Thursday, December 27, 2012
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Review
I will freely admit that I went into The Hobbit with some trepidation. When I heard that Peter Jackson had expanded a small novel into a trilogy, my inner critic went into overdrive. How could he possibly stretch out the material in the novel? What would he be adding? Would it detract from the overall enjoyment of the movie.
I love to read reviews, especially ones that are well written and cogent, highlighting the positives and negatives. Here I will present positives and negatives from a purely subjective point of view, as well as an unbiased opinion (as much as I can while still being a lifelong Tolkien fan) about how well the added elements contributed to the flow of the story. Additionally, I will separate these opinions across four dimensions: narrative/plot, cinematography, casting/acting, and score/soundtrack.
Without further ado, here be my opinions.
NARRATIVE/PLOT: There are three parts of this movie that I felt detracted from the flow of the film. It should come as no surprise that these elements were not present in the original novel and were included by Jackson, most likely, to bridge The Hobbit trilogy and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. With that as an aside, The Hobbit elevates the source material and makes it accessible to a broad audience. While the movie was uneven at times (due mostly to the inserted and expanded scenes best left for a Director's Cut), it made for an enjoyable romp through Middle Earth that was consistent and smooth sailing with the exception of a few directing bumps here and there meant to galvanize the universe Peter Jackson has brought to the big screen.
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Middle Earth has never been more vibrant. Filming it in 3-D, there is something to be said about the image rendering and speed when watching it in 2-D. There were moments during the movie that nearly gave me motion sickness that were clearly meant to be experienced in 3-D. That being said, the richness of color and the depth of the world that Jackson has unleashed are captured so robustly and brilliantly that I would be remiss to not give the filming of this movie the high marks it deserves. There is a particular moment on a mountain that is pretty incredible (if you have seen the movie, then you know what I mean). Simply put: It is a beautiful movie; poetry in motion.
CASTING/ACTING: I am a fan of Martin Freeman. He is fantastic as John Watson and he does not disappoint here. Freeman brings everything to the character that was required of him, and so much more. The dwarves were well cast, especially Thorin Oakenshield. I was happy to see Mitchell from the BBC version of Being Human make an appearance. Ian McKellan was brilliant as always, though it would be difficult to bring much more to the character than what he had already done in LOTR. I can honestly say that there was not one character who was miscast. The only letdown (and this really isn't a letdown) is that I know Benedict Cumberbatch is voicing Smaug and playing the Necromancer. As a huge fan of Sherlock, I really wanted to see him in the film. Alas, we will be hearing and seeing much of the talented Cumberbatch in subsequent films as well as in the new Star Trek film as a suspiciously Khan-like villain.
SCORE/SOUNDTRACK: The problem with the soundtrack is that it might be too familiar. This really isn't a problem as we expect the score to be the same when we are in Rivendale and the Shire; however, there were some borrowed elements that at times felt lazy.
DECISION: It would be easy to assign a grade or a score out of five or ten, but I will resist the urge. Would I recommend the movie to a friend? Absolutely. Is it necessary to see it in the theaters? I would argue that it is. Would I watch it again? The better question might be when am I going to watch it again. The sense of adventure and the brilliant landscape hides bumps and spurs that are easily overlooked in yet another hit from Peter Jackson, though I would not call it unexpected.
Let me know!