Date Posted: 2012-12-15
Tolkien Fan Level: 6
Film Format Seen? 3D 48 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes
Nearly 10 years ago we left the theatre thinking we would most likely never return to middle earth again. I, being only 13 at the time, was left with an entirely new perspective on film and was forever changed when it came to analyzing movies. Peter Jackson had given us something special, something that could not be recreated. Then news of The Hobbit reached our ears and the speculations began. The most important question being; "How is it going to compare to LOTR?" I think this has been the biggest problem for people going into the theatre and it's a pretence that will most likely hurt the films profits, it certainly has hurt the critic's reviews. But what most of us are hoping to see in The Hobbit is the familiar old middle earth that we have held close to our hearts for the past decade. Although there are times when it shines through, this is not the same middle earth that we left. The Hobbit is decades before LOTR (60 years I believe it says in the film) and Sauron has not yet been established in Mordor, the evil that is already crippling the world in LOTR has barely begun to rise. So we are in a world that is a lot more cheerful, and certainly not dark. In my personal opinion, Tolkien would probably much more appreciate the way that Peter Jackson approached this film vs LOTR. It's more magical, something he tried to mostly avoid in LOTR. Now let's pick it apart: (This is where the SPOILERS start)
1) The music - Howard Shore has once again created a brilliant score with enough familiarity that we can without a doubt feel like we are in Middle Earth again. My problem is that he seems to use musical pieces that don't fit in the Hobbit world in a couple places. One that bothers me in particular is at the end when Thorin is confronting Bilbo I hear what sounds like the music from the end of ROTK when everyone bows to the Hobbits which then switches to the music from the end of FOTR in the conversation between Sam and Frodo. I could be wrong on this but if they are aren't the same they are at least very similar. Now I understand the Rivendell music because it is associated with a race however these melodies are associated with heartfelt moments in these other films so when I hear them I'm pulled out of the film to remember the other scenes in which the music was used. There were a couple other places this happened although they aren't coming to me at the moment. 2) The visual effects - I have forever been a visual effects nerd and naturally WETA has been the top of my list of favorites. They have never brought anything but their "A" game until now. Now I have found that after watching it in both 48FPS and regular 3D that, although the film itself looks phenomenal in HFR, the visual effects look better in regular. In HFR the creatures seemed very fake, and it wasn't just the way they moved, it was the textures that just seemed cartoonish. This kept ripping me out of the film and made it very hard to concentrate on it. It was much better in regular 3D although I still noticed parts where I thought it looked really fake which is something I've never experienced with WETA. I almost wish they had of used the old prosthetics more in this film, although it's probably cheaper to do it digitally these days. On that note, Gollum was beyond exceptional. They did not disappoint with him. Exceptional creature work no doubt fuelled by Andy Serkis' brilliant performance. 3) Scenes that didn't work - The first one that pops to mind here is the Goblin King's death. I think they went way too overboard on being cheesy here and it didn't fit in with the usual creative Peter Jackson. Another issue I had was with Azog and the orcs. I don't mind their story line at all, in fact I sort of like it. I have a problem with the fact that they don't speak english. I understand that it is much more authentic but I find it creates a barrier when it comes to understand them. Peter handled this particularly well in LOTR and the Hobbit in the elves. They speak enough of their language that you get a sense for their culture but not so much that you can't connect with them. It's unfortunate that he didn't do this with the orcs as well because it would really have aided in creating a villan that we could hate as a character rather than for being a character! 4) The casting could not have been more perfect! I personally liked all the additional scenes that were thrown in there and although they really stretched out the movie I found that it seemed almost short, so now I'm stuck counting down the days until December 13th. I highly recommend seeing this film although I hope that you do it without the pretence that you are seeing LOTR, it will ruin your opinion of the film. To anyone who hasn't seen it yet Riddles in the Dark may possibly be the greatest scene Peter Jackson has ever brought to the screen. It is up there with the final moments with Sam and Frodo in my books.
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