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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)


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Per the Russian Hobbit I found a version of this with subtitles, but I'm really unsure if they're the actual subtitles cause if they are this is like the ultimate "perverted" version of The Hobbit. I am thinking this TheseBears character subtitled with his own gross out version, but I don't know Russian so I'm not sure.

"The truth is you're the weak, and I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin Ringo, I'm tryin real hard to be the shepherd." Pulp Fiction

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Just saw it. Unfortunately, we showed up late to the 48 fps screening, so we ended up seeing it in 24 fps and 2D. I'll go back later to see the high frame rate for myself. In the meantime, I'm left to ponder profound questions like:

Why wouldn't such big, lumbering creatures as orcs build themselves sturdier rope bridges?

How many nearly identical shots can you have of the dwarves running from rock to rock with Radagast racing by on his rabbit-drawn sled in the background before it becomes absolutely ridiculous? (About three fewer than there were.)

If Radagast can have a swordfight with the ghost of the witch-king Angmar and come out unscathed, how could Angmar break Gandalf's staff in Return of the King?

Why did our brief glimpse of the Necromancer in the same scene look so much like Batman?

The trolls were just bigger versions of the orcs. I wonder if they're related? The orcs themselves, meanwhile, apparently evolve between trilogies from the creatures in The Hobbit that look like every CGI character ever created to the real creatures in The Lord of the Rings.

If Radagast has been doing too many shrooms, isn't it equally clear that Gandalf has been watching too many Indiana Jones movies? Why doesn't Saruman call him out? Is he already making a power play, hoping to exploit Gandalf's weakness for over-the-top, way-too-long action set pieces?

Why didn't Gollum have a more out-of-the-way hiding place than directly underneath Orc Central Station? (That one comes from my brother.)

What would be the result if Smaug slugged it out with the T-rex from Jurassic Park that his appearance at the end refers to?

What kind of parkour has Bilbo been doing, that he's able to fall from such a great height in a stone cavern and take no injury?

Those eagles sure are stand-offish, aren't they? Ordinarily, one would expect them to exchange a few polite remarks with the folks they've just snatched away from the orcs and then unceremoniously dumped atop what appears to be the stone pillar St. Simeon Stylites lived on. How are they going to get down from there, anyway?

I could go on, but I'm getting tired. There was just so much sheer silliness. True, the silliness was of different kinds. The spurious character arcs--the Thorin/Azog and Thorin/Bilbo subplots--were simultaneously silly and clichéd. The long, shapeless action sequences, on the other hand, were just plain silly. Silly and ridiculous and nonsensical and risible and laughable. I would have minded this less if there had been thoughtful pauses and grace notes, as there were in The Lord of the Rings films, but no. With very few exceptions, the quiet parts were just pauses for breath separating the actively stupid parts.

I probably sound more negative on the film than I actually am. I did enjoy it and I am going to voluntarily see it again. But it makes me much more kindly inclined than I was to the Lord of the Rings films, which, while I've always liked them less than most, I can at least respect. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, no matter how wild a roller-coaster ride it may be, is something I can enjoy but can't respect. Not one bit.

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Saw it tonight as well. Ditto all the cries of "bloated." I didn't mind all the Necromancer stuff, or most of the Radagast stuff, but there's at least two flashbacks (I'm thinking the prologue and the Pale Orc backstory) that could be excised without doing any harm at all to the movie. Do we need to know what the Dwarves are looking for before they tell Bilbo? No. And since they kept the song, why in heaven's name did they add a boring prologue? Jackson seems to take the "show, don't tell" thing as gospel, but that only counts if the stuff you show is interesting. Ditto all the battles; it's not just that they're extraneous. They're boring and extraneous.

I did like some stuff. Elrond was much less stiff here than he was in LOTR, and I can dig that. The troll scene was fine; the Goblin King was fun, and I did like the look of the Goblin city. Like I say, the Necromancer stuff was more or less interesting.

But I was aggressively bored through a large portion of the film. So it's a very mixed bag of a movie.

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Rushmore wrote:

: If Radagast has been doing too many shrooms, isn't it equally clear that Gandalf has been watching too many Indiana Jones movies? Why doesn't Saruman call him out?

Well, he did suggest in Fellowship of the Ring that Gandalf had been partaking a wee bit too much of "the halflings' leaf", which was earlier described by Bilbo as "the finest weed in the southfarthing".

NBooth wrote:

: Elrond was much less stiff here than he was in LOTR, and I can dig that.

Yeah, I liked the way we first see him riding in on a horse. I wonder if that is to prepare us for his participation in any of the battle scenes in the next two movies.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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And, I was the third one to finally get around to seeing it today.

If Radagast has been doing too many shrooms, isn't it equally clear that Gandalf has been watching too many Indiana Jones movies? Why doesn't Saruman call him out? Is he already making a power play, hoping to exploit Gandalf's weakness for over-the-top, way-too-long action set pieces?

I vote this as the funniest comment on this thread. Good one.

The troll scene was fine ... But I was aggressively bored through a large portion of the film. So it's a very mixed bag of a movie.

Yes, the troll scene was better than I expected. In fact, it was even good for a few laughs.

It's difficult for me to complain too much. It's an enjoyable film made from obviously magnificent source material. I agree with those here who have already criticized in detail many of the senseless little changes that were made to Tolkien's storytelling. That said, I think this film is unique in the sense that the source material ultimately trumps the best attempts of the director to change it. It still has little moments of enchantment, many of which, I bet, will be positively magical to anyone who is introduced to the series with this film.

I would have cut out the orc/Radagast/bunnies chase scene. I would have cut out the rock giants boxing scene. And, I would have cut the Goblin fight scene to at least half. I didn't mind the slowness. I would have been perfectly happy to, in order to stretch the film out a bit, just hear Gandalf tell a story or two from the The Silmarillion while sitting by the campfire. In spite of all the slash 'em/smash 'em up action scenes, Jackson still makes you care about the characters. Most big CGI action movies have characters you couldn't care less about. But here, the dwarfs are so intricately detailed and individually personable that they are easy to love.

They could have wrecked this film by casting the wrong actor as Bilbo. But, Freeman is perfect. The film gets Gandalf's and the dwarfs' interruption of Bilbo's comfortable life right. Best of all, it gets the interaction between Bilbo and Gollum right, along with that vital moment of pity and self-restraint. I probably wouldn't place this on the year's Top Ten, but I'm still going to look forward to the next two.

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J.A.A. Purves said:

:Jackson still makes you care about the characters. Most big CGI action movies have characters you couldn't care less about. But here, the dwarfs are so intricately detailed and individually personable that they are easy to love.

Very good point. The film falls short when compared to the actual book. But when compared to much of the other films out there it stands up fairly well.

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J.A.A. Purves wrote:

: But here, the dwarfs are so intricately detailed and individually personable that they are easy to love.

Huh. That was the complete opposite of my own response to the film. I said it in my review and I probably said it earlier in this thread, too, but for me the dwarves (and the film's treatment thereof) were emblematic of the problems plaguing this film as a whole: compared to the nine-member Fellowship of the Ring, the fifteen-member party in *this* film has more characters (in sync with the overall more-ness of the movie) but less variety (almost all of them are dwarves, after all), and it doesn't really establish any emotional connections between these characters (or between the characters and the audience) -- certainly not compared to the relatively deep and complicated relationships within the Fellowship that audience members such as myself found so moving.

Yes, yes, we do get a sense of Balin's loyalty to Thorin, but... um... not much else is coming to mind, here (beyond the roll-your-eyes cluelessness that Fili and/or Kili show when Bilbo tries to save them from the trolls).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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the fifteen-member party in *this* film has more characters (in sync with the overall more-ness of the movie) but less variety (almost all of them are dwarves, after all)

Isn't that the fault of the source material? Or was there a wider variety to the party in the book?

"You know...not EVERY story has to be interesting." -Gibby

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the fifteen-member party in *this* film has more characters (in sync with the overall more-ness of the movie) but less variety (almost all of them are dwarves, after all)

Isn't that the fault of the source material? Or was there a wider variety to the party in the book?

It's an issue in the source material, yes. I'm not sure there's anything in the book to particularly distinguish Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin and Gloin from one another.

Balin is probably the second most important dwarf in the book, as in the film. Among other things, since he was always the lookout man (Tolkien is always describing him spotting things, such as the troll's campfire), he was particularly mystified by Bilbo's sudden appearance in their midst after the goblin-caves, and gave Bilbo mad props for his apparent ability to sneak past him (this is skipped in the film) — and naturally later when Bilbo reveals the truth about the ring, he takes a special interest in that revelation. He will later be the only dwarf of the company to visit Bilbo in Hobbiton. (Of course, a number of the company die at Five Armies.)

Bombur stands out not only because of his special fatness (an object of slapstick humor in the film), but also for his sympathy and affinity for Bilbo.

What is really missing in An Unexpected Journey is Tolkien's characterizations of Bilbo, Gandalf and Thorin Oakenshield. All are more engaging in the novel than in the film.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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Thom Wade:

: Isn't that the fault of the source material?

To a point, sure. (It's relatively easy for a writer to say that 15 characters are doing something without having to devote a lot of words to each of those 15 people -- but on the screen, you have to keep that sheer mass of people in view all the time. It's sort of the inverse of the problem Roger Ebert had with the film adaptation of Stuart Little, where the main character's sheer force of personality on the page is undermined by the fact that, on the screen, all you notice is how physically small he is.)

But if Jackson was going to make so many changes to his source material anyway, he presumably could have found a way around this, too. And making Fili and/or Kili so utterly stupid in that moment of peril (or does that go back to Tolkien?) is *not* how he should have done it.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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And making Fili and/or Kili so utterly stupid in that moment of peril (or does that go back to Tolkien?)

It certainly does not. In Tolkien's telling, Bilbo doesn't even get to try to distract the trolls—he's not nearly that heroic until later, after he acquires Sting and the ring. It's Gandalf who distracts the trolls until dawn, with ventriloquism.

: Isn't that the fault of the source material?

To a point, sure. (It's relatively easy for a writer to say that 15 characters are doing something without having to devote a lot of words to each of those 15 people -- but on the screen, you have to keep that sheer mass of people in view all the time. It's sort of the inverse of the problem Roger Ebert had with the film adaptation of Stuart Little, where the main character's sheer force of personality on the page is undermined by the fact that, on the screen, all you notice is how physically small he is.)

Oh, very nice connection.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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It's Gandalf who distracts the trolls until dawn, with ventriloquism.

And this is an example of the whimsical, playful side of Gandalf that was very clear in the book and almost entirely absent in the movie. It's hard to imagine when we reach Beorn in (presumably) the second film, for example, that Gandalf will interrupt himself by saying "But bless me! This is a splendid place for smoke rings!"

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Oh, stop being so highbrow, everybody. I loved it!

(Forgive me... I'm trying out a comment somebody used in response to a thoughtful review earlier today, just to see if I can force myself to retroactively enjoy this movie more.)

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Rushmore said:

:And this is an example of the whimsical, playful side of Gandalf that was very clear in the book and almost entirely absent in the movie.

Yes. The Hobbit's Gandalf was a bit different than the Lord of the Ring's Gandalf, to my way of seeing. He was more whimsical, quirky, and maybe even a little bumbling. But there was still this sense of a powerful wizard. I quite liked this aspect of Gandalf which the movie has lost.

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One of the things I always loved about the film version of The Fellowship of the Ring is that we *do* see Gandalf in playful mode, at first: blowing smoke rings with Bilbo, setting off fireworks for the kids (it's been a while since I saw it, but I seem to recall him kind of chuckling as he grabs a new batch of fireworks to show the kids at the party, just before Merry and Pippin sneak up on his stash), etc. Even the way he makes Merry and Pippin wash the dishes (or however it is he punishes them) has a sort of, I dunno, *familiarity* to it.

I don't recall getting that kind of vibe here. When I think "playful Gandalf" in conjunction with this film, I think of how he slashes the goblin and then blows his head off his shoulders (a la the way Danny Kaye slashed the candles and blew them down in The Court Jester), and that's not the *kind* of playful I really care for here.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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One of the things I always loved about the film version of The Fellowship of the Ring is that we *do* see Gandalf in playful mode, at first: blowing smoke rings with Bilbo, setting off fireworks for the kids (it's been a while since I saw it, but I seem to recall him kind of chuckling as he grabs a new batch of fireworks to show the kids at the party, just before Merry and Pippin sneak up on his stash), etc. Even the way he makes Merry and Pippin wash the dishes (or however it is he punishes them) has a sort of, I dunno, *familiarity* to it.

I don't recall getting that kind of vibe here. When I think "playful Gandalf" in conjunction with this film, I think of how he slashes the goblin and then blows his head off his shoulders (a la the way Danny Kaye slashed the candles and blew them down in The Court Jester), and that's not the *kind* of playful I really care for here.

Indeed. Right from the "Good morning" exchange when Gandalf meets Bilbo, I felt something missing — a mischief that McKellen would have given the line reading a decade ago that he hasn't here. Gandalf's first lines in The Fellowship of the Ring ("A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins," etc.) aren't from the book, but they feel right, and McKellen acts the scene as if Gandalf is kidding Frodo while trying to keep a straight face, which seems perfect to me. The first time I saw the film, I laughed aloud at the rightness of the characterization. Here, reading Tolkien's actual words, the characterization is missing.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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Part of that loss, I think, is caused by the way Jackson and company [and, presumably, Tolkien when he scrambled to make The Hobbit fit LOTR, though I'm not sure his involvement matters for the purposes of discussion] re-orient the story so that the whole thing is an enormous Batman Gambit on Gandalf's part. Fellowship begins with the idea that all's right in the world and then this unexpected Evil Thing returns; toward the middle of The Hobbit, on the other hand, we learn that Gandalf is manipulating events as a way of countering an as-yet-unreturned Sauron. That's gonna change the way McKellen plays the introduction, I'd imagine.

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You can't take out the prologue for the sheer beauty of Erebor. As it started I was totally willing to critically pan this movie if need be, but I just couldn't do so after those beautiful shots of Erebor. Yeah I know scenery shouldn't be all a movie is, if so Snow White and the Huntsman should get an Oscar for the fairy forest alone, but unlike that movie there was more depth and such to An Unexpected Journey that kept me involved long after Erebor faded.

But wow...what a beautiful city.

"The truth is you're the weak, and I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin Ringo, I'm tryin real hard to be the shepherd." Pulp Fiction

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Part of that loss, I think, is caused by the way Jackson and company [and, presumably, Tolkien when he scrambled to make The Hobbit fit LOTR, though I'm not sure his involvement matters for the purposes of discussion] re-orient the story so that the whole thing is an enormous Batman Gambit on Gandalf's part. Fellowship begins with the idea that all's right in the world and then this unexpected Evil Thing returns; toward the middle of The Hobbit, on the other hand, we learn that Gandalf is manipulating events as a way of countering an as-yet-unreturned Sauron. That's gonna change the way McKellen plays the introduction, I'd imagine.

This makes a lot of sense. But the tweaks Tolkien made to The Hobbit after LOTR was published (which are outlined in detail in some editions of the book, such as the excellent The Annotated Hobbit) were largely successful. They make you read certain scenes in a new light and you get this thrill knowing that seemingly insignificant events, including finding the "magic ring" itself, will have huge significance later on. But with the movies, I sort of feel like Jackson is just trying to make The Hobbit bigger, more epic, and more spectacular than LOTR, and the story just doesn't call for that.

In my view, McKellen and some of the other returning actors are playing The Hobbit like it's a sequel to the LOTR movies, rather than a prequel. They no longer feel like they need to "sell" the character any more, because they've been doing that for three movies. But in terms of the chronology of the story, it's very important that they go back to the beginning and sell the character as if we're meeting him/her/it for the very first time. Somehow that seems to be missing in the movie.

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Why didn't Gollum have a more out-of-the-way hiding place than directly underneath Orc Central Station? (That one comes from my brother.)

That one's from the book. Gollum set up camp there because small goblins are tasty.

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
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Yeah, but wasn't he in some back corner where he wouldn't run into a lot of goblins at once, but could instead pick off individual goblins who came to the lake to get fish? Maybe that was what they meant in the film too. It's not that important, but I included it in my list because I like the name "Orc Central Station."

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