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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Movie Review
A Bit of a Back Story
Alright, so we didn't make it to the opening midnight viewing of The Hobbit. But, in all fairness, there is a little bit of a back story.
We were in the brand new Regal Cinema in Bellingham, Washington. When I say brand new, I mean we were the first to enter the doors during the Grand Opening this morning. It is Bellingham's first IMAX cinema, and we were about to see the first showing of The Hobbit on the day of it's official Grand Opening.
Unfortunately, the new cinema was off to a rough start. Our show was scheduled to start at 11am. We had planned on being there as the doors opened, which we were informed was to be at 9:30 this morning. With the excitement of everything, we neglected the fact that our clock is a significantly few minutes ahead, leaving us with 17 minutes until the doors were to open. We braved the December chill outside, surprised that we and another couple were the only ones around. Slowly, a crowd gathered. 9:30 came, and passed. The line did not budge, nor the doors unlock.
We had actually purchased our tickets the previous day, and all we needed to do was have our stub torn off and get ourselves seated, putting us ahead of the forming line, and we did so when the doors finally opened at 10am.
At this point, something should be known. I am not a J. R. R. Tolkein fanatic. I read The Hobbit once when i was 14, and during a stressful few hours, I might add (it was during a cross-Atlantic flight, and I am notorious for being a more than nervous flyer). I didn't go into the movie with a clear memory of the book, and never finished The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (the books, that is). I will say this, however: as a writer, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Tolkien, for all he accomplished with his writing, the millions whose imaginations he sparked. I respect his witty style, his linguistic abilities and the grandeur of his word weaving. His tales just simply aren't my style.
That being said, I have gone into the movie with excitement and an attempt at neutrality.
"It Began as You Might Expect: Good Food, A warm Hearth, and All The Comforts of Home"
The Hobbit is a story telling, of course, describing the adventures which occur in now-familiar world of Middle Earth. It begins as a story telling, a memoir of an old hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, writing for his nephew, Frodo, who reports to his uncle that people are beginning to think Old Baggins has gone "a bit odd."
He opens with the tale of the Dwarves, some 120 years before, who had had their home in the mountain taken from them by a dragon's love for gold, which had collected by the foot-hills' worth. And so the dwarves were forced to flee, leaving their village and gold behind.
After a time, they had seen the signs that they may once again attempt to return and reclaim their city from the dragon, Smaug. They required a 14th member of their caravan, who was Bilbo, presented by Gandolf the Gray.
Coming from the perspective of both the books and the old cartoons of it, they did a very god job of following detail, and even taking some lines from songs from the cartoons, and weaving it into the Dwarfs' songs.
Of course, Peter Jackson is known for the beauty his movies portray, leaving no detail left unchecked. However, I think that this time he has outdone himself. The graphics of the Orcs and trolls were spot-on. I am of a firm belief that if one is to incorporate heavy graphics into a movie, the viewer should not be able to see the seams of where the green screen ends and the real set begins, or the outlines of moving objects, or that faint notion of "that person's hand seems to have gone slightly into that tree". My high expectations were met on this platform. Gollum was beautifully done, the expressions from one personality to another quite visible and easy to follow for the unaccustomed viewer.
The film was a full two hours and 49 minutes. The problem I had with the Lord of the Rings movies is that I felt they were too drawn out, and could have probably been cut down. I understand the reasoning for their length, and I also understand that to die-hard fans, each moment was not enough. I also did not feel this qualm with The Hobbit. Though it was lengthy, it wasn't obscenely so, nor did my attention stray.
There were interesting parts, which I cannot say were in the book or the old cartoon, but one which I found extremely imaginative. The group of travelers at one point come across a battle of angry Rock Giants, which they can only witness terrified, as one might if they were an ant witnessing a school-yard brawl.
Being in the realm of fantasy, there is certainly no lack of imagination, with creatures of all sorts making an appearance: dwarfs, wizards, hobbits, giant eagles, orcs, goblins, giant spiders, elves, and so many more - weaving an intricate web of phantasmagoria.
My one qualm, which is hardly anything, was that I felt the dwarfs should be shorter. At one point, when compared to the height of the orcs, they seemed only a little bit taller than them, perhaps only 7-8 inches. I personally had imagined a foot and a half to two feet for any one of standard human height to be above that of the dwarfs of Middle Earth.
A thing or two I do in fact have to admire about a couple of characters:
- Bilbo Baggins, is a hobbit with the nature to be safe and comfortable in his little hobbit-hole. Yet, he decides to chase after the Dwarfs, facing dangers unknown, because he doesn't want the Dwarfs to go their lives without experiencing again what it feels like to call a place "home" - and he does it completely without any shoes. I personally am a fan of being without shoes, and so this to me is an admirable trait.
- At some point during the beginning, Gandalf is offered a soothing cup of chamomile tea, to which he politely turns down and asks for a small glass of red wine, instead. This is an act after my own heart!
During this film there are many battles, some parts which might be too intense for some, but are separated with some comic relief, with the help of Radagast The Brown, who has a fondness for animals. At the end of the day, it is a tale of the preservation of hope. This is the importance of the book, I believe,and I should hope continues to be the message of the movies.