The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Reviews
I am not going to sugar-coat this film or give it a good review just because people tell me I should. I am sick to death of sheep. I don't care if this is Tolkien or Jackson or how much money it took to make the film. If it's bad, it's bad.
Graphics count for nothing. The reason I watch a film is primarily for a great story and well written characters (I have to CARE about what is going on). I don't get dazzled by graphics anymore (if I ever did at all), and 3D action films do not make a film good. So right there is the problem with The Hobbit. The story is shallow and pretentious and cardboard. Let's run through why the film had me rolling my eyes throughout:
- The introduction is way too long.
-The pacing is dire (and scenes that weren't in the book have been added).
-One brainless action scene after another for no other reason than to eat screen time (because the book is 300 pages and they are trying to maximise profits by having 3 films at 3 hours each). Watching 2 rock monsters fight for minutes is not captivating or cool, it's boring.
-Implausibility factor 10. I understand this is a fantasy. I understand that if everything was ultra realistic it would end up boring, but for heaven sake, that does not mean you can get away with what happens in this film. EVERY single scene shows something that would ordinarily kill someone. Fall down multiple ravines, battle 100's goblins with just a few men, rocks the size of cars flying at you... and no scratches, no deaths. It just doesn't work.
-Lazy writing. You know you are witnessing a lazy-ass story when your heroes are saved at the last minute EVERY time in multiple scenes. Where does that leave us? It leaves us with all main characters intact and no dramatic tension. Every scene you see a massive rock crush a character you know they aren't dead. Every time you see them perilously close to the edge of a cliff, you know that even if they fall, they will be saved and/or survive. Further to this point, smaller problems exist such as Bilbo never handling a sword to suddenly taking on killer beasts like he has been to He-Man training school.
-Cliché crap. The way Bilbo goes from being an outcast to being accepted is contrived and rushed and totally obvious. It just smacks of lazy cliché writing. The acting that goes with it is not good either. Kind of like "I once said... you weren't one of us... OH how wrong I was!" *Roll eyes time*. Then you have the White Orc that Thorin said he had slain, and you just KNEW it was coming back at the end for some sort of showdown, didn't you? Talk about obvious. I blame the film for this because the scenes involved in the exposition were way too see-through... might as well have had Thorin wink at the camera! That brings me onto the whole "Thorin dislikes Elves" angle, where you know the Elves are suddenly going to become important allies just so we can have a totally obvious and expected reversal. Wow, Thorin, you got Bilbo wrong and you got the Elves wrong too! DRAMA.
-Lack of character development (Think Final Fantasy XII if you are a gamer). This was the stake through the heart of this film... Most of the dwarfs are completely redundant and I could not identify or even accept Bilbo. This was due partly to the lack of character development, partly to the script and partly to the actor. Same goes for Thorin except the scenes he is in feel more like a bad soap opera than they do a "blockbuster" film.
It is just dull and lifeless and stupid. You shouldn't do things just because you can. The LOTR trilogy for the most part had decent pacing, and it didn't do things too fast, too soon, or for the sake of it. The original trilogy suffers from some the complaints above AT TIMES, but nothing like The Hobbit does... The Hobbit is in a league of its own. I went to watch an engaging movie and I got a cartoon.
The use of CGI is also glaringly obvious and fake; like with the prequels of Star Wars, when the movie cuts between humans and CGI blobs, your brain is onto it. Stop relying on CGI for everything. It's getting annoying, not to mention OLD. At least Jackson makes real sets so it isn't a total wash out.
There is some real potential in this film and it is squandered; whether that's because Tolkien wrote a flawed book, whether it is because he wrote a book that doesn't take well to a feature length movie or whether it is because Jackson messed it up, that's what we ended up with.
The Hobbit should have been 2 films, and making it 3 has been the final nail in the coffin.
So, I am sat here mightily annoyed that once again graphics and self indulgent, completely pointless action scenes have trumped good storytelling and pacing.
Of course, the film is still entertaining at times and the 3D visuals are fun, but for me it is a massive disappointment.
Visuals can not MAKE a film, but when used like in The Hobbit, they sure as hell can break it.
I was convinced the (many) criticisms I read beforehand were exaggerated and wouldn't bother me. To my surprise, quite some criticisms seemed justified in the end ...
ADDITIONS: On paper, the additions looked like a great way to create added value. However, while I understand why they included them, they all feel out of place.
- Opening scene: Ian Holm just looks too dissimilar from his appearance in FOTR (especially his haircut), which is really distracting. The frame story doesn't blend in naturally and the history of Erebor has too much to show in too little time.
- Radagast: He appears as suddenly as he disappears. His scene in Dol Guldur really threw me out of the movie.
- The White Council: I know the screenwriters want to underline the growing dark powers (hence the - preposterous - finding of the Morgul blade), but the empty talk about things of which we all know how they've played out in the LOTR films isn't convincing at all.
- Azog: An appallingly one-dimensional character, who feels most out of place (the fact that he looks like a creature from a cheap horror movie also doesn't help ...). His scenes have a strange "un-Tolkien" vibe, particularly the battle of Azanulbizar (the worst scene of the movie), which doesn't feel like a fierce and thrilling battle at all.
FROM THE BOOK: The episodic structure prevents the film from having a fluid narrative and squeezes the tension out of every new dangerous situation: the events just leave you cold.
In the book, we experience everything through Bilbo's eyes, which creates a strong connection between the reader and the main part. This is missing from the movie: Bilbo even seemed to have more or less disappeared between the troll encounter and the stone giants' battle. His homesickness, his doubts, all of this isn't really developed in the script.
The emphasis on Thorin is a good thing, but also not perfect: during the enclosure by the Wargs, I didn't buy Thorin's charge towards Azog and especially Bilbo's sudden "action hero saves the day in the nick of time" intervention. The latter seemed like a very inappropriate way to illustrate Bilbo's courage.
There were actually only two great scenes: Riddles in the Dark is amazing, but ironically, it also painfully shows how mediocre the rest of the movie actually is, because this is the only moment that comes close to the level of LOTR. Also, Bilbo's speech after they've escaped Goblin Town is a very welcome, for rare touching moment.
It's quite astonishing some people complain about the pacing, because the film was over before I knew it. In fact, I think the pacing is about just right and proved it would have been really difficult to adapt the book in just one fully-fledged movie. But since I didn't like the additions, I'm doubting whether a third film is necessary after all (but I suspend my judgment until 2014).
One of the biggest (unpleasant) surprises is the cinematographic style. I'm not talking about the bright colors or the digital images, but the (lack of physical) camera use. Whereas LOTR has stunning "real" camera movements and an extremely accomplished "handicraft" feel, AUJ often feels like a video game. The camera is flying and whirling so limitlessly that it just doesn't feel like an authentic movie anymore. This is particularly apparent during the Orc chase and above all the absurd Goblin Town escape. The CGI is perfect, but too much is just too much.
After my long list of complaints, I'm truly relieved to say there is at least one thing that unconditionally gets my support, which is the score. The people who unfairly label Howard Shore's work as a "re-hash of LOTR" obviously didn't pay full attention, because when you listen to the score multiple times (and I admit it also took me several spins to really appreciate it), you discover a new rich and diverse musical tapestry once again masterfully woven by Shore. OF COURSE you hear the same themes when EXACTLY THE SAME places are visited as in "The Fellowship of the Ring" ... If someone deserves credit for "The Hobbit", it's Shore: his music is in my view the only aspect of the movie on par with the level of LOTR.
***3D & 48 FPS***
- The 3D was good, no complaints about that. However, although I have no problems with watching movies in 3D, I start questioning its necessity.
- I am bewildered many people claim that 48 fps creates a "TV-look" with "actors with clear make-up on a fake set". I didn't have that feeling at all, but on the other hand - and this was the most surprising - the difference with 24 fps isn't THAT spectacular. After 30 minutes, I even had to remind myself: "Oh, I'm watching 48 fps, right?". Yes, the images look very clear and it does smooth fast movements, but the latter (which is positive) only sticks out a couple of times (and no, the motion never comes across as "sped up", so I was never distracted by the higher frame rate). All in all, I consider 48 fps to be an improvement over 24 fps (without diminishing the "cinematic" look of a film), but I didn't have the feeling I had witnessed a "revolutionary new cinema experience".
***** CONCLUSION *****
I didn't expect (or want) a replica of LOTR, but while "The Hobbit" isn't a bad movie, it isn't good either. I'm still perplexed I don't feel any urge to go see it again, unlike the LOTR films. We can only hope that Jackson recovers in time to save the next two films from unnecessary additions, lack of focus on Bilbo and a video game feeling. Well, at least we have new brilliant music to listen to!
For those who loved the acclaimed The Lord of the Rings film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, we are surprised at Jackson's disappointing production of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (a prequel to LotR). This first installment is repetitive, unrealistic, and difficult to connect with.
A huge problem concerning The Hobbit trilogy is Jackson's decision to extend the short book into 3 long films, the first being 169 minutes. As a result, we have scenes that go on far too long. For example, Bilbo's (Martin Freeman) call to action takes 40 minutes, including a ridiculous, but unfunny, dinner scene with the dwarves. Afterwards, Bilbo rejects the dwarves' job offer of burglar, and it is truly unexpected when he wakes up the following morning and runs after them.
The rest of the movie follows Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Bilbo, and the dwarves as they travel partway to The Lonely Mountain, the dwarven home. There, the dwarves hope to slay the dragon Smaug and reclaim a large hoard of treasure. On their journey they encounter trolls, goblins, orcs, and the peculiar wizard Radagast who drives a sleigh pulled by bunnies. Yes, I said he drives a sleigh pulled by bunnies.
In LotR, there was a feeling of danger and suspense when unskilled hobbits encounter a single orc or evade galloping horses that could trample them in an instant. In The Hobbit, the adventurers fight hundreds of goblins, go careening down a deep cavern on a rickety, wooden bridge (without receiving any wounds), and the old wizard Gandalf hangs, with a single hand, from a tree branch above a fatal plummet, holding two dwarves, for two long minutes. Was this supposed to be dramatic? The music may indicate so, but these scenes, among others, were only silly.
The Hobbit's appearances are sometimes as unrealistic as its story. Although The Hobbit has high quality Computer Generated Imagery, the quantity of CGI makes the movie look unrealistic. In LotR, orcs look like an actual living species, whereas in The Hobbit they look like animation.
Additionally, in LotR, there was intra-party drama: Legolas and Gimli's progression from a hatred between elves and dwarves to competitive friendship, Boromir's duty to the fellowship versus his lust for the ring, and the ring's slow corruption of Frodo against his loyal friend Sam. Out of the 14 party members in The Hobbit, only Bilbo, Thorin (Richard Armitage), and Gandalf show depth of character, and their entire intra-party drama could be summarized as such:
Thorin: "You don't belong here, Bilbo. You are nothing but a burden."
Bilbo: "You are right; I never should have come, but for some reason I did."
Thorin: "I was wrong, Bilbo. After you saved my life, I realized that you are useful to the company."
Bilbo: "Thanks, Thorin. I miss my home, but I realize that you don't have a home, and I want you to have a home, so I'll stay and help you fight a dragon."
Now, there were a few good parts in The Hobbit. The visual scenery was incredible. Martin Freeman's portrayal of the reluctant yet courageous Bilbo was excellent. I loved the scene where Bilbo obtains the one ring and has a riddle match with Gollum (Andy Serkes). There I could focus on two fantastic characters without being distracted by the violent, noisy dwarves.
The Hobbit was far too extreme in graphics and in length, which did not make the film epic, but long winded. If you like ridiculous, pointless, and far fetched fight sequences, go ahead and watch The Hobbit; otherwise, stick to the book.