The Hobbit (2012)
A Bad Movie Studios Film Review
I decided to do a two part review of The Hobbit and The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug after planning to see them both at my local movie theater in a double feature. Six hours of Lord of the Rings in 3D. I’m not big on seeing movies in 3D, because I find it a gimmick that shouldn’t really effect my opinion of a film. And by that, I mean that a film shouldn’t be based around 3D as a selling point, and my opinion shouldn’t have to revolve so much around an added feature. To be honest, The Hobbit and Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug are the second (and third) films I’ve seen in 3D. The first being Thor (2011). Anyway, I’m going to write these reviews back to back, with a little space put in between their release. So let me first talk about 2012’s, The Hobbit.
Everyone and their grandmother knows Lord of the Rings, whether they’ve seen the films or not. They are fantasy adventure epics that pretty much define the genre. Most people know that they are based on a series of books by J. R. R. Tolkien. The books in the series were published between 1937 and 1949. But before Tolkien wrote that trilogy, he wrote The Hobbit. I would hazard to guess that these days most people know the series by the films instead of the books. And before this series of Hobbit movies was produced, most people didn’t really know about the tale themselves.
The story of the film primarily revolves around Bilbo Baggins (uncle to Frodo Baggins) being swung into joining a group of thirteen Dwarves and the wizard Gandalf, as they make their way to the Dwarve’s ancient treasure filled mountain home. The mountain is now home to Smaug, the fire beating, gold hoarding dragon that killed most of the Dwarf people. So, the company travels across Middle-Earth, battling Orcs, goblins and the impending evil of Sauron, on the quest to regain their home. The plot definitely has that grand adventure feel that Lord of the Rings is known for, but to me it’s actually pulled off better for the most part. The story and situations aren’t as big as the more famous works in the series, but they are more coherent and less complicated. I have a much easier time following the different subplots with the different characters. Much more of a convenient experience than Lord of the Rings. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I haven’t watched the original trilogy in a while, but I just recall forgetting more of what happened in those movies than I did remember. Something that I did find interesting, is that even though there are a lot of changes from the source material and even a decent amount of padding (it’s hard to turn 300 pages of literature into 9+ hours of film) The Hobbit doesn’t really feel like it drags along any place. That’s impressive to me. Yes, it still does feel like a 3 hour movie, but that 3 hours moves at a solid pace. I have found myself able to sit through it on 2 separate occasions without the need for a break. Also, I know there are a lot of different opinions on how the plot of the film goes. Some will undoubtedly take issue with the changes, both the additions and subtractions, to the original works. Some will be able to look at it as it’s own thing and appreciate it as such. Well, I haven’t read the books (as I’ve mentioned) so I have no ties to the preexisting text. This means that I fit into the second category. I will say however that I hope the fans that aren’t taking a liking to the changes that a medium swap demands can still look past that and see the competent narrative that this film brings to the table. It’s not amazing or a spectacle playing out before your eyes, but it works and gets the job done well.
The cast in the film is solid as well. Ian McKellen does a great job as the wizard Gandolf yet again, and Martin Freeman’s Bilbo has settled in to me as one of the stand out characters in the series. He’s FAR more likeable than Frodo and Sam were. And he’s equally as entertaining as Mary and Pippin. Of course the returning side characters are good too. Hugo Weaving as Elrond is good, as well as Cate Blanchett as Galadriel. But personally I was just overjoyed to see Christopher Lee return as Sarumon the White. I’m a big fan of Lee, whom I’ve liked ever since seeing him portray Dracula in the HAMMER films. So seeing him again in The Hobbit, at around age 90 no less, was awesome. A new character that we get to spend some time with, is another wizard by the name of Radagast the Brown. He’s a sort of “in touch with nature”…madman, for lack of a better word. He’s played by Sylvestor McCoy. You may know he actor that plays him as the seventh Doctor from the long running Doctor Who franchise. He’s good here, giving Radagast a feverish eccentricity that fits well with the character. To be honest, the only characters that are a little underwhelming are the dwarves. They’re actually all likable for the most part, and I found myself wishing for them to succeed in their quest. But with so many of them on screen at once for most of the film, it’s hard to give them all distinguishing qualities. Well the filmmakers tried their hardest, and they were successful, if albeit they did so modestly. The dwarves are all different, but this amount of variety comes with the detraction of them all begin pretty one dimensional characters. They really cling to the single aspect of their personality that makes them different than the others in the group for the entire feature. And I’ve also noticed that their group tends to have a very common sense of emotion. By that I mean, when one is sad, they all end to be sad. Or mad, or happy or what have you. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you could easily make a case for this actually deepening their character pools collectively, showing bond and unity as friends and family. Or you could just say that they all happen to be conveniently like minded. Take your pick.
Something that I’ve noticed about this movie, is that I actually think it looks better without the 3D. The 3D gave me problems focusing on certain objects on the screen, and pointed out the CGI in the film like you wouldn’t believe. And that was my first criticism on the movie as a whole, the large amount of CG. When I think about Lord of the Rings, I think of the practical effects. The groups of 200 soldiers on screen at one time, the villages built entirely from scratch. The huge, vast landscapes. Not to say that this film doesn’t have that, but I definitely feel that there was much more reliance on CGI in this film than on the others in the Ring series. This isn’t to say that the computer effects don’t look good, they look fine. But to me CGI is pretty noticeable. And I just happened to notice it more than I would have hoped for this film.
I guess overall, my opinion on The Hobbit is that it’s just different. It’s got a pretty good fantasy story, good scenes of battle and combat, likable characters, plenty of moments that suspend disbelief and entertain, and that classic Tolkien feel. But it doesn’t feel like Lord of the Rings to me. And to be honest, I find that a strength. It didn’t feel like a retread of the same old thing we’ve seen before 10 years ago. Not too much anyway. It really feels like it’s own adventure, and in my opinion, one that entertains me a little bit more than Lord of the Rings did. It’s a story that I’m more interested in seeing the continuation and ultimate conclusion of.
My Final Score – 7.5/10
Not perfect, not broken. It’s a decent first installment to a trilogy that never had to be, but that I am glad exists. Next time, I will do the sequel to this film, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.
- The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug (whattoolincoln.wordpress.com)
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (anglaisesce.wordpress.com)
- Film Review: The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug (pop-break.com)
- The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (2013) (shereviewseverything.wordpress.com)
- The Hobbit Movie Review – The Desolation of Smaug (thelearnsomethingnew.com)
- FILM REVIEW The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug (organicxpression.org)