I was sick over the weekend and that means one thing: laying on the couch and trying to find something to watch on television. My Netflix queue has become quite thin of late (seriously…other than tv series, have they gotten ANYTHING good on Netflix in the past six months?). And so I hit Vudu, my other streaming option. And there I found a treasure – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, on sale for $15 to own.
You see, I hate renting, because if I watch a movie and I like it, I want it so I can watch it again some time. It’s the same reason I only use the library for reference and not for borrowing. And while I was leery of buying a virtual copy of a movie, I did so anyway, because I hadn’t seen The Hobbit yet. It’s not so easy to convince yourself to go see movies in the theater when you have no one to go with you.
So I watched the movie. I was expecting it to feel padded out, since after all, making three movies out of such a short book seemed ridiculous. But it didn’t feel padded at all. The opening with old Bilbo and Frodo was perfect, and allowed the movie to dovetail into the original trilogy. Gandalf’s first appearance, striking the pose of the famous poster, was also perfect. The dwarves had personality, and the songs didn’t feel silly or tacked on.
But I must lavish most of my praise on Martin Freeman, whom I already loved from Sherlock. He simply killed as Bilbo. His self deprecating body language, his way of clearly being over his head yet buggering on, it’s just perfect. I also enjoyed the subtle things – the way he came about the ring, and how it fell upon his finger as it did Frodo’s in the inn in Bree.
Speaking of those scenes, Gollum was, as expected, exactly as you’d want him, more the villain here, but you see that same pathetic look, the look of Smegol, when Bilbo is deciding to kill him or not. You see the moment of mercy that will lead to the ending on Sauron, and it works very well.
I was concerned that adding Galadriel and Saruman to the movie might seem wrong, but bringing the story of the Necromancer into the Hobbit seems to fit well. I expect to see more of that storyline in the next two films. The addition of Radagast was also well done, despite those who might quibble over the rabbit pulled sleigh (which seemed VERY Tolkien in nature to me!). Plus it was The Doctor. Seriously, how can you complain about The Doctor being a wizard in Middle-Earth?
The movie does feel a bit lighter than Lord of the Rings, but then it should. So yes, the Goblin King is kind of silly, and the trolls were childish brutes, and you have snot jokes and cute animals, but then The Hobbit was written for a younger audience, and so it should be lighthearted. Even so, there is still darkness. Thorin brings most of that, along with the theme of the dwarves being homeless. It’s heavy stuff for such a story.
In any event, I enjoyed watching it, and it made me rewatch the extended trilogy, so I’m now overloaded with LOTR thoughts.