Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

What with The Desolation of Smaug coming out on DVD and Blu-Ray soon and There And Back Again coming out in theaters this year, I figured it's about time I reviewed An Unexpected Journey, considering how I promised to do so a long time ago.
Having never seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and indeed never having read the book the trilogy was based on, the only thing I had to compare this to was J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, a book that I liked. Having said that, this is a very entertaining and accurate adaptation as far as I can remember. Where and if it strays from the source material, it isn't as noticeable as it was in the later Harry Potter movies, which might as well have been based on the summaries from Wikipedia with how much got changed, left out, or edited. That's not to say that changes aren't good, I liked what The Avengers series has done so far with its changes, and despite the major flaws with X-Men 3, Fox managed to salvage the franchise with The Wolverine, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and probably X-Men: First Class as well, although I haven't seen it. While adhering to the source material isn't necessary on all occasions, it's nice to have something that mostly does. The Hobbit is about a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins who goes on an adventure with a wizard who shows up on his doorstep and a party of dwarves. While some might not find that too interesting, my plot summaries aren't very good, so don't take my word for what the plot's about. I'm also trying to avoid spoilers for those who haven't read the book, because as I know from personal experience, those do exist. The thing about this movie, is that the visuals are astounding. New Zealand is probably the best place in the world they could have shot this movie. And I don't mean just the landscapes are amazing, I also mean that the visual effects are excellent. Everything that had to be done in CGI is done breathtakingly, and I don't know what effects they used to make the hobbits and dwarves seem shorter than Gandalf and the elves, but it's done so well that if I didn't know how tall they were in real life I wouldn't know from watching the movie. The musical numbers from the book are recreated so that they fit the tone of the movie, and they're not like in some musicals where they just break out into song randomly and everyone starts singing along, out of the two songs in the movie sung by the cast, one was a song dedicated to the quest that they were about to embark on, and another one was sung by the jolly dwarves after a meal, so they fit into the tone of the movie well, and finally, during the credits, a great rendition of Misty Mountains Cold plays, which fits the ending perfectly. Now, on to some of the controversial decisions made with the movie: The addition of expanded material from other books concerning things that happened alongside The Hobbit, and the splitting of the movie into three parts. Considering how much material they had to work with, back when I first heard about it, I supported them splitting it into three. Mainly because I saw how badly compressed the adaptations of almost every Harry Potter book after Prisoner of Azkaban became. It also means that the movies are a lot easier to sit through, considering that this one was almost three hours long. I highly doubt I would have been able to sit through a movie that was over nine hours long. Speaking of which, I once heard that The Lord of the Rings was shot all as one movie, but cut into three shorter ones because they didn't think audiences would be able to sit through almost ten hours of movie. Considering that the movies in The Hobbit trilogy released thus far come out to over five hours, I'm glad it wasn't released as all one movie, and given that there's a lot of ground to cover, I'm glad they didn't make it into a single three hour movie, or even two 90 minute movies. On to the added material: There were things from J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit that weren't expanded upon as much as they could have been, and while jarring at first, they flowed perfectly into the movie once they converged with the main plot. The thing is, I tend to like things like exposition or expanded storytelling when they're used right, and this uses it right. All in all I was entertained by this movie, and it was a great experience that I enjoyed as a fan of the book it was based on. It definitely makes me want to see The Lord of The Rings movies after this series finishes up, because even though I enjoyed The Hobbit, I wasn't able to get very far in The Fellowship of the Rings, despite my being an avid reader. I guess it just meanders a little too much for my liking, and that Tolkien never uses one word where forty will do. Although considering that gives the filmmakers a lot more to work with and brings the world in the movies to life, it can't be criticized too much considering what it's given us. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey gets a 9.9* rating. Tune in next week (Hopefully) for another review, same bat-day, same bat-site!