Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Should Have Been a Majestic Journey Instead the Film has no Magic

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2 1/2 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings series, King Kong)
Written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Guillermo del Torro
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, and Richard Armitage
When I was in junior high school I discovered this book by J.R.R. Tolkien about Bilbo Baggins, and his journey through well, the "unexpected" as he took on a dragon, fought with dwarfs, found a magical ring, and challenged himself to step outside of his comfort zone.  Tolkien's Hobbit was meant to be a bedtime story for his children, and unlike the complexity of his previously published Lord of the Rings series, The Hobbit.  So why did this film try so hard without ever trying?

The Hobbit, which obviously comes before the Lord of the Rings series is a simpler straight forward story about Bilbo Baggins who lives in the shire and helps a group of dwarfs try to reclaim their land from a dragon.  

To be honest this is the best and simplest way to to describe the book written by Tolkien, and yet Jackson and his collaborators will stretch this small yet wonderful book into three films.  For fans of the book, or people who know about the The Hobbit book you may ask how or why this is being done.  Well based on the first movie it seems like Jackson and his team is going to drag this out to try and make this film into something different than what it was intended.

The other problem is that this team put the cart before the horse, the back end of the film series coming before this trilogy sets up The Hobbit to be defined by the Lord of the rings films.  Fans of the films, and not the books would not be "satisfied."  The Hobbit is simpler liter fare, filled with humor and heart.  This is one area where the film succeeds, these many dwarfs are just hilarious and the heart is not fully missing from the film experience.

The other two main problems with the film are the fact that they are stretching the material too far, and the way the film is shot.  I think choosing to break this into three parts is massive mistake because while there was heart, soul, and laughter, which transcends from the original material, the script feel drawn out, and a bit of a yawn at times rather than capturing pointed moments, which make this story great.

The next problem is using the high frame rate technology, which shoots 48 frames per second, which does not add to the quality of film it merely distracts, and tries to hard to make things appear cooler than they actually end up.  This could have been shoot in the more traditional 24 frames per second and could have created a better experience.

The best parts of the film are the visuals, which are truly majestic, and they make you feel the beauty of the previous franchise.  For all its worth, and for the beauty which exists the team who wrote this focused too much on the little used Orc in the original source material rather than focusing on the simple emotional journey which exists in the book.

Jackson wanted to make the Lord of Rings again, but they forget this book is different, and their writing does not lead to strong characters layered characters like Aragorn, but flat characters with no depth beyond understanding they want their home back from the beautiful opening moments.  After the opening moments pass the film lost me along what was meant to be one of the most heartfelt journeys into self-exploration to loud bombastic unnescessary battle scenes.

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