The thing about blogs is they inevitably fall into disrepair. But then – out of nowhere – they come back and everyone rejoices. Okay, no one is going to rejoice, but maybe a few people are still reading. It’s time for another movie review. Everyone loves those right?
Because we’re the Geek Dinks and spending money is what we do, we went out and watched The Hobbit with all the bells and whistles so that the review would want for nothing. IMAX, 3D, HFR, Reserved Seating, you name it. If it was an upgrade in ticket price, we opted for it. So in this review you will find out whether HFR is the next big thing, or the next big gimmick, though I think it will remain contentious regardless of my opinion. So let’s get on with it.
Luckily, The Hobbit is so well known that I really don’t have to write much in the way of a synopsis. For reference, I have read precisely 40% of the book (according to my kindle), so it was a somewhat strange experience for me. I recognized much of the plot, but I’d say there was at least 50% of it that was nowhere in the digital pages of what I had read. It’s possible that stuff is just rearranged, or maybe it’s made up? I have no idea.
The beauty of the Hobbit is that Peter Jackson was able to faithfully recreate the universe from Lord of the Rings. It really feels like you’re back in Middle Earth, and that goodwill allows The Hobbit to stretch its legs a little more than one might allow for a movie with no such nostalgia. This movie is graded on a curve, and gets at least 50% of Avengers without even having to try.
The interesting thing to me about this consistency is that The Hobbit movie has many more LotR references than the book. While the books were mostly standalone affairs, the movie tries to cram in all of the references, foreshadowing, and cameos that it can. I quite enjoyed this addition, though purists may balk.
The Hobbit does suffer a bit from repetition, but having read 40% of the book, it can’t really help it. The story is a cycle of trouble, Gandalf saving, and walking. It happens repeatedly, with very little uniqueness between each cycle. I actually think the movie does a better job of making it bearable than the book does.
One thing that I thought The Hobbit did remarkably well was handle all of its characters. Though I still don’t expect anyone will be able to rattle off the names of the 13 dwarves, each gets some character that helps to make them memorable. Chief among them is Thorin Oakenshield who is given a compelling backstory, and set up to be the Aragorn of this film.
The acting is all quite capable, with an especially good turn at Bilbo by Martin Freeman. He seems to have slid into the role remarkably well and is able to convey the proper frustration of the character, while still making it believable that he can do amazing things. I daresay he captures the spirit of a hobbit better than any of the Hobbit actors from LotR.
And what of the technical parts? The special effects are impressive as expected, and in my humble opinion I believe they were helped out by the HFR. The HFR is weird and different, but I only found it distracting for the first few minutes. After that, I delighted in being able to make out details in fight scenes that are usually just a messy blur. I would embrace HFR becoming a standard.
On the flipside, the 3D was pretty horrendous. While I would fully support HFR, I can’t recommend 3D. It added very little to the film and those glasses are annoying. For full disclosure, I will mention that I was on the 5th row, so it is perhaps not the most ideal vantage point for perfect 3D.
Overall, The Hobbit is a great journey. As long as you understand that you’re getting 1/3rd of a book, there’s really nothing to be disappointed about. It captures your heart with the nostalgia of LotR and stays at a good enough pace to keep it interesting. Watch it. People will make fun of you if you don’t.
Verdict: 94% as good as The Avengers.