“It is the everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.”
I’ve been trying and failing for a really long time now to come up with something coherent to say about this movie. I’ve been looking forward to it for a very long time, and with my high expectations in mind, it was almost certain to disappoint them. And in some ways it did- I adore this book, and was definitely disappointed by some of the changes that were made. But on the other hand, there was a lot- a whole lot- that completely exceeded my expectations and was honestly delightful. I’m muddled because though I do have criticisms, I also took a lot of joy in watching this movie, and was so happy with so much of it that it’s hard to balance the two conflicting feelings out; I feel like a robot trying to process two completely contradictory commands. Or a someone trying to force the same poles of two magnets together. Or something like that.
I think overall the biggest thing to keep in mind was aptly described by Cleolinda Jones over at her LiveJournal:
“Peter Jackson no longer has a working relationship with subtlety”
Once I, as an LOTR purist, had accepted that, I could enjoy what The Hobbit got right and accept what was wrong.
What’s right, first and foremost, is the cast. Everyone is perfect. Martin Freeman is Bilbo Baggins, Richard Armitage was stunning as Thorin (my favorite character, always has been) and Sir Ian McKellen, was as awesome as ever in his playing of Gandalf. Cate Blanchett is in this as Galadriel, and I will be forever bewildered that they managed to capture her personality more accurately in this movie, since she doesn’t even technically appear in the storyline of the original, than in the film in which Galadriel was actually a major character. But regardless, her presence was actually quite nice and I liked seeing her there in her capacity as White Council Moderator.
Plot and pacing have some issues, and this is due at least in part to the fact that the tone in which Tolkien wrote The Hobbit is vastly different from the tone in which he refers to these same events in the Appendices of LOTR and other writings. So I actually have somewhat less impatience with changes and additions here, since there was already a bit of dissonance in the original source material. I do think that the story could have been much smoother, and there was a really unnecessary subplot in relation to Thorin’s history with the orcs, but since it got us all more of Richard Armitage being heroic, unbelievably attractive, and smoldering, I won’t complain too vocally.
I think the biggest problem that I had with the movie was that it seemed afraid to allow Bilbo to be as clueless and helpless as he is in the beginning of the story. Which was a huge cause of my dissonant reactions. Bilbo’s total confusion and bewilderment is a major part of the books because it highlights just how unlike any other hero he is, and cutting that aspect of him will come back to haunt his later character development if the other two films aren’t careful. And since I even have to use the words ‘other two films’ in relation to a book that isn’t even as long as The Fellowship of the Ring, I don’t have very high hopes for how well that will go
But on the other hand, seeing Bilbo come into his own, albeit far too early and capably, was so glorious that I couldn’t hate it. Even though the purist side of me wanted to be all sour about the rushing through his development, I was smiling so much that I didn’t care. Even that ending- much as I wanted to roll my eyes at it- I couldn’t because I was grinning too much. I was fully aware of the shameless manipulation, and yet couldn’t do anything about it because, damn it- it worked.
So overall I would say that this movie is definitely worth seeing. And if you adore each and every aspect of the book- there are multiple exact quotes and the setting is lovely as always. The actors are spectacular. The music is beautiful. Overall, there is a lot to like in this movie- I think more than there is to dislike. Just remember: Peter Jackson no longer has a working relationship with subtlety.
To quote someone else who had extreme dissonance between subtlety and over-the-top antics: “Once you accept that in your heart- you will know peace” and be able to enjoy the movie.