The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) Poster

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A visual feast but yet I wasn't gripped by the story or characters as much as I should have been
bob the moo26 January 2013
When I heard that there was to be a film version of The Hobbit, I was quite looking forward to it as the big finish of Lord of the Rings was still in my mind and, unlike LotR, I had actually read The Hobbit several times many years ago. When I heard that it might be two films I wasn't surprised but the news that it was to be three did rather dampen my spirits as I don't know if I had the interest for this story to be concluded as 2016 rolls into town. Regardless I did of course watch the film because it is still a large blockbuster and, at a time of the year normally filled with overly earnest Oscar contenders, I did quite like the idea of returning to this world again.

With this in mind I did wonder why I watched it with a surprisingly detached air and why I wasn't able to get into it like I should have done. I had some reservations with the first film in the LotR trilogy but this seemed different because it certainly wasn't a lack of action and forward motion that gave me a problem here. Quite the opposite actually because, once the first 45 minutes or so are out of the way then the action set-pieces come thick and fast and noisy. The opening hints at the power of the dragon to come before settling down for a gentle reintroduction to the Shire and then the characters we will follow; this section I found a little longer than it should have been and I could have done with a bit less noisy banter from the Dwarfs, since the film would provide much more from them. The majority of the film is the journey (or at least that bit of it that this film covers) and it produces plenty of action with great special effects really well integrated into the live action. So visually and technically there is plenty here. Problem is that little of it felt urgent or tense and actually the delivery of the constant action does rather detract from it.

With Fellowship of the Ring, the group was smaller and the development of the plot better; additionally the action was more scaled down and comparatively simple. Here we have set-pieces where it feels like everything has been thrown at the screen and every inch of every frame has been filled with movement wherever possible. This tended to overwhelm me rather than draw me in though and in effect the noise prevented me really getting into it. Likewise by the time I had seen the characters survive impossible situations and defy gravity for the third or fourth time, the film sort of lost the ability to make me believe there was danger involved – which is a problem given I was already being pushed away by how busy and noisy it all was. Tellingly the scene that worked the best for me was with Gollum; this scene had tension, had uncertainity, had threat and did it all with small movements and dialogue; also worth noting that while Gollum is of course another special effect, you don't notice it in that scene because you are focused on the content instead of the visual.

The cast sort of fit into this approach as well. While everyone is fine and does as required, at times they do tend to become part of the noise and effects rather than being characters. Freeman is a good Bilbo and his mannerisms work well (which helps negate his limited range) while of course McKellen is always welcome. The dwarfs didn't make much of an impression on me though, even if they all looked the part and delivered a few laughs. The rest of the cast are all fine but to be honest the effects are the main stars here and technically it is very impressive even if it is a bit overdone at times.

I didn't dislike The Hobbit but at the same time I was disappointed in it. The action is noisy and busy but there isn't enough to draw me into the story or to make the action thrill me so much as it did overwhelm me. Hopefully the second film will see the characters and plots grow me on so that I am more emotionally bought into the films, but for this first one I must confess to being surprised by how much the film seemed content to have me watch from a distance rather than draw me in and engage me.
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6/10
An Unexpected Disappointment
gorbadoc2513 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I was convinced the (many) criticisms I read beforehand were exaggerated and wouldn't bother me. To my surprise, quite some criticisms seemed justified in the end ...

***THE SCRIPT***

ADDITIONS: On paper, the additions looked like a great way to create added value. However, while I understand why they included them, they all feel out of place.

  • Opening scene: Ian Holm just looks too dissimilar from his appearance in FOTR (especially his haircut), which is really distracting. The frame story doesn't blend in naturally and the history of Erebor has too much to show in too little time.


  • Radagast: He appears as suddenly as he disappears. His scene in Dol Guldur really threw me out of the movie.


  • The White Council: I know the screenwriters want to underline the growing dark powers (hence the - preposterous - finding of the Morgul blade), but the empty talk about things of which we all know how they've played out in the LOTR films isn't convincing at all.


  • Azog: An appallingly one-dimensional character, who feels most out of place (the fact that he looks like a creature from a cheap horror movie also doesn't help ...). His scenes have a strange "un-Tolkien" vibe, particularly the battle of Azanulbizar (the worst scene of the movie), which doesn't feel like a fierce and thrilling battle at all.


FROM THE BOOK: The episodic structure prevents the film from having a fluid narrative and squeezes the tension out of every new dangerous situation: the events just leave you cold.

In the book, we experience everything through Bilbo's eyes, which creates a strong connection between the reader and the main part. This is missing from the movie: Bilbo even seemed to have more or less disappeared between the troll encounter and the stone giants' battle. His homesickness, his doubts, all of this isn't really developed in the script.

The emphasis on Thorin is a good thing, but also not perfect: during the enclosure by the Wargs, I didn't buy Thorin's charge towards Azog and especially Bilbo's sudden "action hero saves the day in the nick of time" intervention. The latter seemed like a very inappropriate way to illustrate Bilbo's courage.

There were actually only two great scenes: Riddles in the Dark is amazing, but ironically, it also painfully shows how mediocre the rest of the movie actually is, because this is the only moment that comes close to the level of LOTR. Also, Bilbo's speech after they've escaped Goblin Town is a very welcome, for rare touching moment.

***THE PACING***

It's quite astonishing some people complain about the pacing, because the film was over before I knew it. In fact, I think the pacing is about just right and proved it would have been really difficult to adapt the book in just one fully-fledged movie. But since I didn't like the additions, I'm doubting whether a third film is necessary after all (but I suspend my judgment until 2014).

***THE CINEMATOGRAPHY***

One of the biggest (unpleasant) surprises is the cinematographic style. I'm not talking about the bright colors or the digital images, but the (lack of physical) camera use. Whereas LOTR has stunning "real" camera movements and an extremely accomplished "handicraft" feel, AUJ often feels like a video game. The camera is flying and whirling so limitlessly that it just doesn't feel like an authentic movie anymore. This is particularly apparent during the Orc chase and above all the absurd Goblin Town escape. The CGI is perfect, but too much is just too much.

***THE MUSIC***

After my long list of complaints, I'm truly relieved to say there is at least one thing that unconditionally gets my support, which is the score. The people who unfairly label Howard Shore's work as a "re-hash of LOTR" obviously didn't pay full attention, because when you listen to the score multiple times (and I admit it also took me several spins to really appreciate it), you discover a new rich and diverse musical tapestry once again masterfully woven by Shore. OF COURSE you hear the same themes when EXACTLY THE SAME places are visited as in "The Fellowship of the Ring" ... If someone deserves credit for "The Hobbit", it's Shore: his music is in my view the only aspect of the movie on par with the level of LOTR.

***3D & 48 FPS***

  • The 3D was good, no complaints about that. However, although I have no problems with watching movies in 3D, I start questioning its necessity.


  • I am bewildered many people claim that 48 fps creates a "TV-look" with "actors with clear make-up on a fake set". I didn't have that feeling at all, but on the other hand - and this was the most surprising - the difference with 24 fps isn't THAT spectacular. After 30 minutes, I even had to remind myself: "Oh, I'm watching 48 fps, right?". Yes, the images look very clear and it does smooth fast movements, but the latter (which is positive) only sticks out a couple of times (and no, the motion never comes across as "sped up", so I was never distracted by the higher frame rate). All in all, I consider 48 fps to be an improvement over 24 fps (without diminishing the "cinematic" look of a film), but I didn't have the feeling I had witnessed a "revolutionary new cinema experience".


***** CONCLUSION *****

I didn't expect (or want) a replica of LOTR, but while "The Hobbit" isn't a bad movie, it isn't good either. I'm still perplexed I don't feel any urge to go see it again, unlike the LOTR films. We can only hope that Jackson recovers in time to save the next two films from unnecessary additions, lack of focus on Bilbo and a video game feeling. Well, at least we have new brilliant music to listen to!
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1/10
Yeahhhh! Graphics! Action scenes! AWESOOOME!
dlpburke16 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Let's kick off with the score I've given it. 5/10. That's for the reasonable job with the comedy, design, and things not related to story and pacing (with the exception of Gollum and the cave scene). I am tired of saying "The graphics are great, but..." I have rated it 1 here to reduce the average in order to reflect reality and not the fanboy love-in.

I am not going to sugar-coat this film or give it a good review just because people tell me I should. I am sick to death of sheep. I don't care if this is Tolkien or Jackson or how much money it took to make the film. If it's bad, it's bad.

Graphics count for nothing. The reason I watch a film is primarily for a great story and well written characters (I have to CARE about what is going on). I don't get dazzled by graphics anymore (if I ever did at all), and 3D action films do not make a film good. So right there is the problem with The Hobbit. The story is shallow and pretentious and cardboard. Let's run through why the film had me rolling my eyes throughout:

  • The introduction is way too long.


-The pacing is dire (and scenes that weren't in the book have been added).

-One brainless action scene after another for no other reason than to eat screen time (because the book is 300 pages and they are trying to maximise profits by having 3 films at 3 hours each). Watching 2 rock monsters fight for minutes is not captivating or cool, it's boring.

-Implausibility factor 10. I understand this is a fantasy. I understand that if everything was ultra realistic it would end up boring, but for heaven sake, that does not mean you can get away with what happens in this film. EVERY single scene shows something that would ordinarily kill someone. Fall down multiple ravines, battle 100's goblins with just a few men, rocks the size of cars flying at you... and no scratches, no deaths. It just doesn't work.

-Lazy writing. You know you are witnessing a lazy-ass story when your heroes are saved at the last minute EVERY time in multiple scenes. Where does that leave us? It leaves us with all main characters intact and no dramatic tension. Every scene you see a massive rock crush a character you know they aren't dead. Every time you see them perilously close to the edge of a cliff, you know that even if they fall, they will be saved and/or survive. Further to this point, smaller problems exist such as Bilbo never handling a sword to suddenly taking on killer beasts like he has been to He-Man training school.

-Cliché crap. The way Bilbo goes from being an outcast to being accepted is contrived and rushed and totally obvious. It just smacks of lazy cliché writing. The acting that goes with it is not good either. Kind of like "I once said... you weren't one of us... OH how wrong I was!" *Roll eyes time*. Then you have the White Orc that Thorin said he had slain, and you just KNEW it was coming back at the end for some sort of showdown, didn't you? Talk about obvious. I blame the film for this because the scenes involved in the exposition were way too see-through... might as well have had Thorin wink at the camera! That brings me onto the whole "Thorin dislikes Elves" angle, where you know the Elves are suddenly going to become important allies just so we can have a totally obvious and expected reversal. Wow, Thorin, you got Bilbo wrong and you got the Elves wrong too! DRAMA.

-Lack of character development (Think Final Fantasy XII if you are a gamer). This was the stake through the heart of this film... Most of the dwarfs are completely redundant and I could not identify or even accept Bilbo. This was due partly to the lack of character development, partly to the script and partly to the actor. Same goes for Thorin except the scenes he is in feel more like a bad soap opera than they do a "blockbuster" film.

It is just dull and lifeless and stupid. You shouldn't do things just because you can. The LOTR trilogy for the most part had decent pacing, and it didn't do things too fast, too soon, or for the sake of it. The original trilogy suffers from some the complaints above AT TIMES, but nothing like The Hobbit does... The Hobbit is in a league of its own. I went to watch an engaging movie and I got a cartoon.

The use of CGI is also glaringly obvious and fake; like with the prequels of Star Wars, when the movie cuts between humans and CGI blobs, your brain is onto it. Stop relying on CGI for everything. It's getting annoying, not to mention OLD. At least Jackson makes real sets so it isn't a total wash out.

There is some real potential in this film and it is squandered; whether that's because Tolkien wrote a flawed book, whether it is because he wrote a book that doesn't take well to a feature length movie or whether it is because Jackson messed it up, that's what we ended up with.

The Hobbit should have been 2 films, and making it 3 has been the final nail in the coffin.

So, I am sat here mightily annoyed that once again graphics and self indulgent, completely pointless action scenes have trumped good storytelling and pacing.

Of course, the film is still entertaining at times and the 3D visuals are fun, but for me it is a massive disappointment.

Visuals can not MAKE a film, but when used like in The Hobbit, they sure as hell can break it.
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2/10
I'm trying to keep an open mind here, but I just cant!
renoriders19 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I was about 8 years old when I was first introduced to the Hobbit from the animated 1 hour movie. The movie was a yearly event. As a child, it freaked me out. But, my Dad loved Glenn Yarbrough and the music, so, I was made to sit through it.

Since that time, I eventually appreciated the storyline of that silly cartoon and the characters from it. And, when I grew up, I read the book, and then the LOTR series and fell in love with them.

I think that you have to look at this movie from 2 points of view. From 1. Viewers like myself who fell in love with the books and original characters and are looking for some semblance of that universe in a movie. 2. Viewers, like my kids, who have never read the books and are fascinated by animated computer novels, games, and the unrealistic expectations of immortality in virtual super humans.

If you are type 1. You will hate this movie. It fell short of all of my expectations. The Hobbit is not an epic story. In other words, this story was short, a 300 page book. It was, however, an epic adventure seen through the eyes of a single character, a character who had a realistic perspective of his small contribution to the world around him. His character never wavered from that perspective as he watched events unfold and did what little he could to contribute and help. He never became the grandiose, cocky, tempered tough guy that this movie seems to try to portray him as.

"The Hobbit" was a story that sets up the universe that these characters lived in. Elves, Goblins, Orcs, Hobbits and Humans and other creatures defined their roles in this world and their conflicts. Then, the story moves on to show how a band of characters, plus the Hobbit, interacts in this world and the story unfolds giving a lesson and a way to perceive our own world and how we, as individuals, interact with it. It's a simple message, yet, the book finds a way to make this message profound giving the characters depth and meaning and focusing on the hobbit as one individual, insignificant in his eyes, in an amazing world. This most basic message which encompasses the entirety of the book is completely, 100% lost in the movie. The one line in the movie, by Gandalf, which was never spoken in the book, but, was the most significant and meaningful in this movie was, "All good stories need to be embellished a little..." That was an understatement.

If you are type 2, you might enjoy this movie. Tons of action, crazy cgi, most of the film is animated, and it attempts to tie into and be a prequel for the LOTR trilogy. Lot's of battles and fighting, immortal death defying falls (just like any computer game) that serves no purpose to define our mortality (since no one dies or even gets injured), last second cliff hanger rescues, gross ugly characters that sound goofy and look like Jar Jar Binks on steroids, pretty scenery, loud noises, explosions, more bad guys killed per second that you can shake a stick at and pretty much any other Hollywood formula that draws in money. And, that was just one movie in a trilogy that has no purpose other than to make lots and lots of money.

I took the Kids to watch this and spared no expense. IMax screen, popcorn, Icees, candy and some snacks. $100 down the toilet. The kids fell asleep during the first hour and I wanted to leave after the 2nd.
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1/10
Soulless commercial ride on the Hollywood roller-coaster
Bayandur Pogosyan25 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
THE QUALITY OF THE FILM Imagine "Spy Kids" with elements of Tolkien's writing. Technological demonstration, a large budget at the hands of a tasteless creative group. The CG animation of trolls was almost as ugly as in the Lord of the Rings. The only reason of making it 3D was making me cope with the uncomfortably of 3D. The dwarf parcour and scenes copied from the Lord of the Rings (compare the fight of Thorin and Azog with that of Isildur and Sauron), artificially added action-scenes and castrated non-action scenes spoke of lazy, commercial, mainstream work. Radagast's animal companions were Walt Disney's "Snow-white" bad.

THE PLOT The poor novella (yep, Lord of the Rings is a novel trilogy, The Hobbit - only a small novella, yet both amount a trilogy of films) was so stretched out that the original and added material could be equal to each other. And whatever was taken from the book, was mutilated for reasons unknown: in the book, Azog is a goblin, not an orc, and is killed by Dain, not Thorin, and his son Bolg replaced him in Moria. The "stone giants" are only a dwarf legend about thunder. Radagast isn't a main character in any Tolkien work I know, because he doesn't give a damn about the wars of humans, elves and the rest. The Dol Guldur conflict and the ousting of the Necromancer actually has nothing to do with "The Hobbit". There is no toilet humor in the scene with trolls - in the book, Gandalf gives the trolls advice in troll voice, makes them change their mind so many times that dawn comes. In the movie - a troll blows his nose on Bilbo, then Bilbo starts a lecture on tapeworms. An awful lot of cliché ("NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!", "I'm sure we're through the worst" *Dumb Dumb Dumb* DRAGON'S WOKEN UP!!!). It was made so it would please a diaper-wearing kid, but don't make them sad. I hate the tragic scene->happy end formula, which was abused, raped, killed, buried, taken out of the grave, raped again in this film.

THE HEROES The heroes were lacking any defining traits so intense in the book. Only a Hollywood template - smart-mouthed guys with tactless jokes. They were given one-liners/catchphrases to define them instead. It wasn't always easy to see the difference between certain dwarfs and the Great Goblin. In the book dwarfs are polite, but dry and greedy. In the book - kind-hearted heroic men, a bit stubborn, and loving to troll people now and then. Bilbo's not a conservative gentleman hobbit, who gets carried away by his curiosity for adventure, but a timid teenager. Gandalf isn't a powerful mage, but a well-informed homeless guy, Radagast is another one, and a schizophrenic in addition. Might as well fit in in Terry Gilliam's "The Fisher King" (awesome movie btw). Actually, there was no Bilbo character at all: there was a combined character of Frodo, Sam, Mery, Pin from LOTR.

Verdict - if you want Tolkien, read the book. The movie isn't worth watching even once.
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4/10
An unexpected disappointment
markdroulston13 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
"All great stories deserve a little embellishment." So says Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) in the most telling line in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Jackson's return to the world of JRR Tolkien. It's a line that clearly outlines Jackson and his co-writers' intentions, yet it comes off as a veiled apology, as if the film-making team knew that what they have created is going to be problematic for die-hard Middle Earth fans. Sadly, Jackson's new film doesn't come close to silencing the skeptics like his Lord of the Rings films did, and is actually more ill-conceived than expected.

Things that do work well for the most part in The Hobbit are sequences that come directly from the source novel. Iconic scenes, such as the arrival of the dwarfs at Bag End or the encounter with the trolls are handled pretty well, despite being padded out to unnecessary lengths with lame gags and pointless alteration of the original events in the book. Juggling such a massive primary cast is obviously a challenge, and as such the film's best moments involve only one or two characters, with Bilbo's (Martin Freeman) meeting of Gollum (Andy Serkis) and the finding of the ring being a particular stand-out sequence, the only one that seemed like it could have used more time.

However, all of the good work that Jackson & Co do with the direct source material is swamped by the content they felt they had to develop themselves. The great achievement of the LOTR films is how they managed to distill the huge source novels to their most important story beats, only hinting at most of the wider story in a way that brought incredible richness to the world in which they take place. With The Hobbit though, Jackson only has a 300 page novel to start with, and the decision to make three lengthy films, I assume to parallel the first trilogy, is precisely why this first film doesn't work.

The Hobbit should be allowed to stand alone as its own film, but it is structured in such a way, almost identically to the first LOTR entry The Fellowship of the Ring, that it's all but impossible not to compare them. As a side-effect, the much lighter tone will be jarring for a lot of established franchise fans, the very people the film seems to be primarily aimed at. The chase sequence in the goblin tunnels for example is little more than an updated version of the Moria scenes from LOTR. It's exciting enough, but much of the action feels in service of the film- making technology on display rather than the story, and as such none of the stakes of the earlier films are built here.

Where the LOTR films had to keep moving at such a pace to fit everything in, The Hobbit dwells on unnecessary moments which had only the briefest of mentions in the novel to reach its 2 hour 49 minute runtime. Most damaging are the call backs linking the previous trilogy, setting up what is likely to be an almost completely new story bridge between the two trilogies in the third film due in 2014. There is absolutely no reason for Frodo (Elijah Wood), Saruman (Christopher Lee), and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) to appear in this story, yet here they are, taking us away from a perfectly good narrative about a quest to fight a dragon. It reeks of cynical franchise care, and arguably disrespectful to the carefully crafted world that Tolkien created.

There's a good movie somewhere in The Hobbit, and had Jackson shown more restraint we might have seen it. The film could easily lose at least 45 minutes, but it feels as if director feels so beholden to his previous work that he needs to deliver an epic on the scale of LOTR. But that's not what this book is, and we're left with an uneasy balance - the lighter tone to distinguish this as a separate story but a strict adherence to the LOTR structure - but ultimately doesn't fulfill either side.

tinribs27.wordpress.com
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1/10
Critics are right fans wrong
Hurleyfanboy18 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
First came the original trilogy, a popular success and critically acclaimed. Then, some years later, a second trilogy began, a prequel to the original, and the first installment of this second trilogy turned out to be awful. We saw this pattern play out once, with "Star Wars," and now, alas, it begins again, with "The Hobbit," a movie that is exactly one Jar Jar Binks away from being as bad as "The Phantom Menace." The problem may be built into the design. The previous "Lord of the Rings" films were each based on a single book. "The Hobbit" - more like a children's novel than the other three, a kind of "Tom Sawyer" to their "Huckleberry Finn" - is just one book, smaller than any of the other J.R.R. Tolkien books, and yet it is being blown out into three enormous films. This first installment runs 169 minutes.

This puts a lot of pressure on a simple story, especially when you consider that director Peter Jackson and his screenwriters really can't take liberties with the tale, not without incurring the wrath of millions. They must work with what they have, and what they have is quite enough for one pleasing and inventive two-hour movie - or a nine-hour disaster stretched over three years.

This pressure, this obligation to stretch everything to the limits of endurance and beyond, is felt from the film's early minutes. Howard Shore's beautiful theme music, from the previous trilogy, filters in. We see the idyllic Middle-earth countryside and are introduced to Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins - Freeman was born to be a hobbit; he is ideal casting - and we settle in for a magical experience. And then, slowly, a fatal distance opens up between what we're hoping and what we're actually seeing.

Bilbo is a happy hobbit, a homebody who enjoys his creature comforts and doesn't have a violent impulse about him. Yet he is recruited by Gandalf the Grey Wizard (Ian McKellen) to join an expedition by dwarfs to retake their homeland from a dragon. See how quickly it takes to say that? Bilbo is recruited. Period. Yet the movie takes this tiny bit of crucial plot movement and dilutes its effectiveness: The dwarfs show up for an impromptu party at Bilbo's house. Bilbo frets about what the dwarfs will do to his house. Then the dwarfs clean up. Then Bilbo says he won't join their fight. But then he does. The film milks every detail of the text, every hint of vacillation in the main character, to turn water flowing downstream into molasses walking uphill.

It must be said that if you plan to enjoy "The Hobbit," it really helps to love dwarfs. Others may prefer hobbits - they're adorably idiosyncratic, small, chubby, eat all day, have big ears, and they're incredibly sincere. Still others may prefer the Olympian elves - beautiful, pristine, sure and eternal. But there is only one hobbit in the entire movie, and only one brief sequence involving elves. Otherwise you're stuck with the dwarfs, who are like Vikings - boorish, slovenly, hearty and heavy-drinking - and not exactly lovable.

The three "Lord of the Rings" were heavy on battle scenes, but "The Hobbit" is almost nothing but battles. Without a stopwatch, it would be hard to know for sure, but probably 50 percent of screen time is taken up with fighting - perhaps up to 80 percent if you count planning for and recovering from battles. Some of these battles have pockets of interest: A conflict with goblins plays out like a trapeze act, in three dimensions, with the combatants falling through space, landing and regrouping. But most of "The Hobbit" is like looking over Peter Jackson's shoulder to watch a computer screen.

Occasionally, when the smoke clears, we get a glimpse of what "The Hobbit" might have been, had Freeman's quirkiness and humanity been given a chance to set the tone. The movie really springs to life only when Freeman dominates, as when Bilbo falls into a cave and discovers Gollum, looking like James Carville but acting like Peter Lorre. It's an encounter worthy of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy - so is the all-too-brief scene between Gandalf and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett).

If you loved the earlier films, these are moments you will hold on to, but they're very few, and they're not enough.
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2/10
It's not adaptation - it's bastardization
Mark (m_a_singer)26 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I am bitterly disappointed by this film. It's noisy, jumbled, and chaotic, far too violent (it was a children's book, for heaven's sake!), and almost completely formless. The action sequences are just ridiculous, and what's worse is that they look fake - maybe an artifact of filming a 3D movie and then showing a 2D version, but something that you can't say of the LoTR movies. This was like a not very attractive cartoon.

Morevoer, even as stuffed to the gills as it is with material from Tolkien's appendices to LoTR and other things that should make the world come alive and draw you in to the back story, much of it doesn't makes sense. It's just a blitz of portentous talking between fights and chases. The acting may not be all bad, but nobody's even on screen long enough to actually act or is given anything to *do*. Ian McKellen's Gandalf has become a caricature and his performance no more than a collection of tics and mannerisms. Sylvester McCoy is embarrassing. At least half the dwarfs aren't' given enough actual acting time to create characters, which just makes the film even more cartoon-like.

Overall, watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was about as much fun as watching someone play World of Warcraft. I hate to say it, but even as someone who has been a scholarly Tolkien geek for decades, I may not bother to see the moves that are to follow. I'm afraid that may be a rather common reaction, too. Oh, well - maybe it will turn people toward reading the book (and Tolkien's other work) to see what the fuss was really about.
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4/10
A deliberately inflated work of fanfare, with eyes drawn acutely towards the box office
Likes_Ninjas9021 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This is the first of three films Peter Jackson has made to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien's prequel to Lord of the Rings. An elderly Bilbo Baggins writes to Frodo about the land of Erebor, where the Dwarf King Thror lost his land and prosperity to the dragon Smaug. Bilbo then recalls the earlier years of his life (played by Martin Freeman), where he's timid and lost his sense of adventure. Bilbo's complacency is questioned by the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen), who secretly arranges for a meeting to be held in the hobbit's house. One evening Bilbo is interrupted by thirteen dwarfs who invite themselves inside. He's told these dwarfs are in search of a home but need a burglar who can accompany them to the mountain where Smaug is and take back their land and treasure. Initially reluctant, Bilbo trails after the unit but this does little to impress Thorin (Richard Armitage), the dwarf leader and grandson of Thror, who doubts the hobbit's commitment.

Even without reading the novel The Hobbit, nothing erases the feeling while watching An Unexpected Journey that this is a deliberately inflated work of fanfare, with eyes drawn acutely towards the box office. Good cinema is defined by economics and how efficiently a story can be told with images. Peter Jackson demonstrated this skill with his Rings trilogy, gracefully balancing multiple narrative threads and characters, and ensuring each one possessed an appropriate amount of emotional weight.

Why then has he chosen to make a soulless, linear action movie, extravagantly scaled, but so insubstantial that it never justifies itself as the start of a trilogy? Penned by no less than four writers, including Jackson, this would have been more satisfying as one film with richer themes and selective action. Instead, a novel of barely 300 pages long is extended to nearly three hours, if only to showcase boring battle scenes and superfluous new technology, falsely touted as innovative.

The excess of Jackson's passion stems from his fascination with geek culture. Since the inception of his career in the 1980s, making low budget horror films, he has been concerned with subjects like the undead and the uncanny. His recent films have been criticised for being overly dependent on special effects. The trajectory of his career, from horror to global blockbusters, is not unlike James Cameron, who is coincidentally using Jackson's special effects studio Weta Digital to work on Avatar 2.

Both men have become transfixed by spectacle, with each of their films more elaborate and technically sophisticated than the last. They seem intent on blurring the lines between video games and cinema, which means more investment into technology and effects, rather than the scripts. Someone distanced from the source material and video game culture might have made The Hobbit less self-indulgent and plodding. A legal battle between Jackson and New Line Cinema meant Guillermo Del Toro was originally meant to direct the film but was eventually replaced.

As it stands, Jackson's love for video games is all too visible here. The script is short on themes, characterisation and subplots. It's overly rigid structure means the film becomes too absorbed in its sets and its environments, instead of the story. Each scene is like a level from a game, designed to showcase a gallery of monsters, which are cogs in the film's tired formula for suspense. Exposition is followed by danger and then an escape route. Press start to begin.

If the desire for a home offers some resemblance of a motive, it's regularly lost in the flurry of the action, most of which is extremely unengaging and lacking in tension. The film's one good scene admittedly adds some suspense and intrigue. It involves the reappearance of the monster Gollum and begins tying threads back to the Rings trilogy. The detail in Gollum's expressions, beautifully captured again by Andy Serkis, is even more incredible than before.

How do scenes like this, as overlong as they are, fare through the introduction of 48 frames per second? The standard frame rate for films has been to use 24 frames per second. The additional number of frames on the screen adds more detail and colour to the images. The trade-off is that it gives the illusion the images are moving much faster, which is very distracting. It's an unnecessary addition so if you must see the film, watch it in 2D.

Will fans enjoy the movie? Undoubtedly, but for most hardcore fans, more is always more. Consider the families who will now be paying for three movies instead of one, as well as the 3D surcharge, and must then wait another two years to finish the story. They're shown a footnote of a narrative here and that's not right.
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1/10
How to make money out of a 200 pages book
Jean-Philippe Body3 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
What a disappointment ! While I watched all LOTR movies with great enjoyment, this one is just a movie created to fill someone's pockets.

First of all, there is no suspense, no pace to the movie, nothing to give you that nice feeling of holding your breath during the whole movie eagerly awaiting what will come next. No, this was just a waste of 3 hours of my life.

Then the movie itself doesn't make sense, some examples: - the whole group except Gandalf is deep down a Gobelin mine, fighting the king and obviously loosing the battle. Then tadaaaa Gandalf appears, teleported or something, to save them all. And of course after that they have to run for hours to find the exit, instead of taking the path Gandalf took to enter ( or teleport back ). - again in the Gobelin mine, right before the exit, they defy all gravity rules, the king falls down first, then the bridge they stand on (which they use as a skateboard of course), and when they reach the bottom they get crushed 5 minutes later by the king who finally decided to finish his descent... - why did Gandalf call the giant eagles at the end of the trip and not on the beginning? Due to a lack of mots in the beginning area?

And I skip all the parts not in the book, just created to extend the length of the movie, allowing for 3 episodes.

Finally, I must admit the special effects are stunning, but all fights (and there are many of them) have a big problem; either you see the movie at 48fps and you have a big chance of getting sick (just google it) either your eyes will hurt at the end of the movie because of the fast and blurry scenes.
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4/10
Thanks for the Video Game. When is the Movie coming out?
PlugInYourBrain29 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Everyone expected The Hobbit to be a different movie from LOTR. LOTR is dark and sombre. The Hobbit is a children's book, albeit one that appeals to adults. We were expecting a lighter movie. What we got was a mess.

Jackson has made major changes to the book. That in itself isn't a bad: The LOTR book had weaknesses that Jackson's screenplay fixed, but the Hobbit was already a good "film size" book that didn't need changes. Jackson's rewrites, aimed at stretching a short book into three overly long films, ruined a good story.

An example is the addition of the White Orc whose gang chase the dwarfs everywhere. This boring, 1-dimensional villain gives an excuse for additional fight scenes, but these are emotionally unengaging. You never feel that anything is at stake.

Some have said Jackson had to stick to the source material. The thing is, he didn't. Everything has been rewritten into a fight scene. We have the absurdity at Trollshaws that the dwarfs attack the trolls, but then we wouldn't have Gandalf's iconic line "Dawn take you all, and be stone to you!" So the dwarfs put down their weapons and crawl into sacks to be eaten. LOLWOT? Gandalf's voice throwing is cut from the film, replaced with some unfunny dialog about worms. It doesn't add anything. It's not funny. It's change purely for the sake of change.

It's not like Jackson lightened it up to make it more appealing to kids: There is a lot of violence (e.g. Gandalf stabs the goblin king in the eye then slashes his belly open). Jackson just doesn't show any blood. No blood = kids movie. Got it?

Jackson added other tie-ins to the LOTR to try and pad the story out, but like the unnecessary cameos they will only make you groan. Jackson now even suggests Gandalf orchestrated the dwarf journey as a deliberate precursor to LOTR, as if he had an instinct that Bilbo would find the ring. It really makes no sense.

Dol Guldur was a wonderfully creepy place in the LOTR books, although it never appeared in the Hobbit. Jackson has Radaghast, a supposedly powerful wizard show up, flee in a panic after he sees a ghost. A ghost that can't even swing a sword. It just doesn't make sense. And then there is Radaghast's rabbit sled. Again not in the book. It's not funny. It's just stupid.

Much like George Lucas' flying R2D2, Jackson has changed characters. When Saruman and Gandalf fight in LOTR Jackson said he didn't want anything clichéd like Wizard Lightning. Yet in the Hobbit Gandalf's flash of light suddenly becomes a fireball killing hundreds of goblins at a time. Well gee Gandalf. Why didn't you tell us you could do that?

Jackson's elves have never looked like elves in any movie: More like blonde people with pointy ears, but in LOTR his dwarfs looked like dwarfs. In The Hobbit most of the dwarfs look like humans. Ridiculously Aragon... sorry, Thorin ... is man candy for female cinema-goers. What do you think, ladies? Come for the disembowelments? Stay for the romance? Like the whole Liv Tyler character he wrote into LOTR, it just doesn't work. Jackson needs to do a few romcoms to get it out of his system.

The CGI is very overdone. Characters fall from great heights. They get squashed by rocks. They walk away without a scratch. It feels a lot like a video game. You never feel emotionally invested. If Jackson must do rewrites, he should have killed some of the dwarfs. There are 13 of them after all, and losing a couple would have helped the audience care more about the ones that are left.

In the book the goblins lived in tunnels. In the movie they live in absurdly overdone CGI caverns. Someone needs to tell Jackson sometimes less is more.

How did Jackson, a director with such a good track record, make such a bad movie? Sometimes directors come out with good movies (e.g. George Lucas) and we think they are the hand of god. But then they come out with more movies, and you wonder if there isn't some luck involved or uncredited people in the background who weren't there this time? Jackson's King Kong shows not everything he touches turns to gold. Jackson is obviously overconfident, and the studio was too, but like George Lucas even if Jackson laid a steaming turd it would still make been hugely profitable. We've already hailed Jackson a genius, so he has nothing to prove to us except to make a lot of money. He's also very into video games. This movie feels very much like a video game.

The only good parts in this movie: Smaug's raid at the beginning, and Gollum's riddle scene. For 15 minutes out of 3 hours you will be entertained. The rest is slow, boring and emotionally unengaging; silly without being funny. The CGI is overdone. Being a Middle Earth story many people will see the movie anyway, and most will be disappointed.
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1/10
Why make $1billion on 1 film when we can make $3 billion on 3 films.
larfstem8 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The Hobbit is absolutely terrible. Maybe the most uninspired musical I've ever seen. Its like they reshot the lord of the rings with a veneer of hobbit overlaid on top.

how many rube goldberg cgi events can you put in one film? Swinging bridge jump, swinging giant foot jump, more swinging bridge jumps, collapsing rock jump, etc.

rabbit powered sleighs, goblin goiters with shakespearian English accents, hunky dwarf king, and somehow the 3d model of the giant white god guy from prometheus got a role as an orc.

the whole time i kept thinking about the marketing meeting that resulted in it becoming 3 films, 'why make $1 billion off 1 film when we can make $3 billion off 3 films.'

the only emotion i had during the entire film was hatred...for Peter Jackson the soulless nazgul.
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4/10
Huge disappointment
waitera-558-4836318 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
If misstepping were an aerobic exercise, Peter Jackson would be in excellent shape. Although I am loath to admit it, this adaptation of "The Hobbit" is unsatisfactory in many, many ways. It strikes me as Tolkien meets "Bad Taste," meets "Braindead," meets the Feeblest excuse for a three-film extravaganza. After foolishly buying tickets for two screenings in advance, I have now had the displeasure of seeing the film twice in 3D HFR. The experience leaves me embarrassed to have invested so much gleeful anticipation into the release of this film. It very nearly taints my love for the LotR films, though in the end that love remains intact. Here are just a few of the serious issues I observed: 1. The screenplay departs wildly from the heart of this whimsical tale. Two themes are central to the book: first, the moral bankruptcy arising from greed and the lust for gold. This stems in part from Tolkien's adaptation of the Volsungsaga, wherein a dwarf turns into a dragon through greed. Thorin is becoming a dragon (metaphorically). Second, the self-discovery of Bilbo and his emerging moral strength, set within the symbolism of a seasonal journey from spring to spring. This first film does almost nothing to set up these points, aside from some cringe-worthy and heavy-handed dialogue that violates PJ's oft-stated stricture against saying instead of showing (in film). Bilbo's development is too sudden and inadequately motivated in the film. What little emotional payoff exists is forced and manipulated, not earned by what precedes.

2. Other weak choices in the screenplay include the following: (a) inappropriate lowbrow humor (is the whole audience supposed to be ten years old?); (b) frequent, pointless references to LotR dialogue (compare "The key is yours now" to "The ring is yours now," to cite just one example); (c) excessive exposition and flashbacks; and (d) heavy-handed clunkers everywhere (along the lines of Legolas's "a diversion" zinger in RotK (for example, "if there's a key, there must be a door" or "after sickness bad things happen). Seems the screenwriters aren't counting on an intelligent audience.

3. Mystifying errors: (a) the grass is golden brown in the land before Rivendell. It should be June, not late summer. One expects more green. Yet Thorin says earlier that the summer has nearly passed. This ruins the seasonal symbolism of the journey. This is not the much-vaunted fidelity to text. Jackson invents material needlessly, and never for the better; (b) Why do the dwarfs gawk at Balin's back-story about Thorin as if they hadn't already heard it? (c) Why is there no blood on Bilbo's sword after he stabs the orc near the end of the movie? This road goes ever on and on, but I'll stop here.

4. Mystifying plot/story decisions (fodder for cuts): (a) Azog is ridiculous, fake-looking, and pointless; (b) Radagast has no place in this film and is beyond ridiculous with his bird-poop hair and stupid bunny-sled; (c) even Rankin/Bass understood that the place for the Erebor back-story was to insert visuals over the song at Bag End: the song is an oral history of dwarfs. So PJ gave us the same story twice, and the first time told by the wrong person (Bilbo); (d) the stone giants are way over the top, recycling Moria and Caradhras staging from FotR, and badly overstating the way Tolkien tends to invest nature with intention; (e) the White Council should, at best, have been shifted to the second film (as part of the Mirkwood material); the desperate attempt to darken the story by including the Necromancer completely unbalanced the tone. Overall, the narrative structure of the film is confused, with a gross overemphasis on set-piece action, so unbelievable as to jar the viewer right out of the film. It lacks enchantment and it lacks an understanding of the source material.

5. The 3D HFR, though spectacular at times, is a nearly total catastrophe, or perhaps the film was not ready for release. Everything outdoors is badly over-lit. The worst example is the company riding through a rainstorm, where (a) they appear to be moving in between the raindrops and (b) the sun appears to be shining everywhere from all directions. The characters do not blend organically with their environments. Rivendell looks like a matte painting. The film is often (but not always) ugly, period. And I don't see how the 3D served the storytelling at all, moths flying out into the theater notwithstanding. Spectacle is not a substitute for character development and emotional resonance, both of which this film sorely lacked.

Enough. Sir Peter: please, I beg of you, try to fix these sorts of problems in the next two films. This entry was dreadful, in spite of the widespread (apparent) fan adulation. You are better than this. I fear the cinematic "precious" is lost . . . loooost!
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1/10
An Unbearable Journey
ApeLieUproar8 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I hated pretty much everything about this movie, but here are the main points:

Expanding on Tolkien's mythology: Presumably, the reason you should "never trust an Elf!" (Gimli's line in TFotR) is because Elves turned their back on the Dwarfs when they were being attacked by Smaug? What were they expected to do against a dragon and why were they just standing there anyway? This is basically adding a whole new level of mythology. A no-no, unless it's an improvement and that's not the case here.

The dwarfs: They looked ridiculous to me and their behavior was annoying. But no dwarf was more off-putting than Thorin with his ludicrous fur-trimmed leather duster, Rob Zombie do and constant glowering. Ugh.

The introductory scene takes too long but, given all this time, you'd think Jackson would try and be more faithful to the book. But, no, he still manages to mangle it. Anyway, the next day, after Bilbo has decided not to go the day before (he wasn't really given the choice in the book), he just…goes. And it's very interesting that he's able to, on foot, overtake Gandalf and the dwarfs all riding along briskly on horseback. And when he does catch up, he's offered a pony, which he at first declines. Why? Bilbo had nothing against riding a pony.

Azog: The footnote springs to cinematic life and has a vendetta against Thorin. But the character in the LotR Appendix, for all of his two-pages of appearance and death at the hands of Dáin, is still more bad-ass than the video game reject in AUJ. Anyway, if Jackson wanted to go this route, it would have made more sense to just go with Azog's son Bolg, who will appear anyway.

Trolls: or, how to take an amusing sequence from the book and drain it of any humor whatsoever. Actually, that opinion applies to the whole movie. But, instead of Gandalf employing ventriloquism on the trolls and getting them to fight each other, Bilbo tells them the dwarfs have parasites and Gandalf gets to break a rock in two. Yawn.

Radagast: An utterly ridiculous and repellent visualization of another footnote character, with his ridiculous dying hedgehog, rabbit-drawn sleigh and poo-smeared face. But that's just my opinion. But why is he in the movie at all? To tell Gandalf about the Necromancer, I guess. But if Gandalf doesn't already know this (as he does in the book) where did he get the map and key from Thráin (Thorin's father) who (in the book) was a prisoner in Dol Guldur? Presumably, he wasn't in Dol Guldur in the movie. So where is he? It's basically glossed over. In any case, the very idea that Greenwood is turning into Mirkwood right before Radagast's eyes at the start of the movie just strikes me as a desperate and weak attempt to create a sense of urgency and menace. The spiders are even seen entering the forest as if to take up their positions. Also in any case, Gandalf's very reason for being in Middle Earth is to help combat the Necromancer (aka Sauron). For him not to know about his presence in Mirkwood is, sorry, just witless.

Apparent invulnerability: None of the protagonists get hurt in this movie. Stone giants fall on them, they get up. They fall a hundred feet, they just walk it off. Goblins (who, for some reason, are portrayed as distinct from orcs) attack in droves, they just cut them down like wheat. Thorin does later fall unconscious (from a blow that should have crushed his skull), but he later turns out none the worse for wear. Even if these characters weren't profoundly irritating, why should I care about them if they're not in any danger? And enough with the fake deaths. Did anyone watching this really fear the titular character might fall to his death halfway through his own movie?

Riddles in the "Dark": Finally, some resemblance to the book, except even here there are details changed for no good reason. And couldn't they have toned down the lighting just a bit more to give some impression of darkness? As for Gollum himself, it's hard to find fault with Andy Serkis, except that Gollum is now basically a celebrity and practically played like one in the film. He no longer surprises, frightens or disturbs in the least. The cosy lighting doesn't help at all.

Bilbo the Badass: Bilbo kills a Warg (which, though strong enough to uproot a tree, will drop with a single arrow or sword thrust/hack). Later he savagely kills an orc. Where'd this come from? Perhaps to make up for Frodo being a wuss in those other movies? Whatever the case, it's so far out of left field, it's just seems tacked on.

Eagles: Gandalf just happens to spot a moth nearby in the tree he's climbed up to avoid the orcs and wargs. How convenient. And the book's explanation for the eagles doesn't work because…? There really is no good reason. Jackson wants to make full use of the eagles, but only as devices; he's averse to giving them any back story or personality or anything. You'd think with his apparent love of exposition and the characters making speeches all the time, something could have been said about them, but no, the eagles just drop them off and depart. They're nothing more than deus ex machina. Granted, there are challenges to following the book more closely here but I still think Jackson takes the cheap way out.

Final scene: Bilbo blithely states "I do believe the worst is behind us." Really? Why would he believe this while looking at a mountain that is 1) still leagues distant; and 2) he knows contains a fire-breathing dragon?

I will be surprised if even morbid curiosity compels me to watch any more of these.
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9/10
The rather numerous negative professional reviews almost made me lose hope. Turns out they were wrong. The Hobbit is a fantastic film.
Munin7513 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, let me first say that while I enjoyed the LOTR trilogy, and admired the directorial and technical greatness of it, I'm no LOTR fanboy, and I also recognize its flaws. I'm saying this so that one understands that I'm not the type of person who will blindly speak greatly of any film of the Tolkien/Jackson series if I don't feel it deserves it.

This being said, I have difficulties understanding some of the negative professional reviews which said The Hobbit is a failed attempt, and not as good as LOTR. The artistic and directing style are exactly the same (so I won't comment on this more). I also wasn't expecting to like the 48 fps since I'm the kind of guy who squints even at high definition TVs, but surprisingly, I thought it looked great in The Hobbit, and I think 48 fps is the future. There are slow moments in The Hobbit, broken regularly by excitingly over the top action scenes. Again, just like LOTR - so I don't see why one would like the original trilogy and not The Hobbit.

The Hobbit is perhaps a little less dark in tone than LOTR, considering the source material which is more of a children's book, but it's clearly not a children's movie anyway, and displays many exciting and stressful moments. It also offers something more than the LOTR, that is five genuinely important villains right then and there. The dragon Smaug, in this first film, is like Sauron in the LOTR. A distant, mysterious figure who is the ultimate goal of the quest, whom we don't see much of yet, but we know it's going to be brutal. The "necromancer" is mostly alluded. Those who know the book will know who that is, and he'll surely be important in the sequels. Azog, the giant orc, is a main villain and is much more appealing than the Uruk-hai chief in Fellowship of the Ring, or any other orc villain in the LOTR series. The Goblin King also has a strong key role in the movie. And of course, Gollum, who's riddle scene with Bilbo is fantastic.

Martin Freeman as Bilbo is superb and there couldn't be a better choice. The rest of the cast is pitch perfect as well. While the 13 dwarfs are too many for us to get to know each and every one of them well enough by the end of this first movie, I didn't feel it was a downer. We got to know at least a third sufficiently - and I'm sure we'll get to learn about and appreciate the rest in the subsequent films - this allows us to still have characters to discover later on.

Anyway, great film. I think it's better than Fellowship, and I'll be seeing it again for sure and can't wait for the sequels.
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6/10
It can only get better....can't it?
Tony Murphy19 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Watched the IMAX 3D HFR version.

I have been eagerly awaiting the release of this movie for the last few years ever since it started production, and my early thoughts are not brilliant.

Technically there has been a lot of discussion about the 48fps and I'm afraid to say it wasn't a comfortable viewing experience. Whereas in the LOTR trilogy you really got that sense of a grand cinematic epic, it just wasn't there in this version. I really wanted it to be something new and exciting, but it looked gimmicky and false a lot of the time, only the latter scenes with the Pale Orc and Bilibo's encounter with Gollum drew me into the movie. At times the image, crystal clear as its was, did feel like a HD home camcorder had been used and certain scenes did seem sped up. What is interesting is watching the trailer at home on a home cinema setup, it looked much more like LOTR in quality and feel then the IMAX version. This is the first ever movie using this technology so I will give it the benefit of the doubt, but eagerly await the Blu-Ray in a years time.

The story itself suffers from the feeling of being padded out at every opportunity, I have no idea why we had to see cameo's of Frodo and Galadriel, I believe even Legolas will make an appearance in a future episode. The Hobbit is a very different story, which can be read in an afternoon, it does not need to be a 9 hour epic like it's predecessors.

The dwarfs comedy seemed over hammed, feeling very corny at times, the troll scene was nowhere near as good as the books, and why omit Gandalf's voice throwing?

I'm not even going anywhere near the mess that a certain Brown wizard brought to the film.

As a lifelong fan of Tolkien's work, and Mr Jackson's LOTR trilogy I left very disappointed.

Here's hoping the second installment is an "Empire Strikes Back" and redeems PJ's credibility
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4/10
Peter Jackson lost on this one
trodfar6 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The Hobbit is a relatively short book written as a prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is NOT a trilogy, and even though LOTR is comfortably presented as a trilogy, it was written to be one very long book in three parts.

The Hobbit would have made a fine movie-- a single movie. There is enough characters, places and creepy scary things to jam-pack a good 2 1/2 hour cinematic experience. But Jackson lost when he took a short book, wrote a screenplay for three movies, added unnecessary characters and plot lines wholly irrelevant to Tolkien's intent, failed to expand on perfectly good themes inherent in the book, and overwhelmed the viewer with a saturated screen in almost every scene.

In the first places, dwarfs work in mines traditionally because they are small humans with corresponding human strength, and they can fit where normal humans cannot go. Funny thing is, most of the dwarfs in this movie do not look like dwarfs at all!

Inasmuch as I love Bilbo Baggins-- and the choice of the adorable Martin Freeman was an excellent one-- this movie should have been called "Thorin Oakenshield", rather than "The Hobbit". Most of the story and camera time is spent on Thorin and his greedy pursuit of gold (which is changed for political correctness to read: we need a homeland!). I would have loved to have seen more of the Shire, more of Bilbo doing his Hobbty things, BEFORE the deluge of the 13 uninvited dwarfs.

The best scene in the entire movie was with Bilbo and Gollum. Fine camera-work, excellent CGI, excellent acting, perfect timing. Serkus should get an Oscar whether the character is CGI or not.

One of my favorite scenes in The Hobbit is the rescue from the Orcs by the eagles. Tolkien is clear to show the size difference between the races of Middle Earth-- large wizard, small dwarfs, even smaller Hobbit. I was disappointed that in most scenes Bilbo looks the same size as the dwarfs. It would have been sharper and truer to the story to make sure he was CGI-ed into a smaller fellow yet.

The Hobbit was written for a younger audience than LOTR and the language and imagery is thus more suitable to pre-teens. If Jackson had kept the childlike nature of the story going, rather than making a good half or more of it of fierce, endless and repetitive battle scenes, it would have been a better movie. No charm! No magic! it was just a bunch of brutal battles where everyone continues to escape unscathed! A cartoon version would have been more realistic.

The funniest scene in the whole movie would be for Monty Python fans alone. When the group reaches sight of the elven city, Bilbo exclaims, his face full to the camera, "RIVENDELL"!!! It reminded me of Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table in turn exclaiming "CAMELOT!" ("shhhh! it's only a model") I cannot believe that Jackson could not see that reference (or maybe he really did!)

Jackson has gotten too Middle-Earthed for his own good. My hope is that the next installments produce some of the charm of the Bilbo-Gollum scene without loosing the beauty of its New Zealand scenery. Slow down, less fighting, more time to see the scenery, more time to know the characters. We don't need more big sloppy ugly things to fight!
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3/10
Strays from the book...and cheapens the story
Warren Ludford26 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
First, let me say the Lord of the Rings movies were all first-rate and stayed pretty close to the original Tolkien books. Unfortunately, The Hobbit is not, because it does not. It really is a bad movie by design. Choices were made to add slapstick comedy and fabricate added story lines which bloat, rather than add, to the movie, and quite simply to stray from the book liberally (presumably) for commercial reasons. The choice to do so is curious given the overwhelming success (commercial and critical) of the LOTR formula of being faithful to the books.

Radagast, for example, who was mentioned in name only in the book, appears in the movie as something of an idiot wizard riding a sleigh powered by eight tiny... bunnies. I'm not kidding. This is perhaps the worst example of how Peter Jackson has botched the story and put the LOTR movie franchise at risk of ruin, presumably to appeal to a younger crowd and stretch it into 3 movies for commercial purposes. There are many other examples of this, which cause you to leave Tolkien's world and wonder why the story was cheapened and botched at the hands of a director who did so well with the LOTR trilogy.

I didn't mind fleshing out the 'necromancer' story line that was only hinted at in the book. But so many of the best scenes in the first part of the book were all disappointing in the movie, having been altered for the worse.

Lastly, I don't like how they changed the character of Bilbo Baggins. In the book, Bilbo (and the dwarfs for that matter) are basically out- matched and scared when the meet up with each of the foes in the first part of the book. Bilbo, after reluctantly joining the group, is basically scared and miserable the whole first part of the book. In the movie, Bilbo is portrayed more as a home-body who'd just rather be at home, but not terribly scared of trolls or orcs or goblins or dragons, they're just not really his cup of tea. And the somewhat fabricated theme toward the end of Bilbo deciding to help the dwarfs 'find their home' and help them get their home back is another disappointing alteration.

There are many smaller details of the movie that also work to cheapen it, but I think you get the picture. The only reason for 2-stars instead of 1-star is the production values, which are as good as the LOTR trilogy. The movie is nominated for a makeup and production design Academy Awards, but a telling comparison with the LOTR trilogy is the absence of any nominations for writing or direction or picture. Both 'Fellowship' & 'Return' won best adapted screenplay,and were nominated for Best Picture ('Return' won). The Hobbit could be nominated for worst-adapted screenplay- and seems was a conscious, if incredibly poor, choice by the writers and director- who did so well adapting LOTR to the screen.

Equally disappointing is what might have been. Instead of adding superfluous story lines, they could have made The Hobbit much smaller in scale compared to LOTR (which it is) and more personal. Instead of starting with a Bilbo that is something of a home-body and not into adventures, they could have started with a Bilbo who secretly always wanted to go on an adventure- but was too afraid and too conforming to society to do so- until Gandalf pushed him along (in the book Bilbo was always into maps, etc. which is meant to suggest this). From there, they could have portrayed the company of dwarfs as serious and determined in their purpose, but totally unprepared for the challenges that awaited them. There could have also been some focus on how miserable Bilbo was in the conditions- the mud, no food,and longing for home- and the friction and disrespect for him by most of the dwarfs. They might have also included how the elves made fun of them when they arrived in Rivendell, and Gandalf's own disdain for many of their failings, and that their adventure isn't his main concern. Adding a troll scene that was true to the book would make a far more compelling Act I.

Act II could have started with the company entering the mountains and the cave scene. Instead of having them fall hundreds of feet through a trap door unscathed, followed by an hour of slapstick gore battle sequences, they could have had the goblins catch them and bring them chained through the tight confines of the dark tunnels in the book, rather than the expansive open pits in the movie. Being faithful to the book in this case would have led to more suspense and terror- like when the Black Riders first appeared in 'Fellowship'. That would have set the stage for Bilbo's encounter with Gollum, and a more tense, drawn-out riddle scene where Bilbo is more at risk and Gollum in control. After a tense escape from the tunnels- once again finding themselves out-matched by the goblins and wargs as they get trapped a top burning pine trees (as in the book), only to be saved once again- this time by the eagles. Expanding the 'necromancer' story line, which I thought a worthwhile addition, might add some time and make it about a 2 hour movie, with still plenty of plot for an additional 2 hour finale.

As it was, I came away thinking of a line that Gandalf used after recounting the story of Bullroarer Took to Bilbo early in the movie. When Bilbo replied "you made that up" Gandalf replied, "all good stories have some embellishments." Perhaps this line served as a bad excuse for what was to follow. The Hobbit already was a good fantasy story, as time has proved. It didn't need slapstick and gore embellishments. It's too bad Peter Jackson couldn't leave well enough alone- to the ruin of the LOTR movie franchise.
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3/10
I can read the book faster than I can watch all 3 movies
catbob-cg31 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
When I first heard that Peter Jackson had decided to make "The Hobbit" into three movies I was rather surprised. "The Hobbit" is not a long or complex book. Just a simple story with some good characters and a good plot that moves along briskly. Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said of the movie, the first of three. Jackson had four screenwriters, which may explain why this movie is such a muddle, and may also explain its inordinate length. I figure that after all the movies are made I'll be able read the book faster than watch all three movies. The movie is very slow moving, even many of the fight sequences. I fell asleep at one point and awoke dismayed that the movie still had an hour to go.

********* Spoilers********Spoilers*********Spoilers**************** The tedium of the movies was not its only problem. Apparently the quartet of writers think they are better writers than Tolkien. So many things were changed in the movie that it would take too long to enumerate them all. The worst was the treatment of Radagast the Brown, who was not even really in the book. Instead of making him a wizard of intelligence and power, he was portrayed as a buffoon in rags, complete with bird droppings all over his head. The only bright spots in the movie were Martin Freeman as Bilbo and Andy Serkis as Gollum. The scene where Bilbo acquires the ring of power is straight from the book and worth watching. Too bad I can't say the same for the rest of the movie.
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3/10
Corny
mentor3977 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Two things - One, old Toby isn't apparently the tobacco I thought it was, and two, they smoked too much of it. I'm not going to get into the changes from the books to the movie(s). I liked the books. If the books weren't as great as they were, the movies would never have been made. Then, it stands, there should be little reason to change the bulk of the story. Ah well, I said I wasn't going to get into it.

I understand The Hobbit book was a bit... less serious than The Lord of the Rings. Radagast was a bit odd, but hardly the lunatic I saw in this movie. I really don't understand the bit about the rabbits, except that Peter Jackson was smoking some um "Old Toby" weed while writing the script.

Finally, I grew up playing RPGs - real table-top ones, like MERP. Those orcs looked scary. These just look deformed. Worse, the Great Goblin didn't look intimidating as much as he just looked diseased. Yeah, I suppose there was drama in worrying you might catch something from him, but aside from that there was little to fear there. And Dwarfs - half the Dwarfs barely had beards.

Ah well. If you're looking for an extension of The Lord of the Rings movies, this isn't really it. If you're looking for the book, well, you know this isn't it. If you're looking to spend three hours wondering what's in the water on set, this might be a good place to start.

-- Edit. Seriously IMDb? Tolkien had a big long discussion about it in one of his books - an appendix, I think, where he discusses the term Dwarfs. I even type it the way he wants it and IMDb changes it automatically to this. Dee - Double You - Ay - Ar - Vee - Ess.
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The Hobbit - An Unexpected Disappointment...
law7127 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
(Disclaimer - this is no detailed review of the movie, as I'd have to watch it again to do so, just a couple of impressions when first seeing it) While I really enjoyed all the LOTR movies (well, except the occasional Jar-Jar-Binksish shield-surfing elf...) and consider them as what could count as a decent adaption of the books to the totally different medium film, The Hobbit left me a bit speechless.

The film starts at a quite unhurried pace, which is okay, thinking about the source material. But why the heck did PJ have to do a "different angle" section of Bilbo's birthday party, and then just stop to carrying on? Waste of time and film.

What struck me most about this movie - how much silly and unnecessary stuff has been put into this movie: - Gandalf & Radagast: two wizards who have a status of some kind of angel or archangel in Tolkien's mythology, now are just two pot-smoking dopeheads, one of them having a certain liking of magic mushrooms as well and driving around on a summer sleigh with Rudolf the Rednosed Racing Rabbit? C'mon.

  • 13 dwarfs and one wizard redo Indiana Jones' mine car bonanza from Temple Of Doom, defying all laws of logic and physics - bravo...


  • We have an orc guy called Azog, who serves as some kind of cannon fodder in the books. Why the heck does PJ seem to put him up as the antagonist of the following parts? He could've been killed, he should've been killed.


  • Gollum. He'll pretty much will end up on the Academy Awards list for special FX, but unfortunately his character was much more convincing in LOTR.


  • Silly, silly jokes. Too many to mention. You'll know what I mean when you see the movie.


  • Why-oh-why do all underground-dwelling creatures have to carve one big hole into the earth to stuff it up again with fragile bridge constructions that are bound to collapse the second after they've been built, not even speaking of the occasional pack of adventurers running berzerk? And things like these go on and on and on...


Honestly, I considered leaving the theatre after one-third of the second half of the movie (yes, there's a pause). I'm not really sure if I really want to go to see parts 2 and 3 or wait for a home entertainment release instead.

4 points for being a Tolkien movie, but not meeting my personal expectations.
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5/10
They should have asked a Tolkien fan
Garry Hornby25 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The Hobbit suffers from all the faults of LOTR but to a greater degree. Most seriously, the Garden Of Eden that Middle Earth should have been is instead a grey and barren place looking like it all turned into Mordor long ago; it's a land without beauty not worth fighting for and the remaining High Elves ought to depart for Valinor with all due haste. If Dracula ever needs a new abode he'd feel right at home in Rivendell and Moria consists of a series of fragile wooden platforms rather than tunnels lovingly hewn from the living rock over centuries by the Dwarfs.

The jerky action sequences are ludicrous. Jackson persists with having his characters miraculously survive while the world around them crumbles. The company live through their mountain path standing up to become a rock giant, rickety bridges disintegrating into splinters, and being thrown from the tops of tall trees as they are felled by the impact of wargs. I don't recall any of these happenings in the book itself. Why the screen writers felt the need to change the story in these and so many other places I'll never know. If they thought they could improve on the original author, they were very wrong.

If The Hobbit had been made by a Tolkien fan it would have been an infinitely better film. If you are a true Tolkien fan, stay well clear. I'll leave the final word to Christopher Tolkien, who says it far better than I ever could:

"Hollywood has turned Tolkien into a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time. The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away."
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1/10
Ask an illiterate to direct a Nobel worth work and he will give you a bad B-movie
cablooie24 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
OK, that's what happens if you let a soulless illiterate with no knowledge nor respect like Peter Jackson direct a Nobel worth book into a movie.

He is barely knowledgeable to direct a popcorn flick. What do you expect? A miracle? It simply didn't happen, this movie sucks from beginning to end and all it achieved, while making tons of money, is to irritate Tolkien's books lovers and connoisseurs (and there are many of us out there).

I doubt Peter Jackson even ever read Tolkien's books, because if he did, THAT would really give his doctors some good reasons to rethink his medication administration.

Peter, life ain't 50% MTV and the rest video-games. There is literature as well. We appreciate you aren't interested, so leave it alone.

2 more partners (one literally so) in crime:

1) Fran Walsh (Peter's untalented wife Jesus, he hired his wife... She's pretty, I will give you that... BUT: former member of a lousy punk rock band and author of a few embarrassingly awful B-movie scripts, all of them for Peter. WOW what an impressive CV, let's hire HER as screen writer for one of the most known and loved masterpieces in the history of mankind. The Lord Of The Rings. He his overweight and unattractive, she looks gorgeous, we all know how it works, you want to make her happy (or have to?). Why don't you produce her punk rock album? Buy her an Aston Martin. Must an all time literature wizard be involved at all cost? God help us, could Jackson not hire his children as hobbits, his dog as Gollum and his grandpa as Gandalf and make it a silly TV comedy-reality show with laugh track? It looks like he just doesn't give a damn);

2) Philippa Boyens (the "writer" responsible of most of the dumb-ideas-inspired-destruction in The Lord Of The Rings script. After misunderstanding completely the original story of a masterpiece worth a Nobel, she had the nerve to say she knew better than Tolkien himself how to keep high the tension of the story. She actually said that in an interview, I promise. Probably a pronoid (person convinced, despite any visible evidence, to be considered a genius by everybody). Problem is she isn't close to be as talented as arrogant. Her scripts are awful. Something a bored hair dresser would have better written during the manicure pause while watching Desperate Housewives on TV). Wasn't there a REAL writer available? As the things she says truly are incredible, I will quote a part of her interview, about the reasons why she turned Faramir, one of the most subtle characters in the story, into a brainless idiot.

""If you're trying to up the tension, you don't have your main characters captured by someone who sort of interrogates them, but, not really, who then offers them a cup of tea and says, 'I'll do anything I can to help you.' It's death on film. And it's not just the effect that the character out of the book has on Frodo and Sam's journey, it's the effect that character has on the Ring. You've just been desperately trying to establish that this is the most evil thing ever created, it's tearing apart the mind of your main character, it's reduced this other character to this miserable creature Gollum, and now you come along someone who says, 'I would not touch this thing if it lay on the highway.' You've just stripped the Ring of all its power.""

Is this amateur really saying that LOTR needs her support to up the tension? Editing the story because it's not effective? Was Tolkien wrong in the description of HIS OWN characters? "You've just stripped the Ring of all its power"... well, pity J.R.R.Tolkien is no longer with us, it took him over 40 years to write The lord Of The Rings. He would have loved your corrections on his work, Mrs grammar school. Was there really need of such brains, Peter? 99.99999% of this world loves and knows Tolkien and his work, and you hire the only person who doesn't to write a script? The only turd who thinks she knows better than he did? Good choice...

The 2 "writers" who had the nerve of destroying the work of a genius flattening a deep, multi-layered masterpiece into a collage of daft garden variety and redundant CGI manure (remember Donkey-Kong-Faramir? Remember Super-Legolas using a shield as a skateboard or Hyper-free-climbing on the back of an oliphant crossbred with a skyscraper? All in all worth Gremlins without Gremlins fun to it. Remember Tom Bombadil? No? Totally wiped out from the story... Why? No reason), probably thinking that quantity can make up for quality. No, it doesn't work that way.

Read the books. LOVE the books. UNDERSTAND the damn books. THEN make movies out of them.

Or at least respect books, specially the ones you didn't understand.

Tolkien had far better writing skills than you untalented bunch of amateurs of labelling the only book present in your bookcase: "History of Film-Making through popcorn flavours". Stop abusing his wonderful work.

Stop appointing untalented kindergarten teachers to jobs they aren't capable of. Write your own silly B-movie "Dwarves vs Rock Giants", but Mr. Jackson, you have no right nor title to pee and poo at will over the milestones of literature.
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8/10
The Hobbit turns out to be a rather unexpected delight
BeholdTheBloodshed29 December 2012
Firstly, I have to make a statement- the LOTR movies, for me, have set an impossibly high bar both in this universe and within the movie world as a whole. Their cinematic beauty and value cannot be denied.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, however, is an entirely different movie. Sure, it's set in the world of Middle Earth, but that's really about all it holds in common with the aforementioned trilogy, alongside a few familiar faces. Many members of the audience I was in complained that the movie took a long time to get going, but it actually was paced rather well, with a suitably sized introduction with Ian Holm and Elijah Wood making way for the current storyline. The first thing you notice as a viewer is that this movie is notably funnier. Whilst the LOTR trilogy had it's lighter moments, The Hobbit revels in the lighter side of life, with lots of genuinely hilarious moments interspersing themselves with scenes of real peril.The visually stunning moments are still there, and whilst I saw this movie in 2D, some moments would have been absolutely perfect in 3D. At first, it's a little difficult to get into, especially when the light-hearted opening with the countless visiting dwarfs gets underway. However, if you can remind yourself as a viewer that The Hobbit was a book written for a much younger, impressionable audience, then you'll likely have a good time watching this. That said, it is far from childish, and although it is a lighter, more fun affair, there are still many parts within the story that an adult audience can relate to.

Martin Freeman has been a firm favourite of mine since his humble beginnings on British terrestrial television, and seeing him here on the big screen is both a welcome and bizarre experience. That said, his demeanour and technique are perfect for the role of Bilbo Baggins, as he exudes the homely, simple manner of a Hobbit very effectively. Ian McKellen is perfect as everyone's favourite wizard, and Richard Armitage (another former British television star playing his trade to the silver screen)is a brilliant Thorin (son of Thrain!), mixing a toughened heart with a tortured soul. If anything, Thorin may turn out to be the true hero of the piece. The rest of the dwarfs are also brilliant, and many of them are the highlights of the movie.

The special effects are once again spectacular, with the eye wateringly stunning rock giant battle a particularly memorable moment. The makeup effects are up to the job, too, and the attention to detail is ridiculous, right down to the individual scratches and weathered look of the weapons the characters wield. If you enjoyed the LOTR trilogy, then Peter Jackson will have you in awe again, although The Hobbit trilogy looks set to be a much more relaxed and 'fun' adventure. At the end of the day, the only complain to be made about the movie is that it simply isn't LOTR. Those movies set such a high level that even Peter Jackson himself can't seem to top them with this effort, but that's a minor complain for what is otherwise I very well made movie.

Cinematic, adventurous, enjoyable and epic- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey knows its audience and caters to them very well indeed.
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7/10
The first of three long films based on a short book
Tweekums9 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
As this film opens an elderly Bilbo Baggins explains how the once great Dwarfs were forced out of their mountain kingdom by the dragon Smaug. He begins to talk of a great adventure and we are transported back to shortly before the adventure began when a young Bilbo meets the wizard Gandalf the Grey. He invites Bilbo on an adventure but he declines; the next day thirteen Dwarfs turn up at Bilbo's home believing that they have been invited. They tell him of their quest but he initially refuses; he has no desire to leave home. The next morning he changes his mind and so begins a quest that will see them fighting trolls, orcs and goblins as well as meeting elves, another wizard and in Bilbo's case the somewhat crazed Smeagol who will become a lifelong enemy following the theft of a certain ring.

Before watching this the main criticism I'd heard was that breaking the story into three long films was a mistake; having seen it I'm inclined to agree. The story took too long to get started and when it did it got nowhere fast; the party had a succession of battles but there was never the sense of danger that there was in the Lord of the Rings films. Another weakness was the fact that the party was a large group of dwarfs with one hobbit and one wizard rather than the more mixed group in the earlier trilogy; only a couple of them stood out from the group; the rest were very much the same. On the plus side the film looked great with many sweeping shots though action set in a spectacular landscape and the actors did a decent enough job; I particularly enjoyed seeing Andy Serkis' return as Smeagol even though he is doing motion-capture work for a CGI character. Overall I'd say this is worth watching if you enjoyed the Lord of the Rings trilogy even though it isn't as good as those films… hopefully the next instalment will improve matters.
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