The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey movie review
As we’ve already done with Star Wars, we’re going back to Middle Earth for the prequel trilogy to The Lord of the Rings and this time, we’re going to have more fun with The Hobbit. I got started on the trek last Sunday with An Unexpected Journey.
Having read The Hobbit some years ago, I knew what to expect out of this flick, and while the trailer does some (Bilbo does literally say, "I’m going on an adventure!" in the trailer), I’m not sure it does enough to prepare the viewer for the difference in tone between the two film series. The Hobbit is fun while LotR is… you know… end of the world, impending death. I was nervous that having read this book beforehand would ruin my perspective on the movie, but after watching it, I can say that this did not happen (usually, you walk out of a novel adaption and think "The book was better," yet I didn’t feel this way) – and, I don’t agree with most movie reviewers’ low scores. Only 65% of the reviewers enjoyed the film, while the audience is at 81%, which sounds about right. (see Rotten Tomatoes) Why the same group put Skyfall at 92% I’ll never understand… and I wonder if reviewers were gunning for this flick. Jonathan Kim, who I tend to agree with and enjoy his Rethink Reviews… yeah, he kinda changed my perspective on him forever. Check out his review:
KIM: "The Hobbit seems like more of the same – and not in a good way."
ME: OK, how so?
KIM: "We also see Bilbo’s introduction to Gollum, giving us a chance to once again admire the performance of Andy Serkis and the technology that makes Gollum so expressive and real. The problem is that none of this felt new at all to me and in many ways is a step backward from the Lord of the Rings trilogy."
ME: Err… you want the next chapter in a film series to feel new?
Then he goes on to complain that Bilbo is not as interesting as Frodo, the dwarves are too similar (because no one had trouble telling Aragorn and Boromir apart in The Fellowship of the Ring) and Smaug isn’t as menacing as Sauron. Oh, and he didn’t like the 48 frames per second version of the film you see when you view it in 3D… so… that should really be part of the rubric for whether it’s a good movie or not. He closes by saying it’s a movie that offers nothing new and seems to say that Peter Jackson’s direction is… lame, I guess.
I’m not sure what Jonathan Kim means by or what he wants in terms of ‘new’ – The Hobbit isn’t new. The book has been out for decades and the story takes place before LotR, so there’s nothing new about The Hobbit and I don’t think there should be. Why would we want a new look or feel to the series? (That worked out great for Star Wars, right?) And I thought Peter Jackson worked his ass off, just like he always does. (Sure, King Kong is riddled with problems, but not for lack of trying.) But, as I mentioned earlier, their is a difference in tone between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings film series because there is a different tone between the books. The Hobbit was written for children (the narrator breaks the fourth wall to make sure the reader doesn’t get too scared) while Lord of the Rings was written for adults. Again, I’m not sure if that was clear in the trailer, and Jackson really pumped up the action, so maybe it’s not a problem after all. Kim didn’t bother to mention the threat of the Necromancer, and speaking of which…
I’m glad that Jackson decided to show horn in the Necromancer and everything that pushes the events of The Hobbit into LotR story line as we’d never get to see this stuff on film anyway. However, I totally did not need to see Frodo and Bilbo – that was a complete waste of time and a totally unnecessary bid to tie the series together, which I think the film does well enough without those scenes.
Still, I had a great time and I’m looking forward to watching An Unexpected Journey again and seeing the next installment. I give it an 9 out of 10.