The Desolation of Tolkien’s Universe

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Genre – Fantasy 
Director – Peter Jackson
Cast – Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly
Alluring element – Based off J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novel The Hobbit
Check it out if you liked – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Plot – 6
Acting – 8
Representation of Genre – 8  
Cinematography – 9
Effects/Environment – 9
Captivity – 8
Logical consistency – 8
Originality/Creativity –  8
Soundtrack/Music – 8
Overall awesomeness – 8

hush_rating_80

Let me preface by stating that I am not the biggest Tolkien nerd ever. I do, however, enjoy his work immensely. The first book my mother and I read together was The Hobbit. I can remember being terrified for Bilbo while he was caught in the giant spider’s web. I have read it a dozen times since, most recently last year with my son. I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy in middle-school and thoroughly enjoyed all three films. On a scale of LOTR nerdiness, on a scale of Bilbo to Aragorn, I put myself at a Gimli. I am no where as nerdy as my poet buddy, Ken Arkind, who went to visit the actual Shire in New Zealand last year. I was thrilled when MGM announced a Hobbit film, but was deflated when I found out that it would be a three-part franchise. The LOTR books average 400 pages apiece. My son’s leather- bound copy of The Hobbit is exactly 276 pages long. It’s mathematically impossible to make a trilogy of three hour films from so few pages, unless you have filler – and filler, there is.

This is not to say that I completely disliked the film. Its run time of 161 minutes is entirely too long, but there are some gems that allow us to enjoy the wonderment of Middle-earth. Not to mention that it earned $73.6 million in its opening, although this is a drop from the first hobbit movie.

We are almost immediately whisked into the story where we left off in An Unexpected Journey. Our dwarves are still accompanied by a wizard, who looks remarkably like Magneto, and an unlikely burglar, Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo is played by the always entertaining Martin Freeman. The dwarves draw closer to Erebor, the lost dwarf mountain. The treasure of their conquered home is guarded by Smaug, the fire-breathing dragon. Benedict Cumberbatch (Khan!!!) pulled double duty, voicing the Godzilla-like flying lizard and the Necromancer.  The real jewel of the dwarf vault is a most priced possession, the Arkenstone. Our dwarf leader, Thorin Oakenshield, plans to reclaim his bling and slay the dragon.

Our protagonists are still being hunted by Orcs. These grotesque brutes are merciless in their hunt for dwarf blood, but they are overplayed, and if you are like me you look forward to their appearance only to see how creative our heroes can be when they kill them. Since they pose no real threat, it’s hard to feel anxiety during battle sequences. There is one exception, the river-barrel ride from Mirkwood. Our short-of-stature heroes escape elven captivity and take a Universal Studios-like roller coaster ride downstream while being pursued by Orcs. They kill the Goblins effortlessly and almost to a rhythm.  At times it feels more like a video-game than movie, but the sequence is whimsical and fun. I literally laughed a few times at its outrageousness. It had the same feel of the dinner party clean-up scene at Biblo’s from the first film. The dwarves are the stars of this film and deservedly so.

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“How does my hair look?”

Speaking of elves, Tauriel (Elf for eye-candy), played by fanboy favorite Evangeline Lilly is the best and worst thing about the film. First of all, she is a certified dime-piece. When she first appeared, I almost forgot what movie I was watching. The character was created to add a love interest to our metro-sexual elven archer Legolas. And we need this to our classic tale because, “Who wants to watch a movie about a bunch of dudes lost in the woods?” But there’s a twist – Tauriel seems to have a Keebler-sized crush on the dwarf warrior Kili. This pisses Legolas off…a lot. This subplot is lost on me. Does a big budget film have to build an emotional investment in it’s audience? Yes. But does it have to lose integrity by adding meaningless romance arcs? No.

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“C’mon, you realize he is like 4ft tall right?”

Any guesses as to what Gandalf is doing? If you said, wandering off on his own and getting captured you get a gold star. This angle is boring and unnecessary. He gets locked up every movie. Clearly he needs a Get-Out-Of-Mordor free card. The Necromancer theme is also overplayed and dull. We are all well aware that the middle movie in a trilogy is doomed from the start, but simplifying this film may have actually made it more enjoyable to the average movie-goer.

Where is my Hobbit?! You know, the cheeky little fellow with a big heart and hairy feet? The obsessive compulsive kleptomaniac with the ring of power? There and Back Again? It seems like our true hero was forgotten about, lost in a script filled with bully Orcs and pretentious elves. A huge draw to The Hobbit as a book is the idea of a small person making a big difference. Bilbo inspires us and we need him to save the day.

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There he is, in the best scene in the film, deep within Erebor face to snout with a dragon. Let me add that Martin Freeman adds credibility to this film with pure skill. He is as much Bilbo Baggins as we could hope for. The introduction of Smaug is amazing. He lays in dwarf gold like a crocodile in still water. He emerges in fantastic fashion. He is death on wings. Four stories tall with skin like metal. Peter Jackson sure does know how to do monsters well. As Bilbo has an epic showdown with the beast we are fearful for the Lake town of Dale, a human fishing port. Smaug had once burned this tiny village, and if his wrath is unleashed again there is no telling what is possible.

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“Where is Khaleesi when you need her?”

The film is entertaining, but about 45 minutes too long. Your little hobbits may not make it all the way through without a potty break, but it’s a great holiday movie for the family. Tolkien purists will hate it. There is too much emphasis on the city of Dale, too little emphasis on our hobbit, and a lot of “meh” time. The casual nerd will debate with their friends about the height of a hobbit and the color of Orlando Bloom’s hair. Overall you will enjoy the adventure and hopefully pick up the book again, just as I did, and read these most important words, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

Written by John Soweto

Published by

John Soweto

When people ask, "So what about you?" I reply, "Well, if Childish Gambino had a cool uncle...I would definitely hang out with that guy." Hi, I'm John. I wear many hats. I'm the artist behind the Hush Icon, touring performance writer, published author, poetry slam champion, actor, husband, community activist and amateur moonshiner. I remember buying my first comic in New York in 1984. It was Secret Wars #11. I still have it board and bagged. Over the years my love of comics has immatured. I used to be a one title guy, now I whore myself out to pretty cover art and a guest writer. I have Scott Summers tattooed on my arm, ( this may still prove to be a good decision, fingers crossed for Brian Bendis' Uncanny X-Men series) and a boyish crush on anything Natalie Portman. I love Greek yogurt and I'm seriously considering becoming a Civil War buff. I am the grandson of a Tuskegee Airman and couldn't see the point to life without YouTube. I think Yoda was the Bobby Fischer of the galaxy and fresh strawberries are priced too high per the cost of shipping and stocking. I fell in love with Spider-Man when I was nine. It made perfect sense. Nerdy kid from New York, lost his parents, lived with extended family, ( my dad left and my mom worked a demanding job) and eventually developed super-human strength and incredible abilities. Yeah, that was my dream. As far as I'm concerned, Bill Murray is a national treasure and nothing is better than cold macaroni and cheese! John Soweto. Husband, writer, lifelong nerd.

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