2012 New Line Cinema. Directed by Peter Jackson. Running time:169 minutes. PG13. Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage
Mathew: This is a difficult film to review.
Helm: I know.
Mathew: I mean, The Hobbit has been so integral to the fabric of my youth and to the formation of my personality that it is difficult to separate how I feel about the film from all the weight of expectation and anticipation...
Helm: Take your time, Valhalladrim. Let it out.
Mathew: I just... I mean... Where do I even start?
Helm: Start at the beginning, Mathew.
Mathew: So... Obviously, Peter Jackson hasn't remained faithful to the book. I mean, I kind of enjoyed the movie, but... but... he changed things! I mean, right from the opening of the film, stuff is way different. You've got Frodo there, there's the whole thing with Thror being greedy... Then, there's the introduction of the pale Orc, Azog... Radgast the Brown has a role... the events with the trolls are different... the finding of Sting... And also, he added new lyrics to some of the dwarf songs...
Helm: And how did this make you feel?
Mathew: I... I... I'm devastated. I mean, I enjoyed The Hobbit movie on an emotional level, I guess, and I get that Peter was working hard to turn a single book into three movies, and I get that he was trying to tie the whole thing together with the Lord of the Rings trilogy... I get all of that... but The Hobbit is sacred. You can't just mess with it to make it fit the LOTR movies better. So, there's a certain amount of outrage... a feeling of betrayal. I guess... I don't know... I'm devastated.
Helm: There there. Of course you are, you stupid thimblewit.
Helm: You are an idiot. You are devastated by the fact that Peter Jackson played with the story in order to better mesh it with his Lord of the Rings films? Devastated because the original text should remain sacred?!
Helm: Do you know that your precious J.R.R. Tolkien himself changed the story twice after its publication to make it better mesh with the Lord of the Rings Books?
Mathew: What? No!
Helm: He did. In the first edition, which I read in the beginning of October of 1937, Gollum bets Bilbo the Ring as the prize in their riddle competition. And when he loses, he simply gives it to the hobbit and the two part ways amicably.
Mathew: No! He wouldn't! It's the One Ring! The Ring of Power!
Helm: Not when Tolkien first wrote The Hobbit it was not. It was just a simple magic ring. It was only after he had conceived of the Lord of the Rings that he adjusted both the power of the ring and the personality of Gollum.
Mathew: OH MY GOD! Stop it!
Helm: And in that same first edition, Tolkien says that the Elves were also called... Gnomes.
Helm: Yes. You see, Mathew, Tolkien understood something that you apparently do not. The Hobbit is a STORY. He made it up. It is not real. Consequently, alterations to it are not a sin.
Helm: The Hobbit, as delightful as it is, is just a book, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is just a movie.
Mathew: You shut your mouth!
Helm: Alas, you weak-minded nitwit, 'tis only too true. You go ahead and weep whilst I review this film for our audience.
Dear readers, I did, for the most part, enjoy this first installment of The Hobbit. Verily, there were some places that did drag, particularly during the sequence when Bilbo first meets the dwarves and everyone sits around talking and singing. There were some changes to the story that I found surprising and even one I thought was uncalled for. But, for the most part, the film moved along nimbly for such a behemoth and the bulk of the changes seemed in character with the kind of changes Tolkien himself made to The Hobbit when connecting it to the Lord of the Rings or were drawn directly from expanded material he himself wrote.
Despite Mathew's protests to the contrary, he seemed quite captivated and caught up in the film while he watched. There was, indeed, a whole half hour in which I thought he might tear the arm off of that harlot he is so smitten with as he clasped her so tightly in terror. It's not a film for everyone. It is about ridiculous dwarves and hobbits and goblins and dragons. But if you like that sort of thing, it is quite enjoyable. And so, given that Mathew is incapacitated, I hereby review this film for the both of us and I give it
Four Flaming Swords!!
Helm: Please keep in mind that if you do not like fantasy epics, you should probably avoid this film. Further, there are some slight tonal problems that arise from the attempt to transform a children's fairy tale into a darker work of adult fantasy. Also, do not imbibe over much of the soda during the previews. Mathew nearly burst his bladder and wet his seat.