My thoughts on The Hobbit

Since a few folks wanted to know what I thought about The Hobbit, I thought I’d take a blog post and do exactly that.

Oh yeah: Spoiler alert.

First, the good things.

I really liked almost all of the casting choices.  Martin Freeman makes a very good Bilbo, and Richard Armitage makes for an excellent Thorin Oakenshield.  I really look forward to seeing how he plays Thorin in the next two films.

New Zealand once again makes for a sumptuous Middle Earth.  Thanks again for making me want to visit and see these places.

Gandalf got a little preachy in Rivendell, but he turned out to have a really great line about the power of little ordinary acts of goodness versus looking for the rare hero.  Which turned out to be serendipitously comforting after the Connecticut shooting earlier in the day.

The rescue at the end of the film–mostly.  More on that later.

The soundtrack is very good, and I really like Neill Finn’s “Song of the Lonely Mountain.”  I think I like how they took the Dwarves’ version of the song and made it the foundation for all the new musical themes…and, of course, the old theme of the Ring and a few others that snuck in, mostly around Hobbiton and Rivendell.

One highlight were the two awesome flashback scenes to the arrival of Smaug and the destruction of the town of Dale, and the giant battle between the Dwarves and the Orcs where Thror is killed and Thorin earns the title of Oakenshield.  Very cool.  Was not expecting either of them.  Will look forward to seeing if the epilogue shows the restoration of Erebor is comparable to its splendor before Smaug took it.

The not so good things:

The very first overall impression that I got was that The Hobbit did not translate especially well to the style of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.  The Hobbit is a children’s book; so when it was adapted for the same style as LOTR, something got lost.  The more fanciful and fantastical elements simply seem contrived in Jackson’s retelling, though not completely–but just enough to really be noticed.  I will see if this is the case if (when) I see it again.

The “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” rule ought to have applied.  There was no reason for Elrond to be running around killing orcs (even if he was wearing some seriously cool armor).  It’s not like he actually needed to work that hard at it, considering he had a whole river at his command for the defense of Rivendell.

I was perplexed by the portrayal of Radagast the Brown.  For Pete’s sake, he’s a wizard, not Radagast the Crazy Cat Lady.  The notable trail of bird crap down the side of his face really didn’t endear him to much of anyone, either.  It was nice of them to write him in, but it was totally unnecessary.  Perhaps this was more a bone thrown to the LOTR fans who didn’t get Radagast in that trilogy.  Heck, by the time they get to the third movie they might throw Bombadil in (don’t quote me on that, heaven knows LOTR fans are excitable enough as it is over canonicity, remember the balrog wing controversy?  We don’t want that again).

The wargs.  The book just said ‘wolves.’  What’s wrong with plain old wolves?

(Edit:  The book did say wargs.  My bad!  Thank you Brandon and Fio!)

The Great Goblin was…uh…a little more sarcastic than I recall in the book.  Which made for a funny scene, but was…odd.

Azog.  He died in that great big battle depicted when Thorin got his name Oakenshield.  Why not leave him dead?  Why not just introduce Bolg since he was the one who was alive then?

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