As always, this review will spoil the whole film for you, so don’t read it unless you’ve seen the movie!
At this point, I don’t find it necessary to remind you that The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind (both in book and film form), and it would be impossible for Peter Jackson to even slightly match how amazing those films were. With that said, I will begin by stating that ‘The Hobbit’ has not done the seemingly impossible and been better than TLOTR. I will also state that it is not the best film of 2012, as I have hoped it would be since sitting through the disappointing The Dark Knight Rises back in July. This is not so much a disappointment of a film as an underwhelming, unsurprisingly and predictable remake of something we all adore. That’s not the description of a bad film, is it?
I’ve spent weeks deciding whether to see this is 3D 48FPS, 2D 48FPS, 3D 24FPS or 2D 24FPS. IMAX has not yet reached rural Western Ireland.
I eventually chose the most exciting option, and the one I have preferred since my birth- two-dimensional 24 frames per second. Yay! I won’t therefore be commenting on the new format Peter Jackson has used to make The Hobbit.
The opening prologue, which tells of how the dwarves lost their mountain to Smaug (pronounced smowg, fyi), is notably lighter is tone and visuals than anything in LOTR. It’s also very beautiful, breathtaking even in the boring old fashioned format I watched the film in. We then begin our time in The Shine literally a few hours before Fellowshipbegins, with Frodo heading off to read under that tree. I know, I was crying too.
We then go 60 years backward, when Bilbo is played by the excellent Martin Freeman, who shines in this as expected. Thirteen dwarves whom vary in annoyance arrive at his front door and barge their way in. Some of them are old and wise, some middle-aged and aggressive and some young and foolish (“Do you have chips?”) The ones I was most interested in (‘Dwarf with Axe-head in Head’, ‘Dwarf that is Gimli’s Dad’) didn’t speak once, weren’t referred to at all and featured on screen for less than 5 seconds each. Why? It’s not like the film had to be cut down! It was almost 3 hours for God’s sake! I was almost asleep by the end, and it was only 6.30pm by the time it ended! The Shire bits were too long, the bits with the Orcs and Wargs were WAAAAAYYYY too long, and their were at least 3 endings. Jackson has two more films to deal with this story!
The highlight of the film by a mile is the Riddles in the Dark portion, which sees a technically improved Gollum appearing on film for probably the final time ever! It was directed by Andy Serkis (who plays Gollum and should have gotten an Oscar for Rise of the Planet of the Apes), whilst PJ was filming some other stuff, and you can really tell that it was a different person behind the camera. Everything about it deserves an award, but especially Serkis’ performance as literature’s greatest schizophrenic, which is way more playful, experimental and absolutely mad than it ever was back in the Noughties films. Smeagol and Gollum’s personal arguments are absolutely hilarious beyond belief, and had me rolling around on the floor laughing.
Sir Ian McKellen (I usually ignore the ‘sir’ but, you know, it’s Gandalf!) is amazing as always as the ol’ guy, and cameos from Sir Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Hugo Weaving and (should be) Dame Cate Blanchett really add to the small amount the atmosphere the film has. Richard Armitage’s performance as Thorin gets better and the film progresses, and by the end is very good indeed.
The main problems I had with the film were the length, the repetitiveness of everything from the music to the dialogue to the fighting and how unsurprised I was by the events that occurred. I predicted exactly how it would end, with us catching a glimpse of Smaug’s eye, and I left feeling a bit bored. Who am I kidding, a lot bored. The film has received no Golden Globe noms, and I can see why. It feels like a decent Christmas blockbuster which I wouldn’t mind seeing a few times again, but it’s not the well-made masterpiece, the work of art that Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films were. All that said, it was nowhere near as bad as George Lucas’ first Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace. There is no Jar-Jar Binks equivalent in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. PUT THAT ON YOUR POSTER, WARNER BROTHERS!