Happy birthday, Mr. Tolkien!
In honor of his memory, here are 14 points, for the fourteen companions, for a review of the movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (based on Mr. Tolkien's book The Hobbit or There and Back Again).
1. I will try not to spoil the movie for you. If you don't want to take that chance, stop reading now.
2. I believe that if you use source material and claim the same name, that you should be accurate in your interpretation. I give allowance for abridgment, as is necessary. Just bear that in mind too.
3. I went into The Hobbit expecting little resemblance to the book at all. In that, thankfully, I was not entirely correct, and so was a little relieved.
4. I disagree with Jackson making The Hobbit into 3 movies. If Lord of the Rings gets 3 movies, The Hobbit ought to get 1. Que sera sera.
5. The Hobbit is NOT a prequel to the Lord of the Rings. It is a prelude. Jackson apparently doesn't understand that difference, and is bent on making The Hobbit trilogy a prequel to Lord of the Rings. That means forcing information from the LotR appendices into The Hobbit movies. Don't agree, but I understand.
6. The Hobbit (book) is not an epic like the LotR books are. The Hobbit (book) is a lark. It's an adventure. Its focus is on Bilbo. While there is a point to his and the dwarves journeying, it is not a quest in the way LotR was. It was not intended to be that. It was a small band of homeless dwarves attempting the impossible ... the fate of the world did not change if they succeeded or failed.
Not so in the movie. Yes, there are adventures along the way of the adventure, BUT the book was light-hearted. The movie is serious. The movie thinks it is LotR. The movie feels like it is supposed to be LotR. Maybe it does feel that way, but to me it felt off because it felt epic. Because it's not supposed to be epic.
In the very beginning of the movie they come really close to the feel of the book, but then they decidedly do not continue in that light-hearted vein. A pity, really. Thankfully, the scene of the meeting of the dwarves and Bilbo is pretty accurate, for a movie.
7. I do wish all the dwarves had been properly introduced at the beginning of the film. All of their names are thrown out there attached to them at some point during the movie (I think), but it's really hard to keep them separated in the mind. Maybe I'll have it figured by the third movie.
8. The movie is NOT about Bilbo. It should not be named The Hobbit. I think a better suited titled would be "Thorin: Azog's Prey" or "Thorin: The Homeless King" or "Thorin: The Journey Home", as the movie is obviously about the Dwarf King.
9. Since Azog came up, what's he doing in the movie? He has a passing mention in the book. One time. In ancient history. He is not supposed to be pursuing them and it adds nothing to the movie. The movie would flow just find without his presence. Besides, he's horribly CG - distractingly so.
10. Speaking of horribly CG ... was it just me, or did more things in The Hobbit seem CG than in the LotR? Azog. The goblins. The Wargs (or maybe they just looked less real because their mounts looked less real... namely Azog). I mean, in LotR they used a lot of masks. Masks that were not CG, which means they were made and had to therefore look real. Why couldn't they have done that again?
The eagles didn't look terrific (though my husband thinks they look better than in LotR. Maybe they do, I'm not sure. But I didn't look at them in LotR and go "oh they're obviously CG", even though I knew they were.)
The trolls. Deeper voices might have helped them look more realistic. The high voices coming out of the big trolls just wasn't working for me.
Some of the landscape. I don't know if they used more CG for where the company traveled for not. I'm inclined to say they did because...
11. of the unnatural zooming that took place. In Dale, for instance. When we're zooming through the town overhead and then in the middle of and then back to the rooftops it didn't feel like something you could do with a camera, but it felt like something easily done in a 3-D model. That doesn't help with realism. It happened a few other times in the movie too. ... And some of the time I felt that everything was out of focus and I didn't know where to look.
Thankfully, those times didn't last long, but they did happen. That's unfortunate.
12. Why the deep-seated hatred against Elves by Thorin? Totally not there in the book. At all. Can't find it. They explain it in the movie, but it's completely fabricated.
13. As is the harshness against Bilbo by the dwarves, particularly Thorin. Ok, so the dwarves grumble about Bilbo after they escape from the goblins under the mountain (in the book) it is waaaayyy drummed up throughout the whole movie.
14. I believe they lifted more lines straight out of the book this movie than they did in LotR, even if the wrong person said them in the movie. I appreciated that, and hope that is something that continues in the remaining two movies.
So there you have it. What do I think? I think there were several things they got right in the movie, which was more than I expected. There was a lot I would've done differently, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the movie. I did. And I am curious as to how the remaining two movies turn out.
And in spite of the things I've pointed out about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (and I haven't said all I good, for good or ill), and the skepticism I bring to the remaining two movies, I am looking forward to seeing them. After all, when you expect the worst, you can really only be pleasantly surprised when things don't turn out quite so bad. And maybe, just maybe I'll keep learning how to separate books and movies in my mind.
2 out of 5 stars.