Monday, May 23, 2016

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey marks the beginning of the Hobbit trilogy which has been compared to the Star Wars prequels, which is not a good thing. It's rather interesting to examine the series of films to see where it is they fall short against the strength of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. One major aspect is found in the tone, which might be a natural problem for any prequel, since how does it distinguish itself from the original("sequel") while still being part of the same universe. Well that's problem one as the book itself is more lighthearted than the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The film suffers in that it partially embraces this at times, particularly in the hijinks of the dwarves and Radagast, while attempting to replicate the harsher tones of Lord of the Rings in its focus on the Orc's chasing the Dwarves, Gandalf and Bilbo throughout their journey. Now past the less refined tone, which does coincide with the Star Wars prequels problem though in far less extreme of a manner I feel, one obvious similarity is in the film's use of CGI. Now this seems stranger though in that the original LOTR trilogy used it heavily as well. The differences can be found though as LOTR utilized it with an effective mix of practicals where there is a far greater over reliance particularly in the villains, which takes a great deal of weight from their presence particularly in the chief Orc, who stands a lame villain throughout the three films. One element where it clearly is not the Star Wars prequels are the performances, which for the most part are quite strong, Martin Freeman in particular, and they in no way show a going through the motions the same way Peter Jackson's direction sometimes feels like. Now all films should be adaptations of the material, but the odd thing here is if they had gone to the letter of the page it would have been shorter. The choice to lengthen as long as possible was not a wise one on a whole, but the idea for a two film Hobbit made sense, three just was more than stretching. There are moments we a bit extra was more than appreciated, the misty mountain song is nice atmosphere building moment, a few instances with the individual dwarves to build character are needed, but there is plenty that is not needed. The flashbacks with Thorin could have been left implied, the story of the Necromancer should have been left off screen as it was in the novel since there's no reason to set up a film we've already seen. The film is messy in that there are scenes that find the right tone, and story elements to focus on but then there are complete wastes of time. For almost every riddles in the dark sequence there's the laborious council of Elrond scene. There are plenty of good scenes, but the film is fundamentally flawed.

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