Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Hobbit

Second alphabetically in the big four films I saw over the holidays is Peter Jackson's sprawling rendition of J.R.R. Tolkien's relatively small novel, The Hobbit.  As Jackson has publicly said, this first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, is the beginning of a trilogy, each member of which will run nearly three hours.  To provide the material for so many hours of film, Jackson is weaving in bits from other Tolkien material. 

This first installment clocked in at 169 minutes, just 11 minutes short of three hours.  I can honestly say that I was never bored and always entertained.  At the same time, long scene after long scene after long scene felt too long, as if Jackson was so enthralled by his material that he lost sight of any notion of telling his story in the most compelling manner and instead just indulged himself.  By making a dozen or more two- to three-minute cuts all through the movie, he could have made a much more effective story--and none of us would have felt the lack of the cut bits. 

Such plot as Jackson gives us is more than a bit weak. After taking entirely too long to get our intrepid band on the road, they then follow a winding path that seems to exist entirely at Gandalf's whim.  By the end of the film, when giant birds literally fly in out of the blue and save our gang, it's hard not to feel that Gandalf could have just called in the birds at the beginning, put the team on them, and in a few hours had our boys right where they were when the movie ended. 

Having said all that, I have to also say that I enjoyed the movie, had a good time in the theater, will go see the next one, and recommend it to fantasy fans.  It was fun, though it never achieved the sense of soaring greatness that Jackson so clearly wanted. 

As a side note, I should address the much-discussed issue of the 48 frames-per-second technology Jackson used to make The Hobbit, but I can't. The only way to catch a 48-fps version in my area was to watch it in 3D, and none of us wanted to suffer through nearly three hours of wearing 3D glasses. 


pjz said...

Look at it this way: all that extra material will make it easier for someone to remix the trilogy into a nice 90-minute epic :)

Mark said...

Good point!


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