“Want to see The Hobbit after lunch?” my son Nathan, soon to turn 26 asked his father. They were meeting before the holidays, during the workday. Though each wished they could skip out from their respective offices, each knew he couldn’t.
Nathan’s in Atlanta this week with his family, visiting his in-laws. For us, seeing a movie on a snowy afternoon presented a perfect break after entertaining family for two days.
I’d read the reviews of the latest movie version of The Hobbit and knew it was long, close to three hours and not as good as the Lord of the Rings trilogy that preceded it, each debuting in December 2001, 2002 and 2003.
And I knew watching The Hobbit without the boys, who were raised being read the entire LOTR trilogy, a doorstopper of a book, by my husband, wouldn’t be the same. He began reading it every night to them when they were about 4 or 5. He’d come home from work and plop down between the boys, already in their pajama, and read another chapter before they went to bed. I remember hearing the boys, leaning in and propping open his eyelids, urging him to “reeeaddd” more and more and more.
I read The Hobbit as a child. I liked it but never got into the fantasy -adventure genre.
As a family, we anticipated the LOTR films, purchasing tickets as soon as possible. We’d discuss favorite characters, quote lines from the movies, and compare the books to the movies. Nathan began teaching himself “Elvish;” Jacob decided to apply early decision to college because he overheard a student recite the rhyme that describes the ring: “One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them…” We owned a LOTR Risk game and chess set. Not wanting to be left out, I finally read the trilogy too.
I enjoyed revisiting Middle-earth, hearing the lovely refrain that identifies the Shire, the hobbits’ homeland; seeing the hobbits and their furry feet and adorable hobbit-hole abodes, hearing Gandalf’s wisdom, meeting the dwarves with their creative hair-dos and costumes, encountering the wood trolls, orcs, and Gollum. Filmed in New Zealand, the scenery is gorgeous; I’m not alone in wanting to book a hiking holiday there.
But it lacks a few things. There are too many characters on the quest so their individual personalities aren’t developed. I can’t remember their names. Bilbo, reluctantly leaves home; he worries about missing dinner, his pipe and his books. I didn’t feel the humor and warmth of the Shire I’d felt seeing LOTR. The adventure itself doesn’t seem as urgent: the entire fate of Middle-earth isn’t at stake.
And seeing it without the kids just wasn’t as much fun.
There are two more movies planned based on The Hobbit, to be offered at the ends of 2013 and 2014. Perhaps by then, we can bring the grandkids.