Friday, December 28, 2012

The Hobbit

Although it has nothing at all to do with Alpha Flight (for those of you hoping Peter Jackson might add in a scene of Mac, Heather, and Logan running from Dale, driven from their home by didn't happen), I am posting here (and hereby posting, y'hear?) my review of the movie "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey".

Firstly, I'd like to admit that I have only seen the movie once. In fact, I only JUST arrived home from my viewing of it in the theater ("it" being the movie, not my home - why ever would i want to go to a theater to view my home? don't be daft!)...

WARNING - if you haven't seen the movie yet, don't be reading my review and then blame me for the spoilers!

- Firstly, it lacks the "epic" feel of the LOTR trilogy (trimovilogy?). But, as soon as that thought popped into my head, my next thought was, good! Dang it, it SHOULD feel different! This movie is not so much about a war to save all of Middle-Earth, as it is about a battle for revenge and justice. The whole point of this movie is much more personal than LOTR, and this first installment of it reflects that in EXACTLY the right way.

- I'll freely admit, it was reading The Hobbit that turned me on to my love for Dwarves (did I ever mention that the very first email address I ever had, had the words "Dwarven bloodbath" in them?). I will also admit i had my misgivings about how they would be portrayed. I enjoyed the character of Gimli in the LOTR movies, but felt that he gained much of his charm by being played off of the Elf, Legolas. So, how would Peter Jackson handle a movie where most of the characters in it were Dwarves?

All in all, I'd have to say he did a good job. When one reads The Hobbit, the primary sense that one gets about Dwarves, are the characteristics of Pride, Stubbornness, Loyalty, and Bravery.

And I do believe that this movie hits these all, spot on. I knew Peter Jackson would handle these Dwarves a lot differently than the esteemed and inimitable John Ronald Reuel Tolkien did. After all, JRR wrote The Hobbit for a young audience, his children (in fact, the book was finished by Mr. Tolkien in 1932, the year which his son John would have turned 15, his son Michael would have turned 12, his son Christopher would have turned 8, and his daughter Priscilla would have turned three). Peter Jackson, meanwhile, had to follow up his highly successful movie trilogy with another movie, this one in the same basic setting as the other three (which were of much more darker tone). Our few introductions to Dwarves in Peter Jackson's other films have led to them being established as a hard-drinking, grumbling, Elf-hating, fierce race.

So, for Mr Jackson to take what was already established, and now manage to focus mainly on this race of beings, was going to be a tough task.

I think he did it by doing something that Mr. Tolkien never was able to do for me; he made Thorin Oakenshield a character that i actually care about.

I never expected that.

But, if you go see this movie, be expecting to like Thorin. In many ways, An Unexpected Journey is all about the hero Thorin Oakenshield, as in my humble opinion he comes off as the star of the show. Thorin is this movie's version of Aragorn. * A thought or two just came to me. First, Thorin Okenshield was BY FAR my favourite character in this movie. Second, if anything, MY 'Unexpected Journey' was one wherein I walked into a movie about Bilbo Baggins, and came out a true fan of Thorin Okenshield - most unexpected! *

Also, the Dwarves in Tolkien's book were often seen as rather silly, which I suppose in part was because it was written for his children. I thought this was followed up by Peter Jackson during the portrayal of Gimli in the LOTR movies, where he becomes something of a running joke. However, The Hobbit sees determined and serious Dwarves, as Dwarves on a quest to regain their homeland would surely be. This development made me happy.

- As far as the acting goes, again I thought the actors outdid themselves. Fili and Kili were always strong characters in Tolkien's book, and I was glad to see that the actors did splendid jobs with them; Aidan Turner as Kili was particularly great.

- I was also pleased to see some "old" characters show up (feels silly to say "old", when this movie is set before the other ones), the actors reprising their roles. I am curious, though, as to whether some of the Shire scenes had been filmed during LOTR and then left out of those movies on purpose so as to hold them over for The Hobbit?

- I enjoyed the unspoken tension/dissension/revelation between Cate Blanchett's Galadriel and Christopher Lee's Saruman.

- Back to the "brooding" tone of this movie. i don't have a problem with it, per se. After all, as I already discussed, this movie is about a personal battle, not a world-wide war. Personal battles hit home, they bring grief and pain (not that war doesn't, but you get what i am saying, right?). However, when I heard that Mr. Jackson (Peter, not Michael - sorry, Thriller fans) had decided to make three movies rather than two, and was going to do some extra shooting of scenes because of that, I really hoped that something I had heard was to NOT be included in The Hobbit, and had also not been in the LOTR trilogy, now was going to be seen on screen.

Alas, I was to be disappointed. Tom Bombadil, and his wife Goldberry, AGAIN did not make an appearance. I know, I know - Tom was in LOTR, not The Hobbit. Yeah yeah, got it. But, I thought adding in a meeting between the Dwarves (with Bilbo) and Tom and Goldberry would have added an "innocence" and state of joy to the film that was lacking.

As I said, it was not to be. And so, on with more of my critique.

- The Wargs. The Wargs were awesome. They were one of my main complaints about the LOTR; in those movies, they didn't look real, they lacked substance and a feel of dimension. Not so in The Hobbit! WOW! These beasties look and feel like they are coming after the characters in real life, and even the way the Goblins ride them now seems real, whereas before it gave a sense of an actor sitting on a saddle in front of a blue-screen; now, the computer wizards have improved greatly upon them, and I am happy to say that I am totally and completely abuzz over how they look on-screen.

- I have to give props where they are do; I TOTALLY agree with Peter Jackson's decision to not show Smaug on-screen in this movie. TOTAL AGREEMENT. Great move, Pete! It leaves something for the next movie.

- Finally, I have to end this review soon. So, I saved this for last. The writers of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (listed as Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Guillermo del Toro), took some really big liberties when writing this screenplay.

By that, I mean that they changed a LOT of Tolkien's script.

Is it a bad movie, then?

No, not at all; far from it!

BUT...if you are expecting it to follow the exact plot of Tolkien's great novel, you will be sadly disappointed. A lot has changed. It isn't better, and it isn't worse; it is just 'different'.

All in all, i would definitely recommend this movie to anyone, whether a casual fan of the genre, a huge Tolkien-fanboy (or fangirl - fanperson?), or somebody who just enjoys good movies.

I would have to give this movie a 10/10 overall.

Looking forward to the next two installments!


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