The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ★★½

I should mention that I did not see this in 48 fps, as the closest theater to me showing it in that format was two hours away. I was already spending considerable time on this movie during the busiest period of the year for me, and I couldn't justify adding another 3-4 hours. I often feel like I start my reviews out in the same way, and one of the phrases I often use is so apropos for this film; I wish I liked this more.

I knew I was in trouble when I saw the film was albeit three hours long. I've long railed against overlong movies and believe most directors could use a stricter editor. The original LotR movies were long, but they were adapting a lot more material. I don't understand how one can drag what amounts to a children's book out over three movies for nine hours. It seems unnecessary, and I have to say, after watching this film, this it is unnecessary.

One hour into this movie, it finally starts. The first hour contained a lot of unnecessary filler, and what information we did get at the beginning could have easily been communicated to the audience in a more concise and entertaining way. Once the movie starts, it still falters and lags at places throughout the film. Uneven pacing, however, is not the only problem the film has.

While this film may look like any of the other LotR movies, it doesn't always feel like it. I would be fine with it not feeling like the other movies in the series, if it would be content to pick its own identity and then stick with it. Instead, it seems to veer all over the map, staying serious and grim at times, then going wildly comedic (a run-in with a group of trolls decides to go for Shrek level gross out humor).

The biggest sin the movie commits, however, lies in its handling of our two main characters, Bilbo and Gandalf. Gandalf claims that the company needs a hobbit along to be successful, and while we've not yet seen this to be true, the adventure has only started, so I'm willing to wait to see if the movie fulfills this foreshadowing. However, we really aren't ever given any good reason why Bilbo should be the one chosen to go. Bilbo spends the first hour of the film not wanting to go, and he's something of a pain about it, so why doesn't Gandalf simply go and find another hobbit? It seems like that would be simpler. Why is Bilbo so essential?

The other problem is the flipside to that very coin; why does Bilbo agree to go in the first place. He spends all night saying he won't go, then wakes up in the morning and goes rushing after the group. Why would he do that? Later in the movie he provides an explanation, but it seems like he just came up with that explanation at the time, not like he had it when he left his house. I wouldn't harp on this so much, except that the movie is so long, one would think that some of the overlong running time could have been used to provide motivations for our characters.

And then there's the end of the film. Oy. Avoiding spoilers, let's just say that Bilbo acts very un-Bilbo-like (and stupidly) and that the movie ends with a deus ex machina that the series has already used. It's disappointing.

There's fun to be had here; good performances, some exciting action, thrilling sword and sorcery, but overall, this film is very flawed.