Thursday, January 10, 2013

"I want to see mountains, Gandalf. Mountains!" (LOTR:FOTR)

I've seen The Hobbit. That new movie from Peter Jackson from J.R.R. Tolkien's book The Hobbit. The origin story of Bilbo Baggins and the One Ring. I've never read the book. Luckily, I went into the movie without preconceived notions of what would be in the movie. I knew Bilbo would get the Ring, somewhere, somehow.

So let's get into the movie from a story-telling standpoint, and how it belongs in the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) universe. Warning- here be spoilers.

It's a good story. Whether or not that story needs to be spread out into three movies, I'm not sure. I haven't read the book to see what parts can be eliminated. The challenges Jackson & Co. had to deal with was how to make the movie fit, being filmed over 10 years after LOTR. Actors age, and unfortunately there are CG programs that can de-age actors. I say unfortunately because it's implemented horribly. It looks like Bilbo is wearing a latex mask, poorly painted by people not good enough to win Face/Off (TV show on SyFy).

So there's that problem. Bilbo looks horrific. Outside of the clothes, he looks totally different in The Hobbit than he did in LOTR.

I'm a fan of the series, so it somewhat is discouraging for me to say this. Jackson went Lucas. As in George Lucas. As in, OMG CGI! CGI! CGI ALL THE THINGS!!!!! There's a point in the storytelling that gets overshadowed with the technological desires. Specifically, the underground capture and escape of the company. In the escape sequence, Dwarfs (Dwarfs, mind you) are running and/or sprinting across bridges, outcroppings, falling, sliding, and doing all manner of physical things in addition to fighting a non-stop onslaught of goblins/trolls/orcs (I don't know what they are).

Really. It looks worse than the charge out of the front gate at Helm's Deep. There are parts that the CG just takes all magic out of the movie. Lots of movies do that, sadly, and someday I might get used to it. But probably not.

It's a long story, with a lack of roller-coaster between scenes. It goes from adventure to stop, to adventure, to stop, to adventure, to stop. There's little storytelling. We have snippets and flashbacks of the main leader (not Bilbo). But there's nothing about the rest of the party. They're just there. Boromir had more depth than the others in the company. And that's because of the very frequent action. It plays out like those "long falls" in movies, where the character falls down somewhere, stops momentarily, then the table they're on collapses, and they fall again, until they hit the floor, which then gives way and they keep falling. On and on and on. The Hobbit is like that.

The other thing that let me down was the vastness of Middle Earth that was portrayed in LOTR. When the company starts off, the stunning cinematography present in LOTR is avoided in The Hobbit. That might have been a case of "They've already scene it before," but I think there are enough spots to create the Middle Earth world.

Maybe all this points are based on how the pacing of LOTR was. I wouldn't deny I was expecting something more akin to the first Middle Earth trilogy.

On the positive (since most of this is negative), Martin Freeman did a good job as a hobbit. He does a good job of epitomizing the reluctant hero. Even for a thief.

Overall I'll buy the blu-ray when it comes out, eventually, just to keep the franchise complete. It's not necessarily something non-die-hards need to see right away.

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