He said, she said: A fan & non-fan see “The Hobbit” *SPOILERS*

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It was a gloomy rain-soaked December afternoon in CA (Central Alabama), pretty much ideal weather to lose oneself in a film. And so my husband and I donned our green 3D glasses and watched the film I had long been awaiting–and, as it turned out, in HFR.

I know a lot of my fellow bloggers have been weighing in on their thoughts about The Hobbit after viewing it. I haven’t read most of them because I was waiting to see the film for myself.  Not wanting to be a broken record, I decided to do something that’s perhaps a bit different (I still haven’t read all those other reviews): share my viewpoint and my husband’s, the fan versus non-fan, if you will.

First, where each of us is coming from.

Angie’s POV: I first read The Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was 14 and I really loved it.I became immersed in that world.

I remember my sister bought me a LOTR calendar with beautiful artwork for Christmas and I kept it for years.  I didn’t read The Hobbit until I was an adult, although I do remember reading excerpts from it when I was in elementary school, in a storybook from our school library, featuring whimsical illustrations of Bilbo and the dwarves.

So,  I like Tolkien; I am a fan but definitely not an extreme one, just as I am a fan of Star Trek but not a Trekkie. I didn’t see the trilogy in theatres but waited and watched on satellite and I don’t own the DVDs. I’ve never had a desire to dress up as Galadriel or learn to speak Elvish or read LOTR fanfic, not that there’s anything wrong with any of that.  I simply save that level of obsession for Mr. Armitage.

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He said: In terms of sci-fi fantasy, I definitely prefer the science fiction part of it. I’m just not into wizards and Dungeons and Dragons type stuff. Doesn’t really interest me. I’ve never read any of Tolkien’s books, never seen the movies. I can’t say I’ve been particularly looking forward to this movie. But I know you are, so, hey.  Taking one for the team. Because I am that kind of guy.

(Discussion after watching the film)

She said: Thanks for bearing with me. I hope it wasn’t too unpleasant an experience for you. So, let’s get this out of the way– what did you like the least about the film? What scenes would you have changed, maybe deleted?

He said: Well, it was just too long. I think they could have tightened it up a lot. Not necessarily by deleting scenes, but just–shortening them. It’s sort of like, we’ve got all this great CGI and we’ve got this beautiful NZ landscape, let’s keep using it.  And the battle scenes started getting repetitive.

She said: Actually, I agree with you. It could have been tightened up in editing.  And the fighting did get repetitive after a while. Although I did enjoy that gorgeous NZ scenery quite a lot.  And seeing Richard wield a weapon and use it effectively, as opposed to what they did with him in RH, making Guy look a right numpty.

He said: Now they could have left out that whole first dwarf song as far as I’m concerned.

She said: *slightly concerned*  “Blunt the Knifes,” right, notMisty Mountains?”

He said: Yeah, yeah, the one at the table.  The other one was fine. They just dragged out the whole thing with the dwarves at Bilbo’s too long.

(She breathes a sigh of relief. Would have hated to argue Misty Mountains with him. One of HER favorite moments).

She said: You mentioned something back at the theatre about being confused about who was who and what and why . . . so you feel as if your lack of familiarity with the books/movies made it more difficult for you to follow the film?

He said: Yeah, even with that prologue with young Thorin and everything, I still felt a bit lost. I was getting all the trolls and orcs and goblins confused, and didn’t understand their place in Middle-Earth. And that–whatchamacallit with Gandalf and the elves–

She said: The White Council.

He said: Yeah, that. It just didn’t seem to add anything to my understanding of what was going on. It seemed like it was just stuck in there so you could have these characters from the original LOTR films to appease the people who loved them.

She said: What about the technology? The 3D, HFR, the CGI?

He said: Well, the 3D was definitely an improvement over what we saw in Captain America. But there were times when I really didn’t notice it that much one way or the other. The HFR–again, I couldn’t really tell a lot. My eyes were watering a little when the film was over but other than that, I didn’t notice any physical effects from it. The CGI–OK, there may have been too much of it at times, but it was very well done. Weta is really good, in some ways better than ILM (Industrial Light and Magic).

She said: I really liked this 3D much better than in CA. It actually did have a dimensional feeling to it. A few times I felt myself jump a little in my seat. In terms of the HFR–I didn’t seem to notice much blur in the movement in the action scenes. I liked that. I had a bit of a headache but I had one before the movie started, so I am not blaming that on the 3D HFR.  I think the CGI was excellent, too. Having seen the LOTR trilogy, I have to say Gollum is more realistic-looking than ever. Frightening and pitiable and comical all at the same time.

He said: The Riddles scene was good, but it was too long, too.

She said: I thought Martin and Andy gave strong performances there. I have to admit there were a couple of scenes that got me choked up a bit. When Bilbo reappears and Thorin asks why he did come back and Bilbo says it’s because the dwarves don’t have a home and he does. That got to me.

He said: (a tad sheepishly) Yeah, I have to admit what I liked best were those kinds of scenes. When Thorin’s telling Bilbo he’s never been so wrong and then gives him a big hug, that was an “awwwww” moment for me.

She said: Oh, me, too! We got to see Thorin smile and Richard doesn’t play a lot of roles where he smiles, so that was good to see. And Martin’s expression, feeling as if he’d finally been accepted. I loved that.

He said: The thing is–I thought the dwarves were pretty rude the way they invaded Bilbo’s house. I didn’t blame him for being upset. They seemed like jerks. I don’t think I really care whether they achieve their mission or not, to be honest.  I mean, they were just greedy, piling up all that gold. And then the dragon shows up. Sh*t happens. (pauses, smiles slyly) Of course, my favorite thing in the whole movie was the fabulous Richard Armitage . . .

She said: (smirking) OK, I know you’re just saying that to keep me happy. But he was good, you have to admit. I do miss his forehead–the crinkles, the furrows–but it’s amazing how much Richard can express through his eyes alone. You could read a lot about the character through those eyes.

He said: (Nods in agreement)

She said: I do sort of wonder if Sir Peter has a mancrush on Richard. All those close-ups, the noble profile, looking so majestic, so heroic–

He said: But he is the hero! I mean, at least until later in the other films, right?

She said: Yep, and then the gold lust takes over–although he does redeem himself. I did think they ended the film at a good point.

His overall rating for The Hobbit: “Some sort of B. Think it should have stayed two films instead of a trilogy, frankly.”

Her overall rating for The Hobbit: “B+. Strong performances, it’s visually stunning, RA was terrific as I expected–but I feel it was padded, too. Haven’t been won over to the HFR Club yet, either.  Sorry, Sir Peter.”

I do plan to see the movie again in 2D at my friendly hometown theatre on a nicer day weather-wise. I confess I was nervous on our drive to the theatre as I knew Benny was not, indeed, looking forward to the film and was only going to placate me.

I had this horrible fear he might absolutely hate it and I’d feel horrible I’d taken half of his only full day off each week to sit in a theatre and suffer. So things turned out better than I thought they might.  And it turns out we did see eye to eye on several points. I am sure I will have more to say after it marinates a while in my brain– and especially if I do go back on my own and see it in 2D.

 

38 responses »

  1. Interesting to see both points of view. Thank you very much for sharing this. I know it’s difficult for any creative artist to leave things on the cutting room floor, but perhaps more ruthlessness in the editing would have helped. As you know, I’ll be seeing the film tonight. You look great, by the way — very festive.

    • It took me a while to get it written–I actually went back and did some Q&A with Benny to flesh things out before I began writing to make sure I had captured his viewpoint. I condensed things down–unlike Sir Peter LOL It’s not that anything looks bad or IS badly acted in the film, not at all–there’s just too much of it in places. I think they could have kept it as this length IF they had proceeded with just two movies and it would have been fine. Otherwise, I think they could have trimmed a good 20 to 30 minutes (leaving in all the Thorin moments, of course).

      OH, and thank you. It was so warm this afternoon that I almost burned up even in that lightweight red sweater–but I wanted to look seasonal! Poured down rain on us almost the entire way home. So glad Benny was driving. Ever since the car accident in college that left me with Even Worse Knee and the scars on my forehead and eyelids, I really HATE driving in heavy rain. 😦

  2. Angie, I really like your unusual twist on The Hobbit review with three different perspectives: one familiar with Tolkien, one not; male, female and husband and wife. This will be replicated in our household when I take hubby to see the film on Boxing Day, three years to the day of first watching North and South and falling hard for the cReActor! Oh, to meet Thorin at last after the l-o-o-o-ng wait, pant, pant!

    • Thanks, Milly. I just wanted to do something a little different. 😉 I think you’ll be very well pleased with Thorin. He’s regal and complex and smouldering and beautiful, prosthetics and all. Those EYES . . . and I love his flowing locks, too.

  3. I saw the film in regular 3-D and thought it was fine…my brother on the other hand just thought it was being milked since he read The Hobbit in his younger days more than once. He understands that PJ added more material, but I think the novel was still playing in his head. He did say all the performances were fine though. I thought Richard was brilliant in this and I: especially, loved the prologue at the beginning with a bit of his back story. I hope we get even more of Thorin in the next two films because in all honesty I went to see it mostly for him.

    • Yeah, my husband had no complaints about the performances, he just thought the film was overly long, and granted, he hasn’t read the book, he can’t really see how it could be a trilogy. Richard was wonderful. I am hoping for lots of Thorin in the last two films as well. Judging by how much PJ used him here, I suspect we might get a generous dose of him. 😀

  4. Thanks Angie – i have forwarded it to Mr Bolly to have a read. We are slightly different as Mr Bolly was the LOTR fan (not in an obsessional way – i wouldn’t like you to think i am hitched to a man who would wear a Gandalf hat) and i’m only interested because of RA. I’ve been slightly uneasy all along because i didn’t like the film of The Lovely Bones , which was one of my favourite books, so PJ doesn’t have a good track record for me. And as soon as i heard there would be three films i wondered if he was going to fall into the trap of being so important no one dares to edit him, even when they really should.

    But it’s another 9 days until we can see it in Australia (stamps foot) so i guess i should reserve judgement until then.

    • I still find it completely ridiculous you guys can’t see it until Boxing Day–what is that all about??

      I never saw or read The Lovely Bones, but I do remember reading reviews of the film in which some of the critics weren’t happy with his handling of the source material.

      I do plan to see TH again and I wonder what my reaction will be–will it still seem too long to me or will it be less of an issue? Will be interested to hear what you guys think.

      Anyway, I am very glad there is as much RA in it as there is–as I said, I wouldn’t cut his part at ALL. Not that I am prejudiced or anything. 😉

      • I can only conclude that it is something to do with box office takings as Les Miserables also opens on Boxing Day. Because it is summer here, December is very very busy socially so i wonder if traditionally it is hard to get people into the cinema before Boxing Day. But, for RA, i would make the effort.

  5. Hi Angie, I pretty much agree with everything you and your husband think about The Hobbit. My friend and I thought many of the scenes played out too long. The scene with Gollum almost wore us out and the same for the battle scenes. I felt bad for dragging my friend out to see the movie with me because I could tell she was sitting there thinking what the heck. She was very gracious though and kept laughing it off. I really wish that Peter did not stretch this out to three movies. Two movies would have been more than enough. I can just see the other two movies being a compilation of more excessively drawn out scenes.

    The PG-13 rating is understandable. Many people grew up reading Tolkien, but this movie, to me, is not a children’s movie and not what I personally consider family entertainment because of the level of violence and scary looking images of many of the animals and monsters.

    The Hobbit overall is not a bad movie, but to me it does not live up to all the hype that surrounded it for two years. PJ needs to seriously learn the art of editing. I wish that he had kept the magical qualities of the book that appeals so much to children. The movie is much more violent than the book. Ian McKellan did a good job but he looked tired to me in some of the scenes. I loved Martin Freeman and, OF COURSE, Richard Armitage in their roles. Galadriel did not serve any purpose except to just stick her in the movie someplace. I LOVED the ending and it is nice to know that going forward in the next two installments that Thorin and Bilbo will have a great relationship. I LOVED all the close ups of Thorin and I LOVED the Misty Mountain song. I squealed with utter delight when Bilbo opened the door of his Hobbit home and Thorin was standing there in profile. OMG!!! I want a screen shot of that image.

    The Hobbit is going to do very well at the box office because of all the hype that Peter created around it and the success of LOTR. The box office receipts in America is going to push it into record breaking categories. For Richard’s sake and for all those who worked very hard on this movie I am very happy about that..

    • Maybe PJ will get the message and see that abbreviating some of the scenes won’t take away from their impact–might increase it, in fact. I guess we will find out next Christmas. Yeah, I could hear my husband give these little sighs as if to say,”Come on, get on with it!” LOL But he was very good-natured about it overall. Taking one for the team, as I said. 😉 I did love the way older Thorin was introduced–the knock at the door, it opening to see him standing there looking very handsome and regal. And Balin, with his Scottish accent and big white beard was very endearing. He obviously loves Thorin very much and would indeed follow him anywhere.

  6. Loved the way you wrote this — and the measured, balanced way you considered the merits and problems of the film. After seeing the film a second time I have a theory about Freeman vs Armitage. I’m going to see it again in a day or two and will get back to you but I think you’re not far wrong with the whole question of who Jackson ended up “liking” cinematically in this film.

    • Awwww, thanks so much. That’s high praise coming from you, Prof. 😀 I tried not to let my RA mania overrule my logic. I want to see it again to, well, enjoy more of Armitage onscreen, quite frankly, but also to think certain aspects of the film through more. And to compare 2D with 3D HFR. Will look forward to hearing more of your thoughts!

      Richard just looked amazing up there. I could not help thinking back to that third series of RH, with Guy lit so beautifully and lovingly in certain close-ups . . .

  7. Absolutely loved this post Angie! I completely agree with you and Benny. I would have left out 1st song too, thought the battle scenes were repetitive BUT as an avid figure skating fan I found those fantastic pirouets Richard did while holding that big weapon rather impressive! 🙂 Thought the film was too long as well, would have much preferred it if playing time was under 2 hrs. Would’ve left out stone giants altogether! (Where did they come from? What was their purpose? Why did they stop moving all of a sudden?) Balin was a particular favourite for me too. The camera just LOVES Richard, no question about it. The guy has SUCH presence and charisma. Somebody somewhere said that PJ shot Thorin like a god and it’s so very true.

    • Thank you, Judit. I found myself keying in on watching Richard move in those scenes so I wouldn’t miss any of those amazing balletic spins of his (and you know that was him and not a stunt double, too). Shot like a god–yep, pretty close to the mark. 😀 We’ve said he was a detailed character actor inhabiting a Greek god-like leading man’s face and body, right? And as I said over at Frenz’s blog, if I’d had any doubts about RA being a really compelling big-screen presence, I have them no more. You really can’t take your eyes off him and when he speaks—ahhhhhhh.

    • That scene is in the book. In the LoTRs, there is a scene where they see those trolls. To a Hobbit fan, leaving that scene out is a no-no!

        • Judit was referring to stone giants. I was assuming she was talking about the trolls who turned to stone in the sunshine. They also appear in TLOR’s. The hobbits come across them and recognize them from Bilbo’s stories.

          • Sorry Laurie, I’m not a fan of the book, haven’t read it, and I just can’t see what purpose did the stone giants serve in the story&what stopped them from destroying the dwarves?They simply materialized out of nowhere and went away without any plausible explanation. The trolls’ (later turned into stone by Gandalf) sudden appearance was explained at the white meeting (or whatever it’s called) at Rivendell.

            • Okay, Judit, the short answers are (1) the stone giants are part of the mythology on which Tolkien based Middle Earth. They are disagreeable, unpredictable, and break each other into pieces. They are said to be roused by evil or warlike energy, but were in fact one way that early peoples explained geologic phenomena such as rockfalls. In TH, they establish that the dwarfs’ quest is opposed by evil supernatural powers, and the company show themselves to be willing to help each other, even the halfling. (2) The trolls were not actually turned to stone by Gandalf. Trolls can only survive in the dark; they are large and strong but none too bright and they eat just about any form of flesh. They are also roused by evil abroad in the land. What Gandalf did was let in the daylight, which turned the trolls to stone, in accordance with time-honoured tradition. Tolkien uses the trolls to reveal that Bilbo is more clever than even Bilbo himself realizes, and again that the company is willing to lay down arms to protect one of their own, even if they don’t like it. Thorin may know that swords don’t work against trolls (that unlike other supernatural creatures, are not sensitive to iron and silver), so he lays down his sword first.

              • Thanks for the thorough explanation Leigh, much appreciated. 🙂 So you do need to read the books to understand the films after all (at least some parts of them anyway)! 🙂 I understand that it was the sunlight that turned the trolls into stone, but Gandalf did let the sunlight in so he was responsible for the demolition of the trolls indirectly. 🙂

              • It’s either read J.R.R. Tolkien &/or writers working with similar material, or do some comparative mythology research. I’m afraid I’m guilty on both counts. Yes, Gandalf let the daylight in, but Bilbo played for time until sunrise. One traditional way to beat a troll is to engage it in a riddle contest, such that the troll is caught thinking of an answer to the riddle when the sun rises and turns it to stone. The troll’s treasure if any is considered highly perilous. Another way is to use enchanted swords to cleave the troll into manageable pieces, which will still fight back (the writhing guts are said to be the worst), and incinerate each piece thoroughly.

  8. This was a very interesting post to read, Angie. I agree with many of the points you say with your husband. The scene ending with the big hug between Bilbo and Thorin is my absolute favourite.

    I don’t think the movie was too long, though, and neither were the scenes – am I the only one thinking like that? At the beginning, I thought the narration part was a bit too long, that this must be boring to younger viewers. But then I decided to concentrate on how I feel about it myself and it was OK. The fact that the movie was so long gave me time think what it was all about. I had never really understood the greatness of the novel.

    Then something really strange happened: I almost felt a “click” in my head and thought: “Oh, that’s what it’s all about” (not knowing what “it” really was). I believe it was at the moment Bilbo decided not to kill Gollum. From that moment onwards, I was crying for the rest of the movie! There were some pauses, but I constantly had to remove the glasses and wipe my eyes. I saw the movie first on Wednesday and the second time yesterday, both times in HFR, and this crying thing didn’t happen the second time. Thinkng abut it now, the crying must have been a reaction to the long anticipation and the enormous and bursting pride I felt (and feel) for Richard. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined a reaction like that! The movie as a whole was a very emotional experience.

    I didn’t find the movie too long on the second viewing either. Like the first time, I felt so happy for the fact that there will be two more movies and that, for once, things are dealt with more thoroughly. It was so enjoyable to watch longer scenes in contrast to the so common hectic pace with constantly changing short scenes.

    Perhaps I will still see the movies in 2D and / or regular 3D to make comparisions about the technology.

    For the past few days I’ve been thinking that one of the main reasons for three movies instead of two is because PJ was so impressed by Richard’s acting and needed to widen and deepen Thorin’s story.

    Sorry for such a long comment.

    • Thanks, Cristine. Glad you enjoyed. And don’t feel you must apologize for a lengthy comment. Mine get a bit long at times, too. 😀 Having been on Twitter, I can assuredly say you are NOT the only one who thought the length was just fine. And I may revise my opinion somewhat after seeing it again.

      I was impacted by the scene as Bilbo recalls Gandalf’s words about what true courage is: knowing not just when to slay, but when to spare a life. And in that moment when Bilbo sees what a truly pitiable creature Gollum is, he realizes the truth of those words. Very moving.

      And after further pondering, I am beginning to think Richard Armitage may play a very major role in PJ’s decision to make three films. I still have mixed feelings about the three films, but not about his performance as Thorin. He rocks!!

      • This is going to sound cynical, and I don’t mean to be a pain — but plotwise, Gollum has to be alive in the remainder of the movies. This was one of the things that made me dislike the Rivendell scene and then Bilbo’s struggle with killing Gollum — because we know that Gandalf is not unselfinterested, and we know Gollum has to be alive to make the rest of the story work. The connection of that to such a bald, unsophisticated moral point really grated on me.

        • You do have a point there, and to be honest I had forgotten about the fact Gollum did HAVE to live through all this. Mind still clouded with Thorin, I suppose. 😉 Also another reason why I need to see it again. Even knowing the story (unlike Benny) the Rivendell scene just seemed misplaced and somewhat unnecessary. Yep, need to see it again.

          • Just saw TH last night. Yes! Much as I felt the Rivendell scene was less than optimum, it was important to set up Saruman as the potential villain he becomes, imprisoning Gandalf. It also seemed important to the screenplay to set up the Gandalf-Galadriel axis, as if it will be used critically in the two other films.

  9. Hello, Angie! Thanks for sharing this wonderful post! It was really interesting showing these two different points of view. I’m a bit like you, I think. I enjoy Tolkien’s universe myself but I’m not an extreme fan. I’ve seen The Hobbit twice (first in 24 fps 3D, then in 48fps 3D). I would say that I’ve enjoyed it more in 48fps… you can see all the details of the scene. All the inside scenes (Bilbo’s house, caves…) are much better to be seen in 48fps for sure. In general, I loved the movie. Maybe it’s not the perfect one, but it’s really good. RA is amazing on it, right? His eyes say sooo much! When I heard that two films would become three I had my doubts, but I trust in Peter Jackson and his team. I’m going to watch it in 2D this week. Like Cristine wrote above, to make comparisions. Besides, it’s a good excuse to see RA as Thorin again.

    Cheers from Brazil!

    (Sorry for any grammar mistake.)

    • Hello, Thais, and welcome! Richard is indeed amazing. What he can say with his eyes alone . . . as I said at Twitter, Gandalf and Radagast aren’t the only good wizards, Richard is one, too. He works some serious magic onscreen! I hope to watch it in 2D later this week myself both to make comparisons and simply to see Richard’s awesome performance again.
      Thanks for commenting and your grammar is fine. 😀

  10. Very interesting discussion! I really enjoyed the film. I went with two of my friends. The one who knew nothing about Middle Earth, didn’t “get” it. She didn’t like the violence either. My other friend, who read the book as a child but didn’t see the LOTR’s, looked at me when it was over and said, “I don’t want it to end! When’s the next part coming out.” After I told her a year, she asked to borrow my LOTR’s dvds.
    Being a fan of Middle Earth for 36 years now, I have to say that I agree with my friend. I was ready for more! I didn’t think it was too long. I usually look at my watch during movies. I began to look 2 times but never really looked because the action sucked me back. The only parts that I could see editing out, were some of Radagast’s scenes and the White Council at Rivendall. (And maybe a few seconds of the overhead panoramic scenes.)
    I was also impressed by Richard’s performance. I couldn’t “see” him at all…it was all Thorin! He totally transformed into Thorin. I didn’t see any familiar quirks of RA peeking through.
    I’m not really thrilled with my writing here. I guess I’m too pooped to write coherently, but I had to add my voice to the discussion. I hope it makes sense! I’ve been having a tough time sleeping because of the horrible tragedy in Conn. Being a Kdg. teacher, I just see my kids on the floor of my classroom. Please keep those folks in your prayers!

    • Laurie, I know the Conn. shootings had to be especially painful for you. (((hugs))) Don’t worry about coherency. Some nights when I post late I am not altogether sure about what I write, either. I hope your sleep improves soon, hon.

      I do think I saw little glimmers of Guy at times, which might have been wishful thinking, but others at Twitter has said the same. Certain looks and the way he would hold his head at times. Of course, I totally LOVED that. 😉 But he is amazing at Thorin and threatening to steal the movie away from Martin. He is definitely a man with screen presence.

      Oh, y’all, Todd Garner tweeted yesterday and said he’d seen the rough cut of Black Skies and “Richard Armitage is fantastic.” Did we expect anything less??

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