An Unexpected Something

The Padawan and I have been reading The Hobbit together in anticipation of the movie’s release. Is there anything better than curling up on the couch under a blanket and sharing a delicious adventure with someone you love? I think not. We went last night to see the movie.

It was the Padawan’s first Opening Weekend, and we were both so excited! We’ve been looking forward to it for months. MONTHS! I’m a cheapskate by nature, but for this event I loosened the purse strings and bought the popcorn and the candy. And let the kid stay up hours past his bedtime. We were so ready to love this movie!

And we didn’t.

Howard Shore worked his magic with the score. Themes, both new and familiar, were exquisite. In this movie, we are treated to Shore’s interpretations of the songs that were so integral to Tolkien’s work. The soundtrack is a must-have. The deluxe edition, if you please.

The cinematography was simply gorgeous. Some shots were even more dramatic and lovely than the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The acting was stellar, the cast spot-on.

But without the story, all of the above are worthless. Peter Jackson took a beloved tale of high adventure and turned it into a bar-room brawl.

The characters were unrecognizable. The Bilbo Baggins I grew up with charmed me with his delightful manners, no matter how absurd the situation. I loved him so because, though a party of ravenous dwarves appeared on his doorstep and proceeded to empty his larder, he was ever so polite. Though confused by their demands for cakes and ale, he complied. These simple acts set the tone for the story, both courtly and romantic.

The character on screen last night was rude and selfish, a hobbit from the 21st century. In his heart, Tolkien’s Bilbo wanted the dwarves to leave him to his peace (and his food), but he would not dishonor his guests or his heritage by saying so. The 21st century Bilbo told them to give him back his tomatoes.

Jackson’s rough treatment wasn’t limited to Bilbo. Radagast the Brown was a wizard in my mind akin to St. Francis of Assisi. The person we were subjected to last night was a buffoon with bird turds plastering his hair.

The script was toyed with until it was no longer the story I love. Where there wasn’t enough excitement, Jackson interjected some trumped up drama, twisting the tale and its inhabitants into caricatures of themselves. And there’s falling. Entirely too much falling.

There is no room for graphic violence in Tolkien’s story, but Jackson fixes that. Where the book depicts clean kills, Jackson creates torture and brutality, a goblin king eviscerated in front of the audience, a pale goblin’s arm severed and spurting blood, later replaced by a claw skewered through the flesh of his upper arm.

This movie should never have been rated PG-13. I’d have given it a solid R, and I never would have taken my son. By comparison, many of the Harry Potter movies were rated PG-13. I let the Padawan watch them after he had read the books because those, at least, were fairly true to their original source. I no longer trust Peter Jackson.

My joy for today is the sweet innocence I rediscovered in my Padawan. I think of him as nearly a pre-teen. Last night, my little boy was returned to me, bouncing in his seat with childish enthusiasm and anticipation, reaching for my hand to cover his eyes in the scary parts, delighting in the enormous container of candy in his possession. I treasure last night, regardless of the quality of the movie.

Happy weekend!

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38 thoughts on “An Unexpected Something

  1. Ooooh Noooo – I love Bilbo how can Peter Jackson Do that? And we still have another two movies to go, arrggh. Hat e to think what the Mordor scenes are going to be like. 😦 Laura

  2. I will probably still see it, but I’ve heard similar things. It bleeds (no pun intended) every ounce of violence it can from the book, straining to cram more things in to draw it out.

    The Hobbit is great, but it’s not Lord of the Rings, and attempting to make it so is just vanity.

      • The story was definitely not the same in LOTR, but I liked the movie version better. Faramir’s story was completely lost in the movie, as was Merry’s, Arwen’s was different (completely), and Legolas/Gimli was left to slapstick. I never did like the books, so I’m not complaining about the movie. You can’t have everything, but it’s definitely not any less ‘largely the same’ story as the Hobbit movie was, IMO.

  3. I loved it. As a fan of the book, I thought it was extremely well done. I think the Bilbo Baggins was more like the Bilbo Baggins Tolkien intended after completing LOTR. Definitely not R material (I’m wondering what your definition of ‘clean kill’ actually is?) though it’s not the Bashki cartoon (which, I may remind you was lampooned by Tolkien fans). I really liked the dwarves. I had never been able to connect to the dwarves before, but now I could. I should remind everyone that this movie is not intended for Tolkien purists, or even Tolkien hard core fans. You are there already. This is a movie made for all the rest of us, and I think it makes converts of just about all who weren’t already a fan of Middle Earth.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. Truly! And you are very right. It’s not for hard core Tolkien fans. That’s the part that disappointed me.

      Clean kill – Gandalf killed the goblin king in one simple sentence. He didn’t slash his guts out and leave time for lame banter.

      • The Goblin King commented after the first slash though. And then Gandalf slashed him again. I don’t remember what he did in the cartoon though, I should revisit it to compare/contrast.

  4. Such a bummer! I’m glad that you and the Padawan were still able to enjoy your time together. I was afraid to get my hopes up about the movie, it just seemed like if they were stretching it into a trilogy, there would be a lot of fluff added. Jackson seems to like creating his own drama in these epic pieces lately and it does cheapen a story that is legendary. Thanks for giving us die hards a heads up. 🙂

    • It’s definitely not the story we know and love, and it is not a children’s story at all. I was on board with creating three movies because I thought the more Hobbit, the better. I was wrong.

  5. That sounds like quite an adventure for you two! I’m sure he will treasure it for years to come 🙂 I have yet to watch the movie but it doesn’t sound like it’s very good so now I’m debating…

  6. Glad I read this. My son is dying to see it too after having read the book this fall in anticipation of the movie. I am bummed. You’re right. The Harry Potter movies did such a good job of sticking to the book.

    • If you love the Tolkien story, I can’t guarantee that you’ll like what Jackson has done.I was prepped to love this movie beyond all reason.That I don’t speaks volumes for the quality of his work. If you do go and see it, I’d love to hear your views!

  7. Don’t you just hate when Hollywood takes a book you loved as a kid and turns it into something you don’t recognize? That happened for me with “The Outsiders”. It was a book I loved as a 12-13 year old. Coppola turned a simple story into some weird sort of epic drama. I was sooooooo disappointed.

    I loved the Hobbit when I read it. I was going to venture to the theater to see it, but based on your review, I guess I will wait for cable. 🙂

  8. I’m completely backwards – I didn’t like Lord of the Rings, but I have been enjoying the Hobbit movies (though true, it *really* didn’t need to be a trilogy).
    I actually went back after watching the second one – and listening to my friends debate on how this wasn’t right, or how cheeky it was to make this other thing happen – to read the book and figure out just was different.
    First of all, the last time I attempted to read it I was 14 and flying to the UK and terrified (there is no fear greater for me than flying), and I remember it being a series of long, detailed descriptions that too the reader down to every molecule of each living thing existing in Middle Earth, and getting lost in it.
    When I went back to read it, I felt like it was Winnie the Pooh for the next generation, in the similar ho-hum sort of sing-songy writing style. I’m not complaining at all – I found it charming, but it’s just not what I remembered it to be.
    Did you find this at all?

    • My re-read of the Hobbit was different. I love the romantic tone of it. I love the old British authors so much! But I can see how others would find his attention to detail a wee bit, um, daunting? Yeah. Every rock and tree. That’s Tolkien!

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