40, San Diego
Date Posted: 2012-12-15
Tolkien Fan Level: 6
Film Format Seen? 2D 24 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes
This is not a spoiler free review !
I didn't like the beginning. There, I said it. I love Ian Holm as an actor and was thrilled to hear he was going to be involved when I first heard the news, but the opening with Ian's Bilbo and Frodo felt forced and didn't work. I think it would have been much better to open the film exactly as the book and move the incredibly awesome 'prologue' sequences of a fully functioning Erebor/finding of the Arkenstone/Goblin War story to a point in the beginning of the film where it would have been told to Bilbo by Thorin in Bag End. The other dwarves could have chimed in with their recollections of tales from that time sitting around the fire, which would have given the chance for better character building for the individual dwarves, and given the bridge to the 'Misty Mountain Song' more weight just before the journey began. And while i'm getting my negative thoughts out on the beginning of the film, I might as well mention that the comedy of the dwarves felt more forced than charming, and could have benefitted from a few extra minutes of screen time to give it a bit more development. Now to the good stuff ! I believe in Thorin Oakenshield. Armitage is fantastic, and I think it was a genius bit of casting from the filmmakers. Conversely, the other 'lead' in the film is also extraordinary. Martin Freeman has captured young Bilbo wonderfully ( never doubted this...) and the two of them together have cemented a mutual respect in the first picture, which will add tremendous weight for the things we know are coming. I also think Balin is tremendously well done, and his wisdom and experience is presented as secondary only to Thorin, which gives the character significant weight, and works well in the story. At this point, i'm reserving judgement on the remaining dwarves. To be honest they seemed like they were just there.....but they were there well. If that makes any sense...... Ian Mckellan continues his Gandalf greatness, and it was just plain cool to see Galadriel, Elrond, Gandalf and Sarumon together on screen. And it is at Rivendell where you really start feeling the movie finding its bearings. From here on, the pace and action are near pitch perfect. Any license the filmmakers took with the story were fine by me and didn't distract from the source material enough to make me upset ( thinking of the troll scene and the addition of Azog as a more significant character here...) Goblintown and the Goblin King are fantastic, and I thought the 'out of the frying pan...into the fire' sequences were very well done and didn't mind any changes from the book. It was around this point in the film when I started thinking about how they were going to wrap things up, and started getting a sense of dread that it would end soon and i'd have to wait a whole year for the next installment. No matter how you slice it, if i'm already thinking about the next film, the filmmakers have done their job in transporting me into their vision, and what an excellent vision it is. Some quick hit thoughts on the film... - 'Riddles in the Dark' is one of the most amazing scenes I have ever witnessed. Andy and Martin almost stole the entire show here. Absolutely.Brilliant. -Howard Shore's music is still one of the great characters in Middle Earth. - Azog is awesome. - I was lukewarm regarding Radagast, and the.....droppings.....on his head were distracting. - It was great fun catching lines from the book delivered verbatim. - Thranduil looked great and had....presence. - I still keep fondly remembering Erebor in full glory, and how great it was to see the dwarves plying their trade. It was also great fun seeing all the different dwarves fighting in the Goblin War, and Thorin using his oak shield : ) - I love the Eagles ! - I loved the Stone Giants ! All in all, a fantastic night at the cinema. Honestly, with such high expectations it is a lot to take in all at once.....so i'll just have to go see it again ! And again....and again....
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