The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is exactly what you think it is

December 19, 2012

Well, hello…

I saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey aka hours 10-12 of the Lord of the Rings ever-expanding-logy aka a mish-mash of Jew metaphors aka 1/3rd of a potential trilogy involving more unwritten book than actual source material aka 3 hours of questionable CGI and nose prosthetics.

Before I entered the movie, I texted a friend who I knew saw The Hobbit on Saturday asking him what he thought of it. His answer was simple that the critics are all right and that he liked it anyway. And that’s the short story right there. If you’ve gone to rottentomatoes.com or IMDB.com or any number of more specialized movie sites and read the reviews, more likely than not they’ve dissected this movie pretty well. The problems are very obvious.

It starts slow. It does.

The movie itself is nearly 3 hours just as everyone expected because that’s what we were dealing with the LotR trilogy. As this movie is the prequel to that, it is nearly identical to those films in most regards. The movie jumps to a crawl with a montage prologue, which is needed. The prologue speed you through as much as possible and I thought it did a good job hammering home the basics that this movie is about the dwarves and them reclaiming their home underneath the Lonely Mountain where an enormous dragon named Smaug took over.

It goes from tedious to ridiculous. It does.

From there, it is an arduous process of getting Bilbo on board to join the group. Then once he does it takes a thousands of miles of walking to get into any real storyline. The walking seems like it could go on forever as you have no concept how far they’re traveling, what pace they’re keeping or any type of marking of how well they’re doing in all of this. And, after nearly 2 hours of touring Middle Earth, you’re literally dropped onto a roller coaster ride of one problem after another until a conclusion that leaves you only 1/2 or possibly a 1/3 of the way to solving the initial problem.

While that’s true, it’s also exactly what Lord of the Rings was as well.

It’s really tough to watch The Hobbit and not think about Lord of the Rings for two reasons…

1. It’s the prequel to those movies made by the same people, so you have to think about it.

2. “An Unexpected Journey” and “Fellowship of the Ring” are nearly identical.

The first is an issue, but nothing problematic. Of course, you’re going to compare and contrast the efforts considering. In some ways The Hobbit is as good if/not better in some areas than the LotR movies, specifically in the case of your lead Hobbit.

Bilbo versus Frodo is a pretty good match-up. I think Martin Freeman does a great job falling in line with what has been played before and then adding some. The best scene in the movie is one that Martin is half of. Of course, the other half is the scene stealing Gollum. The real magic in this movie, another great performance by Andy Serkis. The back-and-forth riddle scene between Bilbo and Gollum could have gone on forever in my opinion. It was easily the most interesting, best acted, and most interactive scene in the movie – by far.

The crowd seeing the movie was fairly disinterested at most moments in the movie, but their restlessness seemed to pause when Gollum appeared and the dialogue between him and Bilbo kept everyone’s attention in a way that all the CGI battles didn’t.

So, Freeman as Bilbo is a plus. He’s less whiny than Elijah’s Frodo who seemed ready to cry at a moment’s notice in the other movies.

As for point #2 up there, the entire structure of the movie mirrors that of Fellowship of the Ring so much so it feels lazy.

More or less, the movie itself feels lazy. The heavy amounts of CGI instead of actors in make-up seems lazy. Why have an actor get into 17 hours of make-up than just create a cartoon image of him and dub the voice?

In Fellowship as well as the rest of the Lord of the Rings movies, there were an ass-ton of orcs and in Fellowship the main villain was a terrible orc leader. Same goes here in The Hobbit that we’re worrying about an orc pack led by a terrible orc leader who is tracking our merry band of whoevers on their way to a mountain. But a huge issue is that in Fellowship the orc is played by an actor and in Hobbit the orc is played by a computer drawing.

The orcs are terrifying in the Lord of the Rings movies. They are enormous, muscular, armor wearing, weapon wielding, half animal looking, creatures that run around killing everything. And having them played by actors clearly makes them feel more real than having them played by a shiny computer image. There are a couple actor orcs in the Hobbit which is odd. Why even have a few actors as orcs when the majority of them are played by CGI. The orcs that are actor played in The Hobbit look so much more terrifying than the CGI ones and the CGI ones are supposed to be the real scary ones.

The leader of the Hobbit’s orcs is a bright shiny albino with scratches all over him and he looks silly. There is no real fear about him considering he’s a cartoon character. He feels wildly less impressive than the above orc from Lord of the Rings who Aragorn faces one on one at the end of Fellowship. … … And you guessed it, the fake-Aragorn from the Hobbit faces the cartoon orc in this movie at the end of the movie.

There he is, Thorin Oakenshield aka Thorin the Handsomest Dwarf in the World.

As Aragorn was the handsomest man in Middle Earth, we have Thorin who is our hero because he too is the handsomest of the lot that we got. He is an underwhelming Aragorn rip-off as Aragorn was fucking action star in LotR kicking ass left and right without a moment’s pause. Thorin is the best we got as far as that goes. He kicks some ass and he’s got a bone to pick with the orc leader and it’s him who will be crowned the eventual king of these people everyone is so worried about.

Maybe it’s the noses or the beards or their fixation on gold or being forced from their homes and wondering the expanse of Earth for years on end to settle into a new land where they wouldn’t be attacked by the evil’s of the world again… but the dwarves are Jews, right? Is that what we’re saying. Kind of seems like that.

Thorin is Judah Maccabee and Gandalf is Moses, correct?

As for Gandalf, he’s pretty much the same hobo wizard who uses magic when he wants and cuts up dudes with his sword and is kind of just an old grey Jack Sparrow who is high as a kite and falling and fighting his way through adventures until he’s standing up-right on the other side of them.

So, should you see it?

Well, why not, I suppose.

It’s definitely a kiddier and giddier version of the Lord of the Rings, which is essentially what The Hobbit is anyway. The story and structure is nearly identical because the source material is as well. I mean Peter Jackson didn’t make up that both stories are about a small group taking on a Herculean task under the guise that this mission requires stealth, Gandalf is at the head of it and he choose an unlikely hobbit to handle the most essential of tasks, the hobbit has the one ring of power and the sword Sting and so forth, the group’s tip of the spear is the eventually king of these people, they need the help of the elves, whispers of Sauron, it is going to end inside a mountain far far far away, it takes them forever and a day to get there, they’re being chased by orcs, and on and on and on and on.

The wildly obvious similarities between the movies is in its heart the books’ fault and Peter Jackson taking that a step further is not at all surprising.

The real issue with it, do you want to see 3 more hours of something you’ve already seen 9 hours of with the potential of seeing another 6 hours in the coming years? It’s a fucking lot of the same thing, but if you like it then you like it. I mean the Harry Potter movies are all pretty much the same besides them getting older in each one, which means they get a whole lot sexier as the series goes on. That’s not really an issue in these movies, but the similarity idea is there.

My major gripe with the movie is the over abundance of CGI.

Everything outside of the major characters on the side of good are CGI. It makes the movie a lot less interesting and a lot more child-like than I would have wanted. I felt like I was watching a kid’s TV show or a Disney Epcot movie. I hate watching what boils down to actors swinging weapons around on a green sound stage by themselves and then filling in hapless idiot CGI villains who are getting tossed left and right by these “attacks”. It just looks bad. From Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter to this – it just looks like what it is choreography and it never looks like the person is fighting anything. They might as well just stand with their arms stretched out and spin in circles because it never looks like anything more involved than that.

With all that being said… after watching An Unexpected Journey, I’m even more excited for the sequel.

I feel like there’s a good chance the sequel is better. With An Unexpected Journey being so much like Fellowship of the Ring, it was destined to be not as good. Fellowship in my opinion is BY FAR the best of the LotR movies. Especially the extended cut. That movie delivers more than the rest in every facet and is almost a stand-alone film where I think the rest aren’t. I have watched all the LotR movies a number of times, but I’ve watched Fellowship dozens of times more than the rest. It is a much better movie than the rest. The action scenes are more impactful, the story and characters are well introduced and progress excellently, and it is a satisfying movie throughout. So, having the Hobbit mirror a better version of itself – it loses in that regard. As the Fellowship outshined its sequels instead of setting them up, I think Hobbit might do the reverse. Hopefully.

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2 Responses to “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is exactly what you think it is”

  1. PWG said

    Did you see it in 2D or 3D? I went for 2D. It was long, I got bored with the fight scenes, and still liked it. I thought the Gollum stuff was better in this one than the LoTR movies, but I still think Gollum looks idiotic. I would rather see Peter Dinklage dressed up in a crazy amount of prosthetics than watch that stupid-ass CGI Gollum any day of the week. Or Andy Serkis, for that matter.

    I liked Martin Freeman, and Thorin WAS the handsomest dwarf ever. I wonder how English people feel about the division of accents in these movies. Bad guy = thick Cockney accent, and all that.

    You had to ready through lots of crazy boring stuff to get to the good parts in the Hobbit/LoTR books (fucking Tom Bombadil) too. I’m waiting for the dragon, I’m willing to put up with boring Orc/troll fight scenes to get there, I guess.

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