Date Posted: 2012-12-17
Tolkien Fan Level: 5
Film Format Seen? 2D 24 fps
Will view again in a different format? No
I'll say right up front that I wasn't as blown away by "The Hobbit" as I was by "Lord of the Rings." That being said, LOTR has epic-ness built into its very fabric--it's about friendship, loyalty, bravery, sacrifice, and the end of the world. "The Hobbit" is about thirteen dwarves who really, really, want their gold back. "The Hobbit" is also decidedly a childrens' book, and a somewhat dated one at that. Animals talk and sing and silly jokes are made. Both LOTR and "The Hobbit" are great stories, but they are very different.
Given these differences, I think that "The Hobbit" was a really good film. I love Middle Earth and being immersed in it, so it's long run time wasn't an issue for me--I loved almost every moment of it. I really enjoyed getting to see some functioning of Middle Earth when it's not at a time of absolute crisis. I can see why someone who is not as much of a fan might be put off by the length of the film, as it does run rather long, especially in the beginning before the company sets out on their adventure. However, I think that this was necessary to getting the audience to care about the dwarves' plight; it's a wonder that the sudden introduction of the dwarves' works narratively in the novel, and it's an even harder sell for a film. The long introduction gave some weight and purpose to the quest, which I think was necessary for the audience to completely buy into the premise of the narrative. I also didn't mind the inclusion of Radagast and the Necromancer. After all, Radagast was left out of the Fellowship movie, and it's nice to see him return and come to life in this one. I also think the inclusion of the Necromancer is vitally important in establishing this as an actual prequel to LOTR. In the actual book, it is mostly only a prequel in the sense that Bilbo finds the ring. Logically this doesn't make sense, if the events of "The Hobbit" take place only 60 years prior to the events in LOTR. The only parts I really found grating were two particular shots that mimicked shots from the LOTR movies--when Bilbo stumbled and the ring fell onto his finger and when Gandalf whispered to the moth to summon the eagles. It felt tacky to draw on the narrative weight those moments carried in the original films, and did not really seem to fit well into the tone of "The Hobbit." I'm having a hard time pinning down exactly what it was that rankled me--maybe just because it seemed cheap. I'll agree that the movie was sort of a weird film, but I guess it worked for me because "The Hobbit" is such a weird book. It might not have been a great movie, but it was a good movie, and perhaps I need to see it again before my analysis can be more nuanced. I think some of the screenplay seemed a bit awkward, but that it was necessary for situating the audience appropriately in this story. Of course, I am totally willing to accept that I might just be making excuses for this movie because I want it to be brilliant so badly, but I really hope I'm right. I really hope that everything weird in this first installment is in the service of setting the audience up for two really spectacular sequels. I guess we'll see!.
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