This movie…was amazing. Kind of. It’s complicated. I was really hyped to see this since it was announced, and re-read Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit before seeing it, and I definately wasn’t disappointed.
First of all, we went out to see this in 3D and HFR, and it was absolutely the most visually beautiful thing I have ever seen on a screen. The technical leap Peter Jackson’s made is really amazing, and the immersion is something else entirely. Now this was really the only problem I had with the movie, since the first hour of the film was still a stage of adjustment. I think it took a while to get used to the visuals, which lacked the same tone and filters as the LotR trilogy, and the entire movie really looked more like theatre than film. So I think this will mean some problems for the entire movie industry, if they want to keep up with this kind of progress, since what they basically do is fool the viewer to think what they see is there. As graphics and visuals become really defined and now motion is captured almost perfectly, the visual effects people and choreographers are going to have their hands full trying to fool people much more effectively. Now, some CG effects and stunts looked a bit crap. Like first generation CG, but that was specifically because the movie was so spectacular with it’s visual definition. Similarly, the outfits do look a bit too new, like they haven’t been worn enough, since the viewer can make out every individual hair and dust particle.
The other aspect of the movie that took me by surprise was the tone. I knew Peter Jackson would pull this through, but I thought in advance that finding a medium between the goofy and serious in the Hobbit would be a bit tricky. The Hobbit was originally a book written for a child audience (which is the origin of fantasy anyways) and follows many of its conventions, so a lot of sillyness is also involved. I think the first hour of the movie, and especially everything that goes on in Hobbiton, was quite uncomfortable as I was still getting adjusted to the visuals and the tone, but beyond that point I was really taken by the immersion and awesome that was going on on the screen.
Peter Jackson follows the original Hobbit very closely, with some slight freedoms, but there is a lot of material added from the Unfinished Tales and LotR appendix and notes, but it all sits very nicely in the story, making the film seem like a part of something bigger than a simple heist of a gigantic mountain of gold.
Something about the entire film was very familiar but strange during the entire length, and I couldn’t really piece it together until I saw Guillermo del Toro’s name in the end credits, and then finally everything made sense. There was del Toro all over the place, but somehow I had just failed to spot it. But still, a great collaboration from del Toro and Jackson, and we can only hope for more of it.
The 13 dwarves are very cool, though some of the outfits and style’s of acting are a bit off-key, as they’ve had to differentiate the individual dwarves more clearly. Similarly, the accents are a bit all over the place, with Scots, Irish and English accents all over the place. Bilbo, meaning Martin Freeman from British Office and Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy, really pulls through and out-Britishes everyone in the movie, apart maybe from Sir Ian and ever awesome Christopher Lee. So brilliant actors, as is usual with Peter Jackson. Particularly Dwalin and Thorin are awesome.
So the complete list of shitty bits includes: initial period of adjustment, couple of the dwarves look a bit shit, some clunky acting in the beginning and CG put back a step.
Everything else is the fucking shit. Essentially this is a very epic and grown up children’s film, with magic and mystery and absolutely immersive awesome where ever you look. Especially awesome bits include the long fight deep under the mountains, Andy Serkis’ Gollum and the beginning at Erebor, and seeing the spectacular city of the Dwarves getting fucked by Smaug. Also, the Goblin King is one awesomely grotesque abomination, and extremely del Toro.
So if you haven’t seen it yet, go bloody well see it you snooty bastard. Think I have to go and see it a second time before Christmas. And get ready for the disappointment of having to wait until Summer for the second part. And just so you’ll know, the Dwarf song is going to get stuck in your head, and not leave for a good bloody while.