Post No Bilbo


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.
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6 Responses to Post No Bilbo

  1. Phillippa Boyens said in an interview that they brought Azog back to life because they felt this stage of the journey didn’t have a real overarching onscreen villain and therefore needed one for structure. That’s the whole reason why. (Also apparently because she just likes SAYING “Azog.” This is true. I wish I remembered where I read this so I could link for verification). I disagree. It’s not like there’s not enough going on to keep people’s attention, and what’s wrong with the basic distrust between Thorin and Bilbo if you really need One Overarching Conflict for this film? Plus, that would have cut down on people COMPLAINING about the movie, which means people would have paid more attention to HOW AWESOME MARTIN FREEMAN IS WILL YOU PLEASE CUT THE MAN A BREAK WORLD AND STOP IGNORING HIS AWESOMENESS BECAUSE YOU FIND FAULT IN HIS MOVIES. Uh, or something. I guess this is a sort of carry-over thing from how they spent a distressingly-serious long time thinking they needed to have Sauron come out in person at the end of Return of the King, because otherwise he was a villain you never actually saw and what kind of threat is that, and I am SO, SO, SO glad they abandoned that, and if they’re going to pull that kind of thinking out again at least it’s on a MINOR bad guy and not THE Big Bad.

    Yeah, I get what you mean about the trolls scene being a little over-strung-out, but I didn’t mind that one running long. I’d been looking forward to that scene from the very beginning. I could do with less battle scenes, but then, I always tune those out, so they didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the rest of the movie.

    Also, this post needs more Bilbo pictures. Also, the movie could have used more Bilbo, too. But there’s never enough.

    • Nathan says:

      I agree that there was already enough conflict. Besides, everyone seeing it is presumably aware that it’s the first of three, so it doesn’t necessarily need to resolve any conflicts. It’s not like there isn’t enough emphasis on Smaug and the Necromancer as future threats to come.

      I guess this is a sort of carry-over thing from how they spent a distressingly-serious long time thinking they needed to have Sauron come out in person at the end of Return of the King, because otherwise he was a villain you never actually saw and what kind of threat is that

      A much scarier threat, I’d say.

  2. Bryan Babel says:

    I agree. I think it would have been just as well if they had Bolg son of Azog if they needed an avenging Orc arch; he was still alive and indeed turns up at the Battle of Five Armies in the book. However, they apparently have other plans for Bolg: on his action figure he is described as ‘the keeper of the dungeons of Dol Guldor.”

  3. “If Bilbo is supposedly writing this down for Frodo to read, why would he need to explain a hobbit hole?”
    Sentimentality.

  4. Pingback: Smaug Gets in Your Eyes | VoVatia

  5. Pingback: Food and Cheer Over Hoarded Gold | VoVatia

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