Today’s Movie Review – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I write this review having never read The Hobbit or any other Tolkien work. I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the most part, though I can’t say that I know when the last time that I watched any of the movies was. That said, I was pretty excited for The Hobbit, and unfortunately, I left the movie feeling unfulfilled.

Don’t get me wrong. Peter Jackson and his team put together a visually stunning piece of film, even though I did avoid the 3D because of the negative reviews that I read. Some of the visuals were just as impressive as the ones from the LOTR films. The story just felt disjointed at parts, much more than the previous 12 hours of hobbits and whatnot that Jackson put together.

Again, naive of the happenings of the book,* it almost felt like Jackson was trying to justify splitting one book into three movies by including a bunch of extraneous stuff that didn’t advance the story that much. I like dwarves as much as the next guy, yet, aside from Thorin Oakenshield, they didn’t really feel like individual characters, but a miasma of beards and Scottish accents. And I do understand that songs are a big part if the book, yet they felt out of place in the film. Again, just felt like time filler.

*It wasn’t for lack of effort that I have never read the books. Someone sent me the books to read while I was at AIT back in 2001 in order to read them prior to the movies coming out. I just got bogged down by 20 page asides about the history of the trees and the encounter with Tom Bombadil early in the books. Haven’t picked them up since, and this is coming from someone who generally devours fantasy novels.

The movie could have easily chopped 45 minutes and been a bit punchier, or keep it at three hours but only have two movies. The opening was pretty neat, though teasing Smaug and hardly showing any of him made me feel like I was watching Game of Thrones and hanging out with Daenerys and the Dothraki. But montages of dwarves walking through the mountains felt a bit played out, especially after similar montages from the LOTR trilogy. Enough with helicopter shots of dudes walking while the “powerful” score plays. You’re better than that, Mr. Jackson.

There were a few bright spots in the movie. Martin Freeman as Bilbo was a great job at casting, and I do hope that Benedict Cumberbatch gets more screen time in either of the next two movies as the Necromancer, if only because it is fun to type his name. Really makes me want to watch BBC’s Sherlock and some old Office episodes. Ian McKellen is again stellar as Gandalf, and Bilbo and Gollum exchanging riddles was probably the highlight of the movie.

Nevertheless, this was not enough to quite redeem the film in my eyes, though I was probably more distracted by the length than anything else. There are plenty of movies with a three-hour run time that don’t feel that long — The Dark Knight Rises comes to mind — but this was nearly unbearable. That said, I do look forward to the next film in the trilogy, but only because it is called The Desolation of Smaug and I have a feeling that we might finally see the dragon.

This is just my opinion, and I was really hoping that the movie would entice me to finally read the book prior to the arrival of the next installment. It is still on my “to read” list, but I’m afraid it will remain fairly close to the bottom.

Until next time…

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