Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Hobbit: movie and book review together

This is my first combo review ever! And it’s a little bit unusual because I saw the movie first, then read the book. 

The movie - The Hobbit: an unexpected journey (2012)

So what to make of The Hobbit: an unexpected journey or otherwise known as Peter Jackson’s very extended love letter to J.R.R. Tolkien?

Well, first it was really wonderful to be transported back to the world of Middle Earth with its hobbits, wizards, elves and dwarves. In particular, it felt like seeing old friends again when Frodo (Elijah Wood), Elrond (Hugo Weaving ), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and Saruman (Christpher Lee) popped up on screen. 

It was even great to see Gollum (Andy SIrkis) again! 

I thought Jackson really hit the spot with casting again: MartinFreeman was perfect at Bilbo Baggins and Richard Armitage, nearly unrecognisable under all that prosthetics, brilliant as Thorin.

Like the Lord of the Rings (LOR) trilogy, what stands out in every frame of this film is Jackson’s love of Tolkien’s imaginary world. And just like LOR the detailed look and feel of Middle Earth was amazing. 

While there have been many complaints about the length of the film, it really didn’t bother me too much. This was probably because I was in the comfort of a Gold Class recliner with drinks and snacks on hand to see me through!

That being said I do think the film would have benefitted from some tighter editing to create a better sense of momentum in the narrative.  I did find the repetitive battle scenes were a little bit wearying. But my overall pleasure in finding myself transported back into the world of Middle Earth overcame any of these minor issues.

The book - J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit (1937)
Inspired by the movie and wanting to find what happens when the Dragon Smaug reawakens and of course not willing to wait another year, I rushed out to read J. R. R. Tolkien’s book.

I attempted to read the Hobbit in high school and can even remember the  distinctive cover of a dragon sitting on top of a shiny pile of gold. But for some unknown reason, I never managed to finish it. Probably because my teenage self was more interested in the realism of Robert Cormier, Slyvia Plath and Chaim Potok (that’s a whole other post!)

The Hobbit is a really fun read and of course being aimed at children doesn’t have the levity and depth of LOR.

The Hobbit is real 'boys own adventure' story and I found myself being happily and easily drawn back into Tolkien’s world.

The only disappointment in the book was just how quickly (Spoiler alert!) Smaug is taken out of the picture. I expected a bit more of a battle but the dragon was dispensed of in only a couple of sentences!

Reading the Hobbit and running into some of the characters from LOR again made me realise just how much I was absorbed by Tolkien's imaginary world and my awe of how one man's imagination could have created such a layered and complex world. A world that you really want to be part of.

I read LOR at a rather difficult time in my life - I had just come back from overseas and was unemployed and broke. I have very fond memories of spending sustained periods of time reading LOR while it seemed like the rest of the world was beavering away busy at work.

At that point, I realised that no matter was happening in my life and no matter how broke I was, I would always be able to find pleasure and joy in books. 

And for that I thank you J.R.R.Tolkien.

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