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[personal profile] omahas
I should have known my adventuring days were over. I mean, I went flying out of my home without a pocket handkerchief to go see The Fellowship of the Ring. And though I had some reservations, I decided to continue my journey with The Two Towers. Devastated, I realized my grave error, but it was too late…the journey was well under way and I couldn't turn back. I finished The Return of the King, feeling only slightly better and realizing I was clearly not cut out for this adventuring.

So, what caused me to take those fateful steps towards The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey? I'm not really certain, to be sure. Everything that I had heard about it so far gave me hope that this adventure would be worth taking the journey.

And so I did.

And I have to say that having dome so, I have a great deal of hope for the further travels to come…and some trepidation.

To be blunt, Peter Jackson seems to be trying his very best to get his own vision of what The Hobbit plays out in his own mind every time he reads it, and especially the first time he ever read it, onto the big screen so he can share. Which ignores the most important thing about film, television, and stage when it comes to fictional book translation: you can never truly translate what plays out in your own mind using our current technology, or indeed any technology that will ever be created.

Because what plays out in our minds when we read a book includes an element of wonder, fear, dread, glory, honor, shame, guilt, love, hate, etc that is entirely visceral in our own minds and can never be seen through mere eyes, touched through mere fingers, smelled through mere nostrils, etc.

However, I have to say he's done a pretty fine job of it with the tech he's got. I just wish that he didn't feel the need to hit every major and minor scene in the process.

I was really surprised that the film ended with the dwarven company having been rescued by the eagles. I mean, how is Jackson going to make three movies when he's already gone pretty far through the book in the first one.

Never fear, Jackson has a plan. Not only does he really play out every major scene in excruciating (I don't use that word lightly) detail, but he also pads it out with stuff that isn't even in the book at all.

Most of that padding is actually both relevant and about actions that took place during that time, but you don't really find out about until the time of The Lord of the Rings (if you read the books, you'll know). Basically, stuff you learn later on in The Fellowship of the Ring that Gandalf did during this time is actually played out in the movie.

I'm not disappointed, either. But then I'm a major fan of Tolkien, have every single fiction book he's written, some nonfiction, stuff that his son has put together from his universe, art, music…even a first American Edition of The Hobbit (and yes, Gollum does just give Bilbo the ring for winning the riddle contest in this version). So canon is a big deal for me. But I can't help wondering how many others will get bored by this plot thread.

A plot thread in the movie that I'm actually not happy about is Bilbo having to prove himself to Thorin by fighting so soon. Bilbo was a burglar, a thief. Thorin didn't think he could do the job, but Bilbo was able to show it by being sneaky and clever more and more. Jackson has actually taken a number of scenes that show that and not only removed Bilbo's ability to show it, but replaced it with the dwarves fighting to survive.

This also points to another disappointment. For the most part, this party of 13 dwarves survived by luck and knowing important people in high places (mostly Gandalf). Yes, they could fight, but they were in no shape to do the kinds of things that Jackson is having them do successfully. Worse, they come off (to me at least) as foolishly brave all the time, rather than strategic and clever, knowing when's the right time to strike and when's not to.

Last complaint before I talk about what I liked, and that was the introduction of a plot thread that is wholly original and totally unnecessary: the white orc, enemy of Thorin. This got boring really fast, to the point where I actually found myself looking at my phone for the time, wondering when we'd get back to the movie. It was tedious and, worse, the only thread that introduced violence for violence's sake.

For all of the other aspects of violence that is seen in the film there is an element of whimsy, luck, or just plain Monty Python "run away!" feel that stood between you and the real violence that could be happening. This didn't have any of this, and was almost like a different film that was invading this movie. Thorin didn't need a single focus for his hatred of the Orcs. The fact that they killed his grandfather was more than enough.

Despite all of this, the film really did tie well together, stick to canon without going too far astray, and provide a great feeling of "being there". The opening scene with Gandalf was well done, the evening dinner scene with the dwarves was hilarious and great fun, and the goblin king conversation with Gandalf was a hoot (though the chase could have been cut back A LOT).

But the best scene of all was when Bilbo found the ring and encountered Gollum. This was beautifully done and both captured Gollum's character and the interaction between Gollum and Bilbo perfectly.

The scenery, as one would expect, was gorgeous. As was all the computer graphics that had to be done to allow 13 dwarves and 1 hobbit to fly away on eagles, for example. The music was lovely and I'm really happy with how the song of the dwarves came out. I was never able to envision that song in my head (I've still got the Rankin and Bass version stuck there, which isn't wholly bad).

All in all, I enjoyed this adventure. I am looking forward to more adventuring with some trepidation; after all, the last time I looked forward I got The Two Towers. But this one feels…different. I might even revisit this adventure again sometime.

If I can find my pocket handkerchief.
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January 2017


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