I was very leery of LOTR. I didn’t know this Peter Jackson dude, I didn’t know Serkis, and while Ian McKellan and Ian Holm make everything worthwhile, I wasn’t convinced that either of them would ease the agony of a badly done LOTR movie rendition. But I’d married hubs, so off I went to the openings like any good nerd. And then had to rethink my conclusions on book-based movies, like, in a big way. I have, since then, watched everything Peter Jackson has ever done and started following WETA. And had entire conversations that incorporated Legolas’ lines and nothing more. And craved a stuffed animal toy (Gollum, duh) for the first time, ever. Don’t worry, that last bit passed.
Let me additionally preface this post with a little convo from the car ride to the theater:
Me: Omg we’re gonna get stuck at the back of the line and some asshole tween in a cape is gonna be sitting in my seat and I’ll have to listen to a hardanger and lur duet from in between a glob of nacho cheese and carpeted wall.
Hubs: No. That won’t happen.
Me: (excitement makes it difficult for me to cling to a topic) Hey, we’re gonna see Beorn today!!! (Our dog is Beorn’s namesake. Or vice versa. I looked it up, but it sounds wrong either way.)
Hubs: Maybe not, though.
Me: What? (envisioning The Hobbit with no Beorn makes evil seem far too close.)
Hubs: Well, it’s in three parts. So we might not get to Beorn.
Me: Three…one book…The Hobbit…parts?
Hubs: Hee-hee, yeah, you didn’t know?
Me: I’M NOT GETTING TO SEE THE WHOLE DAMN STORY EVEN????? I’M GOING TO BE LITERALLY MIDDLE-AGED BEFORE THIS STORY IS DONE????
Hubs: Well, they said a year and a half for all three.
Me: Oh. Ok, I can handle that.
So, my mental prep (prior to the car ride) for the arrival of The Hobbit was all kinds of relaxed. I trusted the director, I trusted that they would make the right choices character-wise, I trusted the cgi, and I was ready for all kinds of extra information from the appendixes of the books to help make Tolkien’s world as vivid for everyone as it was for me as a child. And, I was not disappointed.
Thorin is hot. I love hubs, he’s the only man I want, but Thorin is fucking hot and everything he says is hot. Aragorn wins, but not by much. I don’t dig the broody types in movies as much as I do the up-front, here’s-how-it-be, types. Bilbo does ok; I mean, I love Holm’s older version so much more, but by the end of the movie, I was feeling affectionate towards Martin Freeman’s version of the younger Bilbo. I’m sure by this time next year, I will be singing glory praises off of my roof about Freeman’s version. I was that way with Aragorn. (I miss Gimli. There, I said it.) I’m a little concerned with the character developments of the dwarves, though. I remember much more Bifur and Bombur in the book, and while I understand why they are choosing development in the order that they have, and I really do like the way all of them are depicted, I’m a little nervous. I don’t want any of them to get short-handed for blockbuster’s sake. Oh, and Gollum/Andy Serkis/holy-mother-of-thought-it-would-be-your-typical-gollum-experience-and-then-being-wrong-never-felt-so-awesome. Such is the reality of Andy Serkis playing Gollum.
Some very minor cons:
*Some of the script-writing was hideous. Some, not all, but what was, was to the point where I cringed when it happened. This is an issue in a Tolkien movie, not to mention one made by Peter Jackson, with a cast as amazing as the one he has.
*Elf with flute. What the fuck was that.
*The big fat orc with the weird hanging face-lobe (clever fat placement, I see whut you did thar), and pretty much everything he said. If I’d wanted Jar Jar Binks to appear anywhere else in my life, I’d’ve taken up cheese-grating my face long ago. Having his one dimensional, emotionally deranged, but nonetheless just as asinine, older brother lead some of the orcs for twenty minutes in one of my favorite stories ever, was not the tension release I was looking for.
*I don’t remember Gandalf rushing in to save everyone quite so much. But maybe he did, and I’m just fuzzy on it. I’ll have to reread it to make sure. Either way, the movie’s interpretation almost made it seem like they needed to give Gandalf stuff to do. I mean, how did it even get to that point? Who needs to give Gandalf anything to do, he’s fucking Gandalf?? So if that was how it went down in the book, then the way it was portrayed in the movie either didn’t highlight Gandalf’s character/motivations properly, or it didn’t depict the company’s general futziness with enough clarity. Or both.
But that’s all that bothered me, and the last one might not even be real as I haven’t seen the whole story; maybe it is more cohesive when viewed in its entirety. I loved how the battle scenes were shot: the dwarves’ fighting was raw and perfect; each of their individual personalities completely disappeared so they could perform. And that’s exactly what their battle scenes were: performances. They burst from the plot like a polished copper centerpiece and pulled the entire table of their journey together into a fully laden feast. It was concentrated, creative, and helped solidify the way these particular dwarves worked together. I loved the color, thought the 48fps was pretty fucking cool (seriously, it’s cool; if you’re going to pick on something, do everyone a favor and don’t pick on something that’s fucking cool), and I was ok with Radagast and his ridiculous bunnies; they were cutesy but not overmuch. And the bird shit in his hair was gross enough for me to overlook the Energizer Bunny issues.
What can I say? It didn’t follow the book as closely as it could have. But I liked it. A lot. And can’t wait for the rest of it.