The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Review No. 464

Filthy hobbitses, it tricked us into believing we would not enjoy “The Hobbit”! *gollum, gollum*

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B-MINUS

DIRECTED BY PETER JACKSON. SCREENPLAY BY FRAN WALSH, PHILIPPA BOYENS, JACKSON, AND GUILLERMO DEL TORO. BASED ON “THE HOBBIT, OR THERE AND BACK AGAIN” BY J.R.R. TOLKIEN. STARRING IAN MCKELLEN (GANDALF THE GREY), MARTIN FREEMAN (BILBO BAGGINS), RICHARD ARMITAGE (THORIN OAKENSHIELD), ANDY SERKIS (GOLLUM), AND BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH (THE NECROMANCER). ALSO STARRING BARRY HUMPHRIES, CATE BLANCHETT, CHRISTOPHER LEE, ELIJAH WOOD, GRAHAM MCTAVISH, HUGO WEAVING, IAN HOLM, JAMES NESBITT, KEN STOTT, LEE PACE, MANU BENNETT, AND SYLVESTER MCCOY. DISTRIBUTED BY WARNER BROS. PICTURES ON DECEMBER 14, 2012. PRODUCED IN ENGLISH BY NEW ZEALAND, THE UNITED KINGDOM, AND THE UNITED STATES. RUNS 2 HOURS, 49 MINUTES. Β NOT FOR ALL AGES, DUE TO SCARY MOMENTS AND VIOLENCE.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY WAS WATCHED ON APRIL 20, 2013.

“Alive without breath,
As cold as death;
Never thirsty, ever drinking,
All in mail never clinking.”

I am not a Lord of the Rings fan. Yes, I’ve read the Tolkien works and seen each of Peter Jackson’s film transformations. Although I absolutely love the classic world J.R.R. Tolkien created in print, I must say that I find the initial film trilogy overrated. And if there’s one movie that transforms Tolkien’s upbeat magic to the silver screen with majestic attitude, it’s this prequel. You’d have to be blind to deny the grandeur that skyrockets to unbelievable heights. I wish I hadn’t so strongly refused to see it in theaters, come to think of it.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is for The Lord of the Rings, what The Phantom Menace was for Star Wars, what TV’s Bates Motel is for Psycho, et cetera. It’s more childlike than the original story, much less stern, much more colorful. The story is as simple as pitching the original in a past generation. In The Fellowship of the Ring–2001’s opening act to the LOTR trilogy–Frodo Baggins set out on a quest for the One Ring. In An Unexpected Journey, Bilbo Baggins sets out on a quest where he discovers the One Ring.

The movie entertains, but it also drags. Each of the three Lord of the Rings films was based on a book longer than J.R.R. Tolkien’s prelude installment–The Hobbit, or There and Back Again. An Unexpected Journey is based on merely the first third of this work, and it runs almost three hours. You can forget what I said about wishing I’d seen it at the cinema. The tale is exquisite, but it can be overly elaborate. It’s just too easy to get distracted from the story so that you can start wondering when you won’t have to feel so numb in the ass. Whereas long epics such as Titanic completely numbed away my ass at the theater, but I was too involved to notice.

I must applaud the cast for their excellence. The Lord of the Rings has always been cheesy, but in a way that takes a purist approach to high fantasy. We hear an elongated “No!” in these movies and it’s different than hearing Daniel Day-Lewis say it. The vast majority of the cast doesn’t see a limit to having fun with such clichΓ©s. Specifically, I applaud Andy Serkis for his vocal work as Gollum. The Hobbit is a mostly forgettable experience, but I don’t think I’ll ever tear away from the famous “riddles” scene. Serkis nailed it in the rare, outstanding role that makes one wish the Oscars honored voice acting.

So here’s a riddle for you:

It minuses but does not subtract.
It is yellow but it does not shine on the act.
It does not speak strictly to one pole,
The many words above it make it whole.

[The answer to the riddle is the letter grade off to the right.]

TOMORROW, ON CINEMANIAC REVIEWS…

The Fugitive

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12 thoughts on “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

  1. Good review. It’s a long, sprawling epic that doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere big just yet, but it’s still fun. Nice to see Middle Earth back on the big-screen.

    • I enjoyed it, but it felt long, even for a Peter Jackson film. “Self-indulgent” is probably the perfect word to use for it, though.

      I’ll probably see The Desolation of Smaug in theaters, but not the 48fps. Why anyone, let alone a visual mind like Jackson, would want to choose a home video look over a cinematic look, I’ve no idea.

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