I Saw The Hobbit (Or, We Need To Talk About Radagast)

So I saw The Hobbit a week and a half ago. Yeah, be jealous. But for Reasons, I wasn't able to talk about it until today, and so I have kept all of my many Hobbit feels inside, which has been mad hard, you don't even know, because there are a lot of them. A LOT. I am going to try and keep spoilers to a minimum, but if you're nervous, you should skip this post. Also, before I share, a disclaimer (I am still technically a lawyer. Disclaiming is in my blood):

There is about to be some serious Tolkien geekery up in here.

Not, "I've read The Hobbit 17,234 times," geekery (though I have):

 (My copy of The Hobbit, with notes.)

 or "My senior thesis was on the Lord of the Rings" geekery (though it was).

We're talking LOTR RPG geekery. We are talking fanart levels of nerd, here. Proof:

That is Teen Me's rendering of Galadriel, circa 1999. I was sixteen, a junior. I wrote her name in the corner so I wouldn't forget, I guess?

I can't explain why she kind of looks like Cher.

Lest you think that this was just a one-time thing, think again, because I drew Shadowfax, too:

I know what you're thinking: "That's just a random horse!" BUT YOU WOULD BE WRONG.

See? Shadowfax, motherfuckers.

(Guess how popular I was in high school. Guess.)

I am polishing up my nerd credentials here not to impress you (you are impressed, though, right?) but to impress upon you that the lens through which I viewed The Hobbit is bound to be quite different from your lens. From most people's lenses. Because most people don't have A Tolkien Bestiary sitting on their coffee table at this very moment, now, do they?

That's right. Also, I read The Silmarillion and I liked it. (We're going to come back to The Silmarillion. GET EXCITED).

So, now that that's out of the way, I saw The Hobbit and this is what I loved:

1) Martin Freeman. He is Bilbo Baggins. Admittedly, it has been awhile since I read The Hobbit for the 17,234th time, but no matter—now, when I think of Bilbo, it's Martin Freeman in my head. He was extraordinary. Not a hero but heroic, kind of a coward but still courageous. He more than held his own against Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis (who were superb, obvs). He anchored this movie in a way that the LOTR didn't demand of Elijah Wood. He was brilliant.

2) Speaking of Andy Serkis, Riddles in the Dark. I've been dying for this scene since I first heard that the Hobbit was greenlit, because Serkis was beyond perfection in the LOTR, and I can't. I cannot. I am unable to can, guys. It was everything I hoped it would be. Go back and reread my disclaimer. It was everything I, Michelle Hodkin, who logged more years hours than I am willing to publicly admit on a Tolkien-inspired text-based multi-user dungeon, hoped it would be. That is a lot of hope.

And it was rewarded. I might have been grinning like an idiot and clasping my hands together and stomping my feet a little and giggling, which alone is quite a picture, but add 3D glasses and it gets extra sexy.

3) The Silmarillion references. When it was first announced that The Hobbit was to be a trilogy, most people on my Twitter timeline freaked out in a bad way ("There's not enough material!") I, however, freaked out in a good way. You see, I did not think we were just going to be served the straight up Smaug questing situation in 3 parts. Oh my no. I assumed we were going to get deep into the Appendices and Histories via flashbacks. Melkor deep. And if there's one thing I love more than a supervillain, it's a supervillain origin story.* I had no real basis for this assumption, other than that I would (perhaps unwisely) trust Peter Jackson with my firstborn child, but I am happy to report that not only do we do get more than just hints of the Necromancer in the Hobbit (not enough for my taste, but more than in the book, so I'm happy)—there was an Ungoliant reference, too. I am aware that this means nothing to like, 99.9876% of you, and I may well have been the only person at the screening to notice, but I did notice and I loved it. 

4) Aiden Turner as Kili or, as I said to my friend, The Hot Dwarf. I had to Google to find out whether he was Fili or Kili. He was Kili. But no matter; it was apparent who I was talking about. Aside from Thorin he was the standout dwarf for me, and not just because he was hot.** I am super psyched to see more of him in City of Bones next August.

5) The ending. I knew what was going to happen given how Jackson framed the shot, and I was expecting it but I still jumped. So, so excellent. I am way pumped for Part II.

What I didn't love:

1) The 48fps. God, this was distracting. While watching the movie, I had no idea that the frame speed was double the normal frame speed or whatever, and I kept thinking that it was the 3D that was irritating me and pulling me out of the experience and couldn't figure out why that was. I have seen tons of movies in 3D, and I think it's pretty fun. But 48fps? It wasn't really fun. It made the beautiful stuff (Rivendell) distractingly beautiful, and the hideous stuff almost gratuitously hideous. Obviously, this being Middle-Earth, there are orcs and goblins and in 48fps, you can see every pustule. I have never seen so many pustules in my life. And I've got a seriously high tolerance for gross—I watched The Human Centipede for the lulz.

So, overall, the frame speed was not my bag.*** It made the Shire scenes in particular feel like I was watching a film set rather than a film. I think this very well may be an individual thing as my friend seemed to take no issue with this, so quite possibly we can chalk my reaction up to my personal weirdness (which by this point, should be well established). I, however, will be buying the film in 24fps if I can.

(***The one exception to this, by the way, is Gollum. Gollum looks impossibly more real in 48fps—you can read every thought in his eyes the second he has it. I can't tell you how extraordinary this is, or how extraordinary I think Andy Serkis is, or how blown away I was by this performance, because I'm not that great of a writer, but basically, Me + Andy Serkis = 5eva)

2) The tone was kind of bipolar. It felt like Jackson couldn't quite decide whether he wanted this to be a LOTR-style epic or a Pixar-y romp, and so scenes swung a bit wildly between serious dwarving business, like battle scenes backed by a full choir, and then their exaggerated physical comedy, particularly during the Unexpected Party scene (the burping and shit went on like 7 minutes too long). Then we'd switch again to sinister and/or serious stuff, and then cut to Radagast dashing through the woods in his bunny sleigh. Speaking of Radagast…

3) I feel badly about the things I'm about to say. Being the nerd that I am, I was psyched, PSYCHED, when it looked like we were going to get a look at this character who merits only one mention in the Hobbit and one in the LOTR; even in the Histories of Middle Earth (yep, I own 'em), he gets little more than a footnote. But Radagast was reduced to comic relief in a movie that really didn't need any more of it. What little we know of Radagast comes from like, one line spoken by Gandalf: Gandalf respects the dude, but Saruman thinks he's a fool. Well, the movie version has me siding with Saruman. Which is not really a great side, ever. Radagast was painfully ridiculous, which I guess would have been fine had the movie been more of a comedy? But—it wasn't. It was kind of epic, and moving, and then Radagast shows up and there are birds shitting in his hair and it's like, are we really doing this? Really?

4) The language. There were a few references to distinctly non-Tolkien-ish things, like Bilbo telling the trolls that the dwarves are infested with parasites, which is a word I am fairly certain appears in Tolkien's books never not once, because I am also weirdly obsessed with parasites and I feel like I would have noticed. There was also an obviously unintentional but nevertheless unfortunately timed "Make him squeal," line delivered by one of the trolls and being the utter deviant that I am, all I could think was Deliverance and it was all I could do not to choke.

That said, these are minor gripes, I think. The cinematography is outrageously beautiful, the casting is perfect, and the performances were pretty exceptional. My issues stem from my belief that the LOTR trilogy was flawless, and The Hobbit, for me, wasn't. But the movie really was excellent, and I am eagerly awaiting Part II which had better include Beorn and Tom Fucking Bombadil or there will be hell to pay. And by 'hell to pay,' I mean that this time next year, I'm going to whine about it on my blog.

So, bottom line? Go see it. And then come back here and geek out with me.

**Okay maybe a little because he was hot.



    I cannot wait to see this on Saturday!!

  2. Ohmygod. Is it weird that I found the overflow of geek on here absurdly alluring? Oh well. I speak truth. I am absurdly excited to see this now.... And I am deeply ashamed to admit that I haven't read it yet.. Though, fret not, I plan on remedying that immediately.

  3. I was lucky enough to see the movie on Monday. I agree with everything you said except the casting. Maybe it's because it's been so long since I read the book but Fili, Kili and Thorin were too human ideally cute for me and not dwarfish enough. I am re-reading the book now just to make sure I'm not forgetting something.

    I literally laughed out loud when you said you read the Silmarillion and liked it because I wanted to stab my eyes out when I read it. I remember seeing a goodreads poll aasking which Tolkien book was your favorite and about 20 people voted for The Silmarillion. I was flabbergasted.

  4. Okay, so I have not read LOTR or The Hobbit as many times as you, and it's been a little while. I'm totally excited to see the Hobbit, but I must say that while the LOTR trilogy was great, they completely screwed up Faramir. And for that, I cannot forgive Jackson.

  5. Ha! And I thought I was having issues. I loved your post :) and I adored your geekiness. Shadowfax's drawing is brilliant!
    I've just watched the movie and I feel torn abut the 3D 48fps. I hear you when you said that sometimes you felt more in a set than in the actual film. I was thinking throughout the movie 'hey, New Zealand is so pretty!' Instead of immersing myself into the movie-magic of Middle Earth! I didn't realize why I was having those thoughts until I read your post. I feel torn because I really felt that the clarity and crispness of the movie are amazing. It's like a Blu-Ray x1000, however it looses the depth of filters and textures. But you're totally right about Gollum. It did enhance him and his expressions so much.
    Since I know now that you appreciate Tolkien a lot, I have this nasty lingering thought and maybe you can shed some light about it. I read LOTR & TH more than 10 years ago.I really enjoyed the stories and the world it encompasses. But as of late, I'm having strong thoughts about it, specially about gender stuff. Let me clarify: I feel that Tolkien's world has serious gender issues. As it's mostly told from a masculine POV, women roles are mostly decorative or simply not very remarkable. Specially The Hobbit... the movie has bromance all around it! Hehe. Anyhow it could be that maybe I'm seriously forgetting important stuff or I have read too many YA books that have strong female leads (hint-hint Mara!)

    1. Women roles? What women roles?

      It may have been the time and culture when Tolkien wrote the books, it may have been Tolkien himself, but I read LoTR and The Hobbit as a kid and didn't see anything out of kilter. But, as an adult and a feminist at that? HUGE gender disparity.

  6. Gahhhhh your Tolkien loving self would have been best friends with my Tolkien loving self in high school. I may not have drawn any fan art (Okay, I take that bad I did draw one REALLY crappy picture of Pippin, but it got destroyed long ago. :P), but I had a hobbit bedroom. My old bedroom was literally painted like the shire. Not even kidding. It was amazing, and I am so sad I don't live there anymore. On top of that I've read the trilogy so many times I've lost count (I think it's somewhere around 10? But like I said, I don't remember) and though I have not gotten through the Silmarillion (I tried years ago but failed. I need to try again soon...) I have read The Children of Hurin and a lot of Tolkien's other writings like Roverandom. I also have Tolkien quotes etched into all of Apple electronics except my laptop. Yep, I am a full on Tolkien geek. :P

    Anyway, I loved it too for all the same reasons as you and also had some of the same gripes. Honestly, 48fps didn't bother me all that much but after almost 3 hours with those glasses on the back of my ears started to hurt and I was definitely a bit distracted by how detailed everything was. Also, I was particularly weirded out by the party scene where in 48fps it is super clear that Gandalf has been re-edited into the scene to look bigger than the dwarves and Bilbo. It's not obvious in 24fps but in the 48fps it was so weird and awkward looking. Overall I did enjoy the 24fps better than 48fps but there wasn't as much of a difference as I was expecting. Oh and no need to worry about buying a 24fps version, they all will be 24fps. They presently cannot convert 48fps to DVD's or Blu-Rays. :)

    Also, I happened to love Radagast. Yes, he was a little overly comedic but I thought he was endearing and I liked his bunny sleigh and him saving Sebastian was adorable. I can't deny that I liked him. Weird, but true.

    AND YES ALL THE KILI FEELS!!!!! Ugh. He was just so perfect. Him, Thorin, and Bofur are definitely my fav dwarves. I like Fili too (mostly because him and Kili are sort of a package deal) but Kili is most certainly the standout brother for me and my overall favorite dwarf. Like you said it's not just because he's hot, but of course that is a bonus, it's because his character was awesome. I mean he used a bow and arrow! WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE?!?! I am trying not to get too attached to him, Fili, and Thorin because I know they die in the Battle of Five Armies but gosh darn it THEY ARE ALL SO DARN ADORABLE AND PERFECT I JUST CANNOT HELP IT. I'm trying not to think about it to be honest. PJ better give them good death scenes because if not I will be angry. VERY ANGRY.

    As for Beorn he will definitely be making an appearance in the next movie! I don't think Tom Bombadil will be in the movies at all though. Sorry about that. :(

    Anyway, as you can see by this very long comment I am a huge, HUGE Tolkien fan and once you get me started on it, it's hard to get me to stop. The fact that you're a fan too just makes me love you and your books even more. Superficial, but true. >.<

  7. Hey there ... saw your light on and thought I'd stop by for a chat!

    ... agree with you on everything!!!

    ... I think we are unused to the detail that's revealed with the doublefast film speed. It may simply be that our expectations haven't caught up with our eyes yet. (This my reason to go see the film again, and get it on DVD, so I can pause and check out the detail)

    ... Radagast. Every Circus needs a Fool, but I could've done without the bird poo in his beard. The closeups of that cannot be unseen!

    ... Ungoliant - serious spiderwebbing!

  8. looks good! good to see your post!


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