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Thursday, December 20, 2012

In a hole in the ground....

I understand that someone has made a movie that is of some interest to the Tolkien fans in these parts.  I haven't seen it yet myself, but those of you who have can discuss it here freely.  Don't worry about "spoilers", as I could not be less concerned about spoiling any surprises for those sad, unfortunate few who have not read the book.

I do hope Jackson has put a muzzle on whomever was responsible for all of the "humorous" dialogue in The Lord of the Rings.  One thing filmmakers never seem to understand is that because a lot of the dialogue is being provided by a writer whose work is popular enough to support a film, the chances are very high that any new dialogue is going to suffer badly by comparison.  Therefore, it should be kept to the minimum possible.  This is particularly true when the writer concerned happens to be one of the all-time greats.

I was very conscious of this in writing the Argument in Summa Elvetica.  The reason it worked so well that one reviewer thought the whole thing was actually written by Thomas Aquinas was that I took phrases and even complete sentences from the Summa and his other works.  I connected them together in a coherent manner using as few of my own words as possible.  Those who have read A Throne of Bones will probably be aware that I utilized the same technique there and drew upon ancient historical documents in a number of important places.  Had I more time, I would have liked to have gone through the entire dialogue and done it that way.

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117 Comments:

Blogger Laramie Hirsch December 20, 2012 5:07 AM  

First.


Thanks, Vox. You de man.

Blogger Kyle In Japan December 20, 2012 5:14 AM  

I know this is probably blasphemy, but I think I was 22 when I read The Hobbit and LOTR all the way through (though I started on LOTR in high school but never finished the first book.)

Haven't seen the new movie yet. Like most things in Japan, movie tickets are very expensive.

Anonymous HongKongCharlie December 20, 2012 5:28 AM  

I developed an obsession with reading in the 4th grade. I quit going to movies made from books years ago. They rarely follow the script, so to speak.

HKC

Anonymous Rosalys December 20, 2012 6:21 AM  

I went to see "The Hobbit" (I assume this is the movie of which you speak.) It was poorly edited (way too long!) which is a mistake that in my opinion Peter Jackson made with the third LOTR movie. The Orc battle was just plain ridiculous, looking more like a video game than an epic battle and some of the dialogue (ie, "Where's the chips?" and a little bathroom humor) was just a little too cutesy comedic pandering to an audience that may have never read the books. It's been a long time since I read the book, but I'm having trouble remembering the wizard character with the team of rabbits pulling his sled - and I'm thinking maybe I don't remember him because he was either greatly altered or a total fabrication. (I must go back and read it again.) Also, there were a LOT of young children in the audience. I would never take young children to this movie - it was very graphic and gratuitously violent. Very, very disappointing.

Anonymous Ajax December 20, 2012 6:43 AM  

The Hobbit was not as good as the previous LOTR movies, but is worth seeing. There were a few humorous dialogue additions, most of which got no laughs during the showing that I went to.

Anonymous SWW December 20, 2012 6:45 AM  

... I'm having trouble remembering the wizard character with the team of rabbits pulling his sled - and I'm thinking maybe I don't remember him because he was either greatly altered or a total fabrication.
That would be Radagast. The scene in the movie was total fabrication. Entertaining, but not from the books.

Best scene was the riddle exchange between Bilbo and Gollum.

Worst was the fictional blood feud between Thorin and the white goblin where Bilbo saves Thorin and wins his confidence.

Blogger Duke of Earl December 20, 2012 6:50 AM  

Jackson tried to include material from the LotR appendicies, like the White Council driving the Necromancer out of Mirkwood.
Radagast the Brown, the nature wizard, was left out of LotR and Jackson obviously decided to include him in the Hobbit.

It was a little slow to start with, but then introducing the 15 main characters is going to take a little time. I'm not sure about some of the fighting, at points it came across as, "look at the cool stuff we can do with our computer," but Jackson is still infinitely better than Lucas.

I'd give it 3.5 from 5 stars. It's good, but not perfect.

Anonymous Outlaw X December 20, 2012 6:53 AM  

Vox, you are brilliant, don't worry about them making movies about your books, just let them do it, take the money and don't complain. Some people can see, but those who can't make the author.

Worrying bout what others think is a fools game, history will straighten it out. Does anyone think that there was ever a movie worth 1984, or Fahrenheit 451?

Blogger tz December 20, 2012 6:53 AM  

It was a bad admixture of indiana jones, monty python, guano and snottyness(the last two literal).

Nasty, brutish, and long. If they cut the (sometimes literal) crap it would be much better.

Rosalys - you refer to Radagast that was only referenced in the work (iirc, he talked to the butterfly and sent the eagle in lotr). The only worse thing would to have made the sleigh drawn by jackelopes, with the lead one having a bright nose, and maybe tail lights.

I kept wanting the horror to end.

Anonymous AlteredFate December 20, 2012 6:53 AM  

I was going to go see it but then I found out that Jackson had decided to turn it into a trilogy, which is ridiculous in my opinion, and I could no longer muster the will to go.

Anonymous Stilicho December 20, 2012 6:56 AM  

If you watch it with low expectations of it being true to the book, then it is an entertaining movie for the most part. Jackson tell a decent tale, it's just not the same tale told so well by Tolkien.

Blogger tz December 20, 2012 7:01 AM  

DoE - although there were a dozen dwarves, most played a background role. Radaghast was in the appendix, but should have had at most as much time and action as Galadriel. Not the stupidity in the movie. Making it even longer and nastier.

If it wasn't at all based on Tolkien, it would be just another movie. But defacing great art is a crime.

Warner bros needs to do a parody with Bugs bunny, elmer fudd as the troll, daffy as gollum...

Anonymous Despair December 20, 2012 7:13 AM  

I describe it as fan fiction with a some things lifted from The Hobbit.

Its not bad fan fiction, but its obviously not Tolkien.

Blogger Leatherwing December 20, 2012 7:17 AM  

I agree with SWW and Stilicho. The worst was the addition of the White Goblin, but the scenes with Radagast came close. But if you watch with low expectations, it can be mildly entertaining. I had friends that wanted to see it, so we went together. Like others, the idea of a trilogy seems like a money-grubbing move to me.

It had been many years since I had read the book, so one good thing that came from the movie is that I am reading it again. The contrast between the movie's silliness and Tolkien's humor is so huge, if I'd reds the book more re3cently, I probably would not have been able to tolerate the movie at all.

Anonymous TheExpat December 20, 2012 7:19 AM  

I do hope Jackson has put a muzzle on whomever was responsible for all of the "humorous" dialogue in The Lord of the Rings. One thing filmmakers never seem to understand is that because a lot of the dialogue is being provided by a writer whose work is popular enough to support a film, the chances are very high that any new dialogue is going to suffer badly by comparison.

If new dialog is bad, how about new characters?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tauriel

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hobbit_(film_series)
"Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel: A female elf from Mirkwood. She is the Chief of the Guards for the Elvenking, Thranduil. Her name means "daughter of the wood". Peter Jackson has confirmed there will be no romantic connection to Legolas. Philipha Boyens [co-writer] stated that she was there so that there would be a female character in The Hobbit: "She’s our redhead. We created her for that reason. To bring that energy into the film, that feminine energy. We believe it’s completely within the spirit of Tolkien."

Excerpt from:
http://www.theonering.net/torwp/2012/07/16/59194-full-transcript-of-the-hall-h-hobbitcon-qa/

Julia (fan): My name is Julia Weldon. My father is a huge Lord of the Rings enthusiast and he’s actually an Elven linguist. He worked on the original trilogy. So I grew up with The Hobbit. It was one of my bedtime stories when I was little, but I was very upset as a small child that there weren’t any female characters in it. So I made him change a bunch of them, as he read it. [laughter] I made him make Gandalf a woman. [laughter] And also I didn’t actually know that Smaug wasn’t a female dragon until like a year ago. My question is, “What kind of role does Galadriel play, and are there are any female characters you added?”

Philippa Boyens (co-writer): I, yeah, there are. Galadriel, as you all know, is the most powerful being in Middle Earth, at the time. And we wanted to go in there and tell that story. We worked with Cate. We talked to her about the role. She did a phenomenal job. I was… I had my total geek-out moment when she stepped up. And, the battle of Dol Guldur. Let me just say that. It’s extraordinary. So she immediately brings a very powerful feminine energy into the film, and one of the reasons… It’s interesting that you did that, because we did feel the weight of it being a “boys’ own” story. After a while, you’d feel the weight of it. And we did create a character. Her name’s Tauriel, who is an elf. Who is played magnificently by Evangeline Lilly.

[Cheers.]

PB: Who you saw a little bit of. She’s our redhead. We created her for that reason. To bring that energy into the film, that feminine energy. We believe it’s completely within the spirit of Tolkien.

Anonymous jm December 20, 2012 7:20 AM  

I suppose Radagast's inclusion was an effort to appeal to the Gaians. I'm surprised they left out Tom Bombadil in LOTR for that same reason.

Anonymous Kickass December 20, 2012 7:31 AM  

I will never forgive Jackson for leaving out Tom Pitapauly and for making Sam and Frodo.....creepy wimps.

Anonymous Roundtine December 20, 2012 7:31 AM  

I get pissed when a movie deviates from the core message of a book. I view the addition of humorous dialogue in a Hollywood movie the same way I view driving a car through Gary, Indiana. The air is so bad, something is going to stick.

That said, even with the f-ing rabbit sled (!), it was better than LOTR. When I was watching LOTR, I remember my ass was sore and each time I wondered, "Holy $%&#, there's more? When is this going to end?!" There was always some long winded scene of dialogue. When I read that the Hobbit was even longer, and that he split one book into three movies, I was worried. However, I thought the pace of the movie was better. When it ended, I expected there to be more. The 2hrs and 40 minutes went quickly.

I preferred the Hobbit to LOTR when I read the books. I never liked LOTR cartoons, but I watched the Hobbit cartoon over and over.

Anonymous VryeDenker December 20, 2012 7:37 AM  

I cannot believe that after four LotR movies, Tom Bombadil is yet to make an appearance. One would think that seeing as The Hobbit was a children's book (according to Tolkien himself), he would be a great character to have in the movie. Even if it was just a cameo.

Blogger Crowhill December 20, 2012 7:53 AM  

It was a pretty good movie except for the ridiculously unrealistic scenes on and under the mountain. "Action movies" have gotten to the point of being caricatures of themselves.

Anonymous Rosalys December 20, 2012 8:05 AM  

tz - " The only worse thing would to have made the sleigh drawn by jackelopes, with the lead one having a bright nose, and maybe tail lights."

Ha! Ha! Now that would have made it very seasonally appropriate!

Anonymous Why? December 20, 2012 8:06 AM  

Can someone explain to me whyinnahell Galadriel is in this movie?

Anonymous RedJack December 20, 2012 8:06 AM  

Most of those who have seen the movie have told me that it was fun, if you didn't expect it to be the Hobbit.

I will see it on Blu Ray or Amazon one of these days. Have no real urge to see it in the theater.

Anonymous Philalethes December 20, 2012 8:13 AM  

As a teenage science fiction fan in the late 1950s, I heard rumors of this great fantasy trilogy, and went to the local bookstore to order it (British printing, in hardback). I was as great as rumored, and I read it several times over the next decade, and loved it, along with everyone I knew.

I saw the first two Jackson LOTR films; the first was pretty good, despite the creeping feminism, but I found The Two Towers boring, with its endless battle scenes (always the recourse of the second-rate filmmaker). After reading what had been done to Return of the King, I didn't bother. Rampant political correctitude in the "real" world is bad enough, but seeing it seeping in and rotting my favorite epic was more than I could take.

I won't be seeing Jackson's Rape of the Hobbit. That he's made a not-long children's book into three films is already a giveaway, and what I read about just gets worse.

Why can't Hollywood (even in New Zealand) ever just make a movie of a good book? Sure, they'll have to condense it, but that can be done artfully if those doing it have a little talent and integrity. But adding characters and action just to please the insane "intellectual" fashions of the time? It's a crime. The envy of the second-rate talent, compelled to piss on the work of the great which he (and she) have ripped off. Just to show they can, I guess.

To bring that energy into the film, that feminine energy. We believe it’s completely within the spirit of Tolkien. Pardon me, but... BARF.

The worst of it, of course, is that after this, nobody who might want to do real justice to Tolkien's stories on the screen will ever be able to.

Anonymous Jeigh Di December 20, 2012 8:18 AM  

Why?

Because Galadriel was a member of the White Council.

Anonymous Why? December 20, 2012 8:20 AM  

Because Galadriel was a member of the White Council.

Which ain't in The Hobbit (book) IIRC... why are they in the movie?

Anonymous The Anti-Gnostic December 20, 2012 8:30 AM  

The first few minutes were good, conveying some hint of Tolkein's original theme: the Dwarves as a stony, alien, dying presence in the new age.

And it was downhill from there.

Blogger Bogey December 20, 2012 8:31 AM  

After Jackson's ham-fisted approach to sentiment in Kong, I don't think I'll ever trust him as a filmmaker again.

Anonymous TheExpat December 20, 2012 8:34 AM  

Can someone explain to me whyinnahell Galadriel is in this movie?

cuz the fem co-writer decided that the “boys’ own” story needed moar fem cowbell?

Anonymous Wendy December 20, 2012 8:43 AM  

Which ain't in The Hobbit (book) IIRC... why are they in the movie?

Because the Hobbit trilogy is based on the Appendices or LOTR as well. Aragorn could make an appearance if they so desired. A lot was going on in the rest of Middle Earth while Bilbo was going there and back again.

I'm with Stilicho. I try to enjoy the movies as they are and consider them not really Tolkien...and always tell people the book isn't just better, it's in a different stratosphere.

Anonymous DrTorch December 20, 2012 8:45 AM  

I know this is probably blasphemy, but I think I was 22 when I read The Hobbit and LOTR all the way through (though I started on LOTR in high school but never finished the first book.)

Yeah, I thought they were kind of boring. I liked Franny and Zooey better.

Anonymous Stickwick December 20, 2012 9:04 AM  

Which ain't in The Hobbit (book) IIRC... why are they in the movie?

Jackson was trying to weave in threads from the LOTR to tie the two movie-trilogies together. IMO, the inclusion of the White Council did not detract from the movie.

I went to The Hobbit with zero expectations and ended up having a lot of fun. Was it perfect? By no means. It's Jackson, so chances were already very high there were going to be over-the-top set pieces and enemies, and of course that's what we got. Most filmmakers use artistic license in interpreting a book, since direct detail-for-detail translations from book-to-screen are rarely successful at capturing the "feel," e.g. Harry Potter. They have to exercise judgment in removing things that don't work and adding stuff that wasn't exactly in the book. You just hope they don't do this so much that it destroys the spirit of the book. IMO, Jackson managed not to destroy the spirit of the book.

I only really cared about two things with this movie:

1. Whether the important characters -- Bilbo, Thorin, and Gandalf -- were faithfully portrayed.

2. Whether the worldview featured clear-cut good vs. evil, i.e. no equivocation, no moral relativism, no anti-hero stuff.

How well did Jackson do in this regard?

1. Bilbo is exactly as he should have been -- soft on the outside, but quite sturdy on the inside. Fond of home and hearth, a perfect little rural Englishman, but not soppy and weepy and overly sentimental. If Frodo and Sam had been portrayed as well as Bilbo was, the LOTR would have been much better films.

Thorin was courageous and proud, with just the right amount of elf-dislike to set up future events without it becoming some stupid allegory for racism.

Gandalf was exactly as he was in the book.

2. There is indeed a clear delineation between good and evil. The good characters are not unnecessarily tempered with weak or anti-hero qualities to make them seem more realistic. There is nothing sympathetic about the evil characters -- they are vile, treacherous, and hateful.

Other good things:

- The pacing was about right. Jackson was able to include all of the important bits of the first third of the story as well as details from the appendices and other source material.

- The humor was well executed. The extraneous humor in LOTR movies made me groan, but I actually LOL'd at the humor in The Hobbit.

- The songs were consistent with the spirit of Middle-earth. "Over the Misty Mountains Cold" in particular was very moving.

Blogger Nate December 20, 2012 9:05 AM  

"I will never forgive Jackson for leaving out Tom Pitapauly and for making Sam and Frodo.....creepy wimps."

Just say what you mean. They weren't just creepy wimps. They were gay.

Anonymous Faust December 20, 2012 9:34 AM  

Vox-

Do you have a link to this reviewer who thought that Aquinas wrote 500 pages on the subject of whether elves have souls? It sounds hilarious I want to read it.

Anonymous Susan December 20, 2012 9:37 AM  

I think the last time that Hollywood had respect for a novel was when they made Gone With the Wind back in 1939. Moviemakers actually cared about what readers had to say back then.

I haven't seen all the LOTR movies, but I feel the same way the ilk does.

DON'T DISRESPECT THE HISTORY!!!!

JJ Abrams did the same thing with that new Star Trek movie prequel. Evidently the original series and concepts bored him so he changed a lot of character history, etc. It was very hard to watch the movie and not catch all the stuff that was wrong.

Anonymous VD December 20, 2012 9:37 AM  

Just look up the review of SE on Black Gate. In fairness to the reviewer, I tend to doubt he had ever heard of the Summa Theologica or Aquinas before that. Hardly his fault.

Anonymous The Stranger December 20, 2012 9:44 AM  

All close relationships between men from ancient literature are interpreted by moderns as homosexuality because moderns cannot conceive of love without sex.

The Hobbit was a good deal more cartoony, which suits the original material well. Some of the alterations make sense for adapting the books to film (e.g. Having Bilbo seperated from the Dwarves before they meet the goblin king rather than after, to allow for dramatic switching between parallel accounts), some merely reek of hubris on PJ's part.

The white orc makes a decent explanation for an orcish army randomly showing up in the battle of five armies. I didn't mind that. I do mind the trolls being able to use the threat of ripping Bilbo into quarters to get the dwarves to disarm -- that Hollywood cliche is even less believable in the setting than usual.

Was mildly annoyed by Radagast. But I can't honestly say whether that's a legitimate complaint or just me.


Not looking forward to the warrior women of Mirkwood.

Anonymous The Stranger December 20, 2012 9:45 AM  

Oh, forgot -- was ticked by Thorin's big over-emotional accepting of Bilbo at the end of the movie. That wasn't s'posed to happen 'til his deathbed.

Anonymous DT December 20, 2012 9:48 AM  

At the risk of being burned at a stake...people are WAY TOO SERIOUS about Tolkien. His books were great books. But they were not Holy Scriptures handed down by the One True God.

I never expected any of Peter Jackson's movies to be perfectly faithful to the books. That's an impossible task given the very different natures of film and literature. I went to the movies knowing they would be different. If Tolkien himself had created the films they would have been different from the books.

The LOTR movies did an excellent job of bringing the books to life on the big screen. Watching them I feel like I'm immersed in Tolkien's universe. Then again, I don't sit there like some nerd nitpicking every single difference between the movies and the books. If I was going to nitpick, the books were certainly better in some respects, but I think the movies scored a few points of their own.

As for the first movie of The Hobbit trilogy...I enjoyed it, but not as much as any of the LOTR movies. I can't quite put my finger on why. Yes, some scenes looked a little bit too much like an Xbox 360 game. Yes, the fight scenes were lacking compared to those in LOTR. And yes, that f***ing rabbit sled. But none of these failings were huge. I think maybe the movie just lacks the weight of the LOTR. Then again, so does the source material. The Hobbit was simply not a "world in the balance" book of struggle and war.

The absolute best scene was Bilbo and Gollum. This was more powerful on screen then it ever could have been in the books because with the movies we know the significance of what's happening, both the finding of the one ring and the sparing of Gollum's life.

Even though it was not part of the book and people are complaining about it here, the meeting of the White Council was another of my favorite scenes. Again because we know the significance of what's happening. Same with Radagast investigating Dol Guldur. Even the jackalope sled escape didn't ruin it because of the weight of the scene. We know who the necromancer is, and I hope one of the next movies returns to this location and deals with it more deeply even if that means using...or creating...material not in the book.

It was not great, but it was good, and I'm looking forward to the remaining movies.

Anonymous Josh December 20, 2012 9:55 AM  

I had very low expectations for this movie, and I was delighted to find out that my expectations had been misplaced. This was easily the most enjoyable movie of the year. The shire was once again wonderful, reminding all of us folk that don't live in the big cities of our own little patch of green and hill, of grass and tree.

Bilbo, Thorin, and Gandalf were excellent, especially Bilbo. He was exactly as I always thought he would be. Had a been a child, I would have leapt with joy when the dwarves started singing their cleaning song (that's what Bilbo Baggins hates!) I certainly did tap my feet in tune with the verse.

All the stuff from the appendices didn't bother me, I knew that Jackson would be adding them in. It's not strictly Hobbit, but it's still from Tolkien.

Blogger jamsco December 20, 2012 9:55 AM  

We went on Tuesday. We took our seven kids. We all enjoyed it. Even the four year old.

The essence of the book (and the characters) is not screwed up, at least not to the degree that it was so wrongfully done in LOTR.

I was extremely pleased with the Gollum scenes except for the Finding of the Ring. Bad choices there.

The added scenes were non-annoying and I didn't mind the length.

Anonymous Susan December 20, 2012 9:58 AM  

The Stranger@9:45AM

The excuse Hollywood will use for that scenario is 'tightening up the plot' or 'artistic license'. When in reality, maybe they just don't have what it takes to stay true to the original story.

In order to do it right, a director's ego has to take second place to the original writer and most screenwriters/directors can't do that. Harrison Ford used to re-write the Clancy scripts for his movies to favor his characters more. Loved the early Clancy books, but hate what Ford does to them when they hit the screen.

Anonymous Socrates11 December 20, 2012 10:07 AM  

Wow, lots of movie/Tolkien snobs up in here.

Thought the Hobbit was excellent. Very entertaining and very faithful to the book. I enjoyed the additions (Radaghast, White Council, White Orc)as I felt they added to the narrative. And complaining about cartoonish violence? This a movie about friggin' elves, dwarves, and wizards for cryin' out loud, cartoonish violence goes with the territory!

I've read The Hobbit and LOTR books about 8 times, and will be rereading again soon. Perhaps my most cherished stories. But I don't need the films to be a word for word re-enactment, I need them to be entertaining and to get the general story right. Peter Jackson has done precisely that.

Anonymous NZT December 20, 2012 10:08 AM  

Just watched it yesterday, in normal 24fps 2D like God intended.

The good:
- Bilbo, Gandalf, and Thorin were all well done and pretty true to the book (I second Stickwick that Bilbo is a better hobbit character than any of the ones in LotR). Gandalf in particular was very interesting, he's much more humanized and vulnerable than in the LotR movies, while still being a formidable presence.
- There were a few really strong scenes: the riddles in the dark was superbly done, and I thought the meeting of the white council was one of the best moments as well, with its solemnity making a nice contrast to the dwarves' comic relief shenanigans.
- The sets, props, costumes, music etc. were all up to the high standard set by LotR. I was constantly noticing small details of the characters' clothes and weapons that had obviously been painstakingly designed for just a few seconds on screen.

The bad:
- Too much lame humor: The trolls scratch their asses and blow snot onto Bilbo. Radagast has shit in his hair and acts like a caricature of a stoner. The fat dwarf eats a lot and belches. It never ends (the only line that made me chuckle was Bilbo's "I think the worst is behind us", which was much truer to Tolkien's original tone). Ironically, the kinds of young kids who might actually laugh at this stuff shouldn't be in the theater unless their parents want them to see graphic decapitations, people getting eaten by wolves, etc
- Similarly, other than Thorin the dwarves were pretty much all forgettable comic relief characters. The best scenes were when we got to take a break from their toomfoolery.
- Too long, and particularly too slow to get started. It takes what, 45 minutes just to get Bilbo out his front door? By that time most movies are building up to the climax.

That quote from the lady about wanting to get more "feminine energy" or whatever into the story is of course retarded, contemptible, and disrespectful of Tolkien (I suppose she'd also want to add some butt-kicking babes to the Iliad). I suppose it was inevitable they try to get more chicks into the movies though, got to hit those four quadrants!

Anonymous DT December 20, 2012 10:26 AM  

That quote from the lady about wanting to get more "feminine energy" or whatever into the story is of course retarded, contemptible, and disrespectful of Tolkien...

I agree, but at the same time I have to admit I've always wanted to see Galadriel throw down. I can deal with that given the fact that she is a ring bearer. I'm hoping that in the next movie we see the White Council confront Sauron at Dol Guldur, and that it is a worthy battle.

I would be much more interested in seeing Galadriel in battle alongside Elrond and Gandalf than in any "girl power" characters who were not in the books. At least with Galadriel we understand the source of the power, and she has been portrayed as both majestic and powerful in the books and films to date. It's not just some feminine mystique energy BS.

Blogger Positive Dennis December 20, 2012 10:39 AM  

As the Stranger said above, cartoony is the appropriate adjective. Yes, the Hobbit was a children's book, but I was not expecting a cartoon. It was even cartoony in visual style and the plot as well. I doubt I will see the rest if the series in the theatre, but I will probably buy it in 3D.

Anonymous The One December 20, 2012 11:06 AM  

Excellent film, not so true to the book. The actions scenes under the mountain are ridiculous.

Anonymous Kickass December 20, 2012 11:21 AM  

@ DT and at least he set her up to have some kind of dignity being that she refused to take the ring of Power from Frodo.

He knew what he was doing in the book.

Anonymous Kickass December 20, 2012 11:26 AM  

@ Nate

It isn't that I don't mean that, it that I CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

Blogger Panzerdude December 20, 2012 11:29 AM  

I have a "love/hate" view of movie, The Hobbit. Many of the tweaks Jackson made were reasonable for the sake of a visual story. So, overall, really enjoyed the adaptation.

The "hate" part has to do with the Stone Giants scene and the goblin scenes under the mountains. They stretch the fantasy aspect of suspended believability to the breaking point. For example, the fall of hundreds of feet, by both Gandalf and the dwarves and Bilbo, without so much as a minor injury is absurd and unnecessary for the story.

The "love" parts are many. When Jackson stayed close to the story, with fantastic visuals, I felt like I was seeing a movie of "my mind" when I was reading the book.

Why did he deviate with ridiculous scenes? What was he thinking when he changed the capture of the party by the goblins from Bilbo seeing the back of the cave open to a stupid, giant trap door that has a hundred foot shoot (where no one is scratched) into a cage?

Much better to have had Bilbo dreaming about his home and tying that into the cave opening and the party being captured.

Peter Jackson, with an unlimited budget you managed to take moments of pure hobbit splendor and mix them with unadulterated foolishness. WHY????

Anonymous Kickass December 20, 2012 11:32 AM  

@ VanDryker
I cannot believe that after four LotR movies, Tom Bombadil is yet to make an appearance. One would think that seeing as The Hobbit was a children's book (according to Tolkien himself), he would be a great character to have in the movie. Even if it was just a cameo.

GOOD GRIEF, that is who I meant! I haven't read the books in years and apparently need to drink another cup of coffee. Or, all the climate warming is getting to me....

Anonymous Kickass December 20, 2012 11:33 AM  

Last thing, the treatment of the dwarves is a disgrace.

That is all!

Anonymous Aeoli Pera December 20, 2012 11:44 AM  

Very entertaining and very faithful to the book.

Moron.

Blogger RobertT December 20, 2012 11:46 AM  

HongKongCharlie
"I developed an obsession with reading in the 4th grade. I quit going to movies made from books years ago. They rarely follow the script, so to speak."

Agree completely. Imagination is powerful, and the movie always destroys what I imagined. Like Catch-22, sometimes the movie is good, but it never captures the essence of the book. How can you capture on film that the character quit wearing clothes and started waling backwards? It's impossible. But in a written statement, it's hilarious. Then the characters always look different and sound different than I imagined. Nothing good about them. Avoid them like the plague.

Anonymous Swami Rabbitima December 20, 2012 11:54 AM  

PJ - "We need an action beat here. I know - we'll have mountains fighting each other, and Bilbo and the dwarves have to escape them!"

Bleargh.

Anonymous NZT December 20, 2012 12:03 PM  

@DT

It sounds like the Dol Guldur battle scene will show up sooner or later, I'm curious how it will wind up looking. Presumably not a physical battle with weapons, but Tolkien also resisted having his magical characters shoot fireballs and lightning bolts and stuff like that, which Jackson has mostly respected.

As for Galadriel, yes she's a ringbearer but the books explicitly state that the 3 elven rings are NOT weapons (instead they're for "knowing and making" or something like that). Also I'm surprised that the woman claimed Galadriel was the most powerful character, given that A) of the 3 rings, Elrond has the most powerful one, and B) Saruman and Gandalf are angelic beings in human form (though they're forbidden from revealing their true powers).

Anonymous The Gray Man December 20, 2012 12:05 PM  

I thought it was a pretty decent film. Just go in with expectations that it won't be quite true to the book, suspend disbelief, and go with it. It's a decent little film.

Anonymous Ras Al Ghul December 20, 2012 12:10 PM  

Let's see. Where to start.

Jackson suffers from the same problem George Lucas has. He did well to start with the LOTR, but the farther he goes, the problems he has as a director magnify, like the twenty different endings in Return of the King.

More and crazier special effects are not better, ala Lucas as well.

Twenty minutes of old Bilbo and Frodo eating an apple at the beginning of the movie that added nothing to it and was incredibly boring.

Twenty minutes of Rad the Brown running around at high speed on a sled pulled by Rabbits. It sounds funnier than it was. There were elementary school kids near me that were not laughing that's how bad it was. None of this added anything to the movie.

Twenty minutes of back story with the dragon without actually showing the beast, because, well no one knows what a dragon looks like and it makes it more dramatic. (Yawn).

Twenty minutes of backstory of a white orc that wants to kill Thorin that was not in the book. Flashbacks really are a bad thing in literature and movies. (I thought goblins were just an old name for orcs according to tolkien, but apparently not in Jackson's world).

Twenty minutes of Gandalf being called a reckless prick by Elron, Saurman and Gladriel that was not in the book. The female elf has superior knowledge, intuition and general wizardness because of her feminine mystique and she literally is having a mind F*ck err, mind meld, mind sex whatever with Gandalf.

Gandalf goes from clever manipulator, that knows more than he is telling, to bumbling guesser.

So we have an hour and forty minutes of filler that does not need to be there and does not add to this bloated monstrosity of a film which was boring.

In addition, we have the changes to the incident of the trolls. I am, at the outset, ok with it being bilbo that is the one that manipulates the trolls and buys more time.

I am not o.k. with the trolls grabbing Bilbo and threatening to pull him appart unless the dwarves drop their weapons, which the dwarves do.

This is not internally consistent within the framework of the world. The trolls are just going to kill all of them anyway if they surrender (which is what the next scene shows) and which the dwarves would undoubtedly know. Surrendering would mean all 14 die, instead of one, no one would surrender under those circumstances, least of all the dwarves. So the whole movie is essentially a retrophobic lie which is made clear at this point.

If you really want to see the Hobbit, go rent the cartoon from the 70s.

Honestly.





Anonymous The Gray Man December 20, 2012 12:18 PM  

The haters in this thread are showing their true autistic side. It's one thing to not like the movie and another to nitpick for the sake of nitpicking.

Anonymous Noah B. December 20, 2012 12:31 PM  

Based on what I've read elsewhere and here, I probably won't be watching this movie. I love Tolkien's books and I was already very disappointed in The Return of the King. Just as a more general comment, it seems like an increasing number of movies are trying to substitute overly dramatic computer animation for compelling storytaking, believable acting, and well executed cinematography. That strategy isn't working out well.

Anonymous Jack Amok December 20, 2012 12:52 PM  

Pretty much every review here has something to agree with, and most of my points have already been covered. Just to register my votes:

-Overall okay but not great.

-Too long and as Rosalys said, poorly edited.

-Rabbit sled = fail

-White Orc = trite Hollywood crap (probably the result of breaking the story into multiple parts - each movie has to have a villian, so let's invent an Orc chieftan with a grudge.)

-Stone Giant battle = idiotic Hollywood crap. Swami's probably right about why it's there.

-Underground "action sequence" = see White Orc and Stone Giant Battle above.

-Bilbo was well done.

-Thorin was meh. Too brooding. And too, shall we say, Leading Man-ish for a dwarf, but then, can't have a movie without someone for the ladies to look at.

-"Feminine Energy" eh? Oh, right, that was the boring part of the movie.

-Riddle scene was excellent

-Gollum was excellent.

Finally, I saw it in 3D. Never again. Eye strain, the annoyance of having glasses hovering in front of my face, and every fast camera move everything got badly blurry.

Anonymous DT December 20, 2012 1:00 PM  

As for Galadriel, yes she's a ringbearer but the books explicitly state that the 3 elven rings are NOT weapons (instead they're for "knowing and making" or something like that).

I was under the impression that while they were not weapons per se, they gave the bearers power to protect their domains. In other words, in some fashion they were useful in war, perhaps by enhancing other abilities. (Could be completely wrong on that.)

Also I'm surprised that the woman claimed Galadriel was the most powerful character, given that A) of the 3 rings, Elrond has the most powerful one, and B) Saruman and Gandalf are angelic beings in human form (though they're forbidden from revealing their true powers).

Agreed. And a valid nitpick. Galadriel seems to be portrayed as more powerful / majestic than Elrond, and that's not the case. Nor is she the most powerful being in Middle Earth.

Anonymous Rod Freeman December 20, 2012 1:08 PM  

I agree with the comments about the stupid, modern day humor references being interjected into the movie inappropriately.

The call for 'chips' by trolls with Cockney accents started it off, but the worst for me was when Gandalf was talking about a battle where a goblin lost his head, it fell in a rabbit hole, and thus was invented the game of golf.

Totally stupid. Jumped the shark for me right there.

Blogger Panzerdude December 20, 2012 1:13 PM  

The Gray Man said, "The haters in this thread are showing their true autistic side. It's one thing to not like the movie and another to nitpick for the sake of nitpicking."

Not at all. If you, or anyone, chooses to take on a well known and loved story, then you are also taking on the responsibility to honor that story...for all the reasons that made it well known and loved.

What you seem to be calling "nitpicking" is simply people that love the well-known story pointing out where Jackson failed at his responsibility. Jackson changed and added to the story, while promoting it as "the story". That adds another sin, misrepresentation.

Call it The Hobbit and people are expecting The Hobbit. Call it "Journey to Dragon Mountain" and then Jackson can feel free to add and tweak.

So, no nitpicking going on here. Jackson took "creative license" and the result is that fans of the well-known and loved book are unhappy with what he did. He took the risk when he took the name The Hobbit.

How I wish I only had to nitpick and not be forced to deal with major changes created out of the mind of the director and added to the well-known and loved story.

Anonymous Stickwick December 20, 2012 1:15 PM  

Peter Jackson, with an unlimited budget you managed to take moments of pure hobbit splendor and mix them with unadulterated foolishness. WHY????

Believe it or not, you just answered your own question.

There is a saying that applies here: Art through adversity. It's why the first two original Star Wars movies were so great and the prequels were so unbelievably bad. With the first two SW movies, the production was beset by problem after problem; the technology for the FX had to be created on-the-spot and even then it was painstaking; and, especially in the first movie, they were hampered by limited budget and time. Lucas ended up in the hospital near the end of the production of SW, suffering from exhaustion and a mental breakdown. The result on screen was something that changed movies forever.

Once it became relatively easy and comfortable to make epic movies, the results were no longer very engaging. As with Lucas and the prequels, Jackson's overindulgence is all-too-expected when a director's vision is effectively unlimited by budget and CGI. It's just too tempting to give in to "unadulterated foolishness" when there's little to constrain you.

Anonymous jm December 20, 2012 1:18 PM  

The golf gag was in the book, mentioned by the narrator, I think, and the trolls did use that particular accent. Tolkien later wrote that he regretted writing the book in such a light tone, but those incongruous elements were actually in the book.

Anonymous jm December 20, 2012 1:21 PM  

When people say "White Orc", are they referring to a very light-skinned orc? I'm thinking of that remake of The Time Machine a few years ago, when the Chief Morlock was whiter than white, oppressing the brown-skinned, post-racial Eloi, as befits the narrative.

Anonymous Aspie December 20, 2012 1:24 PM  

- Singing goblins? FAIL

- Trolls with Cockney accents? FAIL

- Dwarves doing the dishes? Plus more stupid songs from Dwarfs? Hello - wasn't in the book. FAIL

- Didn't appreciate the additional dwarf characters. If I remember the books, there were seven dwarves. So Jackson goes and adds a crapload more dwarves? FAIL

Anonymous Stickwick December 20, 2012 1:30 PM  

Jackson took "creative license" and the result is that fans of the well-known and loved book are unhappy with what he did.

Some fans are unhappy. There are diehard Tolkien fans here and elsewhere who were pleased enough.

I'm in total agreement with the excessive CGI stuff. However, "fans" are also seeing problems where none exist. For instance:

The call for 'chips' by trolls with Cockney accents started it off, but the worst for me was when Gandalf was talking about a battle where a goblin lost his head, it fell in a rabbit hole, and thus was invented the game of golf.

First of all, Tolkien named the trolls William, Bert, and Tom. Why is anyone taken aback by dumber-than-rocks trolls with names like that in a British mythology having Cockney accents? Furthermore, Tolkien wrote their dialogue like this:

William choked. "Shut yer mouth!" he said as soon as he could. "Yer can't expect folk to stop here for ever just to be et by you and Bert. You've et a village and a half between yer, since we come down from the mountains. How much more d'yer want? And time's been up our way, when yer'd have said 'thank yer Bill' for a nice bit o' fat valley mutton like what this is."

Sounds pretty Cockney to me.

As for the golf bit, it's straight out of the book:

If you have ever seen a dragon in a pinch, you will realize that this was only poetical exaggeration applied to any hobbit, even to Old Took's great-granduncle Bullroarer, who was so huge (for a hobbit) that he could ride a horse. He charged the ranks of the goblins of Mount Gram in the Battle of the Green Fields, and knocked their king Golfibul's head clean off with a wooden club. It sailed a hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit-hole, and in this way the battle was won and the game of Golf was invented at the same moment.

Anonymous Daniel December 20, 2012 1:33 PM  

To compare Jackson to Lucas is laughable. He did one good original movie (Empire was well controlled by others). Complaints about Radagast are uninformed: he appears as foolish and useless as Saruman (rightly) believes in the books (Unfinished Tales, etc.) and yet as friendly and mildly, unexpectedly useful as well. The Rhosgobel rabbits were a very good cinematic invention, and, frankly fun to watch. Of all the action scenes (which were, to me, the low point of the movie) they ranked in this order:

1. The coming of Smaug
2. Thorin "Oaken" shield
3. Stone trolls
4. The necromancer
5. Radagast to the unrescue
6. 15 Birds in 5 Fir Trees
7. Escape from the goblin kingdom

But yes, see it in 2-D. It serves as a natural modifier to the typical overindulgences. With that, the only scene that was truly overlong was the escape.

Now, if only the orcs had started singing when they had caught the company in the trees...

Anonymous Glacierman December 20, 2012 1:33 PM  

Went as a family on Tuesday.

The anticipation was building for many months, they were really anticipating this version which adds to the trilogy.

That being said, I read the books a long time ago and had basically forgotten the story. That was probably a blessing in disguise, as my reference points of story adherence were not there and made for a pure entertaining ride.

Not so for my Hobbit/LOTL fact-checker aficionado, 14 year old. When I asked him what he thought of the movie, as we were walking out of the theatre, he declared, "I am going back to the book and looking up all the places they butchered the story!!!"

As attested by the above purists, there is huge disappointment right up to total disgust (like my youngest), as those who see the books-to-movies as being akin to a criminal act.

For me, it was a great fantasy ride, (excluding the video-game Hobbitless troupe riding down the caverns on the trackless roller-coaster and landing unscathed; not to mention the fat-**s goblin-king splatting on them top of them all and walking away unscathed - scene) which was both entertaining and thought provoking!

Best line in the movie from the book was the "invention of golf" reference, thanks to the chillin's fact checking!!!

Anonymous Glacierman December 20, 2012 1:38 PM  

Rod Freeman:"but the worst for me was when Gandalf was talking about a battle where a goblin lost his head, it fell in a rabbit hole, and thus was invented the game of golf."

That was a direct quote from the book.

Seemed out of place unless you knew the reference, as I said above.

Anonymous Loki December 20, 2012 1:41 PM  

Did not like how Jackson thinks he is giving fanboy-love by having TALKING about Tolkien mythos. Show, don't tell dude.

Yes, it is called Erebor in the appendencies. But I liked it better in the books when it was called "the Lonely Mountain." This is supposed to be Bilbo's tale, not Prof. Tolkien's essays.

The terrible fight scenes show how video games are destroying our culture.

It was a fun movie. I enjoyed it.

Anonymous Daniel December 20, 2012 1:42 PM  

Oh, P.S. Consider me a die-hard. Read the book in 3rd Grade, saw the cartoon in 4th, made a stop motion Hobbit movie in 5th Grade, made "Riddles in the Dark" adventure game in BASIC in 6th Grade, saw the Bakshi cartoon in the theater during its miniscule run. Forged a wooden Glamdring in 7th grade, in the process of trying to share the sacrifice of Christ with my brother through our only common bond: a love of the Hobbit.

So, go to the (2-D) version, sit down, relax, accept its meandering and enjoy it. The only thing that made the Stone Giant battle "wrong" was that Jackson tried to personalize the danger to the little party. The sense of it from the book is that they are impossibly insignificant, and that a mere "flake" of residue from the battle would kill them all. Cinematically, that would have been enough to drive them into the caves. I actually think the only thing Jackson had to do was cut the immediate accident for the party, and, when they fled into the cave, go back and show the fight, still going every on through the thunderstorm.

Anonymous Daniel December 20, 2012 1:44 PM  

Loki - You enjoyed it because it was a good movie, or because its fight scenes are destroying our culture?

With you, it could go either way...

Anonymous SnowyMN December 20, 2012 1:45 PM  

The goblin king (not the white one) reminded me unpleasantly of a couple of Lucas characters.

Anonymous Daniel December 20, 2012 1:46 PM  

Glacierman
Seemed out of place unless you knew the reference, as I said above.

How did it seem out of place?

Anonymous Anonymous December 20, 2012 1:57 PM  

This makes me remember back to high school, when Empire Strikes Back was just out. All the rumors were that the Star Wars films were adpations based on a 9-volume series of novels. Oh, how I looked for the "original Star Wars books" ... I mean, if the movies were good, how much better were the original books? Only later did I learn that there were no books, and Lucas was just making up as he went along...

Another funny part about these discussions of book vs. movie, is how common it is for people to LIE about the books they've read. I remember this when LOTR came out, where I would sit in a pub and listen to someone opine about how much better the books were than the movies, then spew out a bunch of nonsense about what they remember "reading."

Just the other day, I heard a pait of liberal yentas talking about the Atlas Shrugged movies, and how terrible they were because the book was about "corporations taking over the world" -- hilarious, because the theme of the books/movies is the exact opposite.

Like Ayn Rand, War and Peace, and the Bible ... the Hobbit is a book everyone loves to lie about reading.

J

Anonymous Glacierman December 20, 2012 2:06 PM  

For me, it was a line which, in linear time, took me to the invention of the game of golf (Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden) beginning in Scotland not too long ago.

It brought me out of the movie, from the time of middle earth, to the present day. To be brought into Titleist, Callaway and Topflite and St. Andrews was a distraction. Funny, none-the-less, just as Tolkien would have wanted!!!

Anonymous Mudz December 20, 2012 3:15 PM  

Haha @ Anon, what a coincidence, I just got the Atlas Shrugged book, about 1200 pages through 1500. It's actually quite engrossing, even though it's just re-expressing the same points constantly and it seems to be a rather perverse rant against charity and selflessless, like literally, Christianity and Robin Hood are perverted to become world evils in the book.
I'm actually wondering if Robin Hood was substituted for Jesus Christ for palatability reasons, since Robin Hood was actually redistributing wealth to whom earned it, which is kind of the point of the capitalist dream in the book, whereas Jesus is the one who actually preaches true selflessness and loving one's undeserving enemies and giving up riches, etc. But I think even an atheist would hesitate at trying to sell Jesus as evil in a book he/she wants read.

But I give the author props for the bold contravention of what she (or he? What gender is 'Ayn'?) considered an equivalent of political correctness. And it does inspire some enthusiasm for the go-getter pioneering/industrialist types, and rethinking the automatic vilification of corporations and the like. Which I still stand by so far, but still, it's making me think about it, which is big points for the book.

I could only read about 20 pages of War and Peace though. Seriously, what a boring book. Only Dickens could make a page of literary drool fun to read. And I've read, I think, most of the bible now? Meandering through 1 Kings at the moment, and I should have read all of it by the time I get to Job. Yay me!

Anyway, s'posed to be talking about the Hobbit:

I haven't seen the movie yet, but when I first heard it was on the board, I was totally not feeling it. The Hobbit is obviously a seriously different book (since Tolkien wrote it for his kids), with an almost completely different tone to the story-telling, very adorable and fabley, that even had I thought Peter Jackson (not that I don't think he's awesome, NZ represent, man!) was well suited to such an oldey Englishey kind of folk tale (maybe he is, I don't know yet, he did well enough in Fellowship intro imo), that there really aren't enough people who have actually read The Hobbit in order to realise that it's nothing like LOTR in the cinematic sense.

Also yeah, it looks like PJ was saved from himself in some of the LOTR films by having rather oversilly scenes (like the dwarf vs elf drinking game) edited out of it. The Hobbit is different in that it actually is a little bit silly, but the humour is different (like, clever British dialogue as opposed to people just falling on their face, although there's that too). I would actually hate to be tasked with bringing that kind of storybook to the screen, because it would have to be done with an incredible sense of old-fashioned elegance that can't be compensated with great CG dragons. The power of the Hobbit story, was in the narration.

Also, Gandalf is a little bit of a douche in the Hobbit. Very wizardly.

In any case, not expecting much from it, but I guess I'll just have to watch the movie and see how he did. My lack of expectation have improved movies before.

Anonymous Mudz December 20, 2012 3:17 PM  

Although, in saying that an atheist would hesitate to sell Jesus as evil, that is essentially what Ayn was doing, although a little bit obliquely, if obviously.

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic December 20, 2012 3:35 PM  



- Singing goblins? FAIL

- Trolls with Cockney accents? FAIL

- Dwarves doing the dishes? Plus more stupid songs from Dwarfs? Hello - wasn't in the book. FAIL

- Didn't appreciate the additional dwarf characters. If I remember the books, there were seven dwarves. So Jackson goes and adds a crapload more dwarves? FAIL


LOL. All this was in the book. Get back on your meds and put down that keyboard before somebody gets hurt.

Anonymous Stickwick December 20, 2012 3:45 PM  

Check the guy's name, Anti-Gnostic. That'll give you a clue whether you should take his comment seriously or not. ;^)

Anonymous MendoScot December 20, 2012 3:50 PM  

For me, it was a line which, in linear time, took me to the invention of the game of golf (Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden) beginning in Scotland not too long ago.

No, no, no. Golf was played with the testicles of defeated Englishmen so Tolkein was merely adapting mythic history, as he did so often.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus December 20, 2012 4:10 PM  

I hate to break it to some of you...but the "white orc/goblin" *was* in the books...Azog definitely featured in the Dwarf - Orc wars (precipitated by him carving his name in a certain dwarven head).

the only problem being that he presumably never left Moria after doing so...and IIRC Thorin killed him at Moria after the dwarven host sacked all the other undermountain orc fastnesses along the entire mountain range.

Taking Azog and making him into a rival set piece was annoying...but not *completely* a PJ invention: call it a warp.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie even though you can definitely see PJ's additions and gratuitous CGI. My challenge is separating "legitimate" back-story additions from Tauriel-esqe dreck and White Orc warps.

Let me get my nerd on (some more) here: Galadriel is not the most powerful being in middle earth at this time...unless we exclude the Maiar (Sauron and the Istari) and the Dragon(s), she is arguably the oldest elf (7000+years) in middle earth (niece of Feanor) and certainly the most-powerful elf left there.

Blogger Sam Lively December 20, 2012 4:21 PM  

Baffling how many people liked this movie. It's George Lucas' headlong fall from grace all over again, with the caveat that Jackson never belonged on Lucas' plateau anyways because the only good things about LOTR were the elements he didn't screw up from the book.

Jackson adds two separate prologues for no good reason: the first spoils the mystery behind the dwarves showing up at Bilbo's door (he did the same thing, less egregiously, with Fellowship; for a horror director, you think he'd understand the value of a slow reveal); the second wastes 5-10 minutes of everybody's life just to remind us that this is a prequel to LOTR.

Thus, by the time the film got to the original opening of the story, it had already burned through my patience, and the leisurely pace of the book's opening became a detriment.

The dwarfs-in-Bag-End sequence was frustratingly amateurish: a bunch of live actors trying to pull off cartoonish antics. Jackson's Lucasian aspect rears its head with his direction of Martin Freeman (Bilbo): about 500 reaction shots in which the actor has to improvise a different face for the exact same situation (we get it, he's frustrated that the dwarves are eating his food).

Once the journey finally gets started, it gets sidetracked with a flashback to another frickin' prologue, this time about Thorin's vendetta with a pale orc.

From there it's off to a limp rendition of the troll scene, an LSD-addled rabbit trail into Radagast's hippie wanderings, a painfully long and pointless board of directors meeting at Rivendell, and an extended action set-piece with the goblins that earns the mediocre video game cutscene label
others have pasted on to it.

The one shining moment in the whole movie - Gollum's riddle battle with Bilbo - is so gosh-dang good, that it makes the garbage that preceded it all the more depressing. It reminded me of how much I loved Tolkein as a kid, and how bloated and abominable an imitation Jackson has offered up here.

Anonymous NZT December 20, 2012 4:37 PM  

"Jackson's Lucasian aspect rears its head with his direction of Martin Freeman (Bilbo): about 500 reaction shots in which the actor has to improvise a different face for the exact same situation (we get it, he's frustrated that the dwarves are eating his food)."

This. Bilbo spends 15 minutes stuttering "What? Who are you people? Please don't touch that! I'd really rather you didn't-" over and over and over again as everyone ignores him. It's fine to show that he's startled by what's happening, but Jackson keeps him wrongfooted for so long it becomes a blaring false note.

Anonymous Daniel December 20, 2012 4:58 PM  

So, just so I'm clear, the reasons for hating this movie are:

Jackson's a terrible director because he's too reliant on the text.
Jackson's a terrible director because he's too inventive with the text.
The worst parts of the movie are the parts from the book for the people who haven't read the book.
The best parts of the movie are the parts from the book for the people who have read it, but Jackson did it wrong anyhow.
The worst parts of the movie are the ones from the Appendix of the Lord of the Rings.

And stone trolls couldn't possibly be that stupid.

Oh, and bloat. Bloat is bad (even bloat lifted directly from the text), because Tolkien was fantasy's answer to Hemingway.

Solving the puzzle of shooting the Hobbit in some semblane of 3 hour units is really quite elegantly solved (for now) by including the background in the appendix. I was far less bothered that Azog survives the "killing blow" (certain to be slain later by Thorin in movie III) than I was by the death of Saruman in LoTR extended edition, in fact, not bothered at all. There's no consistent climactic villain for the 1st 3rd of the book, and he may just do the trick. It is cinema, after all. Motion pictures are far more limited and dependent on certain action tropes than children's books.

Anonymous Porky? December 20, 2012 5:00 PM  

No black or hispanic dwarves?

Anonymous Ain December 20, 2012 5:05 PM  

Josh: "That quote from the lady about wanting to get more "feminine energy" or whatever into the story is of course retarded, contemptible, and disrespectful of Tolkien (I suppose she'd also want to add some butt-kicking babes to the Iliad). I suppose it was inevitable they try to get more chicks into the movies though, got to hit those four quadrants!"

The whole quote from the chick reeked of being completely panned to justify the writer's changes, kind of like a politician's "I'm glad you asked that.." moments.

Anonymous Ras Al Ghul December 20, 2012 5:10 PM  

"No black or hispanic dwarves?"

There are if you're looking . . . like the Japanese in Star Wars Phantom Menace

Anonymous Stickwick December 20, 2012 5:18 PM  

No black or hispanic dwarves?

No, but we do get a lot of other modern tropes in the movie:

- the quiet brooding dwarf with the mysterious past

- the newbie dwarf who's never been on a quest

- the ultra-religious conservative dwarf who ends up going nuts and dying a tragic death

- the handsome arrogant dwarf who gets all the chicks, and then gets his comeuppance for his misogynistic ways and becomes a feminist

- the gay dwarf, who ends up being the bravest of them all and thereby wins the admiration and acceptance of all the other dwarves

- the really macho dwarf who seems a bit off and that's because he's really a she who disguised herself to join the quest to get revenge for her father who was murdered in the sacking of the orc stronghold but dwarven law forbids female dwarves to go to battle ...

- the Cypher dwarf, who sells out all the other dwarves and the quest to be reinserted into the Matrix

There were probably a few others I missed, but that's most of 'em.

Anonymous Ras Al Ghul December 20, 2012 5:22 PM  

Daniel,

I liked the lotr trilogy Jackson did, which is why this is such a disappointment.

And while I appreciate your appeal to your own authority as a greater Tolkien fan than anyone here, it doesn't hold any weight.

You remind me of all the people that defended phantom menace.

You recognize that a movie is different than a book, and what works in a book, does not work in a movie often, and vice versa.

(For example thank God Jackson did not include the lineage of the elves in Fellowship).

I have seen, and you have seen a decent rendition of the Hobbit done in one film (not three) back in the 70s. Jackson could have done a better, longer, more faithful rendition of the Hobbit than that and it would have stood as a beautiful movie.

Instead, he intentionally made a giant bloated two part movie into a three part movie to wring every last dollar out of it.

It feels like a film intentionally prolonged for no reason other than that.

It is dull, it is bloated, it is over the top, it is silly in stupid ways.

It is a disappointment considering how beautiful the first three films are.

Blogger Sam Lively December 20, 2012 5:23 PM  

The "puzzle" of turning The Hobbit into an epic film trilogy was an unnecessary hurdle in the first place, and Jackson's handling of it was anything but elegant.

I'm speaking as more of a movie buff with affectionate Tolkein nostalgia than a LOTR die-hard (haven't read The Hobbit or the trilogy since my teens), and this movie left me bored and irritated. I don't remember being bored and irritated reading The Hobbit.

As a film, it was a clumsily constructed mess with more backstory than story. It failed as a drama (Gollum was the only emotionally resonant character), and an action-adventure (miserably slow pace, too many pointless conversations, no rising action, mediocre action set-pieces).

Anonymous stevev December 20, 2012 5:28 PM  

Gandalf chortling at the merry doings of the little folk just made me want to punch him.

Anonymous Loki of Asgard December 20, 2012 6:06 PM  

There were probably a few others I missed, but that's most of 'em.

You forgot:

- the large, frightening-looking dwarf who is actually a friend to all children and giggles when young women look at him;

- the dwarf slacker with a country-bumpkin drawl who is usually played by Owen Wilson;

- the dwarf reminiscent of Orientals who thrashes his opponents with acrobatics and unlikely weapons;

- the extremely intelligent dwarf who can build an improvised weapon using three toothpicks, a loincloth, and a live chicken; and

- the dwarf who can somehow provide the extremely intelligent dwarf with live chickens within five minutes of the request being made. Hyperspace access optional.

You are welcome.

Anonymous Daniel December 20, 2012 6:40 PM  

The "puzzle" of turning The Hobbit into an epic film trilogy was an unnecessary hurdle in the first place, and Jackson's handling of it was anything but elegant.

So we could have what, a rushed, condensed diorama of the Hobbit in one movie? That may have satisfied your nostalgia, but would have done injustice to the actual book. One of the most important aspects of the novel is its pastoral beginnings, its humorous conjecture, its meandering, then rapid-fire "frying pan to fire" structure at the end of its first 3rd. I found the action sequences to be least interesting bits, and occasionally overlong.

Putting the Hobbit into one movie would have had the same effect as putting the Fellowship of the Ring into one movie did: too much butter, not enough bread.

It's a trilogy. That backstory moves and adds. You went to a movie expecting - I don't know - The Avengers or something. This book does not make that movie, no matter how you do it.

I think it is funny: I assumed, after seeing it, I would have been one of its more strident critics (the action bits: I would have shortened one, edited another differently, and extended 15 birds with a musical number, and Azog singing baritone.) Apparently, I'm among its biggest fanmen.

Anonymous Jack Amok December 20, 2012 6:49 PM  

So, just so I'm clear, the reasons for hating this movie are:

I don't hate it, but it's flawed in some unnecessary ways.

And I get it that the complaints seem to be simultaneously that Jackson did too much and not enough at the same time. But there's some oddities I ponder.

Sam Lively's observation "Jackson adds two separate prologues for no good reason: the first spoils the mystery behind the dwarves showing up at Bilbo's door..." is a great one, and I wonder why it happened. Obviously it makes the film conform more closely to Hollywood standards (c.f. Ras Al Ghul's "Flashbacks really are a bad thing in literature and movies" that argues against a later sequence showing Smaug driving the dwarves out of the Lonely Mountain), but Sam's right that it's a weak element and the movie would be better with that information pushed deeper into the movie. If the movie was directed by some no-name I could understand the diretor bowing to convention, but Jackson ought to have the pull to deviate, and the wisdom to see the need.

I suppose in the end, though I liked the movie, only two things that really bothered me were the changes that smacked of "typical Hollywood" and the surprisingly uneven technical cinematography. LOTR was almost always a beautifully shot movie, but The Hobbit had several scenes that were blurry or just plain visually incoherent. That was perhaps the most surprising thing.

Anonymous Desiderius December 20, 2012 6:59 PM  

I'll wait for the other two before passing judgement on this one - Fellowship as well was a little light on the things that usually make a movie worth seeing - but as far as I'm concerned, so far so good.

Bilbo recognizing at the climax that his own reluctance to adventure was not only cowardice/complacence (gammatude in game terms, if that's your thing) but also a deeply good appreciation of home and all that connotes, and then understanding his role among the dwarves as helping them return to a home of their own...

That gets Tolkien on a sufficiently profound level.

This film is also subversive of contemporary mores (especially regarding masculinity, but also SWPL arrogance/ignorance*) in a subtle but effective way.

Also, the Jesse Ventura dwarf with tats on his head was cool.

* - Tolkien was writing this at a time when the British Elite were declaring that King and Country (their home) were not worth fighting for. See the famous Oxford debate. Hitler was soon to cure that delusion.

We live in a similar time.

Anonymous Sensei December 20, 2012 7:01 PM  

Kickass (who may never see this reply this far down):

The one thing for which I am perhaps most grateful to Peter Jackson is that he steered clear of Old Tom. Tom Bombadil is a literary Green Man character, written by one whose imagination has been 'baptized' in the Lewisian sense. There may not even be a way to translate his character to film, and I have my doubts that any post-modern filmmaker could even "get" him. Any attempts would result either in a failed attempt at comic relief much worse than Radagaster Rabbit in PJ's Hobbit, or preachy self-conscious environmentalism. Which is worse is hard to say, but either would be worse than what PJ did, which was to enclose him in parentheses, where he may live on respectably in our literary imaginations.

Anonymous map December 20, 2012 7:16 PM  

I saw the Hobbit in HFR 3D. The 3D was terrible. It looked like SyFy effects. Avoid that as much as possible.

As for the creative license, I think Jackson included everything from The Hobbit and The Silmarillion.

Anonymous map December 20, 2012 7:18 PM  

I think Jackson is also including stuff from The Unfinished Tales.

Anonymous map December 20, 2012 7:18 PM  

I never read Tolkien. My introduction to fantasy was The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.

Anonymous elmer December 20, 2012 8:58 PM  

To understand why things are done in Hollywood:

"I argued with him that the subject was even more interesting if it wasn't extraterrestrials. If it was real, physical, but not ET. So he said, 'You're probably right, but that's not what the public is expecting — this is Hollywood and I want to give people something that's close to what they expect.'"
-- Jacques Vallée to Steven Spielberg during the filming of Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Interesting what Spielberg does, re: to this conversation, some thirty plus year later, in a totally unrelated, but similar subject film. So, will Jackson finally get it right, three decades from now, or so?

Anonymous Daniel December 20, 2012 9:53 PM  

Sam Lively's observation "Jackson adds two separate prologues for no good reason: the first spoils the mystery behind the dwarves showing up at Bilbo's door..." is a great one, and I wonder why it happened.

Except that it's wrong. There is no "need" for the mystery of the company's appearance...none whatsoever. It isn't as if the "mystery" is ever solved in the original books, or even a significant question. The dwarves appear because there is an adventure afoot.

If you want to talk about good cinema, the backstory and reason provides ample motivation for the adventure to go on. If you think about it, Tolkien - much like Gandalf - merely shoves this poor hobbit into the middle of things without much compassion in the books. However, in Unfinished Tales, the LoTR appendix and Silmarillion, it is very well documented that Gandalf, the reluctant, had reasons for doing a lot of his never explained behavior in the Hobbit.

I can understand you wanting Jackson to make the choice to make the mysterious appearance of the Dwarves, well, a mystery, but in the movies, that means it is a mystery that must be solved by the end of the movie...and that would require adding a sub-plot of entirely non-Tolkien text to the movie!

In other words, the request for less narrative at the beginning of the movie is also necessarily a request for more Jacksonian invention.

After all, it isn't as if, when trapped in the fir trees, one of the dwarves looks at Bilbo and says, "There's been something we've all been meaning to tell you about why you specifically were selected..."

The fact is, it is no mystery to any fan of the books: Bilbo was picked because he was a Took, and Gandalf saw something esoteric yet crucial inside him.

Blogger rycamor December 20, 2012 10:45 PM  

I have to agree with Daniel somewhat. Overly-nerdy nitpicking at every deviation from the book is pointless. It's a movie. Jackson got the atmosphere just perfect in many places, especially at the beginning and with Gollum's riddle scene, which were both crucial to the whole story. Even if he deviated in specifics from the book, one could look at it as a view of the same story from a slightly different perspective than the book, sort of like looking in from a few different windows. The fact that he took the time to get his deviations FROM Tolkien's source material is a welcome surprise to me, considering how Hollywood usually approaches these things.

As agreed by most, the CGI was over the top in places, and the close calls (like getting wiped off the knee of a rock giant and still surviving) were just needless, but I can forgive much for a chance to experience a good interpretation of Tolkien's magic.

Anonymous Jack Amok December 20, 2012 11:54 PM  

In other words, the request for less narrative at the beginning of the movie is also necessarily a request for more Jacksonian invention.

Eh, what? Pardon, but you seem to be talking rot.

No invention needed, simply re-ordering elements (or un-re-ordering as the case me be, putting them back in their proper sequence). The main problem with the prologue is that - combined with the Frodo-Old Bilbo LOTR prologue and the extended drawven introduction frat party scene - it takes forever for the story to get moving. Losing out on a bit of mystery (though of course only for the folks who haven't read the books) is just icing on the cake.

Here's how I would've done it. Start with Gandalf and Bilbo meeting during the day. Show Bilbo running inside, but do not show Gandalf scratching the rune in the door. At night, the dwarves show up and start partying. No clue as to why they are they. When Gandalf shows up, have him furtively scratch out the rune he left (as I recall it being in the book), so it's established he's plotting something. Save Smaug sacking Dale and Erebor for a short flashback a little later on.

It would edit out probably 15 minutes from the movie, which was at lesat 50 minutes too long (theatrical releases should be under 2 hours, save the 169 minute marathons for the DVDs where people can hit pause to get a drink or go to the bathroom), and it would eliminate starting with a flashback that involves nobody you even know yet. Get the party on the road quicker, fit the backstory into the actual story (which is Bilbo going There and Back Again) instead of spewing it out as disjointed exposition.

Keep in mind, I'm not saying it sucked, I'm just saying it wasn't as good as it could have been. And I'm not even saying I coulda done it better. Jackson got a lot of other things right I would have botched, but ordering the opening, nah, I have him on that one.

Blogger Duke of Earl December 21, 2012 12:09 AM  

I'm pretty sure it was Dain who killed Azog in the books, he then looked into Moria and went back to Thrain and told him that it would be a long time before any dwarf would set foot there again.

I'd have liked it if Jackson had included the story of the burned dwarves, but there was probably too much competing for space as it was.

Anonymous Kickass December 21, 2012 3:52 AM  

@ sensei
Good point. Better to leave him pure. There was something more to that character, maybe I wanted him to be real the most.

Blogger Markku December 21, 2012 6:14 AM  

It was just as I expected. Worse than LOTR, but I knew that from the moment it was announced.

However, I'm actually glad it's going to be three movies, although I think two would have been best. I think all LOTR movies were rushed (even the extended editions), and there should have been six of them. As are pretty much all movies that are based on books. So perhaps now I can see some movies with pacing similar to the original material.

Saw it in HFR 3D and liked the technical aspects of it. I think all movies should be HFR.

Blogger Markku December 21, 2012 6:36 AM  

Nor did I think that the movement was blurry at any point in the film. However, the movie theater had been built only few months ago, and it had the absolute latest technology available.

Anonymous Desiderius December 21, 2012 8:03 AM  

Daniel,

Good discussion, and in agreement with what you've said.

"The fact is, it is no mystery to any fan of the books: Bilbo was picked because he was a Took, and Gandalf saw something esoteric yet crucial inside him."

This is true and important. In a time like ours dominated by the Sackville-Bagginses among us, art that favors the Tookish takes on added importance. This movie does that, and often.

What seems to be getting lost here is that this (The Hobbit, in contrast to LotR) started out as a children's book. Bilbo was chosen because Tolkien had something to say to the children of his time ("a low, dishonest decade" as Auden put it), especially the boys. The contrast between the valiant/masculine/masterful dwarves and Bilbo's cowardice/effeminacy/incompetence at the outset is unmistakable.

As for the cartoonishness of the battle scenes, children's books lean toward comedy over tragedy, and for good reason. They're not ready for tragedy yet. The ridiculousness of the Stone Giant fight and the mad dash out of Goblintown needs to be understood in that light (including the Wile E. Coyote death-cheating).

The Hobbit doesn't become more than a children's book for Tolkien until Dol Goldur forces him to confront evil in his writing, with the confrontation playing out in the story he writes.

The movie conveys that faithfully.

Anonymous Desiderius December 21, 2012 8:08 AM  

Don't speak to a child of death - their existence defeats it.

"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"

Heh. Sting.

Anonymous Anonymous December 21, 2012 12:10 PM  

Jamsco, you said you took your whole family, but someone else said it is gratuitously violent. I am thinking of taking my nine year old daughter who has been shielded from movies rated beyond her age. Do you think we'll be fine?

James Stephenson.

Anonymous ArcaneRhino December 21, 2012 1:18 PM  

If you have not read Tolkien and are unlikely to do so, it was an okay fantasy, fun to see in 3-D and had some fun moments.

If you are a Tolkien fan, and a bit of a purist, like myself... well, my wife and daughter really liked Radagast's sled-bunnies.

And that is all I have to say about that.

Anonymous Anonymous December 21, 2012 1:49 PM  

- Galadriel would be the most "powerful" of the non-supernatural beings. She's not quite the oldest elf in the world, and thats not the source of her power. Cirdan the Shipwright would be older, as he was alive as the elves journeyed west into Valinor, and stayed behind with some of the Teleri. (Cirdan was so old that he even had a beard!) Galadriel was born in Valinor...her uncle Feanor was born there, and her father was born after this. Cirdan is thus at least a few hundred 'years' older than Galadriel.

Theres also the possibility that some elves still live in Middle-Earth who predate the great journey, although its impossible to say. There would have been numerous Avari who predate the great journey (and thus predate Galadriel's birth), as well as some of the Green Elves (Legolas's people). When any of them were born or died or left Middle Earth is unknown.

In any event, both Cirdan and Galadriel predate the Sun and Moon...Galadriel by about 150 years, Cirdan by at least 400. By reference, Elrond was born shortly before the end of the First Age, and would be about 6,500 years old at the time of the War of the Rings. Galadriel would be about 600 years older than Elrond.

Galadriel's 'power' comes from the fact that she lived in the light of the Two Trees and lived among the Ainur in Valinor. Neither Cirdan or Elrond had been to Valinor. Thus Galadriel had knowledge and powers that neither Elrond or Cirdan had. Of the elves that came back to Middle-Earth from Valinor, she was one of the greatest to begin with, and after the death of Gil-Galad at the end of the second age, she was the greatest.

- The White Goblin in the movie is given as Azog, who was in the Appendices to the LoTR. He tortured and killed Thror, Thorin's grandfather, the dwarf king we see in Erebor at the beginning of the movie. He was killed by Dain Ironfoot, Thorin's second cousin, in the War between the Orcs and Dwarves in Moria. Azog's son, Bolg, leads the Orcs in the Battle of Five Armies at the end of the Hobbit.

Why Jackson decided to change this and keep Azog around I don't know.

Blogger Duke of Earl December 21, 2012 8:26 PM  

Bolg will be there, Games Workshop have a model of him. Presumably Azog will die somewhere between the first movie and the Bo5As.

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