Movie Title: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Date Released: December 14th, 2012
Date Seen: December 14th, 2012
Seen in: High Frame Rate, 3D
Seen with: Dad
Part 1 – Spoiler Free Quickie Review
I don’t want to go as far as saying that this was the biggest let down of the year….. but I will. It was the biggest letdown of the year. Mainly because the movie is just too damn long…. and nothing happens. Anything that does happen, is pretty much just like the plot of Fellowship, so just go watch that movie and you’ll be much happier with yourself. I feel like I should say that I am in fact a fan of the novel, The Hobbit. I’ve read it and enjoy it. I was already skeptical at how they could stretch it to 3 movies. I mean, the book is only about 250 pages long. That’s a pretty short book. I knew there’d be an insane attention to detail…. but it was too much. So much so that the entire first hour of the movie felt like I was listening to a book on tape. Not even watching a book on tape, because it wasn’t even that spectacular for the first hour. There’s one history of the War of the Dwarves and Orcs briefly explained and also a little showing of old Bilbo writing the Hobbit novel – and insert Elijah Wood for a quick cameo.
But ok, are you confused about the War of the Dwarves and Orcs? Yeah, we need some of that background to kind of get into why the heck Thorin wants to go to the mountain, and so we can learn who Smaug is – but let me just tell you, there’s a TON of stuff in this movie that is not in the Hobbit. A ton. The attention to detail was great – so great in fact that they decided to throw in pieces from other novels (particularly from the LOTR: Return of the King Appendix… that’s right, an APPENDIX). They also just threw in pieces every once in a while that my dad and I looked at each other saying “that wasn’t in the book….” It was just strange. I didn’t really like it. I would have MUCH rather there only been two movies total and really stayed true to the book. I like knowing a bit more about the history, but trust me, when you go see it, they actually changed a lot and it makes me sad.
On a better note – the high frame rate was pretty awesome. It took me a bit to get used to it. The beginning scenes I found it very noticeable and distracting. I thought it looked kind of like an older BBC show, but I can’t explain why. It just had a weird soap-opera-y yet low budget – yet you know it’s not kind of look. It was weird. But once I got used to it, it was fine. My dad liked the clarity it gave to everything. There was NOTHING blurry on screen EVER. You could see even the pores on peoples faces nearly any time there was a remotely close face shot. I never found a scene (other than the beginning) where I thought to myself “wow, I’m glad this is in HFR”, but again, that could just be because nothing happened.
The best scene was the scene you are looking the most forward too, the riddle scene with Gollum, and it is great. It’s not surprising that Andy Serkis played him amazingly, as always. A couple of other characters surprised me – one of the dwarves I loved, Kili (Aidan Turner) and every scene he was in I really liked. But that could be because he’s hot, I’m not really sure. He could have just been the one good thing I looked forward to, so he really stood out. I’m looking forward to seeing Martin Freeman really get to play Bilbo a bit more…. I mean, he doesn’t really do anything in this one, other than the riddle scene.
Another major letdown was the lack of visually stunning scenes. All of the original LOTR movies were fantastically stunning, moment for moment. This, there was only really a couple of scenes – and the majority of it was CGI. Rivendale was pretty, of course, and the Goblin cave was pretty cool. But I didn’t find myself going “wow!” like I did in the LOTR movies. I debated whether or not it could be simply because I’m so used to those scenes now, but no, no it’s not. The movie was just kind of meh visually, and obviously plot wise. The only breathes of fresh air were returning characters from the previous movies, played by their original actors.
Part 2 – In Depth Spoiler Ridden Review
So basically the plot is the exact same as The Hobbit, up to where the Hobbits get carried away by the Great Eagles. The “additional” things, that I thought were too much, is that we have a pack of orcs – lead by the “Pale Orc” hunting down the dwarves. We learn that the Pale Orc fought Thorin in battle, and Thorin had to protect himself with only what he could find -an oak branch – and ended up cutting off the Pale Orc’s arm. Thorin though this Orc died – but no, he didn’t and is now hunting him. If this sounds familiar, it is because this is in the LOTR: ROTK appendix. The story goes that when he was young, Thorin was in battle near the East gate of Moria. His shield broke, so he used an oak tree to defend himself. So that is where the oak tree part comes from. The pale orc, is speculated to be “Azog”, who killed Thror, Thorin’s father. He was (in the books) killed – and his son Bolg ruled Moria. But, based on the history in the movie, it appears that the Pale Orc = Azog and he was never killed. So even though they add in this extra stuff from other books – it’s not even true to the books!
Another thing I found strange, was the Rock Monsters scene. There is a mention of “rock monsters” in the book, but I always just thought it was a way of explaining the noise and extremity of the storm – not that there were actually rock monsters playing catch. The whole scene just didn’t fit – just like it was a way to take up time and space, and try to awe us with CGI. But failed.
I wouldn’t see this movie again, and I won’t be recommending it to my friends. If you’re in the mood to go watch a crappy first film in a set… go watch the Phantom Menace. It’s better.