December 16, 2012 · Print This Article

Last month I reread the book to refresh my mind on the story as I wanted to be able to compare the original source to when I watched THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY [2012] movie.  I found the book to be a great story, not seeming to be a mere children’s novel.  The movie is not a just a retelling of the story in the book as it greatly expands storylines that are only hinted at in passing in the book, and characters that are never even mentioned in the book (like Galadriel) get major scenes.  The same quality of production and feeling of atmosphere from the LOTR movies is present in THE HOBBIT, so any chance to revisit that Middle Earth world is welcome.

I am a big fan of origin stories and there is perhaps no bigger origin story than how Bilbo Baggins goes from being a simple, home body hobbit to face to face with all the great dangers of The Wild.  My favorite part of the movie was the beginning, everything that took place in Bag End.  I was looking forward to hearing the dwarves stories told under Bilbo’s roof, and the movie brought those scenes to life wonderfully.  Mystery and curiosity were built, enough so that even Bilbo could be pried from his comfy bed.

Danger finds the group of thirteen dwarves, one hobbit and one wizard very quickly until they come to rest at Rivendell.  Here the movie kind of came to a halt.  There was a meeting of the minds between Elrond, Gandalf, the aforementioned Galadriel and Sarumon, which of course never happened in the book.  Cate Blanchett continues to be absolutely stunning as Galadriel, I could not take my eyes off of her.  I feel it was even hinted that in the past there was some romance between her and Gandalf!

In one of many off note touches, the dwarves & Bilbo leave Rivendell without even saying good-bye and without Gandalf!  It just seemed silly and immature to do such a thing.  Everyone eventually ends up deep in the mines of Moria.  In the book the scenes involving the dwarves are not described in detail, which is wise because as Peter Jackson decided to show endless scenes of the dwarves hacking their way through waves of orcs, it was just preposterously unrealistic how they all could survive such an assault.  Plus, Jackson still cannot film action as it is just a blur of fast cuts with no build up, just a jumble and really it was like watching a video game.  Nothing realistic about it, no weight, no depth to that battle.

Of course Frodo was having his own 1-on-1 battle, riddles in the dark.  That is one of the all-time classic Tolkein chapters, but in the movie, I was not feeling it so much.  Maybe I knew how the scene played out too well?  Maybe Gollum seemed to be more over the top than how he was portrayed in the LOTR movies?  Something just seemed off, and I saw no improvement in the CGI rendering of him, maybe he actually looked faker if anything.

The final battle and end to the movie was just another big mess of running and battles that hold no weight because no one dies and all enemies are killed so easily.

In a sense I could view THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY as a fail.  Nothing on screen impressed me, there were no epic cinematic moments, which came both large and small in LOTR, but then again, this is a much different, more contained story in The Hobbit.  Still, I felt the pacing was off, too much full on action with no direction, then scenes pulling in yet more characters, like Radagast the Brown.  The movie at the least is not an instant classic to me and will take time to digest and ponder.

UPDATE: rewatched on November 09, 2013

I just reread my above review and almost have not a single word to add, I am surprised I did such a thorough job previously summarizing my feelings about the movie!  Maybe I could add I feel the movie plays better at home and upon a second viewing, knowing the action scenes are going to be laughable, but knowing one can curl up and enjoy just being in the world of Middle-earth and feeling the atmosphere Peter Jackson is good at creating in these movies.  Still love Galadrial too, just the way she moves, so elegantly.


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