I’ve been so excited I could barely contain myself for the past few weeks. Even though I hated The Hobbit when I read it in middle school (I later found the LotR trilogy and The Silmarillion in the public library and loved them), I loved the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy so much that I couldn’t wait to return to that world.
So what did I think of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey? Well, I guess most importantly, I felt it shouldn’t have been nearly three hours long.
The plot of The Hobbit is fairly simple. A hobbit is roped into going on an adventure with dwarves to defeat a dragon and take back a dwarven homeland.
Although they added in a few things for the movie, in general, any problems with the plot are Tolkien’s fault. There are things that happen that make no sense and are clearly used just to drive the plot (his use of giant eagles to save people is a big issue in his writing, for example). There were also changes to certain fight or adventure scenes in order to utilize the 3D aspect of the film, but these did not significantly affect the plot.
Beautiful, as usual. The gorgeous settings were a huge turn-on in the first LotR trilogy, and they are back and just as beautiful in The Hobbit. You will soar over mountains, creep through tunnels, and glide through forests.
Plenty of people have been talking about the frame rate of the movie as affecting it poorly. To explain, this movie was filmed in 48 frames per second, which is similar to the way soap operas are filmed. I’m not sure if it was the 3D affect, but I did not see a noticeable “ugliness” to anything. I had a friend who said she noticed a “flattening out” effect, but she actually blamed the 3D, so who knows. I would say, to the untrained eye, the movie looked great.
No complaints here other than hamming it up for laughs. Bilbo is played as having a lot of compunctions about his journey. The dwarves are a rowdy, disgusting, gluttonous lot, although Kili (Aidan Turner) gave me the feels.
The characters themselves were a very fun aspect of the movie. Each dwarf had his own silhouette and attitude, and it was fun watching them fight, because you wanted to see each one’s unique style. You still won’t really know all their names, but that is Tolkein’s fault for making them sound so similar and having so very many of them.
Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond, and Saruman were the same, no changes there. Radagast, another wizard, was hilarious, and his first scene almost made me cry. He also has bird poop on the side of his head…which is…special.
The fight scenes were so fun…seeing how each dwarf fought and how they worked together reminded me of what I really love about fantasy bildingsroman: going on a great adventure with an assembled motley crew.
In my opinion, the fight scenes were the best part of The Hobbit. A lot of aspects of this movie seemed aimed at a younger crowd (dwarves belching, Bilbo’s acting, the roller coaster ride-eque scenes meant to utilize the 3D, etc.), but the fighting was intense and exciting. Hopefully, there will be more of that in the next two movies.
Use of 3D
Whenever something can go flying, spinning, and swirling though the air at a fast pace, it will. The only time it proved really exciting was when we zoomed in on a huge beast’s eye near the end. I found myself pushing backwards in my seat, not wanting to get so close to the creature.
The length of this movie
Really, the biggest drawback of this movie was its length, compounded by strange pacing. My companion in the theater said “Welp, good movie!” at least six times, as the scenes seemed to wrap up after something intense, leading you to feel as if it should be the end of the movie.
The beginning scenes wherein Bilbo is harassed until the dwarves are ready to leave was entirely too long, as were many of the unimportant “sitting down and talking” scenes. In fact, they seemed to have added one of those scenes to the movie, as I really don’t remember Galadriel being there at that time.
Another big issue was the attempted use of suspense. During a few scenes, dramatic suspense is used, with long pauses, breaks, or characters staring each other down. This may have worked in LotR, but in a prequel, it is just silly. We KNOW Gollum doesn’t die, because we see him in LotR; we KNOW Bilbo doesn’t die, because we see him in LotR, etc. The suspense was annoying, and I kept thinking of a Dragon Ball Z fight, where they stretched a single fight out over four episodes by having stare and grunt-offs.
Despite the poor pacing, I couldn’t bear to give this movie a C. The fight scenes were superb, and the characters were fun and engaging. Any issues with the plot ultimately hark back to Tolkien’s use of giant eagles.