The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
- A review from the ultimate fan of J.R.R. Tolkien.
- Rather than bringing us the charm and humor of the book, Jackson has chosen to make a war movie with extra battle scenes that have little or nothing to do with the original story.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is like 90 minutes of flirting, an hour of foreplay, and no sex. In other words, it's fun, but not entirely satisfying.
It frequently seems as though Jackson was less interested in making The Hobbit than in remaking his own fabulously successful Lord of the Rings series.
Peter Jackson gets Bilbo Baggins off on the right foot in The Hobbit. The early scenes in the Shire are OK, but not memorable.
The film's biggest flaw is its run time of nearly 3 hours. Granted, if done right the 3 hours could be an adequate amount of time for a movie, but here it is too long. The story is serviceable and the characters say their lines, but the magic and sense of wonder we felt at the Shire is missing.
Visually, the picture creates a world fit for hobbits, dwarves, and elves. Still, at the end of the day, the story comes first, Peter Jackson makes some errors. To expand the film into three parts he has added unnecessary battle scenes. Rather than bringing us the charm and humor of the original book, Jackson has chosen to make a war movie.
Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman pull off fairly solid performances. Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the Company of Dwarves, does not impress me so far.
Tolkien's Lord of the Rings was so rich an epic that Jackson could pick and choose what to keep and what to leave out: no Tom Bombadil, for instance, and no Radagast the Brown. Stretching The Hobbit out to eight or nine or 10 cinematic hours, by contrast, requires not concision but almost constant augmentation. So Radagast, omitted from Jackson's Rings trilogy, is awkwardly given a principal role in his Hobbit.
There's no denying the majesty in Peter Jackson's visuals but he's taken a relatively slim children's book and stretched it a bit too far. Still, Jackson has presented a captivating and exciting return to Middle-earth.
The filmmakers had to do something with their CGI budget, and one can blow only so many smoke rings. So there are a number of totally unnecessary CGI scenes that exist to entertain the eye but have no real plot value. Give me a break, do we really need CGI fire in a fireplace? Someone please strike a match to wood for some realism.
But there are few directors who can convincingly create a fantasy world that I applaud Jackson for continuing to make Middle Earth a travel destination we still love to visit -- even if the journey is becoming a bit less interesting.
The Hobbit could go lower after additional viewings, but for now . . . . .
Rated a weak #7 out of 10