(Ye have been warned)
Okay, so I’ve been sitting on this one for a bit. I went to see The Hobbit on the opening day. I meant to wait until my birthday to see it, but I just couldn’t wait that long.
First, let’s talk about the previews. I guess 2013 will be the Year of the Apocalypse Film. There were no fewer than three different post-apocalyptic movie previews, including one that looked like a grown-up version of the Power Rangers. (Is there such a thing as a grown-up version of the Power Rangers? *eye roll* Whatever.) There was a preview for Jack and the Beanstalk, which looks awesome. But the cherry on the sundae was the last preview for Star Trek: Into Darkness. OMG. I still don’t know what the movie is about. Going to go see it anyway, because it’s Star Trek and Benedict Cumberbatch misbehaving, and my fangirl card will be confiscated if I don’t.
So, The Hobbit. I’ve only read the first half of the book, which is exactly where the movie left off. Yay me. For anyone concerned about the book-to-movie adaptation accuracy, don’t be. It was a pretty literal (if fleshed out) adaptation in many ways, including the songs they sing. The LotR movies didn’t have singing, except in the extended versions, but The Hobbit includes the songs “What Annoys Bilbo Baggins” (and was brilliantly, hilariously done) as well as the more somber song about the loss of Eredor to the dragon.
Martin Freeman is, in a word, adorable as a hobbit. There’s quite a bit of John Watson in Bilbo, which is probably why when I read the book I totally imagined Freeman as Bilbo Baggins before I knew he’d been cast. The mannerisms, facial expressions, and generally confused Everyman attitude were all spot on. This is very much a classic hero’s tale, a la Joseph Campbell. Richard Armitage, of BBC Robin Hood fame, was also fantastically cast as Thorin Oakenshield. He has the brooding thing down, especially with those gorgeous blue eyes of his. The assortment of Dwarves are a rowdy, funny bunch, which keeps the movie from getting too serious. And they even have their version of Merry and Pippin: the two cute young Dwarves (I know, it seems like an oxymoron, but those two and Thorin are very nice to look at).
We never really see the dragon. Just bits and pieces, and then the face at the end of the movie. He was napping under a pile of his ill-begotten gold. All I could think was “Hell, yeah! I’d sleep under all that gold, too.” (If real life were a fantasy novel, I’d be a ferocious dragon, complete with a mountain cave and a penchant for eating annoyances, such as knights in shining armor and whiny princesses.) Also, we never really see the Necromancer, but they do talk about him. Basically, the dragon gets maybe a minute or two of screen time, and the Necromancer gets a whole 30 seconds. The Wolvogs, however, are where most of the creature CGI budget went; whoever created them must really love them, because they’re around quite often.
Jackson seems to be fleshing out parts that the book skips over. We meet Radagast the Brown, the crazy wizard who keeps an eye on the Green Forest (later, Mirkwood). I agree with Saruman. The dude has eaten far too many mushrooms out there in the woods. And he has a sled pulled by a bunch of rabbits. But we get more backstory on him and see what his role in the adventure is more than we do in the book, which just mentions him in passing. Also, we get to see what happens to the Dwarves when they are separated from Bilbo–and we get to see the scene where Gandalf meets with Elrond, Galadriel, and Saruman. (While Saruman is yelling at him, Gandalf and Galadriel are having this little telepathic exchange wherein she realizes he’s only hanging around to distract them so the Dwarves can rabbit out of Rivendell under the noses of the Elves. This, inexplicably, amuses her.)
Gollum, of course, is in the movie. The strange three-way conversation between Bilbo and the two sides of Gollum is hilarious, as is the game of riddles they play. (Once, the evil Gollum gives Bilbo a riddle and after a moment, the nice Gollum lights up and says: “Oooh, I knows it! I knows it!” to which evil Gollum snaps “Shut up.”)
The one thing I wasn’t thrilled about was the way it was shot. I’m glad I saw it in 2D, because if I had seen it in 3D, even my stomach of iron would have been queasy. Even as a 2D feature, it was like being on a three-hour long roller coaster. The swooping of the cameras to follow the wildly exaggerated action scenes, the chase scenes, the rescue by the Wind Lords, as well as the frequent panning of setting (they really wanted to create and show everything they could from Middle Earth) were dizzying. Don’t get me wrong; the shots are beautiful. The CG is beautiful. New Zealand is gorgeous. But if you’re prone to any kind of motion sickness, see it first in regular 2D. It’s no fun if you pay through the nose to see the movie and end up missing the good parts because you’re puking in your popcorn bucket. What a waste of popcorn. Not to mention all the sympathetic retching from surrounding movie-goers. (And if you’re on a date, throwing up on your date’s shoes just isn’t sexy.)
Anywhoo, The Hobbit was awesome. And since I’m a nutter who stays until all the credits are done, I can say that no, there are no extra scenes at the very end. Sad, I know.