Note: this blog has been migrated to Medium, with the articles here available to preserve permalinks Please see this post at https://medium.com/@ianrbuck/the-hobbit-an-unexpected-journey-4f110795ecf0
I'm pretty picky about the movies that I go to, especially midnight premiers. The only other movie I went to see at its midnight premier this year was The Avengers. So I was already determined to enjoy The Hobbit by the time we got to the theater.
As you may have heard, this wasn't a direct book-to-movie adaptation; and strangely I was OK with that. It would have been nice to know that they were splitting the book up into three movies though because two-thirds of the way through I started thinking to myself this is going to be a really long movie.
Obviously The Hobbit isn't an overly long book, so they had to add a lot of stuff to stretch it out to three movies. They spent quite a while at the beginning linking it to the Lord of the Rings trilogy by showing Bilbo and Frodo talking about his adventure and how Bilbo hadn't told him quite everything yet. Then Frodo goes out to meet Gandalf before Bilbo's big party. That part added a good ten minutes or so to the movie right off the bat.
The next thing that they added to the movie that took up significant time was this guy:
|What's-his-face the Brown|
That is Radagast the Brown. In the book he is mentioned once when Gandalf is asked about his fellow wizards, and never makes an appearance. In the movie Gandalf mentions him and then Radagast gets his own little story arc where he is trying to fight off some darkness that is encroaching on his forest. This ends up tying into Sauron rising to power, thus linking the movie to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. At first I was really confused about why they were adding all of this content, but I just kind of went with it. I really enjoyed Radagast as a character, and overall the scenes that they added didn't detract too much from this Unexpected Journey we were following.
The dialogue was great, very witty. I have seen a few episodes of Sherlock (also very witty) and I was looking forward to seeing Sherlock and Watson as Smog and Bilbo respectively. But then they ended the movie before Smog even has a single line, which was pretty disappointing. The dwarves were a lot of fun, especially when they burst into rowdy song. Smeagol also had some great lines, and he seemed to be a lot more lucid than in Lord of the Rings. I'm not sure if that was intentional, if losing the ring made him worse, but I really enjoyed Bilbo going back and forth with Smeagol and Smeagol going back and forth with himself.
There was one scene that I thought was a little too much of a set-piece. It was the chase through the goblin kingdom; everyone was running around on these rickety wooden bridges and everything kept conveniently working out just right so that the dwarves were always half a step ahead of the goblin hoard. As the place was falling apart it was still spaced out perfectly; it felt like a scripted sequence in a video game, or like the platforming sequences in the Assassin's Creed games. It just didn't seem natural.
That is a pretty small issue in an otherwise superb movie. I would definitely recommend it to pretty much everybody, especially anyone geeky enough to be reading my blog. Take a few friends and see it during winter break!