Here’s more or less how my plans to see The Hobbit began.
Roommate: “Want to go to the midnight premiere of The Hobbit?”
Me: Sigh “I suppose. The Lord of the Rings movies are always kind of exhausting for me with all the battles and the orcs. I’ll probably be sleeping with my light on.”
Roommate: “I don’t think there are orcs in The Hobbit.”
Me: “Really? Awesome. I should probably read it before the premiere.”
And I did.
I WAS PROMISED NO ORCS!! By my LOTR superfan roommate and by the man Tolkien himself!
I think I can move on from that now. Emotionally, anyway. But I’m going to keep talking about it.
I read the book less than a month before the movie … I remember it being a lot cuter. However, the darker changes help it fit in well with the rest of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Originally The Hobbit wasn’t meant to be a prequel to the trilogy. It was a stand-alone novel. The film felt much more like a prequel to The Lord of the Rings than an adaptation of The Hobbit. Frodo even makes a cameo as a young boy. When the story opens, Bilbo is preparing to disappear at the party as he does at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. This was an addition from the book that I thought worked very nicely in connecting those stories and framing the current one.
Strangely, the parts that were true to the book were exactly like the book: the dwarves invading Bilbo’s home, his reluctance to answer the call the adventure, and then his subsequent running from his house with such enthusiasm that he forgets his handkerchiefs. It was downright inspiring. Oh, and the trolls, the goblins, eagles, and Gollum are all straight from the book exactly as I and the rest of the world pictured them.
Although I almost threw up just looking at the Gorkil the Goblin King. Sooo, well done with that. And Gollum is surprisingly hilarious. The dwarves looked just how I imagined they would – except for Thorin. I almost laughed a few times at how dramatically he was filmed; he doesn’t look like a dwarf. He looks like a human – a very manly, warrior human who seems to constantly have flames and destruction going on behind him – who is just a little taller than the other dwarves. Enjoy, the array of images.
To me, a sign of a good adaptation is when messages and themes from the original work come through in new, interesting, and/or deeper ways. This is why I’m not as picky about the details in an adaptation. At one point Bilbo feels shamed into leaving the group because Thorin is being a meaniehead and tells Bilbo he doesn’t belong with them. When one of the dwarves tries to stop Bilbo from leaving, Bilbo argues that he doesn’t belong with them; he belongs in his hobbit hole, not with rootless dwarves who belong nowhere. This pains the dwarf trying to stop him. Later, Bilbo returns and explains that he’s staying because he wants to help them reclaim their home so that they will have somewhere to belong. I liked that this theme was brought out because in the book it seemed that Bilbo’s only motivation in going on the adventure was to…go on an adventure. And survive. This gave a higher meaning to his striving with them for so long and through so much.
As I said, and I say every time, I’m not usually one to nitpick over how every detail compares to the book. But half of this movie was unrecognizable from the book. This is not to say that it is a bad movie. On the contrary, it’s pretty fantastic, funny, inspiring, exciting, adventurous, and all the things a Lord of the Rings movie should be. But, frankly, it doesn’t replace the cartoon version of The Hobbit. Especially since it’s going to be broken into three movies – despite the fact that it is the shortest book in the series. To wrap up, it is a great movie, but if someone ever wants to just sit down and watch The Hobbit, this isn’t going to enable that. If I want to watch The Hobbit after reading it, I’m probably going to watch the cartoon. Peter Jackson created an awesome movie, but that was only half of the job. Someone could still come along and create a single faithful, all-inclusive film version of The Hobbit; which goes to show, that in this respect, the filmmakers lost sight of what this is all for.