So today’s post had to be late by sheer force of nature- I wanted to be one of the first post-release reviews of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and quite frankly I didn’t feel up to writing a post at 3AM. Funny, that.
So, what do I think of The Hobbit? I was always a big fan of the books, and between the Hobbit and it’s three older brethren, the LOTR books, I always liked the Hobbit the best. I suppose then that it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed the first installment of the Hobbit too!
So I’ll break this review into four parts, just like my review on Rise of the Guardians. The four parts will be: Visual Effects (instead of animation), Acting, Writing, and Soundtrack, and for a non-animated movie that relies heavily on CGI to get the job done, I’ll break the parts up like this: 25-25-30-20.
So: Visual Effects first up. Let me first say that I am very impressed with how well the entire LOTR series has been done. Peter Jackson put a lot of money into making the world of J.R. Tolkien look incredibly realistic, and one of the reasons the three LOTR movies were so good is that nothing looked overwhelmingly fake. They managed to avoid the uncanny valley effect, where things are oh-so-close to looking real but end up coming off as fake. The Hobbit, in spite of the amount of experience and money poured into this movie, does not succeed here. There were a lot of elements that I liked, but as I was expecting top-notch animation I couldn’t help but notice faults. There were a few small things- just the fluidity of some of the enemies that screamed of lots of animated effects or the awkwardness of the hobbit’s and the dwarves’ feet, but nothing compared to the first moment we saw Smaug, the dragon in the Misty Mountains. The tail had such a poor CGI effect that I couldn’t help but think of early 2000’s Sci Fi budget movies. This was just after one of the most majestic shots of the movie, of the village outside of the dwarf kingdom. Overall, I’m giving Visual Effects a 19/25, because even with a -2 for small faults and -4 for that scene with Smaug’s tail, it was still a damned impressively animated movie.
Next up: Acting. I love Martin Freeman. I spent maybe the first ten, fifteen minutes trying to put a name on his face until I remembered Sherlock. He makes an absolutely incredible Bilbo Baggins, perfectly capturing his timid nature and apologetic stammer. Everyone else did an amazing job too- OH MY GOD BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH IS GOING TO BE THE NECROMANCER IN THE SEQUEL. HE WAS ACTUALLY IN THE MOVIE I JUST WATCHED AND I NEVER KNEW. THIS WILL BE LIKE WATCHING SHERLOCK IN LOTR FORM. I may have just soiled myself in excitement. Acting gets a 25/25.
The writing. They did a pretty good job at writing this movie, staying within arm’s reach of the original text and yet opening up enough new content to be able to pull three movies out instead of only two. As far as their deviations from the main content goes, I approve of about half of it. Putting a face on the orcs that chase the main characters was nice, and I’m really digging the Necromancer. At the same time, some of it doesn’t really quite work for me. I was not wholly impressed with how they’ve handled the spiders thus far and I didn’t like most of the first scene where the party is chased by orcs. The movie also spends a lot of time giving tips of the hat to the previous movie- mostly in the form of old characters making appearances, and also some events that are intentionally designed to look like the old movie. Overall, I’m giving writing a 26/30, mostly due to that one scene with the ring. You know which one I’m talking about.
The soundtrack. Nothing much to say here- the soundtrack was full of old vibes of the LOTR series and was very well scripted. I really like how they included the Misty Mountain song, but let’s face it, it wouldn’t have been a hobbit movie without that. 20/20.
Overall, that gives us an amazing 90/100 for The Hobbit. I really enjoyed watching this movie, and I would highly recommend it to anyone out there who like LOTR and wants more. In the meantime, I’ve talked your ear off, so this is Zip! signing off.