On the 29th, after madly dodging avoid spoilers for over two weeks, I finally hauled off to a movie theater with my girlfriend and my best friend from high school and watched The Hobbit.
I first read The Hobbit in the 4th grade. Given that fact, you’re probably wondering why I took so long to see it. Answer’s simple. I hate opening-week crowds. So I waited.
A lot of the reviews I’m reading about The Hobbit, in particular John Scalzi’s review, claim that The Hobbit is not as good as the Lord of the Rings movies. I disagree. If forced to compare the books to one another, I enjoy the adventure story of The Hobbit far more than the war story of The Lord of the Rings. Likewise, I enjoyed The Hobbit movie far better than The Lord of the Rings movies.
The visuals are gorgeous. The action scenes, done without the shaky cam shit that plagues so much action, are riveting. The casting is spot-on.
And yes, it does feel like more of a children’s movie, doesn’t it? Why should we be surprised, given the works from which it’s derived. Yes, there’s silliness! Great! It serves to break the tension that made the Lord of the Rings movies exhausting. High drama’s hard on audience and writer alike.
Many complained that The Hobbit is meandering, even plodding. I loved the pacing, which allowed full immersion into every scene. By comparison, in the Lord of the Rings, something’s always happening, the plot’s always driving forward, and there’s no chances to just breathe in the stunning visuals that flit past between action scenes. Yes, I just said that the gargantuan Lord of the Rings movies were paced too fast for me. I’m sure other Fantasy readers relate: How often have we explained, pleadingly, that “it gets good after the first hundred pages or so!”?
Maybe it’s a little selfish that I so loved the slow pace, though. Lately, when I’ve written fiction, I’ve not felt so much like I escape into my own stories and imagine it all, so much as I rush past delicious details. Questions like “Will the readers care about that?” stymie me constantly, truncating what could have been a four-page scene into a rushed summary paragraph. Rushed fiction’s like a five-second tryst, leaving the writer unsated and the reader frustrated. It’s like cooking all your food in a cast-iron pan, stove set to “High”. It’s a 15 second shower in a drafty apartment on a winter night. It’s a cheat.
And what feels great about The Hobbit is that there’s no sense of being cheated at all. Everything’s there, and then some. It’s a slick, streamlined, hundred-person project, but nowhere did they look at the 7-sentence paragraph I just wrote and then say, “We can cut the cooking and shower metaphors.” And that’s great. It’s exactly what I wanted. Hopefully there’re enough people like me that the next two Hobbit movies get the exact same rich treatment.
Now I’m getting out of here and having a proper New Years. May yours be awesome too!
Get The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey here. Pretend the last two movies didn’t exist (except that scene between Bilbo and Smaug)