The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Peter Jackson – 2012



I’ve seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey twice now, once in 3D and once in 48 fps 3D.

About 48. It’s amazing, and clear, but midrange shots of actors moving appear jumpy and sped up. It’s just freaky. But the wide shots, which there are a great many of, are some of the coolest images you’ll ever see in a theater.

So how is the film? It’s more of a ride I would say than a story, and in that manner it works pretty well as an entertainment.  The prologues go on and on. First is the story of Thror and the dwarves under the mountain, good stuff. Then old Bilbo and Elijah Wood share some pointless connective tissue with the other Lord Of The Rings films, then we finally start the story. Not really, first we have a much too long scene of dwarves and eating Bilbo’s food. Finally we get out the door and go, and we have a sweet flashback about a pale orc. Then a dumb scene with the trolls keeps the goofy stuff coming. Gandalf saves our team time and time again. Even though there are fourteen of them all are safe at all times. Somehow.

My biggest complaint is the stretching of the material, which I knew would be a pain. It takes forever to get out the damn door, and by that time I’m getting tired of these shenanigans. The characters, save Gandalf, aren’t cool, and I don’t really care. I mean, I know these characters from the book, but as rendered here, no thanks.

The Hobbit is such a muscular little book, so full of page turning adventure that that film, even if three hours long, would have been one of the coolest most adventure films ever made. Instead, we get an overstuffed under-baked experiment in 3D, which works, mostly, as a commercial for 48 fps. The actors are game, but given so little to do.

Recently the Academy nominated this film for Art Direction, but I feel it’s really more of the same from The Lord Of The Rings. Not a bad thing, but not covering any new ground.

The score is a highlight for me. I didn’t really like the Mountain Song from the trailers, but as Shore incorporates the theme into the score I began to love it. The score actually does a lot of the heavy lifting in this film, but oh well, another great Howard Shore score!

The Stone Giants are the coolest thing in the movie. It looks like mountains fighting one another. The eagles are another highlight. Some people have a problem with the way the Pale Orc is cooked into the story, but he was another of the best things in the film.

Peter Jackson didn’t really make a bad film with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but it’s not really what it could have been. I feel almost certain that Guillermo Del Toro left under pressure to make the film three films, and he did not want to commit a decade of his life to three overstuffed films.

I’ll be there with bells on to see The Desolation Of Smaug next December.


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