For once, I am not going to be complaining or moaning or giving out. No, I am going to be all sweetness and light and happy-happy joy-joy, for last night I watched "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey".
Yeah, yeah: I'll be late to my own funeral. Only now got around to it? Didn't catch it in the cinema? Nope, rented it cheapo on iTunes and watched it on my modest PC screen.
And today, underthewillows is a contented specimen of Salix cinerea
, for I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected I would.
Like most people, I had (still have) no idea how Peter Jackson is going to stretch out the story over three movies. Clocking in at just a whisker over two and three-quarter hours long, I assumed there would be a hell of a lot of padding in the first movie.
Well, although I had to pause it now and again to nip out to the loo, I really didn't notice it dragging. Yes, there is more stuff put in to introduce and flesh out characters and give us background, but it works. I thought I'd be bored with Bilbo's introductory flashback telling us about the dwarven kingdom of Erebor and the city of Dale (I know
all this stuff already!) but no, I wasn't.
Yes, Radagast is a bit loopy. But Jackson also shows that Aiwendil the bird-tamer, the simple, is not merely an eccentric old codger snacking on too many mushrooms and that underestimating him is a bad idea (one that Saruman will come to regret, both in the near and far future).
The dwarves are marvellous. That is all.
Okay, you want more? Look, everyone is going to have their favourite dwarf or dwarves out of the group, but we get a great bunch of lads (although you see why Bilbo has a point about not being too happy to have a crowd of strangers turning up to eat him out of house and home).
Fili and Kili are cute, but come on, we're too mature to perv over baby dwarves. Even if they are cute as buttons. It's cradle-snatching. Ahem. If any of us are perving, not saying we are, not saying there's anything wrong with it. Drat it, I know I will be blubbering like a fountain at the aftermath of the Battle of the Five Armies. Yeah, break my heart even worse than Tolkien did, why don't you, Jackson?Look at those sweet little mischievous faces, how can you do what you're going to do to them, Messrs. Tolkien and Jackson?
Thorin is gorgeous (and he knows it). There is one point where Jackson over-does the "Thorin brooding sexily" part, but that's not the actor's fault. There's not really much you can do when directed "Stand there in the moonlight, gazing out over the valley below with the wind tousling your flowing locks, as you smoulder darkly while remembering the griefs of your kindred and we all swoon over you" apart from standing there smouldering darkly while we all swoon over you.Can you not see that my
manpain dwarfpain is as deep as the abyss of Khazad-dûm?
There's an air of genuine brotherly affection between Dwalin and Balin, as exhibited in their embrace on the battlefield (in a flashback recounted by Balin as Thorin does the abovementioned sexy brooding).
This is Balin. We all know he dies sixty years later in Moria, since we've already seen his tomb in "The Lord of the Rings". Nevertheless, you can get your hankies out now, because the thought of his ultimate fate will break your heart once you get to know him as more than a name on a tombstone.Oh, Balin. Wasn't one doomed quest enough in a lifetime? No, that's just a speck of dust in my eye, ignore me, I'm fine.
This is James Nesbitt as Bofur. He's Irish (Northern Ireland) and I'm Irish, so I'm supposed
to be immune to the twinkly-eyed charm. Nope. Damn him, the charming charmer that charmed my socks off.Dylan Moran was talking about you at 0.43 of this clip, Nesbitt. Yeah, you know exactly what I mean, Mr. Twinkly-Eyed Charmer.
Heck, I also loved Bifur, even though he gets just one line in Khuzdul and a gesture in iglishmêk
. All the dwarves are great and I can't wait to see more of them in the next two films.
So yes, there were some silly bits, but I liked this a lot more than I anticipated. I even did not throw a strop over Azog, and I was all primed to do so, since Azog is dead, dead, deadily-dead and if they needed a vengeance-quest Orc, there's Bolg (son of the deceased) handily kicking around.
But no, it was fine with me once I saw it onscreen. What wizardry is this, O Jackson?
Speaking of wizards...I'm glad they kept this exchange from the book (in the movie it's slightly different in time and place):
"Where did you go to, if I may ask? said Thorin to Gandalf as they rode along. To look ahead, said he. And what brought you back in the nick of time? Looking behind, said he."
Sassy wizard is the best wizard.
I still don't know how he's going to fill another two movies. The next instalment will, of course, bring Thorin & Co. to Mirkwood, and the meeting between Thorin and Thranduil is going to be a doozy, given the background Peter Jackson has built up for these two. And the third one will have to be the Battle of the Five Armies, but I'm not really sure how or what they will fill in with, if the next two are both going to be as long as this one.
But I'm a lot more confident now that it'll work. The additions he made worked, on the whole; the changes weren't dreadful, and although I'm sorry - for example - that we missed the "Fifteen birds in five fir trees" song of the goblins and wargs, I quite see that it just wouldn't have fitted the mood or the tone of the encounter as Jackson has developed it.
Speaking of singing, I am extremely impressed by the dwarven cast singing - it seems like they all really did sing "Far over the Misty Mountains cold" - and I admire their ability to hold a tune.
So unless he does something in the next two instalments (the way he went astray with some of the characters and plot in LOTR), I'll definitely be very hopeful for the trilogy.
A recommendation from underthewillows that ends on a happy note! Can it be possible?
Okay, I have to nitpick: in the introductory scene, I sort of wish they had mentioned Thorin's brother Frerin and sister Dis as well. After all, dwarves have few children and a two-to-one male to female ratio (I think), so a dwarf having three
children and one of them female
??? It must have seemed like a seal of approval from Mahal himself!
Yes, that's all I can find to complain about: a piece of obscure trivia. What is this strange sensation of not being grumpy called, again?