Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I never read The Hobbit. I'll pause for a moment and let the shock and awe pass. I assume that some of you will be feeling some sense of shock and awe at that news. That's how a lot of people react when I tell them I've also never read the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But I loved the movies. And I'd like to read the books. Someday. Life just gets busy, you know?

As I said, I loved the movies that Peter Jackson made a decade ago. They were epic and visually stunning and pretty much awesome. For a while there, it seemed like The Hobbit would never get made. It was one of those ideas that fans clamored for that they couldn't seem to get right. Every time news about the possibility of the prequel being filmed came out, I'd get excited. But I'd also be very skeptical. It's hard to get excited about the possibility of movies when every little snippet of information makes its way to the internet, no matter how unlikely the rumor. I'm pretty sure more than one director was attached to The Hobbit before Peter Jackson finally relented and signed on. And at that point, it was going to be two movies.

Now it's been split into three. Of course, you'll have to forgive my ignorance, as I've never read the book. But are three separate films really necessary when this was just one book? Using that logic, the Lord of the Rings trilogy should have really been 9 movies, right? Now, I've heard they're expanding the cinematic universe of Middle Earth by including some of Tolkien's other work and not just relying on The Hobbit. Again, I wouldn't really know anything about that. Since I've never read anything at all by J.R.R. Tolkien.

I complain about the way they stretch these movies from books out. I think it was a good idea to split Deathly Hallows into two films. I think it was a waste to do the same with Breaking Dawn. In fact, I was dead set against paying money to see Breaking Dawn, Part 2, since I had paid to see part 1. Using that logic, I should refuse to pay next year when The Desolation of Smaug is released, or when There and Back Again comes out in 2014. But I won't follow that logic. Because I love the epic scope of these movies. And Kristen Stewart isn't in any of them, which is always a plus in my book.

Honestly, I felt like An Unexpected Journey dragged a bit in the beginning. And I was a little concerned that it was going to turn into a musical. Not that I don't enjoy a good musical from time to time. But I wanted the same feeling I got seeing Fellowship of the Ring so many years ago. I wanted epic battles with bizarre creatures. I wanted larger than life landscapes with rich histories too detailed to tell. All in all, that's what I got. Yes, I do still feel like it dragged a bit. But I didn't care. Because I sat there in that darkened theater and felt genuine excitement about being back in Middle Earth. Maybe excitement is a stronger word than I really mean to use. But it was about as close to excited as someone like me could get.

I had heard people say that the creature Gollum was far creepier in this movie than he had been in the earlier trilogy. If people are really saying that, I have to agree. Creepy. Downright scary. But the scenes between Gollum and Bilbo may have been my favorite of the whole movie. I don't imagine that Gollum will show up in the next installments. Those of you learned scholars out there who have read the book, please correct me if I'm wrong. Personally, I kind of hope he does show up again, just to give the thing some more screen time. But I guess I don't want that if it messes up the integrity of the source material.

My last thought is kind of spoilery. So beware if you haven't seen it. There's a somewhat climactic battle between Bilbo and the band of dwarves he's traveling with and a small army of orcs. Gandalf manages to get some help from the ginormous eagles that we had seen in the previous trilogy. These ginormous eagles pull the dwarves away from the fight before the orcs can kill their king. They set them all down gently on a mountaintop, then fly away. After some final words to show that the dwarves have finally bonded with Bilbo Baggins, the camera pulls away to reveal their final destination, the Lonely Mountain, far away on the horizon. It's in sight, but still several days' journey on foot. My question is one that was shared by my friend Erynn. Why can't Gandalf just talk the eagles into flying them all the way to the Lonely Mountain? It would seriously cut their travel time in half and they'd never get attacked by orcs. She also brought up the point that one of these eagles could have easily flown the One Ring into Mordor and dropped the thing right into Mt. Doom. So many problems solved.

So, I've put The Hobbit on my reading list. I'll get around to it eventually. It's on there with the Lord of the Rings trilogy too. Until I get that done, I'll keep enjoying the movies. Just keep 'em coming.

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