[Spoilers!] I went to the Hobbit marathon!

Which you might have guessed given the total silence here all day today.

Since I’ve seen the film, I am now lifting the embargo on discussions of it here. Posts that could lead to spoilers discussion will be labeled spoilers at least until the Australian premiere.

These are bullet point-style impressions; I will see it twice tomorrow and hopefully will have something more coherent to say.

***

o-the-hobbit-570It turns out that if you go to a marathon they give you swag. Like the poster above, which I now own one of.

***

So. I loved it. OMG did I love it.

  • Started at noon. Theater was comfortably full, not packed. Mostly seniors and college students. I saw eight people I knew. Eight. That is more than I have ever seen at the theater at home.
  • Format: IMAX 3D, not HFR. I am going to have to find a HFR theater; both of the tickets I have for tomorrow night are IMAX 3D again.
  • The film is very visually impressive nonetheless; although like TDOS it’s a film that one could totally see in 2D without problems. (I think AUJ might be better in HFR for various reasons.)
  • I still love both AUJ and TDOS. In particular I think both movies end really well. And I saw some things, especially in TDOS, that I hadn’t noticed before. In AUJ I noticed details of the fight scenes that I hadn’t noticed before, either.
  • It’s fun to watch the films with an audience that is happy to be there and enjoying itself. Lots of laughs, gasps, and yes — crying in the third film.
  • We got a special intro from Peter Jackson — he thanked us for coming, said we were the biggest fans because we were doing this, that he made these films for us, that this was his favorite film, and that we were the first people in the world to see all three films back to back. (He then invited us to watch all six films back to back.) He looked a little crazed. Love his hair, as always. Yeah, I know it’s a marketing ploy. I liked it anyway.
  • The film is very emotional without (for me) being overwrought, except at one point.
  • For a film with a plot based on one chapter of the original film, I will say they actually built a lot of interest in there. Unfortunately there’s not much to do when the outcome is known (and I think this is part of why the press tour has been so basically uninteresting, content-wise). It’s all in the execution, so basically anything you can say is a spoiler. And I think the film undercuts its dramatic effect slightly by doing what it has to do — set up LOTR 1. It would have been better if it had ended with Bilbo walking back to the Shire.
  • I will say, to have said it, that nothing in BOTFA changes my basic stance that the Tauriel character is uninteresting and unnecessary. I’ll avoid the snark, though I have plenty of it, by leaving it at this: that if they cut that plot line out of TDOS, they would have saved the 20 minutes that the critics were so annoyed about. In BOTFA Tauriel gets the corniest line — the only point in this one that made me wince at the script.
  • I’m not an expert on small arms combat but I was never in the least bored watching these battles. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. The fact that much of it was CGI was not immediately obvious to me, except once or twice. You can tell with Armitage in particular that that is his real face.
  • From my perspective, this was the most “Tolkieny” of the Hobbit films, both in content and mood. Hopefully purists will like that aspect of it, anyway. There’s one kind of overwrought scene with Galadriel that seemed a little story-boardish, but that was it.
  • Seeing all three films together gave me a totally different feeling about what TDOS was about. In particular I think that there were real plot resolution problems for doing three films. (I am also guessing that our perception of Thorin’s madness in TDOS is heavily affected by this — I am guessing that the final scenes in TDOS were shot before the decision was made to do three films. It feels that way, anyway.)
  • I did like the increased tempo of this film — to have Thorin already gold-sick by the time the dwarves marooned in Laketown get to Erebor.
  • Every performance in BOTFA is excellent. Even Martin Freeman annoyed me much less than usual — maybe because he was so marginalized in the story. This film is Bard and Thorin’s (and by extension the rest of the Durin’s) stories. Freeman was there for comic relief and he does okay at that. I know this will continue to upset the purists but for me it was perfect.
  • Richard Armitage. This was the perfect end to a perfect year of Armitaging — in which he showed that he can do five different genres with success — and I got to witness four of the performances. I think that seeing this today would have affected me more euphorically if I hadn’t seen The Crucible, but he turns in another bravura performance here. And something totally different from anything he’s done before. First — the madness. We saw it first: here’s the proof he has a Lear in him in twenty years. He is frightening — and right from the first time we see him. He looks genuinely mentally ill. And it’s never overplayed. He is unbelievably, chillingly frightening at points — we saw aspects of Thorin as king that we have never seen as Thorin Oakenshield — and he gets a great line — “Do not speak to me as if I were Thorin Oakenshield” (paraphrasing). Suddenly, the loss of the shield in AUJ comes back into relief. The point at which he is standing in the gallery of the kings and hallucinates himself drowning in gold — I think I’ll be able to watch that a hundred times. Second, the scenes where his friends and family are telling him how mad he is — the interactive energies are crisp, electric, but somehow also delivered with more grandeur, more kingliness and more panache as a whole. And finally something I have seen pieces of before in his work but never integrated so well into a whole — the combination of the physicality of the fight scenes with the emotionality of what’s going on once he knows that Kili is dead. We knew he could emote; we knew he is one of the most physically adept actors working today — what you see here is that all wrapped up into one ball as he fights to the death with Azog.
  • I cried three times. Once at the beginning, because Thorin was so creepy; once at Fili’s death; and once at Thorin’s death. Armitage has come a long way in terms of his skill at realistic death scenes since Guy of Gisborne.
  • I also thought Luke Evans was excellent, although there’s still something about his face, his forehead, I think, that makes him unattractive to me.
  • Lee Pace — to me this slid completely over into camp this time around. In TDOS, to me, anyway, he was always treading a fine line and that left a lot of tension in the character. I liked his performance less well here — but his lines are also much less interesting (and he has the second worst speech of the film — something about wizards, prophecies and storms). He doesn’t get in any really good conflict time with anyone close up. Maybe that’s the problem — the coolness factor was so much higher this time around. He “loses” his son as a consequence of this film but it seems to have little effect on him.
  • Aidan Turner is really pretty close up. He also has some good lines.
  • Dean Gorman gets one scene — very briefly — where he’s scouting around looking for Azog — where his face is so evocative that it’s really unforgettable.
  • As for the other dwarves: Graham McTavish and Ken Stott very much stand out. Mostly because they get good lines. But there is at least one scene where see the dwarves reacting where we see everyone’s face and that’s a nice one. There just wasn’t time for them here, I think.

OK, that’s what’s on my mind tonight. This is a really great film. Armitage fans should love it. Tolkien fans maybe somewhat less so, but I am guessing more than TDOS. And yes, I’ll be seeing it again VERY soon. Tomorrow, in fact.

~ by Servetus on December 16, 2014.

11 Responses to “[Spoilers!] I went to the Hobbit marathon!”

  1. Thanks for these first impressions. I look forward to your in depth analysis. I can’t wait to see it! I’m so happy RA delivers on all levels. No surprise!

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    • I think this time I will be doing a lot of short bursts rather than a long review — got to change it up a little 🙂

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  2. I saw BOFTA last week end and…did not cry at all (even I was quite expecting it).
    R.A, Martin Freeman: so great!
    I really loved Dean and Aidan, too.
    Whatelse? It’s not my favourite “Hobbit movie” as I prefered TDOS (I’ll have the extended version for Christmas).
    Well, I began to write my 1st impressions and will post them soon (in French, only …)
    Thanks for sharing yours!

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  3. So glad we can discuss it here now! I felt similarly to you in these spots:

    1. Seeing this with an emotive audience makes it GREAT! At the screening in NYC, I had never heard such audience emotion at the cinema – it made me feel great to be a part of it.
    2. Literally felt wooozy watching Fili’s demise – SO RIDICULOUSLY upset by watching that happen, even though I knew it had to come. I literally screamed NOOOOO! and grabbed my husband’s knee when he was in Azog’s grasp. Have I said how much I hate AZOG????
    3. I too, was a bit disappointed in the end. Since I was so solemn already, I just wanted Bilbo to go home to the shire and reflect in a beautiful way. I do realize, however, that they needed to set up for The Fellowship of the Ring.
      This is such a beautiful movie – the crispness, the detail, the acting is superb, but it is still not my favorite because of the content. I think I will always love the scene at Bag End the best in AUJ. It may be my need for the lightness as opposed to the tragedy which unfolds in every direction in BOTFA.
      I was upset that Thorin “let” the sword go, as he could no longer fight Azog. I wanted him to not permit it, but die while forcefully fighting. Perhaps it was because of Fili and Kili’s deaths that he had nothing left to give and this end was inevitable. I can’t remember that far back to the way the scene was written in the book, so I will have to re-read. But again, I reiterate: I HATE AZOG.
      The whole family will be doing a marathon over the Christmas Break and will see if we can actually make it through the 6 films. Good times!
      And as far as this being Thorin’s film, I couldn’t be more thrilled – for Thorin, but mostly for Richard! He is completely amazing. I will never figure him out.

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    • Absolutely agree re the audience reactions — the third time I saw it it was the cosplayers and they cheered for the characters and that was so cool.

      Fili’s death was really brutal in its execution — I heard a lot of gasps.

      letting the sword go — I think we have talked about this in the interim — it did seem like “not a Thorin move” but the whole end of that battle is him backing off, which I thought was interesting.

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  4. I’m so looking forward to seeing the final film with my children after Christmas. Glad to hear you enjoyed it, and I’m anticipating your full account/analysis.
    I won’t read it, though, until after I’ve seen the film myself. 🙂

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  5. […] Armitage is amazing and all’s right with the world, where I remember being the last time in December. This is an ecstatic planet and I want to stay here, although the euphoria makes writing difficult. […]

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