Peter Jackson Didn’t Ruin My Birthday

I decided that I was going to have the best birthday ever. After the dog peed in the floor, and yet another Hallmark ornament broke the first time it was out of the box, I made my decision. I get one birthday a year, and I can either enjoy it, or let it be ruined by small things. I opted to make it the best birthday ever, and it was.

I subbed for middle school, and one of my friends there made me brownies and gave me a t-shirt with a stinkbug on it. I got cards, some of them handmade, and lots and lots of hugs. And then I went home to a giant death-by-chocolate birthday cake with whipped icing so thick that the flames the candles were flush with the icing, and four new CDs. Who could ask for more? And then my husband sprung it on me. He wanted to take me to a movie.

“Which one?” I asked hesitantly, knowing the answer.

The Hobbit. Or Thor. Or The Hobbit. I thought you might like to see The Hobbit.” Because I enjoyed the last one so much.

“What if we stay home and you throw rocks at me and tell me all the many and varied reasons reasons you hate my dog? It would make me feel about the same and cost less.”

“I thought you’d really want to go see The Hobbit! And if you do, I will find a theater that isn’t sold out.”

“What did I ever do to you?”

In the end, he was just so persistent cute that I caved. The theater we chose had two showings. We expected to have to go to the later one, but there were lots of tickets left. Everyone else was clearly as excited about this flick as I was. We couldn’t have asked for better seats, unless those seats were in a theater playing just about anything else. I was determined, though, to open my mind enjoy myself. And I did.

Nothing could ruin the night. Not Azog the Mostly Fabricated chasing down elves and hobbits in his vengeful rage over something that never happened. Azog, buddy. Let’s talk about this for a minute. If you really look deep inside, I bet you know who you’re really mad at. It’s not Thorin Oakenshield. It’s Peter Jackson. Why don’t you do me a giant favor and tell him how that metal thing jammed into your arm makes you feel? It might help to clear the air.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:             Caption blame: yeah, that’s all me.

The cinematography couldn’t dampen my spirits. Even though most of the film was shot by a caffeinated toddler whose head was too heavy and kept tipping backward and whose favorite hobby is spinning in the grass until they puke. Had I seen the movie in 3D, I would have. I’ll save that particular joy for the third installment. The sound editing wasn’t all that great, either, and I’m pretty sure I could hear the cameraman over the music.

“Look! Taaaalllll building!”

“Twirlie bird! Wheeeeeee!”

“Oooh! Slavering jaws! Can I touch them? I think that Warg just ate my Beanie Baby.”

“Let’s zoom in real close so Legolas’ head is twenty feet tall and everyone can tell he looks ten years older than he will sixty years from now in Lord of the Rings! Elves are magic.”

Actually, I think there was good reason for those tight shots. Tom Hooper did that with Les Miserables last year to prove that there was no overdubbing. Jackson does it to prove that his actors can say their crummy lines with a straight face. I was impressed.

The cinematography was evocative, and if what Jackson was trying to evoke was *carsick*, he nailed it. Nailed it. Good job, Pete, and pass the Dramamine.

I thought it was great that Jackson let students work on the visual effects? What? No, I’m pretty sure he did. And I’m also fairly certain that they were elementary school students. I couldn’t tell Beorn from a warg, and my pea brain kept screaming “Green screen!” Or maybe I actually screamed it. People did keep throwing their popcorn at me.

I thought Peter Jackson’s choices for this film made a lot of sense. I mean, why wouldn’t orcs trash Mirkwood, and then show up in Laketown? And why wouldn’t Thorin leave half his party behind when he finally set off for the Lonely Mountain? It’s not like Dwarves care much for their kinfolk. They’re kind of loners, really. And of course Tauriel the Completely Made Up would work her healing magic on Kili. With his head in a bowl of nuts. Tree nuts probably have healing properties. I’m just glad he wasn’t allergic.

photo credit:

They are the victims here, not us. Well, not only us.    photo credit:

My husband and I argued a bit about which part of the movie was the best. If you’ve already seen it, maybe you can help us decide. Which was the best part  – the previews or the end credits? I know. It’s a tough call.

The movie was awful, but I had an amazing night. I learned that my husband and I are truly of one mind. We snickered inappropriately in all the same places, mimed puking on one another’s shoes, rolled our eyes in unison when Bofur delivered the cheesiest line in the history of motion pictures. And his rant on the way home was like a beautiful Hallmark card telling me we were meant to be together. What Peter Jackson has brought together, no man can put asunder.

62 thoughts on “Peter Jackson Didn’t Ruin My Birthday

      • Lithuanian subtitles?! You would force my people’s language to work with this script?! *exaggerated whimper-sigh* What…have I ever… done… to you… sj? *exaggerated talk-to-the-hand gesture while turning my face away* I don’t know if I can forgive this.

        (nah 😉 Actually I wonder if Lithuanian subtitles might make the script sound better? Even just a little? Perhaps even Legolas’ asshat comments about one of the dwarves’ wife and child won’t sound quite so appalling…)

      • Oh, but PJ loves his Legolas — tall, blond, arrow-wielding, oliphant-trunk-surfing, elf-maiden wooing, not-actually-supposed-to-be-in-these-prequels-but-let’s-throw-him-in-for-the-ladies-anyway Legolas.

        The asshat-ness is probably PJ’s attempt to show that, Hey viewers! Remember that ancient feud between the elves and the dwarves? It’s still going on! I’ll prove it by showing Legolas insult this dwarf’s family! (also it’ll be comedy! y’know, the whole mistaking-someone’s-mother/wife/whatever-for-something-unappealing gag!) And it’s another great way to connect these prequels to my original LOTR movies!

        But really… it just makes the elves look like asshats. Especially since, hey guys, you were the ones who bailed on the dwarves and everything (in this prequel-verse, anyway); you probably don’t want to go kicking the people you betrayed when they’re down.

        • I don’t know why PJ thought Orlando Bloom could sell a movie if Martin and Benedict couldn’t. I barely recognized him, honestly. Probably because the shots were so tight. I’d never seen that much of him before.

  1. I enjoyed how utterly fragile Orcs are, especially considering the fact that everyone seems to be terrified of them. They obviously can’t swim and you can kill them by shooting them ABSOLUTELY ANYWHERE with an arrow. Or kicking them really hard. Or headbutting them.

  2. Happy Belated Birthday!!! I’m sorry I missed it.

    This post is making me laugh so hard. I had to read it twice…and I’ll enjoy reading it out loud to Eric later. He’ll guffaw, too. Good stuff.

    P.S. I’m not going to watch these movies. Ever.

    • Thanks for the birthday wishes! It was really and truly spectacular!

      Hobbit 2 is worth the laugh, though. Maybe a DVD party in a few months. Shelling out the big bucks to see it in the theater is a little painful.

  3. I was mostly bored throughout this whole movie. If it wasn’t for Martin Freeman (and I still think he’s a brilliant Bilbo Baggins [I can’t even picture anyone else they could’ve chosen; not anyone I’d’ve willingly paid money to watch]…it’s just too bad he wasn’t able to lend his brilliance to a better version of The Hobbit…) and Benedict Cumberbatch, I wouldn’t have bothered with these movies.

    O wait, but guess what? You can’t even really tell that it’s Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice for either the Necromancer or — more importantly — Smaug!!! There may have been one tiny moment when something Smaug said sounded (hee, alliteration FTW!) faintly like Benedict’s voice, but only because I was listening for it. Listening desperately for any hint that it was, in fact, Benedict doing the voice. And some people might say it’s a good thing when you can’t recognize the voice actor in the character’s speech, because that makes the character more independent and real.

    And that would’ve been true in any other circumstance (i.e. if this were actually a well-made movie). In and of itself, Smaug’s voice was pretty awesome — I loved that chilling, arrogant way he said “I…AM…DEATH.” And yes, of course I knew it would be digitally enhanced to sound deeper than Benedict’s actual voice, but I WANTED TO HEAR BENEDICT’S ACTUAL VOICE, DAMMIT. It was the one thing I was really looking forward to and they couldn’t even get that right!

    *sigh* I really should’ve known better. T_T

    • Oh, and in all that ranting I completely forgot my manners! o///o;; Happy Birthday!!! I’m glad you were able to kick all those negative things out of your mind and have an awesome day. That’s a skill I really want to get better at myself 🙂

    • Husband and I checked our watches at the same time and were dismayed to discover only forty-five minutes had passed. *sigh* The people next to us were texting the entire second half, and it didn’t bother me one little bit.

      I thought the same thing about Smaug. There were two lines where the cadence was pure Cumberbatch, but the rest was pretty well disguised. He still managed to curl my toes, though.

      I didn’t know he did the necromancer. I was so irritated by said giant cloud of magicky smoke that I think I was painting my nails when he came on screen.

    • Yes! “Bored”! PJ managed to take a short, great adventure full of menace, wit and depth and stretch it into two boring, flat movies with endless pratfalls and running. And he’s not even finished!
      I do still love Freeman as Bilbo, especially the heart he imbues him with when he realizes the Ring is influencing him. But there is so much extra stuff crammed into these movies, whether it’s in the source material or not, that the heart of the story, Bilbo, is completely shoved to the side.
      Plus, Smaug comes across as stupid and incompetent, rather than the “so powerful nothing but a Ring of Power will keep him from finding you” creature from the book.
      I still like the LOTR movies, whatever their differences from the books, because I think they’re great movies. But The Hobbit adaptations are just not. With LOTR I felt Jackson and company made the unfilmable book and world live and breath on screen; with The Hobbit they are making the living, breathing world of the book unwatchable.

            • Try a single-colour cable knit sweater, so you don’t have to check the colours, just the texture, would be my advice.
              My wife and I still rewatch the LOTR movies every December and enjoy them. But I didn’t even want to buy the Hobbit DVD when it came out. Eventually did, to give it another chance! But this one… oy. I don’t want to see it again. Unless someone does a “Phantom Edit” to put the focus of the story on Bilbo.

  4. Where oh where have you been? Long time! Personally, I read all the books (more than twice) and loved the LOTR series, but was not at all thrilled with the first Hobbit movie… something that still disturbs my son. He is sure I am confused, or showing signs of early dementia (possible, but not here). Not sure, after this helpful review, I’ll be off to see it. Though my boy is pretty cute too, and I may cave. Fun review darlin’.

  5. Oh how I hate those shaky movies. I almost puked and lost my bowels during “Cloverfield” so thanks for the warning. Happy Birthday by the way. Sorry my birthday message contains the words “puked” and “bowels.”

    • It’s the perfect birthday message!

      I think the cinematography was the most disappointing bit, actually. No sweeping vistas like in the last movies. The shots were quick mostly upward, like he was trying to show off the towers he built, but he never stayed on one shot long enough to really appreciate the world he imagined.

  6. Oooh, free popcorn for your birthday. Maybe your pea brain kept seeing a green screen because peas are, well, green?

    Anyway, there is nothing better than to (re-)connect with someone over something that both find equally terrible. I guess me and husband are in this category, too. We both fell asleep within the first 10 minutes of part 1. And it wasn’t even particularly late at night!

  7. Thanks for doing all the heavy lifting of reviewing this so I don’t have to see it. I just reread the book (after almost 40 years) and saw the first film a couple of months ago and my main response was “Did the director read the SAME book?” and then my response was “Hey where the hell did the rest of the story GO???”

    And now I hear there’s going to be a third one? THat’s so wrong.

  8. BC: I loved the book so much that I couldn’t bear to see the movie. I would have come undone. But I’m very glad that it afforded a bonding moment with your significant other. Happy belated b-day and Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas.

  9. You had me at “What if we stay home and you throw rocks at me and tell me all the many and varied reasons reasons you hate my dog? It would make me feel about the same and cost less.” Love your style.

  10. Ha ha! LOVE this post! I hated the first Hobbit movie (Why? Why? WHY was it SO terrible?), and likely for many of the same reasons you did, and I am trying to resist my husband’s attempts to drag me to see the second on in the theater. I’ll pay the $1 to rent it later – we don’t need to spend $18 to see it now. My hubby tried to take me for my birthday as well (which is just a few days before yours apparently!), but I managed to weasel out of it. I am glad you enjoyed it anyway – and I’m sure my husband and I will enjoy watching it at home eventually, where we can mock it mercilessly together. 🙂

    • I think that’s the way this “film” was meant to be enjoyed – endlessly mocking it at home for cheap. I bet you could even score a free Redbox rental code and not have to spend a dime on it. It’s just that bad.

  11. I couldn’t agree more. Did you happen to crack up hysterically during the bizarre river-escape barrel scene? Peter Jackson knows that so many people found the first film too slow and boring, and so he tried to compensate by shoehorning some of the most implausible, never-ending, gravity-defying action sequences of all time (where none of our heroes seem like they could get hurt even if they wanted to) into the follow-up. Jackson did the same thing during the Goblin mountain escape sequence in the first film. I’m pretty sure he comes up with the storyboards for his “action” sequences by playing with a bunch of G.I. Joes in his bedroom and having them jump from cabinet to cabinet.

    • I did laugh at the barrel scene. And rolled my eyes so hard one of them fell out.

      Actually, the scenes would have played better with G.I. Joes than with Legolas. He should have stuck with the action figures!

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