So I watched The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey…
I don’t know why it took me so long to watch this movie. I think when it came out I just wasn’t in the mood for another Middle Earth adventure and plus, I’d heard that the 3D was so amazing that people were throwing up and I don’t like to throw up so I gave it a miss. But watching it now, I’m filled with more than a little bit of regret about delaying my viewing.
Okay, basic plot: Sixty years before the beginning of The Lord of the Rings, a dragon named Smaug, attacks Erebor – home of the Dwarf Kingdom ruled by Thrór. Smaug runs the dwarves out of their kingdom and claims their treasure for himself. Thorin, the dwarf Prince – grandson of Thrór wishes to reclaim his home from Smaug and assmebles a company of twelve other dwarves and Gandalf The Grey to help him do so. Gandalf recruits a less than likely hero in the form of a hobbit – Bilbo Baggins – to join the company and help them on their quest.
The biggest reason why I regret waiting to watch this movie is that I missed out on seeing it in the cinema. The visual effects in this movie are triumphant; the cinematography is a work of wonder and demands the scale of the big screen. It’s amazing how real everything feels and how expansive and immerse the landscapes are. Just as with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, this movie is a visual delight. I cannot tell you how many times I stopped and lamented myself for missing out on the opportunity to experience these visuals in the cinema.I have to tip my hat to both director, Peter Jackson, and cinematographer, Andrew Lesnie for the unbelievable work they do in this film. I think we take good cinematography for granted most of the time because a movie looking good is just so expected that you often don’t take notice of it. But in this movie, the visuals are as much a part of the story as the content and the characters. The are numerous tracking landscape shots so you have the opportunity to drink in these visuals.
Unfortunately, a lot of the time, these visuals are focused on ”nothing” scenes. This is the problem that comes with splitting up a book into more than one movie, especially three movies – you get scenes that would normally have been left out if the movie had it just been a single movie instead of a trilogy; as well as excessive amounts of time spent on scenes that don’t really require it. There were more than a few scenes where I thought to myself “if I didn’t see that, would it have changed the story?” and most of the time I found myself thinking, “no, that scene was unnecessary or excessive.” One could argue that splitting up these movies allows more time for character development and insight and on the one hand, I have to agree with this. There are tons of little side-stories and subplots in this movie that add depth to the characters by giving us more of their history, unfortunately, this often comes at the cost of the overall entertainment of the movie.
There are a plethora of scenes where characters are just talking or walking or doing nothing really but in the long run this gives you more time to connect with the characters. So I’m a bit torn about this movie splitting itself up and it’s almost three hour runtime. At times this movie feels like a tv series with its patient, almost glacial pace and while frustrating, it does add something to the movie. I know I’m contradicting myself but while this movie was boring at times, I don’t think you could tackle the story any other way. There are so many battles in this movie and pieces of action that are integral to the plot that you can’t imagine them not being there, so therefore, the movie needed this extravagant runtime.
I haven’t read The Hobbit, so i don’t know which characters and storylines were in the book and which Peter Jackson just added for the effect of the movie but I enjoyed seeing all of the characters included in this movies. There are plenty of links to Lord of the Rings and some really great cameos and allusions to Sauron and the one ring. I’m by no means a die-hard LOTR fan but I think Jackson has packed this movie with little easter eggs and references that true fans will love. I think it’s great when a director puts in fan service and acknowledges the original fan base while trying to make a product that the casual viewer can also enjoy.
Overall, I liked this movie more than my rating of it will convey. I think the runtime really hurts it and while I admit that this extravagant runtime was a necessary evil, I still think it could have been better done. This movie is a set-up for later movies and it does give us a lot of character insight but at the expense of some really dull scenes. It’s worth a watch if you’re a fan but if you aren’t, it may test your patience. 6/10