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Another epic journey
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (DVD)
Member Name: cha97mw
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (DVD)
Advantages: nice to see how the ring was found, and Martin Freeman and Gandalf were excellent.
Disadvantages: Far too long, scenes dragged and felt like a case of deja vu, panning scenes were poor in 3D.
The film is directed once again by Peter Jackson. While I have read The Hobbit, this was many years ago (around ten) so although I did recognise certain things in the plot, I was not able to decide how closely this film stuck to the events from the novel. This is quite a long film, with a run time of 169 minutes. I think that overall, this was a bit too long for the content of the film. I was also quite surprised that this was only part one of another trilogy, as after watching the conclusion of the film, I felt that it was a neat point to end the story. I am unsure how keen I will be to watch the other two parts after seeing The Hobbit. I imagine I will as I like to complete what I have started. I feel a need to re-read the novel to see exactly where the story goes on to make the decision properly.
As the film started, I was pleased to see familiar landscapes and locations from the Lord of the Rings. It has been a long time since I originally saw those films in the cinema, but as they have all been recently shown on television, it was strange but in a good way to see Frodo and Bilbo Baggins in the little house in the hill. Watching Bilbo sat writing his incredible journey in a big red leather bound book, there has been some attention to the smaller detail. Indeed, we watched Frodo sit at the same desk and carry on writing in the same book at the end of the final part of the trilogy.
The plot of The Hobbit features a younger version of Bilbo Baggins (played by Martin Freeman) as one of the central characters. He is a typical hobbit in that he is perfectly at home living in the Shire, never venturing very far and making sure he gets all of his meals every day. He is horrified one day when a party of dwarfs turn up at his house, and try to persuade him to join their company of 14 to try to win back the Dwarf kindom, the Lonely Mountain, which has been captured many years earlier by a dragon called Smaug.
Along the way, they are persued by Orcs who want revenge for the result of an earlier battle, and Bilbo manages to also meet Gollum and find the Golden Ring which is such a feature of the plot of The Lord of the Rings.
I remember when I first read The Hobbit, while it is not essential to know the plot from the story to like The Lord of The Rings, it is really nice to fill in some blanks about where the ring came from and see Gollum again.
I don't want to feature too much more on the plot of the film, but on the acting and the special effects. Firstly, I feel that the film is really far too long. A lot did happen in the story, but there was a lot of time spent showing how The Lonely Mountain was first stolen from the dwarves, and again, showing the group of 14 being persued by orcs and goblins. There is a real sense of deja vu along this journey, and it wasn't always in a good way. At one point, I honestly did find my head starting to nod, when the party reached the Elven kingdom and they all sat around having a meal and talking about the purpose of their journey, and it was so dull.
I found the 3D effects to be quite poor in places. I will be honest and admit this is the first full film I have seen in 3D, but after watching this I am not sure if I would bother again. It seems these days that every film is available in 3D, but I don't feel that it added anything spectacular to the film that I wouldn't have got from watching it in high definition. There were a couple of moments like when Galdaf started batting about pinecones that were lit which were designed to jump out at you. Apart from that, most of the panning shots were too fast to the extent I felt a bit sick, and not always filmed in 3D. The result was an effect that was patchy, and a bit hard going on the eyes when you were watching such a long film. The only bit that was really worth it was that Gollum did look pretty amazing and I felt it was more spectacular than the first time I had watched him on the big screen ten years ago, but I also imagine computer animation techniques will have improved further as well.
The battle scenes between orcs and goblins just felt like we had been there and seen it all before. I found the Goblin battle scene to just be a bit hilarious, with so many near misses and not even a cut for the good guys at the end of it, all while no-one noticed that Bilbo had completely disappeared from there company. It probably didn't help that I felt the head goblin was a cross between Fat B***ard from the Austin Powers franchise and Jabba the Hut. He was more comical than scary. I see now looking online that he was played by Barry Humphries, who I know much better for his comedy role as Dame Edna Everage, so no wonder I found it hard to take him seriously.
I also felt casting James Nesbit as one of the dwarves was a bit dubious. I normally find him a fine actor, but here, he is too well known vocally for me to do anything other than spend most of the film thinking oh, its James Nesbit. I prefer the anonymity of the other actors playing the rest of the dwarves, which allows me to fully immerse myself in the story. Maybe if the plot were more fast paced, I wouldn't have been so distracted.
I thought Martin Freeman was excellent as Bilbo, and he was similar enough in appearance to Ian Holm (who played the role in LOTR) for me to notice any lack of continuity. Elijah Wood as Frodo did not seem to have a lot of screen time here, and it would not have been noticed by me if he was not there at all.
It is a real shame that this has not been made a bit more pacey, as there is no reason why this fine story should drag in cinematic form. However, it does, and as a result, I didn't find this as enjoyable as I expected. It was ok, but not great.
Maybe I am being a bit B'ah humbug, as I did hear a few people commenting as we left the cinema how good it was, but these were mainly younger viewers who would not have been to see LOTR in the cinema. I just felt a bit let down as the wait has not been worth it. All 4 of us in our party felt the same.
Summary: A good story that is let down by not enough editing.