Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

It's so hard to write reviews of movies that just came out without giving anything away, but I shall try.

I really liked The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  It's fun and exciting.  It's definitely not on the same level as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it's still very good.  And it's definitely not for children.  The book may have been written for kids, but this movie is rated PG-13 for action violence (lots of action violence) and scary images, aka really creepy orcs and gross goblins (totally unintentional alliteration).

In adapting the book to the movie, there were changes of course, but I was expecting them so they didn't bother me too much.  Also, I didn't mind the extra material that Peter Jackson said he'd be adding from The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings appendices.  It was interesting, and it definitely helps explain things, such as where Gandalf was whenever he left Bilbo & the dwarves in the book.

The dwarves are amazing.  Each one has a unique look and personality; it's not just a homogenous group of white-bearded short guys.  Certain dwarves got some more screen time than others, especially Fili & Kili (being the youngest "hot" dwarves).  The movie also just further proved that my favorite actor, Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield), is incredibly talented and worthy of being my favorite.  I love him so much, and his portrayal of Thorin is brilliant.

Bilbo's character is a bit different.  In the books, Bilbo would never have run off gleefully to join an adventure or willingly jumped into a fight with orcs, but in this movie adaptation, he's become a bit braver.  Martin Freeman was definitely the right choice to play Bilbo, as he's a great actor and really brings Bilbo to life.  Gandalf is the same abrupt, pipe-smoking, Hobbit-loving wizard.  McKellen has made that role entirely his; anyone else would just have been wrong.

My biggest complaint (and there aren't many) is the CGI.  In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, there was an army of extras dressed in full costume to play the orcs, but in The Hobbit, they took what is probably the most current and possibly cheapest route.  The orcs, the goblins, the elf army, and the dwarf army were all CGI.  Of course there were CGI characters in the original trilogy, but there weren't as many.  And the problem with using so much CGI is that it makes the movie look so much less real.  I remember so many people loved Avatar because they said the CGI looked so real.  But when I watched it, it just looked like very good computer graphics.  In The Hobbit, I feel like the CGI wasn't always that good.  There were moments when it was so fake that it was distracting.  I can't even imagine how it looks in 48fps.

Besides the CGI, I can't really find much else to say about this movie that's negative.  Good acting, lots of adventure, and a classic story make this an awesome movie that I would absolutely see again.  And I'm looking forward to seeing what Jackson has done with the rest of the story.  A

Side note -  I know it seems silly to complain about this, but for the past few years, every time we go to the theater, every time, someone tall sits in front of me.  It doesn't matter if they're part of a group or by themselves; when choosing a seat, they always pick the one in front of me.  If they're part of a group, it doesn't really bother me too much, but it really irks me when it's just one person.  When we went to see The Hobbit, I was sitting towards the end of the row, the last of my friends, and there was a seat between me & the two people sitting at the very end of the row.  All the rows in front of us were empty, and a very tall guy walks down the whole row in front of us and picks the seat directly in front of me.  WHY???  It wasn't like I was right in the middle, and if he'd gone one more seat down, he wouldn't have been sitting in front of anyone.  Like I said, I know it's silly to make a big deal of it, but it would be nice to see a movie again without someone's head in the middle.  (And of course, when sharing this story at work, one coworker compared me to a hobbit, and two other coworkers couldn't help teasing and said I should bring a booster seat next time.  Pfft!)

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