The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Unexpected? We’ve seen expecting this for years! Anyway, I finally saw this movie last night, and I thought it was really good overall. It looked excellent and pulled me into its world, which for me is often the most important factor of all. The scenery was impressive and the monsters appropriately scary and disgusting, perhaps too much so in that latter respect. We didn’t need to see the trolls blowing their noses and scratching their butts to get across that they were gross, but that’s a minor gripe, and it mostly worked pretty well.
The troll scene was, however, one of the bits that I think was drawn out too long. Wasn’t it enough for the trolls to argue until they turned to stone without adding in extra stuff? Oh, well. I know they decided to split the story into three movies in order to generate more gold for Smaug’s hoard, but are they all going to be this long? That’s not to say all of the additions were bad. I enjoyed seeing Radagast, although I could have done without the guano in his beard.
That rabbit-drawn chariot he had was cool. I wonder if we’ll get to see the blue wizards in later movies, since they made a point of having Gandalf mention them in this one. I wondered how they’d handle Saruman, since everyone knows he’s going to turn bad in the future, and it looks like they basically just made him arrogant and wrong about everything.
One change I didn’t understand was making Azog still alive.
I’m hardly as well-versed in Middle-Earth continuity as some, but I really thought he was dead. So I looked it up, and sure enough, he was killed by Dain son of Nain not long after killing Thror and fighting Thorin. I know movies sometimes change details like this, but it’s not like it improved the story in any way. Nor did adding in another orc attack before the party reached Rivendell; I think the filmmakers just decided, “Hey, audiences love battles, so let’s throw in another one!” I did think having Bilbo separated from the dwarves in the Misty Mountains before the Great Goblin showed up was a good idea, since he doesn’t really do anything in the goblin scene, and it let them cut between the goblins and the riddle contest with Gollum. I quite liked the part with Gollum, by the way. The book really doesn’t give any impression as to how it should have been staged, so I give props to Peter Jackson and the rest for keeping it visually interesting.
A few other observations I made throughout the film include:
- If Bilbo is supposedly writing this down for Frodo to read, why would he need to explain a hobbit hole?
- So the Shire has plumbing? I’m not sure whether or not that was something Tolkien ever specified.
- Croquet is apparently also known in Middle-Earth, and I remember the croquet/crochet exchange between Bilbo and one of the dwarves (I forget which one) as being a particularly funny bit.
- Not so funny were the constant fat jokes with Bombur. Yes, the book did point out a few times that he was fat, but did he really need to be eating a pile of food in practically every scene he was in?
- I’ve seen it suggested that the appearance of the Great Goblin, particularly in terms of that huge fold of skin under his chin, was at least partially based on the Rankin-Bass animated version of this story.
Their Great Goblin wore more clothes, though. If I’d wanted to see that much orc-boob, I would have gone to a different kind of theater.
- The Ring just fell on Bilbo’s finger? What are the odds of that happening? I don’t see why he wouldn’t have just tried it on; it’s not like he has any idea it’s dangerous at this point.
- I’m not sure what to think of the eagles. They were pretty impressive, but maybe a little too computer-generated-looking for my taste. I don’t know.