I quite liked it. I didn't love it, but I don't love the book, either. People keep comparing this to the LotR movies, and I find that unfair, because you can't compare the books either, not really. It's like comparing Just So Stories with Kim -- same author, same basic setting, very different themes, audiences, purposes. So please, compare this to its source material, not to the Other Movies based on completely different source material.
But anyway, it was lovely to be in Middle Earth once more. And I did love the little ways they tied this to the Other Movies, particularly Gandalf whacking his head on the chandelier in Bag End. Which was about all I enjoyed about the first section of the movie (post-prologue).
I think the reason I didn't love this movie is because the whole business of the dwarves invading Bilbo's home made me very uncomfortable. I know exactly how it feels to have your things imperiled, your snacks eaten, your orderliness disheveled, and your privacy trampled upon; I have three small children -- that's my life! Or rather, that's an extreme version of all the things I like least about having three small children. I sympathized so much with Bilbo that I disliked the dwarves for about the first hour of the movie. Still makes me a bit testy to think about it. This doesn't mean I thought that whole beginning to the tale was badly done -- obviously, if it elicited such a strong response in me, it was some strong work. My dislike is purely a personal reaction.
|Bilbo surrounded by interloping Dwarves|
Speaking of personal reactions, I also didn't like how many parts of the movie seemed aimed squarely at ten-year-old boys. Humor that bordered on gross, repulsiveness for the sake of repulsiveness (I'm looking at you, Goblin King!)... sorry, just not my thing.
|Gandalf and the dwarves face down the Goblin King. A Balrog, he's not.|
But enough about what I didn't like. What did I like? Being in Hobbiton and Rivendell again! And the cheerier version of Rivendell too, where it's the Last Homely House and no one is talking about leaving Middle Earth. So charming!
|Sunny, happy Rivendell|
And I loved getting to see Saruman again! I was not expecting to see him (been avoiding most reviews until I'd seen it), and I got all choked up when he appeared. Not that I like Saruman, you understand, but I think Christopher Lee is a fascinating person, and I'm so glad he could be part of that world once more. I imagine that must have pleased him a great deal.
|Saruman the White (Christopher Lee)|
Speaking of wizards, wasn't Gandalf just delightful? Less weary and worried than in the Other Movies, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. I would watch an entire movie just about Gandalf wandering about Middle Earth, tending to the Affairs of Wizards.
|Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellen)|
Somehow, I've written eight paragraphs here without giving The Hobbit himself more than a passing mention. Silly me! I quite liked Martin Freeman in this, but then, I've liked him in everything I've ever seen him in. Or, I should say, all three things I've seen him in before. I didn't realize until just now that he played Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) -- I thought I'd only seen him in Love Actually (2003) and the pilot of Sherlock. I loved him dearly in Love Actually (as I mentioned once here), so as soon as I found out he'd been cast as Bilbo Baggins, I relaxed a bit about this movie, as I felt quite sure he would fit the role perfectly. I am delighted to say that I was right -- he's a sweet, serious, and stalwart Bilbo, as Hobbitty as I could wish.
|Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman)|
As for the dwarves, I did warm up to them eventually. Especially Kili. Quite liked him. Since he's not the main character, but rapidly becoming my favorite, he'll probably fall prey to the great curse, ala Boromir and Sirius Black. Hoping not! I don't remember from the book, so if you know anything about his fate, please don't spoil me!
|Kili (Aidan Turner)|
Now, we can't forget to comment on Gollum, can we, Precious? The first time I encountered this book, my mom read it aloud to my brother and I. I didn't much care for it, which is why I didn't read The Lord of the Rings until the movies came out. All I ever really remembered from The Hobbit was Gollum's hisssssssssing -- when I re-read the book a couple years ago, that's all that I recalled at all. He was almost sweet here, almost naive in some ways. Very pitiable, certainly. Well done, writers and Andy Serkis!
|Gollum (Andy Serkis, somewhere in there)|
There's been a lot said about Peter Jackson's decision to make three movies from one book, beefing it up with material from Tolkien's other writings. I trust him. I think he'll do well by us. Also, since I still don't love the book, I don't mind as much as some when he adds and subtracts and rearranges it. After all, Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth never made it into the Other Movies at all, so maybe he'll get to pop up here! Or Tom Bombadil! Or Glorfindel! Who knows?
|Peter Jackson showing Ian McKellen and us the future|