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on dwarves and things and shiny rings

Originally published at Faith Seeking Understanding. You can comment here or there.

I got to see the first Hobbit movie tonight. It was a thrill in lots of ways, and I’m glad I finally got to see it. I must say, though, something about it didn’t really click with me at some level. I think part of this is I’m still pretty shaken up over the Connecticut shootings, so I’m just not “feeling” things very intensely at the moment. I’ve also been looking forward to this movie for so long, it was almost impossible that it wouldn’t disappoint at some level. But I also think there were some rather serious flaws with it.

(Obviously, there are spoilers in what follows…)

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 20th, 2012 12:21 pm (UTC)
I absolutely love your review.

I avoided mentioning Thranduil in mine, because I think it's obvious how I'd feel about that given my fanfic and I was afraid I would rage. I also was afraid, given how I love Thranduil, I was over-reacting. But, I was appalled that PJ would have Thranduil, or any ME leader, turn away from refugees as he had Thranduil do. And I find that especially distasteful since, in Hobbit, Thranduil diverts his army going to the mountain to help the refugees of Smaug in Dale. Why then and not now. So yeah, I definitely now expect Thranduil to be the Denethor parallel. And there were, as you pointed out, so many FotR parallels in this that it's obvious PJ was intentionally building them in.

And I totally agree with your analysis of Thorin. I actually felt his character was even more assassinated than Thranduil's (of course, there was far more time for his to take a beating). I thought his treatment of Bilbo--his constant berating of his worth--was horrible. If I'd have been Bilbo, I wouldn't have rushed Azog for Thorin at the end of the movie. And Thorin's blind distrust of all elves was an absurd extension of Gimli's 'never trust an elf' line in FotR. At least Gimli was justified--his father undoubtedly told him some bad tales of Mirkwood, with some justification. And Gimli was young and inexperienced in the world. But Thorin has no excuse except that pathetic Thranduil abandoning the refugees thing PJ inserted. I just don't see the need for that. And it really does make Thorin look like a bad leader.

The Azog story line I found to be an unnecessary distraction. The dwarves do not need to be pursued across ME. They are going and Tolkien managed to run them into sufficient conflicts without having them driven by one.

Unfortunately, the intro to Radagast with the little hedgehog ruined him for me for exactly the reasons you state. The handling of magic there was absurd. And the changes to Mirkwood there were too untrue to the history of ME for me to stand. The area around Radagast's home had long, long been deeply under the influence of the Shadow by the time of the Hobbit. There is no way that hedgehog was the first sign of 'Mirkwood' and Sauron arising. It did help to read you talking about Radagast though. I really wanted to like him, because I love the idea of him as a character. So I will try to focus on his cool sled (I did like that) and the fact that he is at least not portrayed as simply 'Radagast the Fool.' He was a strong, brave character.

I truly despised their arrival and entrance into Imladris. My jaw was literally hanging open when they just strolled right across the bridge, completely unchallenged. And the wargs chasing them there, for me, was too much like the non-canon warg attack that drove Aragorn off the cliff in TT. Just unnecessary (except, since PJ invented Thorin's hatred for elves, he had to drive him to the elves unwillingly, so...) I know it is totally not canon, but I liked warrior!Elrond (ducks and hides). I did, however, have a moment's hope, when I saw the elves, that we might get a glimpse of Elrohir and Elladan (and possibly even some rangers) defending Imladris, but alas, hopes were dashed.

I truly despised the stupid stone giant battle. PJ doesn't like magic and wizards but he's ok with mountains being animated and fighting. Really?

I didn't like the 'White Council' meeting. I thought Gandlf come off looking like a fool in it.

But, I loved Bilbo, Gandalf, Gollum, and as you said, some of the younger dwarves really came across with great personalities. I imagine the motivation for that is to make us care enough about them so that their deaths in the Battle of Five Armies has sufficient impact. Sigh.

I loved going back to ME. That's the bottom line for me. I expected a lot of non-canon, so I wasn't too disturbed by what I got. I honestly expected Thranduil's character to be treated as it was. The only real disappointment for me was Thorin. I definitely will see the movie again and I really hope it inspires another wave of interest in ME amongst the ff writers. :-)
Dec. 20th, 2012 04:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for this, Elliska. After reading some of the reactions here on LJ, I thought I was the only one with qualms. It's not that I didn't like it, but I wouldn't be being *me* if I didn't zero in on the things that bothered me.

Seeing Thranduil, I actually thought of you. First I thought of my own first response to Denethor - this was maybe six months after I'd read all three Tolkien books and fallen in love with his character - and then I thought how your reaction to THranduil must be a bit better. Here's hoping the next two movies flesh out his character a bit better. I can see Jackson doing some interesting things with this dynamic in terms of the movie. It doesn't make up for the shoddy treatment here, of course.

Personally, I thought Gandalf came off okay in the White Council. It was almost like he was playing with Saruman - hearing him out, perhaps, but not being convinced, and at the same time being clever enough to get the dwarves out of Imladris. I wasn't thrilled about the need to escape, but he seemed like a much more capable manager of the company at that point than anything Thorin (or anyone else) had managed. It wasn't my favorite scene, but it wouldn't make my top five.

Thanks for your reactions.
Dec. 20th, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
I tried leaving a rather lengthy response at your other site, but it did not appear to "take". I will try to reproduce it for you later if I can remember what all I said.
Dec. 20th, 2012 04:25 pm (UTC)
It's there now! FOr some reason the site thought it was spam, so I just had to go in and approve it. I'm headed off shortly, but I'll read and reply to it this afternoon. For anyone else interested in it, you can see Dreamflower's comments here.
Dec. 20th, 2012 04:45 pm (UTC)
And, so you know, my reply is here. Lunch plans got delayed by an hour so I was able to check it out now. I really appreciated your thoughts.
Dec. 20th, 2012 04:39 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed it a lot for the good bits - Gollum! Bilbo! Gandalf! All the lovely Shire intro at the beginning; that wonderful closing moment with the thrush and Smaug. Hot dwarves, phwoaaaar. (Kili!)

But yes, I had some reservations. One of the best things about LJ and fandom is being able to say, "Yes, I loved it, and here's everything that was wrong with it", and debate and thrash out details endlessly. Some of my RL friends really don't get that, and one of them gave me a right tongue-lashing on FB for picking holes in it (and accused me of borrowing my Tolkien-snobbery from the professional film critics, the cheek! When I'd assiduously avoided every review and am quite capable of being a Tolkien-snob on my own account, thank you!)

So {{hugs you}} for indulging those of us who also want to debate and nit-pick!

Also {{hugs elliska}} for being as worried as I am about Thranduil. If Thranduil gets Denethor'd I will... I will... oh, heck, just have to write a lot more Thranduil fic to redress the balance, and keep away from the Pit of Voles for another Age, won't I?

I think your point about everything having to have an immediate and obvious cause, instead of "seeming-chance" being able to play its crucial Tolkien role, is a very good one; and exemplifies, for me, why PJ may think he loves and is steeped in Middle-earth but really doesn't get it at a fundamental level. The Council of Elrond in FoTR was the example of this that used to get me going - PJ having all these people "summoned to a Council" - no, no, NO!!! Missing the point by hundreds of leagues! Why is it that he will involve outside experts in the art, the sound, the weapons design, the costuming, the Elvish... and then think he's enough of an expert on Tolkien and the texts all on his own? Sigh...

And yes, all the "ooh let's do this exactly the same way as in LoTR got a bit tedious. If there is one more Pointless Warg Chase across that exact same stretch of New Zealand high moorland (coz it was the same, wasn't it?) I will throw things at the screen next time.

Stone giants got a bit OTT, but be fair elliska, it is there in canon! (Though not involving Thorin and Co directly, I appreciate...)

I couldn't bear Radagast. Utterly absurd. I wonder if PJ was channelling Bombadil-who-never-was? Anyway, do not get me started on the Racing Rabbits of Rhosgobel! (never mind the PJ!Magic!Distance involved, nor the implication that the Shadow falling on Mirkwood started some time last Thursday...)

Anyway, thanks for listening - and being here to debate! It truly is half the fun...
Dec. 20th, 2012 05:03 pm (UTC)
I find all this really interesting. For me, Radagast worked precisely because he was so absurd. Okay, the rabbit chase was overdone, but a lot of the earlier material was what I wanted from Bilbo: decency, and jsut simple good luck, rather than force or strength. I was a bit irked it came from Radagast, but if any one of the wizards was to play up that aspect I can see it being Radagast. (To be fair, I was probably on a bit of a high because I was extremely pleased I remembered the names of the two blue wizards when Gandalf didn't.

I don't think I'd noticed the seeming-chance thing in LOTR so much, but it's there now that I think about it, especially in the council-calling. To my credit, I didn't read the books until after I saw The Two Towers movie.

And really, this pointless warg chase was really and truly pointless in this case. At least with some of them in the first trilogy (the race to Caradhras it was required by the story. And even in TTT, it kind of added to the tension of the build-up to a major battle. But here? Completely, utterly pointless.

I remember a while ago TOR.n had a great list of false-spoilers. I think I posted a link here. One of them was that someone would fall off a cliff. I do have to admit, I laughed outloud when that really happened with the goblin-king!
Dec. 20th, 2012 05:47 pm (UTC)
See, I don't think Radagast should be absurd. Eccentric, but not silly. The Catholic friend I went with said she'd always seen him as a St Francis figure; gentle, but with dignity. It seems to me that Saruman calling him "Radagast the Fool! Radagast the Bird-Tamer!" should tell you more about Saruman than it does about Radagast. If it's too easy to agree with Saruman that Radagast does look like a fool, then maybe the impact of that is lost?

I nearly burst out loud "Alatar and Pallando!" :-)
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