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calendar   Monday - March 25, 2013

An Unexpected Pleasure

We rented The Hobbit tonight on streaming video. We can watch the 3 hour film as many times as we want over the next 48 hours. So I might watch it again tomorrow. We’ll see.

I had heard many things about this film, and not many of them good. Oh, it’s too long. And it’s too detailed. And the dwarves are wrong! And director Peter Jackson goes off on these stupid tangents in a vain effort to tie this fun little proto-tale to the heavy duty Lord of the Rings trilogy! Oh, and the 48 frames per second filming makes everything look totally fake!!!

Don’t believe everything you hear. Or read. Actually, don’t believe any of it.

I couldn’t tell you about he 48 frames per second stuff. We saw it as streaming media on our HDTV. And it was absolutely razor sharp. Only one or two short scenes look particularly CGI-ish; the rest looks believable. Ok, acceptably believable. It’s far better than the medium detail level on your favorite PC game’s graphics, and what animation there is flows like liquid.

But as for the rest of it ...

Look, I don’t have a clue who writes those reviews, but they are not real Tolkien people. Not really. Oh, maybe they read The Hobbit. Once. Maybe twice, with a decade or three between reads. Maybe they dated a girl in college who liked pointy ears. Or hairy toes. But that’s it.

I’ve been chewing on The Hobbit since I was about 12. I think I’ve read it ... oh, maybe 30 times? 40? Not sure; I never bothered to count. Hobbit, LOTR, The Silmarillion, Farmer Giles, etc. But not too much of his son’s stuff, because the son is not the father. But whenever I’ve been bored, and want a nice bit to read for a few minutes or so ... out comes Bilbo taunting the spiders in Mirkwood. Or the battle before the Hornburg. And often, once I’ve read my favorite bit, I’ll finish the book from that point, or reread the whole thing. So I’ve long since lost count. So, please, consider me almost an expert. Almost. Because the real experts, the REAL true believers ... never leave Middle Earth. And that puts them over the horizon, into the West. Sorry, that’s too far for me. That’s why I said almost.

So, everything the normal film reviewers tell you is exactly right. And completely wrong. Because it doesn’t matter at all.

Yes, the dwarves are all wrong. No, these are not the dwarves you’d want anywhere near Snow White. Not one of them is Happy, nor Dopey, nor Sleepy. If anything ... they’re nearly really tall Nac Mac Feegle who aren’t blue. But that’s as Pratchett as they get; these are not Pratchett’s dwarves either. Not by 100 miles. So put your Disney dwarvish preconceptions in the urinal where they belong. And open your mind and your eyes. These dwarves fight. And kill. And lust. And hate. And eat. And belch. Plus they can sing and do the dishes too.

Peter Jackson spends a fair amount of this film showing the scenes that were only lightly alluded to in The Hobbit. Scenes which do indeed tie it tightly to the War of the Ring books which are to follow. Ok, he changes the order of some things. and adds a necessary fill scene once in a while to tie two bits together. But he puts in the back story, the one that is only loosely alluded to in the book. Bless him.

Jackson has made a film for the True Believers. And if you aren’t a True Believer, you simply won’t understand. If you are one, know that there isn’t a frame here that does not belong ... although the play/battle of the stone giants makes as little sense in the film as it did in the book. If ever there was a stub, a written idea that dead ended, there it is. But Jackson put it in anyway. It does get the dwarves onto the Front Porch, right?

From the Council of the Wise to the rise of the Necormancer and the return of the Witch King of Angmar - yes, in LOTR the leader of the Nazgul - to a nice 10 minute segue featuring the nearly comical Radagast The Brown, it’s all here.  Almost all. Damn, damn, damn, and four times damned, Jackson has once again cut Tom Bombadil right out of the story. WTF Petey, wtf?

Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow,
Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow.
None has ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master:
His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster.

Maybe Jackson can’t compete with that. Or perhaps Jackson is Bombadil, of a kind, spinning song and story by the fire on a damp winter’s day.

I don’t understand why, but I think I can forgive him, because so much of everything else is here. Yes, the goblins are somewhat comic foes; that’s how there were written. Orcs might be smaller, but they’re much more evil. And the riddle game with Gollum ... oh, well done. He changed things quite a bit, but kept to the essence perfectly. Ok, Jackson changed the bit with the vest buttons at the back door, no big deal, but the whole heart of the mountain scene was very well done. Actually, he changed things all over the place, which makes it quite interesting to watch ... for a true believer who can spot them.

And, unlike the LOTR films, this time not all the songs and poetry has been cut out. And some of it fares quite well. Some of it gets a bit modified too. What can you do?



It’s said that two more films will follow this one, until the tale of the Battle of Five Armies is told and “there” has become “back again”. And the opening chapter in the War of the Ring is out there visually. I can’t wait. And Jackson can not bring in enough detail to confuse or bore me. If JRR wrote it, I know it. So bring it, because it all belongs together. Even if the regular film reviewers can’t get their minds around it. It doesn’t matter; this isn’t for them. Gollum, gollum.



Jackson child spotting: 1. I swear the kids get trained in the womb to make that face.
Peter Jackson spotting: 0, although he may have been one of the chubby goblins on the bridge. Not 100% sure, so call it 0.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/25/2013 at 09:16 PM   
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