Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Hobbit -- An Unexpected Trilogy

I enjoyed watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but the idea of a trilogy is strange.  I suppose we can always leave it to Hollywood to make so much fuss over such a little book.  First, this was going to be a simple prequel, and then a two-parter?  Heck, might as well go for the triple!

The good: the first installment is full of action.  Almost every word from the first six chapters of The Hobbit is covered.  If you have a favorite scene, don't worry.  Your scene will be in there.  You can watch as Bilbo proves himself to be valuable, both to himself, and to his fellow travelers.  Each of the individual dwarves looks like what I would imagine.  Peter Jackson spares no detail, and you will get what you want and more.

To stretch out the story, Jackson/Walsh/Boyens/del Toro borrowed from other Tolkien books ... in particular the appendix in The Lord of the Rings.  So, every little bit of extra stuff can be backed up by a little Tolkien research.  Well, almost everything ...

The writers did embellish a few little details and took a little poetic license.  For example, Thorin Oakenshield fights the goblin Azog in the movie, though it's never mentioned in the books that the two actually fought.  Further, Azog survives the fight in the movie, where in the books Tolkien leads us to believe he died in the battle.  I guess it only looked like he died.

Some say that all these additions ruin the story, but rather, I feel that it changes it.  In the book, we see almost everything from Bilbo's point of view.  When Gandalf runs off to do his own thing, we have no idea what he's doing or preparing.  Thus the book has a sense of magical innocence.  The group of 14 (not including Gandalf) are simply on an adventure.

The movie goes further and fills in the blanks.  We get to see some of what Gandalf does when he's away, and we see what's going on in the background.  Since everything is explained, most of the innocence and adventure disappears.  It becomes more of a "we really got to do this thing or else evil will take over the world" thing.  But you know what?  After the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy Jackson gave us, they had little choice ... could they really give us the wimpy innocent adventure version?  Instead, they gave us The Hobbit with hair on its chest.  "This is what really happened, and it's not all fun and games."

There are some pretty scary scenes, so I would not recommend this for the younger kids.  Yeah, I know the book is for kids, but it's still a scary book and Jackson doesn't pull any punches.

Also, there are quite a few scenes where all members of our traveling party miraculously survive some disaster ... such as riding a rock down a cavern that breaks up just right so as to deliver our friends to the bottom safely.  I had to laugh a couple of times.

If you haven't watched this movie because of complaints that you've heard, I recommend that you go and watch it anyway.  Enjoy yourself.  Turn off that "this wasn't in the book"-o-meter.  There are plenty of fun scenes, and it comes to a satisfying end.  I look forward to Part 2: Desolation of Smaug.

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