Monday, December 31, 2012

The Hobbit: An unexpected pleasure

My title is misleading. I think I would have enjoyed The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey no matter what. But most of the reviewers of the movie either said it was bad or too long or had too many differences with the book or was boring. Many reviewers said the movie couldn't be good because there were going to be three movies out of one, small book. This movie will be followed by The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug next year and The Hobbit: There and Back Again in 2014. These movies are not just film adaptions of the book The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, though. They also include information from the appendices at the end of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Part of the appeal of Mr. Tolkien's works is that he created a history, languages and vast back-stories for all of the books. These are not just shallow, normal Hollywood characters and situations. They are complex stories about characters, kingdoms and races that seem like they could have existed.

I think it would have been a big mistake to only include what was written in The Hobbit in any movies based on the book. That's because we've already seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy and we need more information to tie the new movie in with those existing movies. I liked the fact that they started the new movie with two of the characters from The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo as an old man and his nephew Frodo, talking about what happened before The Lord of the Rings took place showing that everything in The Hobbit had to take place for The Lord of the Rings to be able to happen. It all ties together.

Also, the movie contains information about how the dwarfs lost their kingdom to the dragon Smaug and also how the elves, who could have come to the aid of the dwarfs but didn't, caused the dwarves who survived Smaug's attack to despise and mistrust the elves. This is an important theme running through all the books and needs to be understood to know why certain characters act the way they do. There are some added scenes and some of the action is jazzed up a bit. To get a complete list of the differences from the book to the movie, you can go to The One Ring website and see "The Complete List of Film Changes" for this movie. To see the list of changes for all of the Tolkien movies, start here.

This is one of those cases where I think you need to ignore the critics. My son says he never believes the critics. He says the more a movie is promoted the less he expects from the movie and the more the critics like a movie, the less excited he gets about a movie. I do know I've been disappointed in the past when the critics raved about a movie but I found I didn't like it when I got to see it. So, maybe I should be grateful to the critics - they helped me keep my expectations in check and when I saw the movie, I was able to see it above my expectations.

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