Non-Sequitur: Happy Hobbit Day!!!

Hi guys! It’s time for a new feature at Buttered Popcorn! We’re calling it the Non-Sequitur of the Unspecified Timeframe! As the title suggests, we have no idea how often we will do these, and they’re completely unrelated to Tom Cruise! (Well… maybe not completely unrelated.  Stay tuned, and maybe we’ll see about that!)

Today is September 22nd! Why is that a big deal? Because it’s the combined birthday of two of Michelle’s favorite literary (and film) characters – Bilbo Baggins and Frodo Baggins!!! 😀 Happy Birthday, fellas! Today is also celebrated among J.R.R. Tolkien fans as “Hobbit Day”, where fans try to do something hobbit-ish in honor of these two wonderful characters.

So come along with us while we pay tribute to two of the final Ring Bearers – Bilbo and Frodo – and of course, other hobbits, too! Since this is a movie blog, we will share our opinions on a few movie adaptations that feature our favorite residents of Bag End, Hobbiton. Since Michelle is the resident Tolkien nerd of our duo, she will guide us along on our little journey.

If you haven’t watched any of the many film adaptations of Tolkien’s most popular books, you can get them at the below links. (This will also serve as a list of the movies we will potentially be spoiling under the “read more”!)

The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and Return of the King animated movies
The Hobbit Motion Picture Trilogy and Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy

And, of course, we’re kinda spoiling the books too, so check them out!
The Hobbit (by itself)
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

*** Spoilers beyond this point!! ***

I’m not interested in getting into a huge debate about whether the Jackson movies were the best or atrocious, whether the movies are better than the books (they aren’t and they never will be, don’t argue with me), or whether Bakshi’s animated version was too bizarre to be shown to modern audiences. I’m going to share my humble true and correct opinions on the movies that most Tolkien fans are familiar with, and you can make up your own minds!

The Hobbit Trilogy – Peter Jackson 2012 – 2014

Great things about this movie:

  • Martin Freeman’s portrayal of Bilbo. Nuff said. But I’ll say more anyway! He’s SO GOOD. I believe every part of him, even though my first reaction to seeing him on a billboard was, “How is a steady, comfortable, 50-year-old hobbit so skinny?? What kinda…??” And even though the writing has him trying to go back outside a cave after they have recently escaped being crushed by living rock giants. Every time he was happy, I was happy for him. When he was scared I was scared for him. When he was sad, I was sad for him, even when I thought the situation that made him sad was not actually worth his grief. Hands down, he was the absolute best part of the movie.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch’s Smaug. Nuff said. But I’ll say more about him, too! The business with the Dwarves confronting Smaug was… utter nonsense, but I guess what happened in the book wasn’t theatrical enough? And more than one film adaptation has made the bizarre mistake of having Bilbo take off the Ring in Smaug’s presence (Tolkien seems to realize that would mean INSTANT DEATH), but despite all that, and despite Smaug’s random!knowledge of the Ring and the Arkenstone and the pointed reminder that Frodo will later use the name “Underhill”, I LOVED BENEDICT here. The drama and tension during the the meeting with Bilbo is perfection (even though Bilbo should totally be toast before the end of it…)
  • Special effects are well done, and you can be immersed in the world (if you can ignore the stuff coming up on our second list).

Not-so-great things about this movie:

  • Three movies was too long. Every single Silmarillion backstory, and LOTR item that was “understood” to have happened at this time should have been cut out. This was “Prequel to Lord of The Rings” instead of “The Hobbit”.
  • Legolas, Galadriel, Saruman. Go back to LOTR where you belong.
  • Tauriel. Nope. Adding a woman to the movie because there were none in the book and you felt there should be more? Good idea. Adding a woman who is just there to be the Juliet from a random, shoe-horned Romeo and Juliet love story? Bad idea.
  • Bilbo was not the hero of this trilogy. 🙁 He was a very important side character, but the movies took away many of the things that made him absolutely crucial in the books. I’m particularly gutted by his uselessness in the fight with the Spiders in Mirkwood. Legolas and Tauriel and their spider-skateboard skills became the heroes while Bilbo is off somewhere being weird about the Ring.  Meanwhile, Bilbo single-handedly saved the dwarves from the spiders in the book (and in the Rankin-Bass animation) – with some VERY brave and daring action. This change basically ruined any positive elements that the movie might have had, and it’s not the only time his heroism and general usefulness was removed from a major story events. I’m still pretty pissed that apparently Smaug’s weak spot is an old wives tale handed down from generation to generation, instead of a unique discovery by Bilbo that made risking his life inside the dragon’s lair actually MEAN SOMETHING. >:(
  • The Eagles don’t talk. WHAT THE HELL? Everybody’s on about the whole moth-summoning thing, but we’re not talking about the fact that the Eagles don’t talk!! They have a king! That means they have a full fledged (no pun intended) society with a monarchy and everything! Why did we lose this? I think I read somewhere that they didn’t want to tax the viewer’s suspension of belief or something? Like that would be too much for modern audiences to take. But people coming to this movie are fantasy fans! What the heck. ALSO, you’re telling me eagle-summoning moths, elves, wizards, goblins, hobbits, magic rings,bunny-sleds and DRAGONS were all okay, but talking eagles? Nah. That’s just too much. O_O

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – Peter Jackson 2001 – 2003

Great things about this movie:

  • Visualizing Middle Earth was amazing in these films. Tolkien does spend time describing the landscape and sometimes the buildings, but it’s really nice to SEE it. Rivendell is STUNNING! Seeing it was my favorite part of the first movie. Seeing the scope of the world in full color is just wonderful.
  • Elijah Wood’s portrayal of Frodo was great. Some people hated him as Frodo, and I don’t understand that. His performance was wonderful, whether I liked what the writers/directors did with his character or not.
  • Sauron’s shock at being overthrown. Sorry, nothing will ever top a giant flaming eye looking surprised as it falls. Sorry not sorry!

Not-so-great things about this movie:

  • Merry and Pippin. Not sure why we had to have Middle Earth’s version of Beavis and Butthead, but I missed the playful but sensitive Pippin, and the level-headed, leader-y-ness (What? That’s a word, right?) of Merry. And joining a dangerous venture away from the Shire, “from danger, into danger” by falling on your cousin’s head and asking, “hey, whatcha doin”?? No.
  • Frodo’s heroism was minimized in this movie, leading to the travesty of lots of people who haven’t read the books saying things like “Frodo is a whiner”, “Can’t stand how weak Frodo is,” etc. That is SUCH a tragedy! Frodo is one of the strongest characters in the books, and when he has to lean on Sam it’s because of the massive physical and emotional weight he has to bear on his journey. This whole “Frodo is a weakling” thing starts way in the beginning of the first film, when Frodo is carried by Arwen across the river at the Ford of Bruinen, and she challenges the Black Riders, instead of Frodo riding across (in great pain) alone, and bravely challenging them himself. Again, I’m not opposed to adding female characters (or making them more prominent as in this case), but when it turns the hero of the story into a passive sack of potatoes? Not okay.
  • Frodo believed Gollum over Sam and sent Sam away for overeating (of all fucking things). Not even remotely a thing that would ever happen in seventy-five million eons ever. Like EVER. >_> I wonder who this person pretending to be Frodo really is…

The Hobbit – Rankin-Bass 1977

Great things about this movie:

  • Nostalgia! This movie was my first introduction to Tolkien’s work! I loved it, went on to find the book, and the rest was history.
  • This movie, despite some of the wild inaccuracies, is fairly true to the book in spirit. The plot flows along much like it does in the book, with large chops (no Beorn) as you may expect from an animated film made for kids. The characters are pretty true to the book as well. Bilbo is the actual hero! The major problems I had with Jackson’s version of Bilbo are not here. The dwarves are pretty true to the book, and the Eagles actually talk (although they cut out the talking Ravens.)
  • Bilbo is the hero of this story! This deserves its own bullet point! In fact, some scenes showed him in an even more prominent role than in the book, like when Bilbo discovers the secret door on Thorin’s map. If you’re going to err on one side or another, it’s better to err on the side of giving Bilbo MORE things to do, not less. As in the book, Bilbo develops from a frightened little homebody to a hero, ready to take charge (even if he’s a little fussy about it now and then). He kicks spider ass, he remembers the words of Elrond from the map at the doorstep, he discovers the bare patch on Smaug’s chest. He’s the best!!

Not-so-great things about this movie:

  • Wild inaccuracies! I said it was true to the book in spirit, but this animation takes some serious liberties as well. The two-by-two introduction of the dwarves doesn’t happen (they just kinda pop up out of the bushes like they’ve been hiding there waiting for Gandalf to be weird with the lightning). The Arkenstone is nonexistent. They killed SO MANY DWARVES in the Battle of Five Armies! As a matter of fact…
  • …The whole Battle of Five Armies was kind of bizarre. Bard (who has been made king overnight) just SHOWS up inside the Dwarf stronghold to tell Thorin there are a bunch of armies outside. Then the Elf king shows up (also INSIDE the stronghold) to mention that they’ve been suffering from unusual climate change because of the dragon, and the dwarves need to pay up. Then they kinda walk away, and Thorin decides he’s gonna fight the other armies. But he never sent for Dain, so, he’s LITERALLY planning on fighting two armies with his 12 companions and one burglar. “Fourteen against ten thousand????” Bilbo’s got a point. But it’s okay because Dain comes to the rescue anyway (is he psychic?) and “now WE have an army!” Yaaaaay! Confused? Don’t worry, Bilbo will helpfully keep count of all the armies for you in case you get lost…

The Lord of the Rings – Ralph Bakshi 1978

Great things about this movie:

  • This adaptation is the most true to the book. There are changes (obviously), but much of the dialog is taken directly from the books, and the chain of events is quite similar to that of the books. <3 I’m really upset that this didn’t get its planned sequel!
  • Frodo is the quietly heroic guy he’s supposed to be! He challenges the bad guys at the Ford, he keeps himself together when things are falling apart around him, he is not overshadowed by this desire to make everybody else the hero over him. It’s great!
You shall have neither the Ring, nor me!
  • Aragorn! He’s so cool in this one, and he’s most like the character in the books (even though his face is kinda scrunchy). I love him, he’s fantastic!

Not-so-great things about this movie:

  • That weird real-person animation hybrid thing is… weird. It can be off-putting, and the scenes with lots of orcs are just like… WTF is happening here?  I wish the cool animation that’s used in the Shire could have been used everywhere.
  • Galadriel’s eyes are SO WEIRD. O_O
I can see all directions at once.
  • Sometimes, Frodo looks like he’s six feet tall, and sometimes Legolas and Gimli are the same height.  O_o
Mind you, according to the books, Strider is about SEVEN feet tall…
  • It’s not FINISHEDDDD! I still remember my shock when I got to the end of the VHS, and it was a cliffhanger. I was engaged, I had forgiven the weirdness with the real people, I was TOTALLY enthralled by this version of Gollum and I was ready to see how the film handled Shelob and the rest of the story. Aaaaaaaand it was over.  And I later learned that there was no sequel. GUTTED. This was pre-Internet, and I searched and searched for the rest, and never found it. Instead, I found our next feature!

The Return of the King – Rankin-Bass 1980

Great things about this movie:

  • Roddy McDowall’s portrayal of Samwise! He is awesome! I particularly love how he manages to carry off his dialogue SO well, when 50% of it is to himself, to imaginary people, and to inanimate objects. Here’s a list of things that Samwise talks to during the first half of the movie:
    • The Ring of Power
    • Sting
    • imprisoned!Frodo (who is presumably well out of earshot)
    • imaginary!Sauron
    • imaginary!soldiers
    • dead orcs
    • himself. A LOT.
  • Frodo and Sam’s support of each other. They hold each other up throughout, and it’s GREAT! Some have complained that we spend too much time with the two of them, and yes, I admit that this could have been re-named “The Ballad of Sam and Frodo”, but… “too much time” with hobbits? That is IMPOSSIBLE.
  • The Drama! Maybe some people would see this as a problem (myself included – see below), but sometimes the drama in this is SO beautiful. Sam declining to take possession of the Ring? YAAAAASS, lol it’s so great!
Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!
  • The SONGS! Again, some people think this is a problem (myself included – see below), but Tolkien loved songs! So, it’s great that there are songs here, and some of them are amazing! My personal favorites are “The Bearer of the Ring”, and of course, everybody’s favorite, “Where there’s a Whip, There’s a Way”. Isn’t that always the way? The villains get the best songs. Oh, and I’ll give an honorable mention for the little theme song to the Cracks of Doom.

Not-so-great things about this movie:

  • The SONGS! Okay, in Rankin-Bass’ rendition of “The Hobbit”, there were plenty of songs, but THIS movie is just doing a lot. There are about four songs before we even get to the meat of the story. And they are getting EVERY SINGLE PIECE of mileage out of the tune from “The Road Goes Ever On”. That refrain appears about ten times throughout. Some of the songs are mega awkward, and it’s like… really? Shhhhhhh.
  • Aragorn! Who’s he? Some returning king or other? Oh wait, there he is! And he’s got a lot of disrespect and sass for Gandalf, which is SO out of character, what the heck?
  • Legolas? Gimli? Who are they? Nonexistent? OK SURE.
  • Pronunciation! Guys! In what universe do you pronounce “Gorgoroth” as “Gor-oh-go-roth”? Where did the extra syllable come from?? Oh wait! Maybe they got it from “Gla-dri-el”!
    My face when I hear them try to say “Gorgoroth”

    The constant mispronunciation of “Gorgoroth” by literally EVERY character who says the name jumped me out of the movie almost as much as Pippin saying that Denethor has “gone looney”.  Or Pippin not knowing what a PALANTIR IS.  O_O

  • The distance between Pippin’s nose and his mouth. Dear animators: WHAT. THE. FUCK?
Did these people take life drawing, or…?
  • The Drama! Sometimes it is just OVER the top! Gandalf gives up hope after Denethor dies? GANDALF? Mister “despair is for those who see the end beyond all doubt”? Please. Also, we see Merry ride off to find Theoden (BY HIMSELF!!??!!), they turn around mid-field and ride to help Minas Tirith, and suddenly Merry is MASSIVELY ATTACHED to Theoden. The guy he’s known for… however long it took them to ride back, assuming they even talked on the journey. And now he’s absolutely devastated when Theoden is killed? I guess… But it did lead to one of my favorite monologues of the movie. Every now and then, I’ll just turn to Rosie, raise my fist in the air and cry, “HEAR ME!! HEAR ME, OH DARKNESS!!” Best ever, despite the fact that his intensely emotional reaction makes NO SENSE without context.
  • Lol, and my favorite faux pas of the movie? When Sam throws himself at the gates of the tower and pounds on it, trying to get to Frodo, he falls down, and his hand finds a chain. What is at the end of that chain?
    I’m just gonna… pic this here Ring of Doom up off the ground, ok?

    The Ring. The RING OF POWER, aka “The Ring of DOOM”, aka “THE ONE RING” is just… SITTING on the ground outside a tower full of orcs, next to a sword that glows in the dark around orcs . But SAMWISE is the one who found it. Randomly. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA ok.

PicSpam!

Now, here’s a few of my favorite images of the heroes of Middle Earth! We capped these ourselves (except the first one, which we gacked from Google Images)!

I think all that yelling and running around and gold slinging I just did might have awakened the dragon a little…
I am not the Ring’s! The Ring is MINE!
Back off, cave troll!! For the Shire!!

Happy Hobbits:

You can’t say no to this smile, Frodo. Right??
BIFFLES!
Love stories are nice!
I did it right!

And my ALL TIME FAVORITE Frodo pic of ALL TIME EVER IN LIFE:

Gandalf! Buddy! R U OK?

This will never get old.

It’s time for… Six Degrees from Tom Cruise!

What does any of this have to do with Tom Cruise? Well… nothing! That’s what makes it a non-sequitur. But we couldn’t just leave it at that! Everything can be connected to Tom Cruise! It’s one of our superpowers, people. And we can tell you that Hobbit Day is a mere two degrees from Tom Cruise. How does that work? Let’s watch!

In 1968, the older of our two birthday hobbits, Mr. Bilbo Baggins, was the subject of a ballad of the same name. That ballad was sung by none other than Leonard Nimoy! Here’s a picture of Mr. Nimoy holding a cake that’s shaped like a hobbit hole! We think Bilbo would get a kick out of that.

I smile because… hobbits are AWESOME!!

Mr. Nimoy also portrayed a man named Paris (sometimes “The Great Paris”), in a certain iconic television show called (you guessed it!) “Mission: Impossible”! Paris was Mr. Phelps’ right hand, looked up to him as a father, and was the master of disguise of the group:

I belong here!

Decades later, Tom Cruise would play a very similar role in the movie franchise. Ethan Hunt looked up to Mr. Phelps as a father figure, and he is the master of disguise in the teams he leads.

I belong here!

And there you have it! Two tiny little degrees connect Mr. Bilbo Baggins with Mr. Tom Cruise! Oh, and he’s also connected through another “Mission: Impossible” character – Leo Ostro, the villain in Season 7 episode “The Puppet”:

I’m not a bad guy who killed his brother for power! Honest!

That’s right! Mr. “You CANNOT DIE, MASTER FRODOOOO!” was in “Mission: Impossible”, too. Go figure!

I’ll get to you somehow!

~ ~ ~

Interested in watching any of these magical movies? Click on the links below for more info:

All the animated movies I talked about in one package!

The Peter Jackson “Hobbit” and “LotR” Trilogy all in one package!

And of course you will want to read the books that inspired all these film makers and animators and song-writers and everyone else to make these magical movies. Get them below:

The Hobbit by itself:

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings:

Thanks for joining us! And for those brave souls who made it to the end of our very first Non-Sequitur of the Unspecified Timeframe, here’s a little treat for ya:

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