Greetings From Middle-Earth

Latest ‘Hobbit’ adventure is a bit on the cute side

By Lori Hoffman
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 8 | Posted Dec. 19, 2012

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Is it crazy to call a three-hour movie kid-friendly? No, not when it is The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Attending the movie with my brother’s family (including a teen, pre-teen and eight year old), the youngest, Will, was not happy when the adults agreed that The Hobbit was not nearly as engaging as the original trilogy. Will thought it was terrific, and the proof was that he was mostly quiet and attentive for those three hours.

The Hobbit is less dark than the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, which is another element that makes it more enjoyable for the younger set.

As the bah humbug grown-up, my biggest complaint about this latest adventure in Middle-earth is that it is three hours worth of set-up for the next movie, which is what made this grown up grumpy.

Wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) visits his friend the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), and asks him if he is interested in having an adventure. Content in the Shire with a loaded pantry and a quiet, happy life, Bilbo turns down the offer.

However, it turns out Gandalf is the Godfather of Middle-earth. His request is, apparently, “An offer you can’t refuse.”

Bilbo is soon watching in dismay as 13 ravenous dwarves eat their way through all his food. Bilbo is asked to help these dwarves reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. While still reluctant, he eventually joins the dwarves and marches into danger wondering why he is doing this.

Led by the warrior, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), the group is soon doing battle with the usual suspects, Goblins and Orcs (how do you tell them apart by the way?) and climbing a mountain that is actually giant rock people who decide to have a throwdown while covered in dwarves. Bilbo also finds himself in a one-on-one battle with Gollum when he gets lost from the group.

The problem with The Hobbit is that these characters are not nearly as interesting as Frodo, Sam, Aragon, Gimli and Legolas from the Ring movies. We just don’t learn as much about them. In addition, their adventures along the way to get to the “great adventure” Bilbo has been asked to join, aren’t compelling enough to make us forget that a battle with a super dragon is what we were expecting.

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Comments 1 - 8 of 8
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1. James said... on Dec 20, 2012 at 12:04PM

“The battle with Smaug is not the all out battle you might think it to be. The real climax of the story is a battle of five armies that take place after Erebor has been regained.

You may want to read the books. They have an immense fan base and these films are really geared towards them. Tolkien's legendarium encompasses about 100,000 years of history from the beginning of the universe till the supposed death of Sam (it is thought Sam travels to the West as Frodo did). Jackson is filling in the timeline in a true chronological narrative. The Hobbit is a now a trilogy to include things that Tolkien hinted at or omitted from the book, but that he mentions in other writings that are occurring at the same time. Much like the other famous Ring Cycle, the works are really only chapters of a complete story meant to taken as a whole. LOTR after all was meant to be one book.”

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2. Scott said... on Dec 20, 2012 at 02:36PM

“"As the bah humbug grown-up, my biggest complaint about this latest adventure in Middle-earth is that it is three hours worth of set-up for the next movie, which is what made this grown up grumpy.

Ms. Hoffman, you review films, why would this be something for you to complain about? How would the first film in a trilogy need to apologize for being what it is? And what does that say about the quality of the film or the ability to enjoy it? I saw it last night with my 2 kids and we loved the movie. It had great humor and levity and fun from start to finish. I am just amazed at some of the critics reviews of The Hobbit. It has all the elements that usually get critical acclaim. Great acting. Great directing. Great special effects. Outstanding action sequences and stunts. Amazing costumes and make up. A classic and epic story. memorable characters and one liners. Iconic moments. Technical achievement. A sweeping score and a tremendously memorable song. What do you want?”

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3. Bosun Buck said... on Dec 24, 2012 at 07:21AM

“I really enjoyed the first installment of the Hobbit and can't wait for the next two. It's the classic good versus evil film where good triumphs against long odds. However unlikely the heroes may be, through friendship and the will to suceed for one another. PJ takes to a wonderful world threatened by unimaginable horrors and does this magestically. It truely is a film with so much heart, courage and honor. I go to the movies to be entertained and I must say I didn't want Pt. I to end. Great movie making.”

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4. DildoFaggins said... on Dec 24, 2012 at 09:41AM

“Complaints about frame-rate does not a review make.”

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5. Chillbro Baggins said... on Dec 24, 2012 at 04:42PM

“You are just complaining about the story of the Hobbit not the movie itself. What respectable writer hasn't read Tolkein? You should really just read the Hobbit if you want to know what happens. You can read it in one day and it is an awesome/classic story.”

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6. MerriMagic said... on Dec 31, 2012 at 07:42PM

“Remember, for future viewers, The Hobbit may be the very first movie they see if they are interested in following the entire story of Middle Earth through a correct timeline. So I believe the investment in establishing the peoples and scenery of Tolkien's world will eventually prove a wise move. That said, while this will prove a moneymaker for Jackson in spite of it's 'longwindedness' for some viewers, I believe he's done what he set out to completely tell the story of Middle Earth and it's beloved tale from start to finish. This film, and the two that will follow, will complete the telling of a modern myth created in our lifetimes, that has earned a permanent star position in literary history. Like Star Wars, these films are meant to be viewed as a complete set, and so there must be some continuity, in setting, characters and action, from beginning to end. It's just that, like Star Wars, the visual story started in the middle of a decades long adventure, and had to backtr”

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7. Anonymous said... on Jan 3, 2013 at 07:36AM

“I generally liked the movie, and I simply don*t know, what "too long" means if not, "too long for the entertainment it contains". Whatever happened to the word "boring"? Well, apparently it isn't quite applicable. And so instead of explaining what the pressing matters of the evening were, that kept them on the edge of their seats for 3h, some will tell us, it was "too long". Keeps me shaking my head like "too good".

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8. Fraend said... on Jan 3, 2013 at 07:53AM

“There's only really one set of things that I disliked in this movie, and that's a pervasive pattern for hollywood adaptations: (further) dramatization. One example: Fleeing from orcs. On wargs. That's in the book. Problem is: These are too fast, so they all scramble up trees. Where does the drama come from? 1. From the past. Having to flee and finally against all good hopes not managing to escape. 2. From the Future. The prospect of likeable characters facing hideous outcomes. These are not not visual cues, the drama is mainly in our suffering for characters dear to us. Instead of going to some lengths to make that happen and the situation palpable, hollywood too readily transfers the drama into the visuals.
On a cliff. On the last tree. It falls. Not quite. Dwarves holding on to each other. Until one finally falls. And is saved. By Tolkiens giant eagle. That scene already works with Deus Ex Machina. There's no need for more visual drama. We only need more identification.”


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