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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Title: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Rating: 12A

Cast:
Ian McKellen ... Gandalf
Martin Freeman ... Bilbo
Richard Armitage ... Thorin
Ken Stott ... Balin
Graham McTavish ... Dwalin
William Kircher ... Bifur / Tom Troll
James Nesbitt ... Bofur
Stephen Hunter ... Bombur
Dean O'Gorman ... Fili
Aidan Turner ... Kili
John Callen ... Oin
Peter Hambleton ... Gloin / William Troll
Jed Brophy ... Nori
Mark Hadlow ... Dori / Bert Troll
Adam Brown ... Ori

Okay, so this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I have to say I was thoroughly underwhelmed by The Hobbit. That's not to say it's a really bad film, it just isn't great and is nowhere near as good as The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (LotR). Where as I can watch the extended versions of LotR again and again, I was bored in The Hobbit in places.

I think there is a very simple reason for this. LotR is a complex story with many subplots and many complex characters, the Hobbit isn't. In making it into three films the first simply doesn't have enough substance to keep me interested for 166 minutes and the 3D was pointless (this may be different if you've seen it in IMAX, but in our cinema it was lost).

Okay, lets back up a bit. There are good things about the film. The beginning for a start is superb. When the dwarves descend on a perplexed Bilbo it is brilliantly done, funny, fast paced and touching in places. Martin Freeman is also brilliant through the whole movie. He plays Bilbo with a humility and doubt that is wonderful, but with an inner strength that shines through, which is exactly what Bilbo should be.

However, he's really the only character I connected with all the way through. The dwarves were entertaining in their own way and occasionally pretty to look at, but I still don't know what any of their names are without looking and I didn't really feel for any of them. It took me half the movie to remember that the head dwarf was called Thorin, which is a very bad sign. When watching LotR I had all their names straight immediately and I hadn't read the book since I was a teenager, so it wasn't just remembering.

The makeup people did well to make them all look different, but they didn't do anything significant or individually so I didn't register their names and remember who they were. They were simply the party.

That's another good thing about the film, the makeup and special effects are superb ... well mostly. Gandalf did seem to change ratio to the dwarves quite a lot. However, the orcs, goblins and trolls were beautifully done and the part with the phantom/necromancer was actually pretty scary.

Oh, which reminds me, there was one other character I connected with, Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown was brilliant. There was a part with him and a hedgehog (Sebastian) and it was just marvellous.

Also, Gollum was brilliant, in fact I think even more brilliant than he was in LotR. Andy Serkis surpassed himself again. I wish there had been a lot more of him in the film because he brought feeling and heart into it far more than I felt from any of the dwarves. SPOILER (highlight to read) When Thorin was struck down by Azog (I think that was his name) I didn't feel any of the danger and excitement I should have. I didn't overly care.

There was a lot of fillin in this film. A lot of long shots of horses or running that almost made me fall asleep. The bits of action were good, but they weren't glued together well. It was very disappointing. It felt forced and as if it needed a good editor, which, frankly, if they hadn't tried to make more money off it by stretching it, it wouldn't have needed. It's a very long time since I read The Hobbit, probably 30 years, so I don't know what the extra bits were, but it just didn't feel right.

I went into the movie wanting to like it. I love LotR, but if I see The Hobbit again I will want a forward wind option in my hand.

Oh and another thing, the film did make me think like this through a lot of it:

I was left with two questions by the end of the film. Spoilers (Highlight to read)
1) Why didn't the eagles drop them a little closer to the damn mountain?
2) If the only thing that saved them from the goblins was daylight and they were running down a mountain, why, once it got dark, didn't the goblins all come pouring out of the mountain after them?

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