Monday, December 17, 2012

Movie Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Over ten years ago, Peter Jackson made a trilogy of movies based on the best-selling series, The Lord of the Rings.  The movie broke almost all known records, both based on money and awards.  After that, any additional entry into the series pales in comparison to the originals.  The Hobbit follows the story of Frodo’s uncle Bilbo who joins a group of dwarves as they go to take back a dwarf city that was taken by a dragon.

The book is short, the movie stretched out to its very limits.  The story begins before the Hobbit novel begins, with a history lesson of how the dragon came to be in the city of Erebor.  Soon after, the recap from the beginning of the Lord of the Rings begins, with a lovely cameo from Elijah Wood and Ian Holm.  Holm then concentrates on his book, beginning the story and depicting himself as a younger hobbit.

The story of the hobbit is not new, most kids are exposed to it in grade school.  The fantasy aspect of the story begins with the description of the hobbits and the dwarves and continues on from there.  Bilbo hosts the dwarves in an amusing episode in his house, they clean his pantry out and he decides he does indeed want to go on an adventure.  The dwarves journey across Middle Earth, being sought after by various goblins and orcs, finding refuge, briefly with the elves.  Another few cameos appear here, with Lord Elrond and Lady Galadriel, playing by Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett.

The story continues on and at varying points I kept thinking, is it over yet.  And, to me, that sums up the movie.  While the movie was graphically great, better than the originals, the story, as it was when I read it, was not nearly as interesting as the Lord of the Rings.  In many ways, to me, the Hobbit has always paled in comparison to the trilogy and this is no exception.  The dwarves are played comically, as they should be, and while the idea of retaking their home is affecting, it is executed more towards a child’s attention than an adult’s.  That isn’t to say that you won’t enjoy it, but as with any kid’s movie, you may wonder where the story is going or when it’ll be over.  I applaud Jackson for returning to Middle Earth, but I do wish he’d chosen the Silmarillion over the Hobbit.  Give me elves any day over dwarves.

Also of note, I did see the High Frame Rate version and did find it both distracting and not adding much to the overall viewing experience.  The 3D was nice, but not worth the extra money.  I'd say if you do see it, see it as a regular movie and you won't miss anything!

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