Took the family to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug last weekend. And my kidneys & bladder were soooo thrilled. I just can’t hold my pee like I used to. Sorry if that’s a bit TMI. I took my 8 year old nephew to see The Phantom Menace and because I didn’t want him to miss any of the movie, AND I didn’t want to leave him alone, I held it for the whole flick. Sure it hurt, but real men don’t ask for directions and they don’t bail on a flick to hit the can. But enough about pee.
So, what’s the verdict on Mr. Jackson’s latest epic? I really liked it. As a Tolkien junkie, what’s not to love? I don’t get people who run around whining, “Ohhhh, he left out the Scouring of the Shire, “Ohhhh, he made too much out of Arwen, the story is ruined!!!,” “Ohhhh, Legolas wasn’t IN the Hobbit. Shame Peter Jackson, SHAME!”
Doesn’t that theory about pizza…the one about how even bad pizza is still pretty good…apply to movies based on Tolkien? Not to imply any of PJ’s films are bad. And the list of Tolkien movies is rather short. Still, I’ll drop some Rankin & Bass Hobbit or Return of the King in the DVD without hesitation. Don’t test me. I’ll do it. Frodo of the Nine Fingers? Turn that song up and rip the knob off!!!
I’ve been reading some bad reviews and various fanboy rants about how Peter Jackson is messing with the Tolkien canon too much. Personally, it doesn’t bother me–the more the merrier. For example, a bunch of folks don’t appreciate the introduction of the female elf “Tauriel,” played by Evangeline Lilly. Not this kid. I am on the Tauriel bandwagon. I’ve never noticed how smoking hot Miss Lilly is. Maybe her whole “plane crash victim” look on LOST didn’t catch my eye or maybe I have a thing for pointy ears. But she was looking pretty good to me. After 2 1/2 hours of fat dwarves with wacky hairdos, I’m not gonna whine about some elfin eye candy.
Are there things I would do differently if the world recognized me as the unsung film maker I clearly am? Sure. But for me, the good far outweighs the bad & the ugly. Here’s a couple of nit picks/thoughts from me that may or may not contain spoilers:
–The Dwarves. After rewatching FOTR & TT over the last two days, the Hobbit dwarves don’t seem quite “Dwarfey” enough for me. I look at Gimli–THAT’S a Dwarf. Look it up in the dictionary and there’s a picture of Gimli. It doesn’t matter if he’s standing alone or next to a human for scale. You know that little fireplug is a dwarf. Now, Thorin–Uh, maybe he’s a dwarf but he could also just be a short dude with an attitude. I do applaud Peter Jackson & Co. for striving to give them all individual looks & personalities, but I like more armor, helmets, and battle axes.
–Sauron. Not scary. Creepy? Perhaps. But he didn’t make me cringe. And I get what they’re going for, but Sauron needs to inspire that “I’ve gotta change my underwear” feeling and I didn’t get it.
–Bard & Laketown. I liked that they fleshed out the character of Bard. But if I heard his kids says “Da” (rhymes with “whah”), I was going to chuck my cherry Arctic Blast at the screen. I’ve heard some criticize the time devoted to him since he doesn’t get much attention in the book. But since he has such a major impact on the story in Act III, I don’t mind.
–The Orcs. I heard some guys on a podcast (which one escapes my holiday-addled mind) mention that they thought the orcs were too CGI-looking. Having seen the film and again seeing FOTR & TT yesterday, I think I agree. That scene in TT where the Uruk-Hai have Merry & Pippin on their backs. Those are some menacing looking dudes. And it’s all make-up & costuming. Sure the orcs in Hobbit are scary, but I think the CGI makes them a tad less believable. Plus, the battle scenes seem to be cut much faster than the LOTR films, and I suspect that may be to keep us from noticing the limitations of CGI. But on further viewings, I could be wrong.
–The love triangle. Tauriel & Kili shooting goo-goo eyes at each other. I can live with it. As I mentioned, I’m cool with the Tauriel character, and as a well-adjusted and self-confidant 21st Century male, I can admit that Kili is a good looking brother. If I was a sexy, ass-kicking, she-elf warrior, I might hit that myself.
–The Mirkwood Spiders. Creepy & nasty. Really they were perfect. It’s been well-documented here that I don’t like spiders. At all. And obviously I knew these guys were coming. Whomever did the design and CGI for these nasty suckas gets kudos from me. Those close ups of their “faces” were just wrong. I gotta pick up some more RAID.
–Smaug. “Smowg?” Or is it “Smog.” Who can keep track? Isn’t it “Smog” in the old Rankin & Bass animated Hobbit? It’s taking me awhile to get used to saying it differently. You say “toe-may-toe,” I say “toe-mah-toe” I guess. I love him. He’s mean, he’s nasty. And like a drunken stormtrooper after a booze-soaked night on Tatooine, he can’t hit $#!& with his main weapon. Not since the A-Team has so much firepower produced so few casualties.
–Radagast. I love him. I’m glad they worked him in. The way he hauls ass around the forest with a rabbit powered tree sled is FREAKING AWESOME! That being said, could somebody please (I’m looking at you Gandalf)…please get this guy a bottle of organic shampoo so he can wash that lava flow of bird crap off the side of his face. It’s bad enough that his handle is “The Brown,” (was “The Green” taken?), but encrusted bird feces is NOT going to get my man a date. I just find it a bit of a distraction. It makes me wonder about the rest of his personal hygiene regimen and thankful that Peter Jackson hasn’t brought back Smell-O-Vision.
–Beorn. OK, was it just me? When Beorn first appears on screen in bear form, I thought he was a just a Warg. Granted, I was still working on my popcorn and cherry Arctic Blast, so I may have been distracted. I was just expecting a really big, nasty bear, and this one looked a little werewolfy to me. In human form, I think they nailed it. Dude was scary and definitely not somebody on whose bad side one would want to get. In fact, there’s an old Middle Earth saying, “Don’t be the guy who drinks the last of Beorn’s orange juice.”
Well, on that note, I’m gonna go whip up an Orange Julius for myself and sit down to watch Bama roll in the Sugar Bowl (edit Friday AM–or perhaps not so much). Thanks for visiting and I’ll be back soon with some more hopefully interesting stuff. Until then…stay nerdy my friends.
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