Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

2012, US/New Zealand, directed by Peter Jackson

I loved the three Lord of the Rings films, but was at times a little underwhelmed by the first in this new trilogy. I haven't read the books for decades, though Kristin Thompson's detailed analysis suggests that the filmmakers do a pretty fine job of integrating material from across the Tolkien universe in extending what was a relatively thin set of starting materials, at least as compared with the later trilogy of books. Still, while Thompson has me convinced about the wisdom of many of the adaptation decisions, I couldn't avoid the nagging sense that stretching things to three lengthy films was indeed a step too far.

It's not so much the idea of three films that seems unjustified -- as much as anything else, it's a clever way to build audience anticipation -- but rather three films that are closing in on three hours in length apiece. The need to fill out the running time seemed especially apparent in the sequences with Azog, who unbalances the film without great cause, and in the very extended opening scenes with the dwarves -- one or two shots of laden-down platters or plates being thrown across rooms would have made the point, but the sequences seemed to go on for an age without any useful information being transmitted (I was still completely confused by the various dwarves by the end, with the exceptions of those actors whom I happened to recognize from other films). All that said, there were many other pleasures: the opening with Ian Holm is lovely, and Martin Freeman has a beguiling sparrow-like quality that gradually morphs into something rather more serious by the time of his encounter with Gollum (that segment was, for me, the film's highlight, and the CGI work combining Andy Serkis's performance with Gollum's features is terrific), while the final scene is a wonderfully clever note on which to finish.

No comments:


List of all movies

Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

About Me

Boston, Massachusetts, United States