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Sunday 30th December 2012

With slight reluctance I went to see part 1 of the Hobbit tonight. Like most people I was a bit perturbed that the film is about three hours long and that only gets us a third of the way through the book. I had heard mixed reports on the film which also made me wary, but I really enjoyed it. Certainly throughout the whole thing you're constantly thinking - "Well they could have cut that bit" and the scene when all the dwarves arrive at Bilbo's hole goes on for an awful long time, but after an anxious first hour it became rather gripping. If you like films about a load of stupid made up children's characters then you'll love it. It was far from perfect, of course. For example, I didn't like the jokes about golf and croquet and chips, which seemed to drag you out of the fantasy into reality (though I suspect at least some of them are in the book). They also weren't strong enough jokes to merit the distraction they caused. And Gollum had totally ripped off the whole Me1 vs Me2 snooker talking to himself vibe. I will be suing JRR Tolkein and hoping to get at least one of his Rs in settlement -which will make him JR Tolkein and create an hilarious sketch for a 1980s student revue. It will also make me RKR Herring which doesn't have the same ring for some reason and just looks odd.
One suggested cut for the Peter Jackson would have been the bit where (spoiler alert) the heroes escape from a cave full of trolls (or goblins or something - I am 45) only to encounter some vicious orcs. Thorin quips, "Out of the frying pan..." To which Gandalf feels the need to add "And into the fire!" As if he's made a clever joke. BUt that was implicit in Thorin's statement wasn't it. When he said "Out of the frying pan" he was obviously intending us to think "and into the fire". But Gandalf then spoils the witticism by adding what we're all thinking, like some idiot trying to explain a joke. You'd think a super intelligent wizard would have got that. He just looks like a prick. A prick in a pointy hat running away from some orcs.
If I'd been Thorin I'd have said, "Yeah, obviously Gandalf. I wasn't just saying the phrase "Out of the frying pan" for no reason. What we've just encountered was nothing like a frying pan was it. I was referencing the common phrase in order to imply that we'd escaped one hazardous situation to encounter one that was potentially much worse. It's my comment and you can't piggy back on to it by completing it when everyone was already thinking that."
And then if I'd been James Nesbitt I would have said, "Yes Thorin, but I would argue this is not a frying pan/fire situation. The mountain we just escaped from was filled to the brim with trolls or goblins or something and we had to fight them all and then fell down a massive gorge which realistically we could not possibly have survived. Now we're just being chased by some orcs on thundercats or something which is dangerous but not as dangerous surely. It's more like "Out of the fire, into the frying pan" isn't it?"
And then if I'd been Thorin I would say, "Listen it was just meant to be a throwaway remark that needed no explanation or deconstruction. It was more of a "Bloody Hell, that's just typical isn't it. Just when we'd escaped one life-threatening situation we've encountered another. I think that was pretty clear from the start and I didn't need either you Gandalf or you James Nesbitt to butt in.
And if I was Gandalf I would have said, "Well I was just archly referencing the title to the sixth chapter of the book. So I am not as stupid as you thought."
And then if I was Thorin I'd say, "Well that is stupid, because as far as we're aware, in this reality of orcs and trolls and butterflies that can communicate with eagles we don't know it's just a book. And by you making a raised-eyebrow reference to that in order to give the nerds in the audience a hard-on you're just making us as characters realise we are not the masters of our own destiny and that it's only a story and removing all the fucking jeopardy. Why not make a useless joke about golf, you prick? It's just the same as that. And why are we scared of falling off this cliff when we all just survived an equally ludicrous descent a few minutes ago?"
And then if I was James Nesbitt I would say, "And couldn't you just have called up those eagles at the beginning of the book and they could have flown us right to the dragon and saved us three hours?"
And if I was Gandalf I would say, "Oh God, everyone says that. It doesn't work like that and you need the journey or you wouldn't be able to defeat the dragon - I imagine that's what happens, though we're two years from finding out."
If Peter Jackson had employed me to write this film he might have got six parts out of it.
Anyway it was good. Even if I genuinely left the cinema on the day after I had entered it.

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