The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Note: I saw this in 2-D at 24 fps, because I like movies and not that other stuff.
So, I guess this pretty much turned out the way I expected, and while I’m not someone who really believes in comparing movies to the books they came from, here it’s probably unavoidable and also part of the fun.
I’m not that interested in pointing to all the little things they added or left out or whatever, that’s not a very big deal to me, but it’s clear that the biggest difference between the book and the movie is the tone. I don’t mind this change, but this movie is way bigger and much more epic than the book wants to be. That doesn’t make it worse (and definitely not better), it’s just different.
Not surprisingly, the tone shift makes the movie way too long. The extra bits in Rivendell are almost unbearable. And then all the silly stuff with the White Orc “tracking” the dwarves and the extended chase scenes… ugh. They just make the movie feel bloated and make it feel much more like any other fantasy movie. It’s just not interesting when they do that.
Martin Freeman is fantastic early on as Bilbo, but his character gets less and less interesting as time goes on. And then, for some reason, they decide to have Bilbo “save” Thorin at the end through his ability to be really lethal with a sword/knife. I think this was the biggest problem I had– Bilbo is interesting as a hero precisely because he’s not an accomplished warrior. He’s clever and figures out how to use his skills (and his ring) to his advantage, but he doesn’t win the favor of the dwarves by jumping on things and killing them. NOT INTERESTING.
I haven’t read the Silmarillion, or the appendices, or wherever all of the extra bits from this movie came from, and I’m not going to read them, so if every single thing that seems added (including Bilbo’s heroics at the end) came from there, then we have Tolkien to blame for George Lucasing himself. I’m fine with the epic stuff, even if I like the tone of the book more (and I think it’s able to be much more subtle that way, unlike the movie, which just tosses everything right out there in front), but I’m not fine with making Bilbo an action hero.
But I’m not complaining all that much because this ended up about how I expected. So maybe I’m complaining about that. It would have been nice to have been surprised by something. Like everyone’s been saying, the Gollum scenes are fantastic– Andy Serkis is a treasure. But I’m never going to let go of one thing: Imagine if Guillermo Del Toro had actually ended up making this. Oh, that’s right– you can’t. Because Del Toro comes up with stuff we can’t imagine. Now that version would have had surprises.