Movie: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, James Nesbitt, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett
Director: Peter Jackson
IMDB says: A younger and more reluctant Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, sets out on a “unexpected journey” to the Lonely Mountain with a spirited group of Dwarves to reclaim a their stolen mountain home from a dragon named Smaug.
Peter Jackson’s first of three Lord of the Rings prequels is as much about milking cash cows, angering Tolkein fanatics and laying down LOTR foundations as it is delivering a properly epic movie experience. At least it’s better than all three Star Wars prequels combined.
First off, WTF to Peter Jackson to going down the trilogy route with The Hobbit? I can understand it with Lord of the Rings. Three books equals three movies, that’s pretty straight forward. Couldabeen more, sure. So much Tolkein goodness was left on the cutting room floor or out of the script altogether.
I can think of half a dozen novellious acts the movies ignored, but here’s two that really tweaked my inner Tolkein. First, the hobbits’ brush with olde worlde dangers in the Barrow Downs and subsequent rescue by Tom Bombadil shouldabeen there. It not only drenches the hobbits with ice-cold buckets of reality, it gives the reader their first real taste of Middle Earth’s rich and troubled history.
Second and more heinous, but I knew Hollywood would never do it, was the hobbits’ homecoming. Hollywood doesn’t like second endings, unless we’re talking about padding DVD Extras. But this whole sequence shows that the hobbits have evolved from the blissfully ignorant and protected children at the trilogy’s beginning to a race with backbone. It ties beginning and end into a nice, neat bow with a double loop and a parental tug for good measure. Also, I like that Saruman gets one final unexpected smackdown in, and that Wormtongue…
Sorry, I digress. We’re talking about The Hobbit. Actually, The Hobbit part one, “An Unexpected Journey”. What was I saying? Oh yes, three films is beyond the pale.
The book is barely one-half the length of one Lord of the Rings book, so it doesn’t warrant three films. But Hollywood knows a cash cow when it sees stinking mounds of golden manure in its lounge, and so this bovine bullion machine will be milked mercilessly. Just like that metaphor.
Point is, I watched the first Hobbit instalment — not for me the Corby Zen method of Reviewing Without Seeing — and I loved every minute of it. Saw it in 3D and didn’t throw up. Loved that, too, though my wife said the 3D smacked of tokenism. Think she meant Tolkeinism, though I’m don’t see the relevance because 3D wasn’t around in Tolkein’s day.
Especially loved the dragon-attack scenes and later the fleeing from thousands of goblins through the mines. Epic stuff, really. The mountain scenes not so much. I wore a perplexed and grumpy expression during the mountains-become-men fight, because I remembered not this scene from the book. Coz it wasn’t there. Turns out there are many scenes that weren’t there, which sounds kinda Kafka, but I’m scared to trod that path lest I unravel my own existence.
There’s also a spate of scenes setting up the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, or repurposed moments from said trilogy. I’ll not list them, because my point is — please pay attention — Peter Jackson has padded out The Hobbit to achieve three films. Taking liberties with the second-grandest work of fiction ever concocted demands a smoting, or a flood, or a plague, or being turned into a pillar of salt, surely…
The shit of it is, the film works anyway. Despite the addition of — and my fanatical bleating about — these extra-authorical scenes, the friggin film works. It brings Middle Earth to life, makes you believe in the characters (except Thorin, who comes across more as a smouldering Calvin Klein model than a deposed Dwarf Lord hellbent on reclaiming his due), and really makes two hours and forty minutes fly.
The Hobbit Part One An Unexpected Journey strikes a good compromise between the children’s book on which it’s based and the predominantly middle aged fuddy duddies like me who will pay to see it.
So kudos Jacko, now get busy with the next two, you bastard.
I give The Hobbit four and a half smokin dragons.