We went to see The Hobbit yesterday.
It’s a fun flick.
Here are some random observations; if you aren’t familiar with the story, many of them may be meaningless to you:
We saw the 3D version. I don’t expect 3D to change the world of movies; it seems to me that the persons most interested in pushing 3D are those who want to push everyone to buy new 3D televisions.
That said, the 3D was quite well-done–after a while you didn’t really notice it, but just watched the show. There were a couple of gimmicky effects, such as a butterfly and bird flying out and away, but they were done tastefully; on the whole, Peter Jackson restrained himself from Disneyesque gimmicks, such as spears flying into the audience, to force the 3D on you.
The movie started slowly. In trying to stretch one slim book into three movies, Jackson built scenes based on the planning of Bilbo’s birthday party (which takes place in the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring) into the beginning of this movie and added unnecessary, and unnecessarily silly, Three Stooges-like slapstick to the arrival of the Dwarves at Bag End.
Once the quest started, though, it was non-stop action with some nice touches of comedy. It’s been a long time since I read the book (I’ve read The Hobbit only once; I’ve read The Lord of the Rings five times, not to mention Bored of the Rings three times), but there were battle scenes that seemed much more elaborate and complex than I remember from the book. I got a sense that this was another symptom of stretching a little story into a big trilogy.
At times, the CGI was overbuilt, but it was overbuilt quite skillfully. The whole thing’s a fantasy anyway, for Pete’s sake. Lighten up!
All in all, Hamlet it’s not, but the film was whacking good fun. Of our group, I think I was the most deeply read in Tolkien’s fantasy world of Middle Earth, but all of four of us enjoyed the movie.
Providing some continuity with Jackson’s Lord of the Rings cycle, Ian McKellar returns as Gandalf the Grey; Cate Blanchett, as Galadriel; Christopher Lee, always sinister, as Saruman; Hugo Weaving, as Elrond; and Elijah Wood, as Frodo in the opening scenes.
The scene with Bilbo and Gollum at the underground river was quite well done, though it might have been improved by being about three minutes shorter.