Tag Archives: Gollum

Back, and there again

GOLLUM“I feel thin, like butter scraped across too much bread.” That line, and the way Ian Holm delivered it, was the moment I realized that The Fellowship of the Ring was going to be a lot better than I expected, back in 2001. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first installment of Peter Jackson’s new Middle-earth epic, brought that line to mind again, but not in a good way.

I was actually pleased to hear that Jackson and his writers would be expanding their planned two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 novel to three full-length features. After all, in their adaptation of The Lord of the Rings the same team had shrewdly brought forward story elements Tolkien left buried in the back matter of The Return of the King.

But for all the talent on display here — and there is a great deal that’s likeable about this film — this initial Hobbit feels like 90 minutes of story rattling around in a nearly three-hour shell. Of course the story doesn’t have the same emotional weight as The Lord of the Rings, but still. The pacing is off. There are long stretches of wheel spinning, and an extended visit to Rivendell that only adds to the sense that the filmmakers are twiddling their thumbs instead of getting on with the real business. Jackson’s lavish take on King Kong had the same problem — he took too long getting started, and then didn’t know when to stop.

On the plus side, however, Jackson hasn’t repeated his biggest casting mistake from King Kong. Jack Black was never for a moment believable as a charismatically roguish filmmaker, but Martin Freeman is the distilled essence of Bilbo Baggins, and even when The Hobbit was at its logiest I kept watching just to see what subtle character touch was coming from him. The film picks up considerable steam at the halfway mark, and the “Riddles in the Dark” sequence with Gollum — more convincing than ever, thanks to improved special effects, and more affecting than ever, thanks to the consistently remarkable Andy Serkis — moved from comedy to menace to pathos with complete mastery. The genuinely emotional finale ended the movie on an undeniable high note. I still wish Jackson and company had stuck to the idea of making two films, but reservations aside, I’m on board for three.  

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Gollum’s parenting tips

The Lord of the Rings has been called a lot of things, but I don’t know if it’s ever been cited as a parenting guide. Particularly not anything in the story involving Gollum. So this may be a first, if I do say so myself.

At home, both The Divine Miss T and Dances With Mermaids are serious Webkinz fiends. (For those not in the know, Webkinz are little stuffed animals that come with a login code. This allows you to sign onto the Webkinz site and take care of an Internet version of the stuffed animal you just bought.) The girls also have birthdays that fall only about a month and a half apart.

So things were a little slow yesterday, and The Divine Miss T remembered her gift certificate from the local toy store, which also happens to sell Webkinz. As it turned out, the Webkinz toys had been marked down, so The Divine Miss T strutted out of the store with three little plushies instead of the expected two.

Back home, when the toys tumbled out of the bag, Dances With Mermaids’ eyes became very wide and greedy. Though she has something like ten of the things in her room — or in the back yard, where the Westies like to take them when nobody’s looking — she instantly unleashed a Panzer batallion of legalistic arguments for why The Divine Miss T should give her one of the Webkinz as an early birthday present. 

Kid sister dug in her heels, and the arguments became more and more strident. In fact, it was beginning to sound a little too much like the flashback at the beginning of The Return of the King. I was listening from the other room, so I called out in my best Smeagol impersonation: “It’s my birthday! And I wants it!”

After a long pause, Dances With Mermaids (who has watched all three movies with me a few times) called back: “Daaaaaa-dy, stop it.” But the argument ended. Not even the most tyrannical of big sisters wants to think of herself acting like Gollum.

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