A quick report for those interested. Our youngest really, really wanted to see The Hobbit, so we went last night on the spur on the moment when I went online and found, a little to my surprise, that tickets were still available for the mid-evening showing at the theatre nearest us. I am not a fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (the movies, not the book, let me stress), as well done as it in many ways was, because in so many places it’s so clearly the product of a shallow and very modern understanding — too Hollywood, to put it another way.
But the new Hobbit . . . I really liked. As did my two youngest. The trick was in going to see it as a movie and not as a movie of the book, and therefore being able to enjoy the parts of the book the director used (the riddle games were particularly well done, for example).
But my first reaction to the movie as we talked about it walking home was that though the script added a great deal to the book, like a particularly malevolent Orc named Azog (taken from one of the appendices to the Lord of the Rings, if I remember right), the movie stayed closer to the spirit and feel of the book than had the Lord of the Rings movies. Azog intensified the adventure but didn’t change it. Maybe that’s because it’s an adventure story and therefore an easier story to stay close to than the more subtle Lord of the Rings.
Though some things I thought a little off, like Gandalf not being quite as distant and dignified as he should have been, and his “small things” speech (invented by the scriptwriters) being less thoughtful and subtle than it would have been, the movie didn’t seem to me to have any major or substantial missteps. It was an acceptable treatment of The Hobbit. In any case, we all enjoyed it a great deal, on the terms I already mentioned.
The one major criticism I’d make is that, like so many movies of this sort—I’m not sure what you’d call the wide genre, maybe “teen action movies”—the action could get oppressive. The dwarves’ escape from the goblins was too long and tediously bang/pow/slash/crash/boom. It went on at least twice if not three times too long, to the point my mind wandered and I began wondering about things like “How would a Orc fortress in the mountains find food for all these orcs?”, and the director should not give peoples’ minds a chance to wander like that. But that, alas, is part of what Peter Jackson does and maybe what the target audience wants.
But, as I say, we enjoyed it a great deal.