Tag Archives: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Blunt the Knives, Bend the Forks: Julia’s Rambles about The Hobbit

19 Dec

So, I was going to write this majestic entry about all of my intricate thoughts and feelings about my two viewings of The Hobbit and why it is I liked the film so much… but no. Nope, sorry guys, but being home in Portland makes me notoriously lazy and I can’t bring  myself to write something so in depth.

Instead, you’ll be getting the sparknotes. Granted, they’re detailed sparknotes and they’re SUPER LONG, but sparknotes nonetheless. It’s basically gonna be a huge ramble about the film. Also, if you have not seen the film yet and are planning to, you probably should not read. I’m gonna talk openly about spoilers and the changes made from book to screen. Once more, SPOILERS ARE GOING TO BE IN THIS ENTRY. You have been warned.

Let’s start off with the things I didn’t like, since there weren’t many of those.

  • Okay. Azog. The Pale Orc. I get why he’s there. Totally. The Hobbit doesn’t really have just one antagonist, because the characters keep running into different enemies the entire time. I suppose you could say Smaug’s the overarching antagonist, but seeing as Smaug wasn’t even in this film (except for, y’know, a couple of brief glimpses) he’s not incredibly relevant to this portion of the story, now is he? And the trolls and goblins are there, but only for a bit of time each. So they needed someone to create a consistent challenge for our heroes, hence bringing in Azog. As a villain he wasn’t a bad one… but he wasn’t really a good one either…? I dunno, every time he was on screen (except for that last motherfucking excellent battle) I was just kind of like, “Oh. Could care less about you. Hmmm. Whatever.” He just didn’t strike fear into my heart. The Hobbit is no Lord of the Rings, so the villains don’t really match up to Sauron and the Nazgul anyway, but I would’ve liked some form of villain who made me jump a little in my seat. Also, the fact that Azog was CGI really bums me out. Think back to the Urak-hai in Fellowship of the Ring. How lame would he have been if he were completely CGI? Pretty goddamn lame. I feel like Peter may have trusted CGI on this front a little too much. Yes, giant CGI spiders are frightening, but I’m much more scared of a guy dressed up as an orc than a CGI orc running around on a warg. (Plus, oh my god, when he revealed his replacement arm I started cracking up in the movie theater. It looked like a giant fork with bent prongs. Was I the only one who found his arm ridiculously silly?)
  • I didn’t really think the stone giants were necessary. I’m sure they’re from some Tolkien folklore, which Peter and Fran wanted to include in the story, and I did like the things that happened because of them (ie. the heartbreaking Fili-Kili moment (very reminiscent of Merry-Pippin), Bofur freaking out when Bilbo was missing, and Thorin being a bad ass), but the stone giants themselves made me raise an eyebrow and question why the hell they were chucking rocks at each other. I’ve also never been fond of giants made of stone (here’s looking at you, Neverending Story) so maybe that’s just my prejudice creeping in.
  • Me being nit-picky: Frodo and Bilbo’s wigs should NOT have been that long. I’M JUST SAYING.
  • I am a tad disappointed (okay, more than a tad) that we didn’t get to know a couple of the dwarves that well. There are thirteen, so of course we’re not going to get a huge back story on each and every one of them. I knew going in that Thorin, Fili, Kili, and Balin would be the main dwarves (which they were), and I was pleased as punch that Dwalin had a major part to play. As always, I would’ve liked more Bofur, but I can’t argue with the fact that he was one of the more fundamental characters, which makes me oh so happy. Then the rest of the dwarves, though we didn’t get much of them, we did get a sense of who they were by their interactions with the group (especially Ori). That is, EXCEPT for these three: Bifur, Bombur, and Nori. Did Bombur have any lines? No. No he did not, which shocked me since Bombur’s the third most used dwarf in the book. And Nori only had that one line at the end and, I dunno, maybe I’m just hurt because I love Jed Brophy so much and want him to have all the screen time in the world. Also, if Bifur’s back story is never given in any three of the films I will scream during the credits of the last Hobbit film. Gah.

OKAY! Done with my complaints, now onto my comments about the film!

  • MAN. That opening was phenomenal. With Ian’s return as Bilbo, and then all the flashbacks to the dwarves and what they went through? That was astounding and drew me right back into the world Peter Jackson created almost half my lifetime ago.
  • I was a bit surprised at first at how different the feel of this film was compared to Lord of the Rings, but as the movie progressed I found it fitting. The Hobbit is not Lord of the Rings. It doesn’t have the same sense of grittiness and despair. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some of that in this tale, but they’re not setting out to save the world and rid their land of Sauron. They’re out to reclaim their home. It’s much more light hearted fantasy with a good dose of humor, I found, which was perfectly fabulous. Peter Jackson did it (and hopefully continues to do it) right.
  • LEE PACE ON AN ELK. LEE PACE ON AN ELK. LEE PACE ON AN ELK. OH MY GODDDD.
  • In the past, I haven’t been as vocal about Martin Freeman in comparison to my constant rants about the actors playing the dwarves, but man, that guy sold the role. When I was watching him, I didn’t see Watson or Tim or Arthur. I saw Bilbo Baggins. The same Bilbo Baggins I got to know when I was eleven years old; a hobbit who is so out of his element, but at the same time finds his place amongst the dwarves and gains so much in his quest. I was very impressed with Mr. Freeman. I’m looking forward to seeing him continue the role in the next two films, even if that does mean a hold on new Sherlock episodes.
  • Sir Ian McKellen was beyond wonderful, but what else did you expect?
  • Galadriel had such an amazing entrance, and Cate’s ability to play that character with such gentleness and serenity continuously leaves me speechless. She’s a flawless human being. Speaking of returning characters, I loved Elrond’s entrance on horseback and his camaraderie with Gandalf, and also getting a chance to see good!Sauroman for a change.
  • Some of the people I went to see the film with complained that the meeting in Bilbo’s home went on for far too long. I suppose this is true, but I didn’t mind. In fact, I would’ve loved more of that part. I thought the whole sequence was wonderful and fun. Incorporating the music went a lot smother than I expected, and, I dunno, just watching all of the dwarves run about Bag End while Bilbo fretted in that bathrobe of his was marvelous. I had a big, dopey grin on my face the entire time.
  • Except for the changes previously stated in my complaint section, I thought all the changes were good ones. The addition of Radagast was particularly admirable. I found him to be a fascinating character, and the relationship he has with the animals is adorable. I hope he makes more appearances in the future films. Other things that worked: the Elrond/Galadriel/Gandalf/Sauroman council, Bilbo saving Thorin’s life in the end (character defining moment, ya’ll!), the whole second part of the troll scene, and the dwarves leaving Rivendell without Gandalf (I thought that made for a better explanation as to why they were lacking Gandalf by the time they got to the Goblin caves).
  • It was a beautiful film. That goes without saying. The wardrobe, the character design, the set design, the music, the whole thing was basically a continuous eye/ear-gasm.
  • I foresee so many Bilbo/Thorin fanfics. And Bilbo/Bofur. And Bilbo/Balin. And Balin/Thorin. And Gandalf/Galadriel. And Fili/Kili. BASICALLY ALL OF THE SHIPS, NO MATTER HOW NOT P.C. THEY ARE.
  • Bilbo’s relentlessness to put down those two bowls of soup for Fili and Kili was my favorite.
  • I really liked the throwbacks to Lord of the Rings. Gandalf whispering to the moth, the ring falling onto Bilbo’s finger (really drives home the fact that the ring chooses its owner), Smeagol and Gollum interacting, Gloin being very much against the dwarves (YOUR SON WILL THINK DIFFERENTLY, GLOIN), and Bret McKenzie’s elf character making a return appearance. Plus it was so nice to see Elijah Wood and Ian Holm together again (cue the Muppet music).
  • SMAUG’S EYE OMG FREAKING OUT WHY DO WE HAVE TO WAIT SO LONG FOR THE NEXT FILM???
  • The whole goblin caves and Riddles in the Dark scene was, by far, my favorite of the entire film, and definitely the one that kept me the most captivated (in the sense that my mind didn’t really wander off to thinking about how much I wanna bone James Nesbitt). The riddles scene was especially well done, and DAMN has that technology that makes Gollum possible gotten good. I loved the way the riddles were delivered, and the acting done between Martin and Andy. Of course I liked the lead up to all of that (ie. the Bofur and Bilbo BROTP talk where Bilbo is sort of a dick), and I really like how the creative staff chose to have the crack be not in the wall but under the dwarves, so that they all fell through to the Goblin lair. I found that to be much more effective, and it certainly got my heart pounding. Then Dwalin’s just being a motherfucking bad ass as they all fight their way out of the caves. Yes. Best part.
  • Someone give Andy Serkis an award. Or two. Or ten. Or all of them. Yeah, just give him all of the awards. He deserves it.
  • Okay, and here it is. The part where I rant about all thirteen dwarves. Brace yourselves, lads, this might take some time.
    • Thorin – Fran said in an interview recently that this story was just as much Thorin’s as it is Bilbo’s, and I’m so glad that they took it in that direction because it really is. Thorin’s not exactly my favorite character (a little too brooding at times), but Richard did such a damn good job with him. You really got a sense of what he’s been through over the years – losing his grandfather, father, and kingdom – and why it’s so important for him to take his home back. I had a much easier time sympathizing with Richard’s portrayal of Thorin than I ever did when reading the book.
    • Dwalin – OH HAI MOST BAD ASS DWARF IN ALL THE LANDS. I don’t like beer, but I’d share a pint with this motherfucker any day.
    • Balin – I knew Balin was going to be important to the story, seeing as he’s quite prominent in the book, but I didn’t know that I was going to love him so much. I like how they play up his friendship/loyalty to Thorin and have him (and Dwalin) in a lot of the flashbacks. As a friend said to me, Balin’s a true dwarf in look and in feel, and I find that to be very true.
    • Fili & Kili – Okay, I cannot lie, these two are effing adorable. The part where they were separated on the different stone giant’s legs tore my heart in two. You just get how eager they are to see battle, and at the same time how naive they are about the ways of the world. And, okay, yes, they’re easy on the eyes, which doesn’t hurt.
    • Dori – While I’m a bit disappointed that Dori never once carried Bilbo on his back like he does in the book (I guess the idea of Mark totting Martin around is a little farfetched), I still really liked his character. The way he offered Gandalf tea in the beginning was precious, and from that interaction alone you got a definite sense of his character. I also liked his relationship with Ori. It’s easy to see what an overprotecting, and slightly bossy, older brother he is.
    • Nori – Grumble grumble, not enough Jed, grumble grumble. He did have one cute moment where he and Bofur were fighting over sausage links at Bag End… But seriously though. More sass monster Nori in the future, please.
    • Ori – I thought that, out of all the dwarves that were under used, Ori was the one that stood out the most. His outburst at the dinner scene about the dragon was a clear sign that he was eager to show that he’d be willing to fight, but then once the battle scenes came you saw just how scared he really was. When the Goblin King said they were going to torture the youngest one and the camera cut to Ori, I wanted to scream. In short, Ori is my precious baby (and I kind of want to marry Adam Brown).
    • Oin – One of my favorite moments of the film was when Oin shoved his napkin into his ear trumpet to block out the Elvish music. Oin’s not having any of your shit, Elves, so GTFO.
    • Gloin – I’VE GOT WORMS THE SIZE OF MY ARM.
    • Bifur – You know something, I think Bifur’s actually the most fascinating character of all the dwarves, and the fact that he was so underused is a shame. The fact that when I say Bifur and most people don’t know which dwarf he is, well, that’s a fucking shame. I feel like everyone missed out on the fact that Bifur speaks an impossible to understand language, having to do with the fact there’s an axe lodged in his head. I know the details of his back story (due to this fabulous interview William Kircher gave), but I’m still really hoping it’s revealed in one of the films, as I think it’d make for a pretty emotional part.
    • Bombur – I was reassured by Stephen Hunter via Twitter that Bombur would have more screen time in the future films, so fingers crossed! I want the fact that he has fourteen kids back home to come up at some point. Also, more Bombur-Bofur brother scenes.
    • Bofur – Oh my. Here we are. Where to even begin with this one? It’s no secret that I absolutely adore this character. He’s pretty much all I’ve talked about these last couple weeks. I’ll be honest, I was worried that I had over hyped Bofur for myself before I even saw the film; that I went and fell for the idea of the character rather than the character himself. I am thrilled to say that was very much not the case. I’m exceedingly grateful for the amount of screen time James got, especially when compared to some of the other fabulous characters. Bofur got many of his own moments and he managed to steal just about any scene he was in with either his comedy or his surprising tenderness. I was a bit disheartened at first, seeing as he didn’t get his own entrance into Bag End, but instead fell through the Hobbit Hole with all the other dwarves. Then he began to have lines, little snippets here and there, and then the bit about the dragon, and you got a great sense of who this character is. He is such a genuine, sweet character, who enjoys joking around and is constantly smiling, and also the optimist of the group. Plus it was easy to see how much he cares for everyone around him, especially Bilbo as the story progresses. He had quite a few of lines that made me laugh out loud, and I especially enjoyed his disgruntled chatter when he was being rotated over the trolls’ fire. His relationship with Bilbo had to be my favorite. I’ll admit, I would have liked an extra scene or two between them, to better establish the growth in their relationship, but I’ll take what I can get. I just love how he went about teasing Bilbo throughout the film, but then when the moment came where Bilbo was going to leave Bofur was the one that stepped up and begged him not to go (which, okay, everyone else was asleep, but you get the sense that Bofur would’ve been the only one to plead the same case had everyone been conscious anyway). I just love how he saw Bilbo for more than he was before any of the other dwarves did. And yes, when Bilbo snapped back at him about not having a home, my eyes welled up with tears. One word: BROT-fucking-P (even if Bilbo was kind of a dick during the exchange). I’m also slightly disappointed because James said he sang a song in this first film, so I guess that means it was cut. I’m REALLY hoping for more Bofur in the extended edition, especially if it means getting to hear him sing some more (anyone who’s seen Jekyll should know by now that man can definitely carry a tune). Maybe we’ll even get more Bofur-Bifur-Bombur interactions. That would be nice. In short, I’m so happy that Bofur has, indeed, turned out to be a phenomenal character. I look forward to seeing his relationship with the other characters, and him as a character, grow more throughout the film’s journey. (James Nesbitt, you sexy Irish bastard you, good job.)