movie: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

An Unexpected letdown.  I have fond memories of the book The Hobbit, which I enjoyed much more than the Lord of the Rings books even though I still liked them.  I also enjoyed the Lord of the Rings movies as they were released and how brought to life that fantasy world of middle earth.  So why did I find the movie version of The Hobbit such a let down?

movieVisually (for the most part) it is stunning making Tolken’s world come to life. The acting is good, Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman are both great, Freeman really pulls off the ‘things are just happening to me’ of Bilbo Baggins.  The other stand out performance for me was James Nesbitt as Bofur the dwarf, but anyway…  All the stuff that you expect Peter Jackson to do well from the other films he has done well – the CGI, scenery, setting, etc.  But what I found missing was the plot.

The Hobbit, isn’t a complicated book.  The Hobbit is a straight forward quest Children’s book.  There really isn’t enough going on to spin this out to three films so in this movie – which in itself is 2 hours and 50 minutes long – not much happens.  Massive sections of this film could and should have been cut.  There is no clear narrative driving it forward, yes they are going to do something – that’s explained and then they set off but basically it is just a sequence of unconnected scenes, many of which do nothing to move the main narrative onward.

Again, it really is a visual masterpiece for most of the time, for example the dwarfs party in Bilbo’s home at the start showed great sets and was very clever at the scale trick of having hobbits and dwarfs and humans (or at least wizards) all in the same physical space on screen at the same time.  The thunderstorm / mountains giants fighting was amazing and I thought was a really good piece of CG, as was the signature riddle scene with Bilbo and Gollum.  However, what I think didn’t work so well was all the long drawn out fights with Goblins and Orcs.  Especially the Goblins in the mountain where the whole thing looked too computer generated and animated and simply went on for far too long.

Overall, the movie is ok, but what you are really getting is a collection of short stories – incidents along the way with an odd conversation here and there to tie it together,  This isn’t a story in itself with a start, middle and end just a start and then a bunch of stuff.  Disappointed.

Oh I should probably mention on a technical note that I watched this in 2D at Standard frame rate.  The avoiding of 3D was deliberate but the frame rate is just what happened to be showing where and when we booked.  I am reasonably intrigued to see the effect of high frame rate but certainly not interested enough to go to see this movie again.

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