Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
I had much anticipated seeing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at my local cinema. I will break my review down into 4 parts. Disregard the parts you dislike and read those you enjoy.
ActingFour performance I found the most memorable for good or for bad.
Martin Freeman was wonderful as Bilbo Baggins. I first encountered him in the BBC Sherlock Holms series as Dr. Watson. He is a solid character actor that delivers real ‘human’ performances. Using him as the main character helped me and the audience integrate with the material. His performance as the classical fish out of water was refreshing and reminded me at times like how I would react to those circumstances. I am curious how he will perform in the next films.
Ian McKellen was wonderful as always as Gandalf the Grey. He portrayed Gandalf very well and mirrored the book fairly well.
Richard Armitage portrayal of Thorin Oakenshield was a little flat at times and his real age was apparent though the makeup. His characterization made Thorin seemed less a leader and more a follower caught up in the wave adventure. I think he was miscast. The role needed someone with more gravitas.
Ken Stott acted wonderfully as Balin and seemed to steal all of Armitage’s scenes. He engaged me more than any of the dwarf characters. His portrayal made believe he was the real leader of the dwarfs. He was the more memorable dwarf.
Special EffectsWith so much CGI in the move it was hard to focus on just one element. Here are a few things I noticed.
The Eagles looked beautiful. The feathers seemed to move independent of one another in the breeze. They still need to talk though.
Gollum was suitably creepy. I wish though they could have made him look a little grimier. He lives in a cave after all. He looked freshly showered. Otherwise he was wonderful looking.The fire scenes with the trees seemed a little fake to me. I have seen pine trees ablaze and they burn fast with the fire racing to the upper branches. A little more realism would have added more to the sense of peril the dwarfs were in. The scene was drawn out a little too long for me.
PacingWell there are many thing to be said about the pacing and I will cover the two most bothersome things to me.
Several scenes were padded making them fill overly long. Some like the dwarfs arriving was the perfect time to introduce the dwarves in single or pairs. The director skimmed over a couple of dwarves I think and did not dwell long enough on them to allow us to associate them with their names.
The Troll scene was wonderfully done aside from not knowing the Trolls names. But one part surprised me. In the book the Troll cave is hidden behind a stone pivoting door. Bilbo finds it and opens it but in the film they just walk right into an open cave. It would have been a great time to demonstrate Bilbo’s natural cunning as a burglar.
AestheticsAre the goblins of the Misty Mountains all nudists and their king showing the greatest in corpulent flesh? Are we to assume that from their portrayal in the film that because they are an evil race they also eschew clothing? They have a structured sociality and there is mention in the later part of the book of nations and alliances and there great capital in the mountain of Gundbad. Why are the goblins who are dressed in THONGS?