December 15th 2012
On December 6th 2012, I and my compatriot Oliver Layco attended the New York City premiere of the Hobbit. We stood in the biting cold and waited for glimpses of actors who had played characters that informed us about morality, good and companionship. We were disappointed that Peter Jackson was unwilling to greet the crowd but thankfully Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, and Andy Serkis all made up for this. The various members of the cast who portrayed the films dwarves all seemed eager to sign autographs for the cold fans Adrian Turner, Dean O’Gorman, Adam Brown, James Nesbitt, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, and Jed Brophy were all extremely friendly. They seemed like actors who were unaccustomed to the red carpet premiere and were thus just happy to enjoy the experience as much as the fans. There were a few Peta protestors and literal paparazzi present as well who took away from the experience. The Peta protestors were respectful and merely held up signs although I did not want any of the cast to think I supported their cause via standing in close proximity to them. The paparazzi were horrible; they forced themselves through the crowd to get signatures on pictures to sell. These people really are disgusting human scum who make a living off of stalking people for their signature. They have no respect for anyone’s personal space or privacy and they infringed on all the people who were just there as fans looking to see people they idolized. Luckily we got Gandalf hats for free and used them to tell the paparazzi ‘you shall not pass’! Well not really but we did geFt the hats and we got free posters when we saw the Hobbit at midnight.
Now onto the review of the actual film; it’s pretty great. It captures a lot of what made the original films fantastic. It isn’t as good as the Fellowship of the Rings, or the Return of the King but it does outshine the Two Towers. I’ll list my two issues before I devolve into the positive ranting Tolkien nut I am. First the story is a lot less Bilbo centric then in the book. They did this so it is more in keeping with the tone of the Lord of the Rings films. It’s not really a bad thing just different then the book. Secondly the writers added a nemesis for Thorin, the leader of the dwarves. He is called Azog and he is a character I always found interesting when I read about him but he seems unneeded in the story of the Hobbit. I’m assuming he has been added so that Thorin will have a person to combat in the final battle of the third film.
Now beyond those two issues I of course loved the film. The closer to the book the film kept things the better it was for the most part, although the scene with the White Council where Galadriel and Saruman make cameo appearances was a fun little addition along with the scenes with Radagast in Dol Guldor. The best part of this film was the depth added to Thorin Oakenshield’s character. You really feel for him as he tries to hold his rag tag group together and give them back a home that they had lost. The opening scene with Elijah Wood and Ian Holmes is a perfect way to tie this film into the Lord of the Rings as it occurs chronologically directly before the Lord of the Rings starts. Oh and the film looked great in 48 frames per second. It takes a few minutes to adjust to but the large geographic vistas are wonderful in it.
The second best part of the film for me was Howard Shore’s score. The Dwarves theme is heroic and melancholy just like they are. There are various themes rehashed from the Lord of the Rings with subtle twists. The best example of this is the quiet version of Mordor’s theme which plays when the Necromancer is mentioned during the meeting of the White Council. I loved the inclusion of the various songs from the book such as “Chip the Glasses”, and “Goblin Town”. There is also a neat appearance by the Weathertop location when Azog camps there. The best scene in the film was probably the riddles in the dark scene in which Gollum and Bilbo engage in a riddling contest to decide whether or not Bilbo would be eaten by Gollum. Surprisingly all the scenes in which Tolkien’s dialogue were kept mostly intact was fantastic. It speaks to his skill as a writer that what he wrote decades ago still translates so well to the modern era. Finally I find it really great that the town of Dale looks so stylistically different from anything in any of the locations from the past three films. Ok I’ll stop ranting…wait…I forgot Martin Freeman is as perfect a Bilbo as I always thought he would be! Oh and the ending…so fantastic and emotional…ok now I’m definitely done…go see it!