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Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

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Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby Staff » Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:00 am

The Hobbit

Okay, I originally wanted to get this review done back when the movie was in theaters and fresh in everyone's mind, but we're going to have to settle for the upcoming BluRay release to refresh it for everyone! You know, life and what not.

After the achievement that was "The Return of the King," the standard is set pretty high for The Hobbit. How do you follow-up the first Fantasy picture to ever win best picture?  I mean, come on, the Academy didn't even give best picture to The Wizard of Oz (okay, granted, it was up against Gone With the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Stagecoach, and Of Mice and Men). More than that, how do you follow-up on the book that defined pretty much the whole of high fantasy after it? While The Lord of the Rings was an epic tale, The Hobbit is the granddaddy of pretty much all high fantasy.

While I reviewed a good number of the LotR sets, a sad confession is that I've never actually read the books. I've tried before, but I've always held that Tolkien was a brilliant linguist and a below-average writer. However, I did read the Hobbit twice... once in High School, and once in college for a Fantasy Literature class (never let it be said that a Creative Writing doesn't have it's uses... okay, say it a lot, because it's very true, but that was a very cool class). And that experience really solidified in my mind that I felt about Tolkien the exact same way I felt about Michael Crichton: great ideas and concepts... but iffy stories at the very best.

Now that I've fired a broadside across fans of The Hobbit and Jurassic Park like, let me say that the movies that were born out of those ideas have been fairly awesome. The Lord of the Rings can be called a work of absolute art. It's one of those movies that actually gets better when you peel away the illusion of how it was done (unlike, say, the PT Star Wars films that are basically a bunch of actors standing in front of a whole lot of green screens). More than that, the LotR trilogy captured the essence of what Tolkien put into his books (at least the stuff that I could bring myself to read), and it remains to be seen if The Hobbit can do the same.

Oh, and obviously, there will be some spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk. Also, there will undoubtably be jokes about walking... and it's going to be a long, long, review (like a lot of the walking scenes).



The Hobbit is a whole different beast. It's a single book, turned into three films, and while a lot of people read (or tried to read) the LotR when the movies were out, most people have read The Hobbit. It's not just a fantasy book... it's literature. And it's something that most everyone who goes to see it is going to recognize some parts of. And we're all going to get a chance to do that, since this is being stretched into three movies... somehow.

The movie opens pretty much the same way as Fellowship did, with some epic storytelling and laying down the background to everything that happened between  Sauron getting killed int he beginning of Fellowship and him not being dead and then being way dead at the end of the trilogy (before another hour of scenes closing out the movie).

Right away, there's something just amis with the movie right at the beginning. The opening of Fellowship gives you the villain and scope right away, and he's basically a no-show in the rest of the movie. The villain in the Hobbit is Smaug the Magnificent, a red dragon that basically inspired all of the fantasy art you've ever seen... but all you see of him in the opening is shadows and blurs. I get that they're trying to basically tease us and build some tension into the other movies, but it comes off like when you're watching a movie that doesn't have the budget for a nice special effect and has to pan away to reaction shots of the actors instead.

Then the huge diversion from the book, with Frodo shoehorned in in a scene that's supposed to be just before the start of Fellowship.  The problem being, of course, that The Hobbit was written first and had very little connection to the trilogy. The trilogy had tons of retcons back to it, but the movies are going backwards, after all, so we get Frodo, Galadriel, and eventually Legolas (though he's not in this one). Apparently we're going to get three movies just out of the cameos.

Instead, we're  treated (after some big scenes of a lot of dwarves walking and wandering the world) to a bunch of dwarves fighting around Moria... which again, is kind of curious, because this is something that wikipedia tells me was only mentioned in the appendixes for The Lord of the Ring (Tolkien loved his appendixes)...



We also get introduced to the villain more or less invented for this movie, Azog the Orc. Again, this was something only mentioned, like the battle. And it was mentioned in that he killed Thorin's Grandfather (and giving a whole lot of motivation to the dwarf "king"). A big battle is fought, the dwarves win, take Moria, and will go on to die sometime before the Fellowship find them all turned to dust. So our main antagonist was based on a few lines in a footnote.

I'm not actually a big stickler for the whole "book vs. movie" argument... there are some stories that are simply better told in a visual medium, and the trade-off is that you don't get all of the nuance and detail that a book affords you. Also, since this is Tolkien, you also don't get subjected to a few chapters of dwarven songs. My earlier example of Jurassic Park is a great example where a movie just ends up doing a better job of bringing a story to life than the book could.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy took a light touch on changing source material. Don't get me wrong... it certainly did. There are many pages out there on the internet dedicated to pointing out every time someone wore high green boots instead of low brown ones... but go read through them and you don't find all that many Middle Earth-shattering changes to the story. More than that, the Extended Editions of the movies even added in a lot of those little details again.

An Unexpected Journey, however, starts out by adding things that weren't in the book. Instead of being a movie based on a book, we're now watching a movie connecting to a movie based on a book about a book. That's pretty meta right there... and it doesn't work. If you read the book, you're expecting this to be about trolls, a dragon, and then eventually a battle between a lot of men, orcs, and dwarves.



There are some things that the movie does do right after such a shaky start. The whole "Unexpected Gathering" was just fun to watch. It sets the characterizations of the dwarves, which while different from their books, is still great to see. I'm not sure how I feel about Thorin being made into a tragic and reluctant hero instead of the petty, somewhat inept prick that he was in the book... but some of them are done well (like Kili and Fili).

The whole Bilbo taken aback and confused at the gathering is just great. There are also a few jokes that you wish would show up later in the movie, but they filled their quota here I guess. Much like the camera pans, the prop budget only included enough for a contract joke.

It also gives us an absolutely spine-chilling performance of Misty Mountains by the dwarf company. Yes, I made fun of all of the dwarf songs from the book (which, along with the needless explosion, is why I've never made it through the Lord of the Rings trilogy)... but when you hear the song...



Sure, FBTB started out as a a Star Wars site and all, so there's going to be some preference to John Williams, but I'll go on record saying that the Howard Shore scores for The Lord of the Rings movies, and now The Hobbit, are the best movie soundtracks made as a whole. The soundtrack for this movie, anything else aside, is absolutely top-notch. If you're a fan of great instrumentals  you should go pick it up now (Amazon has a good collection with several extended cuts and bonus tracks).

After the gathering though, we get right into some exciting Peter Jackson Walking Scenes™. Okay, it really starts with horse riding, and into the trolls. While it was mentioned by Samwise the Awesome (pretty sure that was his name), the troll scene was a big part of the book. It helped established Bilbo as an actual burglar... no, wait. In the movie, he's just sneaking around and not trying to pickpocket them.

Instead, we get snot and poop jokes. Seriously. This was the first time in the entire movie that the thought "is this like when we first saw Jar-Jar in Phantom Menace and realized we were just cheated out of our ticket money." I was just sort of waiting for one of them to go mesa sorry. Yes, in the book, it was actually a talking purse that gave away Bilbo, but that's a detail you can work around. Worse, it was something that was ended with violence instead of Gandalf tricking them and playing on their stupidity.

Another character only mentioned as an aside, Radagast the Brown, who's one of the other wizards. This is basically an excuse to make Gandalf look a bit unprepared for the whole "Sauron coming back" thing, while in the book that's pretty much his whole reason for existing. Radagast is there to bring the Lich King's sword and basically set up the movies we've already seen.

Then some stuff with elves... sigh. In the books, the elves were basically perfection. Tolkien really loved the elves. There was no real tension between the dwarves and elves, they were just guests. In the movie, layers of tension and hints that there were more than a few fist-fights just out of frame. Also, jokes about how bad the food is and something about chips. We also get more setup for Smaug being a tool of Sauron, apparently, and a chance for Cate Blanchette and Christopher Lee to show up. More Christopher Lee is always a good thing, so I'm a bit more forgiving there.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"] What the world needs now is more Christopher Lee[/caption]

Once all of the name-dropping cameos are done, we get back to the story at large. The rest of this is closer to the book than the rest of the movie has been, with the Goblin Town and all that, but starts off with what is basically a demo reel for Weta Digital and some stone giants. Seriously, I have no idea what this was about... it wasn't in the book, there wasn't even anything really like it. I guess Peter Jackson just needed some good scenes with walking in mountains.

The actual "capture" in Goblin town doesn't get much better, though things do pick up quickly. Instead of basically bumbling in to the goblins (which was a pretty big theme in the book... these weren't battle-hardened dwarves, they were just a stream of accidents and screw-ups), there is a crazy fall that should have ended with the entire group basically splatters on bottom of the town, and captured.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"] Pictured: This Fall Would Kill you[/caption]

Really, the whole thing was an excuse to split the dwarves away from Bilbo and show off some more digital effects with the amazing looking, and also disgusting, Goblin King / Great Goblin. The namesake for the set really sets the whole mood, and has a voice that makes you just want to pick up your phone and figure out who in the heck it is (it was Bruce the Shark from Finding Nemo... FYI).



As you can guess, it eventually ends in violence, but at least that's how it worked in the book too, for once. It's not an epic battle, sadly, it's almost just comic relief at this point. But we do get to see Gandalf with a sword.

Bilbo goes off to play with everyone's favorite character from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Gollum. While there are a few liberties in the whole thing, it does a great job capturing the iconic scene in the book. Of course, we're a couple hours in to this by now, so really, we're just mostly numb. Spoiler... Bilbo gets the ring, they all escape, there are some wargs, and we're going to get two more movies. And these will all eventually get turned in to "Extend Editions" for more fights, walking, and snot jokes. And the predictable (and terrible) tease of Smaug.

In the end... this is a hard movie to pin down. It feels good to get more Lord of the Ring goodness out there. But at the same time... there simply isn't enough source here to make three movies. The original trilogy never felt as long as this, even though it most certainly was. It had depth that it drew you into the story.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey? Not so much... instead of feeling like there's a lot to cover, it feels like there's a lot tacked on. Is it worth a watch, certainly. But if you're looking for the same depth and awe that The Lord of the Rings brought us, we have to hope that the next installment can do it.


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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby Trooper10 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:42 am

The Goblin King is voiced by Barry Humphries, best known as "Dame Edna Everage" but also a very well known Australian actor from film and stage.

IMO the movie was too long, had too much unnecessary additional exposition, an unnecessary villain (I hated the pointless gnarly orc captain in ROTK too) BUT I loved the visuals (saw it in 2D, normal frame rate), the costumes, the music and the New Zealand scenery - I thought Bilbo and the Dwarves were all great and as always Gandalf and Saruman were awesome.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby Mister Ed » Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:57 am

Technically the Stone Giants ARE in the book, but they are barely mentioned, so it's not surprising that you wouldn't remember them. There was certainly nothing there to justify the huge scene we got.

I enjoyed the movie, but yes, it was, IMHO, too stretched out, and I disliked the additions. The stuff dealing with the Necromancer (basically the return of Sauron), while mentioned in the appedices, has, IMHO, no real place in a Hobbit movie, AND they did a lousy of job of integrating it into the movie, anyway. It didn't feel at all like a seamless part of the story, but rather like the tacked on digression that it was. It's a story I wouldn't mind seeing, but not as part of the Hobbit.

The introduction of Azog as an ongoing antagonist throughout the film (and presumably, through all three films) is, IMHO, the WORST of the additions. Made up from whole cloth (his background is legitmate Tolkien, but he was KILLED in the battle they depicted, and his very distinctive physical appearance here is unmentioned in the books), and completely unnecessary to the advancing of the plot, the only reasons to include him are a.) padding to fill out three films, and b.) some misplaced feeling that the aforementioned three films need some kind of consistent antagonist throughout to tie them all together.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby lowlead » Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:46 am

After entering the theatre for the first viewing of The Phantom Menace with soaring expectations (foolishly), I learned my lesson and treated The Hobbit... with a lot more guarded open-mindedness, and much less fan boy giddiness.

The Hobbit IMHO, like The Phantom Menace, was the object of dizzyingly high expectations. This time around, the fans weren't quite so disappointed, but I share some eyebrow-raising sentiments like many other fans of the books:

The Stone Giants - Neat that they're in the movie, but why the drawn-out indulgence? I know! Theme park ride promo. Scene would have worked better if cut in half time-wise.

The Necromancer's return - I enjoyed the reference, including the ruins of Dol Guldur, but was too grossed-out by the bird poo running down Radagast's head. The Brown Wizard could have been a great presence, but instead risked becoming the Jar-Jar Binks of the Hobbit flick. Careful, Peter.

Azog - Not particularly bothered by this seemingly un-popular addition, but ya, his narrative was stretched thin to be the ever-present baddie until Smaug takes center stage. Meh, neither here nor there on Azog.

Trollshaws - I laughed at the fart jokes here. That whole sequence I liked pretty well, especially when the Dwarves caught onto Bilbo's stalling for time and all started professing to various diseases. Very silly, but I still laughed.

Goblin Town - All the wildly unrealistic cliff diving really distracted from the scene - again, theme park ride promo. I liked the Goblin King, and especially his personal 'scribe on a wire', but HATED his last line after being sliced open by Gandalf. The line escapes me right now, and I'm thankful for it.

What I really liked - Well, everything else, basically. The eagles, all the Dwarf back-story, the look of the Dwarf city under the mountain (awesome!!), Elrond as a warrior, all the Rivendell scenes, Bilbo and Gollum are fantastic...

Very different feel to this film, but that's not a bad thing.

.02
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby CrazyLlama » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:04 am

I have to agree with Mister Ed about the additions especially Azog. While I like the parts concerning the Necromancer I agree that they don't fit well with the rest of the story line. I think that, instead of three Hobbit movies they should have made the Hobbit in one or two movies and followed that with the "Rise of the Necromancer" or some such. I'm interested in seeing how they portray the events leading the Saurons return to Mordor but I don't like the way they mixed that story with the Hobbit. The Hobbit is meant to be a fairytale and by mixing the lightheartedness of that story with the grim happenings of the return of Sauron they create a story that has some confusing and strange plot twists.

On the up side the characters were great, the costumes were great, and the visuals were great. I saw it in 3D and I really don't know what to think. It was good but 3D is one of those things I just can't make up my mind about. The Hobbit certainly looked better in 3D than The Phantom Menace but at the same time 3D is a relatively new format and far form perfect.

Over all I like the movie. Although I didn't like most of the additions I have to say that Radagast was awesome. To me he really made it feel like a fairytale and it makes up for him not appearing in the LotRs. Now if only they could find a way to add Tom Bombadil...
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby dWhisper » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:22 am

Don't get me wrong, the movie is absolutely gorgeous, I suppose I should have called that out a bit more. I didn't watch it in 3D (and really don't plan to... 3D isn't my thing), but watching the behind the scenes stuff on it is fascinating. I think they really could have woven the Necromancer into the story more as something to flesh out.

I guess my big beef (and what I tried to get across writing the review, which I actually started months ago when I saw it in theaters) is that all of the additions didn't really do anything for the story. To use a food analogy... it's like going out to a restaurant and ordering a nice dish where more care was obviously put into garnishing the plate than into making the food. Personally, I think you could have done the whole "retaking Moria" as a better back story for the dwarves instead of just putting random pieces together.

Yes, the whole fight at the beginning was nice and epic, but the whole Smaug Tease got old quickly. It actually reminded me of one of the worst movies I've ever seen in theaters: Aliens vs. Predator... not for plot or quality, but for a root problem of not showing the real action.

In AvP, you had two of the scariest creatures come together (and the comic it should have been based on was awesome, as was the original video game made on it), and the movie captured that "scary" aspect by panning the camera away from all of the action and then playing soundtracks of people screaming. Instead of creating a tease and making us anticipate it, it annoyed the audience and ruined everything around it.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby buriedbybricks » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:28 am

Characterization was a real weak spot for me in this film that I doubt a second watching will fix. With a movie this long, there wasn't adequate attempt at establishing the dwarves and in the end, I really didn't care about most of them. By the time Fellowship was over, I felt a connection to every member and was concerned with what would happen to them.

Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Dori, Nori, and Ori were the Tolkien equivalent of red shirts in this movie and if they're going to draw a film out (waaay out), making me genuinely give a crap about the characters is a great way to do it. If this movie had ended with half the company already dead, I would barely have cared. Not good.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby dWhisper » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:42 am

Sad fact when writing this review... I was using the minifigures and their entries on Brickset to remind me who was who in the movie...
If the above post didn't offend you, you're probably reading it wrong.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby theone » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:06 am

in defence of the movie the book doesnt characterise the dwarves that much either
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby Oky Wan Kenobi » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:40 am

Thanks for the review. It's nice to hear your thoughts, but you say that you are not a stickler for movie vs. book arguments, and yet most of your complaints revolve around changes from the book. I for one liked many of the changes. I liked the fact that they tried to connect it to the LotR trilogy by adding that scene with Frodo. I liked the fact that they decided not to show Smaug in order to build up to him rather than show him right off the bat (which gets you more excited about the third movie) and added an antagonist for this movie instead (which made it more interesting). I liked that the elves were not the perfect goody-goodies they were in the book and the tension created a lot more depth to their relationship with Thorin and the dwarves. I liked the idea that Smaug was being used by Sauron. I liked that the goblins were more competent. And I really don't get the complaints about the stone giants. Who cares if they were hardly in the book? It made for a neat scene which added to the feeling of being in a fantasy world rather than New Zealand, and it wasn't even that long, so what's the big deal?

One thing I agree on is the part about Radagast which was a bit silly and didn't really need to be in there. And I can see where you're coming from regarding the scene with the trolls, but that scene really wasn't as bad as you make it sound. Some parts of it were actually kind of amusing. I also agree that it would have been nice if some of the dwarf characters were developed a bit more, but expecting the kind of characterization like in Fellowship is a bit unfair because it's about twice as hard to develop 13 supporting characters in one movie than it is with only 7 (not counting Gandalf who has a good amount of characterization in both movies). And let's face it, some of them don't have much character to develop to begin with.

Quite frankly, I never got that sense of depth that everyone else seems to see in the LOTR movies (and yes, the books were too hard to read for me too, unlike The Hobbit) and I felt that the changes here made for a more complex and more interesting movie. Some of them may seem tacked on, but at least they add to the story or the characters or just the overall movie experience, and they were more enjoyable for me than a lot of those redundant scenes of people walking or crying or talking about how evil Sauron is in LOTR. I guess it comes down to personal preference and what expectation you went into the movie with. If you were expecting a movie that follows the book to a tee or one that has the same feel as LOTR, you were obviously going to be disappointed. I went in not knowing what exactly to expect and not remembering many details from the book and found it to be quite enjoyable. I do wish these movies weren't so long, but oh well.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby Mister Ed » Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:40 am

One doesn't really need to be a "stickler" to object to the extent of the changes here. A "stickler" would be objecting to the fact that the Dwarves don't wear the colored hoods described in the book. Disliking the obtrusive addition of an unrelated storyline (Necromancer plotline) or invented, heavily used antagonist, does not, IMHO, constitute being a "stickler".

Just saying. :D

And it seems to me like, if you wish the movies weren't so long, those additions would be the easiest and best way to shorten them. I strongly suspect I would have been happier with the end product had they not made the late decision to balloon this to three films rather than the two originally planned.

That said, I DID enjoy the movie. And I expect to enjoy the next two as well. I'm just not fond of being left with the feeling that I would have enjoyed them MORE with a few (to me, anyway) obvious changes.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby buriedbybricks » Tue Mar 19, 2013 7:25 am

theone wrote:in defence of the movie the book doesnt characterise the dwarves that much either


Oky Wan Kenobi wrote:I can see where you're coming from regarding the scene with the trolls, but that scene really wasn't as bad as you make it sound. Some parts of it were actually kind of amusing. I also agree that it would have been nice if some of the dwarf characters were developed a bit more, but expecting the kind of characterization like in Fellowship is a bit unfair because it's about twice as hard to develop 13 supporting characters in one movie than it is with only 7 (not counting Gandalf who has a good amount of characterization in both movies). And let's face it, some of them don't have much character to develop to begin with.


You're both right, there wasn't a lot of developement in the book, but there were a lot of things that weren't in the book that made it into the movie. IMO, scenes of troll toilet humour and giant CGI rock monsters were a waste of valuable storytelling time that could have been far better used.

The Fellowship had 9 (you're still down a man there oky) and managed to establish each one quite well, while finding time to develope Elrond (which this films portrayal seemed to go against), Arwen, Bilbo and Galadriel. As I said Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Dori, Nori, and Ori were basically ignored and you can pretty much add Oin and Gloin to the list with Dwalin barely being touched on as well. So, Fellowship did a better job in a movie that was ten minutes longer than this one, based on a book that was 200 pagers longer than the entire story that we've only seen the first third of here.

There is no exuse for this. I've come to expect more from this writing trio and this was sub-par anyway you look at it. I enjoy a good brainless popcorn flick as much as the rest, but when you put Jackson and Tolkien's name on it, I expect more.

Ori had more lines in Fellowship post mortem then he did ia a film he was actually alive in. Wouldn't this have been a good chance to set him up as a character worthy enough to be one of the last living dwarves in Moria?

This film could have had a lot more growth and still had time for plenty of scenes of walking.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby dWhisper » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:56 am

Mister Ed is right on my position as a stickler... a good example would be that I actually liked the changes in movie versions of stuff like The Watchmen or Lord of the Rings, where the changes aren't distracting. Movies and books are two different mediums, and tell their stories in different ways, so there's always going to be some trade-off.

But when it goes away from making a trade to trying to stuff in a bunch of extra stuff, things tend to go awry. I was fine without the chapters being represented on dwarf history and dwarf singing (and there were a lot of those in The Hobbit), but not so much on inventing a bunch of characters that don't fit the tapestry of the story we knew about.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby Mister Ed » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:32 am

I guess part of my problem is that, while they ARE obviously related, I've always viewed The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as fairly separate entities. The differences in tone and depth really make them different things in my mind.

I get the feeling that this is not so for Peter Jackson. I think he is treating The Hobbit films as a straight-up prequel for LotR, rather than an attempt at just telling the story of the book itself. Technically, The Hobbit DOES qualify as a prequel for LotR in that it is set before it, set in the same world, and contains several of the same characters. But I feel that it is really a different animal, a fairly straightforward quest tale, which has little bearing on the story of the later books. By trying to remold it into another LotR trilogy, and tie it in more tightly to the ongoing story of the later work, I feel he is doing the original, simpler, more lighthearted tale a disservice. I was hoping, when a Hobbit movie was announced, that we would actually get to see just that, a movie version of The Hobbit. What we ARE getting is, paradoxically, something MORE than that which, as a result, feels like something LESS than that. To me anyway.

It is certainly right to say that much of my disappointment in the film (and please remember, I DID enjoy it) comes from the expectations I brought to the table. I just feel that those expectations were not, in the end, totally unreasonable ones.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby Flynn » Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:04 pm

dWhisper wrote:I actually liked the changes in movie versions of stuff like The Watchmen... where the changes aren't distracting.


Aside from, you know, changing the entire moral purpose of the book and all that. Nothing too distracting. ;)


But seriously, I agree with Mister Ed here in that my biggest issue with the film is how much it seems to believe The Hobbit is just another Lord of the Rings book when it's really not at all like that. Its target demographic is significantly younger, the prose is much crisper and description of actions much briefer, and the general tone extremely light and fluid in a way the later books just aren't. The additions in the films didn't just change the story, it changed virtually the entire approach of the novel and resulted in a very tonally inconsistent whole.

In reality, the Rankin-Bass version of The Hobbit is just about the right kind of approach and the most accurate in terms of capturing the feel and tone of the book. This feels more like someone trying desperately to turn a children's story into a high fantasy epic when it's just not going to work that way.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby Oky Wan Kenobi » Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:51 pm

Mister Ed wrote:One doesn't really need to be a "stickler" to object to the extent of the changes here.

Fair enough, although I still think it sounded a bit hypocritical.

buriedbybricks wrote:You're both right, there wasn't a lot of developement in the book, but there were a lot of things that weren't in the book that made it into the movie. IMO, scenes of troll toilet humour and giant CGI rock monsters were a waste of valuable storytelling time that could have been far better used.

The Fellowship had 9 (you're still down a man there oky) and managed to establish each one quite well, while finding time to develope Elrond (which this films portrayal seemed to go against), Arwen, Bilbo and Galadriel. As I said Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Dori, Nori, and Ori were basically ignored and you can pretty much add Oin and Gloin to the list with Dwalin barely being touched on as well. So, Fellowship did a better job in a movie that was ten minutes longer than this one, based on a book that was 200 pagers longer than the entire story that we've only seen the first third of here.

I wasn't counting Frodo either since I was talking strictly about the supporting characters. As you said yourself, they had a lot more to work with in Fellowship, so establishing the characters was much easier there. Both the dwarves and elves weren't touched upon much because the book didn't either. I think it's better that they left it that way rather than inventing characteristics for them. Plus the elves were already established in the LOTR movies, so they didn't even need to be developed. And besides, I really don't think that some of these characters were ever meant to be any more complex than they are, like Bombur who is simply "the fat one". So again, I think the source material is to blame rather than the movie makers.

Mister Ed wrote:And it seems to me like, if you wish the movies weren't so long, those additions would be the easiest and best way to shorten them. I strongly suspect I would have been happier with the end product had they not made the late decision to balloon this to three films rather than the two originally planned.

Mister Ed wrote:I guess part of my problem is that, while they ARE obviously related, I've always viewed The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as fairly separate entities. The differences in tone and depth really make them different things in my mind.

I get the feeling that this is not so for Peter Jackson. I think he is treating The Hobbit films as a straight-up prequel for LotR, rather than an attempt at just telling the story of the book itself. Technically, The Hobbit DOES qualify as a prequel for LotR in that it is set before it, set in the same world, and contains several of the same characters. But I feel that it is really a different animal, a fairly straightforward quest tale, which has little bearing on the story of the later books. By trying to remold it into another LotR trilogy, and tie it in more tightly to the ongoing story of the later work, I feel he is doing the original, simpler, more lighthearted tale a disservice. I was hoping, when a Hobbit movie was announced, that we would actually get to see just that, a movie version of The Hobbit. What we ARE getting is, paradoxically, something MORE than that which, as a result, feels like something LESS than that. To me anyway.

I get what you're saying and when it was announced that this is going to be a trilogy, I also thought that it would be better if they would have kept it to two movies and thereby closer to the tone of the book as I thought the Hobbit to be fairly separate from LotR as well, but you also have to consider that reading a book and watching a movie are very different things. You may not make too much of a connection when you read the books, but if you see the same people make this movie in the same location with the same actors playing the same characters that you have already seen in the other movies, you are obviously going to make some connections, so it makes sense that they would choose to make it connect to LotR even more, especially for the people in the audience who have never read the book. So, much like the false expectations, this is a side effect created by their decision to film LotR first. People were expecting the same depth as in LotR, and that's what they're trying to deliver with these additions. You can't expect it to have the same depth as LotR and still be a 1:1 adaption of the book at the same time. So really, they're trying to please everyone by making it more complex than it actually is and still stay true to the source material, which I find admirable.

All I'm saying is that for what it is (a 9-hour trilogy adaption of the book) it's pretty good and could have been much worse. In fact, I was expecting worse going into this movie, and I was pleasantly surprised how these changes actually added to this fairly simple story. If a simple story is what you want, then I guess this trilogy is not for you.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby buriedbybricks » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:16 pm

Oky Wan Kenobi wrote:I wasn't counting Frodo either since I was talking strictly about the supporting characters. As you said yourself, they had a lot more to work with in Fellowship, so establishing the characters was much easier there. Both the dwarves and elves weren't touched upon much because the book didn't either. I think it's better that they left it that way rather than inventing characteristics for them. Plus the elves were already established in the LOTR movies, so they didn't even need to be developed. And besides, I really don't think that some of these characters were ever meant to be any more complex than they are, like Bombur who is simply "the fat one". So again, I think the source material is to blame rather than the movie makers.

they're trying to please everyone by making it more complex than it actually is and still stay true to the source material, which I find admirable.

All I'm saying is that for what it is (a 9-hour trilogy adaption of the book) it's pretty good and could have been much worse. In fact, I was expecting worse going into this movie, and I was pleasantly surprised how these changes actually added to this fairly simple story. If a simple story is what you want, then I guess this trilogy is not for you.


Azog was supposed to be dead, is the sorce material to blame for his addition or the movie makers? They made the choices and we're stuck with them. The more I think about it, the closer this movie feels to Michael Bay's adaption of Transformers. People liked that a lot too, but that doesn't make it good.

It's a shame the fans of the simple story are the ones who are left out in the cold, because it isn't staying true. Since fans were supposedly the ones to make it. It doesn't feel that way.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby Oky Wan Kenobi » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:37 pm

Does it really matter if he was dead or alive? I think it's better than them inventing a completely new character that wasn't in the book at all, and it's not like it ruins the story in any way. In fact, it makes Thorin and the whole movie a lot more interesting. Seems very nitpicky to complain about such a small change, but it seems that you have already made up your mind that "there is no excuse for this" so I guess there is no point in arguing. Let's agree to disagree.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby buriedbybricks » Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:47 pm

I don't agree to that!

In all seriousness though, it was just an example. Though if you think Azog is a small change, that explains a lot since it only adjusts the tone of the climax, the story progression and Thorin's motivations as a character.

I was simply trying to point out that you heap all the praise on the filmmakers for the things they did make up, but blamed the book for the things they didn't.

I actually liked the Azog angle as it eliminated the need for scheming wargs as they're more enjoyable as feral beasts, but he's a symptom of the problem with the movie overall.

I've heard a lot of excuses for the final product and I always take the good ones into account.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Postby Mister Ed » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:37 pm

Oky Wan Kenobi wrote:Does it really matter if he was dead or alive? I think it's better than them inventing a completely new character that wasn't in the book at all, and it's not like it ruins the story in any way. In fact, it makes Thorin and the whole movie a lot more interesting. Seems very nitpicky to complain about such a small change, but it seems that you have already made up your mind that "there is no excuse for this" so I guess there is no point in arguing. Let's agree to disagree.


Agree to disagree, as you said. I honestly don't see how it can be classified as a "small change", and I don't think it DOES make the movie more interesting. I wouldn't say it "ruins" the story, but it DOES, IMHO, change it significantly, and I think it is completely uneccessary.

As for it being better than inventing a new character, well, marginally. They ARE essentially inventing a new character, because the character of Azog as they inserted him here didn't exist. Personally, I don't see why, if they were going to add in a character that was hunting the party all along the way, they didn't use Azog's son Bolg. They could still have showed the same backstory, still have had motivation for them to hunt the Dwarves (revenge for the killing of Azog), and they would have been using a character that not only is SUPPOSED to be still alive, but even figures into the novel later leading the Orcs at the Battle of the Five Armies. But THAT is nitpicking. If they were going to change the story enough to add somebody hunting the Dwarves along the way, the choice of who to put in that invented role really doesn't matter all that much.
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