The Hobbit was one of my favourite books as a kid. A fast paced adventure through Middle-earth which was easy to consume while leaving plenty for the mind to savour. It’s finally made it to the big screen, as three monster sized movies. Well there goes the breezy book pace.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first part of three. It’s been a recent phenomena in Hollywood to split book adaptations into multiple parts, to sap more money from the consumer while slowly draining the source material to a shallow empty husk. An Unexpected Journey suffers from some ghastly padding, with tenuous links to The Lord Of The Rings and an added dose of drama with Gandalf’s wanders. The story of a Hobbit going on an adventure with a wizard and a large motley crew of dwarves to slay a dragon feels lost within the gaping anus that is Peter Jackson’s directing.
When it follows the books core material rather than the extra material stuffed in thanks to Jackson’s pretentious leanings, it shines. The battles played out through tricks and riddles are far more exciting than any army of orcs could ever be and Martin Freeman has a good go at being Bilbo Baggins. Sometimes his awkward Office style expressions don’t quite fit with the context of the situations, but he brings the fun nature of the journey to light as everyone else gets too bogged down in melodrama. I don’t remember Thorin being such a whiny dwarf, but it has been a while.
The film hangs together on beautiful environments, throwbacks to the original movie trilogy and the strong content of the novel. The pace and general tone do seem to scrape against the novels atmosphere and style as this opts to be ‘More Lord Of The Rings’, but it’s always fairly entertaining. It just feels so cynical to split such a joyous tale into three three hour long epics to empty punters wallets. Hopefully the money will go towards better special effects, as I swear the orcs and animals look far worse than those of the original trilogy. Back then the combination of effects and costume made a believable but mystical effect, now everything just looks fake. Maybe 48 fps rectifies this, but I’d already been burnt on the cost of a 2D showing. More frames seems to equal double the ticket price. How much would it costs to see the whole trilogy in 3D 48 fps? And that’s why this is a trilogy.