Sunday, 23 December 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (indeed)

'The Hobbit' is a charming tale by Tolkien - sweet, uncomplicated and good fun. And not at all bloated or lengthy. But alas, Jackson has ignored the tone and the length at his peril. I don't want to be another voice adding to the complaining heap but, as a diehard fan of the LOTR trilogy, in which one has to give credit to Jackson and the production team for doing so damn amazingly well and giving the fantasy genre some credibility on screen, I expected therefore, that Middle-earth would be in their capable hands once more.

Overall, the film was enjoyable but my main issues with it was that it was bloated, boring and just plain unnecessarily nostalgic, with less than subtle references to LOTR, as if  Jackson thought his audience would love all of that. I am one who did not - though the first ten minutes were beautiful, the rest of the film felt a little confused. It felt as if they forced it to be a little too epic - when all the story really is, is the quest to defeat the dragon so the dwarves can have their home city back. Tis all.

There was too much 'padding', and if such material had been in the book, the editor would have taken a red pen to it and reminded Tolkien that this is a child-like tale - keep all the extra epic stuff to LOTR, where it makes sense - and seeing as the audience has all seen the grand scale stuff in LOTR, we kind of don't want to see it again, almost exactly the same way (same shot pattern sequences, sweeping over our heroes running over bridges, lots of clobbering of orcs and goblins, dwarves hating the elves because they didn't come to their aid, echoing Rohan's displeasure with Gondor in LOTR, yada yada - wait, I've seen these same sequences before ten years ago...damn) As a result, it was not to nearly as funny as it needed to be and far too serious when it needn't be.

The action is always top notch but still could have a third of them cut down - we were far too long in the goblin city place, far too long having the wargs chase our heroes across the plains, that brown wizard... It's as if Jackson's weight is inversely proportional to the film's weight - the less of him there is, there more 'fat' is thrown on screen. Ok, that's a little mean but still...*snicker*

The production design team should be given almost all of the credit in bringing Middle Earth so majestically to life. There are still plenty of jaw-dropping reveals of cities, landscapes and general detail to all of the film's mise-en-scene. It's really this that immerses one in the world and the story. Also, Martin Freeman does a FAB job of playing adorable Bilbo and no one is complaining about Ian McKellen reprising his role as Gandalf.

I'm not going to say much more, as I'm really trying to avoid giving away spoilers but to be honest, if you've seen LOTR, you've kind of seen it all before. The only thing that has me excited is the prospect of the dragon scenes. Canna wait. But because of two extra films, it looks like we're going to be MADE to wait. *sigh*

VERDICT: 6.5/10

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