Before we proceed, a warning. If you haven’t already seen The Hobbit, this is a not quite stream of conciousness of what I was thinking and feeling as I watched it. Beware spoilers.
First off; the prologue.
You know, I really wish Peter Jackson hadn’t chosen to go with the whole ‘Older Bilbo’ encapsulating narrative. I like Ian Holm as Bilbo in The Lord of the Rings so it pains me to say that here, he just doesn’t do it for me. He constantly looks bored and/or like he’s forgotten what he’s even doing in this film. His narration fell flat when it could have been so good if it’d been done by someone like Thorin, or even Gandalf. My first impression of the whole thing was long, wordy and far more telling than showing. I though the experience would improve with a second viewing, but nope. Still unnecessary.
And yes, I know that there was a lot of exposition in the prologue to Fellowship as well but, let’s face it, Bilbo is no Galadriel. (Not that Galadriel doesn’t have her faults, but we’ll get to that later.) I know there’re plenty of people who haven’t read The Hobbit for whom this introduction was very useful, but my experience of all this info was more akin to being spoon fed.
And during this whole bit I was just sitting there and wondering, ‘So, wait, wouldn’t Frodo know about all this already anyway?’ which really kind of took me out of it.
On the other hand, I enjoyed this bit. I really, really loved the way they did the city of Dale. It had things like Mediterranean-esque architecture and towers, and pointed helmets with fur around the rims that you normally only see on enemy barbarian forces in fantasy films, and paper kites, and Mongolian and Tibetan looking hats, and a doll that looked like it came from Khashgar, and generally a whole refreshing multicultural air that I’d never really gotten from Middle-Earth before. Though, to be fair, all the different races we’d seen before tended to stick in their own little groups and not mingle that much.
Plus, hot damn, was it great to see some actual Dwarven architecture before the decay and cobwebs and evil and such set in. Erebor was incredible. It used a colour scheme that, again, I’d never really seen in Middle-Earth before, bluey green and gold; it all looked spectacular, though I’d be terrified of walking anywhere in that mountain. The titchy safety rails, they do nothing. I like to think I’m good with heights, but that place gave me sympathetic vertigo.
Then Smaug came along and smooshed it all. Without even giving us a hint what Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice coming out of a dragon’s mouth is going to sound like, so we have to wait until the next film. Booo.
Also, Thorin and Balin can hide behind a pillar and not get cooked alive by dragon fire – convection? What’s that? – I felt rather sorry for poor Thror, even though this whole thing was sort of his fault, and Thranduil is too awesome to ride a horse. Which does actually make sense. He’s not just a Wood Elf, he’s the King Wood Elf: his chosen steed’s going to be something from his kingdom that can run flat out in a forest environment, whereas horses are very much creatures of the plains. Plus, look at those antlers. Major status symbol, am I right?
Even if they’d make the aforementioned running flat out in said forest environment a bit tricky…
The whole first act in the Shire, which shall henceforth be known as ‘The Never Ending Shire’, wherein we meet Bilbo, the straight man! Gandalf, the rather more chipper! Dwalin, the voice of perhaps the best cartoon Loki evar! Balin, the one who gets killed off between trilogies! Fili and Kili, come on, you know why they’re in these films! Bofur, the incredibly blunt one with the awesome hat! Bombur, the fat one! Thorin Oakenshield, the only other character important enough to have a last name!
And the rest, who don’t have the chance to make too much of an impression; but don’t worry, I’m sure the next two films will remedy that.
Incidentally, I bet Jackson made it so Bifur only speaks Khuzdul just so he didn’t have to write dialogue for one more person. Also, have you noticed that most of the dwarves who get prominent speaking roles are the ones who don’t have too many prosthetics on i.e. the ones who look the most human?
‘Blunt the Knives’ left me gaping at the screen, wondering what precisely it was I’d just witnessed. Not that that was a bad thing. Exactly.
Bilbo is a Baggins, of Bag End!!! Ah, memes.
Hey, they actually included the Golfimble bit! I thought that’d be way too silly even for this film…back in the days before I knew about the giant rabbits. How innocent I was back then.
Far over the Misty Mountains was epic.
Bilbo spent far too much time wandering around Bag End making sure they’d all gone – one occasion in which I was grateful for the yakkety-sax speed of the HD version – but I forgive him that for giving me a wonderful view of Hobbiton as he ran through it, while managing not to trip over his massive feet.
Gandalf mentions Radagast – and, naturally, we cut to him. And all the fears I’d had about him were completely assuaged-
-sort of assuaged. There were a lot of moments when I cringed, particularly when he pulled the cross-eyed look at least twice and had a stick insect on his tongue for some reason, what the hell was it even doing in his mouth? But it’s Sylvester McCoy. He can do very little wrong in my eyes. He can take the concept of a wizard with bird shit down one side of his head and make it work, for the most part. Even when he drives a sled pulled by giant rabbits. Is it a sled or a sledge? Eh, I’m calling it a sled, so there.
Again, this does actually make sense; Radagast’s in a fairly old body and he needs to get around the forest somehow. And I really have no business calling out a film for having giant rabbits when there’re also wolves, sorry, wargs big enough for some pretty hefty goblins/orcs/whatever to ride, to say nothing of the Deus Ex Machina with wings.
I just kind of wish that the sled could have been pulled by deer or something instead, because even Sylvester McCoy can’t say something like ‘Rhosgobel Rabbits!!!’ and make me take it seriously.
As is also the case with Sebastian the hedgehog. Sorry, little guy, but this is Middle-Earth. I expect me some names from Norse sagas, or at the very least ending in ‘iel’ or something fancy. Sebastian just doesn’t cut the mustard.
Oh good, another flashback. I did enjoy the battle scenes in this but couldn’t quite figure out what bugged me about them at first. Then I got it; the proportions look completely skew whiff to my eyes. The actors playing the dwarves move very differently from human warriors, plus they’re fighting against obviously inhuman foes with added, if not obvious, CGI. Something’s going to register in the brain and say, ‘This isn’t right’. Also, Dwalin with a mohawk really threw me for a loop.
And, when Balin had finished his story and Thorin looked around from where he was brooding epically and saw most of them standing up, looking at him-
-all I could think was ‘What did they go and do that for? I though most of them were asleep anyway? They’re not going anywhere until the morning, why did they all suddenly feel the need to stand up? Also, again; except for Bilbo, shouldn’t they all know this already anyway?’
Yes, Thorin, you believe Azog is dead if it makes you happy. It’s just going to make it all the more hilarious when you find out he’s not. We’ll know long before you in any case, since Jackson chooses to constantly remind us that, by the way, this guy who nurtures a great big load of hate for Thorin is still alive!
In case you’d forgotten.
The whole trolls’ bit was great. I have a confession to make; I imagined a parody of what this film would be like ages ago, and I joked that the trolls would be like mutated versions of Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and Nigella Lawson. It was spooky to see that I’d gotten at least part of that prediction right, at least when it came to one of them imagining himself to be a chef and talking about seasonings.
“What’s that horrible smell?” “It’s a troll hoard!” Well, thank you, Detective Inspector State the Flaming Obvious. Also, when I saw this the first time I spotted a wrought iron bedstead or gate or something in the corner of the cave and sniggered for some reason. Then, when I saw the HD version, I realized there were severed hands stuck on the bedstead/gate, and I went ‘ICK.’
Come on, Thorin, it’s not like the swords have Elf cooties.
Gandalf gives Bilbo a certain dagger and, when Bilbo says he doesn’t know how to fight, tells him that the most important thing to remember is knowing when not to take a life.
Which is not exactly helpful. Give me ‘Stick ‘em with the pointy end’ any day.
Ah, Radagast shows up again. With the stick insect. Would Mirkwood even have the climate to support stick insects? Then again, they do show up in New Zealand, so there you go.
I must say, the dwarves are remarkably blasé about wolves or wargs or whatever leaping down into their midst and nearly nomming on them. Good on them.
Thorin to Gandalf: “Where are you leading us?” Gee, Thorin, I’ll give you three guesses.
So, I’m sitting and watching the chase scene and thinking, ‘The last time this was happening it was Liv Tyler on a horse pursued by nine black riders, and now we’ve got Sylvester McCoy on a sled pulled by giant rabbits, and I honestly can’t decide whether it’s an improvement or not, I AM SO CONFUSED.’
In HD, the rock passageway was very claustrophobic indeed, so thanks for that Jackson.
Ah, Rivendell. So lovely that the shot is left on it for far longer than it needs to be.
Others have already said this, but I’ll say it again anyway: it’s nice to see Elrond actually looking cheerful for a change. You poor sod, you’ve got no idea what’s in store for you…
I like to think the look Bilbo gave Balin after the letter opener comment can be translated to ‘May you die a horrible death and a troll smush your tomb.’
What? It’s going to happen anyway.
The trailer lied to me; Bilbo does not go to look upon the shards of Narsil. Maybe in the extended DVD or something…
Elrond has a special crystal table just for reading moon letters on. On a cliff surrounded by waterfalls! Show off. Thorin still hates Elves, it’s been at least five minutes since we mentioned that!
Galadriel poses all over the place. Seriously, the way she turns around to face Gandalf makes her look like she’s on castors, I was waiting for a creaky noise. She apparently had time to go and change her dress before they all sat down to talk. It’s weird that Saruman’s not actually being flat out evil but just obstructively bureaucratic, and not nearly as fun. I also thought The White Council would have more members rather than just Gandalf and Elrond and ‘Those two from those other films,’ but really if they’d had any more people in that scene it would have been even longer. As it is, at the end of it Saruman actually summarizes everything they’ve just said, in case we’d forgotten any of it in the time it took to get the scene done.
Also I think Galadriel is being very rude; she’s just walking about and ignoring everyone until it pleases her, and is mentally invading Gandalf’s mind without even asking permission. And apparently she’s rather into him, and has the ability to teleport.
I was actually wondering if they were going to include the stone giants. Lo and behold, they did. Now I’m trying desperately to work out how on earth they have not smashed everything in Middle Earth to bits by now. Plus thinking that this would be the perfect opportunity for a ‘Rocks fall, everybody dies’ gag. Oh, and Thorin’s being a Tsundere again and saying Bilbo shouldn’t have come along. Wow, I wonder if that’s going to make Bilbo try to leave in a huff of course it fucking is what a surprise.
Have you forgotten that Azog is in this film yet? No? Just checking.
This whole conversation Bilbo and Bofur the Lumberjack are having, about homes and having/not having one and whatnot, is going to crop up later on, isn’t it? Of course it is. And naturally Thorin is awake to hear the whole conversation.
There is no fucking way that one of them didn’t break something after plummeting down that rough stone tunnel and landing in that cage.
Bilbo manages to slip away from the goblin horde by…standing still and then ducking down. I wish I were making this up. And even though he’s never used the letter opener/knife/dagger soon to be known as Sting before, he’s still able to block that stray goblin. Riiiiight up until they fall down a mine shaft. Don’t worry, he’ll be fine.
Why, precisely, someone as huge and presumably god damned heavy as the Great Goblin has his throne situated on a platform slap bang over a ginormous rift in the earth…
…is beyond me. I did laugh when he trod on a load of titchy goblins to get off the throne, though. I also laughed when he started speaking and he was essentially Dame Edna, kudos for subverting expectations in the voice acting department. Thorin seems determined to look at everything through his eyebrows. My goodness, I’d forgotten for a moment that Thorin currently has a dragon squatting in his mountain, thank you for reminding me!
Told you it’d be hilarious when Thorin found out Azog was still alive.
Goblins can even make the act of sending a message look evil. I loved that little giggly goblin in a bucket.
See, Bilbo’s fine! Landing on mushrooms solves everything.
Ah, and Gollum arrives on the scene, thus beginning the bit which shall hereafter be known as ‘The Best Bit in the Whole Damn Film’. This bit was so good.
Even the Goblin King is getting in on the musical act – up until one of the goblins picks up Orcrist and they all instantly recognise it. This part always confused me even in the book: how do the goblins know this sword is a certain weapon that had been lost for millennia? I’m probably being species-st or something, but this particular branch of Goblin society does not seem the sort to carefully note down and chronicle the appearance of two age old weapons with enough detail that they’d be instantly recognisable after who knows how many thousands of years. Unless goblins are just immortal and have the memory spans to go with it? I understand Elrond knowing what they were, he’s the greatest of lore masters plus his father and grandparents were from Gondolin – frankly I’m amazed he let Gandalf and Thorin walk off with them, he could easily have pulled a Gollum and crouched over them hissing – but, what, do the goblins put up posters on the cave walls saying ‘Keep calm and stay the hell away from these swords!’?
Anyway, they don’t pay heed to the hypothetical posters because shit goes down, the goblins try to kill them and Gandalf is a BAMF who bamfs in like Nightcrawler and saves them. The Great Goblin falls off the edge of the platform see, see, what did I tell you? Gandalf does the old ‘slice, dice, confused and then going to pieces’ thing to a goblin and then says “Run, run!”
He does that a lot in this film.
The ring slips onto Bilbo’s finger, rather improbably. Still the best bit in the whole damn film.
Ah, the chase/fight through Goblin Town. Dwalin goes goblin jousting! About half of the dwarves and Gandalf end up on a walkway above the other half for some reason I didn’t catch, thank you editing! Gandalf is wise in the ways of staff-fu! Goblins are not wise in the ways of safety rails! The Wilhelm scream shows up. Someone who’s either Balin or Dori or maybe Nori does that ‘swing a stick around in a circle taking out absolutely everyone in the immediate radius’ thing, that I always think couldn’t possibly work in real life, but what do I know? Bombur is sick of these mother-loving goblins on his mother-loving flab and does a cannon ball through two rope bridges and smashes into the rock face! He’s fine. Thorin blocks rope swinging goblins with a falling bridge, which was actually hilarious as they went flying and squealing. Kili, not to be outdone, blocks arrows with his sword and a ladder, which is where I officially gave up. Do you remember that whole staircase debacle in Moria? Yeah, so this time round they swing about on a platform and some of them jump off it to safety, and then the platform swings back and some goblins jump on, and the remaining lot go ‘oh crap’ and have to fight the goblins off. At one point they’re actually pushing a boulder onto the goblins and running after it, like some strange mutated version of Indiana Jones.
Probably a lot more happens, but my brain is still struggling to process it all. Plus, more sympathetic vertigo. Does no one in this Middle-Earth believe in adequate safety rails???
So it seems like they’re about to escape, when suddenly a pissed off Great Goblin appears and oh what the hell, where the hell did he come from?!? He just bursts up through the bridge after presumably clinging to the wall, this is insane!!!
Come on, dude, you’ve just been disembowelled! Show a little…okay, enthusiasm isn’t really the word I want. How about ‘Oh sweet jesus my guts are falling out, it hurrrrts.’
Though I have to admit, “That’ll do it,” was funny. I giggled.
So Gandalf cuts his throat and he dies – though without the spurt of blood you’d expect from a slashed throat because this is for kids, after all! – and falls on the bridge, which then breaks. And then it does a truly epic grind down the side of the rift with all of the dwarves and Gandalf clinging on for dear life, and then smashes at the bottom.
And then, when Bofur tempts fate the dead Great Goblin lands on them.
I am not wise in the art of gifs, so I shall just say nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. NOPE.
They should be dead. They should so be dead. Or at least severely injured. This is-
(At this point in the concocting of this review, my darling elder sister reminded me that, if a dead goblin dropped on you, you were in a fantasy any way, and certain rules didn’t apply. This is very true, so I reluctantly let this go.
So, they survive…all that stuff. Somehow. Then they have to run, because there are so very many goblins after them. Run away, run away!!!
Gollum is blocking the way, so Bilbo nearly kills him. This was such a wonderful scene, and thank god it didn’t have a replay of Gandalf’s ‘knowing when not to take a life’ spiel interrupting it. It was just Bilbo looking at a teary Gollum and visibly sort of understanding him and choosing to spare him.
Although I notice that not-Sting-yet does that sharp sounding noise all film swords seem to do, even when there’s no reason for them to. Huh.
(Also, I really wish Gandalf’s aforementioned spiel hadn’t been included in the final cut at all. In the book Bilbo took pity on Gollum through his own thought processes, while here there’s always the faintest hint that the possibility only really forms in his mind because Gandalf said so earlier.)
So Bilbo kicks Gollum in the face and runs for it, finds the dwarves who are naturally badmouthing him, takes the Ring off and starts on the whole ‘I have a home, you don’t, let’s get that mountain back together’ speech. And I’m just saying, under my breath, Uh guys? You should probably start running again. The goblins are after you. They want to eat your spleens. Yeah, the sun’s out, but it’ll be setting soon. Really? You’re just going to stand here talking about why Bilbo came back? The goblins are coming to eat you. Run.
Admittedly they did this in the book as well, sort of, and they needed to bring this plot point to a close somewhere, but in the book they’d gotten further away from the exit to the goblin caves and it was still early in the day. The sun here, need I remind you, is. Setting.
Anyway, here come the wargs, and Azog. Flee!!! And naturally they flee to the edge of a cliff, because god forbid a cliff is not involved in this epic climax.
This whole chase and fight scene was fun. Dumb as hell, but fun. Also scary because god, those wargs get right in your face. Azog and Thorin lock eyes across the crowded pines and, inevitably, Azog claims Thorin’s daddy smelt of fear. Come on, Azog, you can do better than that! Thorin gets an ‘I keel you’ look on his face. Gandalf is a pyromaniac and lobs fiery pine cones – that actually make things worse. The tree half falls over the edge of the cliff, so Thorin can do his little strut down it and try to kill Azog.
The key word being try. When you have to be saved by Bilbo, you need to rethink your tactics.
Not that it wasn’t very heart warming, but still.
Gandalf’s sent off that moth, so cue the Deus Ex Machina with wings in three, two, one oh that’s brilliant that’s awesome that’s wonderful I love the eagles a whole huggy bunch. Also, what ingenious use of wings and creation of air currents to cook the enemy alive, you so smart!
Azog looks so crushed, like ‘But I never got to tell him I loved him’ or something. …Dear god, ew! But he’ll be back.
The eagles flying over the mountains were so damn pretty. I love the eagles, especially when they set the company down on a really inconveniently high rock that happens to be shaped like a bear. That’s going to be a bitch to get down from.
Thorin starts yet again with the ‘you shouldn’t have come on this trip raar’. Dude, he saved your life, you could stand to be a bit more-
…welp, wasn’t expecting that. You are giving the slash ficcers material!!!
Look, it’s the mountain! Their dream is within their grasp, just another two films to go!
“Birds are returning to the mountain!!!”
The mountain is at least a hundred miles away from where you and the bird are at the moment. Possibly a lot more.
Oh Bilbo, you poor silly sap, you’re so hilarious to us all and you don’t even know it.
Huh, guess that bird was going to the mountain after all, well that shows me.
Hello again, dwarven architecture! Oh, I missed you!!!
Oh dear, oh dear.
So Smaug just lies under the gold like it’s a big, snuggly blanket. That just makes him absurdly cute now.
Aaaaand he’s awake and his eyes are like pools of liquid fire and they are looking into my soul.
Cue the remix of Far over the Misty Mountains Cold. God, I need to pee.