So, yesterday I went with some friends to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and I enjoyed it. I’d already heard a few reviews of it that were all pretty positive, but they were also a bit fanboy-ish. Now, it needs to be said that I’m totally new to The Lord of The Rings universe; I haven’t read any of the books, seen any of the movies, or played any of the games. I’ve only picked up bits and pieces off friends and pop references. The other disclaimer I have to make before reviewing this movie is that we saw it in normal 2D. It wasn’t HFR (high frame rate) or 3D, or any of that, however I still have a thing or two to say about that.
Like I said, I’m not familiar with the whole Middle-Earth universe and the creatures, characters and landscape that it contains, so I was hoping this movie was going to be kind and introduce things as it went. For some things it did, but for many others it didn’t. For example, characters are very poorly introduced, including our supposed main protagonist, Bilbo Baggins A.K.A. the Hobbit. In reality, this movie isn’t so much about Bilbo as it is about a band of dwarfs’ mission to recover their gold and village from a Dragon after decades of displacement. Nearly none of the dwarfs are properly introduced, except for the king/prince, but this is sort of part of the story. In fact, all the lack of explanation could be put down to the lack of knowledge held by Bilbo. He is the one telling the story.
Before we went into the cinema, my friend mentioned that not only was this movie 2 hours long, but there was going to be two sequals. Being based on a much shorter, single book than the LOTR trilogy, he predicted that the movie would probably be full of fillers. In my opinion, this turned out not to be the case. What it was full of was side-stories and back-stories. The focus regularly moves away from the current events of Bilbo, or the dwarfs even, so that a story about someone else, or the events leading up to the current situation, can be told. Luckily, they’re nearly always relevant, and mostly interesting, and never neither. They also do a great job of filling you in, which is something I needed. Despite that, they don’t tell you everything, and there are often things mentioned or done that seem to allude or refer to other information that the movie expects you to already know. This means that if you’re new to this series, like me, you may be confused or left hanging at times. Never the less, I enjoyed learning about this world and the intricacies of its creature through the bits of information they did bother to let you know, such as that trolls turn to stone in the sun. The also mentioned that goblins have some sort of aversion to sunlight, but didn’t say what.
There are quite a few little funny moments and jokes thrown into this movie, particularly visual ones. There’s always so much going on in every scene, and from the number of funny bits I noticed, I can only assume that you would find even more if you saw this movie again. One of my favourite gags is the little singsong the dwarfs sing about all the things Bilbo hates after they invade his house. I actually thought this movie might be a musical at that point because only a few minutes later, the dwarfs sing a spooky melody about their homeland and how it was taken from them. There’s even some New Zealand humour thrown in; the trolls have Australian accents.
There is so much action in this movie. While it’s not constant, the majority of the movie feels like it was action scenes. Many of these scenes are shot at close proximity to their subjects and with lots of quick sweeping movements. I didn’t mind all the action, because very little of it was gory, however I didn’t like the way it was shot. Being so close up and quick made it messy, confusing, and hard to follow at times. There were numerous moments where the screen was just pure motion blur, which you had to just write off and wait until you saw something meaningful again. This kind of action was my biggest complain with the Transformers movies, because you can’t actually tell what’s going on, so you might as well just take a nap for a bit. Although, in the Transformers movies it was caused by the lack of colour on the bots when they were fighting, here it’s caused by the way it’s shot. If you can’t tell what’s going on, or who’s hitting who and how, you’re better off reading the book because the visuals are providing you no advantage. Like I mentioned at the start, we didn’t see this in 3D, or with HFR (high frame rate), so maybe these two things, either together or separately , would have amended this issue. Simply thinking about it, I can see how both would have possibly made it work better. With a higher frame rate those shots mightn’t have been such a blur, and with 3D the closeness of the shots would have been a pleasant, immersive experience.
Despite all that, the action, along with the rest of the movie, is always engaging. There’s not much of a dull moment to be found. The ending does drag along a bit, and it is awfully long. Towards the end, I started to wonder when it was going to finish, and desperately hope that it wasn’t going to just stop with a cliff-hanger. Luckily though it reached a nice bookmark-able chapter-point.
It won’t be becoming a favourite of mine, or a movie I’m desperately going to want to see again, but it did intrigue me enough that I want to see the LOTR trilogy & the rest of this one, although I’m not going to break my neck to see it on opening day or anything…
Have you seen The Hobbit? Have your read the book? What did you think? Did it live up to your expectations? Have I said anything you disagree with? Tell me & everyone else who passes through here what you think in the comment below, or on Facebook.
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- Film Review – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (daliennation.wordpress.com)
- Movie Review : The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (HFR 3D) (rohanwrites.wordpress.com)
- Movie Review – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (dangerouslee.biz)