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Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Ringer Review - NAME

Iain MacD.

25, West Bay, NS

Date Posted: 2012-12-15
Tolkien Fan Level: 6
Film Format Seen? 3D 48 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes

Many reviewers (especially professionals) are not particularly adept at analyzing the emotional response that they have to the film, deconstructing the components of the film in an intellectually responsible manner, and then both comprehending and explaining why the film elicits such feelings.

Peculiar, considering that this is the crux of their profession, but without analyzing the weeding out process of becoming a professional reviewer in unnecessary detail and obfuscating the true point of this review in the process, I hope that drawing attention to this point will be self-justified.

Onto the movie... Firstly, the technical aspects. I saw it in 48 fps 3d. The reviewers who trash this technology (often as the primary talking point of their negative review) always fail to point out one of the key benefits of the technology: the nauseous, dizzying feeling traditionally encountered in blockbusters like Avatar is ELIMINATED. I saw this movie front row, with a crook in my neck, with very little between myself and the enormous 3d projection. Rarely could I make out the distracting 3D double-lines, rarely did the 3D distract or make any negative impact. This was a first for me.
Furthermore, while the first scene of Ian Holm scurrying across Bag End did look shockingly sped-up and odd, this effect was no longer obvious at any other point of the movie. The scenes in Dale did look like a cheap BBC set, but all of the other sets stood up to scrutiny.

"Too real" and "not proper for a fantasy/ cinematic film like the Hobbit" was another common complaint. I found that with a marginally open mind, the realism quickly transcends to an effect of surrealism, and you find yourself truly inside of the story - this is slightly discombobulating at first but if you allow yourself to be immersed instead of fighting it, it becomes clear that it is a positive rather than a negative. Beware, I've noticed that stuffy film critics and closet Harry Potter/SW apologists are the first to mention these issues - hardly unexpected.

Many other complaints center around the actual narrative/content of the movie, especially its length - especially in the first half. I have to disagree with the vast majority of this. "Dull the Knives" could perhaps have been better left to the cutting room floor/extended editions, as it is fails to advance character development at a crucial stage of the film. In FoTR, we would have been exposed to more careful, nuanced, solitary character moments at this stage of the film - whereas instead in The Hobbit the vast majority (including 2 musical numbers) is broadly focused on the entire group of dwarves. So I repeat: There could have been some trimming, either in favor of individual development, or in favor of streamlining and pacing. However, this is incredibly overblown and the first half of the movie does not slog as much as I had anticipated based on critiques.

Now, pertaining to a similar criticism, we should turn our critical lens towards the 'manufactured' content appearing throughout the film. I appreciate/enjoy Radagast, the White Council, and all of the ideas tying the universe together and increasing the scope of the story -- However, the PERSISTENT desire of Peter Jackson to write in multiple Warg battles into every movie since The Two Towers is really unfortunate and quite dull. Azog could have served the dramatic purpose, perhaps even more effectively than the films ultimate portrayal, if he had been relegated to mystery, myth, and a few scary shots in recounting. Following mentions by the other dwarves, the great goblin, etc -- his unveiling could have been much more exciting if left towards the climax. Unfortunately, we are washed with a remarkable lack of subtlety as warg battles and shallow Azog moments extend throughout the film. Film critics have failed to target THESE scenes as the failure of The Hobbit. This is where too much time is spent with too little to gain. If Peter Jackson had allowed the major set pieces to stand for themselves without dabbling in little bits of this faux action, the film would have ultimately been petter paced and had a stronger emotional punch/payoff. If we left the theater ruminating solely on Gollum, Barry Humphries, the climactic batttle, we would have less kidney stones and a fonder memory of the experience.

More judicious trimming in other areas could have easily brought the film under 2 hours and 20 minutes, and what is wrong with that? Has Peter Jackson become incapable of delivering merely a LONG film and can only be satisfied now with extremely long films?

Having said all that, I think this is ultimately a magical experience with plenty of great stuff, and will go down in memory as an innovative behemoth (both in terms of technology and also its unique balance of tonality).

The Ratings
The Other Ratings
Martin Freeman 's performance as Bilbo Baggins?
Richard Armitage 's performance as Thorin?
The Overall representation of The Dwarves ?
Andy Serkis' performance as Gollum?
Ian McKellen's performance as Gandalf?
Bilbo's retelling of the history of Erebor and of Thror/Thrain/Thorin
The Eagles rescue sequence?
The Goblin King ?
Initial impression of Thranduil?
Hugo Weaving's performance as Elrond?
Radagast's portrayal in the movie?
The representation of Goblintown?
Cate Blanchett's performance as Galadriel?
The Bag End Supper scene?
The scene of the Trolls?
The representation of the Arkenstone?
The Stone Giants?
Escape from the Goblin cave?
Riddles in the Dark scene?
The return to Rivendell?
The attack on the party by the Wargs
The first glimpses of Smaug?
The ending of the movie; in regards to leading well into the next film, and serving as a good ending point.
The overall pace of the film
Peter Jackson's vision in bringing the Hobbit to the big screen.

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