Sunday, 16 December 2012

The Hobbit - Film Review

This probably doesn’t need much introduction, as it would be pretty hard not to be aware of The Hobbit by this point. The news that the story has been split into three films has been met with quite a lot of scepticism (the book is shorter than any one of the three Lord of the Rings books, and those only got one movie each). So, was it a good decision? And does the film live up to the magic of the book, a beloved childhood classic?

Well... not quite. And I think I managed to go into the cinema without too high expectations. The Hobbit isn’t bad, it just isn’t as good as it should have been, and I don’t think the 3-film decision was a good idea.

My husband and I were talking about it before going in, wondering just how on earth they were going to get three long movies out of the book. I joked that it would probably take an hour for them to even leave the Shire. Oh dear, be careful what you joke! It wasn’t an hour exactly – more like 50 minutes. As in, if this were a TV series, one whole episode would have been dedicated to setting the scene, meeting the characters, and then setting off on the quest. This would actually have been great if it were a TV show, but it wasn’t, and I do think things need to move a little quicker in movies.

So, a slow beginning. But then, wow, does the pace pick up! There’s so much packed into this movie it’s hard to believe they still have enough left for more films, but if I remember the book rightly, I think they’re only about halfway through. Everything from the book seems to have been covered, with extras – monsters, chases, fight scenes, and more – it was certainly an action-filled movie. But, this didn’t quite work either.

Yes, first I complained that it was too slow, now I’m complaining it’s too packed full of stuff – can’t win with me, can you? Still, something wasn’t right. Perhaps the pacing was off, not hitting the right highs and lows needed for really great storytelling? Hard to say. Just, despite there always being a lot going on, I can’t say I really got into it fully. My husband even found parts boring, and though I wouldn’t go quite that far, it certainly was beginning to feel over-long.

But there must have been good stuff, right? Definitely! The effects can’t really be faulted, the costumes and props, as with the Lord of the Rings films, were fantastic, and the casting was truly spot-on. I loved all the characters. And I was happy that they’d obviously made it a children’s film, as it’s a children’s book. It wasn’t as deep or heavy as Lord of the Rings, and the humour was mostly on the right level, keeping the film fun. I was also pleased that they put the songs in, as I really didn’t think they would, and those scenes worked very well.

As expected, the music was good, though in some scenes perhaps slightly misplaced. Thorin walking forwards in slo-mo through flames, sword out and looking badass with a dramatic choir in the background, was possibly one of the cheesiest moments I’ve ever seen in film. And I’ve seen Dungeons and Dragons. Having said that, kudos to them for managing to make Gandalf throwing pinecones at wargs a surprisingly good scene, and actually not very silly at all.

Unfortunately, they did go down the route of trying to give the film Significance. A little too much tying it in to Lord of the Rings for my taste, and I would have preferred a bit less of that and a shorter film.

My overall impression was of a fairly-good-but-not-good-enough movie. Parts of it were great, and the visuals were amazing, but other areas let it down. And overall there was something missing – a sense of magic and pure joyful adventure that’s found in the book. I’d recommend seeing it, but it’s not one I’ll be paying to watch twice in the cinema.

Rating - 6/10


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