37, Boise, ID
Date Posted: 2013-12-23
Tolkien Fan Level: 5
Film Format Seen? 2D 24 fps
Will view again in a different format? No
I'm going to review both two movies released so far.
Pros: Martin Freeman as Bilbo and Ian McKellan as Gandalf. The guys who played Thranduil and Balin were helpful. Jackson does a great job of creating atmosphere visually. Smaug was cool. Way too well-informed for a dragon that hasn't been seen for decades, and stupid, but overall cool. If they wanted people to know the lure and limits of dragonspeech, they should have explained it before. They gave me a few characters in Laketown to like and root for. Meh: Richard Armitage as Thorin. Not bad, but overplayed way too often, mostly due to directing and script, I'm sure. I didn't feel like most of the dwarves got enough time or opportunities to become individuals, though that's a huge challenge. Cons: This should not be a three-movie story, at least if the adding-in is being done by Peter Jackson and co. They've got Tolkien lore, but little to none of his gift for language or sense of, for lack of a better word, proportion. As I've said before, they can't do subtle to save their lives; the movies continually descend into melodrama and the action time and time again descends into absurdity. Repeat with me: less is very often more. We needed less action and more character stuff, at least so far as the character stuff could be done well. And the Macguffins Jackson uses as filler get tiresome very quickly. Bilbo looked pretty foolish and clumsy in handling Smaug. The book let him be much more competent. All the time they spent on the Necromancer and wood elves was wasted. This should be Bilbo's story. The Necromancer stuff mostly came off as silly. And Legolas and Tauriel? An interspecies love triangle and characters spouting dialogue almost as bad as Anakin Skywalker in love does not count as "done well" in my book. The script is full of holes. I know...the original book isn't terribly consistent with the LOTR and has plenty of plausibility issues. But if Tolkien couldn't/didn't reconcile them, maybe The Hobbit needed to be enjoyed on its own terms. Too often, trying to fit it into PJ's LOTR universe compromised what it did well without adding much of significance. The Ring shouldn't have had much draw. You can't explain how Bilbo lives another sixty or so years with the Ring, without anyone ever coming after him and without being greatly influenced by it, unless you assume all at the same time that Sauron is relatively weak and the Ring is dormant and not influencing things yet, Bilbo knows next to nothing about it except that it makes him invisible and has no hint that it could do and be more, and next to nobody knows he has it. In fact, the Ring probably doesn't even want a tight hold on him because he's not the type that would put it to much use. The films violate plausibility here on multiple levels. If Bilbo is being influenced here any more than very mildly, there's no way LOTR is plausible. It certainly shouldn't be affecting his character in terms of making him vicious. And Smaug can influence Bilbo with regards to the Ring? If Smaug knows of the Ring and can do that, why wouldn't he just make Bilbo give it to him, take power himself? Smaug should never have seen Bilbo or been able to do more than guess where he was, or Bilbo and the other should have been dead. And Smaug is an idiot and OOC as a hoard-loving dragon if he goes off before he's pretty sure they're dead or locked up tight and unable to steal his treasure. It's pretty hard to take him seriously when he's chasing them around halls like villains in Scooby Doo. The escape from the wood elves should have been impossible had the prisoners been discovered that soon. The orcs never should have been on the Company's trail after the Misty Mountains, as the eagles had carried the Company who knows where. An attack in Laketown itself should have changed the whole political equation. Then, too, the orcs can go a lot faster than the Company and should have caught a fair-sized group on foot how many times. And the wood-elves let them get that far into their domain? Unless they went through Mirkwood, which the wood elves should have been aware of and sent an army out to stop them, it should have been hundreds of miles around and they shouldn't have caught up with the Company before the Battle of the Five Armies. The spiders were fun creepy, but I missed Bilbo taunting and messing with them. How did any of the dwarves have time to get unwound, etc., if Bilbo didn't keep goading the spiders and lead them off? As for the Arkenstone, if they wanted to make a point about lust for treasure, they could have explained how a dragon's presence infects its hoard. Forget Smaug; any people that bases kingship or unity on ownership of a jewel, however fabulous, has serious issues and is bound to self-destruct. Sending Bilbo after the Arkenstone? He should never have known about it until he already had it and couldn't very well explain why he'd taken it and had no intention of handing it over.
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