I spent last Monday at the movie theater for the Hobbit movie marathon. I have a few things to say about that so I’ll start with the non-spoliers and leave the spoilers under the cut.
First off, this is not my first time on this ride. The Hobbit marathon is still shorter than all the Lord of the Rings movies on extended version (a marathon I attended previously) and certainly shorter than the Avengers movie marathon (phase one includes 6 movies). However, I had to do this marathon in 3D, AMC gave no other option. I chose IMAX over Real 3D because I figured I might as well go big or go home. Maybe I would have been better off in Real, but I’ll never know. All I know is IMAX 3D for nine hours gave me a headache for about 2 days and made my daughter want to throw up. I can speculate why exactly this happened, but ultimately, I’m swearing off 3D marathons.
Two, this marathon wasn’t as fun as the others. I had more people with me this time, all from work as usual. But there weren’t as many people in the theater. Avengers was packed and maybe that’s why we all seemed to band together. Even in the LOTR marathon I managed to make a friend. This time was fun, I was better prepared, but I don’t have as many fun quirky stories to tell.
All right, lets start with the good. And I’m going to start with Galadriel at Dol Guldur because when I realized they were going to show it I got really excited. It’s mentioned in the appendices to LOTR that Galadriel (as well as Celeborn, but he’s not in the Hobbit) went over there at some point and kicked ass. It’s not an accurate portrayal in the movie, but if they were going to go on tangents that was a cool one I always liked the idea of.
I might be in the minority here, but the Tauriel/Kili love angle didn’t bother me at all. It’s not like they changed the ultimate outcome of Kili in the book. Legolas being completely whipped there did make me roll my eyes. Does everything have to be a love triangle? But Tauriel and Kili’s growing affection despite coming from two different worlds was cute. She seemed to be the only elf who didn’t metaphorically look down her nose at dwarves simply for being dwarves. If it wasn’t for her all elves would have appeared a group of snobbish know-it-all elitists.
I haven’t read the Hobbit in maybe 15 years. It’s not my fave book and I much prefer LOTR. There were times I was watching the movie and remembering things from the book. This is why I was confused at the end of Hobbit 2 when they didn’t just kill Smaug. I knew in Hobbit 3 it couldn’t amount to much of a scene because the Battle of the Five Armies is about Thorin being a dick. So my daughter went half the movie before she braved to ask me “so wait, the dragon is really dead?”
Which brings me to the actors, or – I really liked that they still had Thorin acting like a huge dick. And Thranduil as well. The dude was not a model elf as far as I remember. Honestly, Martin Freeman wasn’t really behaving the way I pictured Biblo, but I was influenced by the cartoon when I pictured him. I really liked Freeman’s Bilbo a lot better. He had such a huge range of motivations, compassion, and disapproving parent. Great casting on him, and everyone really in my opinion.
The worst thing about the Hobbit movies, and watching all 3 movies at once really made me cringe on this, was all the CGI. Holy mother of George Lucas why is there so much CGI? Obviously it’s a fantasy movie and it can’t be done without CGI, but it blended so much better in LOTR. There’s two major parts to this and one is the locations. It seems LOTR had more miniatures and less green screen, and it really shows. The sets look unreal. I can almost see where the actual set ends and the green screen begins.
The second CGI problem is the main bad guys. The main orcs and uruk-hai in LOTR are played by actors under a ton of make-up. Azog and his high ranking friends are primarily CGI. I don’t care how advanced Gollum looked in LOTR, he didn’t look real. We suspended our disbelief because we knew we had to. It was fine. But in the Hobbit, Azog was one dental appointment away from being a cuddly stuffed toy. I couldn’t take the threat of him seriously. Why couldn’t it have been an actor in make-up?
Which brings me to the second part of the second problem with the CGI: Bill Connolly. Why was he CGI? Did he suffer some contractual disagreements? Was he allergic to the make-up? He looked completely and utterly ridiculous. He looks like he took a wrong turn in an MMORPG and landed in Middle Earth. He was smashing through battle like down, down, back, forward, triangle.
Overall, I liked the movies, but like a lot of people I prefer the original LOTR. Hmm… this was a bit George Lucas-y. Except these prequels don’t suck. Anyway, I prefer LOTR books to the Hobbit book as well so perhaps that has something to do with my preference in the films. But there is a lot more in the films than I first remembered, and a deal more than anyone guessed.** So what’s next? Well, I wouldn’t mind a Silmarillion mini-series.
* image from andrewfok007 **”There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself.” – Gandalf, The Hobbit.