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Is the beard gray? Does he have a donut-shaped beard extremity? Does he look goofy?
December 14, 2012 1:15 PM   Subscribe

How to identify each Hobbit dwarf by their epic beards
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey (142 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
This review does not fill me with hope that Jackson has recognized it as a fundamentally different kind of book to LotR and adapted it accordingly.
posted by Artw at 1:22 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


They all sort of look like Elliot Stabler to me.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:24 PM on December 14, 2012


Artw, pretty much everything I've seen/heard/read about the movie indicates the exact opposite of that. Starting with the fact that it's going to be nine hours long and the first third apparently has lengthy, intricate fight scenes.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:26 PM on December 14, 2012


Well, yes, but there was still some sliver of hope in my heart.
posted by Artw at 1:28 PM on December 14, 2012


This review does not fill me with hope that Jackson has recognized it as a fundamentally different kind of book to LotR and adapted it accordingly.

The fact that he turned a short, sort of charming, adventure story into a three movie epicstravaganza is a pretty good sign that no, he has no idea what makes The Hobbit work.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:29 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


I mean, let's face it, the reason there's so many dwarves is its fun to have a bunch of funny names in a children's book. Translating that to Very Serious and Dour Fantasy just seems off.
posted by Artw at 1:30 PM on December 14, 2012


Bulgaroktonos: "he has no idea what makes The Hobbit work."


As far as I'm concerned he also had no idea what makes LOTR work.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 1:31 PM on December 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


Saw it last night. Loved it every bit as much as the Ring trilogy... and yes, it's noticeably different. It has a different tone, it strikes different themes, and does different stuff. Several of the songs are there. The film strikes a great job of incorporating some of the direction of The Hobbit as a book for younger audiences while still keeping it ideal for adults.

Ultimately, what you get is an adventure with a lighter heart, but you are frequently reminded that the darker stuff yet to come (in the LotR films) is brewing, and waits just below the surface.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:31 PM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


there was still some sliver of hope in my heart

That's just the tip of a Morgul-blade, Artw. Shake it off.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:32 PM on December 14, 2012 [16 favorites]


Planning my own Middle Earth outing for this weekend some time....hopefully. When you look at the events that aren't happening in the first movie, it definitely feels as if this first one will be a setup for somewhat darker events. We have Smaug sitting ready for Number 2 and the Battle of 5 Armies in Number 3.

Of course, I pretty much failed to re-read the Hobbit in advance...so I'll just aim to be pleasantly surprised at everything.
posted by Atreides at 1:37 PM on December 14, 2012


Sans the insane amount of fighting and dwarf hijinks I enjoyed it. But I haven't read The Hobbit so what do I know. Also, I don't get the Martin Freeman hype; didn't think he was particularly brilliant in Sherlock nor in The Hobbit.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:38 PM on December 14, 2012


The Hobbit is hardly a short book.

Anyway, Anthony Lane liked the movie (at least he had no bad things to say, except for the fact that shooting in hyper-realistic HD is perhaps a total mismatch with the fantasy genre).
posted by KokuRyu at 1:41 PM on December 14, 2012


The Hobbit is hardly a short book.

It depends what company it's in.
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on December 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


Even most of the good reviews of this movie sound like people trying to convince themselves they liked it; "It's too long...and the first hour is a total snore...and the 48 ffs looks terrible...but you should still go see it, I guess."
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:45 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


These guys?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:45 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh. He DOES have an axe in his head.
posted by Curious Artificer at 1:48 PM on December 14, 2012


Well, count me in as someone who absolutely loved this movie. It's definitely very different than LOTR, so if you go in expecting Return of the King II: The Kingening, you'll be disappointed. I was skeptical about them stretching out a short book over three movies, but after watching it I couldn't imagine that they could fit it all into one, so I guess that's a success.

The first hour is amazing, I guess if you don't like dwarf songs you'd hate it but come on, dwarf songs!

It's definitely not a kid's movie, though, despite being more lighthearted. Decapitations, ahoy!
posted by sonmi at 1:58 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I didn't want to poison the thread by posting about that first thing, but I've been surprised how negative the reviews I've seen are. And apparently the 48fps stuff disconcertingly terrible as well.
posted by Diablevert at 1:59 PM on December 14, 2012


I liked the (spoiler-free) tor.com review - It’s Okay to Shamelessly Enjoy The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Because I suspect I probably will. I have much less intense feelings about The Hobbit in general than I did about LOTR, and I'm willing to roll with it.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:01 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


And apparently the 48fps stuff disconcertingly terrible as well.


I watched it in 2D and it looked gorgeous.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:05 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


> but come on, dwarf songs!

To each their own...but even back when I was so obsessed* with LOTR that I signed my name on school tests in English *and* Khuzdul, I still skipped past the songs. All of the songs.

* I was literally born a few hours after Tolkien died, and in Grade 6 I was pretty sure this Meant Something
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:05 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'll give the 48FPS thing a shot on home video, I guess, but to me the downfall of high-framerate video has always been that it lets me see the artificiality of makeup and set dressing, which is irksome in something like The Office but extra-suspension-of-disbelief-ruining in a fantasy movie.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:09 PM on December 14, 2012


You can't tell the dwarves apart in the book; I don't see any reason why you should be able to do so in the movie.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 2:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


> but come on, dwarf songs!


I have been waiting for dwarf song since the first few lyrics of the Misty Mountain song hit the air in the trailer/teaser!
posted by Atreides at 2:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am thankfully that Jackson filmed this in 48Hz so that I can have something extra to complain about after I see it.
posted by GuyZero at 2:13 PM on December 14, 2012


NO PLOT SPOILERS HERE:

My ENG lecturer wife (who is teaching a [booked full] Hobbit/Silmarillion class at our small university in the Spring semester) and I were the first seated for the midnight show last night. Yeah, getting there at 9:55 with tickets purchased at 6 PM was plenty early. We saw the 3D (but not High Frame Rate). The 2D theater was packed and our 3D side was 90% full.

>This review does not fill me with hope that Jackson has recognized it as
>a fundamentally different kind of book to LotR and adapted it accordingly.

^^^This.
It is so similar to his handling of the LOTR that it really isn't funny. In particular I was not impressed at his use of 3D (particularly compared to its masterful use in Life of Pi).

The main difference is that you had 6 books (3 vol.) that had to be compressed into three movies with LOTR and with the Hobbit you are taking 1 book and expanding it into three movies. If you love the LOTR movies and want more of the same, you've got it.
posted by spock at 2:17 PM on December 14, 2012


I mean, let's face it, the reason there's so many dwarves is its fun to have a bunch of funny names in a children's book. Translating that to Very Serious and Dour Fantasy just seems off.

Also, the dwarves are looking for a burglar because 13 is an unlucky number. I think it's clear that some dwarves fulfill the same narrative roles. Fili and Kili, Bifur & Bofur & Bombur, Gloin and Oin, Ori and Nori, Balin and Dwalin and finally Thorin. You could have 6 dwarves without losing much and I think only Thorin Oakenshield is referred to by his full name, no? The roles are a leader, a second in command, a young one, a fat, inept one (although at some points the more corpulent dwarves have a clearer head iirc), a straight man dwarf (which is either Ori & Nori or Oin & Gloin); it's been a while since I read it so I don't remember what the last role would be.

Anyway, do they eat honey pies in this one or do I have to pay twice to see a hobbit eat honey pies?
posted by ersatz at 2:49 PM on December 14, 2012


Anyway, do they eat honey pies in this one or do I have to pay twice to see a hobbit eat honey pies?

They do, but Peter Jackson didn't like the original honey pies, so he made them wild in the movie. So unless you like Yoko Ono, you'll be disappointed.
posted by The World Famous at 3:08 PM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I hope nobody spoils the end where we find out about a mutually secret and unrequited love. I want to be pleasantly surprised!
posted by P.o.B. at 3:09 PM on December 14, 2012


So Peter Jackson is also adapting the Silmarillion for film. That should be what, eighteen movies?
posted by Sailormom at 3:27 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fili and Kili, Bifur & Bofur & Bombur, Gloin and Oin, Ori and Nori, Balin and Dwalin and finally Thorin.

You forgot Dori.

Everyone always forgets Dori.
posted by Curious Artificer at 3:28 PM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


That's cause she's always off exploring!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:28 PM on December 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


I saw it two days ago. Its fucking great, does not feel stretched out apart from the brief bilbo/frodo prologue and gets the seriocomic tone of the book perfectly.

Kind of befuddled by the critics on this one, tbh.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:10 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait, what? When did this become a 3-movie? I thought it was just going to be a (needless) 2-movie.
posted by curious nu at 4:11 PM on December 14, 2012


So of course I'm going to see it, but I'm not sure I want to see it in 48 fps 3D, because it's so freaking long, and if I don't like the 48 fps, I'm stuck with it for the duration. I guess what I really want to see is a test reel of 48 FPS 3D.
posted by vibrotronica at 4:14 PM on December 14, 2012


So, can someone tell me at what point in the story the first film ends? I've been reading the book with my kids and I'm curious to know what to expect when I take them to the movie in the next few days. If that's too spoilery, can someone just MeFiMail me to tell me?
posted by The World Famous at 4:14 PM on December 14, 2012


Said test footage can include dwarves and dragons, of course.
posted by vibrotronica at 4:14 PM on December 14, 2012


If you don't watch it in 48 fps, it's actually 6 movies.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:16 PM on December 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


I found myself fixating, for example, on Gandalf’s staff, an elegant Art Nouveau-esque creation that, in the earlier Lord of the Rings films, would have blended in as another part of the richly detailed ambient whimsy. Seen at 48fps, the staff looked like a cast-resin prop you might order online from a Wiccan supply house.
posted by Egg Shen at 4:38 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Saw it in HFR 3d on an imax screen last night. I liked the movie, but I was not a fan for the combination of 3d and high frame rate, I found myself pulled out of the immersion by one or the other and occasionally both. There were some elements of the 3d that I thought absolutely worked, and other parts that really ruined the immersion for me where I found myself closing one eye just because the scene looked better flattened.

If I were to say one thing over the other pulled me out of my immersion more frequently than the other I'd probably say it was the HFR. With something like this outside of a few key areas I just don't think you need the level of detail it brings, and when you use it everywhere it's disruptive.
posted by iamabot at 4:52 PM on December 14, 2012


That's cause she's always off exploring!

Now I'm imagining Gollum and Swiper getting into a fight over who gets to steal The Precious.
posted by JHarris at 5:55 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now I'm imagining Gollum and Swiper getting into a fight over who gets to steal The Precious.

Smeagol, No Smeagoling!
posted by KingEdRa at 6:22 PM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I almost always hate 3D, so we saw it in 2D. Midnight showing. And then my office went to see it at 10:30 AM.

I enjoyed it thoroughly both times, though the first time I was worried it was going to be too goofy. I always thought the book, and especially the beginning of Fellowship, struck an uneasy truce between children's tale and serious grim epic fantasy. The movie felt the same way; sometimes it was really smooth and sometimes not so much. On the second viewing I didn't feel that way as much though.
posted by Foosnark at 6:43 PM on December 14, 2012


I feel like the movie is The Hobbit as Tolkien imagined it after he created the whole Middle Earth mythos. Keep in mind Tolkien went back after he fathomed LotR and made minor edits to the origin of the ring and a few minor events.

I did not notice the 48fps at ALL, but I wonder if this has to do with the High def system I run at home. Everyone I've talked to mentions that High def looks clunky at first, but you get used to it (and I noticed it back when we first got a nice TV).

I thought the movie was fantastic. I think it is best to think of it as A movie on Middle Earth around the time of the events of the Hobbit, and NOT a chapter by chapter straight rendition of The Hobbit. I have the feeling I will enjoy the second viewing even more.
posted by Twain Device at 6:53 PM on December 14, 2012


Did anyone else get start to get worried when Azog lived at the very beginning? Is Bolg even going to be in the movies? Actually, I don't care much about names of orcs one way or the other, but why establish the multi-generational hatred of the dwarves if you're just going to collapse the orcs down into a series of boss fights against M̶o̶b̶y̶-̶D̶i̶c̶k̶ Azog?
posted by Earthtopus at 7:04 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just saw it. . .liked it a lot.

Jackson supposedly had a cameo but I forgot to look for him. Anyone else notice him?
posted by Danf at 7:11 PM on December 14, 2012


NO PLOT SPOILERS HERE:

Spoiler alert: It's full of short people.
posted by Danf at 7:19 PM on December 14, 2012


Real-Life Hobbit Pub Opens in New Zealand
posted by homunculus at 7:20 PM on December 14, 2012


The first movie ends with them being rescued by eagles, to answer the person above.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:20 PM on December 14, 2012


I thought it was full of tall people filmed from funny angles to make them look short.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 7:47 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


And also a few regular-sized people filmed from funny angles to make them look taller.
posted by Earthtopus at 8:30 PM on December 14, 2012


I'm a big LOTR fan, both the books and movies (I did the all-day 3-movie marathon on the day Return of the King premiered). Just saw this first Hobbit movie this afternoon...

I liked it! But with qualifications.

Yes, it takes a while to build up any steam or momentum. But once it does - WOW! The whole Goblin battle sequence completely knocked my socks off! By the end, I found I'm really anxious for the next one, and annoyed at how long the "intermission" will be until Act II.

There are tons of little touches aimed directly at the obsessive fans of the LOTR movies - cameos by Ian Holm and Elijah Wood, etc. Also the appearance of a couple of Elf characters that had barely any lines in the previous movies, yet somehow developed devoted fans.

The pace is initially slowed by many seeming digressions into things that initially seem like they're only there as foreshadowings of the events of LOTR. However, after I got home I looked through some things in my other Tolkien books, and also The Encyclopedia of Arda and was reminded that a rather important event in the broader history of Middle Earth - namely the expulsion of the Necromancer (who turns out to be Sauron) from Dol Guldur - happens at the same time as the quest of Bilbo and the Dwarves. So the foreshadowings in this movie aren't just about planting seeds for LOTR, they mean we're probably going to be treated to seeing the White Council vs. the Necromancer in one of the next two movies.

So, as far as Peter Jackson treating The Hobbit as the very different sort of book it is - you're right, he kind of hasn't. Instead, he's situated it within the full scope of Tolkien's entire Middle Earth mythos, and given us the whole thing instead. Which is not to say he's sacrificed the charm of The Hobbit - the trolls still argue about what's the best way to cook dwarves, the goblins still sing gruesome ditties, and Bilbo still plays riddles with Gollumn. If you didn't like Jackson's treatments of LOTR, you won't like this. If you did, you'll enjoy it.

As for the high frame rate 3D - I loved that. I thought it was gorgeous! Yeah, I suppose I could tell which bits were live and which were computer graphics - but the CGI stuff was absolutely the most thoroughly realistic I've ever seen. I didn't think anything looked like "cheap props." (And I'm looking through a brand new set of contact lenses with a brand new prescription, so it's not my eyes failing me.)

Howard Shore's music - it's good, I just wish it didn't take so long to fully establish a truly new, distinctive motif. There's a lot of re-use of motifs from the earlier films, which is expected and totally fine, but right along with the movie as a whole, it takes rather long for the music to find a great hummable theme that's distinct from the ones we already know.

It's hard to really give this a proper review, I think. I see a lot of named critics are not liking it - but it's very, very clear when you leave (even more than the LOTR films) that you've only seen Act I. It's hardly fair to review a play or an opera if you've only seen one act. I know that I walked out eager for more - it ends right when it's really getting good!
posted by dnash at 8:42 PM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


I hope someone over the next year or so names their band "CGI Warg Penis."
posted by Earthtopus at 9:05 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have not yet seen the movie but I have seen this and I feel like the actual film would only disappoint me.
posted by sandswipe at 10:42 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


So of course I'm going to see it, but I'm not sure I want to see it in 48 fps 3D, because it's so freaking long, and if I don't like the 48 fps, I'm stuck with it for the duration. I guess what I really want to see is a test reel of 48 FPS 3D.

I felt like it took quite a bit to get used to the 48 FPS which you wouldn't get in a test reel. I for one though it looked fantastic but yeah sometimes it broke the illusion.

As far as the movie goes, it had some excellent bits but the action was indeed repetitive and not very exciting at all. Gollum was excellent and some dwarf bits were quite good. It feels to me like there would be an excellent one thirds of a movie here.
posted by Authorized User at 12:03 AM on December 15, 2012


As far as the movie goes, it had some excellent bits but the action was indeed repetitive and not very exciting at all.

That's an opinion - I'd hold a different one.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:54 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also the appearance of a couple of Elf characters that had barely any lines in the previous movies, yet somehow developed devoted fans.

I move that we call these characters Derpy Elves.
posted by JHarris at 6:27 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I did not notice the 48fps at ALL, but I wonder if this has to do with the High def system I run at home. Everyone I've talked to mentions that High def looks clunky at first, but you get used to it (and I noticed it back when we first got a nice TV).

That's not HD, you've bought a TV that has motion smoothing turned on by default.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:29 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Which is not to say he's sacrificed the charm of The Hobbit - the trolls still argue about what's the best way to cook dwarves, the goblins still sing gruesome ditties, and Bilbo still plays riddles with Gollumn. If you didn't like Jackson's treatments of LOTR, you won't like this. If you did, you'll enjoy it.

I don't think so, on either point.

The charm of The Hobbit isn't just in what happens, but how Tolkien wrote it. Wonderfully charming stuff ranging from the introductory description of Bilbo's home, to the wonderfully mischievous stuff with Gandalf, to finding out about the secret origins of golf. I've not seen the movie yet, but it seems to me that if these bits were done LOTR-style they would be ruined, although it's more likely they've just not been done at all, or just looked over in passing (Hobbit architecture isn't as fanciful when it's matter-of-factly seen instead of described). The narrator is a lot stronger a character in The Hobbit, and he tells us his impressions of Bilbo's development as the story goes along. That's a kind of storytelling that, to maintain it, you need at least a spoken Narrator character following along as well.

Further, whimsy is undervalued currency in non-G-rated movies at the moment, and The Hobbit has rather a lot of it. LOTR has very little. So I don't see how it's avoidable that some of the charm of Bilbo's adventure would be lost in a blockbuster treatment done in full Lord of the Rings style.
posted by JHarris at 6:34 AM on December 15, 2012


The first hour is amazing, I guess if you don't like dwarf songs you'd hate it but come on, dwarf songs!

Was it the one that goes "Gold Gold Gold Gold...."
posted by eriko at 6:49 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just got home from seeing it. Somewhere around hour five I became strongly tempted to just start playing mahjong on my phone, pausing only to watch for three or four minutes at a time when they provide dialogue to move the story forward between twenty-minute action scenes with no tension or meaning. The beginnings of action scenes would eventually come to fill me with dread at the repeated realization that the movie wasn't over yet, at least not before another 20 minutes of surprisingly graphic violence and maybe a deus ex machina to cap things off (as happened on at least two occasions that it occurred to me to make mental note of).

I very seriously felt that you could cut literally half of the movie's run time without excising anything of any actual significance.

I did like the way they handled Smaug, how you only see bits and pieces of him. That was cool. The rest was shockingly dull (He says as someone who isn't especially much of a LotR fan).
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:48 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess like with 3D if people go to see it we'll start see potentially profitable properties padded out to two parters as a matter of course. Sigh...
posted by Artw at 8:55 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a huge fan of the job that Peter Jackson has done in bringing Middle Earth to the screen, and that's as somebody who has read the books 5 or 6 times over the years. The longer I spend in this world the better. I'd pay money just to see Bilbo spend 2 hours stocking his pantry.
posted by mach at 9:28 AM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I suspect this film will shortly become (if it is not by the time you read this) the most successful live-action film with no dialogue spoken by human characters. I almost wrote, "Where no humans appear," but I guess in the prologue, we do see establishing shots of humans in Dale.

I think it's clear that some dwarves fulfill the same narrative roles.

I think that is inevitable with more than a dozen of them, that there will be some overlap. Of course, whether through use of general archetypes or by specific design, they seemed to be recreating (or prefiguring) a lot of the Fellowship roles: Thorin is absolutely the competent, king-in-exile Aragorn; Balin, as his wise and elderly advisor and ally is kind-of-Gandalf; Fili and Kili are Merry and Pippin again -- young and impulsive and brash; Gloin, in it for the long haul but really more interested in ale, is the ur-Gimli (naturally enough). It is not an exact match-up, of course, due to the demands of the narrative and the differing cast sizes: the LOTR films did not have Bifur/Bofur/Bombur equivalents, and Thorin's company lacks an obsessive Boromir whose drive puts him at odds with the rest of the group.

One thing I wanted to ask the assembled wisdom (and curiously apropos to the FPP's identification chart) -- in the prologue, in the battle where Thror loses his head, we several times see a prominent dwarf warrior sporting a mohawk. Just this morning, I noticed Billy Connolly's remarks online about his appearance as Dain II Ironfoot in the subsequent films:
“They’re basically broadening me, making me wider,” he explains, adding that the technology being used on the film is making for long, hard working days. “But let me say, this guy will terrify the life out of you. I have a Mohawk and tattoos on my head. You’ve got to see it.”
The credits do not list Connolly (but then again they do credit Cumberbatch, and as the Necromancer appears as a silhouette in a single CGI shot, that might just as easily have been Fred from Accounting). Anyway, did we see Connolly in a quick, uncredited cameo?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:30 AM on December 15, 2012


So Peter Jackson is also adapting the Silmarillion for film.

I am hoping this is a lie because the idea makes me so angry I'm dizzy.
posted by winna at 9:46 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Saw it in 2D at the midnight opening. Loved it. I was worried about The Hobbit being stretched too thin, but it felt plenty meaty. Yes, it's definitely more action-oriented than the book, and Jackson definitely used some serious poetic license to do that -- but if you take it for what it is you can see that what he's done is basically just added in some reliable movie tropes in order to increase the tension in what otherwise might have been a somewhat plodding movie. And the action looks great and is hella fun to watch, so I'm fine with it. It doesn't detract from the plot sequence of The Hobbit, it just weaves in a couple of extra threads so that you have more to see and more to anticipate during the movie.

I was very excited to see the White Council stuff. I was excited to meet Radagast! (Hope that's not too big a spoiler, but I saw some doozies upthread so I guess that ship has sailed.) Radagast was not quite what I expected, but on reflection I mostly like the treatment of the character. I'm very excited to see the continuation of that side plot in the next movies, as I had always wanted to be able to read about it in the books but it's only ever touched upon in passing.

I can't speak to how it looks in 3D, but in 2D it looks just as gorgeous as the LotR movies did. I am pro-Dwarf Song and was excited to see what Jackson did with them, and I was absolutely not disappointed there. The songs are mainly kept toward the beginning of the movie and they don't really intrude on the plot. There is more comic relief than I remember there being in LotR, which is fitting, but less than I was expecting there would be, which is fine by me because I don't usually care for comic relief. It's definitely darker than the book is. I like Jackson's treatment of the characters, particularly Thorin.

And I agree with Sing or Swim upthread: the dwarves are mostly interchangeable in the book, so why should they be otherwise in the movie?

The movie is great but it's not as straight an adaptation as the LotR movies were (not that they were straight adaptations either). However, it is still great. When you go, try to set aside your expectations a bit and just enjoy the movie for what it is. If you go in comparing it to a picture of what you want it to be then it might clash unpleasantly. If you take it for itself then it's wonderful.
posted by Scientist at 11:01 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am hoping this is a lie because the idea makes me so angry I'm dizzy.
posted by winna at 6:46 AM on December 15 [+] [!]


This is a kind of crazy statement. Do you think someone else would do a more faithful job? Or is it that any adaptation must inevitably fall short?
posted by Sebmojo at 11:17 AM on December 15, 2012


I was worried about The Hobbit being stretched too thin

Obligatory "butter scraped over too much bread" joke here.
posted by radwolf76 at 12:12 PM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Just got out of it myself, and I thought it was fun, if long. The 3D did nothing (and the high framerate thing looked exactly as weird as advertised - not awful, but not a plus either.) I am actually more excited to see the White Council stuff than the main plotline, because I know the main plotline, and it's fine, but I've never been as emotionally engaged with it as with LoTR.

And Gollum was spectacular as usual.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:52 PM on December 15, 2012


Billy Connolly will appear inthe third movie (at least that's what he said at his show in SF a few weeks ago)
posted by TwoWordReview at 2:31 PM on December 15, 2012


Oh, neat - second and third, looks like, per IMDB.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:33 PM on December 15, 2012


I was put off by the HFR at first but I did find I got used to it and it wasnt distracting anymore once it got into it, but I may go see it at 24fps to compare. I remember reading that the series was stretched to three specifically so they could include the necromancer storyline.
posted by TwoWordReview at 2:36 PM on December 15, 2012


Ah I thought Billy Connolly was playing the master of lake town, but I see that'll be Stephen Fry! Love. It!
posted by TwoWordReview at 2:44 PM on December 15, 2012


The "necromancer storyline" doesn't amount to more than a few paragraphs in the book, told by Gandalf to the others in passing. In terms of content it's bound to be entirely non-Tolkien, as is anything with Radagast other than Gandalf meeting him before Caradhras, which was supposed to happen in Fellowship. Not that and of that would stop Jackson.
posted by JHarris at 3:32 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suspect he is going to conflate the attack on Dol Guldur, which is well-established in the timeline, with the fall of Dol Guldur, which in canon happens after the Ring is destroyed. There's no obvious reason (other that textual purity) not to, and it means we get more awesome Galadriel. I love me some Galadriel.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:58 PM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


(And I will confess I just spent twenty minutes flipping through my collection of Tolkien ephemera looking for more details on either attack or on Radagast - there is some of the former (not much, but enough to at least establish a cast and results) and almost nothing of the latter except that he was apparently sent across the sea because the gods wanted to annoy Saruman.)
posted by restless_nomad at 4:07 PM on December 15, 2012


Just got back about an hour out from seeing the movie.

Loved it.

Granted, I've been a Tolkien fan since before I could see over every counter top.

I saw the film in 24 FPS in 3D. The theater was packed, nary an open seat to be found but for mainly a few up front.

The movie opens up with a direct link to the LoTR trilogy. I'm not sure if it exists for any reason BUT to connect the Hobbit trilogy directly with the aforementioned, but it was accompanied with a quick retelling of the history of the dwarves of Erebor, the arrival of Smaug, and what befell the surviving dwarves afterward. That information, much like the cold introduction in the LoTR movie on the battle against Sauron, could have been simply introduced with a much more cold opening. However, it was a little nostalgic to see Frodo and Ian Holm Bilbo...strangely, the lines spoken by Holm seemed off to how I remember him performing the lines in the earlier appearances.

The 3D was well done, in my opinion, if only for the added depth it provided to the movie. That depth helped create the illusion that you weren't just watching the events occurring on screen, but that you were a step closer to watching them in person. Yes, hokey, I know, but when things aren't flat on the screen, you have a better idea of what it feels like to stand inside Bag End, for example. Only a couple times, would I say that you had the typical "flying out of the screen" type of effect, but like the best 3D it ceased to stand out as a technology being exploited just for the purpose of exploiting it. Jackson uses it as a tool to suck you further into the story.

The music was wonderful. Dwarf songs. YES. Lovely dwarf songs. Not too many and not too long, just right. While there were definitely reflections of the LoTR score, it's probably better to think of Howard Shore's work as scores of Middle Earth, themes that are universal to the places and characters, not to just to three movies. Someone said above that the music distracted from the film, but I felt it was as properly placed and scored as the earlier three movies. I came out with what I would call the "Dwarf" theme stuck in my head, humming, whistling and otherwise driving everyone around me crazy. I've already downloaded the soundtrack and shall put it to good repeated use.

The acting was all at the level that I expected. Everyone put in their good effort and I found nothing wanting. I thought Freeman did a perfectly fine job as Bilbo. I thought Richard Armitage pulled off the bearing of a king, though I can't say I've ever encountered a king, but he portrayed one that if I were his subject, would gladly follow into battle.

Directing, Jackson showed that he has lost nothing in the way of his touch for eye candy epic shots and set piece scenes. A number of them are improved with the depth given them by 3D. I was too absorbed in the movie to look for his cameo, but I will have many chances in the future to search him out. I can't recall any scenes appearing to offer a poor angle or shot, but do remember a number of creative ones.

Pacing. People might have chaffed at the bit during the Bag End/Shire section, but it went smoothly for me and did not feel like I was treading water and wasting time. I also liked the Dwarf Songs, so that may have been part of the reason I enjoyed the entire sequence of scenes in Bilbo's home. The only time I felt a bit of a drag, and it wasn't much of one, was during the meeting of the White Council. Part of the reason, I felt, was that Saruman/Christopher Lee's performance seemed a little phoned in (was he ill at the time?). He didn't have the same weight of presence that he had in the LoTR trilogy, and that was a little disappointing. Oh, and let the Galadriel/Gandalf fiction begin. The two made the council scenes. On reflection, I will say that from Bag End until Rivendell, including the trolls encounter, probably was the "weakest" part of the film for me. I say weakest, but really, it's the part that was outshone by the first part and third part (everything after Rivendell).

Gollum. Gosh, he's the creature you hate to love. Love to hate? I don't know, but Andy Serkis and the Weta team just continue to do an awesome job of breathing life into this character. The scene with him and Bilbo, as most have said, classic.

The changes from the book, which were not as quick to my eye for my lack of reading it in the last few years, were not too distracting. I enjoyed the Radagast scenes, even if I was distracted by the caked bird droppings on the side of his face....yeah, I said caked bird droppings on the side of his face. You'll understand if you see the movie.

Oh, and the Wargs? They look like Wargs and not mutant hyenas. THANK GOD. Much scarier than the dogs from the Two Towers.

I won't go into a lot more detail, but will say that I'm somewhat confused by the tepid reception by the critics. The final hour of the movie carries you swiftly to the end, literally taking you to heights and concluding on the standard Peter Jacksonesque "You're gonna hate waiting a year," type of ending. Perhaps much of lackluster arises from the fact that there's a lot that happens which has already been referred to or seen in the LoTR trilogy, such as the manner that Gandalf calls for help from the eagles. However, it's just a fact, you have the same character(s) and there's going to be some cross over. It's like complaining that characters keep going invisible with the Ring. Meh, haters gonna hate.

Needless to say, I will be going back to see the movie. I've already demanded a viewing with one part of my family and may lure another out to see it well in the next two weeks. It's refreshing return to Middle Earth, and a return to an adventure that was dreamt by Tolkien and made real by Jackson. In short, wonderful.
posted by Atreides at 5:38 PM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


winna: "I am hoping this is a lie because the idea makes me so angry I'm dizzy."

It's not true. The film rights for The Silmarillion have never been sold.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:46 PM on December 15, 2012


Do you think someone else would do a more faithful job? Or is it that any adaptation must inevitably fall short?

Any adaption of the Silmarrillion would be a pointless attempt to film the unfilmable, but god only knows what kind of pandering butchery would result from Jackson's efforts. I had to walk out of The Two Towers because it was so disrespectfully done as to include a joke about dwarf-tossing. I didn't bother to see The Return of the King after that, because it could only get worse.
posted by winna at 9:08 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know "fleshing out" vs. "padding" is a matter of opinion, but I'm squarely in the former camp. Especially if it retcons Galadriel into the picture.
posted by whuppy at 8:48 AM on December 16, 2012


I am of the opinion that the sensible thing to do would have been to give her the Ring, because who doesn't want to worship a dark Lady?
posted by restless_nomad at 9:35 AM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


JHarris: to finding out about the secret origins of golf. I've not seen the movie yet, but it seems to me that if these bits were done LOTR-style they would be ruined, although it's more likely they've just not been done at all

I don't want to *SPOIL* it, but when Gandalf actually delivered the golf line pretty much as written in the book (though I know it was the narrator in that case) I was very surprised and a big goofy grin spread across my face. There were quite a few things like that (the whole "Good Morning" bit when he first shows up) that had I and the other geeks in attendance sqeeing with delight.

Peter Jackson seems to know how to pluck those strings just enough to get you (well, me anyway) to forgive him his various indulgences of poetic license.
posted by history_denier at 10:13 AM on December 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


TwoWordReview: Ah I thought Billy Connolly was playing the master of lake town, but I see that'll be Stephen Fry! Love. It!

I'm picturing a scene with the Dwarves partying in Laketown before leaving for the mountain. Stephen Fry is enthusiastically leading drinking songs about how much gold the new King Under the Mountain will be sending down the lake while a grim Thorin glowers at him. Stephen Fry makes eye contact with him and gives him a wink and a thumbs up or something.
posted by history_denier at 10:47 AM on December 16, 2012


Any adaption of the Silmarrillion would be a pointless attempt to film the unfilmable, but god only knows what kind of pandering butchery would result from Jackson's efforts. I had to walk out of The Two Towers because it was so disrespectfully done as to include a joke about dwarf-tossing. I didn't bother to see The Return of the King after that, because it could only get worse.
posted by winna at 6:08 PM on December 15 [+] [!]


Oooookay.

Don't see the Hobbit, then! It's very good, but you will hate it.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:33 PM on December 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't want to *SPOIL* it, but when Gandalf actually delivered the golf line pretty much as written in the book (though I know it was the narrator in that case) I was very surprised and a big goofy grin spread across my face. There were quite a few things like that (the whole "Good Morning" bit when he first shows up) that had I and the other geeks in attendance sqeeing with delight.

Very true.
posted by Atreides at 6:22 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hobbit cupcakes with movie accurate beards.
posted by Artw at 7:10 PM on December 16, 2012


I watched it over the weekend. For some reason I never got down to reading the Hobbit, so I spent a few days before watching the movie to quickly go through the book. I haven't managed to finish it yet but I got past the part the first movie stopped; and as a result I have a pretty clear memory of what happened in the book when I watched the movie.

Overall I think the visuals and the feel of Middle Earth were captured really well, as they were in LOTR. But like other people mentioned, a lot of the whimsy of the Hobbit which makes it such a nice read are lost. Basically it feels like the story was epic-fied when it didn't really need to be: for example in the book the adventure starts out as a company of dwarves wanted to go fight a dragon and steal treasure; in the movie it becomes a grand scheme to restore the dwarven kingdom of Erebor. One of the points of hiring Bilbo in the book was because they needed a burglar, since the goal was to go steal the treasure. If the goal is to restore Erebor the need for a burglar is a bit less clear.

One part that I really disliked in the movie was the one with the stone giants. It felt like Michael Bay had suddenly taken over the reins for 5 minutes.
posted by destrius at 7:27 PM on December 16, 2012


I'm not going to kill Jackson for adding depth to a children's story; he's not making a children's movie. Jackson's Hobbit has more in common with Tolkien's later efforts to retcon portions of The Hobbit to make it fit better with the more serious and "adult" LOTR (see especially "The Quest of Erebor" from Unfinished Tales to see what I'm talking about).

If you want the charming version of the Hobbit all full of whimsey, you can always go back and revisit the Rankin/Bass animated version from the 70's.
posted by KingEdRa at 11:33 PM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jackson's Hobbit has more in common with Tolkien's later efforts to retcon portions of The Hobbit to make it fit better with the more serious and "adult" LOTR (see especially "The Quest of Erebor" from Unfinished Tales to see what I'm talking about).

Yeah, that was a bad idea as well.
posted by Artw at 11:39 PM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't have any problems with making it more serious; I think the problem is how it came out a bit too epic and grandiose. You can be serious without becoming a WoW cut-scene. For example the part with Balin reciting history while Thorin is standing by the cliff and staring intently into the horizon... brooding hero is a bit too brooding.
posted by destrius at 12:07 AM on December 17, 2012


I love me some Galadriel.

Me too, but I thought she felt awfully tacked on in this one. Though I want her turntable that travels with her so she can turn around and greet people without disturbing her dress. It would be so handy, though I'd have to start wearing long dresses to get full use out of it.

I enjoyed the movie, though it's not very faithful to much of the tone of its source and does suffer a little from wanting to be Lord of the Rings, I thought. It did confirm the general annoyingness of Elves for me in the series (I know I'm not supposed to think that but given that they always have the option of fecking on out of Middle Earth while being all glam and elegant - an option they often take, though who can blame them for that, I guess - I find it hard to warm to them). I did like that the Elven King's elk steed just compounded their buggering off and leaving the Dwarves in the lurch. You've got an elk steed! I bet you could do some serious fighting if you can ride an elk! I mean, it just stands to reason you've got to have some other amazing skills that should be put to use in the dragon fighting arena, surely?
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:52 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't want to *SPOIL* it, but when Gandalf actually delivered the golf line pretty much as written in the book

!!!

Okay, that's decided me, I'm going to see this.
posted by JHarris at 5:22 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can be serious without becoming a WoW cut-scene.

Eeeeh-heh-heh-heh! I can't see their commercials right now without thinking of Kung-Fu Panda.
posted by JHarris at 5:24 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


KingEdRa: "I'm not going to kill Jackson for adding depth to a children's story; he's not making a children's movie."

Well, that's the problem. When filming a children's story, one reasonably expects that one makes a children's movie. You don't HAVE to, but then you find that people who loved the book in part for how it is written are not thrilled.

If you want the charming version of the Hobbit all full of whimsey, you can always go back and revisit the Rankin/Bass animated version from the 70's.

Or I could just stab myself in the eye with a fork.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:42 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


One part that I really disliked in the movie was the one with the stone giants. It felt like Michael Bay had suddenly taken over the reins for 5 minutes.

It was one of the weaker scenes, and I think, the victim of what happens when you have a more light hearted tale like the Hobbit and shift it toward the darker elements of the LoTR trilogy. Some things just do not survive such transitions as well as others. I think I was benefited by having not read the Hobbit for a while now, so my Middle Earthen mind was still set to that of LoTR and not the book.
posted by Atreides at 6:54 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Me too, but I thought she felt awfully tacked on in this one. Though I want her turntable that travels with her so she can turn around and greet people without disturbing her dress. It would be so handy, though I'd have to start wearing long dresses to get full use out of it.

This one was purely setup, which I can live with. And you are not kidding about the dress - I wonder if they weighted the bottom edge or something. Beautiful effect; not at all how clothing works.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:38 AM on December 17, 2012


I'm not going to kill Jackson for adding depth to a children's story;

If you think a children's story can't be deep then I don't know what to say except you haven't read the right kinds of children's stories. (Also, related, "mature content" doesn't imply maturity, in fact, it often implies the opposite.) The Hobbit is deep enough -- why else would Jackson bother making it in the first place?
posted by JHarris at 9:05 AM on December 17, 2012


Tolkien himself fiddled with the Hobbit quite a bit, tweaking it to fit better with LoTR, adding bits and implications to the timeline, etc. This just seems like a continuation of that same effort. From the link I posted above:
It has been quite clear since 2001 that when you sit down with your popcorn, you are watching Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth. If that’s not for you, that’s completely fine.
The Hobbit fits in just fine as a part of the movie franchise, and that is, I think, what it needed to do to be a coherent work. Not that I don't have quibbles - the pacing makes it seem very much like it was structured as the first third of a nine-hour movie, not as a movie in itself, among other things - but I think if you're focusing on changes from the text you're missing the point.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:30 AM on December 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am apparently the only person in the history of EVER who loves LOTR (grew up with it), loves the films, and hated The Hobbit movie with a depth that is truly disturbing.

It wasn't the silliness-- the book is pretty silly in parts. It wasn't the constant fight scenes (although they did start to lose meaning and get tiring about halfway through.)

It was the way the damn thing looked (and I'm not talking about frame rate, since I saw it in the traditional frame rate. I mean art design.) Here is LOTR, a film that was dedicated to making everything make sense from a cultural/natural history point of view, a film where they made all the weapons by hand and had dudes linking chainmail like everyday for four years. And here's the Hobbit, which COMPLETELY wipes out any remaining traces of design sense for "Oh, this will look good in 3d!" Like the Wargs. They spent so much time on wargs and they way they looked and moved in LOTR! They were great, they were hyena-pig-things with facial expressions! Why in God's name would you redesign that to look like every CGI werewolf ever? Or Galadriel's costume, which in LOTR were all heavily hand-beaded to create this amazing, subtle effect, and here it's got freakin' SEQUINS glued on it! It was like, "How can we take this amazing world we've already built and make it look confusing and tacky? How can we best throw away our design sense?" Even the Hobbit hole looked far too... too... recognizable. It was like someone yelled, "PSEUDO-VICTORIAN!" to the set dresser and he just grabbed shit. The rooms that were continuous with the rooms shown in LOTR were fine; the rest of it was... I just... I can't even. There was no grandeur, no majesty, no realism and (it felt like) no deep obsessive love for the world-building that was the key thing that made the LOTR filmswork. It felt trite, like every other fantasy film that's been turned out for the past forever.

The parts where they cut between the riddles in the dark scene (which, I will give you, is pitch-perfect, well done Serkis and Freeman) and the dwarves escaping-- it feels like two completely different films. One is smart, careful, touching and looks great, and the other is a CGI whizz-bang this-will-look-great-on-3D-who-cares-that-the-goblins-look-ridiculous let's-run-for-twenty-minutes thing.

I don't know what happened. I don't know if they were rushed, or couldn't get the quality of crew they needed, or if they need more money or less money or what, but I am heartbroken. I hold out faint hope that maybe the others will be... less cheap, but that may be, as Gandalf would say, just a fool's hope.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:34 AM on December 17, 2012


And here's the Hobbit, which COMPLETELY wipes out any remaining traces of design sense for "Oh, this will look good in 3d!" Like the Wargs. They spent so much time on wargs and they way they looked and moved in LOTR! They were great, they were hyena-pig-things with facial expressions! Why in God's name would you redesign that to look like every CGI werewolf ever?

See, this is something I actually was very happy with. As I had read it in the books, wargs were very wolf-like, and seeing them as basically giant hyenas made me groan in disgust. I figure take the antipathy you had for the wargs of the Hobbit, that's what I had for the wargs in the LoTR trilogy (I suppose in Two Towers to be precise). When I saw the newest version appear, I silently cheered. I really eyed them over and thought they were sufficiently intimidating with their sparks of malevolent intelligence in their eyes.

There was no grandeur, no majesty, no realism and (it felt like) no deep obsessive love for the world-building that was the key thing that made the LOTR filmswork. It felt trite, like every other fantasy film that's been turned out for the past forever.

I personally didn't get this sense at all. You had the fleeting scenes of the city of Dale, the kingdom of Erebor, and wider shots of the Shire as something more than just scenes off a wagon road (to established a geography and placement of homes, etc). Even the Hobbit feet, they worked on improving them to appear better than those they used in LoTR. So in my opinion, there wasn't any degradation in the care and quality of Middle Earth.
posted by Atreides at 11:13 AM on December 17, 2012


It has been quite clear since 2001 that when you sit down with your popcorn, you are watching Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth.

Clear to us. But there are plenty of people, probably a majority now, whose sole exposure to Tolkien has been those movies, who have never heard the name Tolkien.
posted by JHarris at 11:22 AM on December 17, 2012


That's my point. The movies are aimed as much or more at those people as at those of us with two solid feet of shelf space devoted to Tolkien scholarship.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:49 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


And if it seem evil unto you to serve the TOLKIEN, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the Rankin/Bass which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Jacksonites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the TOLKIEN.
posted by history_denier at 6:55 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


And much like the Israelites of old, your lives will be an endless chronicle of bitterness and failure in your attempts to live according to a covenant that no earthly being can observe faithfully while still waiting on a Messiah who will bring forth Tolkien's word onto the screen as it was written.

Me, I'm Reform Tolkien. We think that there's some flexibility when adapting the books for film and TV.
posted by KingEdRa at 8:25 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's a straw man argument. No one is saying Tolkien's words are holy writ. There are changes in the LOTR movies I'm fine with-taking out Bombadil made total sense. There are even things that are arguably better done in the movies than in the books-Boromir's character arc is much clearer.

Change in order to make a better film is fine. Change for the sake of change, or that goes directly against the written work's ethos is not. You want to call them orcs instead of goblins, so as to make the Hobbit consistent with LOTR? Fine. You want to change a charming, slight children's book into some world-shaking epic? Not so fine.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:56 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


You want to change a charming, slight children's book into some world-shaking epic? Not so fine.

Arguably, all the ingredients for an epic are in the material or associated material that the author created. The dwarfs driven from their home, the nigh unstoppable dragon, the adventure to return to Lonely Mountain, all the encounters and events, the Battle of Five Armies, and even the Necromancer aspects. It's kind of like a paint by numbers painting; the overall picture is the same, the change comes from which colors are applied to the corresponding numbered areas.
posted by Atreides at 11:07 AM on December 18, 2012


Yeah Atreides, why not just make the colors orange and teal while you're at it.

The Hobbit isn't an epic! It starts out with a dinner party. No one's saving the world in it, that's a lot of the reason why I like it. Why the hell do so many movies have to be blockbuster epics these days? God I'm sick and tired of them.

In response to restless_nomad's comment, you could make the Hobbit into any damn thing you like and the people who have never heard of Tolkien would be none the wiser. That's not an argument for doing it, it's an argument for NOT doing it, for trying to introduce people to something sweet and wonderful they would never have had exposure to otherwise, instead of turning it into another LOTR. OY.
posted by JHarris at 11:31 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


At this point, we're really going in circles. If you liked the filmed version, that's great. Really, I am happy you enjoyed it. I would not enjoy it, because I feel it a) made changes that don't improve it, and aren't necessary, and b) those changes take away from what I see as the book's strengths.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:58 AM on December 18, 2012


Fair enough. I think so long as the conversation does not stray into the field of "I'm obviously the bigger Tolkien fan because...." for either perspective, then all's well that ends well!
posted by Atreides at 2:33 PM on December 18, 2012


The Hobbit isn't an epic! It starts out with a dinner party. No one's saving the world in it, that's a lot of the reason why I like it. Why the hell do so many movies have to be blockbuster epics these days? God I'm sick and tired of them.

Dude. Battle of Five Armies.

Not one, not three.

FIVE.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:25 PM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


But now you're quibbling terms over "epic," especially since the battle itself isn't seen in the book; Bilbo puts the Ring on at the start to stay out of it, then gets knocked out. We find out what happened afterward, then go in to Thorin's tent. And that is the Battle of Five Armies; it doesn't take up a lot of narrative space.

Epic is high stakes. An epic, in the classical sense, is heroes and significant occurrences. There are one or two of those at the end, but they don't focus on the fate of the world, but rather of the Dwarves and the Men of Dale. But that is mostly incidental to Bilbo's story, who is in it at first for adventure and treasure, then for friendship and responsibility.

He is not a hero. That is the entire point of the character Bilbo. Neither are the dwarves come to think of it. The most heroic figure is Bard, who the dwarves are actually set against until the goblins show up, causing a hasty realignment of priorities that is less noble than pragmatic. (Which means it's a lot more like real war than any of the battles in LOTR are.)
posted by JHarris at 12:38 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


People would riot if Jackson filmed the Battle of Five Armies true to the book. Just imagine the setup:

The dwarves held up in Erebor, gazing as the combined armies of men and elves march toward the dwarves hard fought reclaimed kingdom's gates. Then appears the force of dwarves from the Iron Hills and in that moment before an errant arrow or thrown spear might spark a devastating battle between the free peoples of Middle Earth, the pounding of war drums come over the horizon like thunder, announcing the arrival of the massive orcish host and their warg allies. For a moment, the five armies watch each other before rushing forward to meet in a deafening clash of metal and fierce battle between thousands unfolds. It is hardly begun when it appears that the orcs, goblins and wargs are about to turn the battle into a massacre, overwhelming the elves, men and dwarves. Then, Bilbo points to the sky, "Eagles!" he exclaims and suddenly a rock falls from above, hits him on the head, and the screen goes black.

...


The movie returns and Bilbo wakes to the whimpering miscellaneous sounds of a battle's aftermath. Thorin dying. Others dead. Beorn's contribution completely omitted as well the impact of the eagles.

Yep, that'd go over well!
posted by Atreides at 6:46 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Again, though, the film can reasonably expand on things that aren't detailed in text (I think JHarris's point was that the Battle of Five Armies is largely separate from Bilbo, who is the protagonist of the story). That's fine. But casting that battle as a titanic struggle between good and evil with the fate of the world at hand is not really faithful to the text. This was NOT the Siege of Barad-dûr or the Battle of Pelennor Fields.
It is hardly begun when it appears that the orcs, goblins and wargs are about to turn the battle into a massacre, overwhelming the elves, men and dwarves. Then, Bilbo points to the sky, "Eagles!" he exclaims and suddenly a rock falls from above, hits him on the head, and the screen goes black.

...


The movie returns and Bilbo wakes to the whimpering miscellaneous sounds of a battle's aftermath. Thorin dying. Others dead. Beorn's contribution completely omitted as well the impact of the eagles.
I realize this is a side point, but this isn't really accurate. In my hardcover copy, there are five full pages of battle description and several turns in the tide of battle before Bilbo is knocked out. It's specifically stated that they've gone through most of the day at that point. So, the battle is not "hardly begun" nor is it a massacre-the elves/men/dwarves have given what they've got, over the course of a long day.

When Bilbo comes to, we get about a page of summary on the rest of the battle, including what the eagles and Beorn did. Perfect example of how you would expect a filmed version to be different-there's no reason to separate the two (third party narrated) portions of the battle in a movie.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:13 AM on December 19, 2012


People would riot if Jackson filmed the Battle of Five Armies true to the book.

Yeah, sometimes you have to do something the audience doesn't expect, that less insightful will actually hate you for, for Better Reasons. Sometimes staying true to the source is more important than chasing frequently stupid popularity. Or else, why make a Tolkien movie at all.
posted by JHarris at 8:52 AM on December 19, 2012


My point wasn't based on inaccuracies, but to show that the crucial turning point would be missed by the audience. It would be akin to having Luke enter the trench and before Han showed up, blacking the screen, and then having him wake up in time for the medal ceremony.

But, since you're kind enough to point out that the basically covers six pages, it's not something that's just simply alluded to and moved on from. More importantly, though...and this has to do with several cries of discontent:

Again, though, the film can reasonably expand on things that aren't detailed in text (I think JHarris's point was that the Battle of Five Armies is largely separate from Bilbo, who is the protagonist of the story). That's fine. But casting that battle as a titanic struggle between good and evil with the fate of the world at hand is not really faithful to the text. This was NOT the Siege of Barad-dûr or the Battle of Pelennor Fields.

This has not been setup as such in the first film. The story throughout the Hobbit:UJ has been one entirely of the dwarves' mission to reclaim their kingdom, premised in part, on the supposed disappearance of Smaug. The emphasis is more home than treasure/gold, though. The two strongest themes within this story has been Bilbo's acceptance as a company member and the establishment of Thorin as a heroic if flawed leader (most likely to help with the emotional impact of his later death).

The closest thing to any sort of "The world is dooooooOOOOOoooomed!" type of element has to do with the necromancer aspect which in H:UJ is partly a side bar to the actual events.

So in no lengthy set of words, there is no setup so far that the world's fate lies in the balance and it all falls to one plucky Hobbit to save it.
posted by Atreides at 8:55 AM on December 19, 2012


Yeah, sometimes you have to do something the audience doesn't expect, that less insightful will actually hate you for, for Better Reasons. Sometimes staying true to the source is more important than chasing frequently stupid popularity. Or else, why make a Tolkien movie at all.
posted by JHarris at 5:52 AM on December 19 [+] [!]


You're excluding the middle a bit there. The battle is carefully described in both tactical and strategic terms. It's not handwaved in the slightest. And Thorin's death is - not milked, but it carries a lot of weight. Would you have preferred Boromir to die offscreen in Fellowship of the Rings, like in the books? Would it have made for a better film?
posted by Sebmojo at 12:49 PM on December 19, 2012


You're excluding the middle a bit there.

Yeah, and you're taking my illustrative and hypothetical point about the potential to use the Battle of the Five Armies as a way to epic-up The Hobbit and making more out of it than I had invested into it. Jackson hasn't made the movie yet, I don't know how he'll handle it, although coming at the end of a trilogy I know what the temptation will be.

The story of LOTR is wider than that, but as much as it has a protagonist it's Frodo, and it is more reasonable to assume that a movie maker should investigate Boromir's fate since he wanted the ring. On the other hand the way Tolkien tells about most of the battle, it's already finished and so we know Bilbo's survived it. He just throws away the dramatic potential there. A good filmmaker would be loathe to follow suit with that, but a great one just might do it anyway.

But we're getting to places where I'm going to need to reread it to be absolutely sure what I'm talking about matches up with my memories of the book, and doing that makes this start to feel like bible study, something I'd like to avoid. It's just a movie.
posted by JHarris at 7:31 PM on December 19, 2012


People debating/arguing Tolkien on the Internet. There's got to be an Internet bingo card somewhere that has this just left of B24.


Yeah, okay, so this just struck me last night.
posted by Atreides at 11:36 AM on December 20, 2012


Wait, the Internet can be used for OTHER things than Tolkien debate?
posted by Chrysostom at 11:51 AM on December 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Hobbit isn't an epic! It starts out with a dinner party. No one's saving the world in it

I'm not sure I understand this assertion. How does the fact that the Hobbit starts with a dinner party have any bearing on whether or not it's an epic? I just finished reading it with my kids and I have to say that it fits every definition of "epic" I've ever heard, with the exception of the requirement (which is obsolete anyway) that it be a poem. I'm not disagreeing with you, just asking what you mean.
posted by The World Famous at 12:52 PM on December 20, 2012


The Hobbit Reconsidered as a Picaresque Novel
posted by Artw at 1:01 PM on December 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure I understand this assertion. How does the fact that the Hobbit starts with a dinner party have any bearing on whether or not it's an epic?

It's an illustrative example demonstrating its nature. It isn't conclusive, no, but terms like epic are sometimes difficult to pin down in cases like this, where everyone defines the term however they feel like. The purpose of statements like that is not to deliver a knockdown argument but present a indicative characteristic. Well anyway, it doesn't help that "epic" is an overused word in general right now.

I just finished reading it with my kids and I have to say that it fits every definition of "epic" I've ever heard, with the exception of the requirement (which is obsolete anyway) that it be a poem. I'm not disagreeing with you, just asking what you mean.

I mean it's not "epic." Not to my understanding of the popular notion of that admittedly-degraded term. It is a quest, but not all quests are "epic," which is admittedly influenced by a whole lot of movies and video games that try to ramp up stakes to every damn conflict in them. I take it as illustrative of a school of thought among writers that you can't get readers interested unless stakes are high, by some arbitrary measurement of the height of stakes. The immediate lives and interests of your protagonists aren't enough; the fate of the world must hinge on everything his sorry weight-besaddled brain must decide.

Well, what I mean: Sometimes the world isn't in danger. Sometimes fun characters do something for their own interest. That interest might be noble in one way or the other; the dwarves really would like to reclaim both their treasure and their heritage, and that would be a nice thing in the context of the story. Bilbo getting the ring out of the Misty Mountains ultimately played a pivotal role in the Lord Of The Rings books, but that was incidental. The rest of the world will spin on, for a while at least, regardless of whether the dwarves come again into their own; indeed, poor Thorin regains the throne only having to abandon it for the halls of Mandos. In a sense, the quest is a failure, although it wasn't for reasons that he anticipated.
posted by JHarris at 3:39 PM on December 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's an interesting take. Thanks, JHarris. So, would you consider the Odyssey or the Iliad to be "epic" by that sort of analysis? How about Beowulf? Orlando Furioso? I guess I'm wondering whether this is a completely different use of the word "epic" than that usually associated with literature, since the idea that the entire world being in danger is a critical element of an epic is something I have not heard before, and would disqualify many, if not most, of the most obvious canonical epics in world literature.
posted by The World Famous at 3:52 PM on December 20, 2012


Those things are epics; that is different from epic, as the word is thrown around these days, in the language of dudebros and Hollywood blockbusters. That second is a term you won't find in your typical sorts of dictionary, but it's been moving towards that meaning for a while.

The Odyssey does have the fate of Ithica resting on Odysseus' return home, and the Iliad does concern the fate of a great nation. I do consider the Odyssey and Iliad to be epics, speaking as if I had the power to deny them. But it's not the idea of the world being in danger specifically that indicates the degraded kind, at least as how I see it in my palsied brain, it's the idea of artificially-increased stakes, just to put an extra extra exclamation point on a story.

If you aren't reminded of some illustrative example just from my having mentioned it, then come back and read this comment again in ten years and see if the point hasn't been driven into your forehead by another decade of idiot moviemaking by then.
posted by JHarris at 4:13 PM on December 20, 2012


So the thing with The Hobbit is that it starts very small in scope, with the dinner party, and gradually expands. First the trolls - hey, the world is more hostile than I thought! - and then Rivendell - O brave new world, that has such people in it - and then Mirkwood where something dark is stirring, several new kinds of people with their own agendas, and at last the Battle of Five Armies, which is, if not world-shaking, at least a major regional conflict with far-ranging implications for everyone involved. It doesn't feel epic at the start, but the scope is there all along, it's just revealed very gradually.

Which is why the audience for the movie makes a difference in how it needs to be presented. The audience, having seen the LoTR movies, starts out knowing the scope. They know what the stakes really are, how big this world is, how earthshaking the implications. They're not going to sit through a dinner party gasping at the manners of dwarves when they know very well there are orcs and spiders and dragons to come. The Hobbit is a very peculiar little book, and deciding to go with the broader scope and epic feel is just as valid a choice as making it a small, pastoral adventure would have been.The movie isn't the book - the movie can't be the book - and I don't think there is a way it could have been written and shot that didn't make it fit very poorly either with the book or the previous movies, one or the other.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:15 PM on December 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


restless_nomad: "The movie isn't the book - the movie can't be the book - and I don't think there is a way it could have been written and shot that didn't make it fit very poorly either with the book or the previous movies, one or the other."

Okay, and if true, then I would prefer the author's intent be honored. The Hobbit was written differently than LOTR, and Tolkien abandoned his effort to make it the same. It is its own thing. Jettisoning its tone to make it "LOTR: Book 0" doesn't work.

It doesn't work for ME at least-this thread has been ample evidence that perfectly reasonable people feel otherwise.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:27 PM on December 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that's a perfectly reasonable position. I just think that declaring that The Hobbit is not an "epic" tale isn't particularly well-supported - it isn't epic in tone, but it's certainly epic in content.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:33 PM on December 20, 2012


People would riot if Jackson filmed the Battle of Five Armies true to the book.

The only people likely to riot are the Tolkien fans if Jackson changes the ending of the battle. The rest of the audience will only riot if the theater locks the bathrooms after the movie.
posted by homunculus at 7:57 PM on December 20, 2012


The only people likely to riot are the Tolkien fans if Jackson changes the ending of the battle. The rest of the audience will only riot if the theater locks the bathrooms after the movie.

Dude, that's what the White Council scene in Rivendell is for . . . I've been telling people that after Elrond reads Thror's Map, you can make a break for the restroom. All you're missing during that scene is fan service.
posted by KingEdRa at 10:45 PM on December 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd rather have skipped the last part with the White Orc, who I found completely unintersting. The best time to go to the bathroom may well be right after Bilbo reveals himself to the company after they've all escaped the Goblins; that should be enough time before the eagles show up, unless facilities are crowded. I certainly found the pee I took after the film more satisfying than watching the pine-cone hurling showdown with the Orcs.
posted by homunculus at 1:43 AM on December 21, 2012


The White Council would probably be my preferred bathroom break moment, but...I'm not opposed to the lead up to the moment when Bilbo starts talking to the trolls....so once they notice some ponies are missing...GO. Then be back for Bilbo's chattery and Gandalf's return from his walkabout with Mick Dundee (not canonical).
posted by Atreides at 3:07 PM on December 21, 2012


So I saw The Hobbit at the last Christmas Eve showing here in town. There are spoilers here, this is your warning:

That was about what I expected, a Peter Jackson version of The Hobbit much like the Peter Jackson takes on Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson is a good filmmaker, but not a great one. Good means he can make a good movie. Not great means he is unable to transcend the medium and bring the unique aspects of the work to the screen.

Something that's always bothered me about the LOTR movies, and now this one, is how depressingly literal they are. When Bilbo lusts after the ring that brief moment in Fellowship they Photoshop a split second of an evil face onto him. When Galadriel considers it, he throws half the Filters menu at her. It's not enough for Gandalf to suddenly speak more loudly and authoritatively when rebuking Bilbo for trying to keep the ring, they have to darken the room around him. WETA's extensive FX toolbox works against the movies in those moments, I think.

He uses music a bit too much to lead the audience towards what he wants them to feel. The Heroic Speech theme particularly is a bit overbearing. He has a way of presenting heroic warrior guys as all the same type, fair-complexioned and Jesusy (especially in the case of Tolkien's ur-hero, Aragorn). That's okay I guess, but it makes Thorin, and since they're in the same family nephews Fili and Kili, a bit too human-like; I wouldn't have guessed they were Dwarves if the others didn't call them such and defer to them all the time.

One thing I liked was the goblins, who weren't the growling roaring types we all got way too much of in LOTR, and the Goblin King was surprisingly well-spoken for a goblin. Unfortunately the LOTR orcs were in attendance too, and they were just as predictable as always. One of the best passages in the book is the description of the goblins' dismayed reactions to Orcrist and Glamdring, but kind of gets lost in the Goblin King's speech here.

Back to Thorin. In addition to being Aragorny, they gave him the standard martial bro-warrior attitude. In The Hobbit, my impression was that Thorin was hugely self-important and disdainful of Bilbo's participation at first, but came to warm to the hobbit as he proved his competence and usefulness again and again. Here, he comes around suddenly when Bilbo, against character, charges the white orc -- it's only an act of battle that redeems Bilbo in his eyes. Bah to that.

Gollum has his LOTR split personality (which I think makes him a little too cartoony), but the Riddle Game is pretty well done. They even kept in a couple of songs, and finds a way to make them not as annoying as they are in the animated adaptations. I think Radagast was a fun addition and enjoyed his scenes (even if they were a little goofy), and I liked seeing Saruman before he turned evil. (The nod to the unnamed Blue wizards was clever.) I didn't notice the 48 fps thing at all, although that might just be lack of projection support for it in our theater.

Question: am I mistaken, or did they find a way to slip the chapter titles from the book in the dialogue at approximately where they are in the book? I was taken with that idea when I heard Thorin and Gandalf say "Out of the frying pan... and into the fire," which seemed like an odd thing to put in if there wasn't some reason for it.

Prediction: They will move heaven and earth to give Legolas a cameo when they get to Mirkwood.
posted by JHarris at 10:42 PM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Saw it again last night on IMAX, and the viewing was better, if not dramatically so, than the standard 3D screen. Opinion remains the same as earlier stated (see above)!

Question: am I mistaken, or did they find a way to slip the chapter titles from the book in the dialogue at approximately where they are in the book? I was taken with that idea when I heard Thorin and Gandalf say "Out of the frying pan... and into the fire," which seemed like an odd thing to put in if there wasn't some reason for it.

I'm a bit weak on the chapter titles, but that one in particularly was I think purposefully timed for that moment. Peter, Fran, and Co., threw in some chapter titles in the LoTR trilogy, as well. I always found it very amusing as I think of them as little salutations to the fans of the books. I don't think the Frying Pan quip was out of place, given the fresh escape from the Goblins and now the presence of Wargs and Orcs.

Prediction: They will move heaven and earth to give Legolas a cameo when they get to Mirkwood.

I'll save you the 12 months of angst...Legolas WILL be present when they encounter the wood elves. They point out that they introduced him in Fellowship as the son of the elf king, and so, why wouldn't he be there? I don't think we'll see him whipping out his bow for bowbassery (bow + bad assery). If it makes you feel worse, the script writers have also created a female elf character out of the ether purely to lower the ratio of men to women characters.

In The Hobbit, my impression was that Thorin was hugely self-important and disdainful of Bilbo's participation at first, but came to warm to the hobbit as he proved his competence and usefulness again and again. Here, he comes around suddenly when Bilbo, against character, charges the white orc -- it's only an act of battle that redeems Bilbo in his eyes. Bah to that.

I think they did do the former, but didn't particularly emphasize it well. I think the interaction with the trolls showed Thorin recognizing and approving of Bilbo's attempt to delay the feeding as well Bilbo's reappearance after the Goblin escape, when he revealed he hadn't run away. I was taken back by the Bilbo charge and Bilbo's amazing ability to parry attacks by creatures armed with weapons and more experience.

As I watched the movie again last night, I was disappointed as I watched the events unfold on the screen and realized that I was going to have to wait twelve months to see Sting be named and the encounter with the wood elves. At least after that, the wait will be six months.
posted by Atreides at 7:17 AM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think we'll see him whipping out his bow for bowbassery (bow + bad assery).

I fully expect to see him doing so during the Battle of Five Armies.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:50 AM on December 25, 2012


Oh, I'd just like to say that I can't get the Goblin King's epic length of chin flab out of my freaking head. What kind of mind invents something like that?
posted by JHarris at 8:03 AM on December 25, 2012


Only one that's in extremely Bad Taste, I'm sure.
posted by radwolf76 at 9:17 AM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I'd just like to say that I can't get the Goblin King's epic length of chin flab out of my freaking head. What kind of mind invents something like that?

As I watched it, I had to believe that it was a remnant leftover from Guillermo del Toro, in fact, most if not all the goblin designs. Heck perhaps the set dressing, too. One of my friends can't get out of his head its resemblance to a particular piece of lower male anatomy....which has lead to too many bad jokes. Argh.

I fully expect to see him doing so during the Battle of Five Armies.

I just read that Beorn will turn into Legolas instead of a bear for the battle. Good call!
posted by Atreides at 3:40 PM on December 25, 2012


Jackson: Persbrandt to gain larger role in The Hobbit
posted by homunculus at 5:17 PM on December 25, 2012


Has Hollywood ruined Tolkien?
posted by Artw at 4:36 AM on January 4, 2013


Artw: "Has Hollywood ruined Tolkien?"

Spoiler: Yes!
posted by Chrysostom at 7:19 AM on January 4, 2013


The Hobbit is, of course, still right there on the shelf. Unless some bugger tries to novelist the films.
posted by Artw at 7:22 AM on January 4, 2013


I think the writer's issue is that Jackson is manipulating the source material to match a Hollywood formula for movies. It's not so much that he's replacing Block B with Block C, but arranging the size of each block - increasing the cinematic importance of one over another that does not parallel the relativity of the blocks in novel form. He has read the Hobbit (and appendices) and in his mind made the decision, "Here is how I can successfully recreate this on the big screen!" It went through a film maker's translation, which for the most part is what happens with every material that goes from A to Film.

Ruined, no. Ruined the expectation of how some fans believe the book should be translated, surely. He has not so departed the shores of the source material as to strike land on another continent and claim it the same.
posted by Atreides at 7:49 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


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