31 Dec 2012

An Unexpected Picture

When I was a boy my brother showed me a book and asked "does this scare you?". It was the cover of Lord of the Rings, with the cover art of the Ralph Bakshi animated version of the film.

"No?" I replied, and Keith took me off to the Lord of the Rings movie and my introduction into the wonderful world of J. R. R. Tolkein started there.  After the film I read the Lord of The Rings before I read the Hobbit. I loved the Hobbit  and I still do.  It is a wonderful adventure, with heroes, Dragons, and a hero that we can relate to.

So It was with a great deal anticipation and also trepidation that I approached this film. While the Lord of the Rings is a dramatic Saga, the Hobbit is a more a straight forward adventure story. The Lord of the Rings had to be three films, but the Hobbit? I understand the financial reasoning behind it, especially because of MGMs financial issues, but just because they are screwed, doesn't mean they have to screw this up?

So I went, and this is what I thought.

Spoiler alert!
There may be some spoilers in this so beware!

 The Hobbit starts at Bilbos birthday party, and he is writing his book for Frodo to tell him the full story of his adventure. Elijah Wood and Ian Holm reprise their roles as Frodo and Bilbo respectively. Then there is some exposition about Erebor the Dwarven kingdom prior to Smaug the Dragons arrival and the destruction of Erebor. Then we settle down to Martin Freeman as Bilbo meeting Gandalf and then the arrival of the Dwarves which finally sets the adventure off into the story of the Hobbit.

Ensue adventures.

There is allot of exposition in this film about the Erebor and the coming of Smaug and the Dwarves losing their home. That is all fine, and I didn't even mind the exposition about Thorin and the blood feud between him and Azog. Azog is a new character to the story and this story line will help pad out the need for three films. That wasn't too bad, but I did feel that the film was too long by the end of it. I did feel some scenes were extraneous. The mountain giants were cool to look at, but like the extend fight scene with the goblins and the stand off between Thorin and Azog they could have been cut down. After watching Peter Jacksons, King Kong, I think he sometimes puts in too many cool things, at the cost of the flow of the movie. Of course I understand that one of the story lines of An Unexpected Journey, was Bilbos acceptance by Thorin. But Bilbo facing off against Azog didn't seem right to me. By the end of the movie it did seem long, and in reality 169 minutes isn't really a marathon.

In keeping with the story and the feel of Tolkeins work it did ok, The exposition for Erebor, and the foretelling of the events of the LOTR trilogy also didn't bother me overly.  I think the thing that bothered me was the Trolls. I am sure in the book that the Trolls ambushed the Dwarves and put them in sacks? The fight scene between the trolls and the Dwarves didn't seem right to me? In fact i would have to say that the film as a  whole could have had a little less combat. (never thought I'd write those words). Apart form the the scene with the Trolls was very good.
Barry Humphries as the Goblin King was cool.

The cast are great. Peter Jackson altered the entire shoot just so they could have Martin Freeman as Bilbo, and he is the perfect choice. Brave, funny, endearing and flummoxed he gives an outstanding performance. Ian McKellen reprises his role as Gandalf, and all the Dwarves are great. I am hoping to see more of the individual Dwarves characters over the three films. I mean it's not like he doesn't have the time.

I saw the film in 2D so I cannot comment on the extra bells and whistles, but the cinematography was great. Special mention to the scenes with Cate Blanchett and Ian McKellen. They were shot beautifully. Cate Blanchett as Galadriel was spectacular.

While I have made comments about the fight scenes, there was a good balance between the humour, and the drama. Although I would have like to have seen more of the humour.

Over all it did instil a sense of adventure in me. Martin Freeman and the cast were great, and it was very pretty to watch. It felt long, so the pacing was off a little, and I did feel that there was too much cool and not enough substance. I understand that this is an adaption and it will not be exactly the same as the book, but I think the triliogy should evoke the same sense of adventure as the source material did.  With the first installment it is there, but not enough.

I give it six  Dwarves sorry Monkeys.