OK, let me preface this by saying officially this is not a review of The Hobbit. I’m about to admit something that may get me “unfriended” by my many Tolkien-loving Facebook friends and kicked out of the Patheos Catholic Channel for lack of street cred. Here goes:
I have never read The Hobbit.
or indeed any of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
I vaguely remember “Cliff noting” some Tolkien in high school days (don’t tell my teenager!) and I have napped on several occasions through all three of the epic Lord of the Rings movies. I get my Orcs confused with my Trolls, and I never really understood what was going on with that ring, or that creepy little Gollum guy.
Scandalous, I know. How can I even call myself a Catholic blogger?!
But guess what? That might make me just the perfect person to tell you about The Hobbit from a very simple perspective. If you want a stunningly-written review go straight to Steven Greydanus’ genius piece here – he’s a real movie reviewer! For another terrific perspective, read what my friend and fellow Patheos blogger Tony Rossi has to say in his fantastic article – he even mentions the special 48 frames per second filming process. For parents wondering about taking kids, this review has a great breakdown of the factors that contribute to the PG13 rating. My take on that was that it’s largely owing to the violence, which actually never felt gratuitous in any way.
I loved The Hobbit!
I was invited to attend a special screening, in 3D (which I honestly could have done without) and went in the company of my husband and son — both major Lord of the Rings movie fans. My son, who actually has read the books (or at least enough of them to do well on tests in school) had a lot to say about the movie’s lack of relationship to the original book. Not that he didn’t like it, but his “take” seems to echo that of reviewers who felt it departed from its origins.
Since I had no preconceptions, I left the movie theater entranced. The musical score was stunning, I loved the acting, the characters caught my heart, and I didn’t really even mind the battle scenes too much. I fell in love with Bilbo (Martin Freeman), rooted the whole way for the Dwarves (especially their leader Thorin Oakenshield beautifully played by Richard Armitage), couldn’t stand the Orcs and actually didn’t even really mind little Gollum (Andy Serkis). Indeed, Gollum was actually at the center of one of my favorite points of the movie, which I won’t spoil for you here.
Another of my favorite moments in the movie happens in a dialogue between Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett, who is amazingly gorgeous), when the wizard shares the following:
“Saruman believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. That is not what I’ve found. I found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk, that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I’m afraid, and he gives me courage.”
That moment, which had me grabbing simultaneously for my Moleskine and my kleenex, is at the heart of what I loved about The Hobbit. I was captured emotionally by the relationships, the sense of loyalty, and most of all the idea of mission that is at the core of this story. While I could have done without a few of the battle moments, I’d go back to see The Hobbit in an instant (but not in 3D) and actually have plans to start viewing The Lord of the Rings over Christmas vacation.
I hope you’ll consider viewing this movie with your older children — I think it holds the potential for a marvelous conversation-starter about how we devote ourselves to the things that matter most in this life, even when this leads us well beyond our Hobbit-hole comfort zones and into perilous challenges. Once you’ve seen the film, I’d love to hear what you think.