There’s a slim possibility I might end up seeing The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug with my folks, so I figured I should probably get around to finally watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
It wasn’t really worth the wait.
Minor baby spoilers. Also, while I’ve read The Hobbit before, it was roughly a decade ago, and I didn’t exactly care for it. (That is to say, it took me three times to even get through the book.) So I won’t be spending much, if any, time comparing the source material and its adaptation.
A bunch of dwarves want to reclaim their home from an evil old dragon. Gandalf the Grey helps out, and informs Bilbo the hobbit that he’ll be helping too.
1. Today’s review is going to be brief because, frankly, I have other stuff I need to work on, and I don’t know I cared enough about this movie to spend more than a thousand words on it. But let me say this: I’m pretty sure I would have liked An Unexpected Journey a little more if I knew the difference between any of the dwarves.
Like, okay. There’s Thorin “Angsty Pants” Oakenshield, who’s the leader of the pack. There’s a fairly good looking dwarf who shoots arrows a lot. I’m pretty sure his name is Kili. Cute Boy Dwarf Kili has a brother with some kind of rhyming name. Fili maybe, or Bili. There’s an old dwarf and a young, goofy looking one. I don’t remember their names at all. And then there’s . . . everyone else. Keep in mind that’s about eight dwarves I can’t tell you anything about. None of them had distinct personalities or talents or even faces that stick out in my mind, and as such, I didn’t really care about any of them.
I’m not saying I have to love these guys, but after roughly three hours with them, I feel like I should have some sense of who the characters are. That’s not always easy with such a large company, but it can be done — hell, it WAS done in The Fellowship of the Ring. And I think character development is particularly necessary in a movie like this where, really, not a whole hell of a lot happens.
2. Oh, sure, there’s plenty of action . . . once you get past the unnecessarily long prologue (well, prologues, really) and the twenty-minute dinner scene. But even then, the action quickly gets repetitive and often feels a bit, I don’t know, trumped up? Like Peter Jackson knew there really wasn’t a lot of actual plot to his story and was like, “Well, here. Let’s have some more orcs attack! That’ll make it spicy!” Many of the action scenes were dull and just didn’t feel organic to the story itself.
I wasn’t utterly bored out of my skull — I mean, I wasn’t quite having a McCabe & Mrs. Miller moment — but I would honestly say I didn’t really get into this movie until the Riddle Challenge between Bilbo and Gollum.
And since that happens maybe half an hour before the film ends . . . well, that’s not good.
3. On the plus side, I really enjoyed Martin Freeman quite a bit as Bilbo.
Bilbo’s kind of a fussy little thing, and I’m not entirely sure I like him all that much. Like if he were real, I don’t know that we’d be friends — or at least he’d be the kind of friend who constantly drove me crazy. (Bilbo’s very Type A. I’m . . . Type C, I guess. What do you call someone who loves making plans and lists but also hates putting up shit and generally approves of clutter? Perhaps I’m a Type A myself, just an extraordinarily lazy one.) Anyhow, Freeman keeps Bilbo entertaining instead of purely annoying. He has some of the best facial expressions, and I think his comedic timing was very decent.
Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis are also quite good. But I already knew that since, you know, I’ve seen the original trilogy, and I can’t say that this film afforded them any opportunity to break new ground with their respective characters.
4. I can say that I greatly question Bilbo’s decision-making skills. He does a 180 on the whole adventuring business that I just don’t buy. (It is literally overnight.) I mean, I’ve been there; as a cautious and somewhat anxiety-ridden sort of person, I’ve talked myself out of plenty of things I secretly wanted to do and regretted the hell out of them later. That said, none of those things included evisceration and incineration as very real possibilities.
Bilbo, buddy. How about we try baby steps into the wild world of adventuring, shall we?
5. And I can’t say that I entirely love Thorin.
I mean, I don’t hate him. He has a good moment here or there, but ultimately his whole character strikes me as a crankier and less interesting version of Aragorn. I don’t know that I blame Richard Armitage for that, though. It didn’t seem like he was doing anything particularly wrong in his performance, and anyway, I’m not sure who would have made Surly Pants Oakenshield a more charismatic or engaging character for me.
6. I also wasn’t a big fan of Radagast. Or the talking trolls. Or the Great Goblin.
(I’ve decided not to post a picture of the Great Goblin. I feel like watching him and his giant ballsack neck once was enough, thanks.)
7. Finally, I kind of hoped watching Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth would be a little like going home again . . . in a good sense . . . but I just didn’t have the same sense of wonder that I had ten years ago. Or, surprisingly, even very much nostalgia. I don’t know if that’s because I didn’t watch this one on a big screen, or because my expectations were higher after a decade, or if the change in frame rate screwed things up for me. (I didn’t watch it in 3D, and if I do end up seeing the sequel in theaters, I won’t watch that in 3D either. I saw a 3D trailer for The Desolation of Smaug when I went to see Gravity, and Jesus CHRIST. I could barely follow what was happening on screen.)
The Unexpected Journey isn’t a terrible movie. It’s not, but man, it sure as hell isn’t LOTR, either.
Bilbo: “Good morning.”
Gandalf: “What do you mean? Do you wish me a good morning, or do you mean that it is a good morning whether I want it to be or not, or perhaps you mean to say that you feel good this particular morning? Or are you simply stating that this a morning to be good on. Hm?”
Bilbo: “. . . all of them at once, I suppose.”
Mopey Pants Oakenshield: “Forgive me for doubting you.”
Bilbo: “No, I would have doubted me too.”
Bilbo: “Why don’t we have a game of riddles, and if I win, you show me the way out of here.”
Gollum: “And if he loses? What then? Well, if he loses, precious, then we eats it. If Baggins loses, we eats it whole!”
Bilbo: “. . . fair enough.”
Martin Freeman is excellent. Otherwise, eh. Here’s to hoping there’s more excitement in the next installment. (One would hope, considering the evil old dragon actually makes his appearance in that one.)
It’s totally cool to volunteer your friends for dangerous missions that they have no interest in partaking in and really aren’t qualified for in any way. Cause, you know, they’ll have a change of heart. Why wouldn’t they? Incineration is fun!