The Hobbit: An unexpected Journey
I guess i should start with abit of a disclaimer, Im both a massive fan of Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings so i had very high hopes for this movie, so high in fact that the day i heard they were making it i went back and watched all three Lord of the Rings Movies in a row, but over the past year my excitement has dwindled, as more and more leaks came out of PJ’s camp it was clear that he was taking the Hobbit in his own direction and turning Tolkiens most light hearted story into something more twisted and dark to try and mimic the stage set by his epic LOTR masterpiece.
By now you will know that the Hobbit is being split into three movies, and yes i do find that really hard to comprehend, But this movie will focus on Part 1: An Unexpected Journey which i saw in 2d so i have no comments (at this time) as to the quality of the 3d or 48FPS.
I guess i should start with the positives; the stand-out characters include Martin Freeman (you may recognise him from Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, and Sherlock) and his portrayal of a (surprisingly young) Bilbo Baggins and returning as brilliant as ever is Sir Ian McKellan as Gandalf the Grey. Freedmans Baggins is so much more fun to watch than Elijah Woods Frodo, Woods protrayed Frodo with this annoying disdain that never really sat well with me.
(But that could have been me being nitpicky because its pretty common knowledge that Tolkien intended Samwise to be the main protragonist of LOTR not Frodo which wasnt really protrayed well on screen.)
There are a lot of familiar faces from the LOTR franchise back and its good to see PJ maintaining his relationships with cast and crew to ensure consistency across movies, even if some of the characters have no place appearing in the Hobbit trilogy. (cough* Galadriel cough*)
It’s a shame, then, that pace of the movie brings An Unexpected Journey down, It seems like Peter Jackson took to heart the fans criticisms of LOTR missing key scenes so he has done what most filmakers would never dare do, film a 3 hr introduction movie. For those who dont understand what im talking about, go have a read of the Hobbit and you will realise that movie you just watched is actually the first 6 chapters of the book and nothing more,Its true in fact that you could read the chapters in less time than it takes to watch An Unexpected Journey. So it was no surprise to me at all that in my packed screening everyone was fidgeting and squirming around for the last hr.
The film lacked consistency and it was clear that Jackson was trying so hard to turn Tolkiens most light hearted piece of work into a darker story. There are a few key examples i can think of which demonstrate the sudden shifts in tone in the movie and the lack of flow;
1) The infamous dwarf dinner scene: We go from a light hearted piece of dinner banter and a whimsical song about washing dishes straight into a morbid ballad to the dwarves of old,
2) The Mountain Troll scene: What i dont understand is why Jackson spent so much time getting the dialogue between the Trolls perfect only to ruin it by adding in a token dwarf fight scene, its like he was thinking hey we havnt seen any action in a while lets just change the whole mood of the scene and get some fighting going (I understand abit of creative interpretation but theres no need for this)
To sum the movie up: not alot happens, which is a real shame because the source material is so fantastic, The movie adaption involves Gandalf inviting a team of dwarves to Bilbos house to invite him on an adventure, Bilbo says thanks, but no thanks. Then tags along for the anyway. and thats pretty much the first hour done and dusted. The second hour is hardly an improvement. There are a few poorly interpreted battles and a lot of quiet reflective scenes between battles. The last hour is clearly the most entertaining but that is purely thanks to motion capture king Andy Serkis’ interpretation of Gollum and a rather superb escape sequence set in an underground environment full of rickety bridges and gorges.
Jackson has changed the story alot whilst adapting it for his cinematic interpretation which im sure many fans will not be to happy about (ie the history of the ring and Gollum, Thorins purpose of defeating Smaug, Bilbos character itself) but thats another post in itself.
Only time will tell whether The Hobbit would have flowed better as a two-parter, heres hoping Part II will actual begin the Journey that was unexpected and amaze us all, But right now this cinema-goer has been left with a weird feeling that i haven’t felt since i walked out of “The Phantom Menace” almost 13 years ago, excited for a new adventure but disappointed that this is the way it has to begin. Heres hoping that unlike Lucas, Jackson can bring it home in the final 2 parts of the Trilogy
I give this movie 2 and a half Lego Dwarves out of 5