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Old 12-27-2012, 10:03 AM   #726
ThePhantasm
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Default Re: Official 'The Hobbit' Thread - Part 9

I've seen it twice now, so here's my review (SPOILER warning):

The film opens a bit slowly, and the mention of the Sackville-Bagginses seems wholly self-indulgent and unnecessary, but I did not mind it as much the second time around. The resemblance between Ian Holm and Martin Freeman is uncanny, and really helps establish a strong connection between LOTR and the Hobbit right off the bat.

Once we get into the actual story, things really pick up. The first scenes where Gandalf meets Bilbo at the door and where the Dwarves arrive are all brilliantly executed. Freeman and McKellen play off of each other really well, and I love Freeman's very Bilboish hints to both Gandalf and the Dwarves that they should leave. Once the Dwarves start singing about the Misty Mountains Cold, you can see Bilbo is getting hooked by that old Tookish desire to go adventuring - I only wish they lingered a bit more on this crucial moment. Maybe in the Extended Edition there will be more to the song.

The troll sequence is wonderful, and has just the right balance of humor in it. Jackson and co. could have thrown in a few fart jokes and it would have really destroyed the scene, but thankfully they resisted that temptation. The trolls turning to stone in the exact position that they are found in the FOTR EE was a nice touch.

Radagast is a fun and lovable character, but I feel his introduction is a bit overlong, and I hate to say that it really feels as if his character is responsible for much of the early dragging in the film. The bit with the Hedgehogs and the Spiders was a bit unnecessary, and I actually feel like seeing the Spiders in daylight undermines their scariness a bit.

The orc attack so close to Rivendell bothered me a bit, as did seeing warg scouts so close to the Shire in the earlier scenes. The books give one the impression that orcs don't dare to (nor are usually able) to venture that close to the Shire due to the Hobbits being protected by the Dunedain Rangers, like Aragorn.

Then we come to Rivendell. This is, I am afraid, the weakest part of the movie for me on both viewings. Whereas some of you may feel the White Council was an unnecessary and boring addition, I was really looking forward to it. But it was a bit disappointingly executed. For one thing, the script here could have used some fine tuning. Instead of an interesting and nuanced discussion, we find Saruman brow-beating Gandalf and Gandalf profusely apologizing like a child. Then we get the reveal of the Morgul Blade which was supposedly "buried deep with Angmar in the earth" when no such thing happens in the Tolkien mythos, and when this seems to really undermine the Angmar prophecy about his death. Then we get Galadriel asking why Gandalf chose the halfling, and Gandalf says "I don't really know." Eh, I prefer my Gandalf to know exactly why he is doing what he is doing, and to be rather confident in his ages of wisdom that what he is doing is right. Every character in this scene came off as weaker and stupider than they should have, except for Galadriel.

The Stone Giants sequence I felt was a bit much the first time I watched it, what with the company being on the Giant's leg and all, but I enjoyed it a lot more the second time around.

Next highlight of the film: the Goblin Town. Everything here was executed perfectly, from the nasty and vile Great Goblin to Bilbo's encounter with Gollum for a riddle-game. Gandalf's entrance was epic. Bilbo's choice not to kill Gollum was epic (and the soundtrack features the same theme that plays when Gandalf tells Frodo in Moria about Bilbo taking pity on Gollum!). Really it is hard to find any problems with this sequence whatsoever.

Bilbo's speech to the Dwarves was wonderful. The climax of the film is a bit disappointing to me in a few ways though. For one, it is an anti-climax. It would have been better I think to have Thorin kill Azog here. Then the goblins from the mountains could arrive, forcing Gandalf to call the Eagles. Instead, we get Thorin marching down the tree to the Mordor / Nazgul theme (takes me out of the moment every time) and then thrown about. The important part, of course, is Bilbo's heroism to save Thorin, and make no mistake... while Thorin is a major character, I have decided that on repeat viewings it is clear Bilbo is focally the main character of the story.

Another problem with the closing sequence: the trees falling are almost cartoonish. The setting seems too small and confined. One of the great things about the Amon Hen sequence at the end of FOTR was its sense of scale - a wide forest, little ruins everywhere, Uruk-Hai all about. Here the setting is basically a tree dangling off the edge of a cliff - it is a nice action scene I suppose, but it doesn't feel like the climax that it could have been.

The Eagles bear the company away. Here it would have been nice to get an explanation (like in the book!) of why the Eagles won't take them all the way to the Lonely Mountain. Instead, we are left with a gaping plot hole. I understand that making the Eagles talk would be almost impossible, given that they have beaks, but they could screech and Gandalf could translate if need be. I mean, I guy can talk to a freaking moth, so I think he could handle saying "Oh by the way, the Eagles mentioned they can only take us this far."

Overall, the film is very fun. I think the final sequence is so underwhelming it left a bad taste in my mouth the first time around, but on a second viewing, the earlier scenes solidified for me that this is a really solid film. With a better ending, it could have been much greater.

8/10

Overall:

I think the film captured the fun of the book quite well, and it captured the three central characters (Bilbo, Thorin, Gandalf) perfectly. Those were the most important things, and the positives in these areas far outweigh the films few shortcomings, like some overlong sequences and some occasionally poor CGI.

Stuff to Watch For on Repeat Viewings:

- Almost all the Dwarves get a speaking role at some point, except for Bombur, who never speaks once.
- Radagast mentions Ungoliant, the Giant Mother of all Spiders who is featured in the Silmarillion.
- Radagast is attacked by a bat briefly as he flees Dol Guldur (its a blink and you'll miss it moment). Bats join the Goblin Army in the Battle of Five Armies at the end of The Hobbit.
- When the Eagles land the company on the high rock at the end of the film, the rock is shaped like a Giant Bear, foreshadowing Beorn.

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Last edited by ThePhantasm; 12-27-2012 at 12:16 PM.
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