Friday, December 14, 2012

Thoughts About The Hobbit

I woke up today absolutely elated because the very first thing we did this morning was watch The Hobbit, and it was totally something I was looking forward to.  It lived up to my expectations.  Then I came home and heard about the shooting in Connecticut, and that kind of killed my awesomely good mood.  I couldn't deal with much of anything after hearing about that.

But after going into hiding for much of the day, I'm trying to piece back together some sense of normalcy.  I'm going to go ahead and talk about The Hobbit, not to be insensitive to the families in Connecticut...but because it hurts too much, and too many have already spoken about it, and I know I for one need a respite on the Internet away from that conversation.

So, um, The Hobbit!  I'm not going to write a real review -- my brain is too frazzled! -- so I'm just going to spew thoughts out into the ether.  There will be some spoilers.  Tread at your own risk, and feel free to comment!

  • The Hobbit is kind of a filmmaker's nightmare.  The book is not structured properly for film at ALL, and the tone is so light and tongue-in-cheek (but at the same time so dark).  Jackson was reluctant to make it at all, and I totally understand that, but oh man am I glad they did it.  Personally I think three movies isn't quite the right way to approach the story -- I think a six-episode miniseries would've been just about right -- but I think it's better than trying to cram everything into one big movie.  
  • I LOVE that it's so lore-heavy.  Love, love, love.  The LOTR geek in me is delighted to see all of these little bits and nods and fan service.  I think the primary audience of The Hobbit is "People who loved LOTR," so that seems appropriate.  I doubt that a lot of people are going to the movie who have never heard of/enjoyed the films before.  I mean, it'd be awesome if a whole generation of kids fell in love with The Hobbit from these movies the way I did the old animated one, but I don't think that's necessarily going to happen.  
  • I need this soundtrack, post-haste.  I have all three LOTR film scores, and they taught me so much about music.  Weird, but true.  Also, it filled me with an inexpressible amount of joy that the "That's What Bilbo Baggins Hates" song makes an appearance.  
  • Dwarves have never been so sexy.  Like, seriously, omg.  Not only do I have an enormous crush on Thorin (who is DELICIOUS, oh my god, those smoldering eyes!), but Fili and Kili are also super attractive.  My "inability to be attracted to men without facial hair" is reaching new heights.  (And did I mention Thorin's smoldering eyes?) 
  • Radagast the Brown!  One of my favorite characters from the books, I was glad they found a place for him in the movie.  He's weird and off-kilter and adorable and I wanted to cuddle him.  Even if the CGI animals looked kind of dumb, but I think that might have had more to do with the heightened framerate than anything else. 
  • Is there anyone on this earth who is more of a hobbit than Martin Freeman?  Absolutely perfect.  
  • All the monsters are so lovingly crafted.  The trolls are hilarious and personable.  The Goblin King is AWESOME.  I didn't like the wargs so much, and it seems that the eagles have probably lost their sentience, but I guess that fits in with the world that was already built.  
The thing I've always loved most about Tolkien -- the thing that makes him stand out and makes his books truly classic -- is his ability to capture scope.  Here was a writer that understood that huge changes take a long time to happen, but they are powerful and inevitable and little people get swept up in things that are so much bigger than them.  I don't know if any writer before or after has ever been able to truly capture the essence of "Small, normal people getting pulled into a world so much bigger than themselves" as well as Tolkien.  There's a lot of that happening in The Hobbit movie.  The Hobbit as a book is largely told from Bilbo's perspective -- a narrow, small, hobbit-sized perspective.  The film has a larger scope because it's showing us the details of the bigger world...a world that soon will be the source of an epic quest and battle against the apocalypse.  But I think it works.  

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more that "The Hobbit is a film-maker's nightmare"! Last night as I was laying in bed I was thinking about what a bizarre tone and pacing the film had, and yet how much I liked it anyway. Any film elitist can rip that film limb from limb and criticize the story-telling all they want, but it will not stop me from loving it just as it is. The book itself has a very awkward perfection that you just have to take at face value, and I'm very much ok with the movie(s) having that same feel.

    And yes, the lore. The exhaustive, wonderful lore of Middle Earth. We saw this movie with our friends Jessie & Neal, and the entire ride home (and beyond) was spent answering Jessie's questions about who was who, how that related to the bigger stories of LOTR, where they came from, etc. Josh and I couldn't talk fast enough.

    I agree about Martin Freeman. It could not have been anyone else.

    And the monsters! I actually LOVED the wargs and thought they were vastly improved since the LOTR trilogy. I also thought the eagles were so beautiful that I actually teared up a bit when they showed up, but I was a little disappointed at that seeming lack of sentience that you noted.

    Haha, and I can completely see why you have dwarf crushes after that film. I have to admit that even I thought Kili was remarkably pretty. I'm also a sucker for archery, which added to his character for me. I was really impressed with how well they managed to get you to know and connect with roughly half the dwarves in this film. I remember sometime back toward the beginning of the project, hearing Peter Jackson mention what a huge task it was to try and work with such a large, seemingly homogenous ensemble and try to get the audience to know and empathize with each one. Balin was a good guy in the book, but i feel like he is simply wonderful in this movie. I want to give him a hug.

    I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about what they did with Radagast... he's kind of a cartoon, and yet, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Nor is it out of tune with the whimsy of the book itself.

    My one and only complaint was stylistic. We saw the movie in 3D on a high frame rate screen, and it was AWFUL. It looked like an incredibly HD PBS documentary. It was impressive in that I was amazed at how well the sets, makeup, and most of the CG held up to that kind of intense clarity, but overall the aesthetic was SO distracting that it was hard for me to enjoy the first 30-45 minutes of the movie. I was just so baffled and disappointed with how strange it looked.

    We want to go see it again on a non-fancy screen, in hopes that the aesthetic is a *bit* closer to the original LOTR (or just normal movies in general). I know that's not totally possible because of the 48 fps, but good lord, that high frame rate screen.... I just had no love for that at all. It was fascinating, but really really not what I wanted out of a Tolkien/Jackson experience.

    Another thing I disliked about the 48 fps was that there were moments when a certain movement or set of movements would look eerily and unnaturally sped up. It also make the voices look out of sync at times.

    My conclusion:
    Movie = win
    48fps = fail