Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Series: The Hobbit: #1

I think the movie poster right over there is perhaps a perfect example of one my major gripes with the first new Hobbit movie:

Thirteen dwarves, each with their one distinct beards (each of which reportedly cost as much as $10,000 to make) yet for the most part utterly interchangeable. The only ones of any real interest where Thorin (the leader), Balin (the old one), Bombur (the fat one), and to a lesser extent Bifur (the one with an axe on the mind). Other than that, who knows. Perhaps they’ll have more distinct roles in the other two movies, although I doubt it.

That actually brings to mind the second issue I had with the Hobbit: it’s the first movie of a trilogy. I’m of a divided mind if this was really the right way to go with the movies, but I’m not going to kid myself. I’ll go see all three movies as they come out. There’s next to nothing that would stop me from doing so and I’m sure just about everyone complaining about will end up doing the same. Still, the movie is a bit on the long side and gets slow at points. I knew that the encounter with the goblins was still in this movie and just couldn’t believe how long it took to get that far. I never really got sore though, which is my general measure for too long a movie.

That being said, the movie did have a lot going for it. I really liked Martin Freeman’s performance as Bilbo–although it was disconcerting to have a different face for the opening scene with old Bilbo.  The visuals were stunning, including both the real life shots and the CGI (in particular, Gollum was creepy and the goblin king was disgusting). The story pulled me in and didn’t let go, really making me feel for Biblo and his unexpected journey.

So far as changes from the original book, all I have to say is that many people are likely to go into this expecting either another Lord of the Rings movie or a direct translation of the book. This is neither. It’s got a far more personal and less overly serious tone than the Lord of the Rings, yet there’s more of a build up to an epic world that the book ever had. Personally, I thought the combination was great, but I can definitely see how people expecting one of the other will be disappointed.

Overall, the Hobbit barely beats out its overlong brethren to take 4th place for the year (with only a few spots left at most). I’d totally recommend you go and see it, but who am I kidding? If you’re any sort of nerd, you’re almost sure to go see all three of them. If not, you’ll probably see it anyways. At least in my opinion, it’ll be worth your time.

Note: I went and saw it in old-fashioned 24 fps 2D. I don’t tend to do well with 3D films and they didn’t have 48 fps without the 3D, so that was really the only choice. I’m considering going to check out the full experience in the next week or two, but we’ll see how that goes.