The Hobbit, Reviewed

Brett Whitehead
April 15, 2013

am in the midst of a torrid love affair with ribs. I am so enamored with ribs that I often tell anecdotes about times Iíve eaten ribs. I also miss McDonaldsí McRib sandwich more than I miss 75% of the people I went to college with. This is unique because I only started liking ribs two years ago. In one of the great pleasures of life, I tried a food I thought I disliked, only to find out that I loved it. Its win-win for everyone, except for the cows.

When I tell this story, someone inevitably tells me the same thing recently happened to them with brussell sprouts. “Try Brussels sprouts again,” they tell me, “they are much better when you get older.” This is a lie. Much like Bret Hart, Brussels sprouts are the grossest food that is, ever was, and every will be. Brussels sprouts are also very hot right now, so they are often offered to me under the auspices that this time when I try them, it will be different. But you could deep fry Brussels sprouts in peanut butter and they would still taste like the way being at work feels.

I bring this up because when I say that The Hobbit was my favorite iteration of the Lord of the Rings movies, I am most certainly talking about Brussels sprouts as opposed to ribs. For those of you not familiar, The Hobbit is Peter Jackson’s continuation of the Lord of the Rings movies, which were hated by no one but me. In my opinion, the Lord of the Rings trilogy had an obvious plot that needlessly took forever to come to fruition. The characters were boring, the action was predictable and the closest it came to casting professional wrestlers was that Boremire kind of looks like Triple H. I watched the first two movies in the theater and hated every second of it. I boycotted the third until Jessie D and I took in Return of the King during a snow day. Only under the auspices of unexpectedly missing work did I have my first non-tortuous experience watching Lord of the Rings. Even then, I would characterize the movie as average, considering the last hour is just everyone patting themselves on the back and talking about how great they were. (This last hour is also one of my most hated hours of existence—and I include in that snack hour on cheesy poof day when I was a camp counselor; fuckin’ kids with their orange fingers!—as I saw the movie at midnight opening night, and this hour occurred between about 2:30 and 3:30. The only other times I’ve been awake that late I’ve been wasted out of my mind. -ed.)

So when previews came out last summer for The Hobbit, I wasnít too affected. Unlike the first two movies, I refused to be goaded into the theater, no matter how awesome the previews and the reviews made it seem. Little did I know, though, that outside forces were conspiring to suck me in once again. As predicted a few years ago on this fucking website (see…/delaware-power-poll-1), the riverfront area of Delaware opened up a multiplex movie theater that I can walk to. The first big attraction advertised at the theater was The Hobbit in IMAX 3D. While the idea of being in a clean, new theater surrounded by special effects was tempting, I knew that I only had to wait until Iron Man 3 came out to see something loud and bonerific at the new theater. This was not the end of my battle against The Hobbit, though, as I was soon receiving pressure from Jessie D, who despite never wanting to go to movies, desperately wanted to see The Hobbit. Despite my marital vows, I held my ground, citing the draconian $20 cost of tickets as the pretextual basis for my dis-interest. My resolve was tested even further when Jessie Dís dad offered to pay for our tickets to see it with him, but I held my stance. In spite of countless temptations, I would not back down and see a three hour movie that I knew I would hate going in.

Considering this stance, my turn on The Hobbit is all the more surprising, for me included. In hindsight, though, my experience was aided by a few helpful hints that I would suggest all viewers follow when watching this movie, and all Lord of the Rings movies for that matter.

1. Donít watch the first hour of the movie.

Nothing happens in the beginning of The Hobbit that canít be adequately explained to you by someone else. Jessie D purchased The Hobbit On Demand when she had a free afternoon, and I started watching after running what I hoped would be enough errands to miss the entire film. Imagine my surprise when I found out that forty minutes constituted barely a third of the movie. It reminded me of the time Ray and I drove from Albequerque, New Mexico to San Diego, California: after congratulating each other for driving eight hours straight, we were immediately sobered up at the prospect of driving ten more hours.

Expecting to be lost, I came into the movie forty minutes late only to find out that Bilbo Baggins, the protagonist in this tale, only just left his house. What the hell was he doing for forty minutes, you may ask? Apparently, the first third of the movie is just people trying to convince Bilbo to do whatever the hell they are doing in this movie. What?!? Why would I want to watch this movie if the damn main character doesnít want to be there either? You know who didnít need to be asked twice? Captain America.

2. Do something else while the movie is playing.

If it was up to me, every Lord of the Rings movie would come out during fantasy baseball season, because thatís what I looked at while this movie played in the background. I heard Gandolf talk and watched dwarves fight elves, all while thinking long and hard about whether BJ Uptonís homeruns would outweigh his strike outs. As it turned out, BJ Upton didnít provide too much of a distraction. Sure, I donít know where Bilbo is going or why he and the dwarves are going there (something about a dragon), but I got the essential points. Dwarves hate orcs and the feeling is mutual. The king dwarf and some orc hate each other and have a blood feud. Dwarves originally doubted Bilboís courage, but theyíve come around. All conflicts can be resolved by ridiculously convenient plot devices, like huge eagles that can be summoned by butterflies or talking, cranky trees. Thatís basically the whole movie.

3. Donít go in with high expectations.

If Lord of the Rings is allegedly an epic tale involving serious themes of power and corruption, The Hobbit is basically charming English actors fighting cartoons. The plot is easy to follow because it follows one story, as opposed to dividing the characters up into their own boring stories like all the Lord of the Rings movies. The special effects are amazing in a technical sense, but itís basically Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Even still, the action is pretty cool and the story arc between the dwarf king and the villain orc reminds me of wrestling so I stayed interested. I was disappointed that there werenít more dragons, but I imagine dragons will be featured more predominantly in the sequels that I will not be watching.

4. Donít get annoyed that the movie doesnít have an ending.

True story. I went and saw the first Lord of the Rings movie in the theater without having any idea what the books or the movie was about. I genuinely thought that the first movie was going to end with them throwing the ring in the volcano and then the second and third movie was going to be the repercussions of said ring disposal. So, two and half hours into the movie and at a point where I was wondering when they were going to find the volcano, the movie reel burned up and the movie stopped. This happened at the old AMC Marple 10, which was/is a piece of shit theater where that kind of stuff happened. About ten minutes into the forced intermission, I said to Ray (in a voice that really was meant for just the two of us), “well at least this movie is almost over.” To my surprise, a complete stranger tapped me on the shoulder to tell me that “oh no, there is 45 more minutes left.” Unbelievably, he was telling me this like I would be happy to hear it, which I unequivocally was not. The movie theater took twenty minutes to fix the movie and then I had to wait 45 minutes for an ending that meant nothing. No resolution. No cliff-hanger. Just a bunch of sad, dirty actors walking in the same direction they were just walking in.

I wish I could say that I learned my lesson, but I did not. Five minutes before the end of The Hobbit, I once again asked Jess where the dragon was. Although I should have known better, I was again disheartened to find out that this movie also did not have an ending. The movie ends with a camera shot of a dragon who is enjoying a castle full of gold like Scrooge McDuck. Why dragons would want a castle full of gold was a plot point I missed, but in fairness, I didnít ask and I assume it doesnít matter. As the credits roll, a bunch of dirty actors walk in the same direction they were just walking in for presumably ten more hours of the same thing. NO THANK YOU.

So in conclusion, go see The Hobbit but donít get too excited about it and make sure you bring your laptop. The plot is unremarkable, but the special effects are pretty sweet and itís definitely the third best thing Martin Freeman has ever been in. Given the choice, see this one as opposed to the others, because you can definitely miss the first third of the movie without putting yourself at any disadvantage whatsoever.

CONCLUSION: The Hobbit is the best of all the Lord of the Rings movies, but not better than any of the Avengers movies.
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