Sunday, December 23, 2012

Movie of the Week: The Hobbit

I planned on doing a review of The Hobbit opening day, but I was too tired from seeing the midnight showing, and then I thought I should also see it in 3D before I did.  The Hobbit was an incredibly entertaining, but it was longer than it should've been for the theatrical version.

The beginning with Ian Holmes and Elijah Wood was for the most part unnecessary, but it was a reminder of its connection to The Lord of the Rings and what is to come.  There were many parts that serve as hints as to what's to come, but this was one that did not need to be there.  Rather, it should've just been Ian Holmes or Cate Blanchett (instant shivering orgasm when she narrates) narrating the taking of the Lonely Mountain by Smaug, much like The Lord of the Rings.

The White Council meeting was brilliant.  However, I'd much like to see more Galadriel.  Jackson makes it known that Galadriel is the most powerful being, aside from the rising danger of Sauron.  In addition to his placing more importance on her, Blanchett brings an element to Galadriel that is otherwordly and supernatural that no other Elven actor has done.  Her smooth movements that play so well with the high frame rate version bring the character to life, along with her bright smile and telling eyes when she telepathically speaks with Gandalf.  Their connection is important in that they don't so much trust the others and together keep the secrets that will define what is to come and serve to protect Middle Earth and its inhabitants.  And I fear no other actors could have pulled off that bond without audible words.  During the White Council's meeting, it is Galadriel that shows unnerving shared by the fidgety Gandalf when she paces the circular gazebo with so much grace that it's barely noticeable, but the audience shares that unnerving feeling when she does this.  Whoever chose to do this, Jackson or Blanchett, made a wonderful choice in doing so.  Her glares cut deep and hold so much meaning.  I could talk more about Galadriel and her every move and inflection, but I won't.

The Gollum scene was executed with a strange combination of humor, sorrow, and horror.  It's easy to laugh at Gollum (or rather Smeagol) and think he's adorable, but when he's viciously and eagerly killing the Goblin, it's easy to see the twisted, demented, horrifying aspect of what the Ring has done to him.  And it's sad to think of that, and you really do pity him.  It was well acted by both Freeman and Serkis, whose facial acting makes the scene as stellar as what it is.

The Dwarves are perfectly played, and their roles of balancing action, seriousness, playfulness, and humor are perfected.  Richard Armitage plays Thorin Oakenshield with everything he has, bringing a brooding, commanding respect to the role.  Martin Freeman is made for the role of Bilbo Baggins, equipping the Hobbit-like movements and quirks at the beginning to show the bumbling, nervous nature that comes with the unknown for a Hobbit.  He even has the walk down pat, the innocent, playful, fisted walk that Merry and Pippin had in The Lord of the Rings.  It was also enjoyable seeing Bret McKenzie in an expanded role, now that he's known.  More McKenzie, please.  So far, they've done a wonderful job of presenting King Thranduil, with the well-cast Lee Pace, who looks a lot like he would be Legolas' father in the role.  Riding his mighty elk stag, Pace looked noble, natural, uncaring, and haughty.  It is the Mirkwood Elves most definitely.  With the little screen time he had, it was a feat to accomplish this in just a look and in movement.  As always, Si Ian McKellan brings the best to the table with his Gandalf.  And this time, Gandalf was super badass.  The expanded inclusion of Radagast was also welcoming, which brought a sense of danger and a foreshadowing of rise of Sauron through using the dead kings as Nazgul.

The score, much like The Lord of the Rings, brought in motifs to tie the journey together, using the "Far Over the Misty Mountains" introduced at the beginning and the same motif from The Lord of the Rings.  This, then, gives the song reason for being in the film, so the audience, when hearing the motif subconsciously thinks of the haunting and heroic lyrics.  It's a smart move, really.  When I first saw it, I though, "They should've cut this scene and used it for the extended edition."  But upon seeing it again, realizing was Howard Shore was doing, it was completely worth it.

I had seen only one movie in 3D and didn't care for it at all.  I didn't know if it was the terrible effects in Clash of the Titans or the terrible movie in general, but I wanted to find out if I didn't like 3D because of that movie.  It turns out I really, really hate 3D.  I just don't get the hype.  The Hobbit, while at times, uses 3D effects to its advantage, like Smaug's eye at the end and the flaming pine cone that went directly into the camera, it also uses it in all the wrong parts, and all the wrong parts are the CGI ones.  In standard frame, non-3D, the CGI looks great, realistic even.  But the 3D draws out the flaws and makes all CGI looks incredibly fake, and it makes the backgrounds look like photo backdrops.  Rivendell was going to look amazing, as I saw it in my head.  But it didn't.  Faces would be in the foreground, and the background would look flat and boring.  Part of what's exciting about middle-earth is its wondrous landscapes.  Sure it may have made me look at Galadriel with even more focus, but she's hard not to focus on.  Am I right?  Another aspect of the 3D was that many objects lost focus and became blurry, especially during action scenes.  It was quite distracting, really.

Overall, the film is quite well-done, but I did not enjoy it as much in 3D.  And parts at the beginning could have been cut or shortened for the theatrical version.  I can't wait for more Lee Pace in the next one.  His five seconds of frame time was just not enough as King Thranduil.

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