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The Hobbit – A Movie Review

December 22, 2012

Finally got to see the Hobbit Wednesday night. I’ve really been looking forward to the Hobbit movies. I’m a big fan of Tolkien and count the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit as some of my favorite books of all time. I’m also a big fan of Peter Jackson and the Lord of the Rings movies which I also count as some of my favorite movies of all time.

I’ve avoided most of the reviews for the Hobbit, but have heard some buzz regarding two issues around the movie:

1. The movie drags in several places.
2. The frame rate. Jackson shot the film not only in 3D, but also at twice the normal frame rate, from 24 frames per second to 48 frames per second. According to Jackson, it was supposed to make the film more immersive, but it hasn’t really worked out that way. A lot of people hate the look since it evidently makes the movie look like something shot for TV (which uses the higher frame rate). That said, I’ve also read that some reviewers really like the look of the 48fps version.

Neither of these issues bothered me. I was never bored (far from it!). I honestly think that since Jackson decided to go from two movies to three movies for the Hobbit last summer people assume there’s “padding” and are looking for it.

As for the frame rate, most theaters do not have projectors that can handle 48fps, even in 3D, so most film goers will see the movie in 24fps. That’s the framerate I saw it at and I thought the movie looked great.

So what did I think of the movie? I liked it, I would give it a 4 out of 5. I do have some reservations though. I list below what I really liked about the movie – and also what I didn’t like.

****SPOILER ALERT****

The Good

Liked the introduction showing what happens to Erebor (the Lonely Mountain) and the town of Dale. You only see glimpses of Smaug, but those glimpses are pretty cool.

Loved the dwarves. The dwarves in the book tend to be pretty generic with only Thorin and Balin really standing out. In the movie, the dwarves all have different looks and personalities that help differentiate them.

Loved the Trolls. In the movie the dwarves are heavily armed and it’s only the threat of Bilbo’s death that causes them to cast away their weapons and wind up in sacks. Also like that the Trolls talked, basically having the same conversation they had in the book. Finally, I really like how Gandalf was able to resolve the situation.

The scenes with Gollum and the riddle contest were great.

I liked the added story revolving around the White Council and Dol Guldur. According to Tolkien, this was what was going on while the dwarves were on their way to the Lonely Mountain. It was why Gandalf left Thorin’s Company halfway through the quest. Jackson is just sort of filling in the story. I also like that they use some of the myths and legends of Middle-Earth throughout the movie, the giant spiders are called “spawn of Ungoliant” or something similar. The White Coucil talks about the Witch King of Angmar. Good stuff.

Even though the story is only 1/3rd complete, I really liked the ending.

The Bad

The dwarves escape from the goblin caves was a running battle that I thought was simply too frenetic – though this is more of a quibble than a real complaint.

While I like that Radigast the Brown is in the movie, him finding Gandalf after the Troll encounter was jarring and clumsy. It’s a major departure from the book and I would have much preferred it was handled differently. (Maybe Radigast shows up at a meeting of the White Council?)

I’m not a big fan of the Azog storyline. I guess Jackson wanted a more personal, recurring villain-Azog is mentioned in the appendices in Return of the King-but I struggle to see the need. It didn’t ruin the movie for me, but I would rather the storyline wasn’t there.

The Ugly

While wandering through the Misty Mountains, the Company runs into a bunch of “Stone Giants”. While the scene is in the book, the giants are ‘normal giants’ and their antics (along with a thunderstorm) cause the dwarves to seek shelter. In the movie, the giants are basically huge earth elementals-which I actually kind of liked. What I hated was that the Company finds itself on two of these Gaints as they awaken. As these giants move about trouble ensues as the dwarves and hobbit hang on for dear life. The scene is clearly intended for 3D and is just silly in my opinion. I really disliked it.

****END SPOILER ALERT****

Overall

Even though I had some issues, I really liked the movie overall. I think Jackson really brings Middle-Earth to life with his attention to detail. I’m definitely looking forward to the next movie. I’m also planning to see the movie again in 3D in 48fps in order to see what all the fuss is about.

Score: 4 out of 5

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 5, 2013 5:41 pm

    Okay… I want to think that I’m grandfathered by the SPOILER alert in Steve’s review.

    I’m really surprised by the number of things that you mentioned that I was going to mention.

    I loved the entire beginning of the movie… Integrating Frodo and the history of the Lonely Mountain BEFORE Bilbo’s pens “In a hole…”

    I also agree about the White Council and the riddle contest.

    I agree about the Dwarves escape… it was too over the top; I was surprised to see you mention it, I thought I was just being an old man.

    Also agree about the Azog storyline.

    I also agree about the Storm Giants. Hated it. Silly.

    I *hated* Radagast. Of course, that’s personal taste. You know how you have an image of a character in your head, and you are presented with something radically different? Blech. Also agree that his showing up after the trolls was bad.

    The dwarves didn’t bother me as much in the movie as they bothered me beforehand. Still, I simply don’t like that some look like cartoons and others look straight-up human. Again, person taste.

    Martin Freeman and Ian McKellan are just outstanding. Seeing Freeman as Bilbo really makes me wonder who else could have done the role justice.

    I’ll still quibble that Jackson could have kept more of the spirit of the Hobbit in the movie; instead he made The Hobbit with Lord of the Ring spirit. I’ll live.

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