Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett, Sylvester McCoy, Hugo Weaving
Grade: C - [37]

I consider myself quite a patient filmgoer, but walking into a chance 48 frames-per-second screening of ‘The Hobbit’ seemed to change that almost instantly. Subtitled “An Unexpected Journey,” for no other reason than to differentiate it from the forthcoming parts 2 and 3 of Tolkien’s modestly-leaved novel, there’s very little expectation the film fails to fulfil on a thematic level, but in employing this novel visual technique ultimately does more harm than good. Visual elements are very low on my agenda when reviewing a movie, but when they’re executed in such a frenetic and incoherent way it’s difficult to forgive; “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” looks like a behind-the-scenes featurette, wherein action sequences feel staged and wholly distract from their grander context. 

At one-hundred-and-seventy minutes the film heavily drags, especially in a first act of which 80% could be easily disposed of. Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins is established as a homely fusspot reluctant to venture out, his trademark dry brand of comedy successful in combating the staunch representation of factional warfare at its noblest and harrumph-est. Serkis gets that the film badly needs light spots, too, his and Freeman’s only scene together one of the rare highlights to recall the most accomplished parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. A major issue is that there’s very little rapport to the characters, or a sense of importance to their journey, to make this seem like more than a Tolkien retread. And when McKellen’s Gandalf exclaims “And Into the Fire” in response to his dwarf friend’s cautionary bellow, “Out of the Frying Pan,” you really feel like the screenwriters have run out of ideas. Proverbs 1: Cinema 0.

1 comment:

Dan O. said...

Good review Calum. While I have some issues with the overuse of CG and some truly bad one-liners, it's so darn good to have more Tolkien movies that are so much fun and beautiful, who really gives a crap?