The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Here’s the thing: No matter what I say, if you’re in this site’s target demographic, you either already have seen this movie or you will soon, so I’m really only posting this so that someone on this site comments on it. This is one of the main geek movies of the year. One can make a case for Prometheus, the Avengers or the Dark Knight Rises being the most anticipated geek film of the year, but even though I personally was more excited to see the Avengers, I would say this movie was more anticipated, both by the geek community and the public at large. And honestly, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was one of the best things ever put to film, at least in my humble (and correct) opinion. So, when I went to see this movie a few days ago, I was expecting a brilliant piece of film-making.

I was not disappointed.

There were only a handful of real differences, in tone, between this and the Lord of the Rings movies. There was exactly one musical number in the whole LOTR series (where Pippin sang a song in Return of the King) and there were three or four of them in this movie, including one fairly silly one while the dwarves did dishes.There was also a comic relief character written in that was there for a short while, a wizard named Radagast (who interestingly was not in the book of the Hobbit but was in the Fellowship of the Ring, yet not in the film). This makes sense, given that the tone of the Hobbit was more light than the subsequent books, and it works in the movie. In fact, the lighter moments in many ways makes this a more enjoyable movie than the previous ones.

The other big difference is the characters. Yes, we had familiar characters here (Gollum, Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf, Elrond, Saruman and Galadriel all show up in at least one scene) but most of the time is spent with dwarves that are hard to tell apart. In the previous movies, the main party was smaller and more diverse, both in personality and in appearance. To me, the dwarves were Fat One, Bald One, Braidy-Beard, Thorin Oakenshield, Short-Beard, Old One, Gloin father of Gimli, Dumbass With The Slingshot and The Other Ones. Aside from Thorin and Old One, the basic personality of all of them seemed identical: gregarious, brave, willing to fight to the end, but deep down they’re sad that they lost their home. That’s probably the biggest flaw of the movie.

I don’t know which format I saw it in. I know there’s a bit of controversy over Jackson’s decision to show it in 48 frames per second, and I intended to see it in 24 fps, but my cinema did not tell me what frame-rate it was showing the film in. I was told that there were three versions: 24 fps in 2D, 24 fps in 3D and 48 fps 3D, and I could only get into a 3D showing. The frame-rate didn’t distract me, the film was visually stunning…but again, I don’t know what the frame-rate was. Further complicating matters is some people say 48 fps is distracting and nauseating, while others say it was gorgeous. All I can say is that if I did see it in 48 fps, I’m glad I did.

The only other thing I can say is that, as a film on its own, or as the start of a two-part series, it’s a 10 out of 10. However, as part of a three-part movie, well…it ends after more than half of the book is done. Unless they’re making a movie of the appendices (as I’m told they are) then I don’t see how the series will really work. All told, it’s a great movie, not quite as great as the LOTR trilogy, but very close.

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