Returning to the Shire

I’ve read The Lord of the Rings annually for the past 27 years, and usually The Hobbit along with it.  I’m one of those guys who liked The Silmarillion, though I agree it is a dry read for the most part.  I’ve read Tolkien’s essays on the books, I’ve read other people’s essays on the books, heck, I’ve read Tolkien’s letters, most of which had little to do with anything he wrote.  This is all to say I’m a pretty dedicated Tolkien bibliophile.

That said, I loved Peter Jackson’s movies.  Were there things I wish he’d kept in? Of course.  I won’t bore you with the list, but there were definitely parts I wished had stayed from earlier in the book, especially in light of the drawn-out ending to the third movie.  But unlike many of my fellow bibliophiles, I understand a faithful adaptation would have been much too long and, well, boring.  Some things needed to be cut, some things needed to be shown and not talked about, and bits had to be added because folks want to see some awesome in their fantasy action movie.

I’m seeing the first Hobbit film in about ten days.  I’m taking someone to it on a date, and I want to see it for the first time with her.  So I am subjecting myself to a very specific flavour of internet black-out; basically, any review that contains spoilers will be ignored between now and then.  Not that I’m not familiar with the story, but I’d rather see it fresh, without anyone’s voice in my head while I’m watching.

In some of the non-spoiler reviews I’ve read, though, I hear some criticism of additions Peter Jackson made to the story.  Many folks assume The Hobbit was written to tie in with The Lord of the Rings.  Actually, edits to The Hobbit to bind the two stories more closely came later, and only a few similar characters offered a connection.  In reviews I’ve read it seems that Mr. Jackson has woven elements from The Silmarillion into the film, in order to tie the story closely with LotR.  Most of those reviews have expressed varying levels of disapproval, with a few coming out cautiously in favour.

Obviously I don’t want to sound off too strongly before I’ve seen the film.  But I will make two points.  First, based on LotR I think Peter Jackson has earned a fair amount of latitude from fans.  I could understand some of these issues being raised if this was his first kick at the material, but I’m fairly certain he has shown he has the chops to present Middle Earth by now.  Second, I’m actually glad to hear that some Silmarillion is making it into the movies. I was a bit leery when I heard The Hobbit was being stretched to three films.  I trusted Mr. Jackson to make the call, but given the relative lengths of the books I did worry that a Hobbit trilogy would be, as Bilbo says, “Sort of stretched, like… butter scraped over too much bread.”  So I’m glad to hear additional material was added, and I look forward to seeing how the back-story was woven into the main.

Of course I reserve the right to take all that back once I see the film.  As I also reserve the right to crow about how right I was.  I guess what I’m saying is, I’ll write a review once I’ve seen it, so that is one future post in the bag.

What about you?  Have you seen The Hobbit yet?  What did you (spoiler-free) think?  Feel free to leave comments about the film and/or books in the comments below.  Always happy to talk Tolkien.

Humpday Links for December 21

If I were pandering to the season, I’d try to do a holiday-themed list today.  The Twelve Links of Christmas, or some such.  Well, I’m not that kind of guy and I figure you might need a little break from the incessant holiday crush, so this is just my usual amazing links from around the internet.  Enjoy!

– We’ll start with something near and dear to my heart, The Hobbit trailer. I can’t believe I have to wait another year!

– Courtesy of The Mary Sue, here are 12 Christmas Trees made from Books.  Hey, I didn’t say there would be no holiday stuff, and these are pretty cool…

– This may just be the best thing ever: a Community/MacGyver mashup.

– Here is a list of the Nine Greatest Nerd Fears Today.  I’m not certain which ones scares me the most…okay, definitely number one.

– This bit of speculation about Netflix making new Firefly possible is made more interesting by the fact that Nathan Fillion posted a link to it on Twitter…

– Here are the 30 steps necessary to master anything. It really is this simple…

It appears Comic Sans has a new defender.

– So Jeff Grubb had a few interesting things to say about the Wizards of the Coast layoffs.

– In case you are a Star Trek geek that wants it to sound like you are on a starship all the time, I give you the ambient ship noise from ST:TNG and ST:TOS.  You’re welcome.

– Speaking of Star Trek, warp speed to Christmas!

– There are some truths which are held to be self-evident.  This is one of them.

– China tried to build a faux-Disney theme park, and it just didn’t work out.  I don’t know about you, but I want to go to there!

– George Takei is starring in a new Broadway musical, and all I can say is I hope he tours with it.  Or I can see a trip to New York in my future.

– Later turning out to be a joke, this #BlameTwitter info-graphic is a bit chilling, since I could see the GOP adopting it as official policy…

– I know I posted this before, but with the holidays upon us it is worth a second look: How to Make Chocolate Dice.

An Autobot Transformer Ukulele.

– Back to The Mary Sue (man I love that site!) we discover that Google is working on a rival for Siri.  Maybe this one will marry you!

– And finally, I give you Doctor Who “Yo Mama” jokes. You’re welcome!

That’s all for today!  Tune in tomorrow when I’ll have more gift giving suggestions.  And yes, @erinefraser, there will be comic suggestions on the list…