Jan 17, 2013

The Hobbit: An Expected Disaster

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as all are aware, is installment one of three that will attempt to capitalize on the fame and fortune of its predecessor Lord of the Rings. The events of the LOTR trilogy occur after the events of the Hobbit, so right off the bat we're in "prequel trying to live up to the legacy" territory. The story, (for any who have not read the book, which is splendid) centers around a hobbit in Middle Earth and has all the adventure one would expect from the story out of which every single other fantasy novel ever written was born, including The Lord of the Rings (which when you think about it is another longer book where a large group of unlikely friends walks a long distance to do something at a mountain). Bilbo sets off on a journey, largely against his nature and better judgment, with a wizard, too many dwarves (sic that's they way Tolkien spells it in the book) to care about and the king dwarf Thorin. They have a beef with a dragon called Smaug who stole all their treasure and their kingdom under the mountain. Film the first ends with the company viewing this mountain far in the distance but closer than when they started walking.

Casting Martin Freeman was a stroke of genius as his acting style lends itself to hobbitishness. According to my sister and fellow Tolkien lover, I have unfortunately become too jaded to enjoy Peter Jackson's films anymore. I am too aware of his methods, too steeped in LOTR bonus features.

There were winning moments, but they were largely cancelled out by prolonged action sequences (how else are they going to make this story stretch into three LONG movies?), cheesy attempts at comedy and way too much Radagast the brown. I also found the overt references to psychedelic mushrooms irritating, especially when other audience members did the "420 laugh" in response and right on oh-so-predictable cue. This film aims to be epic in scope only to take the audience out of the action with a lame wink wink, more than once. The villains were too numerous and too silly (even for Tolkien), and the action sequences became too like one another. At least twice a large group of dwarves enters a battle from off camera to save an ally; at least twice a line of dwarves wields an overlarge object in a sweeping movement to knock an oncoming line of enemies off a precipice; at least twice Gandalf miraculously appears moments before many good guys will be mutilated and eaten by bad guys (which in fairness happens in the book but is slightly better explained than it was on film).

To sum it up: over-the-top. As an avid fan I am disappointed that I have no desire to see it again and no desire to obsess over the director's cut (somehow they will make this movie even longer?!) and bonus features (I really don't care how this movie was made). I would watch Martin Freeman outtakes for hours on end.

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