If The Life of Pi hadn’t turned out to be in 3D we could never have considered going to see The Hobbit – but 3D gives me a headache and so, rather than turn around and trudge back home in the rain, we took the plunge and bought two quite breathtakingly expensive tickets to see Tolkein rendered into film. And how was it?
Well – good in parts I suppose. The good bits included Martin Freeman. He was exactly my idea of what a hobbit ought to be, and showed a range of expression I haven’t seen before in him – and which was entirely lacking in the other characters, even Gandalf. So without Martin Freeman I would not have survived the three hours or so of this film. Ian McKellen was good as Gandalf, but once he’d dispensed smiling wisdom and sober thoughtfulness, there was little left for him to do but dispense them again as and when required, giving a good, throaty growl from time to time to express thoughtfulness (or so I surmise). Still, he was at least convincing in the role, as was Sylvester McCoy as Thingy the Black – or Brown, I cba to remember; a birdshit-splattered colleague. Gollum was very well done, as was Bilbo’s hobbit-hole and the Shire. But…
I’m sure when I read the book all those years ago I had a clear idea of what it was all about: what the dwarves were going to do and why, where they were going and what for, and what they had to do when they got there. But this film meandered plot-less for three whole hours! in a welter of set-pieces; orcs come and are driven off and come back again; a set of undifferentiated dwarves fall in a clump in a variety of spectacular ways, there are mountains and caves and gorges and fragile bridges and forests and I know not what – but we don’t have much idea of what it’s all for. Sporn son of Sprain (or whatever the chief dwarf’s name was) strains his corrugator muscle to maintain a stern brow throughout whilst the other dwarves are undifferentiated and frankly a bit Snow White-ish at times. Bilbo gets the Ring from Gollum and uses it to escape, but it’s never explained, nor mentioned again – in fact the whole thing resembles nothing so much as a computer game with good graphics* and seemed unable at times to make its mind up what kind of film it was, what with Harry Potter-ish spiders in the woods and troll-bogeys on Bilbo’s cloak. Cate Blanchett was good as Galadriel but had only 3 minutes of time – and was the only female character; the elves were frankly boring and in the end I nearly fell asleep.
So don’t bother. Unless of course you like films that resemble X-box games.
Hobbits notwithstanding, it was a goodish Christmas. With both children at home we woke at the crack of 7.15 and opened presents in bed (I got a Carol Ann Duffy book and some socks with separate toes) then we had the usual Xmas fare with nut roast and sausages, Xmas pud and mince pies; the Queen’s speech went in one ear and out again and after a short flahagarzzzz! we were ready for Dr Who. An odd episode, I thought. And so to Top of the Pops, biscuits and bed.
Boxing Day passed in a ferment of activity: I got up and did yoga in the park watching the sun peep over the roofs; then home for a fry-up and then a bike-ride up to Gilroes to visit the dead (they send their regards); thence into town for a chai latte and a crossword and home again in time for a mince pie before sallying forth to see the aforementioned Hobbit.
And that was Christmas.
*Mark said they weren’t that good