The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
Dir: Peter Jackson
That was very long!
When the Lord of the Rings films came out, one of my sisters kindly bought me ‘The Hobbit’ and told me that I should read it before seeing the LotR films as it would set them up nicely and fill me in on much that was only briefly touched upon in those films. However, now more than 10 years later, Peter Jackson has gone back to fill it all in for everyone through film anyway.
I’m going to keep this short, as the film itself will take nearly 3 hours of your life to watch. It looks beautiful, very well shot, gorgeous locations. The acting is great, many of the dwarves are well cast, Ian McKellan is as brilliant as ever as Gandalf, and then Martin Freeman is perfect as Bilbo Baggins (uncle of Frodo). The issue with this film, as has been well reported on and reviewed by critics, is the length!
The film runs at 169 minutes, and there are three films to cover this story! My copy of the book is 365 pages. If the whole story was covered, that would be 2 pages and 2 lines per minute, but the whole story isn’t covered, theoretically just a third is, plus whereas books need to describe a Hobbit hole, the appearance of a Hobbit, Dwarf, Gandalf, Orc etc, the film shows it, plus there’s much that the majority of viewers will already know from the preceding films, so really, things should be able to move at a good pace shouldn’t they? Apparently not. Certain scenes felt overdrawn, just languishing rather than getting to the point, which really undercut the idea of it being a great adventure.
The saving grace of this film, is Martin Freeman, especially when he encounters Gollum. Their exchange is one of the few parts of the film that didn’t feel padded or lengthened, you almost wanted more of it as it sizzled, Andy Serkis back on fine form and the real strength of motion capture technology over simply computer generating a character from nothing. THough the dialogue is strong between them, full of asides and riddles, it’s Gollum’s expressions that add life to it.
So, it’s ‘An Unexpected Journey’ but sadly you’ll find yourself asking “are we nearly there yet?”