10 reasons The Hobbit is a worthwhile journey

TheHobbitQuad

I saw The Hobbit twice already, the first time on an advanced screening before my vacation and the second time this past weekend. I enjoyed it both times, perhaps a bit more the second time around. Despite the 2 hrs 44 minutes running time, I find it to be thoroughly enjoyable. That’s not to say that I didn’t think the length was perfect, I think there are indeed some scenes that could’ve been edited out, especially some of the battle scenes. But no, I did not find it to be as problematic as critics made it out to be. It’s worth noting that I have NOT read the book so I have no complain about the extra scenes, either.

So here are ten reasons why I’m glad to be back to Middle Earth once again:

1. The world that Tolkien built... and the classic tale of good vs. evil. I think one of the main reasons I enjoyed this movie so much is that I LOVE this fantasy world, the story and its wisdom. There’s an underlying message of hope, courage and love that’s worth revisiting again and again. I’ve loved the characters in the Lord of the Rings, and I also feel a connection with the main characters of The Hobbit. (See #9)

2. The dazzling visuals … The technological wizardry enables us to experience the journey as if we’re actually there inside Bilbo’s house, or in the woods spying on Thorin & co. I saw this movie both times in the High Frame Rate (48Frames/Second) Digital 3D format (NOT the IMAX version) and I have no qualms about it. Yes it’s so crisp that it looks like watching a show on HDTV but after a while, your eyes adjust to it and I’ve come to appreciate the clarity of every little detail and the smoothness of the fast-moving action scenes. It’s such a meticulously-crafted universe, from the interior of Bilbo’s house in the Shire to the ever-so-ethereal Rivendell, which was as majestic as I had remembered it in LOTR.

TheHobbit_BilboRivendell

It’s obvious this movie is a labor of love for Peter Jackson and it shows. The sweeping cinematography is one to behold, it was a welcome return to the visually mesmerizing world of Middle Earth.

3. Martin Freeman as Bilbo … I’m so glad that PJ was set on casting Freeman, even to the point of reworking the entire shooting schedule (due to the BBC’s Sherlock‘s scheduling conflict) for the Hobbit films to accommodate him. I think his casting is integral to the success of the movie and his personal journey is a joy to watch. Freeman is exactly what I’d imagine the young Bilbo would be. His bumbling mannerism, the way he constantly doubts himself, and his lack of vanity are all what I love about this character. Freeman plays the heroic ‘everyman’ so perfectly, I absolutely can’t imagine anyone else in this role.


TheHobbit_Thorin4. Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield… I was thrilled when I first heard that one of my favorite Brits got a major role in The Hobbit! The English actor definitely has the right look (despite his 6’2″ stature) and sensibility as the Aragorn-like leader of the pack. As the son of the slain Dwarf king and heir of Erebor Kingdom, he’s naturally got a sullen demeanor and a fierce determination to take back his stolen homeland destroyed by Smaug the Dragon. Armitage’s got a mean (read: irresistible) glower which PJ made the most of throughout the movie. Even underneath all that beard and dwarf costume, he’s still so darn hunky. Oh and that deep voice! I sure hope there’s another singing sequence in the 2nd and 3rd movies ;)

5. The Lord of the Rings nostalgia … It’s a good thing that PJ came back to direct this movie as it’s got all the ingredients and the vibe I’ve come to appreciate about the LOTR franchise. I also LOVE seeing the characters from the trilogy reappearing here, Frodo, Lord Elrod, Saruman and especially Galadriel and Gandalf. I’ve missed seeing Cate Blanchett on screen so it was nice to see her even in her brief scenes. Ian McKellen is fantastic as usual as the wise Gandalf the Grey. His chemistry with Bilbo is especially heartfelt, Gandalf truly believes in him despite what Thorin thinks about having him around in their quest.

6. The riddle scene of Gollum and Bilbo … Easily the main highlight of the movie for me. Andy Serkis is such a mo-cap virtuoso and Gollum is even more life like than ever before. His bulging blue eyes are ever-so-expressive, it’s especially amusing when he’s frustrated trying to come up with an answer for a riddle. He’s terrifyingly creepy but yet you can’t help but feeling sorry for the poor soul when he lost his ‘precious’ one. An iconic character that never wears out its welcome.

TheHobbitGollum
7. Howard Shore’s gorgeous music … it evokes the lush sound of LOTR and I love that it plays the same theme when certain scenes are revisited, such as when the ring shows up. But yet it’s got its own distinct theme that is unique for The Hobbit. The melody from the song played in Bilbo’s house you heard in the trailer is played throughout. It sounds so beautifully melancholic as a song, but it’s got a lively energy when played during some of the dynamic action scenes.

8. The merry band of dwarves (I purposely use the Tolkien spelling here)The Hobbit is decidedly more lighthearted than the LOTR trilogy, though it still carries a profound message of good vs evil. In the first viewing I felt that the introduction of the Dwarves and the huge dinner party at Bilbo’s house went on a bit too long. But on second viewing I actually enjoyed it a lot more. Their colorful personality offers a stark contrast to the reclusive Bilbo and their angst-y leader Thorin. Radagast the Brown, one of Gandalf’s fellow Wizards, is amusingly quirky as well.

9. “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth – Matthew 5:5

Galadriel: Mithrandir, why the halfling?

Gandalf: Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? That’s because I am afraid and it gives me courage.

TheHobbit_GaladrielGandalf

I LOVE Gandalf answer. Bilbo is not of noble breed, nor does he have certain superpowers, in fact, he’s chosen because of his small stature and humility. In the midst of superhero movies out there, it’s nice to see a ‘regular guy’ who does heroic deeds motivated by love and empathy for others. The initially-doubtful Bilbo finally comes into his own towards the end, realizing his worth and his place in the journey to the Lonely Mountain. His speech after he escaped Goblin Town is moving and inspiring, delivered so effortlessly by Freeman without even the slightest bit of trite.
..

10. Movie escapism at its best…I went in expecting to be swept away in a world so unlike my own and live vicariously through Bilbo as he goes about on his adventure and that’s what I got. Yes some of the scenes are perhaps a bit too cartoon-ish, I mean we’re talking about these dwarves falling down a cavern as the bridge they’re on breaks into fragments, and once they fell hundreds of feet below, a 500+ pound goblin king falls on them. Yet they all survive perfectly with no major injury! I suppose we don’t know the exact genetic makeup of a dwarf so their bones could be a heck of a lot stronger than humans. What else would explain Thorin survival after being whacked by the giant pale Orc Azog with a big mace with spikes on them! It’s all part of the ‘fantasy’ bit folks, so I don’t see a point in nitpicking on that front.

As for Azog as the main villain in this film, I heard some people complain that he’s a ‘weak’ villain. Well naturally he would be if you compare him to Sauron and his evil watchful eye, but the pale Orc is just one of the evil ‘minions’ if you will, employed by the powerful dark force that Thorin & co. would eventually have to face.

All in all, it’s a wonderful start of an epic journey. I really care for the characters and the quest for them to take back their homeland. I was caught up in the adventures and for me and now I can’t wait for what happens next!


So what do you think of The Hobbit? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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47 thoughts on “10 reasons The Hobbit is a worthwhile journey

  1. Well said my friend! I haven’t fully understood the backlash on this movie. Now I fully admit it wasn’t the absolute classic that the previous films were, but I’ve only seen it once and I can’t wait to see it again. I really like this a lot. Great write up Ruth.

    • Ah the critics can be such curmudgeons, I pretty much ignored their reviews anyway. I think the LOTR trilogy is inherently a much deeper, more poignant story and The Hobbit more lighthearted, but still it’s a fun journey for me. Can’t wait to see more!

  2. I plan to go see it this weekend, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be great. It’s funny reading the negative reviews and all of them just complained about the high frame rate or that it’s too long. Even some of them said it’s not like Lord of the Rings, well duh! The Hobbit book is much lighter and it’s written for kids.

    I’m going to check it out on the high frame rate theater first then IMAX.

    • Hi Ted, hope you enjoy this one. Yeah well, I disagree w/ the critics again, what else is new ;) I knew going in that this wouldn’t ‘beat’ LOTR but so what, I judged it on its own merit and like you said, it’s a more lighthearted book so the journey itself is inherently not as ‘epic.’ Still I had fun with it. Curious to hear what you think about the HFR. Perhaps you could do a post on it later?

  3. Oh man, I need to disagree with you on two points, which is funny you claim them reasons to see the film as I think they were detriments towards the film.

    Point #5. This was pure pandering and nothing more. Now I am a huge Tolkien fan and a big fan of the film trilogy, but I still could not stomach PJ forcing these references to the other films down our throats. That scene in Rivendell honestly felt like a cameo role call, and including Frodo in the movie was entirely pointless. I thought it was fan service of the worst kind.

    Point #9. You are praising the film for bad writing, basically. In one line, Gandalf sums up the entire point of The Hobbit. A little on the nose, don’t you think? A better script would have had this central theme play out through the events and actions instead of “Oh yeah, we need to reinforce the importance of hobbits. Let’s just shoehorn it in with a line from Gandalf.”

    I do agree with most o your other points, aside fro HFR. Point #6 is definitely the highlight of the film, and as for the score, I really liked how Shore incorporated the melody of the dwarve’s song into their main theme.

    • Hi Ian, y’see I don’t see Rivendell and Frodo as being ‘forced down our throats,’ the references to LOTR are expected and since I love that ‘world’ I don’t mind ‘em so much. I think this kind of thing is a matter of personal preferences. The world IS connected after all, so PJ is a bit indulgent on his part, but it doesn’t bother me.

      I also think Gandalf’s line about Bilbo is beautifully-played, I don’t see it as ‘dumbing down the audience,’ It merely reinforces Gandalf’s faith in the underdog, which most people who’ve seen LOTR already know. I happen to love that whole scene in Rivendell.

      Glad you agree on most points though, seems like we both actually rate this much higher than the critics did :D

  4. I always wondered why Gandalf entrusted the Ring to a Hobbit in the first place…

    Don’t know if you’ve read the book or not, but if you have, do you think this story really deserves three movies?

    • Hi Rich, I pointed it out above that I have not read the books. I think it’s debatable whether the story warrants three films or not, perhaps 2 is enough but for someone who loves this universe, I don’t have qualms about it, especially with this cast!

  5. Great list, Ruth! Didn’t love the film, but I really enjoyed it. I actually thought the action sequences were the one thing that didn’t need to be shorter. My favorite part was the riddle scene. If only the rest of the film was that great…

  6. Saw this movie yesterday and agree wholeheartedly with you, Ruth (except for the battle scenes…there’s no such thing as a battle scene that goes one too long ;) What a wonderfully entertaining film! Like you I could have done without the “dwarves falling 500 feet and surviving uninjured” thing, and also feel that some of the Ian Holm Bilbo/Frodo intro could have been trimmed, but overall, this was a magical movie experience and I really responded to the sense of swashbuckling adventure and camaraderie amongst the main characters, not to mention the meticulously designed fantasy world. I purposely avoided any 3D or 48 FPS showings, opting for good old 2D 24 FPS for my initial viewing. I hope to eventually make it back to the theater to give the new technology a fair shake, though yours is one of the few reviews with positive things to say about the HFR process.

    • Hi Jeff! I’m glad you think this was a magical movie experience, that’s how I feel about it and the sense of adventure was definitely there. I think the 48 FPS was worthwhile for me, though I probably didn’t mind seeing it in the 24 FPS too, as I really enjoyed the story.

  7. That’s a good way for a review, Ruth. I still haven’t written my review yet.
    My guess is correct…here in Indonesia, most women adore Killi not Thorin ;)

    I love Martin Freeman…he is sooooooo cute as Bilbo.
    There are so many scenes which are not from the book but I really don’t mind because PJ is trying to fit in the history in TLOTR which he had to erase before.

    • Hi Nov, I figured it’s easier for me to do a top 10 so I can cover more things than a straight review. Ahah, Killi is cute but I definitely would go for the more rugged, manly Thorin. Plus his character is much more prominent.

      Yes Martin Freeman is adorable! I’ve already been a fan of his from Sherlock but he’s just sooo good as Bilbo!

  8. I won’t deny that I was smiling like an idiot at times when I saw this. I mean, how could I not? Definitely agree with you about Freeman. I honestly can’t imagine anyone else in the role. (He’s that good.) Also, that final shot had me so excited, you have no idea. (It seems unfair that we have to wait a whole year for it.)

    • Hi Anna! I’m smiling ear to ear to hear you love this movie too, and Martin Freeman! He’s so adorable. I love his quirky mannerism, and his scene with Gollum is just pure movie magic. Yes, the wait is just the worst!! I wish PJ could release the second movie in Summer 2013 and the third one around the holiday to spare us the agonizing wait!

  9. Yes yes yes, a thousand times yes! Gandalf’s answer made my eyes well up, and I cannot wait to see it again (this time in 48fps, so I can compare) but I do not doubt that I will be seeing it at least three times! It was the perfect Boxing Day movie for me!
    Richard Amitage was amazing, Martin Freeman was amazing, the visuals were dazzling, Howard Shore’s music was superb – I loved it!

    • Hi Ruth! So glad you love this as much as I did. I did tear up during that scene w/ Gandalf too, it was such a poignant moment. I could easily watch this one again for a 3rd time, I just had so much fun watching it. You’re lucky to live in Down Under that you could easily visit the filming locations. I wish I could do that one day as LOTR is one of my favorite franchise of all time!

  10. I saw this at midnight and I really liked it. I’ve read the book but so long ago that it doesn’t really influence me. #9 is the soul of the movie and really the series I think. And i have to agree, Martin Freeman does indeed have the ability to deliver some potentially corny lines naturally and movingly.

    • Hi Paula! Glad you enjoyed this too, girl. I really appreciate the inspiring message of Tolkien’s books, I think that’s the reason for their enduring popularity. Martin Freeman was born to play Bilbo as you absolutely believe him as that character.

  11. Love your review Ruth. I’ve seen the film three times, my goal is to see it in all formats. My favorite so far, to be old fashion, is 24fps. I could really immerse myself in the story.

    Of course, i also agree with you about Richard Armitage ;)

    • That’s a good idea MyrL, interesting that your fave is the 24 fps. Well Richard is just da bomb. I really wish this role would open up more opportunities for him in Hollywood.

  12. Very persuasive article Ruth. I do appreciate the size, the labor and the care that has been put in reconstructing Middle Earth on film. I haven’t seen the film yet. If I don’t see it in theaters, it’ll be the first of the Tolkien adaptations that I don’t get to watch on the big screen.
    As I told another fellow blogger, I like the LOTR films, but I don’t LOVE them. They all tend to overextend themselves in length. I can’t tell you how many times I looked at my watch during all three. There are parts that drag, and I’d believe that the same thing happens in The Hobbit from what I’ve read.

    • Hi Niels. I think even those who aren’t so keen on the film would have to appreciate the labor of love of PJ & co. in creating the world of Middle Earth. As I said, I think it depends on how one feels about that world, I could see how some people would find it boring if they’re not as ‘immersed’ in that universe. I actually didn’t check my watch at all when I watched it :D

  13. Saw this last week in 2D, and thought it was…. wait, why am I telling you all? My review is online on Thursday.

    (I thought it was pretty darn good)

    Nice review, Ruth. I agree with the majority of your points (although I’m not able to confirm the HFR aspect of the movie) although I will say that the opening dwarves-arrive-at-Bag-End sequence had significant pacing issues.

    • Curious to hear what you think Rodney. I initially thought the opening sequence when all the dwarves swarmed Bilbo’s house went on too long, but I actually enjoyed it more on second viewing so it’s all good :)

  14. I love the movie for the exact same reasons… and so many more, but they’re probably all part of what you already said.
    About Cate Blanchett, I just had a little blogathon-thingy about her and she really doesn’t get enough major roles, especially at the time. But she’ll be in a Woody Allen and a Terrence Malick film this year, so that’s something to look forward to!

  15. Excellent reasons. Perfect in fact. While I’m not sure I enjoyed it quite as much as you did, The Hobbit is an incredibly entertaining and good fantasy film. The score sends chills down my spine. It just takes me back to Middle Earth!

  16. Really like your tenth reason, and I think that’s why I enjoyed The Hobbit as much as I did. I think the HFR helped with the escapism — it felt unlike any other film I have seen. It also made the 3D much more bearable than usual.

  17. Pingback: LAMBScores: Return To Middle Earth, part 1 | The Large Association of Movie Blogs

  18. I liked parts of the movie, the prologue and the last 20 minutes were the best ones. I prefer Freeman’s Bilbo to Wood’s Frodo, but it’s only because of his performance from the moment he found the ring. I really enjoyed the friendship between Bilbo and Thorin in fact the scenes with characters telling stories, talking and bonding were my favorite moments, other than that all the action scenes with talking creatures annoyed me :(

    I agree the score was incredible, but I cannot believe they didn’t include the most beautiful track on the album – the one that is played when the Eagles carry the group over the mountains. LOVE the riddle sequence too!

    I cannot believe you didn’t mention Sebastian! :P

    • I just read your review. I’m not gonna lie that I wish you had liked it more but I think your assessment is fair. Glad you did enjoy Bilbo and Thorin, they’re the most developed characters and both actors played them so beautifully!

      That’s too bad the track of that sequence is left out, what a bummer! I do love The Misty Mountain where Thorin is singing, my goodness, Benedict and Richard ought to do a movie together where they just sit and talk in a diner!!

      Can’t believe I left out Sebastian, that poor little creature. I LOVE how Radagast feeds him with a teeny tiny spoon!

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