Connect with us

Culture & Entertainment

The Hobbit: A Review

The question that haunted us as we left the theater didn’t have to do with scene breaks or the nuances of dialogue. Instead, I wondered: What adventures am I ignoring that could change me forever … if I dared to say “yes”?

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

True confessions: I was in line at 9:15. That’s p.m. For a midnight showing of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

At least I wasn’t wearing elf ears.

I’ve been a devoted fan of Tolkien’s Middle Earth since my mother read the books aloud to us on long road trips, long before director Peter Jackson got his hands on the story. The three Lord of the Rings movies were released during the three years that I was in grad school, studying screenwriting. I was delighted with the haunting, well-scripted distillation of the three books for the screen — so you can imagine how excited I was for a chance to return to Middle Earth on screen.

I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Martin Freeman is utterly believable as the comfort-loving Bilbo Baggins, ripped from his cozy fireside and launched on *gasp* an adventure. Ian McKellen reprises (pre-prises?) his role as the wizard Gandalf, sage and yet uncertain in the face of a growing evil he doesn’t understand. And Andy Serkis returns as Gollum for a memorable game of riddles with Bilbo, while the hobbit is lost underground and discovers the infamous One Ring. This sequence, near the end of the film, is by far the most gripping moment in the story.

The movie also begins on a strong note when the thirteen dwarves show up unexpectedly (at Gandalf’s behest) to hire Bilbo as their burglar on a quest to recover their home and treasure from the dragon Smaug. Peter Jackson manages to navigate the pitfalls of thirteen dwarves, one hobbit, and one wizard in a small hobbit hole — clearly introducing each character and capturing both the humor and the haunting moments from the book.

That said, the movie is far from perfect. In The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the stakes are excruciatingly high. Failure in the quest to destroy the Ring will result in the destruction of all Middle Earth. The source material is so lengthy that the screenplays were forced to whittle the story down to the most essential moments, moving at a breathless pace. The Hobbit, written first and with a much lighter tone, simply doesn’t carry the same weight. Jackson attempts to give it a similar epic scope as the original three movies by including material Tolkien added later in the Appendices of Lord of the Rings.

While I appreciate that the additions are true to Tolkien’s world, they don’t merit what will be a trio of three-hour movies based on one, fairly short novel. I believe there’s a brilliant two-hour movie in The Hobbit. At two hours and forty-nine minutes, it meanders on occasion. Jackson takes advantage of his credit with a built-in fan base to extend his CG action sequences for the sake of eye candy, rather than good storytelling. Some of the backstory feels shoe-horned into place as necessary set up for the coming two movies.

For all its flaws, though, the screen adaptation gets one vital thing right. The book only needed one broad character arc for Bilbo Baggins. Three movies require three distinct (though co-joined) character journeys for the hobbit. Jackson chose to create a through-line for Bilbo that, while it doesn’t exist in the book, feels true to Tolkien’s character. As a home-loving hobbit, Bilbo finds himself adrift and off balance as he’s thrust on a journey into the wild. The dwarves, especially their leader and rightful king, Thorin Oakenshield, have been a homeless people for several generations, used to the hard life of wanderers. They don’t take Bilbo seriously, even resenting him, as they expect him to flee back to his comforts at every chance. But by the end of the film, when Bilbo has a chance to give up on the quest, he instead chooses to stay and follow through. He continues not for himself, but because he understands the value of having a place to belong, and wishes to help the dwarves secure their own home.

As screenwriters ourselves, my husband and I can analyze the technicalities of structure and character ad nauseum. But the question that haunted us as we left the theatre at 3 a.m. didn’t have to do with scene breaks or the nuances of dialogue. Instead, I wondered: Where am I being called to leave the safe and cozy nest I’ve created for myself? What adventures am I ignoring that could change me forever … if I dared to say “yes”?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

Liz Beachy Hansen is a scriptwriter and story developer for Orange, a nonprofit committed to influencing the hearts and minds of the next generation by providing tools for churches to partner with families. She and her husband, David, produce promotional and narrative films through their production company, Arclight Studios. They live in Marietta, Georgia, with their lab/chow mix Nina, Bane of Squirrels.

2 Comments
  • As someone who hasn’t seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy (gasp!), and hadn’t intended on seeing the Hobbit (double gasp!), I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

    There were parts (the violent scenes that didn’t seem to end) where I was ready for it to move on, but I thought all in all it was a good story. And, I was bummed when it ended. To the point that I told my husband he needed to get me the book. I need to find out what happened.

    I read the books (all of them) when I was young, but they didn’t have the same impact on me as they did you. I think because I didn’t understand all the underlying messages. And, I wasn’t a Christian when I read them. Seeing the movie yesterday allowed me to see things I wouldn’t have grasped at age 10. And, now I want to read Tolkien again.

    Great review Liz!

  • Amanda

    My husband and I were in line at 9pm and yes we were dressed up (though not with elf ears). We had to carry on the tradition we established with the Lord of the Rings movies.
    We loved the movie and thought that the scenes between Bilbo and Gollum were done brilliantly. They did a great job of developing the characters without having to state the obvious. And the dwarves were given just enough personality for them to not be just a background tag-a-long mass.
    Like you, we did come away with a feeling that unlike the Lord of the Rings where every second was precious and used to forward the story, The Hobbit did seem to drag in places.
    I loved the conclusion that it came, not only was Bilbo called to leave his comfort zone, but he was called to help others find there way home. This is exactly what we are called to, to leave our comfort zone and to help others find their way home…to the kingdom of heaven.

Articles

Musings On Aliens and UFOs

In a culture that’s obsessed with aliens and UFOs, it’s interesting to see what Scripture has to say about being from another world.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

Aliens from outer space. UFOs. Overall people seem to be fascinated with the possibilities.

Drawing from writing by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, Georges Méliès’ 1902 silent movie Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon), is often credited as the first science fiction film. Its ground-breaking special effects prepared the way for future science-fiction films with its portrayal of a spacecraft being launched to the moon.

Like many families, ours enjoys heating up the popcorn and viewing an imaginative sci-fi movie together. In fact, one of our favorite fun places to dine is Disney’s Hollywood Studios Sci-fi Diner in Orlando. It offers a 1950’s retro drive-in movie theater atmosphere serving food to parked cars while playing campy science fiction movies, capturing the time period’s fascination with the topic.

Major interest in aliens from outer space exploded in the 1950’s, a decade sometimes described as the “classic” era of science fiction theater with it’s surge of producing low-budget, comic-book style films targeted at teenage audiences. Alien threats to humanity, UFO invasions, and abductions are common themes as seen in War of the World, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and It Came From Outer Space.

Aliens in Our Midst

Currently, networks offer programs dedicated to exploring possible alien and UFO sightings with shows like Ancient Aliens, UFOs: Untold Stories, Nasa’s Unexplained Files, and more. One recent episode of one of these shows presented a segment discussing “what if humans are the aliens on earth?”

This hypothesis coincides with a religion birthed by American science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard and his writings, The Church of Scientology. Its doctrine states a human is an immortal, spiritual being (thetan) resident in a physical body. Or, stated in easier-to-understand terms, an alien life form that inhabits human beings.

Turns out biblical references address society’s curiosity on this theory.

Genesis 2:7 describes how humans came to live on earth, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” As described in scripture, humankind’s breath of life did come from an other-than-earthly source.

And concerning who are citizens and who are aliens in the world, Jesus identifies the distinction in His prayer for His disciples, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16). He continues to distinguish His followers in John 18:36 stating, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

Of UFOs and a Snatching Away

Musings on Aliens & UFOs

In 1977, Steven Spielberg’s film Close Encounters of the Third Kind depicted a public fascination with UFOs, along with the year’s release of George Lucas’ Star Wars. Interest continued with the 1980’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, a story of a lonely boy who befriends an extraterrestrial stranded on Earth.

In the 1970’s, Christian rocker Larry Norman also offered thoughts on aliens and UFOs in his trilogy of albums which included Only Visiting This Planet, So Long Ago the Garden, and In Another Land. His third album contains some of Norman’s most well-known work, selling more than 120,000 copies by 1985. In Norman’s song “UFO” lyrics assert:

He [Jesus] will come back like He promised with the price already paid,
He will gather up His followers and take them all away,
He’s an unidentified flying object,
He will sweep down from the sky

Jesus reveals His plan to return for His people in John 14:3 stating, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” Mark 13:26-27 provides a clearer picture of what His return will look like to those on earth, “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.”

So scripture does describes a coming snatching away of people on earth like represented in the 1990s-2000s popular Left Behind series of novels and films by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.

In his 1969 album Upon This Rock, Norman addressed this concern as well in his song “I Wish We’d All Been Ready,” stating while growing up in church he hadn’t heard this preached from the pulpit.

Two men walking up a hill
One disappears and
One’s left standing still
I wish we’d all been ready
There’s no time to change your mind
The Son has come and you’ve been left behind

Closing Reflection

In consideration of the ongoing interest in our culture with aliens and UFOs, this topic certainly opens up authentic opportunities to discuss what scripture has to say on the possibilities. With curiosity on the rise, yet another avenue to open conversation about God’s love and His kingdom of another realm (John 3:16,17).

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Articles

3 Fun Ways to Parent in Real Time

Have you been hoodwinked into believing motherhood is a rat race? If so, here are 3 fun ways you can slow down and parent in real time.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

I’m a planner. We’re talking semi-serious Type A, time-urgency issues.

My husband Ted can confirm this. Although, I predict he’d most likely tell you this obsession I have with time isn’t strictly a bad thing. Rather, when it comes to weaknesses and strengths, it’s a case of both/and.

How so?

Ted likes to say that if it weren’t for my goal-oriented, hyper-active Little Engine That Could personality, we’d be a lazy family. After all, if it were up to him, our off days would consist of naps and driving no more than 30 minutes from our house. And while I love my share of afternoon rest, I crave adventure in … well, as my favorite Disney princess would sing … “the great wide somewhere” a little more.

This God-given, hard-wired, time-sensitive personality of mine thrives on thinking ahead. I’m constantly on the prowl – yeah, all tiger like and what not – for fun educational activities, local and not-so-local family outings, theatrical productions, and even vacation ideas. There’s no doubt that, as Ruth Schwenk and Karen Ehman write about in their book Hoodwinked, I take time seriously. In fact, as I read these word from Ruth, I couldn’t help but nod in agreement:

One of my favorite verses about the sacredness of time is Psalm 90:12: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” The word wisdom in Hebrew means “skilled” …. And here, the psalmist is connecting skilled living with stewarding time. Part of walking in wisdom is being skilled in the stewardship of the days God in his grace has given us. To waste them or mismanage them is to act foolishly and unskillfully.

Not being productive or having a plan in place is difficult for me. In my mind, “productivity = time well spent,” and “plan = time well managed.”

Sometimes, as a mom, all my planning and productivity can eat away at the actual day-to-day enjoyment of my kids.

Here’s the thing, though. The older I get, the more I learn that’s not necessarily true.

Just because I’m careful to not waste time, doesn’t mean I always steward it well. In fact, sometimes I don’t … at all. Sometimes, as a mom, all my planning and productivity can eat away at the actual day-to-day enjoyment of my kids. When this happens, all that “productivity = time well spent” and “plan = time well managed” couldn’t be further from the truth.

download

What does this poor stewardship look like for me?

Here’s where that biggest weakness in those semi-serious Type-A, time-urgency issues comes into play. And that’s this: I often live too much in the future.

It’s so bad at times that Ted has to remind me to live in the here and now, not in the six-months-from now. I don’t always like when he offers this correction, but the truth is, I need it. I don’t want to look back ten years from now and realize that I missed the moments of my children’s lives because I was so busy planning for the next moments and the next. I found myself convicted and motivated by these word from Ruth:

Parenting happens in real time. Don’t miss the moments right in front of your nose. Living in tomorrow only causes us to lose today.

So what’s my plan to make sure I don’t miss the here and now moments with my kids? Here are three fun, practical ways I’m attempting to parent in real time.

1. Reading Out Loud

When it comes to bedtime stories, Ted is king of that domain. The thing is, just because I don’t typically read to the kids before tucking them in, doesn’t mean I can’t read aloud to them at all. As a homeschooling mom, I have ample opportunity to work story time into school time.

Parenting happens in real time. Don’t miss the moments right in front of your nose. Living in tomorrow only causes us to lose today. — Ruth Schwenk And you know what I’ve found?

Reading out loud to my kids forces me to slow down and to stop rushing through our schedule and our day. As the kids and I are drawn into the story together, we share in the emotional ups and downs of the characters. We gasp in shock over plot twists and lament as our protagonist faces yet another challenge. In the process, we create shared experiences, knowledge, and memories.

2. Impromptu Dance Parties

At our house, Pandora plays pretty much all day long. Sometimes it’s tuned to the Francesca Battestelli channel, other times to the Michael Buble channel. One of my favorites activities of late, though, is to switch it to the Tween music channel, move the coffee table out of the way, and invite my girls to an impromptu dance party.

As I twirl my four-year-old around and around, there are no thoughts of what’s for dinner, or what time we need to get up in the morning. There’s only me and my girls dancing and giggling together.

3. Cooking Competitions … of the On-Screen Variety

Whether it’s Cutthroat Kitchen or Cupcake Wars, my girls and I share a love for cooking competition shows. Lately, we’ve taken to watching the shows together, each choosing our “candidate” to cheer for, and then watching to see if we picked a “winner.” It’s been a fun way for us to actively watch television together. And, like reading out loud, it causes me to slow down and create a shared experience with my kids.

Yes, I’m a planner. But this planner is hopeful that those semi-serious Type A, time-urgency issues of mine can become more and more strength and less and less weakness, especially when it comes to my mothering. After all, these parenting days of mine are numbered and I want to live them skillfully.

Learn More About HOODWINKED

Moms have been hoodwinked — tricked into believing lies that keep them from not only enjoying motherhood, but forging friendships with other moms who might tackle the tasks of motherhood differently. Myths such as “Mothering is natural, easy, and instinctive” cause moms to feel like failures if they have questions or apprehensions in raising their kids. Operating from the premise that “The way I mother is the right (and only) way” puts up fences between moms instead of building bridges of encouragement between them. Lies such as “I am my child’s choices” tempt moms to mistakenly believe that if their child makes a wrong choice then they, in turn, must be a bad mom.

This book will enable mothers to:

  • Identify the ten myths of motherhood our current culture perpetuates
  • Replace the lies with the truth of what God says in the Bible about mothering
  • Acquire practical tools to help them form new and improved thought patterns and healthy behaviors
  • Forge healthy, supportive relationships with other moms of all ages and stages
  • Confidently embrace the calling of motherhood as they care for their families in their own unique way

BUY HOODWINKED: TEN MYTHS MOMS BELIEVE & WHY WE ALL NEED TO KNOCK IT OFF HERE.

Also available is the HOODWINKED STUDY GUIDE WITH DVD. Find out more about it here.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Articles

Reflections on Nichole Nordeman’s THE UNMAKING {Plus a Giveaway}

Read our reflections on Nichole Nordeman’s new EP, “The Unmaking.”

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

“When I’m younger…”

It’s a phrase my four-year-old daughter uses often. (As you can tell, her concept of aging is still in the early stages of development.) While I often correct her with a “Do you mean when you’re older?” there’s something sobering about her words. They remind me that these days are fleeting. These days of cute misphrases, well-loved blankies, and read-aloud stories. They’re fleeting.

And sometimes, when she proudly proclaims, “When I’m younger…,” I just want to pause and whisper, “Slow down.”

I want to tell her to stay little longer. That it’s fun to be a kid. I want to promise her that I won’t tell the dentist if she sucks her thumb when she thinks that I’m not looking. Or that it’s okay if she talks through movies about topics completely unrelated to the plot. “Sure, go ahead and sing me that song about manners while the movie’s storyline unfolds. It’s okay. You won’t always want to, and I can rewatch this movie when you’re older.”

It’s with those words “when I’m younger,” that I realize perhaps all those people who’ve told me “It goes by fast,” were right.

I think all of us moms – including singer and songwriter Nichole Nordeman – feel the desire to slow down time at some point. But not all of us have been able to capture this longing in song so poignantly as Nordeman has done with the track “Slow Down” off her new EP, The Unmaking. In what’s destined to become many a mom’s musical pick for her child’s graduation, she beautifully captures the emotional tension that comes from raising arrows we need to let fly one day. And, I admit, the first time I heard the song, I cried.

“Slow Down” is one of six songs on The Unmaking. It’s an album that, as Nordeman told Vital Magazine, chronicles a recent season of brokenness in her own life. She shared with them:

“Christians are so anxious to fast-forward to the healing and to the hope and the happy ending of the story where God makes all things new,” she says. “All of that is true sometimes, but we just are so uncomfortable sitting in the tough spot. I think that’s what I wanted to do with The Unmaking, just acknowledge that God is with us, and there is no shame, in fact there’s strength, in sitting in the rubble and being vulnerable with Him.”

While The Unmaking is Nordeman’s first studio release since her 2005 project, Brave, those who have loved and missed her music need not worry that she’s reinvented herself. Vocally and musically, this album is quintessential Nordeman.

Before long, my four-year-old will soon grasp the concept of aging. And, as she does, the phrase “When I’m younger…” will disappear from her vernacular. When that happens, know that you can find me listening to “Slow Down” and crying what may very well constitute an ugly sort of cry as I realize that my baby is one day closer to flying. Yep, that’s a reference you’ll just have to listen to the song to understand.


Win a Copy of “The Unmaking”!

Win a copy of "The Unmaking" by Nichole Nordeman

We have one copy of Nichole Nordeman’s EP The Unmaking to give away. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Become An Insider!

Enter your email address below to stay in the loop on the latest from Ungrind.

Welcome to Ungrind!



Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

Latest Articles

What Women Are Saying

"Ungrind is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. Whether you're facing a challenge or experiencing great joy, Ungrind has something to say to you today."

-- Arlene Pellicane, co-author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife
COL_TeamUs_BannerAd

Five-Minute-Friday---4

familydevotional

Disclosure

We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.

Trending

The Hobbit: A Review

by Liz Hansen time to read: 3 min
2