an axe in his head if I didn't already know. I'd have just thought he only spoke Dwarvish.

- The addition of Azog into the story make narrative sense. Whether the addition was completely warranted may depend on what is done with Azog in the next film.

- My feeling was that the place where the most padding could have been cut were the extended action set pieces and the trolls. This is precisely what went awry with King Kong. Good story. Interesting characters. Why are they being chased by dinosaurs yet again?

Interesting, on Rotten Tomatoes, King Kong was liked by critics (84%) and not liked so much by audiences (52%). This seems to be the reverse of The Hobbit where the critics are at 66% (currently) and audiences are at 81% (currently).

The critical response is sort of curious. I'm wondering if its sort of similar to how critics panned The Dark Crystal when it came out. There is an odd thing where I think the critic crowd are sort of looking for a perceived failure to crow about, and when someone's work is really loved, the crowing gets all the louder.

Human nature I guess.

Birgit F
15. birgit
The old Bilbo introduction is a bit slow, but the rest of the movie didn't really feel as long as it was. I liked how they managed to give the movie an ending that didn't feel like just a chapter ending in a longer book.
Karin L Kross
16. KarinKross
When watching Sylvester McCoy, I find it's helpful to remember that on addition to having been the Seventh Doctor, he's also a bloke who did a comedy act involving stuffing ferrets down his trousers.

The parts I loved, I REALLY loved, like the Riddle Game, and the shots of Erebor in its prime literally made me gasp. Some of the filmmaking feels pretty self-indulgent and squirm-inducing, and I'm not sold on the 48fps, and some of the cgi was weirdly crude-looking. But on the whole, I did enjoy it a lot, so bring on the rest.
Rancho Unicorno
17. Granger
#14 CPJ, I definitely agree that he has skipped straight to the extended cut here. I really enjoyed the extended cuts of LOTR. I wonder if perhaps I would have enjoyed this one more had it been labeled the "extended cut"?

As one who on this occasion agrees with the professional reviewers, I am encouraged that Bilbo's story was mostly there, even if it was buried under lot of dead weight imho, like a glittering gem waiting to be dug out. In other words, I eagerly await the fan edit that trims these three LOTR prequels into one movie of The Hobbit.
Rancho Unicorno
18. ChrisG
I very much enjoyed the movie. Lots of beautiful detail, satisfying character developments, and a dash of light-hearted fun. It gave a wonderful sense of scale to Middle Earth (spatial and temporal), even more so than LotR. Thorin and Bilbo really stood out, and several of the sequences (esp. the part with Gollum) were outstanding. The pacing was a bit ponderous at times, but overall that didn't bother me much.

I didn't think the old Bilbo/Frodo framing story worked at all. While I appreciate the sense of continuity with previous films it provided, it really just sat there. Old Bilbo and Frodo had nothing to do or add, no surprise or humor. I thought that contributed a lot to the early drag.

Contrary to several reviews, I thought the early Erebor sequence was quite nice and engaging. But it might have been better as a flashback story, perhaps told by the older dwarf during the initial gathering/meal. This would let the story start a little more sharply, with young Bilbo and then Gandalf's knock.

I enjoyed the troll sequence but felt that it didn't adequately illustrate Bilbo's intentionally ``playing for time''. Ironically, it seemed almost rushed to me.

The Rivendell section dragged a bit. But I liked happy Elrond and the interactions among the white council, especially how our views of the three wizards (including Radagast from earlier) really brought Gandalf's character into relief. And I liked Radagast, as well as most of PJ's other additions. The necromancer's fortress was a bit sparse and abstract, but I'm looking forward to his battle with the white council in the next(?) film.

Highly recommended.
Jörg Mosthaf
19. Joerg_Mosthaf
This is literally the first movie I went to see in the cinema for at least 2 years. And I am going to go see it again next week :)
I liked the HFR/3D - it gave the movie a kind of immersive reality. For me, the HFR compensated for the fuzzy picture I always seem to get with polarisation glasses 3D. Or the 3D in cinemas has been getting a lot better since Alice in Wonderland 3D. ;)
And btw - I hate reCaptchas (5th try)
John Massey
20. subwoofer
Saw the movie and was pleasantly surprised.

I do echo Emily's point about the Purists being up in arms about things. Be glad with what we have. There are too many things from the hallowed pages of geekdom that have been butchered. This is not one of them. Peter Jackson is one of us. Huzzah.

There were a couple of things that honked me off. The first has nothing to do with the quality of the movie. I saw the movie in 3D. What burns me is the $3 upcharge for 3D glasses. They suggest that you recycle your glasses in the supplied bins after the movie, to "keep 3D green" but that is a load. I kept my glasses one time and do I skip the $3 fee for glasses for the next movie I see? No! Major Scam and Rip Off (note the capital letters).

The other thing I did find disconcerting was the 48fps the movie was filmed in. More human than human. Some things were coming at me way too fast for my brain to process... the Orc underground fight smacked of Transformerism, scenes felt very videogamish. Some things looked really good... Lady Galadriel for instance, and Rivendale.

I am a fan of Thorin, Armitage did a wonderful job, hunk of wood and all. There was a king I would follow.

The film score was familiar and well done too. Made me feel comfortable, like a good pair of shoes, or Hobbit's feet. All the right parts in all the right places, and I do understand the fleshing out bit. If not, the world would be very boring indeed.

S Cooper
21. SPC
I said just about the same things (less eloquently) when I left the theater. It was beautiful but a bit long, Bilbo was great, Elrond is always awesome, I think they hit a very nice balance with the dwarves' humor, I appreciate that they didn't try to get any in-depth characterization for more than about 5 dwarves (Thorin, Balin, Dwalin, Fili, and Kili were the only ones I could identify by name by the end), and Rhadagast's rabbits were a riot. I had a few tiny plot quibbles, but overall I see how they changed things to make a better movie. We skipped the 3D and 48-fps projection.

I do wonder how it stands on its own, for someone who hasn't seen LOTR. I liked the callbacks for the most part, but I was expecting more original music. It's definitely situated as a prequel, as you said.
Jeremy Goff
22. JeremyM
I saw the movie this weekend and I have to say that I unfortunately did not like it at all . We saw it in the IMAX 3d HFR presentation and I think this may have added to it. Don't get me wrong it is ridiculously clear and a beautiful presentation but I just did not like it. It really kept taking me out of the story so that instead of being immersed in and just rolling with the story I kept on analyzing what was going on. In the end though I think they added too much extraneous story and cut/changed parts that did not need to be changed at all. Some highlights that I loved though were the scene with Gollum, the addition of Radagast and everything up to when the journey begins. I loved Peter Jackson's interpretation of LOTR so I'm going to see The Hobbit again just to make sure that I wasn't just having a bad night, or see if a different presentation makes any difference because you have no idea how much I want to love this movie.
Liz J
23. Ellisande
@20 I can confirm for you after seeing it at normal 24fps that the fast editing was still there (fast or slow framerate, each shot still takes the same amount of time). You should actually have a better grasp of what happened in those quick cuts than I did with fewer frames, because in fast edits, the flicker can make the motion especially blurry and hard to see at all.

Another common complaint about the high-frame rate is a 'video quality', but I found it still had that look at least on some of the shots, so I think that may be due to the High-def digital cameras Jackson used, not the framerate itself (or maybe there will be more, but it's certainly not the only factor). I look forward to watching the higher rate, just to compare, now that I know what it looks like at normal 3D.

Anyway, as much as love Tolkien and his works, the truth is I don't really want The Hobbit filmed as written, because I find the missing parts kind of annoying (like how Gandalf disappears for half the book and Bilbo gets knocked on the head) or weak like how Bard randomly shows up because Tolkien realized belatedly he needed a different character to actually kill the dragon. So I'm glad the adaptation is a bit more thorough and tries to fill in the gaps - obviously it remains to be seen how well that's accomplished in the next two, but I enjoyed the additions of the dwarf history and the White Council, and making Azog into a continuing villain with his own history made sense for a film.

But I also don't think it's a big deal to have two separate continuities - movie'verses are always different, anyway - and I love having the chance to see the White Council and Erebor at its height on screen, something that wouldn't happen if it had been just the one book.
Steven Halter
24. stevenhalter
Saw it yesterday--I enjoyed it very much. The additional bits--Radagast, the White council, Azog worked for me, Looking forward to part 2 now.
Rancho Unicorno
25. Vanye111
I didn't care for ther stone giants. An unneccessary addition to the story. It added nothing to what was going on. They could have simply taken shelter from the storm in the cave, rather than encounter the giants...
Sanctume Spiritstone
26. Sanctume
I enjoyed watching it by myself Sunday matinee for $6. Wife probably won't like it for the length of the film. I did not care much about IMAX or 3D, nor the snippet of Star Trek.
Alan Brown
27. AlanBrown
Had the day off today, and saw it in normal 3D, so no comments on newfangled digital stuff. Probably would have enjoyed it more in 2D, as sometimes the 3D makes things look a little off, and a little herky jerky, in the action scenes.
I enjoyed it very much. The pace was a bit slow at the beginning, with a bit too much framing and backstory, but I very much liked the dwarves visit to Bilbo's house, and especially their modal song that ended the evening.
My only complaint is that there was a bit too much "Wile E. Coyote" stuff in the action scenes, ie characters surviving falls and calamities that would have more likely killed them. With all that calamity around them, not a single dwarf falls during the rock giant battles or the pell mell battle through the goblin caves? Hard to swallow all the 'skin of the teeth' escapes.
I liked Rhadagast much more than I expected to, of all the new additions, he was the best.
And Martin Freeman was, as expected, wonderful, giving the story the light touch that I so much enjoyed from the book. I am one of those few who liked the Hobbit as much, if not more, than LOTR.
Orayelle Johnson
28. Orayelle
I thought it was an amazing movie.
I did have a few little problems with it, but they are easily overlooked. On the whole, they didn't change the purpose of any of the characters or parts from their roles in the book (the murder of Faramir is my qualm with TLOTR).

The organization, however, was terrible and extremely jumpy. I didn't like Radagast, thought they should've been clearer on Thorin's past (i.e. His father and grandfather just randomly decide to take Moria…? And which one of them died there?), was annoyed at the White Council for 'mind-talking' over Sauruman like he was completely unimportant……Lastly, I didn't like the transition into animation. The goblins looked dumb. Sure, they're not orcs, but they just didn't look as cool (and the goblin king was terrible!).

Oh, and the elves aren't hippies. That bugged me a little.

What did I like? Well, everything else. I ended up loving the childish, funny quality while appreciating the characters and action, I loved Bilbo and the dwarves, I was totally fine with Azog…the list could go on. Let's just say that I am going to go watch it again tonight and am so excited for the next one! Hehe.
Vivian U
29. Viviannn
I almost walked out in the middle of the Two Towers and never went to see Return of the King (still haven't seen the whole thing), because I was so upset with Jackson's inept, illogical mutilation of the storyline. When The Hobbit first came out, though, I was kind of excited because I thought, it's only one book, how can he screw that up? But then I found out it was divided into 3 parts, and slid back into Jackson-hatred. I thought, oh, what a nakedly cynical grab for more money. I am SO not going to see that.

Seeing Jackson on The Colbert Report, though, it's become harder to despise him as a malignant mangler of classic tales. He's kind of cute, looks a bit like a hobbit himself. And I see what a positive response it's gotten here, so maybe I need to rethink my ban. Maybe. I could see it on cheapie Tuesday, to be safe. Then if I'm disappointed at least I won't have spent so much.
Kerly Luige
30. Celebrinnen
Absolutely LOVED the movie! PJ has pulled it off wonderfully once again. I really loved that he has brought so much background material into it since the Hobbit in original is really a children's book and quite simple. But PJ has turned it into a real epic, and I love the darker tones just as much as I love the humour in it.

It was delightful to see the "old" cast back and performing as good as ever. Martin Freeman has nothing but praise coming from me, he is a real gem and I cannot imagine anyone who could have pulled it off as good - that exact mentioned sincerity and complexity, they were wonderful.

I also loved what Richard Armitage (and PJ, I suppose) did to Thorin. I never liked him in the book, but I am a fan of him now - for now I can relate to him, understand his motives and his personality, something I was never able to do with the book. For some reason, he always seemed like an arrogant whiner for me in there.

But the Hobbit also brought along a problem for me. Alas! for I am now so taken into Kili that I could propose Aidan right here and now ...
Rancho Unicorno
31. Hedgehog Dan
I have seen yesterday with my brother, and loved it!

Agree with the article, and also, with the Radagast-part. Despite he is whimsical and comedic, he is far from Jar Jar Binks - he is useful and he also saves a hedgehog's life! (And it was not easy, his implied failure before he recognizes the origin of the sickness was one of the most heartbreaking part of the story, and the only one not related to the dwarves.)
Rancho Unicorno
32. Kansan52
Viviannn, I have had over 3 decades since reading the books and seeing the movies so the changes are not so glaring for me.

Even so, early on I realized that the movie seem to not match my recollection of reading the Hobbit. A good friend help with that pointing out PJ used other material from The Silmarillion and other sources to 'fill in'.

For me, Radagast was there to help build the events that lead to the need for the LOR quest.

I did have problems as well with the video quality of some CGI. Especially scenes like traveling across Hobbiton and the scenes in Rivendale. The seemed to be 'oh look what we can do with CGI these days'!

Oh well, I'm down to nitpicking. With our schedule, we drove an hour there to watch it in Imax last night so we had to travel in a near blizzard on the return and got home at midnight.

I'd do it again to see it.
Alan Brown
33. AlanBrown
Viviannn, Don't get your hopes up to see the movie for cheap. I went to a midweek matinee, and by the time they finished charging me for those 3D glasses (which they force you to buy new every time), I was out $13! Quite a shock to someone who paid 25 cents to see his first movies back in his youth!
Rancho Unicorno
34. Old Frt
AlanBrown, when I was a youth on a Saturday, we got in for $.09 cents for a double feature plus a continuing serial feature and cartoon. This was in Buhl, Idaho at the Roxanne Theater. Still the best movies house I've ever sat in as the seats would slide down under you when you sat in them like a recliner does nowdays. This was in the 1953-1955 or there abouts. I've never seen seats do that since although they might as I haven't been to a movie in years as the internet takes up my entertainment time. I got an allowance of $1.00 a week which all my buddies thought was the big time. Times sure have changed, kinda Bob Dylan.
Vivian U
35. Viviannn
AlanBrown, my movie theatre is offering two versions of the movie, one with the 3D and one without. They often do this, which is good because 3D has become overly trendy and movies that aren't terribly suited to 3D are being shoehorned into the format. Monsters, Inc. has been rereleased in 3D and I'm interested in seeing that because I can really see that working well in 3D, especially the scene with all the doors running through space on various tracks. (I saved my 3D glasses and yes, subwoofer, it is a lowdown ripoff to charge people for the glasses even when they have their own pair.) The Hobbit on the other hand I'm perfectly happy to watch in 2D. And the 2D version is cheaper.
Bill Stusser
36. billiam
Saw the movie in Imax 3D and even though it cost me $60 for four tickets (2 adults and 2 kids) it was worth every penny, it looked (and sounded) great. I loved the movie as did my nine year old daughter and my buddy's twelve year old son. I have a few minor problems with the film but those can be easily overlooked by the awesomeness. I can't wait for the next one.

For what its worth, I usually skip the 3D since it costs more and my daughter likes to take the glasses off but this is one movie that was well worth seeing in all its Imax 3D glory.
Rancho Unicorno
37. Thomas Cardew
Full Disclosure: I'm a complete Tolkien nerd, read everything and loved it. I have major problems with Jackson's trilogy and it hasn't aged well in my opinion. The more I watch the more flaws I see and disagree with him on several fundamental interpretations of his as outlaid in the commentaries. And the complete murder of Faramir's character is an eternal sin.

The movie is gorgeous. I think Jackson and Weta did a wonderful job in the visuals through all 3 movies. Some of them I pictured differently but they did a great job nonetheless. Total props. Makes the movie worth seeing even with earplugs. I do however have a couple of points.

I feel that the movie missed the feel of the book at least the opening. Gone is the feeling of being swept along into an adventure, of not having a moment to think, of being pushed out the door unwilling by Gandalf. Instead, we have a much slower and more conscious decision to go. As a Tolkien fan this threw me out of the story to begin with and it took awhile for me to settle back in. The way he did the trolls really pissed me off too. Gone is the slow capture of the dwarves and Gandalf cleverly fooling the trolls. Instead, we get a mediocre brawl, a completely unbelievable surrender, and unnecessary MAGIC! The way Bilbo found the ring was just slap in the face; a completely unnecessary one at that.

Minor gripes: Thor's insane and greedy, the elves are evil, the dwarves are scattered like the Jews, and Dain doesn't give a shit? REALLY? The stone giants are a prime example to me of why just because you can CGI something doesn't mean you should CGI something. Gandalf's appearance and the escape from the caves looks like it was plotted for a video game sequence. Eagles are even more Deus Ex Machina then in the book since Jackson doesn't bother to explain why they helped like Tolkien did. Magic is definitely far flashier.

Stuff I'm ok with: The addition of Azog. I can see why they felt the need to add it; however I don't really think it was necessary. I did feel that film work between Thorin fighting Azog was a blatant parody of Isulidur and Saurun and was completely ridiculous. I can also understand that if you're going to work the necromancer into the movie you need to fiddle with the timelines and condense it into the story better. I'm mostly okay with how they handled this bit. The only thing that really bugs me is Gandalf doesn't get the key and map from Thrain in Dol Guldur. Instead, he just has them for some reason.

My conclusion: decent movie, great visuals. Would send someone to watch but won't go see in theatres again myself. And 3 movies still feels like a blatant cash grab to put another wing on Jackson's house built solely of cash.
Andy Thompson
38. Andy_T
@37 - I agree with much of what you were saying. I also had the same feeling as others earlier in this thread, that the movie felt like the extended edition. Just by having the movie's sub-title show up so late in the movie really cemented that feeling for me. I read somewhere that Jacson has like 20 minutes of extra material for the actual extended DVD version, and that sounds kind ridiculous to me. (this coming from a fan of the LOTR extended versions)

Overall I thought it was OK (saw the normal 2D) but there were quite a few things I didn't like, and like my nitpicks about LOTR, it's almost all from the changes made from the novel. It's been about a year since I read it, but I've read it so many times over the years that certain parts of it are etched into my mind.

- The whole troll scene was just wrong beginning to end. I much rather liked Gandalf's tricksy ventriloquism in the novel to him knocking a rock over to let the rising sun's rays through in the movie.
- Radagast being chased by the orcs - zoooom, zooom, zoooom... Meh.
- The "back door" to Rivendell was just too convenient.
- That Thorin hates elves, okay I can buy that. However, there's a definate difference between Elrond's group in Rivendell and Thranduil's bunch in Mirkwood, and that Thorin doesn't seem to know this, and that it's not even mentioned... didn't care for that.
- The dwarves just up and leave Rivendell without Gandalf? I guess it makes sense, they want to get on to the Lonely Mountain before Durin's Day - and Gandalf has that, uh, conference to attend, but it just seemed wrong.
- Almost no mention of the term "goblin" for the small moutain orcs. I don't think the term "orc" was even in the Hobbit beyond the name of the sword Orcrist.
- Way too much of those Fighting Stone Transformers in the storm.
- The way Bilbo was separated early on from the dwarves underground.
- The Great Goblin wasn't very "great" to me - just big fat and ugly.
- Not a single one of those dwarves should have been able to walk, let alone run, after they escape the goblins.
- The way the interior of the Misty Mountains appears to be completely hollow.
- That Bilbo follows Gollum to exactly to when/where Gandalf and company are escaping the mountain - and it's an unguarded cave opening at that.
- And along those lines - I really wanted to see Bilbo's escape from the mountain as in the book. Having already spared Gollum and jumped over him to run down the exit tunnel, he goes from darkness to finding a brilliant shaft of sunlight through a part-open door guarded by goblins. He tries to slip though wearing the ring but gets hung up by his buttons. And his thin wavery shadow in the direct sunlight gives his escape away. I really wanted to see that. Yeah, they kept the popping buttons bit... but it worked better as per Tolkein. Disappointed big time there.
- Okay, we already know that Gandalf can talk to moths - but for that one moth to summon the eagles that quickly was just lame.
- Domino trees? Really?

Okay, lots of nitpicks there. Was there anything good?

Lots of good visuals. The flashback to Dale/Erebor was too long but beautiful. Smaug's hoard was always big in my mind's eye - and Jackson did that well. Nice to see Rivendell again. Riddles in the Dark was great. The casting, and costumes were great. (although all that crap on Radagast was more disgusting than amusing.) I liked seeing Gandalf firing up those pinecones.

They had to make it so "something" was resolved in the movie - and that seemed to have been "Azog Chase, Part 1", along with "Thorin Hates Bilbo". Okay, I can buy that... too many people would have been ticked off had it ended in a cliffhanger and a "to be continued..."
Vivian U
39. Viviannn
Thomas Cardew: "And the complete murder of Faramir's character is an eternal sin."

Yes! Amen brother. :D
Rancho Unicorno
40. Thomas Cardew

Solidarity brother. When my dad and I walked out after the Two Towers he turned to me and said : "well, there was a ring..."

If you never saw the RotK that means you were spared the lesser sin of what Jackson did to Denethor. Gone is the proud, arrogantly noble, competent ruler of Gondor who sleeps in armor and strives against Sauron through the palantir. Instead, we get a sniveling, cowardly, incompetent, and emotionally abusive father, who just gives up when Sauron first attacks. All so what we can make Gandalf look slightly more cool?So grateful for that... (And Denethor is not even a favorite character of mine; I just felt he deserved better.)


Yeah, I'd forgotten about the domino trees. My mind literally blocked out that particular travesty of physics.
Rancho Unicorno
41. Thuan
Loved this article! I wholeheartedly agree! Loved the movie. Looking forward to desolation of smaug soon! :)
Rancho Unicorno
42. lach7
I love the books, and the Jackson movies are different. But I love the movies as well. I think the first Hobbitt was excellent. I'm looking forward to the second!

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