Last year, after I saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I handed out prizes rather than a review. I intend to do the same, here, but before I do, here is my brief review: It was a fun movie and I liked it. Is it true to Tolkien? No. Well, not really. They’ve decided to change the overriding tone of the story. They’ve made it more adult and more complex so they can fill three movies and have it still be interesting. In that sense, it works. I am interested and I had fun. I like the original book better, in that I feel it is a better self-contained story. This, though, wasn’t terrible. Not great, but certainly not bad.
Enough of this, though. To the awards!
(though, if you haven’t read the book and don’t basically know everything that happens already, how on earth did you come across this blog, anyway?)
The Walt Disney Memorial Award for Outstanding Theme Park Advertising
Screenwriter: Okay, so now the book says the dwarves get sealed into barrels and float down the river for days and days while Bilbo hangs on. Everybody comes out weak and miserable.
Producer: That doesn’t sound like much fun. Why don’t we have them ride in open barrels? That way they can fight while going down rapids.
But…why wouldn’t the elves just shoot them? Why wouldn’t they tip over and sink? Why wouldn’t the barrels sprout leaks after being shot by arrows? How the hell do all those dwarves manage to choreograph tossing swords around without dropping any? Where the hell did the goblins come from? Why is the fat dwarf suddenly dangerous because he’s stuck in a barrel?
Awww…who cares? It was fun. And we’re all going to be sitting in barrels in a theme park someday while holographic goblins shoot at us with arrows and we’re going to love the hell out of it, so let’s just all stop complaining.
Runner-Up: Gold Surfing with Bilbo
The Homer and Langley Collyer Award for Poor Housekeeping
Look, I understand that Smaug wrecked the place, but let’s face it – Erebor had some serious organizational problems long before the dragon kicked in the door. Why the hell did they mint so many goddamned coins, anyway? Even assuming this was a good idea (I’m not an economist), why didn’t they store it all in boxes or something? You can’t expect me to believe that Smaug spend the last century or so wheedling out boxes of gold from tiny rooms and piling it all up – he doesn’t have the manual dexterity. No, the dwaves must have piled all that crap up already, to the point where it obscured architectural features and probably killed people in stupid gold avalanches. The more I think about it, the more I’m forced to say that Thror was the Scrooge McDuck of Middle Earth and tried to go swimming in the stuff. This, oddly enough, makes Smaug the Beagle Boys. Weird.
Runner Up: Laketown or, as I call it, ‘Fire-hazard-burg’
The James Bond Prize for Stronghold Infiltration
Traps are called traps because they are traps. If you walk into a trap, you are not smart unless you have a plan for getting out of the trap again. You are also not smart unless, by walking into the trap, you gain something from being temporarily trapped. The only thing Gandalf seems to learn is that Sauron is secretly Andy Warhol, and who is he going to tell? Probably some moth, I guess. You know, for an old guy, Gandalf really is a fan of the ‘let the bad guys beat me up for a few days just on the off chance they tell me their evil plans’ strategy. No wonder he needs that staff to walk around.
Runner Up: Bilbo ‘I can’t seem to keep my invisible ring on my finger’ Baggins
So, you have travelled across the world for months, undergone untold harships, angered elves and goblins alike, made promises you can’t keep, stolen things you shouldn’t have, and climbed a damned mountain all to get yourself to this place and then, after about three minutes of trying to get in, you give up and go home? The fuck?
I mean, seriously guys – the hobbit you dragged along really shouldn’t be the guy who decides to stick around and solve the riddle. He doesn’t have skin in this game. It isn’t his blood oath he’s trying to fulfill. Sheesh. Show a little patience.
Runner-Up: Tauriel (OMG isn’t he DREAMY) the Elf
There you go, folks – tune in next year!
Saw the Hobbit on New Year’s Eve; I very much enjoyed it. I didn’t think it was the Greatest Movie Ever, really, but I fundamentally don’t understand the folks who are tearing their hair out with rage over the film being split into three movies. Seeing as Peter Jackson is doing every single thing in the book plus some stuff that can only be found in some ancillary Tolkien sources, filling 9 hours shouldn’t be a problem. What I’m mostly curious about is to see how the whole thing with Dol Guldur can be lumped in with the rest of the Hobbit once Gandalf takes off – the stories don’t really intersect again. Well, whatever.
My main reason for posting this is not to give a full review (which has been done plenty of times elsewhere and strikes me as rather tedious; it’s enough for me to say “As a great fan of the book, I liked it, and so probably will you if you are the same.”), but to point out the specific parts of the film I found most amusing, either positively or negatively. Here we go:
Thror Memorial Prize for the Advancement of Dwarfkind
Recipient: Thorin Oakenshield
You know what always frustrates me? Dwarves being depicted as filthy, stupid, ridiculous comic relief. That dwarf in the atrocious Dungeons and Dragons movie was just awful. Like, ‘If Dwarves Were Real This Would Spur a March on Washington’ awful.
Then, in this movie we get Thorin Oakenshield (played by Richard Armitage). He’s tough, he’s good-looking, he’s reasonably intelligent, he’s a leader. Yeah, he’s got a massive chip on his shoulder, but he, along with Kili and Fili, at last give us some dwarves who seem like actual people rather than ridiculous cartoons. Do you remember how silly the dwarves were in the Rankin/Bass animated Hobbit (shudder)? I’m glad that didn’t happen here.
On a side note, anybody else notice that when the White Orc smacks Thorin in the cheek with his gigantic mace, Thorin winds up with a small cut? That is one hard head Thorin’s got. He should have wound up looking more like Quasimodo after that hit.
Honorable Mention: Kili and Fili
Carrottop Foundation’s Award For Outstanding Use of Prop Comedy
So, for the whole movie we noted that one dwarf who needed the horn to hear properly. As ear-horns are inherently amusing, we chortled lightly at the ridiculous dude with the antique hearing aide. Then they go to Goblintown, and poor Dori loses his horn and has it smashed beneath the heavy tread of a goblin. At that point, I desperately wanted someone to say something to him and have him say “What?” Stupid joke, yeah, but still. The movie, though, goes one better:
In the last scene, as Bilbo is talking to them, Dori lifts the flattened horn to his ear. I thought this was hilarious, in that it would be fundamentally true to an old dwarf’s character to not only retrieve his busted horn in the midst of a battle, but still insist on using it even though it clearly won’t work now. Comedy gold.
Runner Up: Radagast the Brown’s Bird-Poop Hat
I imagine a casting director sitting down with Cate Blanchett and having the following conversation:
CASTING: “Cate, we’d like you to play Galadriel.”
BLANCHETT: “Who is she?”
CASTING: “She is one of the eldest elves in the world and the most heartbreakingly beautiful, inhumanly graceful, wise, warm, and wonderful person on the planet. She’s the kind of woman who smites men with a glance and, with a simple touch, can hold the hearts of kings and princes on a leash as strong as steel. She is, basically, a goddess.”
I’m a big fan of Cate Blanchett – always have been. She’s a phenomenal actress, but I think we need to take a good look at her Galadriel performance to really grasp how good she is. I mean, seriously – how do you encapsulate the character of Galadriel in a human body? Well, I don’t know, but somehow Blanchett pulls it off. It is simply amazing – she manages every movement to be perfectly graceful, every word to be somehow beautiful, and her smile is simultaneously warm and unattainable. I have no goddamned idea how an actress does that. Simply amazing.
The Terrence Malick Award for Pointless Cinematography
Recipient: Peter Jackson
You know what Peter Jackson likes? The long, slow close-up of a character while they go through a dramatic character shift. Do you know how I know this? The three thousand times it happens in every LoTR movie! Seriously, those things really drag; they last a full five seconds longer than they need to, sometimes more. How long did we really need to stare at Gollum’s pores while Bilbo considers killing him? How long did Thorin and the White Orc need to stare at each other longingly before finally fighting? Jesus! I felt like I was watching an episode of Dragonball Z at some points. Still, it was better than having to watch the dumb ship sail out of the Grey Havens for something like twenty minutes at the end of The Return of the King, or, as I like to call it, “The Movie that Never Ended.”
The Passive Aggressiveness Medal (warning, Medal may be radioactive. Maybe. Your call.)
Recipient: The Giant Eagles
The dwarves are half-dead, exhausted, injured, and carried to safety and spared from death by the Eagles thanks to Gandalf pulling in a few favors. If you thought the Eagles were okay with this, think again. Consider where the Eagles dropped the dwarves off: at the top of a hundred-foot high, narrow stone outcropping. Sure, the view is great, but how the hell are they supposed to get down? Thanks a lot, eagles. Yeah, maybe I won’t be eaten by wargs, but now I’ll get to break my neck as I negotiate an eight-story vertical climb. The eagles, of course, just fly away. They have plausible deniability, you know. “What? Oh, that’s right, you can’t fly! Our bad – everything on the ground looks pretty much the same height from up here. Oh well. Catch ya later, shorty!”
What a bunch of jackasses. Seriously.