Page 1 of 3
Peter Jackson's return to Middle-earth proves to be... tricky....
Warner / 169 Minutes / 2012 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: March 19, 2013
It’s probably not entirely fair to say that The Hobbit sucks, but there’s no denying that it feels like it does. I mean, there was no way that this disastrously bloated prequel (it’s fair to call it a prequel, right?) was ever going to hold up to its Lord of the Rings predecessors, but one hoped going into cinemas last Christmas that even if An Unexpected Journey paled by comparison, it would still offer a fun chance to return to cinematic Middle-earth.
But even that was marred by a polarizing filming style – in 48fps rather than the normal 24 – that gave every element of The Hobbit an over-vivid, video-gamey feel that, while admittedly hyper-real, lacked the sheen of The Lord of the Rings’ iconic imagery. Again, lightning never strikes twice, but I keep thinking about the first fifteen minutes of The Fellowship of the Ring and how it not only established the narrative groundwork for the films, but how in just a few short minutes, exceptional storytelling fused with VFS grandeur in such a way that even non-fantasy-dorks were completely enthralled.
Peter Jackson has hired a capable set of craftsmen for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but any thrills like those found in LOTR’s prologue are sorely absent here. In an act that will likely make Warner Bros. an extra $2 billion dollars but rid these new Tolkien films of any inherent integrity, The Hobbit’s triptych release pattern is its number one enemy: maybe the second two films will be snappier, but An Unexpected Journey feels loooong. And it’s not just that the story has to amass certain elements in order to move forward – there are long sequences of eating and singing and belching and more eating and… ugh.
Most fellow moviegoers I’ve talked to have been less harsh about The Hobbit, saying that while it clearly is no stablemate to the original LOTR movies, it’s still fun to watch. This may ring of grade-A grumpiness, but I bet this Blu-ray edition will make most viewers reconsider any experiential kindness they may have offered the film. On a second viewing, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey isn’t just a disappointment: it’s an empty cavern of a movie, one that’s more from the director of The Lovely Bones than The Return of the King. Dare I say it: it kind of sucks.