Ender’s Game: A Review

Like the Hobbit, it was difficult to separate the movie experience from my loyalty to the book. After seeing the trailer of Ender’s Game, I was tentatively excited. It had potential. It looked pretty good. I thought I might like it. On the other hand, I wasn’t convinced it could live up to the book. And it didn’t…

But almost.

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Another Hobbit Review

The-Hobbit-550x281I know, I know. How many of these have you read already? But I’d be remiss in my duties as a Tolkien and fantasy fan if I didn’t. So here it goes. I’ll keep it short, and I won’t get in to the 48 fps thing because I’m not techy and I don’t have anything intelligent to say on that front. Looked nice and didn’t give me a headache after all. That’s about it.

On to the actual story.

Many of the reviews I’ve seen have been favorable in that it was enjoyable, but no where near as good as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was a lot more epic and stayed closer to the books than the Hobbit did. Granted. Turning the Hobbit into a trilogy of its own gives Jackson time to toy with the story a lot. He’s going to throw in whole scenes that Tolkien never wrote down. The entire prelude complete with LOTR nostalgia, flashbacks into Thorin Oakenshield’s life, Radagast and the Necromancer. It’s creative license and I’m not concerned about it because, frankly, I love Peter Jackson’s Middlearth. Yes, we’re all loyal to the books, but Jackson brings that world to the movies perhaps the best way it could be done.

Even in Tolkien’s books the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings are very different tales that serve very different purposes. And Jackson captured the mood perfectly. Watching the Hobbit (on a normal screen, not 3D or IMAX), I was pleased to see that it was a lighter movie than the trilogy. The whole world looked more colorful and more fantastic than it did in the good vs. evil Lord of the Rings epic. Middlearth seemed a younger, brighter place, even if that was an illusion–prelude to Sauron’s coming darkness.

The purpose of this story is adventure. The purpose of the trilogy was something closer to war. And Jackson gave us the mood in this new installment with added doses of humor, a more light-hearted “fellowship,” and a not quite so grumpy Gandalf.

It’s impossible to say much about the Hobbit without comparing it to the Lord of the Rings–and that will only become more true as the other two movies come out–so before going on let me say that I like each movie of the trilogy better than I did the Hobbit. I think they are better movies, but not by much, and there are some things about the Hobbit I found more enjoyable.

It’s probably just Martin Freeman, but Bilbo is one of my favorite characters throughout all four movies so far. I think a lot of folks would agree with me, and I’m not sure there’s much more to be said on the matter. But it wasn’t just Freeman’s job in the leading role that made the movie for me (like Garfield’s acting in the new Spiderman movie).the-hobbit-box-office

In fact, there’s a lot more to love. Gandalf, for instance, has a greater role and was a more interesting character than he was in the Fellowship of the Ring. Compare him from here to the White Wizard and he becomes almost a different person entirely. If given the choice for a hiking companion, I’d pick his grey color.

Furthermore, there were a few scenes in the Hobbit that ranked up there with some of the best Jackson has yet offered us. The two that stood out in my mind are the dinner scene at Bilbo’s house, which was exactly how I imagined it happening in the book (I had to focus to keep from grinning widely the whole time); and the Bilbo vs. Gollum riddle scene, another part closely fitting with the book.

Overall, I liked this movie a ton. Can’t wait to see it again, but it wasn’t as good as the Lord of the Rings, and that has to do in part because of its disjointed feel. Jackson jumped us around a lot, and in the end it’s a bit hard to piece it all together, but I’m hoping the two sequels will be more focused and just as fun.