There’s been a lot of chatter around the new Peter Jackson rendition of “The Hobbit”. Although I didn’t think it was a BAD movie, I just didn’t enjoy all of it. It takes a damn good reason to make a movie three hours long, and this film didn’t seem to have one (let alone TWO sequels). I did, however, think the 48fps was cool during battle scenes and am overall glad I saw the movie. Simply, I just got bored.
A friend of mine LOVED this movie, and I begged him to convince me to like it too, since I like liking things too. Here is his unabridged rebuttal:
“Well to start, know that right off the bat I’m incredibly biased when it comes to this movie, I probably would have loved it even if it wasn’t that great simply, because it’s the Hobbit It was one of my favourite books as a kid, so I have no doubt that a little bit of nostalgia may cloud my judgement, but I still think I can assess it relatively fairly.
On a less opinion based level, one of important factors that made this such a great movie in my eyes was the very solid acting. Never once did I doubt any of the casting decisions made and in particular, Martin Freeman as Bilbo really stood out. He really nailed this very awkward, unsure, but big hearted character, afraid to venture from home yet deep down yearning for something beyond his everyday life. It’s not as if there was some incredibly deep character work going on, in fact most of the acting and dialogue was pretty straightforward and simple stuff, but it was delivered in such a genuine manner that I couldn’t help but appreciate it. Ian McKellen as Gandalf was, of course, gold.
Looking towards the plot, I was happy to find exactly what I was expecting, a very simple story. Like the Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit focuses around the timeless premise of, “get from point A to point B”. It’s neither very original (after all the book was written about 80 years ago) nor intricate, but I for one welcome such a plain story over the slew of contemporary movies riddled with senselessly complex (and often unintelligible) plots for the sake of being “clever”. It’s simplicity allowed the movies other elements to shine through and perhaps most important, was faithful to the book. Alongside this, The Hobbit also stood out in its pacing, which struck me as quite audacious. Scenes which would have undoubtedly rushed through in other movies were thankfully recognized as central to story and allotted the time they truly deserved, such as the dwarf party at the beginning and Bilbo’s riddle game with Gollum.
To tell the truth I found that most criticism people had with the Hobbit originated not in the movie but in the book itself. Sure the comic tone is a far cry from the seriousness of the Lord of the Rings, and the constant use of Gandalf as a deus ex machina device struck many as ridiculous, but that’s what the book was like and I for one commend Peter Jackson for following through with Tolkien’s vision and keeping the story so true to its roots. Others may poke fun at the idea that Jackson’s stretching one relatively small book into three, I even had my doubts, but after seeing the movie I understand that it’s because they truly want to get its movie done in its entirety. Few books survive the transition to movie intact and so to see the Hobbit, with almost no scenes cut and staying so unbelievably faithful to the story is a novel experience. While there were still some changes made, this was only to ease the transition between book and film and are of no great consequence (ie. Bilbo distracting the trolls instead of Gandalf) Of course, in the book the whole subplot of Gandalf’s investigation of the rise of the Necromancer is only really hinted at and the Pale Orc’s tale of revenge is equally vague, but I understand this need for a greater overarching plot in the films. Continuing on this tangent of faithfulness to the books, I felt that the makers of the Hobbit had done a great job in establishing a sense of continuity with the established Lord of the Rings films. Little details, like the entire story existing as a recollection by Bilbo right before his one-hundred and eleventeenth birthday kicks off the start of the Fellowship of the Ring make it truly feel like a cohesive part of the Tolkien universe and not just another unrelated film, despite the major differences of tone.
Now on the subject of tone, I felt that Jackson’s willingness to embrace the lighthearted nature of The Hobbit is perhaps what made it shine the most. Like the book, this movie wasn’t scared to break up even the most serious of moments with some refreshing comic relief (the king of Golin Town had me in stitches) and came off much the better because of this. I think some fans may have bothered by the huge contrast between the largely serious Lord of the Rings and this more humorous tale, but I for one think it’s a refreshing new take and wouldn’t have wanted it done any other way. After all, the Hobbit was a more of a children’s book while the Lord of the Rings trilogy was intended for adult readers. That aside, Peter Jackson always knew when to crank down the humour and deliver some emotionally engaging scenes.
Last but definitely not least, from an artistic point of view I think most of us can agree that the movie was quite beautiful. New Zealand’s vast landscapes never failed to impress me and from Bilbo’s rustic hobbit hole to the wind lashed cliffs of the Misty Mountains the intricately detailed sets felt every bit a part of this fantastical world. While I realize that this is highly subject to personal opinion, I still maintain that appearance wise, not a character felt out of place. In terms of soundtrack, it follows in the steps of Lord of the Rings, with Howard Shore’s score harking back to the earlier films and nicely complementing the onscreen action. The cinematography was beautifully done and mercifully clear and easy to follow. As for the debatable issue on the 48 fps version of The Hobbit, I saw it in 24 fps and so have no input other than the fact that I admire Jackson for his willingness to try new things.
I’m not going to lie, there was nothing incredibly deep or complex about the Hobbit. There’s no secret subplots and hidden meanings for the fans to wrack their brains over. It’s just an age old and simple story that’s been incredibly well polished and that’s exactly what I appreciate it for.”
Lengthy! (Not unlike the movie itself)…but interesting!
I would have to say that the original Hobbit movies are still my favourites.
Those include the animated 70′s Hobbit discussed here,
However, there was also a USSR live-action one (just for laughs!) found in it’s entirety here:
Anyway, comment away!