Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Get out your Elven blades and Dwarf axes, we're reviewing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey!
Gollum is getting tired of your shit.
Bilbo Baggins(Martin Freeman) is a regular hobbit living in quaint little Baghends. When Gandalf the Grey(Ian McKellen) comes to recruit him on an adventure to accompany 12 dwarves to retake their homeland from the evil dragon Smaog, he's reluctant at first, but soon joins up. What dangers will they face in the first part of this three part adventure?

Yeah, it's pretty good.

Ok, fine I'll write a real review.  First things first this is a loooooooooooooong movie.  It's nearly 3 hours long(2 hours and 49 minutes to be precise) and it feels like it.  I haven't read the book in forever, but I'm fairly certain there's nothign Peter Jackson didn't put in this movie, and then went and added extra bits because it wasn't nearly long enough.  From what I'm reading Jackson is putting all the stuff from the Unfinished Tales and that's why it's so long, so if you're just expecting The Hobbit, here's some extra Hobbit free DLC! But man does it feel long.  Even if he's trying to put everything in, I still feel like he could have cut a good hour off this thing.

Bilbo has +3 on eating breakfasts.
But having said that, this is definitly a movie you don't need any other material to know the characters or story beforehand...because it's all in there. They have twenty minutes of prequel explaining why the dwarves are going on their adventure, then a good ten minutes connecting it to the Fellowship of the Ring, and then the opening title kicks in. Like I said, long movie.

That's not to say it's necessarily bad, there's just a lot of it. And a lot of it is good!  But if you're wondering if it's better than Lord of the Rings, no, probably not. There's a reason he started with those three instead of The Hobbit. That is an epic tale with a number of engaging complex characters, and this is a jaunty adventure.  Hobbit fans will no doubt love every inch of it; they've gone a long way to do the source material justice.

Can I just say that this is also The Hobbit: An unexpected Sausagefest? Because it is. There is only one major female character who gets any dialogue, Galadriel(Kate Blanchet), in the shortest possible part, and the rest is all dudes. I do not remember the Lord of the Rings series being this boy-centric, but at least they had Legolas as a lead female role.  I know the book was a bit of a boys club, but come on Peter Jackson, you made a two-and-a-half hour movie and couldn't find a few more spots for some ladies? It's crazy how this gets a pass from LOTR fans for sticking to the source material, where any other movie with nearly twenty male roles and zero female ones would get torn apart.  But moving on!

The action, when it's there, is really really good. Epic sword fights with trolls and goblins and orcs abound and that's really what I want to see.  It's basically a very graphic D&D session!  Kind of wish there was more of it and less walking, but what's there is really really good.
Gandalf and his pimpcane.

The cgi looks amazing, even better than the LOTR series when it first came out. The animation is fluid, the scenery and backgrounds are breathtaking, and the textures on some of the creatures are s realistic you just want to reach out and touch. Having said that, the 3D is not that great. There are a few shots that are nice, then a few shots that make everything blurry, and then a whole lot where it's not  even used.  But on the flipside, Hobbit-green 3D glasses!  I did not see it in 48 fps, so I can't attest to whether it ruins the movie industry or creates the new standard.

The score by Howard Shore is one of the highlights.  It's just as epic and sweeping as the music from the LOTR series, with a couple of nice LOTR themes snuck in at the right places. You should get the soundtrack to play while you travel on your epic gettin'-homework-done journey.

While it's long, it lends itself to some amazing performances. The standouts are Freeman, McKellen, and Richard Armitage as the lead dwarf Thorin.  And of course the star of the franchise: Andy Serkis as Gollum.  Freeman is perfect as the hesitant but still adventurous Bilbo, and Serkis is especially funny and tragic as Gollum, not to mention the great performance capture they've done this time around.

The Hobbit is a pretty solid movie. Long, but solid. I'm not a huge LOTR fan, but I'm sure those that are will be pleased with what they get.  Everyone else, it's also a pretty good ride.

THE GOOD: Great performances, Stunning CGI and performance capture, great action, beautiful art production, sweeping score, a fun adventure.

THE BAD: Loooooong, possibly put too much in, not the Lord of the Rings, the 3D isn't that great

THE VERDICT: $$$$ It's definitely worth seeing in theaters. And if you're a huge LOTR fan, you'll probably see it multiple times. For everyone else, it's a bit long and I wish they had edited it more, but it's still a fun adventure.

MOVIES LIKE IT: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Merlin, Willow, Legend, King Kong

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: While the company of dwarves are all camping, Balin(Ken Slott) tells them all what Thorin had to go through in the battle against the orcs and Azog. It's a great battle scene and exciting as anything else, but man, he could have just told us what happened and saved a good 10 minutes.

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