Fri
Dec 28 2012 1:00pm

The Hobbit Reread: Movie Interlude

The Hobbit Reread on Tor.com: Movie Interlude Welcome back to the chapter-by-chapter re-read of The Hobbit. This week, we are actually pausing the book reread to consider the movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which I saw last weekend and which, by happy coincidence, stops exactly where we left off with the book.

Short version: The movie is obviously flawed and too long, yet I enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting. Slightly longer version: If you disliked the Lord of the Rings movies in their entirety, there is no way you will like this. If you liked some or all of the LotR movies, then you will probably like some or all of this, but I can’t predict the proportion. (You can find links to my thoughts on the LotR movies at the bottom of the LotR reread index. Or you can catch up on past posts in the Hobbit reread index.)

See behind the cut for the rather long version—with spoilers for both the movie and everything Tolkien, so feel free to read Tor.com’s review with only minor spoilers instead. (To my surprise, it is in fact possible to meaningfully spoil this movie.)

General Thoughts

I should say first that I had pretty low expectations for this. I loved the casting of Martin Freeman as Bilbo—I think half my affection for the show Sherlock comes from watching the first episode and realizing just how amazing Freeman was going to be as Bilbo. (As you know Bob, Freeman plays John Watson to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes; Cumberbatch is also voicing Smaug and the Necromancer, though I believe that casting came later, i.e., they weren’t hired as a matched set.)

But while I was tentatively okay with The Hobbit being two movies, three seemed absurd. I was already dubious about the addition of the Necromancer plotline, because it seemed custom-made to let Jackson indulge his (regrettable, as far as I am concerned) penchant for showy wizard-fu and schlock horror, and I couldn’t imagine what he’d found in LotR’s appendices to justify another movie in the middle. (I remember saying to my husband Chad, “Well, the stuff about the war with the orcs in Moria is awesome, but surely that doesn’t go in the middle? What, are we going to have a two-hour flashback?” Oh, so close and yet....)

Now that a few days have passed, I can see that some things could have been tighter and that other things will almost certainly look worse on a rewatch. And there were points where I literally laughed out loud at things the movie wanted me to find deeply moving. Yet I still bounced out of the theater, not as excited as I was when I first saw Fellowship, but far more excited that I’d expected and generally pretty pleased.

Now, I’m going to attempt to impose some order on the rest of my thoughts by organizing them into character-centric sections, with a miscellaneous section at the end.

Bilbo

Martin Freeman is just as good as I’d hoped. I love his Bilbo enormously. I am entirely content to have him as my mental Bilbo for the rest of my life.

I was also glad of the set of changes to the book that I think of as giving the characters more agency and common sense, which starts with Bilbo choosing to go with the dwarves and Gandalf. I love the way Freeman shows that with just his body language.

I also loved that Bilbo got to be clever and verbal with the trolls (and which sets up his ability to get as far as he does in the Riddle Game). And that the dwarves didn’t just blunder into the trolls, but still ended up in bags, because while some of the humor here was excessively juvenile, dwarves in bags is, as far as I’m concerned, just too good to be left out.

I thought “Riddles in the Dark” was aces. (Well, except that Gollum’s sad-puppy-dog eyes were overdone when Bilbo decided not to kill him.) I thought the tweaks made it run very smoothly and that Freeman and Serkis were simply riveting. A++ and someone nominate Serkis for a bunch of supporting actor awards based on that scene (but really for his whole body of work as Gollum), okay?

And I was okay with Bilbo having repeated doubts about the journey, going so far as to pack up at one point, and then making the speech about deciding to stay, because that reluctance is very in-character for Bilbo, and because Freeman does a beautiful job with the speech. (I couldn’t help but compare him to Sean Astin giving Sam’s big speeches, though to be fair, Sam’s speeches are probably much more difficult for anyone to carry off.)

However, I am withholding judgment on the Action Hero Bilbo! of the very end. It is not in the least in-character for Bilbo to tackle a goblin, oh my goodness no, but if it was a temporary aberration to give him an obvious conclusion to his emotional arc in this movie, then I will accept it. It did make me wonder what emotional growth was left for him, though—well, there’s the betrayal of Thorin, but in-between?

Which neatly brings us to:

Thorin

So the two times I laughed out loud when the filmmakers really did not intend to be humorous? The first was when Emo Thorin was posing emo-ly away from the campfire while Balin gave the speech of manpain-ly exposition about the death of Thorin’s grandfather and the fight against the goblins (or are the Moria ones orcs? I can’t remember if the movie makes that distinction.) And the second was when Thorin was striding, in endless hero slo-mo, down the tree-trunk and through the flames to attack Azog. It was all just so incredibly blatant that I found it hilarious.

But here’s the thing! I’ve seen some people say that the filmmakers put all this focus on Thorin because they needed an Aragorn figure. Except, as those of you who’ve read the book know (and if you haven’t, SPOILERS, seriously, what are you doing here!), Thorin isn’t Aragorn, he’s Boromir. And the incredible emphasis on Thorin’s sparkly specialness—while still overdone to my eyes—is setting up new viewers for one hell of a rug being pulled out from under them. Which I think is fascinating.

(He better be Boromir, anyway. If he does not end up buried under the Mountain with the Arkenstone on his breast, after Bilbo stole it in an attempt to return him to his senses, then I will literally walk out of the theater. But I think the odds of my having to do that are low, because of the added mention of Thrór having some kind of gold-sickness that attracted Smaug. I’m not sure I like this addition to canon unless we also get a mention of the dwarf Ring, but it seems to be laying the ground for Thorin to go wacky when they get under the Mountain.)

Thorin’s being an Epic Emo Hero of Epic Emo Heroicness will always be funny to me. But, very paradoxically, it increases my interest in seeing the rest of his story....

Azog

...which will, apparently, involve an epic faceoff with Azog, who killed his grandfather Thrór. I couldn’t decide what I thought of this change to canon throughout the movie, and even now I still haven’t come to a conclusion.

A quick refresher for those of you who haven’t read Appendix A to The Lord of the Rings lately: years after the dwarves are driven out of Erebor by Smaug, King Thrór enters Moria alone. Azog cuts off Thrór’s head and shows it to Thrór’s companion who waited outside, giving him an insultingly small bag of coins to tell Thrór’s kin. This causes a long war that culminates in a battle outside Moria, where the orcs are defeated and Azog is killed by Dáin Ironfoot of the Iron Hills, though only after Azog kills Dáin’s father Náin. The dwarves put Azog’s head on a stake and stuff the coin-bag in his mouth, but refuse to enter Moria for various reasons, including Durin’s Bane (which Dáin saw when he looked through the Gate).

My summary is horribly flat and I really recommend reading the relevant bit in Appendix A—it’s not long but it’s very vivid. And it’s got such a wonderful grimly defiant air that I don’t look forward to Emo Thorin being all “you killed my grandfather!” (Think Luke Skywalker rather than Inigo Montoya.) I also have an odd fondness for Dáin, probably because of the wonderful image in the Appendices of him “standing over the body of King Brand before the Gate of Erebor until the darkness fell,” and hate to see his role given to Thorin.

But I can see that moving Azog forward provides a single antagonist driving the action before they get to the Mountain, which is narratively useful. The change will also provide additional motivation for the goblins to show up at the Battle of the Five Armies, regardless of when Azog is defeated. (I suspect the final confrontation will not come in front of Moria simply because of geography (which means no Balrog foreshadowing, alas), but otherwise have no guess as to whether it’s at the Battle of the Five Armies or before.) In the end I think I’m just going to have to wait and see.

Miscellany

To wrap up character stuff: I have no opinion on Radagast, which kind of surprises me. Probably I will have one on later watchings, but right now, he just doesn’t cause any particular strong emotion in me one way or the other.

The White Council stuff was a mixed bag. I always love seeing Galadriel when she isn’t being forced into ridiculously overwrought special effects, but (a) the emphasis on her physical gracefulness was overdone to the point of distracting (I wondered at least once whether they had her on a turntable), and (b) I came away from those scenes thinking that the filmmakers shipped Galadriel/Gandalf, which was very odd. Also, as I saw pointed out elsewhere (and then lost the attribution, sorry, and do take credit if it was you): the story about the dagger being from the Witch-king of Angmar’s grave, where he was buried deep and sealed away with powerful spells, makes absolutely no sense. They all know that “Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall,” so they cannot possibly have expected him to stay put in his tomb!

The other thing that I took from those scenes was wondering about Saruman. On looking it up, his discouraging the Council from acting against the Necromancer is canonical (see “The Council of Elrond”). But I’m not sure what he gains from it. Could he have been communicating with Sauron that soon? Or was he just opposing whatever Gandalf wanted?

The length of the movie. Yes, it was very long, and yes, several things could have been trimmed. For instance, there was no need for a separate Smaug prologue, that could have been woven into the dwarves at Bag End. (That would also have made it less obvious how hard the movie was working to avoid showing us Smaug. Speaking of which, when I saw that (awesome) dragon kite, I was reminded of some other movie that did some kind of backstory/exposition with puppets or cut-out figures or something, and I cannot think of what. Anyone?) The worst offender, to me, was the endless knocking-over-of-goblins as they escaped out from under the Misty Mountains. This was not helped by either the ludicrous Acme physics conclusion, or the wasted death of the Great Goblin (who had a great voice even if his character design was needlessly gross). Similarly, the stone-giants were predictably over-the-top in a very characteristic way.

(Speaking of goblin deaths, I actually liked what the movie did with the golf joke.)

Special effects: I saw it in 2D and (presumably) at the usual number of frames per second, and, perhaps as a result, a number of shots seemed oddly blurry, such as the fast pans over the gold etc. in the Erebor prologue. I hope this will look better in Blu-ray. Of the other things I noticed, Glamdring and Orcrist weren’t glowing enough, but more importantly, the Wargs and Eagles still don’t look right! This does not fill me with hope for Beorn and his animals. But the thrush looked good (I was so glad that we didn’t see it swatted out of the air or eaten by a spider or something) and I loved that shot of Smaug’s eye. And of course New Zealand is beautiful and scenic and all the architecture is amazing, but you knew that already.

Enough about what I thought. What about you?


Kate Nepveu was born in South Korea and grew up in New England. She now lives in upstate New York where she is practicing law, raising a family, and (in her copious free time) writing at Dreamwidth and her booklog.

105 comments
Nancy Lebovitz
1. NancyLebovitz
I liked it enough that I want to see the second movie, in contrast to the first LOTR move which I hated so much I've never seen the second.

In some ways, I agree with the critical consensus-- excellent Bilbo, the action scenes were too many and too long, and the landscapes were wonderful. I liked the Goblin King better than Gollum, possibly because the Goblin King seemed to be having so much fun.

In the same spirit, I'm not sure that Azog contributed much-- partly because the Villain Who Is Stubbornly Opposed is a cliche, and mostly because he wasn't very interesting.

I've got mixed feelings about Thorin-- definitely eye candy, but a lot of visual cliches that I can't put a finger on to make him look heroic. Also, if he had the speech about the ordinary deeds of ordinary people, then that was completely un-Tolkien. A large part of the point was that the ordinary lives of ordinary people (hobbits) are valuable, but it's also important that ordinary people do extraordinary deeds.

I believe that Dwarves should have been built a good bit wider, though I grant that even Jackson has limited money and actors have limited endurance for appliances and it's possible that CGI wouldn't have been good enough.

Bilbo's speech about the importance of home was excellent.

I mostly liked Radagast, but I wish Jackson hadn't started out showing him as frantic. My gut-level feeling is that Tolkien wizards have more self-possession. I very much appreciated the off-hand mention of the two blue wizards.

Gandalf cracking the rock to kill the trolls was excellent. So were the wargs.

I can live with shipping Gandalf and Galadriel, and I hope I can find good fanfic on the subject. What I didn't want is the implication that he's lost his courage and she has to inspire him-- one of Gandalf's main traits is that he inspires courage.

I saw the movie in 2D, and occasionally there would be a visual element which was intended to be awesome in 3D. A bit intrusive, and probably not that interesting in 3D.
stephanie keenan
2. adriel_moonstar
I liked the movie, quite a bit more than I expected...but I'm still not convinced there is enough material for three(!) movies.

I too found the action scenes much too long and clearly shot for the 3D audience...but that's what the FF button on my blu-ray player is for.

(The movie with the puppet back-story is one of the Deathly Hallows films, can't remember which part. It's the visual while Hermione is telling the story of the three brothers.)
Laura Matthews2
3. Laura Matthews2
On this point: "The other thing that I took from those scenes was wondering about Saruman. On looking it up, his discouraging the Council from acting against the Necromancer is canonical (see “The Council of Elrond”). But I’m not sure what he gains from it. Could he have been communicating with Sauron that soon? Or was he just opposing whatever Gandalf wanted?"... My understanding is that Saruman was already seeking the Ring, and he knew the Ring would show itself to Sauron at some point. So he didn't want Sauron defeated or even humbled further because he needed Sauron's uber-mind-messaging to be the bait for the Ring. He then hoped to snatch it up himself.
Jeremy Goff
4. JeremyM
On my initial viewing of this movie I hated pretty much everything except the beginning when the dwarves are introduced and the Riddles in the Dark scene. I really disliked the addition of Azog and a lot of the little changes that were made that didn't make sense (like changing the scene with the trolls to Bilbo being the one to trick them). I went and saw it again yesterday because this is my favorite story of all time and really wanted to love the movie. On second viewing I did not loathe it as much as I did the first time. I was able to just relax and enjoy the ride. I'm still not a fan of Azog and I still think they made too many small changes, but in the end I was entertained.

I saw it in the IMAX 3D HFR presentation and while it is a visually stunning way to see the movie I really disliked it. It made it much easier to distinguish when you were watching CGI and it kept on making it impossible to suspend my disbelief in what I was watching.

Thanks for the re-read so far it's been a lot of fun to keep up with.
Laura Matthews2
5. oddballlucy
The backstory/exposition with puppets thing you're thinking of - probably the story of the Deathly Hallows in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1?

*spoilers ahoy!*

I enjoyed the film much much more than I expected to - my feelings going into it and coming out of it probably match yours quite well. But it seems to be one of those films/adaptations where the more I think about it the more problems I have with it. I am 100% not down with Action Hero Bilbo - it sort of goes against the very point of his character! And him calling his sword Sting is going to seem a tiny bit ridiculous in the continuity of the film - it's not like the first time he properly uses it now is to fight Mirkwood spiders! I completely agree about his character growth as well.

One of the most irritating things for me, however, was probably the notion of the Witch-king of Angmar being 'buried in stone with his sword'. Part of the point of the Nine is that they were tricked by Sauron (in a very Faustian fashion) and were made immortal by the rings of power - they were corrupted by them and turned into wraiths. Hell, in the LOTR films, Aragorn actually says "They are the Nazgul, Ringwraiths, neither living nor dead." There was no body to be buried!! The Nazgul aren't ghosts!! It would still irritate me, but this is made even more annoying because the Nine was something the LOTR film series actually did right, and in this film they're not following their own continuity unless it all turns out to be some sort of trick by Sauron (though I really don't see how that could be).

I also continue to be mildly annoyed by the fact that the races of Elves are not clearly defined by the film, although I did find it hilarious that just after leading a Rohirrim-esque hunting party to kill a load of orcs Elrond refuses to agree with Gandalf based on the fact that they have been living in 400 years of peace! (Let's also pretend that it totally makes sense for orcs to be travelling in broad daylight, and the fact that orcs and goblins are still the same damn thing, whatever the film likes to think!)

On the whole however, ignoring my inevitable fangirl bitching, I imagine this really was better than I anticipated, and even though I think it could be better it could also be an awful lot worse. I'm definitely seeing the next one!

(PS. Poor old Glorfindel! Still no sign of him! My friend and I kept laughing and imagining him saying "Um guys? I'm kind of a big deal. I killed a frickin' Balrog!" But this is mainly just because we love Glorfindel)

(PPS. I seem to be in the minority here, but I really don't like the dwarves designs. I especially dislike that the ones with 'characters' that I imagine we're meant to care the most about are the ones that basically look like hot dudes with big hair and stylish stubble, except for the old and wise one. How are they even shaving?! With their axes?! The one with the most stylish stubble doesn't even use an axe, he uses a bow and arrow - for some reason!)

(PPS. But seriously, I did actually enjoy it!)
David Levinson
6. DemetriosX
I saw it Boxing Day and in general I quite liked it. I have some of the same reservatons as Kate about a few things, but on the whole I'm looking forward to the next movie. I saw it in 3D and there were problems, which I haven't had with 3D before, especially with fast pans being very blurry. OTOH, it was mostly very subtle, without a lot of in-your-face effects, mostly using it to provide depth to a scene. I think many of the problems I had with the 3D had more to do with the fact that we were sitting rather close to the screen and off to one side.

Bilbo is great, but I found Thorin a little too young for the role. Someone just a tad more mature would have been better I think. Most of the other dwarves are about as faceless as they are in the book, except for Kili (who seems to be the heartthrob/eyecandy here and I bet he doesn't die) and Bofur, who I rather liked here.

Keeping Azog gives them a little more depth to the backstory, I suppose, but in the book the goblin king was Bolg, the son of Azog, which I would think could have served just as well.

The action scenes were a bit too much (made worse by the seating issue) and too confused. Also all the falling was ridiculous. But actually my biggest complaint is probably the consistent mispronunciation of Dáin and Thráin as one syllable with a diphthong rather than two syllables with separate vowels. And that when they got Óin and Glóin right. Thranduil's moose was also silly (and he may be able to out-swish Haldir, we'll see).

I think Saruman is simply being overconfident/overcomplacent about the Necromancer. His actual fall seems to have come much later, after Sauron's return to Mordor. OTOH, Jackson could be foreshadowing here. (Speaking of the fall of Saruman, I liked the tie-in of Gandalf using the moth to contact Gwaihir.)

PJ seems to start every one of these films with a history lesson. My guess for the next film is that it will be Gandalf finding Thráin and more about his motivations in supporting this expedition. It could be the fate of Sauron from his destruction at the hands of Isildur down to the time of the story, but that may fit better in the third film.
JoeNotCharles
7. JoeNotCharles
I thought it was weird that Balin was so old (and that he tried to persuade Thorin to be content with the life they had) - I always pictured him as being a kingly type second only to Thorin, based on the fact that he was the guy who went off to recover Moria. That seems like more of a younger dwarf's move.

As for Azog, I was profoundly unimpressed with him. Mainly because his casting meant we got an inferior replacement for Conan Stevens in the second season of Game of Thrones, and it's a shame to waste him on such a generic role.
Kristoff Bergenholm
8. Magentawolf
There was an earlier change in the movie that I wasn't thrilled about, but I'm not sure if I'm just nitpicking or not.

In the film version, Bilbo chooses to go on the Adventure once he finds the contract. In the book, it takes Gandalf getting him all flustered and off-balance to be nudged out the door the morning after without his pipe or pocket-handkerchiefs.

The up-close CGI of the Wargs and Eagles I found to be reasonable.. it's the distance shots where the Wargs were chasing Radagast or the dwarves that were horribly unconvincing. Also, yes, the flight from Goblin Town was terrible, especially because of the ending. Where'd they get all of that wood, anyway?

The stone giants simply made me facepalm.
Laura Matthews2
9. cofax
then lost the attribution, sorry, and do take credit if it was you

I don't know if you read my review (on LJ/DW), Kate, but if you did, I did comment on the Witch-King business. It makes no sense, especially IIRC, in the movie they actually say the Witch-King is dead, not just buried. And Jackson darn well knows he couldn't be, and The White Council knew about Glorfindel's prophecy (it was Glorfindel, right?) as well as anyone. So it's quite baffling to me.

Part of it might be that PJ is setting up a red herring, making everyone think the Necromancer is the Witch-King and not Sauron. I guess.

I wonder why, in all the backstory we got, they didn't give us the poem about all the rings, thus establishing that there is such a thing as a Dwarf-ring.

And I second your fondness for Dain: I suspect he's either not going to show, or will be very much sidelined. That's already started, with the reference during the party scene where Thorin says that Dain has blown them off, it not being his business. (Which I believe is wrong--he's a member of Durin's Line, isn't he? At least close enough to inherit after Thorin dies.)

I cannot agree strongly enough about Thorin=Boromir. Because I can't see Jackson missing the opportunity for a slow-mo scene in which Thorin, Fili, & Kili all go down. (Which I won't mind, so long as Bilbo isn't shown avenging their deaths!) But I suspect there's going to be quite a lot of sad fangirls at the end of the 3rd movie. But yes, the Majesticness of Thorin is so ridiculously overwrought.

And Bilbo attacking! Bilbo, the guy who gets through the entire book by using guile and sneakiness! Even when he does go into battle (with the spiders), he does it invisibly. No WAY would Bilbo have charged a goblin like that. I'm affronted, because it really does nullify the purpose of a Hobbit, and it radically changes Bilbo's character-arc. That's not burglar-behavior.

Anyway, great write-up, and now I have to go catch up on the last few chapters...
David Levinson
10. DemetriosX
Oh, and something no one has commented on so far: the music. I really liked it, especially the use of the Ballad of the Lonely Mountain as a recurring motif. My only real complaint would be the Neil Finn version played over the closing credits, which was a little too 70s/80s Scottish folk.

@7 JoeNotCharles: Balin is supposed to be old. Tolkien explicitly describes him that way when he arrives at Bilbo's door. I agree, though, that he shouldn't have tried to talk Thorin out of the enterprise.
Laura Matthews2
11. TBGH
I very much liked the movie except for a couple obvious flaws. The fight out of the goblin kingdom was ridiculously staged in its entirety. Half of the dwarves looked like miniature humans rather than dwarves. The bit with how the trolls captured the dwarves just happens to hit on one of my most hated clichés. "Surrender so we can kill you all or we'll kill the one we've got." And the less said about Radagast the better.

Other than that, I liked the addition of Azog as a B-villain because after all, the A-villain doesn't do anything for 95% of the story. I like how Gandalf in the Hobbit is just a little bit less commanding than Gandalf in LOTR and yet still is getting things done. And I loved the dwarf songs, both silly and serious.
Laura Matthews2
12. StrongDreams
If I recall correctly, the reason Sauruman was opposed to investigating the Necromancer is that he knew it was Sauron and he expected that if Sauron was driven out of Mirkwood, he would return to Mordor and declare himself openly. That would increase the chances that the ring would seek out its master and be found by forces loyal to Sauron. Sauruman wanted to look for it in peace while it was quiet.

Then, when Sauruman learned from the archives in Gondor that the ring was lost in the Gladden Fields on the borders of Mirkwood, he changed his position and helped the Council drive Sauron out of Mirkwood, because otherwise Sauron and his minions were too close to where Sauruman himself wanted to search.
Nancy Lebovitz
13. NancyLebovitz
Saruman's effort to wreck the Shire used to seem anachronistic to me-- much to0 modern. It's still rather modern, but Shippey pointed out that Saruman at the Council of Elrond talks like a modern politician, so at least he's consistently anachronistic.

In the movie of The Hobbit, Saruman again seems rather modern.... ignore what you've seen, I'm the expert, there are larger considerations than your concerns. (I'm reading Taleb's Antifragile.)

On the other hand, does it make sense that Galadriel would need to go behind Saruman's back to support Gandalf? This is a real question-- the situation as shown might be reasonable considering that the wizards are Maiar.
Laura Matthews2
14. Gardner Dozois
Did a review on my Facebook page. I liked it quite a lot, although, yes, it's obviously too long; of the four of us who saw it, three of us fell asleep. As a longtime Tolkien fan, I was delighted with seeing Tolkien's world brought to life, and stayed awake throughout--but it's too long. The stone giants were kind of silly, and should go, and the escape from Goblin Town went on much too long, especially with the collapsing bridges bit that would have killed all the dwarves except that they needed them for the next two movies. The Radagast flashback could have been done away with altogether, and certainly trimmed; they spend ten minutes on his tense life-or-death rescue of a hedgehog. The Council scene at Rivendell was too long, and put at least one member of my viewing party under. (A line from someone that a shadow was falling over the Wild Wood and evil was stirring would have sufficed to replace both much of the Council scene AND Radagast, who really didn't need to appear at all.) Some people have criticized the length of the initial introducing-Bilbo-to-the-dwarves scene, but I didn't mind that at all, and in fact thought it one of the best parts of the film, and the part the most like the book.

The most serious problem I had with the film was that it was uneven in tone. Parts of it were a children's book; parts of it were LOTR, and they sometimes fit together uneasily.

Martin Freeman did a marvelous job as Bilbo, and Andy Serkis was just as good if not better as Gollum than he was in the first movies. The Riddles in the Dark scene was electric, Freeman and Serkis played together magnificently, and it was the best scene in the movie, tense and scary in a way that shows what the rest of the film could have been liked if trimmed to fighting length.

I knew they weren't going to be able to just have the heavily-armed dwarves "popped into bags" by the trolls, and they handled that reasonably well--although I have a little difficulty believing that the dwarves would have dropped their weapons and condemed themselves to near-certain death just to save Bilbo; they seem a little too hardheaded for that.
Bob Musser
15. dogshouse
My biggest disappointment was in my own reaction to the 48 fps 3D- I wanted to love it, and feel superior to all the Luddites with their artsy-fartsy talk about how it was like watching TV or destroyed the "magic of film" and so forth, only to find I felt the same way after seeing it. I did think the 3D looked spectacular, and not at all in-your-face. Also, I liked that the 48 fps weekday matinee showings were only $6.50- possibly because not many people are seeking it out. I went at 12:10PM on a Wednesday, and I think there were 5 people in the theater. I plan to see the 24 fps 3D version next week.

I also thought the way Thorin was presented as an action hero/ heart-throb was laughably over the top, but I also have always had a problem with the way he was presented in the book. Until he goes Goldcrazy under the Mountain, he's pretty much a fussy CEO type (at least in his dialouge), and I wondered how he could inspire even 12 followers to put it all on the line for him. I can see why PJ felt he needed to tweak the character a bit, but as usual, cranked it to 11 when moving the dial from 3 to 8 would have been plenty.

I'm actually looking forward to seeing what they do with the Necromancer sub-plot. I always loved the LOTR Appendices, and most of my teenage daydreams about Middle Earth were were about what might have gone on in the rest of the world and in the deep past. If the internet had existed in the form it has now in the 70's, I'm sure I would have been all over the fan fiction. I remember I actually started to write a story where Frodo's ship from the Grey Havens was blown off course and shipwrecked, but it didn't go much beyond that. Maybe there would have been a TV movie featuring the Harlem Globetrotters at some point...

All in all, I was about as satisfied with The Hobbit as I was with the LOTR films, which was pretty satisfied, all things considered.
Phillip
16. yannhuei
the "backstory/exposition with puppets or cut-out figures or something" is kung fu panda 2, if you're thinking the same thing i am
Lyle Caldwell
17. Tower_of_Ganja
Kung Fu Panda 2, Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Pt 1, and Hellboy II come to mind.

I think Jackson was right to have Radagast do in about a week what Gandalf did over the course of about 150 years in canon. Not thrilled with the over-the-top pipeweed reaction, though I enjoyed Sylvester McCoy overall.

I look forward to hopefully watching Gandalf infiltrate Dol Guldor and finding Thrain and his ring.

And for the record, no problems here whatsoever with the emphasis on Cate Blanchett's perfection.
Maggie M
18. Eswana
I agree with several of the points made above, including most of Kate's. Gardener Dozois, I emphatically agree about the uneven tone. A friend of mine asked it the film was appropriate for his 9-year-old son, especially since they just finished reading the book together, and I waffled for a while before landing on "no." The silliness, Dwarf songs, etc. was accurate to the source material, which I appreciated, but it was very at odds with Epic Emo Thorin and Serious White Council is Serious. Hmm. I don't know if there was a better way to rectify it, actually, given that the book is a children's fairy tale but is part of a sweeping saga most certainly *not* a children's story. Ah well.

Thomas Monteath (on TORn) had some excellect points (here) about the strange handling of the Dol Guldor timeline. I'm really, really suprised no mention was made of Thrain having one of the Seven Rings, which would have provided easy continuty to the LoTR triology and better explained why Thrain "went mad" in the end. Maybe Gandalf will have an exposition fest at Beorn's house in the next film. We'll see.

Having now seen the film 3 times in theatres (all of them 2D, normal frame rate), it is apparent how much extra nonsense could have been excised for the sake of time. Keep the character development stuff (including 45 minutes in Bag End, which I really enjoyed), but cutdown the battle scenes and keep CGI-laden extras like the stone giants fighting to a minimum. I don't like the Azog thing; I find him annoying and bland as villians go. He serves as a plot device, but a boring one.

I was irritated by the ending "showdown" between Thorin and Azog. It was entirely anticlimactic. Thorin was basically knocked unconscious by a warg, and then Bilbo acted quite out of character as mentioned above. I suppose the "Bible rushing to save Thorin" thing sets up the whole Biblo-Thorin bromance PJ has apparently decided to go with, because it will make the deterioration of their relationship all ANGST-tastic in the end. But jeez.

As has been written elsewhere several of the dwarves (ahem, Fili, Kili, Thorin) seem a bit too attractive to be... well, dwarves. Unless PJ was going for Hollywood Homely, the only justification is that Thorin, Kili, and Fili are slated to die as in the book, and having them be the prettiest ones will make it all the more heartwrenching.

I did love Figwit's cameo. It was adorable, and didn't seem out of place.

Hopefully (though, not realistically) PJ will hear a lot of the feedback from both critics and fans about overblown CGI and unncessary overdone battles and keep that in mind when editing movies 2 & 3.

I predict Desolation of Smaug will include: Beorn, the spiders, the Elven King's halls/escape, and Laketown/Bard/death of Smaug, with a lot of "what Gandalf is up to" added in. I similarly predict that the Bibl0-Smaug conversation will be analogous to Movie 1's "Riddles in the Dark." (ie, everyone will adore it because it's about character, not special effects. Plus, Freeman and Cumberbatch are so brilliant in Sherlock I can't wait to see them square off as Bilbo and Smaug)

Of course, that will leave basically the entire 3rd film to be nothing but the Battle of the Five Armies, Thorin's demise, the Arkenstone debacle, and Biblo's return journey, which means the Battle of the Five Armies will be Helm's Deep-esque and take over more than half the film. Hopefully no shield-riding-down stairs this time...

All that said, I did really like the film. Flawed, yes, but enjoyable and one I know I'll buy on DVD and watch quite a lot at home (maybe fastfowarding through the overlong battle scenes).
Laura Matthews2
19. lampwick
@14 -- "The most serious problem I had with the film was that it was uneven in tone. Parts of it were a children's book; parts of it were LOTR, and they sometimes fit together uneasily."

And parts of it were violent action adventure, which didn't fit with either The Hobbit or LOTR. Those were the parts I disliked the most -- the book was so much less violent it really jarred.

That said, I agree with pretty much everyone else -- liked the beginning party (especially the singing), liked the riddle game, liked Smaug (what we saw of him). I sort of missed the hobbits' different coloured cloaks, but I can see that wouldn't have fit in with Jackson's imagery.
Laura Matthews2
20. i can't think of an alias
An excellent string of commentaries. I wish Jackson would read them before finishing the last two movies. However, since the Hobbit has already grossed over a half-billion world-wide, maybe he's not interested :)

Like everyone, the Riddles in the Dark sequence was my favorite, absolutely fabulous. I get less concerned about breaks from canon, they are inevitable in any adaptation. However, the over-blown action sequences are driving me nuts. I know it's a fantasy, but would anyone survive that ridiculous encounter with the stone giants without a scratch? The fantasy should be limited to magic and magical creatures, not to violating laws of biology and physics. I want a Tolkien movie, not a Transformer/Mission Impossible/fill-in-the-blank generic action film.

That being said, I did enjoy it overall.
Jean Hall
21. schmat22
@ #6 DemetriosX - I, too, saw it in 3D. We sat in the middle of the theatre, and I experienced blurring with fast panning, so it may not have been your location in the theatre. My daughter (who is taking digital media classes in college) thought that some of the special effects were a little off. I also found some of the colors to be more muted than the LotR movies, unless I am just remembering them more fondly. I will definitely go to the next two movies, as they are really three acts of the same book (even though that may be PJ's book, and not Tolkien's) & then I will know better whether or not I like the movie.

Most, if not all, of those who comment here seem to have read all of Tolkien's works, not just LotR & The Hobbit. Very interesting to read these comments and benefit from their knowlege.
Laura Matthews2
22. cisko
I generally agree pretty much with your whole review. Easy enough! It was enjoyable, had some rough moments, was too long, but ultimately worth watching.

Best scenes: the dwarves in Bag End, "Riddles in the Dark," and Bilbo's speech. Also enjoyed the portrayal of Radagast -- a bit loopy and hard to figure, but powerful too. And I liked the effort to characterize the dwarves -- that's a tough project but worth the effort.

I do think it's... unlikely... that we would ever see a more authentic movie of the book. (I'd say the same for LotR, though I'd put the odds slightly better because the alterations were a bit more odd.) H-UJ felt like Jackson decided, "when in doubt, we'll stick to the book". But that still leaves a lot of room for mega-movie shenanigans: the dashing young Dwarf prince; escape from Goblintown as a video game; the "you killed my father!" showdown. All that seems like trying to force the first 1/3 of the book (plus incidentals) into a traditional three-act popcorn movie. And, for that, it's... OK. Not great, but acceptable.

Perusing the cast list for the three movies, and I believe another actor (not Conan Stevens) was cast as Azog; Stevens is actually cast as Bolg. That makes me wonder about a Dain/Azog battle somewhere in the second movie... and that makes me a bit nervous. But if it leaves in Dain's look into the shadows of Moria, well, that scene I'd be happy to see.
Rob Munnelly
23. RobMRobM
Quick thoughts - I liked it; riddle scene was extremely good; I liked Radagast but the excessive chasing of his sled by the goblins (cue the Benny Hill music) was ridiculous; and why, pray tell, do Thorin and several other dwarves look so excessively human-like/undwarvish? It almost completely took me out of the movie.
Steven Halter
24. stevenhalter
I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. I liked the things that everyone liked--riddles, bag end, ... and I found Radagast to be more entertaining than I had feared as an addition--the line "These are Rhosgobel Rabbits, I'd like to see them try!", tickled me especially.
The Stone Giants were not at all as I had pictured them. I had traditional giants throwing boulders, not literally stone beings as my image. The trolls also grated a bit in this regard, as I hadn't pictured them as Moria type trols from LOTR, but rather really large rough guy types. And, of course, the chase with the goblins was a bit overdone.
Those were all lesser defects, though, and I am quite anticipating #2.
Bill Stusser
25. billiam
I absolutely loved this movie. Yes PJ changed some things, anyone who saw the LotR movies should have been expecting that, but I thought the changes made here were better done than in the LotR movies.

I saw the movie in Imax 3D and thought it looked great. The cost was a little much, $60 for four tickets (and two of those were kids priced),
but for this movie it was worth it. It looked and sounded amazzing.

I think the frame story with old Bilbo and Frodo was unnecessary but I can see why PJ would use it to tie in the two trilogies. This would have cut down on not only the length of the movie but also a lot of the drag that people are complaining about in the beginning of the film. I also would have liked to see the fall of Erebor told by Thorin while in Bag End instead of used as a prologue, but PJ likes to use that approach in his films.

As to the length of the movie, I didn't think it was that bad. Like I said, remove the frame story and I think it would have been about perfect (but then again, I like long movies). I took my 9 year old daughter with me and not only did she love the movie but she stayed awake and focused for the entire thing.

And best of all, after the movie was over she asked me if I had the book at home because she wanted to read it. She has read about three chapters so far.
Laura Matthews2
26. OldWoman
I saw it in 3D and enjoyed it immensely. The quality of fantasy and SF films has continuously improved over the last 50 years beginning with Tron.
There were obvious flaws, it could have used better editing. The battle scenes were too long but that's what appeals to many. I loved the visit of the dwarves. Bilbo is incredible and well played. The dwarves are too pretty but that is typical of Hollywood movies, everyone is pretty.
Just being able to watch this was a pleasure. If you want to keep it at the childrens fairy tale level, watch the old animated version.
Laura Matthews2
27. Reelah
Excellent review. I too saw it in 2D and noticed the exact same blurriness during some of the panned shots.
Bill Reamy
28. BillinHI
Not much to add to what's been said. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, given all the additions. Three movies is at least one too many! Thorin is way too pretty as well as too young. I had always pictured him as older, if not actually real old.

I saw it in 2D as my old eyes and glasses don't really handle 3D all that well and I also noticed some blurring, especially in the Goblin Town sequence (which was WAY TOO LONG!!). I wil certainly see the other two movies and will certainly buy the DVD/Blu-Ray's when they come out. Hopefully there will not be an extended edition! Oh, and I was mildly surprised at how long the movie ran when it was over: it didn't actually seem that long while watching.
Brandon Daggerhart
29. BDaggerhart
I wonder if the "puppet prologue" movie you're thinking of is Hellboy 2?

Good review, you pretty much hit on pretty much the same points I thought about the movie, though I will say I don't give a benefit of the doubt at all with Bilbo's Heroicness of Heroism at the end - they should have saved that for a fuller arc, I just thought it was over-the-top silly for him (of all the possible heroes in that scene) to be the one to tackle a freakin goblin.
Laura Matthews2
30. InvincibleIronyMan
I haven't seen the Hobbit yet, or the "awesome dragon-kite" that you mention. However, I'm guessing that the other film you mention, that did its exposition with cut-out scenes, is Coppola's Dracula with Gary Oldman in the title role.
Erik
31. gadget
For all of you who thought the movie was better than expected, you must have had very low expectations indeed! Butter scraped over too much bread. Too bad, as a lot of it was good fun. But the unnecessary Azog stuff tended to clutter the narrative and take focus away from Bilbo and the White Council/Dol Guldur story line. Not to mention the multiple beginings. And the angst, oh the Thorin angst.

By the way, in the books, Saruman was against attacking Dol Guldur 91 years previous to the events in the Hobbit (when Gandalf entered Dol Guldur and discovered it was Sauron, not to mention getting a certain Map and Key from a crazed dwarf in the dungeons) because he was hopeful that the Ring would show itself in response to its Master being active again. He agreed to the attack in the same year as the Hobbit because he noticed that the area around Gladden Fields (where Isildur fell) was full of spies from Dol Guldur. He certienly didn't want Sauron to get the Ring, so he agreed to the attack to set his rival (as he saw it) back.
Fredrik Coulter
33. fcoulter
I enjoyed the movie, having watched it on Christmas Eve. (Later that day was Les Mis, so I really movied out on that day.)

My nits had to do with the goblin scenes. The chase went on for far too long, without any sort of structure to it. But my biggest nit was the death of the Goblin King. "That'll do it"? Really? That's Jackson's idea of dying words?
Laura Matthews2
34. Neel Amin MD
the "backstory/exposition with puppets or cut-out figures or something"
is kung fu panda 2, if you're thinking the same thing i am
Kate Nepveu
35. katenepveu
Hi, everyone. Hope you had a good weekend, whether holiday-ish or otherwise.

Before I start individual replies: who knews there were so many puppet/cut-out/etc. sections of movies? I have seen _Hellboy 2_ though I don't have a single recollection of that scene, so I suspect I was thinking of _Deathly Hallows_, which I haven't seen in full but have seen that, err, scene. Thanks, all.

And thanks for reminding me about Saruman's motivations!

NancyLebovitz @ #1, I'm fascinated that you liked this and hated _Fellowship_. Obviously, that is not what I would have predicted! What was it about _Fellowship_ that turned you off so?

JeremyM @ #4, many people have said that about the CGI in the fancier showings, and since some of the CGI was obvious enough in 2D, I'm glad I went old-school. (I have a friend who gets DVD screeners and she told me that the DVD was in 48 FPS, so that will be interesting when the time comes . . . )

oddballlucy @ #5, what, Bilbo called his sword Sting?!? I completely missed that! When? (Also, I don't have an opinion on the dwarf character designs because mostly I don't have opinions on the dwarves. But it's a good point about their impracticality.)

DemetriosX @ #6, I demand all the canonical character deaths! (She says, bloodthirstily.) And you're right, Bolg would have been better in some respects--replace Dain with Thorin if you *must*, le sigh, but keep the awesome grimness of the head on the stake and all that.

JoeNotCharles @ #7, Balin's age is inconsistent! In the dwarf family tree in Appendix A of _LotR_, he is younger (b. 2763) than Thorin (b. 2746). And yet DemetriosX @ #10 is also right, he's described as "a very old-looking dwarf" in Chapter 1 of _The Hobbit_. Tolkien had a better idea along the way?

Magentawolf @ #8, you prefer Bilbo not actively choosing to go? That's so completely opposite my reaction that I'd like to know why.

cofax @ #9, I'm sure your review is where I saw the Witch-king problem first mentioned, thanks for refreshing my memory.

TBGH @ #11, I figure that the dwarves mostly looking human to me is partly because there are so many shots that are just dwarves + Bilbo, so they're all on the same scale, so they look "normal" to me--which is fine, the scaling-down worked better in some places than others in _LotR_ and I'd rather be immersed.

Re: the surrender to the trolls, and also to Gardner Dozois @ #14, I handwaved that mentally as having confidence in their ability to get out of it somehow, but yeah, there's a touch of a need for movie protagonists to be sympathetic in there, or more than a touch.

dogshouse @ #15, Thorin's leadership style in the book is somehow something I have not focused on! Perhaps this is childhood bias, perhaps it's the fact that the external motivations (gold, reclaiming home) are so compelling that I didn't feel the need to look further. Interesting.

Tower_of_Ganja @ #17, well, except that Thrain's Ring was apparently already taken from him by then--and in checking the timeline, I see that Thrain died about 90 years before Thorin sets out on his quest? That's quite a lot time for Gandalf to hold onto that key . . .

Eswana @ #18, the tone thing in the book works because it's a gradual change. Interleaving the Necromancer stuff was also going to present a problem, as a result. Though the whiplash could have been reduced by better transitions (someone, not me, mentioned one of the Rivendell scenes cutting straight from dwarf "humor" to the White Council, calling it "and now, at the Grownups' Table . . . ").

i can't think of an alias @ #20, yes, success does reduce the likelihood of anyone listening to external criticism!

cisko @ #22, I'm surprised to hear that we'll see Bolg as well! I thought he'd been dropped completely.

stevenhalter @ #24, you're perfectly justified in thinking of the trolls as more human-looking based on the description in the text.

billiam @ #25, go your nine-year-old reading the book!

OldWoman @ #26, one of the things that interests me about the book is the ways it _stops_ being a children's fairy tale! Hence my hopes for Thorin later on.

Reelah @ #27, though my husband did not notice the blurriness in 2D, so it may be something individuals are more or less suspectible to.

BillinHI @ #28, Thorin was about 200, and I think dwarves tend to run about 250 for a normal lifespan, judging by the family tree, so "not young" would certainly be reasonable.

gadget @ #31, I had _super_ low expectations. =>
T Neill
36. Anarra
Kate Nepveu wrote: (Speaking of which, when I saw that (awesome) dragon kite, I was reminded of some other movie that did some kind of backstory/exposition with puppets or cut-out figures or something, and I cannot think of what. Anyone?)

Heart of Gold an episode of Firefly does this and Whedon also does something similar in the movie Serenity.


Magentawolf wrote: Where'd they get all of that wood, anyway?

That was my first reaction also, until I remembered they lived under mountains covered with trees. Stone would have made far more sense, though. The whole goblin fight in the misty mountains snapped my suspension of disbelief into tiny pieces.


I’m also baffled at the change to the Dol Guldur timeline. (And the geography of Middle Earth—off in his rabbit sled from Mirkwood to the Great East Road on the other side of the Misty Mountains??!?) In the book, Gandalf had been to Dol Guldur to get the map and key (but not, alas, the ring) from Thrain. He knew it was occupied by a dark power. He’d been there many times over hundreds of years. (Which makes Elrond’s “peace” speech even more nonsensical.) And it was Sauron’s getting stronger that makes the One Ring leave Gollum.

And here is Jackson, again, changing things to make the film more tense when his source material, if handled as in the original, is more than tense enough. I can see bringing in the Necromancer story to the films (two films, please!) but the timeline makes no sense and doesn’t seem to mesh with what he already did in the LOTR films.


On a purely technical note, I saw it in 2D and 3D. In 3D the scenes with a lot of fast motion were very blurry. No more 3D for me!


Kate, Bilbo called his sword Sting after he attacked the spiders. So yeah, killing the warg before that makes that upcoming scene much more anticlimactic.

Also, Gandalf holds on to the Key and Map for so long because when he finds Thrain in Dol Guldur he doesn’t know it’s Thrain. Nor who his son is. Thrain was beyond being coherent at that point (how on earth he’d kept the key and map from Sauron I have no idea!) It took Gandalf a good long time to even figure out who the owner was, according to the book. (Though I always wondered as a kid how hard it would be to figure out who was the proper descendent of the King Under the Mountain? I mean the map is clear what it’s a map OF!)
Laura Matthews2
37. Dr. Thanatos
Disclaimer: going to see the movie tomorrow for the first time.

Ansara, Gandalf had only been to Dol Guldur twice according to the book: once several hundred years ago (at which time Sauron "retreated to the East" and they had a Watchful Peace) and the second time ~90 years earlier when he retrieved the map and key from the witless Thrain. Why Sauron didn't kill the dwarf as soon as he had the Ring may have proved to be the first in a Sequence of Unfortunate Events that led to the unfortunate incident of the Banana Peel of Doom, causing Smeagol to take the ultimate hot tub experience. Unless that door slamming as Gandalf entered the dungeon was Sauron chuckling and putting the Ring in his pocket. In which case Thrain may have been in "ring-shock" at having it forcibly taken from him (which Gandalf 2.0 tells us can ruin the mind).

Sting was indeed first named by Bilbo after he used it to kill a spider; I don't recall specific mention of him using it at any point before that except to make holes in his pocket. Related to this, I am told by my colleague Chaucer Doth Tweet that the singer Sting also glows blue in the presence of orcs. But that may be for another discussion thread.
Alan Brown
38. AlanBrown
Kate, I very much like your term "Acme physics" to describe the battle with the goblins. It encapsulates everthing I disliked about that scene. I had complained to friends that scene reminding me of a Road Runner cartoon, with everyone making impossible escapes, and surviving falls that should have killed them.
Also, count me as another who thought the dwarves looked a bit too slender and human-like. Not to mention handsome, which is certainly not a word I imagined being associated with dwarves.
On the positive side, I thought all the actors did very well, especially Martin Freeman, who has always been a favorite of mine.
In general, like Mr. Jackson's previous films, I enjoyed the movie. I look forward to the next ones, and hope that the story survives process of being expanded.
Laura Matthews2
39. HelenS
Can I just say that Bombur was the worst thing in the book, and they somehow managed to make him EVEN WORSE (though no longer the worst thing) in the movie? I knew that would happen, but I so hoped it would not. And he wasn't the only walking fat joke, either.

I think the head-butting thing when Balin and Dwalin meet is supposed to be an in joke -- something in the making-of sections on the extended DVDs of LOTR talked about how Viggo Mortensen was always doing that to other cast members.

My husband asked if there was anyone who'd been in both Harry Potter and The Hobbit, and I said, well, there was troll snot in both...

Did anyone besides me think of the stone giants as somehow half metaphorical in the book? It never seemed as though they were more than a slightly embodied personification of the storm. Certainly Jackson's version was far, far too literal.
Laura Matthews2
40. AdamF
A few things to note:

Everyone smoking...that's toned down a lot in movies these days, but I guess they can get away with it because it's pipes.

I was amused that in a movie which showed so many instances of people hanging off of other people over chasms and things, they left off the one instance that actually occurred in the book...Bilbo dangling from a dwarf under the eagle!

I liked the way Gandalf and Galadriel were chatting to each other telepathically over Saruman droning on and on and on. It just amused me.

They have set themselves up for a great introductory sequence for the next movie. Gandalf retells the story so far to Beorn, very soon in the narrative. I figure that was the Carrack (hugely oversized, but whatever) that the eagles dropped them down on.

Elves are a lot less silly in this version in Rivendell, but whatever. Good luck making that look right in a movie setting. Still, this makes me wonder how they will set up the escape from the elves of Mirkwood. Do we see an elf getting drunk?
Laura Matthews2
41. Dr. Thanatos
AdamF@40,

Re: Gandalf and Galadriel chatting.

Kinda like people texting each other during a dull lecture. Feanorean technology strikes again?
Laura Matthews2
42. HelenS
Yeah, there was way too much hanging off of things. Too many heights all the way around. Unfortunately I have a thing about heights. I really hadn't expected that to be a problem for so much of the movie.

It would have been interesting to see Azog start singing "Fifteen birds in five fir-trees..."

I was wondering about the drunk elf-butler as well. Very out of character for LOTR-style elves. He's the only elf servant we ever get a look at, isn't he? It does make you wonder about the class system among the Sindarin.
Laura Matthews2
43. StrongDreams
Saw it last night.

Top three nitpicks as a Tolkein purist:
#3. Glamdring and Orcrist should also glow blue. Sting glowing brightly then turning off like a light switch conveyed one useful tidbit about Gollum (that was obvious anyway) but prevents the sword from being used as a proximity detector.
#2. No Balrog at Moria. The explanation for why they did not occupy their ancient kingdom after defeating the orcs (too many deaths) does not make sense if Moria is empty for the taking.
#1. Why do Azog and the orcs attack right away after escaping out the back door? Goblins can't travel in daylight but orcs can? Or did it turn from day to night in the space of a heartfelt conversation?


Top three annoyances as a general movie goer.
#3. Radagast leading the orcs in a circular chase so that the dwarves can't actually escape. What's so complicated about "you go that way, I'll go this way"?
#2. The trolls, "Unless you surrender so we can kill you all, we'll kill one of you." It helped to set up Thorin's low opinion of Bilbo, but in the laziest most cliched way possible.
#1 thing that took me out of the movie? A Wilhelm scream during the escape from goblin town. Maybe Jackson thought he was using it as an in-joke or homage. But with web sites and youtube videos compiling the history and all the uses of the scream, it should really never be used again anywhere by anyone.
Bike Baykara
44. Amarie
I agree with most of the reviews here
@1 I do agree with this actually :
"What I didn't want is the implication that he's lost his courage and she has to inspire him-- one of Gandalf's main traits is that he inspires courage."

There is a reason Gandalf has Narya, the Ring of Fire, as Cirdan says

"For this is the Ring of Fire, and herewith, maybe, thou shalt rekindle hearts to the valour of old in a world that grows chill"

This is actually one of the few thing that bugs me about movie Gandalf and his relationship with Elven Lords and Ladies. There is a obvious deference to Elrond and Galadriel by Gandalf. Which I find a bit weird as although of course Elrond and Galadriel is beyond significant I am always in awe of them but Gandalf is a Maia and one of the Istari. While he is capable of great humility my impression especially from the Council chapter in the Fellowship was that he was also very aware of his position which is in high honor. These comminuications then actually for me should carry on a very similar position for both sides.

Anyways I actually liked this move more than Fellowship too simply because my expectations were not as high so I could enjoy the good parts at least without getting very very mad about the changes made.

I do wish someone would teach Peter Jackson a bit subtelty, not everything needs to be spectacular and grand for us to comprehend its importance.
Laura Matthews2
45. StrongDreams
@Amarie,
I'm not exactly sure what the hierarchy of the White Council should be. (I know what Sauruman thinks it should be, of course.) Sauruman and Gandalf are Maia, which are lesser angelic spirits, but they have only been embodied in Middle Earth for around 2000 years, and being embodied places limitations on the spirit. (And, as the Maia Olorin, Gandalf is described as the wisest and also most humble.) Elrond is around 6000 years old, which makes him their senior in experience, but he is also descended from a Maia, which might cause them to look on him like a grandchild. Complicated.

But Galadriel was actually born in Valinor. She is the only being in Middle Earth who has seen (and lived in) the light of the Two Trees. She has walked with the Valar. She is only two generations removed from the firstborn who woke under the stars. She is the most powerful Elf in Middle Earth and the most powerful Elf woman ever.

I thought all 4 of them were perfectly in character at the council meeting.
Laura Matthews2
46. (still) Steve Morrison
I'd argue that Orcs actually could travel in the sunlight if they had to, but were very reluctant to do it. This article cites several cases where they did exactly that.
Laura Matthews2
47. Dr. Thanatos
Just returned from viewing. Enjoyed the enhanced film-speed but after a while got used to it and didn't notice it.

No major departures from the book in terms of character (see: Aragorn and Faramir) except for Thorin, but I could live with it.

Overall I liked it. We got "in a hole in the ground" and "we hates it forever!"

For the record Galadriel is not hte only being in middle earth who lived in the light of the Two Trees, as there are still high-elves around. She is the last survivor of the rebelling nobility, though...
Laura Matthews2
48. mendosi
Hi everyone, came over to this reread from the Wheel of Time reread - interesting to get a bit more into the Hobbit since previously I just read it at face value, as a nice story, but there is a bit of interesting stuff to draw out of the story if you look.

I was not very impressed with the movie, to tell the truth. I thought the 3D treatment was a bit immature in general (eg. during the Radagast chase outside of Rivendell it really seemed that the action was scripted purely to produce eye-popping 3D effects), although there were specific scenes where subtle use of 3D really added something.

I wish that the story had started with Bilbo's good morning and growing naturally from there rather than front-ending the prologue with all its eye candy and drama. The stuff that was in the prologue could have been shown when Thorin revealed the purpose of the quest.

Two things I loved, though: the scene with Gollum was great, and I loved the way that the songs were integrated into the movie. I don't think I've heard anyone say that they thought either the dwarf's or the goblin's songs were tacky or out of place.

Will see again, but not in 3D and not 48fps.
Philbert de Zwart
49. philbert
While I acknowledge most of the complaints after the fact, during the film the only things that disturbed me enough to take me out of immersion were the fact that Glamdring and Orcrist don't glow in the dark, and the moment where Gandalf stepped off of the eagle onto the peak joining the dwarves there. That just looked very artificial and stunted to me.
Andrew Foss
50. alfoss1540
Sorry I am late to the Party here. But catching up. I did not see anyone commenting on the Dwarves song in BagEnd which did then and still does now give me goosebumps. Ignoring the lack of beards and the overall body shape of small humans, this scene sealed me buying Jackson's take on Dwarves.

I appreciated the rewrites on the Dwarves going home to the Lonely Mountain - and Bilbo's connection with Thorin about this that runs through to the end of the movie. Made the connection seem more real between the hobbit and the dwarves than even the book - especially with Thorin. This will make the upcoming Arkenstone betrayal much deeper in movie 2 I would think.

The Orc plotline? pointless and ridiculous, except as a plot device to sell movies 2 and 3. The White Orc looked stupid.

Overall I loved seeing specific scene's brought to movie-life (BagEnd, Trolls, Goblin Caves, Riddles). There were sparks of brilliance. Then there was the rest. Will definitely watch the next 2, and be prepaired to hold my stomach.
Laura Matthews2
51. Thomas Cardew
@kate
Re: Biblo choosing to go

I can't speak for Magentawolf, but I will say that I also prefer the way the book shoved Biblo out the door. IMO Jackson missed the whole tone of opening especially by making Biblo choose to go. In the book, things are much more rushed. The dwarves don't appear slowly with time for Biblo to argue with them. It's a rush, a flood, Biblo can't get his feet under him, then once he finally does he gets knocked right back off. He finally goes to bed, he has 'uncomfortable dreams.' Biblo's sentiments of adventures being 'nasty uncomfortable things that make you late for dinner' aren't overcome in a half second with the Hollywood assumption: OF COURSE I WANT TO GO AN ADVENTURE! Really? It means eating cold food, sleeping in cold, wet weather, traveling hundreds of miles to most likely get eaten by a dragon. PISH TOSH, WHERE DO I SIGN? Instead, it's just shouldered aside by Gandalf who pushes him out the door and sends him rushing after the dwarves. It's this sentiment that leads Biblo to declare in LotR that 'it's a dangerous business stepping out your door...' Biblo knows this because he got swept up himself, not because he chose to go. And this sense of being swept along doesn't go away in book; Biblo is always being swept along. Whether it's by the dwarves to go steal from the trolls, or by the goblins into the mountains, or getting caught in the elves wake as they capture the dwarves, Biblo's actions are determined by the world around him rather than his choices. Which is more realistic IMO.

Also, having Biblo choose to go completely changes arc of the story. In the book, Biblo still isn't truly invested in the adventure until he gets to the Mountain. Even in Laketown, once he breaks Thorin out of the barrel, his words are something to the tune of: If you want to go on with this affair, after all it is your affair not mine, help me get the other dwarves out... It's not until he chooses to go down into the mountain to look at Smaug and steal the cup that Biblo truly has/exercises any agency. After that point he's a much more active character. If you move that decision point to the beginning of the story you void his whole character growth. You need to rewrite the whole story to reflect that change, hence it has to be Biblo who tricks the trolls, Biblo has to decide to leave in the cave, and Bilbo has to rescue Thorin with improbable swordsmanship. These are retcons Jackson HAD to put into the story to make Biblo be consistent with his initial choice. If you want Biblo to be more active and involved you have to rewrite the story... And after seeing what Jackson's interpretations of Aragorn, Faramir, Denethor, Arwen, and Elrond became... I'm not sure I want to see that.

/Wall Of Text
Kate Nepveu
52. katenepveu
Anarra @ #36, I can understanding my forgetting "Heart of Gold," because I didn't like that episode, but what I am forgetting about _Serenity_?! And oh, okay, you're not saying that Bilbo called the sword Sting yet, just that his reason to name it in Mirkwood is much reduced. Makes sense.

AlanBrown @ #38, I'm pretty sure I stole the phrase "Acme physics" from Chad (my husband, the resident physicist).

HelenS @ #39, yes about the stone giants and you're quite right about the fat jokes.

AdamF @ #40, yeah, very few kids are likely to go down to the store and buy a pipe and tobacco . . . And I'd forgotten about the drunk elf! I bet that'll change, no question.

StrongDreams @ #43, philbert @ #49, re: Orcrist and Glamdring not glowing--I know, right? You'd think with all the other CGI marvels that couldn't have been _too_ hard, I just don't understand it.

Amarie @ #44, I can't see the White Council as operating on anything but an informal majority rules (consensus preferred) model.

mendosi @ #48, alfoss1540 @ #50, I can't believe I didn't mention the songs--the slow mournful song in Bag End gave me chills.

Thomas Cardew @ #51, I see what you mean about Bilbo's character arc, but I choose to see it as a momentary outweighing of the Took side--which does happen in the text, just at the "wrong" moment--and then the constant battle throughout. Because I don't want to be mad at Gandalf for shoving him into something he doesn't really want. Maybe not the best reason, but there it is.
Laura Matthews2
53. Thomas Cardew
@kate

Fair enough. The character arc comments are the critic in me analyzing what happened; I just prefer the tone of be swept into the adventure reluctantly rather than throwing yourself into it. I understand your Gandalf concern but I've always thought visits from a wizard fell into the act of god category of hurricanes and tornados.

Re: the music. I liked the songs from the movie but the true songs for me will always be the unabridged Soundelux dramatization of The Hobbit from my childhood. I need to go find those cds...
Laura Matthews2
54. stardreamer
Reading the comments is interesting; one can't help but notice that for every scene one person absolutely hates, there's another who liked it.

On to specifics...

Yes, Martin Freeman now owns Bilbo Baggins on a level that even Ian Holm did not. This has more to do with Bilbo being the hero of The Hobbit vs. a secondary character in LOTR than it does with either actor individually. But I don't think they could have made a better casting choice for this part.

I also like Bilbo making his own choice to go on the Quest. I've become much more sensitive as an adult to the dynamic of MAKING someone do this or that "for their own good" -- if you don't have an author standing over you to make sure it comes out right in the end, this can easily slide into abuse, so the trope makes me twitchy now in a way that it didn't as a child.

There were definitely some things in the White Council scene that weren't even hinted at in the book. First off, it's obvious that there's something hinky going on with Saruman, which we notice but I think the rest of the Council doesn't because he's still running on his past reputation. Secondly, yes, more than a hint of some sort of relationship between Gandalf and Galadriel, which I am choosing to interpret as unrequited love on his side and affection on hers.

I spent a significant part of the movie reminding myself that this started out as a kiddie story, which got me past a lot of things that might otherwise have been annoying, such as the Toon physics in the Hall of the Goblin King. (Also, I want to go back and watch it in 3D, because it's obvious that several of those scenes were specifically written to show off the 3D tech.) And yes, I also noticed the unevenness between the "kiddie story" bits and the parts that are serious LOTR prequels, but I don't see how it could have been avoided with two such disparate goals in a single story.

Radagast wasn't nearly as annoying to me as he seems to have been to others -- and I loved the rabbit-drawn sleigh!

I am happy to report that, according to the liner notes on the soundtrack CD, that is actually the Dwarves singing in Bag End. I wonder if "baritone/bass voice and some singing ability" was a factor in the casting for them? But I'm sorry to have lost "Fifteen Birds in Five Fir Trees," simply because the Bakshi version of it was ghodawful and I was hoping that Shore would redeem it. Eh bien, I can still hope for it on the extended DVD, I guess.

Fili & Kili are definitely meant to be the eye candy, and I can rationalize their shorter beards because they're very much the youngest of the group. Still, hot or not, I'm going to be rather annoyed if they or Thorin get a happy ending. (Incidentally, there's already some excellent fic dealing with those deaths and the ones left behind to mourn.)

HeroicAction!Bilbo is weird, and also painfully obviously only there to set up the Big Reconciliation Scene with Thorin, which was more than a little eye-rolling. But you know going into any Jackson film that there will be a few things that hit you that way -- you just don't know what they'll be.

I can't imagine how anyone could fall asleep during the movie, unless they're much older than me inclined to midday naps in the first place. :)

One very minor niggle that no one else has mentioned: the dwarves-onna-spit in the troll scene are nowhere near enough to the fire to have been actually being roasted. I'll give them this as storytelling necessity, but it still bounced me out of the scene a bit.

Figwit has an actual name now! He's in the credits as "Lindir".

Overall, I enjoyed the movie, although it didn't knock me on my ass the way Fellowship did. OTOH, since neither Two Towers nor ROTK did that either, I suspect that a lot of that was just knowing what to expect after the first one. I do think it will pay for re-watching, just because there's so much going on that I need more than one viewing to properly parse it all.
Laura Matthews2
55. Gardner Dozois
One of the ones in our party who fell asleep was younger than you, Stardreamer, unless you're younger than seventeen.
Birgit
56. birgit
It was silly that Gandalf forgot the names of the blue wizards. There are only five Istari, certainly he can remember all the names. Just because Tolkien didn't name them in the official books doesn't mean Gandalf doesn't know them.
Saruman's reaction to Radagast was very fitting.
Laura Matthews2
57. a1ay
Thrain was beyond being coherent at that point (how on earth he’d kept the key and map from Sauron I have no idea!)

The DVD version will include a long deleted scene in which an older Dwarf, played by Christopher Walken, explains this to the young Thorin.
David Levinson
58. DemetriosX
@56 birgit:
Jackson & company literally couldn't name the blue wizards. They don't have the rights to any source materials that give their names (only the Unfinished Tales IIRC) and to have done so would have caused massive problems with the Tolkien estate, which would love any excuse to shut the whole thing down anyway. Gandalf has to provide a little background on the wizards for the non-initiated, but once he says there are five of them, we would naturally expect him to name them all since there are so few. I suppose he could have said something like, "But I cannot tell you their names" which would have been a real dig at the estate, but then people might have expected that to be important.
Rich Bennett
59. Neuralnet
I saw the movie in 3D on the 24th with my 10 year old son. He had just finished reading the Hobbit for the first time. Personally I liked the movie, thought it was too long and they got off on some tangents, but in general I thought it was good. But he LOVED the movie. It was funny because some of the parts I didnt really like... the inclusion of Azog, the lack of tunnels and chase scene in the goblin mountain, he absolutely loved. I think a lot of those action sequences that to me seemed unnecessary were really meant to bring in the casual fans/moviegoers.

Martin Freeman as Bilbo and the scene with gollum were my favorite parts... great stuff
Laura Matthews2
60. oddballlucy
Question - did anybody else have an audience that laughed out loud at numerous points in the Riddles in the Dark scene? Mine kept laughing - and while I understood why (sort of), it kind of irritated me. I always felt Riddles should be an extremely tense scene - the audience I was in with sort of ruined that for me a little. But I love Andy Serkis so much!

@#46 stillSteve Morrison - Thanks for the link, interesting read! Point definitely accepted, but although there was a misunderstanding on my part it still grates for me I have to confess! It feels as though orcs would be much more inclined towards attacking at night, but it's not a particularly big deal.

@#50 alfoss1540 - I completely agree about the White Orc. And even if he didn't look silly (why is he CGI?! It's such a shame when one of the great things about the LOTR was the brilliant use of prosthetics, makeup and costume), what got me more about him was his utter stupidity - first he has a classic Darth Vader-esque 'kill the minion who failed' moment, and then he does the whole "No-one can kill Thorin but me" thing, where after saying this, the second he's beaten Thorin and got him right where he wants him he inexplicably turns to a minion and tells him to "cut off his head". I understand the logic behind having him there (kind of) but does he have to be so badly written as well?

@#54 stardreamer - I tried to convince myself that Fili and Kili having shorter beards was because of their age, and while it may be as good a reason as any it certainly makes Thorin's appearance seem even more silly, and... I don't know. I guess it just looks so deliberate it doesn't work for me, and I'll accept that this may well just a personal quirk .

@ everybody - I'm so glad I wasn't the only one bugged by the fact that Glamdring and Orcrist didn't glow!!
- I really should've mentioned the music. It was lovely - the song in Bag End was a highlight, and I would love to hear the full version!
Kate Nepveu
61. katenepveu
stardreamer @ #54, I kind of love it when we get diametrically opposed opinions, because I think the infinite variability of humanity is really cool (well, at least when it comes to things like reactions to entertainment). Thanks for reporting that it's the actors singing--I imagine not _all_ of them needed to be able to sing for the scene to work, but I imagine the commentaries etc. will tell us.

birgit @ #56, yes, the lack of names for the blue wizards was awkwardly done . . .

. . . DemetriosX @ #58, I'd forgotten that they had names elsewhere! I don't remember exactly how the conversation went, but still, something like "in the east, who you're likely to never meet" or "who go by many names" or _something_ would have been better.

Neuralnet @ #59, hooray for capturing the love of the younger generation!

oddballlucy @ #60, I am pleased to say my audience do NOT laugh in "Riddles", which is good because I would have been very upset!
Agnes Kormendi
62. tapsi
"the Witch-king of Angmar’s grave, where he was buried deep and sealed away with powerful spells, makes absolutely no sense."

Especially because once you kill a Ringwraith, there's not much left to bury.... but that whole scene made no sense. 400 years of peace? Saruman thinking he (or anyone in the White Council) has the authority to directly order a heir of Durin? Okay, his wisdom is failing, but that's just plain stupid and too blunt for a politician like him.

By the way, I really hated the LoTR films, but I enjoyed The Hobbit :) I think it was because Martin Freeman's just such a perfect Bilbo.
Laura Matthews2
63. ilverai
Most of your review aligns fairly closely with my own views on the film...and actually brought to mind things I liked and didn't like that I hadn't originally thought of.

I've written many reflections on the film and film vs book since seeing the movie so I may be a source, though I'm sure that others also followed my train of thought:
http://ilverai.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/secondary-impressions-thauj/
http://ilverai.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/the-hobbit-an-unexpected-journey-initial-thoughts/
http://ilverai.wordpress.com/2012/12/23/the-hobbit-auj-contemplating-change/
Laura Matthews2
64. Nintendo Loyalist
I saw the movie in 3D 48fps the first time, then regular 3D a week later. The 48 fps version was jaw-droppingly amazing. I failed to see any of the cgi issues some of you have been voicing. I thought it was phenomenal, although it did take some time to get used to. The only difference I noticed in regular 3D was the motion blurring in action shots, and especially where they were showing the interior of Erebor. I'm fine with the length, and I really hope there's an extended DVD. I was fine with the deviations from the book, with one exception. I was really hoping the eagles would talk this time, but I guess they were being consistent with the LotR films. 2013 should be a good fantasy year, what with film 2, Memory of Light, and Blood of Dragons.
Laura Matthews2
65. wizzo
Everyone has posted such great reviews!!!

I agree on a lot of them. Witch King of Angmar buried under "excuse me"... Where did that come from... Bilbo "wanting" to go off!!! Really, the dude ran out the door being "proper" to fulfill an obligation he "accidentally" made.... Bilbo actually attacking ANYONE!! Really...

But all in all for Hollywood, not to bad eh. We folks that read the actual books have to admit eh... Think about Boromirs brother actually taking Frodo et al to the King in the LOTR movies... It could have been alot worse..

Many thumbs up by this character.
Laura Matthews2
66. CellatSea
Just a few quick points:
- Glamdring and Orcrist not glowing is deliberate on the part of the filmmakers. Apparently, they thought it would be confusing for the audience since they made such a big deal out of Sting glowing. And Glamdring doesn't glow throughout all of LoTR...I remember that bothering me tremendously, but I suppose it's good to have confirmation that it's not a mistake.

- I really enjoyed the Dwarf chase through the Goblin City. I took it as a continuation of the dwarves' strange agility, already emphasized by their actions in Bag End (crack the plates, indeed). My uncle describes it as a kind of magic, they can keep doing more and more crazy things, working together, but the second someone says something to bring attention to the inanity of it (in the Goblin City, somedwarf says something like "Well, that went better than expected") the magic ceases and reality comes crashing in.

I really liked how the constant use of this frenetic, slightly surreal fighting, served to distinguish how dwarves fight when among themselves as compared to the more stately fighting of the Elves, or the traditional fighting styles of the Men we're used to in LoTR. We don't see any other dwarves fight in LoTR, just Gimli, so I chose to accept this as dwarf-fight-style.

I saw in a review somewhere the movie referred to as feeling like the LoTR Extended Editions. I've only watched the extended editions (with the exception of the times I saw the movies in the theatres) so for me, the pacing and the story telling and length were familiar. I'm used to sitting for 4 hours to watch the stories of Middle Earth, so maybe that had something to do with my enjoyment?

Either way, with the exception of some of the timeline stuff, I understood all of Jackson's changes as storytelling conventions and I was willing to give it to him. I loved it, and I can't wait for the next films.
Orayelle Johnson
67. Orayelle
Orayelle Johnson
68. Orayelle
I did not do any pre-rereading for The Hobbit, because I am something of a movie-must-be-like-the-book nazi, but I did astonishingly well this time. Overall, I absolutely loved it.
I must say, the…silliness of the movie surprised me, but through it they found a pretty good balance between making it the same as The Lord of the Rings and making it its own movie. The second time I watched it – better prepared – I enjoyed the humour of the movie a lot more.

I must agree, the Thorin looking over the edge of the cliff while Balin tells his sob story…yeah, that bugged me. The dramatic Azog attack in the end was just silly. First of all, playing the Nazgul theme song right then? Bad decision. Totally didn't fit. Then having Thorin get completely whupped by Azog's warg? What?! Then, after getting completely whupped and chewed up by said dog, Gandalf whispers a few words and poof! All better?!
Gandalf and Galadriel's "mind-talking" right over Sauruman like he's a fool…? That really bugged me.
Azog was fine, Bilbo was adorable, Thorin was Richard Armitage (need I say more?), the other dwarves were hilarious. Oh, and the Misty Mountain song gives me chills…still. I can't listen to that song without chills, it's amazing.

I loved The Lord of the Rings movies. I thought most of their plot deviations from the book stunk, but I still loved them. I didn't love The Hobbit story quite as much, and became extremely aprehensive when they split the movie into three parts (how much would they have to add to the story…?), but was pleasantly surprised.
The reason is because The Hobbit plot didn't deviate from the PURPOSE of the story. Faramir's murder in The Lord of the Rings, and Frodo's crazy decision to suddenly trust Gollum over Sam…? Those were terrible. Faramir had a specific purpose in the books which was lacking in the movie (even those he was "redeemed" in the end), and Frodo's actions just don't make any sense.
The Hobbit doesn't have any of those problems. Sure they add and embellish, but they stay true to the point and it turned out pretty legit. I can't wait until it comes out on DVD so I can watch it again!
Laura Matthews2
69. HelenS
Re the blue wizards: maybe Gandalf should have said "We just call them Tim."
Laura Matthews2
70. NickyK
I last read "The Hobbit" 40 years ago so I wasn't too worried about how the book might be changed for the needs of a major movie because I wasn't sure I'd notice after the passage of time. If anything, I was intrigued to see how it could be adapted into three films and thus far am reasonably pleased with the results.

In fact, when watching the film I was surprised how much of the book remains in my mind and I was able, almost immediately, to identify episodes that were not in the novel but were gleaned from the Appendices. These inclusions did not bother me since, generally speaking, they remain true to the over-all world Tolkien created. My only concern is that children who see the film and are inspired to read the book won't be disappointed because the novel "leaves out the good bits, Daddy!"!!!

Only one of the major "changes" that did grate was the reference to the Witch King of Angmar (dealt with in Kate's excellent review and many commentators here). While I wasn't especially concerned that the sword Radagast obtains is that of the Witch King, I was momentarily mystified by all this "deep in a tomb under loads of rock and, by the way, it's locked with a spell" stuff. Why was this explanation necessary? Changing original source material because it works better, when changed, on screen is one thing. This change, in my opinion, didn't work any better nor did it add anything necessary. Yes, I saw a point to the thing Radagast encountered being identified as the Witch King, sure. I didn't see the point of this "he's stuck in a tomb" change. Perhaps this will be developed in the second film.

Personally, I loved Radagast - probably for all the wrong reasons. While I think he was fine in the film, my appreciation was influenced by my sudden realization: “Oh, it’s Doctor Who!”. I think Gandalf and his ilk being Time Lords has probably been dealt with elsewhere, but it made me smile. I kept on expecting Ace to appear and blow something up. Yes, the running around in circles to lead the enemy directly towards those you were trying to protect did have a Benny Hill element that also made me think of “Monty Python Holy Grail”.

One thing that did strike me during and afterwards was how samey this was to “The Fellowship of the Ring” in many respects: a hobbit unwillingly sets off on a quest, some problems with strange nasty creatures. He and his chums reach Rivendell. Some chat with the bloke from “The Matrix”. Hobbit and chums set off again. Some problems with nasty creatures (underground mainly, including lots of running across crumbling platforms at great heights). Nasty battle at end of film but quest will go on because there are two more films to come!

I am not trying to say that this is the same film or story. Of course it isn’t, but as the movie continued, I couldn’t help but think about similarities (especially the action material and the back-story parts). The underground shenanigans with the goblins felt, for me, like “Mines of Moria light”. Some scenes even felt like cuts from the earlier movies; and, inevitable because of the story-line and quest plot, there were the constant shots of our heroes riding (or trudging) across bits of New Zealand towards the next crisis.

However, this is a minor quibble and probably a bit unfair in that both this and the previous films inhabit the same fictional world and are made by the same director!

I had no major problems with the characters as portrayed in the film (Radagast being an exception only in my own puerile reaction!). I could be “picky” and say I had thought of Bilbo as being a bit older (he is, even by hobbit standards, middle-aged in the novel) but the superb performance by the actor countered that plus I seem to remember that hobbits age gracefully anyway. Gandalf didn’t look any younger, but then the book is set a mere 50-60 years before the Frodo stories. Plus he’s a wizard! So, that didn’t matter (plus I appreciate what either Kate or a commentator said about Gandalf seeming a bit “younger” and less knowledgeable about what was going on in Middle Earth. Worked for me!)

I wasn’t really able to get a firm knowledge of which dwarf was which. Even at the end of the movie, I was still only really sure that Thorin was the “Aragorn substitute” and the rest were the others. Yes, one or two of the others did have developed characters, and I accept that it is probably my lack of concentration that is at fault. Also, to be fair, when dealing with a large ensemble of actors it is not an easy task to give them all each individual and memorable characters.

Thorin did annoy me to some extent because he didn’t fit in very much with my memory of the novel. In the book, he seemed, to me, to be remote, obsessive and already a bit Macbethian in potential for tragedy. In the film he seemed more to be snippy, with anger-management issues and in need of a therapist.

Thorin in the book seemed to be a “driven” person whereas here he seemed, well, “pissed off” and angry. Perhaps the weakest moment, for me, in the film was when one of the dwarves tells Bilbo some back-story while Thorin sits, within ear-shot, his back turned and being all brooding and gloomy and angst-ridden. Are we supposed to feel emotional for Thorin? I just felt: “Oh, get a girlfriend, for God’s sake”. This was not the fault of the actor (who played the hand dealt to him most excellently). However, trying to make Thorin more appealing to the “girl-audience” by making him “Aragorn 2” detracted from the character. I waited for most of the film for one of the dwarves to say to Bilbo: “Don’t let his bad attitude get to you…He’s…deep!”.

(As an aside, Thorin sitting alone and brooding while someone recounted his back-story reminded me of Bond in “Golden Eye” on the beach after some major fracas, mourning for his lost wife etc. Equally out of place, in my opinion).

So: to sum up:

Worst aspects:

1. Thorin as explained
2. The stuff about the Witch King. Successful story-telling, as much in novels as in films, depends on the willing suspension of disbelief. If the viewer or reader pauses and thinks: “Hey, that’s just wrong”, then the magic has gone
3. I was going to include the over-done action sequences, but it seems younger viewers loved those!

Best aspects:

1. Remained surprisingly true to the novel and the Tolkien writings in general (despite the Witch King thing – yes, sorry, this annoys me the more I think about it!)
2. Visually stunning – I saw it in 2D so had no problems
3. Music was great
4. Excellent performances all round
New favourite moment since reading all the comments here:

I loved the idea of Glad and Galf text-messaging each other while Saruman witters on and on in one long monotone. I’d have loved it if Glad has said to Galf: “Dinner?” . “Sure. I’ll bring the wine”.

My over-all rating:
Seven and three quarters out of ten. Good beyond hope? No better and no worse than I expected. Well worth seeing.

Thanks for the great review and the fascinating comments!
Laura Matthews2
71. Dr. Thanatos
1) Gandalf and Galadriel mind-skyping during the Saruman Lecture: I actually found this amusing. Reminds me of students texting each other during a boring class.

2) I also wondered about Glamdring and Orcrist. Perhaps the trolls left them switched on and the batteries ran down?

3) 400 years of watchful peace? That's straight out of the Tale of Years. Gandalf made his first party-crash at Dol Guldur, Sauron took a hasty vacation to the east, and the Watchful Peace started, which I think lasted about 400 years. I give them credit for throwing in that part for us mega-geeks...
Laura Matthews2
72. pilgrimsoul
Finally saw it. Wow! What a visually stunning and beautiful movie--and I count Martin Freeman, Richard Armitige, and other Hot Dwarves and Elves in the beauties of the film. I didn't find it bloated or draggy at all, but I could have done without Old Bilbo and Frodo, and the deal with Radagast was--unfortunate--not true to Tolkien and in dubious taste.
Laura Matthews2
73. Nobleknits
Thank you, Kate, for clarifying so much of my frustration with the film. I saw it, at the late preview show, with two very excited 11 year olds. Their class has been taking the novel apart in literature circles, and also looking at some of your re-read posts.

The only scene that made the whole theatre come alive, really sit up and take note, was Riddles in the Dark. and you have to think this was an audience full of geeks....and yes, some people laughed aloud, I think partly in response to the brilliant argument Serkis was portraying (seriously, that first "shut up!" almost did me in, because I's been waiting for a chance to respond to anything at an emotional level). It was the only part of the film that really worked for me.

my two biggest issues? Bilbo, action hero, and the horrific elements added by Azog. My 9 year old, who's read the book, isn't going to see this because of those.
Laura Matthews2
74. Professor Y
I'm surprised st the continued confusion regarding orcs and goblins. Despite the damage the likes of D&D has done to Tolkien's work, the word orc is simply elvish for goblin. Saruman's fighting Urak Hai were actually hall-orc half human crossbreeds.
Laura Matthews2
75. pilgrimsoul
Spoiler alert for any as needs it.

One other thing nags at me, and maybe other viewers can clarify the issue. If I am remembering correctly, in the book Bilbo just happens on the ring. He's crawling around in the dark and finds it--or it finds him (ahem). He has no idea until much later that it's Gollum's. But in the movie he sees Gollum attacking the orc and the ring fly out of Gollum's pouch, so he knows the ring is Gollum's. Bilbo picks it up and puts it in his pocket--something most of us wouldn't do. Now Bilbo forgets about the ring, but during the riddle game he does realize in fact what he has in his pockets. The movie implies that Gollum is right and that Bilbo is in fact a thief.
Is this meant to show the corrupting power of the ring? Anyway it bothered me.
Agnes Kormendi
76. tapsi
Dr. Thanatos: "400 years of watchful peace? That's straight out of the Tale of Years.Gandalf made his first party-crash at Dol Guldur, Sauron took a hasty vacation to the east, and the Watchful Peace started, which I think lasted about 400 years. I give them credit for throwing in that part for us mega-geeks..."

For me, it just came too hot on the heels of "Sauron vanquished" and really sounded like it implied Sauron had been vanquished for all of 400 years. Also, Saruman talked about Sauron as if he could never trouble them again, but if we go by the books, they already knew Sauron was back in the game (and Gandalf paid him a visit in Dol Guldur). The darkening of Greenwood to Mirkwood was ancient news as well, unlike in the film. For me, it sounded like Saruman was trying to sell them that Sauron AND his minions were as good as gone, but if we follow the books, they all knew the Ringwraiths were on the loose (NOT buried, you don't bury a Ringwraith) and Sauron was active (even if hiding).

pilgrimsoul: I don't think Bilbo saw everything we, moviegoers were meant to see. I don't think he could see a small ring fall out of Gollum's pocket what with the fighting and the darkness (I suspect he would still be too horrified by one creature bashing the other's head in to pay much attention to such small things) and he only found the Ring because it reflected Sting's light.
Laura Matthews2
77. rehg
The Hobbit was watchable, but I can`t help feeling disappointed that Jackson decided to stretch and add to the storyline in such away just to make a trilogy (doubt the reason is anything else but financial).
Had he crammed it together and made one long movie then perhaps it would have lived up to, or even surpassed, the impact the LOTR trilogy made when it came out. But all that aside I would be lieing if I said I wasn't happy that the Hobbit is on the big screen, and that I hope that Jackson can pull a rabbit out of his hat and surprise us in a positive way with the next two films... Surelly Mikael Persbrant as Beorn will be awesome!!
Judith Moffett
78. judithmoffett
I hated the movie almost all the way through. I think Tolkien would have loathed it as well. Not, of course, the scene between Bilbo and Gollum, which showed just how good the whole thing could have been. And I was pretty much okay with the early scenes in the Shire. But the dwarves singing "That's what Bilbo Baggins hates!"--the kiddie book element-- juxtaposed against the interminable decibels and violence of the orcs in the Hall of the Goblin King? I was already filled with loathing by then, and kept being thrown out of the story by so much noise and nonstop violence and preposterous mountain trolls and so on (and Gandalf doesn't get to say "be stone to you!" one of my favorite lines), but watching Thorin glower like a noble superhero at the proposterous figure of the capering Shrek-like GK, I was thrown out for good and never got back in.

Is this a generational problem? Well, to some extent it probably is; movies nowadays often strike me as deafeningly and terminally violent, and theaters turn the volume up as high as it goes on purpose so the audience is immersed in and stunned by the fury of aerial bombardment throughout. Incredibly (to me), they appear to like that. The dwarves, who should by rights have been smashed to smithereens many times over, like the Road Runner always live to fight again--quite a message to send to kids, though they get the same message from every corner of this society, till it catches up with them. I'm surprised to find myself become so conservative, but I liked all 3 LOTR movies (even given way too many long battle scenes); despite whatever changes they all stayed true to the feeling of the books. And this movie was at least 95% unfaithful to the feeling of its book. I'm not sure what it was faithful to. The box office? Obviously, I'm entirely with Gardner on the unevenness of tone.

Was anybody bothered that Óin and Glóin were pronounced Oin and Gloin--one syllable each, rhyming with loin, instead of two? I know for sure that Tolkien would have been horrified by that.

I'll see the other two, but at home on DVD, fast-forwarding through the crash-bang stuff that doesn't advance the story. I kept wondering, who was the audience Peter Jackson imagined as he put all this together? Quite a few of you guys, apparently, which may prove that Jackson knows his primary audience, and that I should know better than to see action movies in theaters from now on. Time passes, things change, the elves board ships for Valinor and leave Middle-Earth. Any space left on board?

I did see one review, perhaps written by another curmedgeon, that said everything I would have said if I'd been reviewing the movie: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/the-debacle-that-is-the-m_b_2360368.html if anybody's interested.
Kate Nepveu
79. katenepveu
Nintendo Loyalist @ #64, hmm, it didn't occur to me to miss the Eagles talking, but you're right. I wonder what they'll do about the ravens . . .

wizzo @ #65, don't get me started about Faramir. =>

CellatSea @ #66, thanks for the information about the non-glowing swords (I'd forgotten that Glamdring didn't glow in _LotR_). And nice point about dwarf fighting style.

Orayelle @ #68, like I said, the main thing that I'm worried about, in terms of spirit/point of the book, is Action Hero Bilbo, and for that I'm going to have to wait and see. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

NickyK @ #70, there are lots of similarities to the movie _Fellowship_--I didn't realize until after I wrote this that the otherwise-inexplicable moment in Bag End when Gandalf bellows that they'll take Bilbo and the room goes all dark is one of them. And I'm having a hard time getting a handle on Thorin in the book, possibly because his defining characteristic is driven and remote . . .

Nobleknits @ #73, okay, that's a good reason to laugh in "Riddles," I sit corrected.

Professor Y @ #74, I know the words mean the same thing, and that the book's intro says so, and yet there are still points where the text seems to make a distinction: "Riddles in the Dark" when Bilbo is coming up to the back door: "'A bit low for goblins, at least for the big ones,' thought Bilbo, not knowing that even the big ones, the orcs of the mountains, go along at a great speed stooping low . . . "; "Queer Lodgings," where Gandalf says that they can't go around Mirkwood because the North is "simply stiff with goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs of the worst description." So, I'm not sure what's going on there, and it's possible there isn't anything, really, it just stuck in my head.

pilgrimsoul @ #75, the question about whether Bilbo saw the Ring fall is a good one--I think it unlikely, for the reasons that tapsi says, but it could have been shot better because it really gave that impression. I think it was relying too much on the viewer knowing _LotR_ and so going "hiiiiii, scary Ring! Nice to see you again!" to the detriment of showing Bilbo's POV.

rehg @ #77, my view of the filmmakers' motives is a little more charitable--this is their last shot, they don't have and won't get rights to anything else, so it's time to put in All the Things. And I'm excited to hear that you're excited for the actor that's playing Beorn, it looks to me like an incredibly difficult part!

judithmoffett @ #78, I have no doubt that Tolkien would have hated it. And there were points where I felt a bit pummeled, no question--on reflection I was surprised I didn't feel more so, as it's often a reaction I have to summer blockbuster-type movies, and the pacing here was pretty relentless. When the DVD comes out I suspect I'm in for a bit of FF too--it's amazing how much that improves some things, I condensed the two Fantastic Four movies into about half an hour total. =>
Laura Matthews2
80. Gardner Dozois
As I said upstream here, I did like the movie, even with the relentless battering (and the movie was so loud in places that I almost got up and moved my seat further), and I certainly didn't regret spending the money and time to go see it, something I wouldn't say about the majority of movies I see these days. But the biggest problem here is the unevenness of tone. Part of it is the rather faithful movie version of a children's book, part of it is an aesthetic sequel to the LORD OF THE RINGS movies. Each line has its strengths and virtues (and its weaknesses), but they FIT TOGETHER uneasily. For what it's worth, I liked the children's book line better overall, but I suspect that if they didn't put in the stuff that was like LOTR, they wouldn't draw in the LOTR movie audience (which they seem to have succeeded in doing, to some extent), and that the movie probably wouldn't have gotten made in the first place if they hadn't been counting on drawing that audience in, and that right now in some alternate world there are fans complaining that it wasn't enough like the LOTR films.

At any rate, for all its flaws, Jackson did a MUCH better job of filming THE HOBBIT than I feared that he'd do. I feared this would be a total disaster, and it's not, just not as good as THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, which is a fairly high bar (and which also had its flaws).
Laura Matthews2
81. NickyK
Hi Kate @No79, hello everyone,

Similarities with “Fellowship” are inevitable as we appear to agree. Yes, some suddenly struck me later which I hadn’t really thought about at the time of viewing the film.

I suppose what I mean by Thorin being more “remote and detached” in the book rather than in the film is presentation. In the book, as I remember it 40 years on, he seems “beyond” his companions in his obsessive, noble quest (as he sees it - more heroic, more determined…and with that Macbethian flaw). We gain this impression from the way he interacts with his companions, Bilbo and Gandalf, especially from the start - plus we gain this from Tolkien’s writing. In the film we are “told” he is “remote and detached” and we are not made to “feel” it in the same way we, for example, feel Aragorn’s loneliness in the films. So, whereas in the novel, we “share” Tolkien’s characterisation of Thorin because the writing communicates these feelings to us; in the film we are “told” how we should regard him.

By the way, I was wrong anyway. There is one moment (in the film) when one of the dwarves effectively says to Bilbo: “Don’t worry about Thorin. He’s deep”. It is during the “Thorin sits apart from the others looking into space” bit.

Two good things for me have come out of the movie besides my genuine enjoyment. Firstly, it got me interested again in the texts (including the “uncollected” material little of which I have read before). Secondly, I now think I will re-read “The Hobbit”. I will only go as far as what is covered in the movie because I don’t want to influence my response to the next film.
Laura Matthews2
82. pilgrimsoul
@ Tapsi 76
What you said made a lot of sense. Thank you!
Soon Lee
83. SoonLee
I liked it better than I thought I would (I had low expectations). It was a good movie (for Peter Jackson values of good). The highlights for me were near the beginning & the end, the Unexpected Party with the Dwarves & Riddles in the Dark with Gollum. The bits I didn't like turned out to be the ones I partly anticipated; I predicted the movie-makers to have made changes to the source material in order to ratchet up the dramatic tension while sacrificing realism (there was a lot of playing fast & loose with physics, geography & chronology to serve the story).

stardreamer @54:I got that too - that the dwarves were too far from the fire for efficient cooking. It's yet another instance (of many) of narrative needs trumping realism.

Some parts of the Radagast bits were done very well & overall I enjoyed Sylvester McCoy's protrayal (not the chase sequence though, which played very fast & loose with geography).

The variable blue glow of the Elven blades was very annoying, but it's another instance of dramatic need trumping realism - if Orcrist had glowed in front of the Goblin King, things would have had to play out differently.

Gandalf suddenly sneaking up into the very midst of a whole den of orcs - that's some unrealistic stealth for a Wizard, it's not like he has a Ring of Invisibility. Then his using a butterfly to call for help from the eagles - that must have been one amazingly speedy butterfly once it got offscreen, or the eagles were just hiding round the corner.

The CGI was well-done overall, one exception was the long shot of Gandalf stepping off the eagle whick looked fake.

At the Council in Rivendell: In the (IIRC) LotR appendices, it was mentioned that Gandalf was Galadriel's candidate to lead the White Council, but the job went to Saruman in the end. So the rivalry Saruman perceived with Gandalf (and the politicking that results) is not unexpected. I think it's a touch of subtlety shown here by the moviemakers they didn't necessarily show elsewhere.
Laura Matthews2
84. Erik Dercf
The more I read stuff like this the more I feel Mr. Jackson has missed the mark. I would be very interested to see what changes Mr. Del Toro would have made if he directed. Oh well to that happening. Clearly Mr. Jackson and company are trying to tell the heart of the story while changing and adding things we find out about in JRR Tolkiens appendixes.
The one thing that is the worst for the Hobbit is the long opening sequence that had no need to be there. Jackson traded CGI sequences for good old fashion character development and plot development. He tells us how we should feel about characters before we have even seen them. He also tells us how those characters will react when they meet other characters as the story unfolds. And he takes us back with Mr. Woods who's part in the film I wish was much much smaller, if left in at all. Mr. Jackson takes content that should have made a very exciting two hours and stretches it into nearly 3 hours of some hits and some misses.
Worst of all the wonderful poem that Tolkien wrote that the cast only sings part of that would have been the place for a flashback and I still want to hear them sing the whole poem. All in all Mr. Jackson has made an interesting film but he has made in too long and in the process he's wasted oppertunities to do good story telling.
Kate Nepveu
85. katenepveu
Further to my Chapter 8 comments . . .

Woah! So _there's_ Action Hero Bilbo, a chapter later.

In light of that, I do think I have to revise my criticisms of the ending sequence. I still think it's absurdly over-the-top and doesn't make a whole lot of logistical sense--surely some of the _other_ dwarves could have made it off the tree too? But obviously Bilbo can, when he has no other choice, put himself in grave danger by physically fighting to save others--yes, a rock in the eye would have been a better start, but all in all, my idea that it was simply _out of character_ doesn't really stand up.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
86. Lisamarie
I just saw the movie and don't have time to review all the comments but here are my thoughts (apologize if some are redundant):

Overall I enjoyed it! It does have a few flaws though - I agree with you that it is a bit too long!

1)I was actually a little irritated at giving Bilbo so much 'agency' right at the beginning, since I think it is part of his character development. But it's not like a Faramir-level gaffe or anything ;) And I think they have been developing him more or less in line with his character, just a little faster.

2)I loved how they worked in the songs, without seeming too hokey about it!

3)I detest the Azog subplot. I feel it really bloated the movie and didn't add much - he already has reason to hate the goblins and vice versa, I am just not that into the idea of there having to be a 'personal' villain for the sake of it. I also though in general all the action scenes were so over the top and really strained my suspension of disbelief. But in general I hate overblown action scenes (for example, the Avengers irritated me too because of the drawn out action scenes, haha) so it's a matter of personal taste.

4)Also wondering if there will be some mention of the Dwarf Ring (I hope so!) in light of the 'gold sickness' that attracted evil. I did notice they omitted that Gandalf got the key/map from Thrain in the dungeons of the Necromancer (who presumably had captured him to get his Ring from him). Maybe that will come up in the next movie? I'm actually really looking forward to the Necromancer stuff. I really liked the White Council stuff - if I remember correctly, Sauruman was actively looking for the One Ring, that's why he was discouraging moving against Sauron at that point - he wanted the Ring for himself and was hoping it would reveal itself. I also just double checked the appendix and Gandalf knew it was Sauron well before this - when he got the key and map from Thrain (in the dungeons) he had been investigating Dol Guldur and realized it was Sauron. So really there was no need for Radagast to reveal this and does make me wonder what they are going to be doing with Thrain's backstory. Eventually, Sauruman does agree to the attack because he doesn't want Sauron to find the Ring either! I was confused as to why Elrond would be discouraging the quest in the movie, and going after Smaug, but then I was like ah-ha, Sauruman is behind it! I think it is also semi-canonical that Galadriel never trusted him (possibly something I read in Unfinished Tales or the Silmarillion at some point). LOVE that Sauruman dropped the phrase 'Watchful Peace' :)

5)A little irritated by how they brought up the emnity between the dwarves and elves as being specifically due to nobody helping out Erebor (and even betraying them in a sense). But if that is canon somebody can correct me if I'm wrong. But it also colored what happened at Rivendell for no good reason (in my opinion).

6)Stupid nitpick, but Thorin was not supposed to be there when Smaug came, he was supposed to be wandering around and had no idea how Thrain and Thror survived!

7)I actually thought Radagast was a hoot, I was always curious about him. Also, he mentioned Ungoliant, geek-squee!

8)I like that they made Elrond a little more jovial in this movie than he was in FOTR - I was wondering how they would balance the two characterizations (between the book The Hobbit and movie FOTR) Maybe he turns into such a sourpuss because between now and then, his daughter falls in love with Aragorn, not to mention that Sauron is clearly regaining power.

9)I actually think Thorin was portrayed pretty well - he definitely comes off as a bit of a jerk at times, so I don't think the future conflicts/darkness with his character will seem way out there. Thorin was a flawed character in some ways but also heroic and I think the movie does a good job of portraying this. But totally agreed about the various 'emo shots'/slo-mo. As my husband said, it's like PJ got it right out of a Tropes Catalog.

So yeah, I do think it had some good tidbits for fans but also has some of the Peter Jackson hallmarks in terms of the monsters/battle scenes that are his style but I am just not that fond of.
Kate Nepveu
87. katenepveu
Lisamarie, re: your 5), I am fairly sure it's not canon because Thorin has no reluctance to talk to Elrond in Rivendell at the book and the only mention so far of enmity is about First Age stuff.
Kate Nepveu
88. katenepveu
Thanks to Bolg in the chapter 8 comments, I've had a realization about why the movie invents the elves turning away from Erebor when Smaug appears:

It's because the only explanation for the antagonism when they get to the Elvenking in Mirkwood is the ancient dispute over payment for work done, all of the details about which are in _The Silmarillion_, which the movie-makers do not have rights to.

(Also it's not consistent with _LotR_ for this Elvenking to be Thingol, to the extent that I persistently misread the passage in _The Hobbit_ asserting that yes, it was *this* Elvenking who had the payment dispute lo those many years ago.)
Laura Matthews2
89. anewname
Just saw the movie last night. Thoughts on various topics:

3D: I saw it in IMAX 3D at 48 fps (at least I think it was 48 fps). It worked quite well for me, visually. Did not notice the blurriness or fluttering that others have complained of. But we managed to get excellent seats.

Beginning of movie: Agree with many here that the Old Bilbo and Frodo scene could have been cut. Also agree that the Unexpected Party was very well done. Glad they had the "Good morning" dialogue between Bilbo and Gandalf (why not just start the movie there?).
The song was fabulous (could have included one or two more verses).

Bilbo decides to go on the adventure: I really missed him facing the washing-up for fourteen, and Gandalf pushing him out the door.

Martin Freeman: Five stars all by himself. He inhabits JRRT's middle-aged, comfortable, set-in-his-ways hobbit who has a hidden Tookish side. What a wonderful hero to follow. What a change from quivering Frodo Bambi Eyes.

Dwarves: Loved their gruff humour, their warrior look and their facial hair. I like Fili and Kili, but PJ better be true to the ending. I wish he had kept Dori as Bilbo's "nursemaid", as in the book.

Thorin: The Emo Thorin scene didn't bother me. How would you react if someone was recounting the deaths of your family? However, as so often, PJ doesn't trust his source. JRRT's Thorin is a driven avenger and a doughty warrior-leader and a pompous-ass speechifying politician. Movie Thorin loses not only character complexity, but JRRT's humour.

The White Council: Great to see Rivendell again. (Last Homely House? More like an entire subdivision of palaces -- but still awe-inspiring.)
A true treat to see Saruman in all his majesty and shiftiness. However, I am very tired of Galadriel's Special Wonderfulness. All her entrance needed was a rainbow breaking out around her head. And Gandalf practically tugged his forelock to her. Surely the White Council was a gathering of equals?
And, with the movie shoehorning in Radagast, surely he (a wizard) should have been at the Council?

Which leads us to Radagast: Well, at least PJ realized his comic relief couldn't consist of 13 Gimlis (thank God). So he gave a lot of screen time to a mountain-man wizard with bird shit on his head. Between the low comedy and the caring for critters, Radagast would make a great husband for Ellie May Clampett. And while I giggled helplessly at Radagast toking up on Gandalf's pipe -- um, really?

History: Mangled as usual in PJ's movies. Radagast goes to Dol Guldur (especially this Radagast)? The White Council didn't know about Mirkwood or the Necromancer before now? And yes, Ringwraiths are rather hard to bury (even harder to kill in the first place).

Azog: Pure Hollywood hoke. PJ does seem to have taken to heart the criticism of the LOTR movies for making the Orcs look, in some ways, like people of colour. His solution is to have them all look like sick white people. Couldn't a small city's worth of visual-effects and makeup experts come up with anything more creative?

The Trolls: Looked just like Orcs. Whaaaat? At least they had some of the Cockney humour. But PJ, again not trusting his source, traded JRRT's suspenseful and funny scene of Gandalf keeping the Orcs talking till dawn for a cliche fight.

"Pet" peeve: Why, oh why, reveal the spiders this early???

Likes: I loved the dragon kite, and the turtle kite. Unlike many here, I enjoyed the stone giants too (though that part went on too long). Erebor was amazing (though would they really hollow out a mountain that much?). Loved the songs. And the map! The moon-letters appearing!

The scenery was incredible (as in the LOTR movies). Loved the glimpses of Smaug.

And, for me, the Eagles made up for an awful lot. I cried at the Eagles.

I will go to see Hobbit 2. Looking forward to more Smaug!
Laura Matthews2
90. Lsana
Also late to the party, but just managed to see it this weekend, and like everyone else on here, I'm opinionated...

I don't have much of a problem with PJ's changes. While I may agree/disagree with some of them, none of them struck me as purposeless. They were all directed towards either (1) Making Bilbo take more of an active roll than he did in the book, (2) Making the trouble the party has being the result of some active agent, rather than someone failing their travelling luck roll and the party having a random encounter, or (3) Seriously compressing the Necromancer storyline so that it all can be done in this trilogy. (1) I think was necessary (you couldn't have Bilbo go through the whole movie being as passive as he was at this point in the book), I have mixed feelings about (2), and (3) just warms the heart of my inner Tolkien fangirl. So what if the discovery of the Necromancer, finding out he's Sauron, and convincing the council to act against him took place over the course of 200 years rather than 3 months? That's a story that needs to be told.

That said, I do have a couple of problems:

My biggest issue is with how things they are doing now set up the ending. Yes, Thorin, Fili, and Kili all need to die, but then DAIN becomes King Under the Mountain? Dain, who refused to help and was too cowardly to join Thorin's company, is the one who gets to benefit from the restored kingdom? In the book, this wasn't a problem; Dain didn't go on the quest because Thorin specifically avoided bringing an army under Gandalf's advice. Here, Thorin asked and Dain refused. Seems wrong to make him King after that.

A similar issue is going to arise with the elves showing up to demand a share of the treasure. I was already pretty iffy on this; in movie continuity, I'm going to be cheering Thorin on when he tells them where they can shove it.

Similar to what others have already said about the Council's reaction to the Witch-King, except my problem wasn't with that (I can buy Witch-King's body is sealed in a tomb, his spirit is what rose as a ringwraith, the shocking thing is that whatever is living in Dul Gulder had the power to bring that wraith back), but with the absolute denial that Sauron could be back. Um, hello Istari, but isn't that the WHOLE REASON THAT YOU WERE SENT TO MIDDLE EARTH? The Valar knew Sauron was still a problem, so they sent the Wizards to help when he came back. For Sauraman to say that Sauron could never return is like a software engineer denying the existence of computer programming.

Finally, a minor point: movie seemed clear that the evil in Dul Gulder was news to Gandalf, so it seems in this continuity, he hasn't been there exploring its dungeons yet (in fact, I'm expecting to see this exploration and the finding of Thrain in the next movie). In which case, how DID he get the map and key, and why hadn't he given them to Thorin before now?
Kate Nepveu
91. katenepveu
Hello, nice long juicy comments! I have typing issues today so I will be brief in response but I have read and enjoyed every word.

anewname @ #89, Emo Thorin on the cliff was less about his reactions and the way the scene was staged and shot. Re: Azog being so pale: yes, I noticed that and didn't mention in all the other stuff. Okay, I guess, though evil albino is not awesome either . . .

Lsana @ #90, well, clearly Dain needs a redemption arc. Ooooh, maybe he'll get to kill Azog after all? Or maybe Bolg. Something other than being Dwarf not appearing? I can only hope.
David Levinson
92. DemetriosX
We will definitely be seeing something of Dain, since he listed in the cast for the next two films (played by Billy Connolly of all people). What he'll do is more open to question, but Bolg is also cast for those films (Conan Stevens), which could mean bad things for Azog before the big finale. Of course, Azog is listed for the next two films, too, so who knows.
Laura Matthews2
93. miss_kris
For anyone wanting to hear more of the haunting "misty mountains" song, check out Peter Hollins' a Capella version on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEwzFF4HeB8
I can't stop watching it.
Alan Brown
94. AlanBrown
@90 Actually, jerks who don't deserve it becoming kings for the worst possible reasons is probably a more historically accurate portrayal of monarchy. After all, that is why our ancestors invented democracy.
Laura Matthews2
95. oliveramy
I read the books back when the first movie came out, begining with the Hobbit. I wanted to reread the Hobbit before watching the movie but the date caught up to me. I watched it without having but a slight rememberance of the details in the book and I quite enjoyed it.

I first watched it in 24fps 2D which was ok, at best. The pans were, as usual, jumpy, and fast action was blurry. A week later I went to see it in 48fps 3D (I am one of those people who despise 3D movies due to the fact that I get terrible throbbing headaches afterward.) I, surprisingly, ADORED the 3D 48fps. I loved it so much I saw it AGAIN this weekend in IMAX 3D 48fps and it was, once again, amazing!
It has come to my attention that, since Jackson filmed this movie in 48fps and demanded it be shown in 48fps in theaters that supported it, that this has something to do with the lack of headache I came away with. The fast action and pans were fantastic, and in my opinion, much more realistic than 24fps. I am in love with 48fps and am dumbfounded by the fact that this is STILL not the norm for our movies in theaters since we so CLEARLY have the technology and most films are filmed that way in the first place. Why SHOULDN'T we be watching them the way the film makers intended?

As for the changes, since I only faintly had a rememberance of the details of the book, I took them all in stride. I am currently rereading the Hobbit since my first movie viewing and have been noticing many of the differences you guys have pointed out, but since I basically don't remember the book, they don't bother me so much. I suspect movies 2 & 3 will bother me greatly since I will have finished the book.

Stardreamer @54, the fact that the dwarves are far away from the fire doesn't bother me because it is congruent with the fact that trolls are slow and dimwitted. They started cooking them late in the night. Surely a smart creature that was prone to turning into stone at first light would be able to keep track of the time it spends out of the cave at night as to avoid such a problem. But since these are dim mountain trolls, it seems pretty reasonable they wouldn't think to put the dwarves closer to the fire in order to cook them faster to avoid being turned to stone.
As far as them not looking human enough, I'm ok with it seeing as how FotR was made first and the Fellowship stumbled upon the scene while fleeing Weathertop. The trolls were designed exactly as the stone ones were in FotR.
Kate Nepveu
96. katenepveu
oliveramy @ #95, thanks for the comment on the fps issue! I will be interested to see how it looks on my TV when the time comes.
Paul Eisenberg
97. HelmHammerhand
Having just finished my own reread of The Hobbit, I wanted to point out that the gold sickness isn't an introduction to the cannon by the film. Not only is Thorin (if not Thror) afflicted, but the Master of Laketown is as well, to his own demise. My apologies if someone has already pointed that out - didn't want to slog through 95 comments just to see if they did, as by the time I did that, my original point would have long been lost.
Kate Nepveu
98. katenepveu
HelmHammerhand @ #97, the idea of gold sickness attracting Smaug *in the first place* is not mentioned in the early part of the book, anyway. I'm actually going to be interested to see if they re-introduce the Ring that belonged to Durin's line and use that as an explanation for Thorin's change of heart . . .
Laura Matthews2
99. stardreamer
Reading the comments is interesting; one can't help but notice that for every scene one person absolutely hates, there's another who liked it.

On to specifics...

Yes, Martin Freeman now owns Bilbo Baggins on a level that even Ian Holm did not. This has more to do with Bilbo being the hero of The Hobbit vs. a secondary character in LOTR than it does with either actor individually. But I don't think they could have made a better casting choice for this part.

I also like Bilbo making his own choice to go on the Quest. I've become much more sensitive as an adult to the dynamic of MAKING someone do this or that "for their own good" -- if you don't have an author standing over you to make sure it comes out right in the end, this can easily slide into abuse, so the trope makes me twitchy now in a way that it didn't as a child.

There were definitely some things in the White Council scene that weren't even hinted at in the book. First off, it's obvious that there's something hinky going on with Saruman, which we notice but I think the rest of the Council doesn't because he's still running on his past reputation. Secondly, yes, more than a hint of some sort of relationship between Gandalf and Galadriel, which I am choosing to interpret as unrequited love on his side and affection on hers.

I spent a significant part of the movie reminding myself that this started out as a kiddie story, which got me past a lot of things that might otherwise have been annoying, such as the Toon physics in the Hall of the Goblin King. (Also, I want to go back and watch it in 3D, because it's obvious that several of those scenes were specifically written to show off the 3D tech.) And yes, I also noticed the unevenness between the "kiddie story" bits and the parts that are serious LOTR prequels, but I don't see how it could have been avoided with two such disparate goals in a single story.

Radagast wasn't nearly as annoying to me as he seems to have been to others -- and I loved the rabbit-drawn sleigh!

I am happy to report that, according to the liner notes on the soundtrack CD, that is actually the Dwarves singing in Bag End. I wonder if "baritone/bass voice and some singing ability" was a factor in the casting for them? But I'm sorry to have lost "Fifteen Birds in Five Fir Trees," simply because the Bakshi version of it was ghodawful and I was hoping that Shore would redeem it. Eh bien, I can still hope for it on the extended DVD, I guess.

Fili & Kili are definitely meant to be the eye candy, and I can rationalize their shorter beards because they're very much the youngest of the group. Still, hot or not, I'm going to be rather annoyed if they or Thorin get a happy ending. (Incidentally, there's already some excellent fic dealing with those deaths and the ones left behind to mourn.)

HeroicAction!Bilbo is weird, and also painfully obviously only there to set up the Big Reconciliation Scene with Thorin, which was more than a little eye-rolling. But you know going into any Jackson film that there will be a few things that hit you that way -- you just don't know what they'll be.

I can't imagine how anyone could fall asleep during the movie, unless they're much older than me inclined to midday naps in the first place. :)

One very minor niggle that no one else has mentioned: the dwarves-onna-spit in the troll scene are nowhere near enough to the fire to have been actually being roasted. I'll give them this as storytelling necessity, but it still bounced me out of the scene a bit.

Figwit has an actual name now! He's in the credits as "Lindir".

Overall, I enjoyed the movie, although it didn't knock me on my ass the way Fellowship did. OTOH, since neither Two Towers nor ROTK did that either, I suspect that a lot of that was just knowing what to expect after the first one. I do think it will pay for re-watching, just because there's so much going on that I need more than one viewing to properly parse it all.
Laura Matthews2
100. stardreamer
Well, dammit. I had an entire comment written about my feelings after having watched it a second time in 3D, and for some reason it reposted my first comment! My apologies.

I shut up now.
Laura Matthews2
101. witch-prince of Kolkata
Witch-King conquered Minas Ithil in 3rd Age, 2002; so how could he 've been dead or at least presumed to b so in 3A, 2940 odd?? & what the hell could he have been doing at Dol Guldur??? & how did Radagast see the W-K in his true form without wearing the one ring, coz da nazguls cud b seen in their authentic form only by da person wearing The One Ring??? & az far az I'm aware, the nazguls were actually invisible!!!
Kate Nepveu
102. katenepveu
stardreamer, I don't know what's up with the system, but I definitely would like to hear the 3D thoughts, if you can bear to summarize?

witch-prince, I have seriously given up trying to understand what was going on with all that. It just makes my head hurt and to no profit. Though it is working, I have seen people who have read the actual books in the past forget that the Necromancer is Sauron, so that's two things (Thorin's fall being the other) than the movies are successfully setting up to pull out from under people.
Laura Matthews2
103. yajnavalkya sinha_w-p
The Witch-King conquered Minas Ithil in 3rd Age 2002 n renamed it az Minas Morgul, in 3rd Age 2002; & he ruled there till da War of The Ring in 3A, 3019; so how could he 've been dead or at least presumed to b so in 3A, 2940 odd during the events of Hobbit?? & what the hell could he have been doing at Dol Guldur??? & how did Radagast see the W-K in his true form, pale white without wearing the one ring, coz da nazguls cud b seen in their authentic form only by da person wearing The One Ring or Isildur's Bane; remember the Amon-Sul/Weathertop scene btwn Frodo & 3 other hobbits vs 5 nazguls, including the great LoTN: W-K of Minas Morgul??? & az far az I'm aware, the nazguls were actually invisible!!!
Laura Matthews2
104. yajnavalkya sinha_w-p
@ katenepveu i wz kinda taken aback in utter shock n dismay after watching da scene of the White Council, u now know why!!! :P
Laura Matthews2
105. Bolithio
Sending the dwarves into the mountain to encounter the dragon has to the worst script decision in the history of adaptations. This is in close second to changing the story to make Biblo charged by the dwarves to specifically steal the Archenstone from the dragon - another depth robbing adaptation from the brilliance that was once Tolkien. And who ever though up the idea of the molten statue of gold needs to be lobotomized.

LOL - that said, if you like to watch a movie with dragons, dwarves, etc... its a fun watch. Just dont go as a fan of Tolkien's Hobbit. That is a let down.
Thomas Thatcher
106. StrongDreams
Removed--wrong post.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment