Jason Koivu's Reviews > The Hobbit

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
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Feb 27, 15

bookshelves: fiction, favorites, fantasy
Read in January, 1982

From a hole in the ground came one of my favorite characters of all time, the very reluctant and unassuming hero, Bilbo Baggins.

As a child, The Hobbit sparked my young imagination, causing wonderful daydreams and horrible nightmares. As a teen, the book made me want to become a writer of fantastical tales...or go shoeless, live in a hole and smoke a pipe. As an adult, Tolkien's novel maintains within me a link to my childhood, safekeeping cherished memories and evoking everlasting emotions.

The troubles with trolls, those slinking spiders, the finding of treasure, cave exploration, riddles in the dark...it all added up in me a love for adventure. I would make many an ornate wooden sword in my father's basement workshop, because of Sting. Funny I didn't take to wearing rings though...

Being pint-sized, Mr. Baggins makes the perfect magnetic character for a young person. He is about a child's size, yet he is mature. Similar, yet something to aspire to. His diminutive stature made his implausible escapes and victories that much more satisfying. Nothing bores me more than muscle-bound killing machines wielding swords the size of windmill blades.

I have read this fantastic tale a number of times, watched the 70s cartoon movie version countless times and was counting down the days with unabashed eagerness until Peter Jackson's new live action film came out. I will continue to read The Hobbit again and again, for the road goes ever, ever on...


Appendix-ish type reviews

The Hobbit, the 1977 animated film version by Rankin & Bass
This may be the movie I've watched the most in my life. This is the one I can quote from start to finish and annoy the fuck out of my friends. I try to refrain, but when John Huston bellows out, "I am Gandalf and Gandalf means ME!!!"...well, I just can't help myself. Crazy-off-his-rocker Brother Theodore as Gollum still astounds me with the sheer depth of his guttural growl. Sorry voice-straining Serkis, but this is the real Gollum, the creepy muthah that kept me up nights. Though Rankin & Bass's version skips over the whole Beorn scene entirely, coming in at 90 minutes, they actually managed to pack in quite a bit of story. Certainly it is truncated (to absurdity during The Battle of Five Armies), but at least it's not overblown, as appears to be happening with Peter Jackson's unnecessarily long trilogy of this single book.

The Hobbit, or There And Back Again (An illustrated book by Rankin & Bass)
Though it's a few pages shorter than the regular paperback version, this marvelous part-text, part-illustrated version seems to be unabridged. It includes screenshots taken directly from the 70s cartoon, plus where the movie skipped over parts of the book they've included extra illustrations, admittedly of mixed quality. It's a little strange to see the same characters rendered differently sitting side by side...
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...but nonetheless, it's always fun to see how artists interpret the work, especially when it's a work dear to your heart.

The Hobbit, a film version by Peter Jackson
It's never fun to see an artist tear the heart out of a work. Peter Jackson was given too long a leash when New Line stretched this one book out to three separate movies. Instead of one movie packed with awesome, we get three that, so far (I've yet to see the third and I'm not eager to), have been watered down and dragged out. Extra scenes are added and add nothing: Really, a sleigh ride chase scene with an incredibly minor character? And honestly, can Richard Armitage (as Thorin Oakenshield) act with any other part of his body besides his eyebrows?
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Comments (showing 1-37 of 37) (37 new)

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Lucinda I have to completely agree with you in that JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit is truely great and i also cannot wait until the release this Cristmas of the new film adaptation. If 'The lord of the Rings' films are anything to go by then i can safely say without a doubt that it will be truely spectacular! xx


Jason Koivu I'm really looking forward to them too, Lucinda! At first I didn't like the idea that they were splitting The Hobbit up into two movies. "Unnatural" and "Unnecessary" were a couple of words that came to mind. But since then I've warmed to the idea, really for no other reason than that there will be more time for Peter Jackson to pack in more material from the book!


Lucinda I think that Peter Jackson is truely increadible and how amazing the LOTR films were, as they exceeded by far all expectations. I have watched the extended version DVD's so many times now, that it will be nice to have a change and see the Hobbit.
Lucinda x


B0nnie yay, I'm counting down the days too. And Lucinda, yes so true and that includes all the extras - and the names of fans in the end credits - full of regret for not getting on that list...


message 5: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Hey Jason,

I saw on another review that you'd gone to see The Hobbit at the cinematic frame rate and that you would go again "within a few hours" to see it in 3D (which implies 48FPS).

So, did you see it again?

We, teenagers and I, went to see it 3D/48FPS on the second day. I figured it would be a loonnnng line - but no! We got great seats.

We went to see it again "flat/24FPS" 6PM Saturday past - it was sold out!

A check of Box Office Mojo confirms that the film is going strong. $17-million on it's 4th 3-day weekend - which compares well with Skyfall's $16-million for it's similar weekend.

I was thoroughly charmed by the film - laughing often at the beginning (when few others did, oh well)*

It was a treat to see Frodo and the 60-years-older Bilbo. I was glad to see Sauruman and Galadriel, too - even though none of those four appeared in the novel.

(so much for "purism")

OK, we could have done without the senile wizard (Radagast?) and his sled-bunnies (was that in the book?) - but that part was not too god-awful-long.

The setup for the quest - showing the destruction of the Dwarf-empire but not Smaug himself - was well-done.

Of course the dinner-meeting was just as funny in the movie as the book. Plus, I'm glad to see that Dwarves will clean up after themselves - and leave quietly in the morning.

Andy Serkin knocked it out of the park (as we knew he would) as both Gollum and Smeagol.

And the orcses were suitably nasty.

We will certainly go again.


*We laughed, alone, at many of the hoary old jokes in Young Frankenstein which was reprised on Halloween. I could watch that one again and again..... Frau BLUCHER!!


Jason Koivu I did see it in 3D, but I don't know which frame rate it was. All I know is it wasn't good 3D. I actually preferred seeing it in good old fashioned 2D, as it has at times stunning scenery and doesn't need embellishment. Also, the theater was having trouble with the sound, but that's another issue.

Even with those complaints in mind, I still enjoyed watching it a second time. Yeah, I don't think it needed to be almost 3 hours long and not all of those extra scenes were necessary, but it's still good stuff.

If I recall correctly, Radagast only gets a single line of mention in either The Hobbit or Fellowship of the Ring. I could've done without as much of him, especially not the sled race scene. Saruman and Galadriel, and even the orcs, were all additions not in the original book, but I thought Jackson did a good job imaging or realigning (orcs in place of goblins) these scenes Tolkien later fit into the timeline or only hinted at when he put LotR together.


Ruby I also saw the film, and have read the book, and I loved it!! The next film should be brilliant as well! I noticed that in the beginning scene, with Frodo and Bilbo, Frodo runs off to greet the great wizard Gandalf, and that is the starting scene of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings :)


Melissa W A friend of mine saw the movie in 3D and didn't like it (I have heard a lot of people didn't like it in 3D) and went to see it again in 2D.


Dustin Wow, fantastic review, Jason!!


Ivana nice review...I agree that Hobbit is one of those books one can reread many times and I would say that goes pretty much for all Tolkien's writing.


Jerry Nice Jason...I felt the same when I first read this book in 1975 at the ripe old age of 10! I too continue to read it every few years and have had my three kids read it as well...and I always find some new tidbit of wisdom previously missed...well done


Jason Koivu Thanks to everyone who's commented lately! Y'all are swell folks for having taken the time to read my reviews!


Maree I actually heard that they're making three movies out of it, rather than two. And they're using a bunch of Tolkien's notes for the stuff that's not in the book, his notes about the background events with the council and such.


Jason Koivu Maree ♫ Light's Shadow ♪ wrote: "I actually heard that they're making three movies out of it, rather than two. And they're using a bunch of Tolkien's notes for the stuff that's not in the book, his notes about the background even..."

You've heard correctly. It'll be 3, not 2 movies.


message 15: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Went to go see The Hobbit again - "flat" and 24FPS.

Unlike Fellowship, The Hobbit was not compelling enough to really hold me second time 'round.

It was one of the lesser movie houses in town - so the seats were less comfy and my impression was that they projected at less-than-standard brightness (a lamp-saving measure, much complained about by certain reviewers).

Further, they were alleged to have introduced blur - to make the presentation more "cinematic" - so motion seemed less sharp than native 24FPS would be (my imagination?)

Daughter said the film looked "less cheezy" than 48FPS.

Having been primed by 48FPS/3D I felt the loss on re-viewing. This could well have been the combination of the lack-of-novelty and substandard brightness.

Bottom line to date - I'll continue to seek out 48FPS versions of films that interest me. Of course this includes The Hobbit - Part 2.


Tabitha (Pabkins) I LOVE the 70's version of the cartoon also! What did you think about The Last Unicorn if you ever watched that - I think animated by the same people.


Jason Koivu Tabitha the Pabkins wrote: "I LOVE the 70's version of the cartoon also! What did you think about The Last Unicorn if you ever watched that - I think animated by the same people."

Ah yes, I've read and seen The Last Unicorn. There's boobies in that! :O


Tabitha (Pabkins) Jason wrote: "Ah yes, I've read and seen The Last Unicorn. There's boobies in that! :O "

You would horn in on the boobies! *ba-dum-chum*


Indeneri Thanks for this great review.

I've never read Tolkien for myself. The copy in my local library had too many small words on too many thin pages, warped by too many eager hands. A total put off.

But your review has made me change my mind. I may even read it before the movie comes out (in South Africa).


Forrest I taught my kids the song "Where there's a Whip, there's a Way" from the animated Lord of the Rings. Sometimes, even now as teenagers, they'll sing it when they're doing chores.


Jason Koivu Indeneri wrote: "Thanks for this great review.

I've never read Tolkien for myself. The copy in my local library had too many small words on too many thin pages, warped by too many eager hands. A total put off.

..."


Thanks for your comments, Indeneri!


Jason Koivu Forrest wrote: "I taught my kids the song "Where there's a Whip, there's a Way" from the animated Lord of the Rings. Sometimes, even now as teenagers, they'll sing it when they're doing chores."

I wish you'd been my parent. I had to learn that song all by myself!


Forrest Jason wrote: "I wish you'd been my parent. I had to learn that song all by myself!"

I corrupted my children early and often.


Nabz28 Wow great review! I didn't know 'The Hobbit' was a very old storybook. I read this book 2 months after I saw the movie and there were a lot of difference of course. I'm still reading Part 1 of the book.
The movie ends showing Smaug and the misty mountain, but in the book there was still more adventure and actions which I think fascinates everybody reading the book. They shouldn't have left the part about Beorn and he's fellow animal friends from the movie. Hopefully they will include more scenes in 'Desolation of Smaug'. Looking forward to finding out more about the adventure still yet to come for Bilbo, the Dwarves and Gandalf in the rest of the story.


Jason Koivu Nabz28 wrote: "Wow great review! I didn't know 'The Hobbit' was a very old storybook. I read this book 2 months after I saw the movie and there were a lot of difference of course. I'm still reading Part 1 of the ..."

It was published 1937, but I believe Tolkien started it while he was in the trenches during World War I.


message 26: by Joe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joe Thomas Great review! I loved this book it is a great story of a journey that had so many ups and downs kept me interested every second.


Jason Koivu Joe wrote: "Great review! I loved this book it is a great story of a journey that had so many ups and downs kept me interested every second."

Thanks!


message 28: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Peter Jackson was given too long a leash when New Line stretched this one book out to three separate movies.

Alas, one great movie is not what we got. The suits are smug - 1.8-billion in world-wide box office to date. We will never know, before his memoir, just how much Jackson wanted to play so fast and loose with a relatively tight tale. Certainly, his fee at least doubled vis-a-vis one film - hard to turn down.

It's strange to see a mid-30s Orlando Bloom play an apparently aged yet 60-years-younger elf (wonder if his arm got tired shoot all those point blank arrows?)

McKellen playing another quasi-immortal wizard seemed to age even more.


And honestly, can Richard Armitage (as Thorin Oakenshield) act with any other part of his body besides his eyebrows?

I'm just happy they didn't cast Keanu Reeve - the king of the wooden aspect. He might have been perfect as one of the statues, though.

The Bilbo character is well done. I got quite tired of Frodo's deer-in-the-headlights expression


Jason Koivu Jim wrote: "Peter Jackson was given too long a leash when New Line stretched this one book out to three separate movies.

Alas, one great movie is not what we got. The suits are smug - 1.8-billion in world-wid..."


It's too bad New Line didn't start with The Hobbit, make one movie and then based on its success, they might have allowed a little more elbow from for the Lord of the Rings movies, which I would've been okay with. Milking 3 movies out of The Hobbit is asking too much from the cash cow. And yes, I'm sure Jackson wasn't actually given much choice as to how many films he'd have to put out, but did he need to make each one sooo long?


Monika Forget about poop-headed Radagast, crazy-browed Thorin, and bloated Legolas. What in the name of the Simarills is the purpose of Tauriel?! As a woman, I'm offended that apparently I not supposed to relate to characters unless they are female. Sorry, Ponyboy Curtis, my childhood was obviously a sham perpetuated by a misogynistic rape culture... "nothing gold can stay."

So we "need" a bad-asd, girl elf for some girl power, huh? Then why throw her in the middle of a love triangle?!
SPOILER ALERT:
Did anyone else think that while healing Kili, rather than channeling the mysticism of Arwen, Tauriel looked a little constipated (or suffering from a stroke, I can't quite decide).

Apologies for ranting, but as a woman, I'm prone to emotional outbursts because no one understands me and apparently need a boyfriend to fill some void. Maybe I'll go read Twilight.


Jason Koivu Monika wrote: "Forget about poop-headed Radagast, crazy-browed Thorin, and bloated Legolas. What in the name of the Simarills is the purpose of Tauriel?! As a woman, I'm offended that apparently I not supposed to..."

Agreed. If a strong female role wasn't in the book, then why shove it into the movie? (That's a rhetorical question.) It's too bad Tolkien didn't include good/role-modely type female characters in the original, but them's the breaks, I say.


Johnathon Pena I am reading the book and its good. Im gonna get into the lord of the rings trilogys and other great books iv herd of. Iv never seen the lord of the ri gs or read it. But I really want to get into that stuff. Good stories great fairy tales. I find it calming and interesting to read good books. I never really like books at all. But after hearing alot of good talk about books. I want to get into reading and im really liking it. the hobbit movie sort of inspired me to get into the book and from there im moving into the lord of the rings wich is next tho I never read or seen it. Its great im starting off at the beginning for a beginner.


Johnathon Pena Btw I love the movies I just watched the hobbit desolation of smaug its awesome.


Jason Koivu Johnathon wrote: "I am reading the book and its good. Im gonna get into the lord of the rings trilogys and other great books iv herd of. Iv never seen the lord of the ri gs or read it. But I really want to get into ..."

Thanks for reading and commenting on my review, Johnathon! Tolkien's books are what got me into reading. Not only does he tell a fun adventure story, but he also adds in a lot of background detail to help create a new world that seems very real. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are good stuff and I think you'll enjoy the ride!


message 35: by Adam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Adam I am much similar like the above commenter, "Johnathan". I too started reading recently and just finished 'The Hobbit". I literally can't describe how much fascinating reading is, cus I'm not that good with words... yet. Out of all the top reviews for this book, I loved yours the most. The way you talked about how this book affects a person as he grows from a child to an adult was truly what made me expand your review. And I'm gonna follow your example and pick this book again sometime soon. Well, not too soon. Maybe after finishing the LOTR trilogy as well as a dozen other books. I have also watched the first movie in the The Hobbit film series and I can say that I have disappointingly spoiled my imagination. Plus, they should not have made a trilogy. There isn't enough content.


Jason Koivu Adam wrote: "I am much similar like the above commenter, "Johnathan". I too started reading recently and just finished 'The Hobbit". I literally can't describe how much fascinating reading is, cus I'm not that ..."

Thanks, Adam!

I agree with you about the movies. If you like the book, I wouldn't suggest watching Jackson's new Hobbit trilogy. He's adding all kinds of stuff that's not in the book. Some of it makes sense and adds to the overall LotR story, but much of it is only added so that his lengthening of The Hobbit makes more sense and is more exciting for viewers.


Gianfranco Montebello I started smoking a pipe thanks to this book, let me tell you, the experience is almost as good and magical as reading this masterpiece.


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