Return to Middle Earth – The Hobbit, Part I

I’ve discovered something about myself recently.

I’m a lot more forgiving than I’d thought.  An online conversation with friends about a guy revealed this to me.  I didn’t feel the same “dump him” feelings they did; my first thought was to give him a break. A few days later, someone did something to me that should have made me unfriend them in life as well as on facebook, but I seem to have gotten over it.  The jury is out if this is a strength or a weakness; it doesn’t matter either way, it’s the way it is.

I have always known this about myself relating to movies, however, so I went into my viewing of The Hobbit, after reading the scathing reviews, with the following thought:

There’s no way this can be as good as the Lord of The Rings trilogy.  But I will probably enjoy it, nonetheless.

It seems appropriate at this time to issue a little warning; I’m a LOTR fanatic.  I own all three extended edition DVD’s and went to see the movies when they were re-released in the theaters a couple of years back.  In the heady days of the early 2000’s, I would reread the books each time a new LOTR chapter was going to be released.  Those movies almost made me change careers; if I could have found a way to move to New Zealand and be a PA for New Line Cinema, I would have.  Several times, I had to stop myself from buying an Aragon action figure.

So it comes as no surprise that going back to Middle Earth felt, well, terrific.  I was in the theater for 3 hours (but a bunch of awful previews can be blamed for at least 25 minutes of that time) and I was completely content.  It was a little odd to see Elijah Wood looking so grown up as Frodo, but thankfully, he vanished into the woods soon enough, and we eventually got to see the amazing Martin Freeman as the younger Bilbo.  And then came the dwarves. I’d read enough bitching about the very long dwarf meal in Bilbo’s house that I just settled in to my seat and tried to figure out what Peter Jackson was thinking when he decided to make the sequence so long.  I came to the following conclusion.

He was having fun.  That scene had all the hallmarks of the delightful Jackson weirdness that was pretty well edited out of the LOTR trilogy, pushed aside by the relentless need to tell such a big story in a few (well, 9) hours.   It was during this scene that I decided that I’m happy to go wherever Peter Jackson takes me.  Was that scene too long?  Sure, but who cares?  It’s interesting to look at.  Are some of the character choices puzzling?  Maybe, but big deal.  I’ll get to see the stunningly beautiful Rivendell soon.  Does a fight between mountain monsters seem to come a little out of the blue?  Sure, but it was really, really cool to watch (and it’s in the book!).

Many critics have said that Peter Jackson is being mercenary by taking what is a relatively “light” book and turning it into three movies.  They may be right, but I don’t care.  It’s clear from watching the DVD extras of LOTR that tackling three epic books in three epic movies was tough; much had to be edited out.  And what struck me about watching the Hobbit was that it was nice, for a change, to get to spend some time on details (and welcoming old friends like Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett back to the screen) rather than racing the story forward.  We are in such a hurry these days…why can’t we just hang out in a place like Middle Earth and enjoy ourselves?  Especially when it’s so darn pretty.

And honestly, the return of Smeagol/Gollum was worth the price of admission, in my book.   So was watching Sir Ian McKellan step back into the musty grey robes of Gandalf.  I enjoyed seeing Gandalf as something of a rogue wizard, trying to figure out why he’s doing the things he’s doing even as he knows they are important.

There were some flaws in the movie, though.  Like the absence of Viggo Mortenson.  Oh, I know, Aragorn is not the book, but a girl can hope, right?  I will say, however, that Richard Armitage, the dude playing Thorin, gives Viggo a run for his money in the “how to make greasy hair sexy” category.  Someone posted something along these lines on facebook last week:

It’s a strange thing to be attracted to a cinematic dwarf named Thorin.

…and they couldn’t be more correct.  Yummy.


4 thoughts on “Return to Middle Earth – The Hobbit, Part I

  1. I’m with you – I’ve seen it twice and loved LOTR (we watched the re -release too!). I have not read the trilogy, but I read the Hobbit when I was around 12… There is a difference between what can/should be done on film and what can/should be done in a book. I thought introducing us thoroughly to the dwarves was important for the movie, since they may not get a lot of individual screen time later.

    And yeah, I do miss Viggo. 😉

    1. Exactly. In the book, their characteristics are what makes for interesting reading. I think they were trying to do the same with the movie.

  2. I think I’ve decided to nix reading the Classics and delve into this world instead. I haven’t seen the movies so I’ll read the books first. My boss told me to start with the Hobbit first. Do you concur?

    1. Yep! It’s the most fun, honestly, and it’s a shorter read, so you can decide if you can handle Tolkien’s way of writing. It’s pretty dense, but I got through it by paying attention to the arc of the story, and not getting too hung up on names, dates and “history.” Have fun! And welcome to the club.

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