The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Indeed!

Posted on December 18, 2012 by

So I went to see “The Hobbit” in 3D High Frame Rate (HFR – 48-frames-per-second) tonight. I’ll save you some reading by saying the following:

If you are a Tolkien / Middle Earth fan in general – and I am – you will love it.

Now, for the details. I’ll try to hold back somewhat on spoilers, although anyone who has read the book (and really, who hasn’t?!?) will already know how it goes and allowing yourself to be upset by a few spoilers is kind of like watching ‘Titanic’ and being upset if someone tells you ahead of time the ship is going to sink. But I digress…

The Story

Some parts of the movie were particularly close to the book and it’s intent (the first meeting/party/supper with the dwarves at Bag End for example), but if you read the Hobbit and expected it to stay true to the original, you will be surprised. Peter Jackson took a lot more creative license taken with this than with Lord of the Rings (LOTR):

1. Frodo/Elijah Wood has a cameo and is at Bag End with Bilbo at the start of the movie, when they basically replay the intro to the Party from The Fellowship of the Rings? I found that odd.

2. Peter Jackson added characters that were either not part of “The Hobbit” (Galadriel, Azog the Pale Orc), or barely mentioned (Radagast the Brown, Saruman). He also added scenes:

  • a meeting between Gandalf, Elrond, Saruman, and Galadriel;
  • a ‘greyhound’ race with wargs chasing giant jack rabbits; and
  • several scenes/battles with Azog, the Pale Orc.

I guess the Goblin King wasn’t enough, he thought they needed two arch-enemies – three if you count the dragon, four if you bring Sauron/Necromancer into the mix? (I suspect Peter Jackson has plans for Azog in round 2 as a way to provide more insight into Sauron’s rise to power.)

3. Bilbo‘s intelligence from the book was downplayed. For instance, a major “Bilbo saves the day” scene – where he used his wits in the book to overcome adversity – was “given” to Gandalf (the Trolls).

4. Bilbo‘s heroics/skills were expanded upon in a battle with Azog – another appearance for one of those “extra characters” Peter Jackson threw into the mix.

5. The story was what I would consider to be much easier to follow for those heathen (er, I mean non-Tolkien) fans/readers who might have been lost during the original Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Special Effects

Although I had expected more of an evolutionary jump, the detail placed into the work was impressive, on par or somewhat better than that used in LOTR.

Also, while 3D is really not a big draw for me with movies – and I learned tonight that 3D at 48-frames-per-second didn’t really change my mind on that – it was definitely interesting to see. It worked well on inside shots (the supper at Bag End was amazing), while I found it a little lacking in the scenic shots.

Truthfully, the 48-frames-per-second rendition reminded me of the “True Motion” feature on the 120 and 240 Hz TVs that we all toyed with at first, then set back to normal and forgot about. That doesn’t mean I’m against it, it just means I need more time to decide.

Conclusion

Overall, I give it an 8 (out of 10)

Well-worth seeing on the big screen, and worth seeing at 48-frames-per-second, if for no other reason than to judge for yourself whether or not you like the new “look & feel” Peter Jackson thinks is the future in movie-making.

The extra characters and scenes do a decent job of aligning “The Hobbit” so that it does an interesting job of introducing the plot that leads into the LOTR trilogy.

Of course, that also explains how they are planning to get 3 feature-length movies out of a single children’s story! 🙂

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