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
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.