The trolls, as well as their accents, were straight from the novel.
The trolls, as well as their accents, were straight from the novel.
Well I'm one who thinks that if something doesn't work in a movie, you can not blame it on the source material. The filmmakers decide what stays, what's out and what is changed, and they're responsible for all of it. So if there's a criticism directed towards the film that can be excused with it being in the source material, I'd say, blame the filmmakers too, since they thought it was good as it was and it didn't need to be changed, when they had the power to change it.
I didn't have much issue with the trolls, though.
Tom Bombadil was in the source material, and Jackson was smart enough to leave that section out.
He should have done the same with the trolls.
T E A M R I V E T T E
no. i'm glad the troll scene was there. in my screening, people enjoyed that scene a lot
A few people didn't like the trolls. Most people did. In Jackson's case, I'm sure they were in there because Jackson puts in what he enjoys and I'm sure he enjoyed them. He is a filmmaker who clearly doesn't put his finger to the wind to decide what he likes. At least, not with most things.
I get you about critics comparing RINGS to the Hobbit( I really wonder if some of them actually read the book) I forget a few of the critics that harped on the humor lightness of the 1st half of the movie. & They all just keep going on & on about making the Trilogy( Frankly, I think some of that played a part in their reviews). They all pretty much do agree though that once the groups hits the road the movie really picks up & gets much better( in my book even better).
I will be seeing this movie again in the regular 2D this weekend.
I will be seeing the hobbit a few more times this holiday season along with( Lincoln, Circ de so(sp) ).
I am already looking forward to the next movie
Wicked, Trixie, False. Yes, Precious, False
The thing with the trolls is, Bilbo talked about it and referenced it in the LOTR trilogy. So it would be weird for Jackson to leave it out now.
FWIW, I kind of loved that part in the book, and was glad it was there.
Last five movies seen:
Biutiful (2010) **1/2
Iron Man 3 (2013) **
Seediq Bale: Warriors of the Rainbow (2011) **
Baaria (2009) *
The Place Beyond the Pines (2013) *1/2
The troll scene is essential. It's one of the most memorable moments in the novel. It was one of the most memorable moments here as well, in a good way.
Wicked, Trixie, False. Yes, Precious, False
II think it hard to think of things about this film that haven’t already been addressed in this thread, but here are a few bullet points for your consideration:
· I was actually somewhat dreading this before I went into the theater. I was fearing the worse and expecting an epically bloated mess that wouldn't be worth enduring the massive runtime. But, somewhat surprising, Jackson managed to pull the rabbit out of the hat and delivers a mostly engaging epic that largely justifies its running time and sets up so many fascinating things that are bound to come in the next two films that I left the theater dying to see what comes next.
· The most successful part of the adaptation, in my opinion, in incorporating all of the material from the extra portions of The Lord of the Rings – the scenes with Radagast, the introduction of the Necromancer, the meeting of the White Council, Galadriel (!) – incredibly fascinating stuff and just enough of a taste to leave you wanting more. These scenes have a real dramatic weight to them that some of the seemingly endless chase sequences that sandwich them seem to lack.
· Simply put, Freeman is brilliant as Bilbo.
· I saw this in 24 FPS, 2D and I thought some the design work and visual effects looked, to be kind, atrocious. The Pale Orc looked so cheesy and fake (as did several other of the major "creatures") and a lot of the design schemes from this film seemed kind of out of place with the previous trilogy. I still Jackson and his team have a knack for creating “lived in” fantasy environments that are capable of transporting its audience in ways that other films can only dream of, but I was expecting a lot more, especially considering the advances in special effects that have been made in the past decade. (The Wargs still look awful!)
· The camera work in this film is magnificent. Jackson (and Lesnie, I guess) are fabulous at allowing their camera to move all over the cinematic canvas without ever devolving into a shaky-cam catastrophe. The action is frenetic, but crystal clear.
· The score was disappointingly derivative, essentially copying all of the major themes of LOTR nearly note by note and cramming them into random moments. Lazy!
· I was reading a review on Metacritic that stated one’s enjoyment of this as a film would largely depend on how interested you were in dwarves, which is sad, but true. While the structure of this movie and Fellowship of the Ring are alarmingly similar (even the final shot of the Lonely Mountain is a direct call back to Frodo and Sam looking at Mount Doom), Fellowship benefitted from having a varied cast of characters to introduce and bounce off each other. This film really struggles to differentiate any of the dwarves from one another, expect for Thorin, who does get that incredibly epic battle scene flashback.
· That said, the next film needs to have more:
The only dwarf in the history of Middle Earth who wasn't genetically cursed to be horrifically ugly.
I'd give this 3/4, 8/10, an A-...whatever you want to call it. I liked most of it, and I'm incredibly excited by the next two installments.
WE'RE GONNA FIGHT!
This weekend...one last chance to save Halle's career from complete oblivion. Oh, wait...
"...it's already done."
Last edited by Elessar; 12-19-2012 at 12:41 AM.
I loved it. Saw it in 3D and 48 fps and it looked glorious. One of the most entertaining epics I can think of. Immaculate craft behind the scenes aswell. Well done the entire team, well done!
A 58 at Metacritic is ridicilous and SO obviously because of the backlash. Deserves much higher.
No, Zac, I'm going with my Nanny.
So, um, I saw this and I sort of, almost, kind of... loved it? I wasn't even that excited for this throughout the whole year and now it comes along as easily the best blockbuster action pic of 2012. I'm shocked by this. I did rewatch the Extended Editions of LOTR (all 12 hours of 'em!) over the weekend and was reminded that I do quite like these movies, flawed and cheesy and hokey as they are in various places. But even then, I never figured I'd actually end up championing this movie that seemed destined to be such a bloated bore.
The biggest factor for me turned out to be the 48fps. Holy. Shit. I wanted to check it out, but was afraid that it would look horrible (like a weird live TV kind of thing) and that the weird look would be so distracting that it might infect my response to the movie. Anyways, I still went ahead with the HFR version and I'm so glad I did. It's absolutely insane. To anyone who has any interest in the format at all, go check it out. It's one of the craziest, coolest, boldest visual experiences I've probably ever had on the big screen. Well, now I'm delving into stuff that is better articulated in my review. So enough of this ranting. Here's my review!
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
Peter Jackson previously logged more than nine hours (or nearly twelve with the Extended Editions) in his cinematic version of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth with his epically popular adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. That gargantuan amount of time in one director's vision of one world provided plenty of opportunity for moviegoers to become comfortably acquainted with the fantastical place as Jackson had envisioned it. So above all else, Jackson's return to Middle Earth with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of a three part adaptation of Tolkien's lighter, tinier novel, should be a journey of visual familiarity. And so, proving he still has the ability to surprise, Jackson's Hobbit is quite rather the complete opposite. Setting their sights on technical innovation, Jackson and Rings cinematographer Andrew Lesnie have shot their return to Middle Earth in 48 frames per second (double the industry standard that has existed for the majority of cinema's lifetime) and the result, while occasionally jarring, is an unmatched visual experience that looks entirely like a gamechanger.
The added frames essentially remove excessive motion blurring that naturally occurs at the usual 24 frames per second. The lack of blur makes for smoother, stranger movement on screen, especially in tighter action shots, which aids the 3D experience and leads to a shockingly crisp picture. It requires some adjustment, but ultimately, I found watching the high frame rate to be a thrilling experience, one of the most overwhelmingly unique technological advancements to touch motion pictures in a long time. Prior to sitting down for a return to Middle Earth, I was certainly wary of the process, having seen and hated glimpses of simulated motion smoothing on high definition televisions. But what Jackson, Lesnie, and the effects team have come up with here is spectacular because of how seamlessly, how utterly perfectly it integrates the real people and environments with computer-generated creatures and environments.
In terms of fantasy filmmaking, this version of Middle Earth is powered by a visual consistency that was previously absent from the genre. That isn't intended to take anything away from earlier fantasy pictures, but rather to highlight the freshness of Jackson's achievement. Whenever CGI creatures appear onscreen, it's obvious that they're a pile of pixels, but the clarity of the animation is so eerily equal to the clarity of the live-action footage that everything, real and imagined, blends together into a series of impossibly beautiful pictures.
The 48fps has clearly won me over, but my appreciation for the movie stems further than the visuals. The screenplay, credited to Jackson, his Rings co-writers Phillipa Boyens and Fran Walsh, and a bonus Guillermo Del Toro, once in line to direct, sounds disastrous in concept, but is actually a big, boisterous blast with a sturdy structure, an especially impressive achievement given the boldness of this particular adaptation. Taking Tolkien's little pre-Rings book and stretching it to fit a lofty length similar to the three-picture combo that was used to house the massive Lord of the Rings story seems a foolhardy task at best. Oh, and greedy, too. Jackson is clearly happy to stay in the land of his critical and financial peaks, while the studios just see more dollar signs with each additional release date. Turning this into a trilogy definitely invites cynicism, but the adaptation itself actually does a pretty fine job of defending the decision.
Okay, so after the lovely prologue, a little Rings-era scene intended to align audiences with the previous trilogy by providing glimpses of Ian Holm (reprising his role as an aging Bilbo) and Elijah Wood (conveniently cameoing as Frodo) is a bit extraneous. And once we travel back sixty years for the actual story, the initial few scenes seem somewhat ripe for trimming. One evening, Bilbo (now a delightful Martin Freeman) is quickly roped into opening his doors to a group of thirteen dwarves who proceed to devour all of his food without any additional explanation. Eventually, Gandalf shows up, back to his Grey self and still played with gentle authority by Ian McKellan. Bilbo soon learns that the dwarves are planning a quest to the far off Lonely Mountain, where they will attempt to infiltrate the lost city and reclaim their gold from the nasty dragon Smaug. The early recruitment scenes are another sign that the writers are really taking their time with this one, while they had to operate with much more restraint the last time they adapted Middle Earth adventures.
But even with a bit of extra baggage saddled on these scenes, the first act remains an entertaining launch for the movie. After that, any opportunity for a flashback or an introduction of a side story is embraced, leaving no narrative stone unturned. And yet, surprisingly to me, this whole hog approach actually works quite well, partially because it broadens the scope of a potentially modest adventure and also because it gives the high frame rate more time and action to dazzle us. Once Bilbo and the dwarves eventually set out on their quest, Jackson seems to unleash a new action sequence every few minutes, mounting gigantic battles between our heroes and a combination of oafish orcs and grotesque goblins with a careful confidence that is directly enhanced by the increased frame rate and the extreme clarity of the picture.
An appearance by that scrawny little Precious-coveting creature Gollum (Andy Serkis, still brilliantly motion captured) leads to a standout sequence involving Bilbo and a series of riddles. It's a particularly memorable bit from the book and this adaptation effectively captures all of the laughs and fears of the strange exchanges between hobbit and, well, whatever Gollum is.
In the midst of all this action and humour, Jackson and the writers even find a way to locate the story's emotional epicentre just in time, an important task given that the stakes here are considerably smaller than they were nearly a decade ago in the other Middle Earth trilogy. Giving us a reason to care and suggesting that the emotional stakes can still matter on an epic stage even when the fate of this world isn't exactly hanging in the balance is a rather remarkable feat. Even when fully embracing its status as a prequel to the much larger and more narratively treacherous Lord of the Rings, this movie still finds a way to carve out its own personal identity and emerge an intriguing adventure drama by its own accord.
With An Unexpected Journey, Jackson has successfully completed the first part of his mammoth expansion of Tolkien's little book. It's an approach I once thought ridiculous, but now have complete faith in. Even just a little tease of Smaug the dragon in this movie's closing moment is enough to have me now salivating in anticipation of the sequel. Of course, I owe so much of my sudden explosion of enthusiasm to Jackson's decision to tackle 48fps shooting. His handling of the high frame rate may just prove revolutionary, at least in terms of future blockbuster moviemaking. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey takes us back to Middle Earth where not even the presence of a few familiar faces can shake the sensation that something has drastically changed. This place is new, a fresh frontier rich with visual wonders. Human actor and CGI beastie now interact in ways I never imagined. So I guess the stakes really are quite high after all. With just one movie, the pixels of Middle Earth have been changed forever.
Aaron, That was a very nice review. And, with similar trepidation, I saw the film (on a 2nd viewing) in the 48fps version and really liked it. I thought the extreme clarity in the action scenes more than made up for any loss of the typical movie gloss from the 24 fps.
I loved this, too. And I guess I kinda like the messiness? lol
Glad to see the largely positive response in this thread. This part in particular was a very, very tough section of the book to adapt, so instead of doing a full review of the film at this time, I'm instead going to analyze the process of adapting The Hobbit, and why, structurally, the next two films look to be much stronger than this.
I suppose I should preface this by saying that, for the last three years, I have worked for several companies on both a freelance and salaried basis analyzing how to turn books into movies (and no, I won't read your damned manuscript. I'm sure it's interesting, but I don't have time). Basically, professionally, one of my key areas of experience and expertise is looking at potential adaptations and figuring out how they should work.
In September, I was flying home for a visit when, on a whim, I decided to bring The Hobbit as reading for my flight. Hadn't read it in some time. And while I was reading it, I started to notice something: this is both an incredibly dense and incredibly light novel. It's dense in terms of the sheer number of plot events it packs in and its atmosphere, and it's very light in terms of actual character, dialogue, and so on. And it's a very, very tricky novel structurally. Its first third in particular is full of things which, really, one should absolutely not do, but which work in the novel because of its atmosphere. So I've been thinking about this, almost as an intellectual exercise, for the last few months on and off: how do you adapt The Hobbit into a film?
Let's talk about plot events first. Fellowship of the Ring (the movie) has: The prologue, the long-expected party/revelation of the ring, the first black rider chase, Bree/meeting Aragorn/second black rider incident, Weathertop, the Ford, Rivendell, attempting to climb the mountains, Moria, Lorien, the Breaking of the Fellowship. That's 12 major events in the A-plot of the film (and the mountain-climbing section is pushing it, really). The film also, quite wisely, breaks up the book's structure a bit (which from the outset establishes Rivendell and Mordor as twin goals), by instead moving it into subgoals. Frodo is first told to head for Bree, where he'll meet Gandalf. That fails, then he and Aragorn and the rest establish a new goal: go to Rivendell. This similar subgoal structure reflects in the second half, with the first goal being to cross the mountains somehow, which ends up leading to Moria. So instead of one major goal that the characters are following all the way and having things happen to them, they're setting up smaller goals which are accomplished, if with some difficulty, and which lead in organically to the next step. This causes a far less episodic feel to the overall film. It also takes time to slow down three major times - the opening in the Shire, Rivendell, and Lorien. This allows the audience to rest, take a break, re-establish the stakes, and get to know the characters better. Structurally, that film is rock-solid.
Now let's compare The Hobbit, the book. Unexpected Party, trolls, Rivendell, Goblintown, Gollum, Frying Pan/Fire, Beorn, Mirkwood path (separated from the spiders as that is a specific setpiece that, plot-wise, spiders, Elven captivity/barrels, Laketown, Lonely Mountain, actual confrontation with Smaug, , Five Armies. We're at 15 already. Add in the prologue (a probably necessary addition) and we're at 16. Already we're getting enormously dense just on plot events (and lengthy ones, too - Five Armies in particular with its buildup and what it does for Thorin and Bilbo's character arcs can't be dispatched too quickly). Too, the book has a very strange episodic structure - where from the outset we have one goal, and things happen along the way to our heroes without them often doing much to cause it, but each event is too structurally and plot-important to delete. In this first third that TH:AUJ adapted, with the trolls, that's how Bilbo gets Sting. Rivendell sets up how they're going to get into the mountain. Gollum is how Bilbo gets the Ring. Goblintown sets up the rather deus ex machina-esque arrival of the Goblins at the Battle of Five Armies. Frying Pan sets up the eagles. And so on. These aren't really Tom Bombadil-esque incidents where there aren't major plot ramifications due to what happened in the section. Each one sets up part of the plot. So you're caught in something of a bind: you have a structure where the heroes keep stumbling into trouble and getting pulled out of it at the last second, until the thing that pulls them out just...wanders off, and now they have to fend for themselves because of a random off-screen plot development. And because of the density of plot events, there's no time for those character development pauses in the book, aside from at the beginning at the party, and at the end in the build-up to Five Armies. Bilbo, of course, is arced throughout but otherwise, those are basically the only other times any other character is actually developed in the book. Christ, Gollum, the trolls, and Smaug have more personality than any of the dwarves beside Thorin. Gollum and the trolls only appear once, and
Furthermore, there are two major, major character issues with regards to adapting The Hobbit as written. The first, as has been discussed in this thread, is the dwarves. Let's go back to our FOTR comparison: While that film introduces over 15 major characters, structurally it is able to stagger those introductions throughout the course of the film - the final one being Galadriel coming in over two hours into the movie. And it's even only able to introduce one or two at a time (in cases where that would not have been the case in the book, it carefully takes time to separate it out - having Merry and Pippin re-introduced separately from Sam, introducing Boromir before the Council). So that way, it's able to clearly distinguish between everyone, with the added ease of species variation.
In The Hobbit, you don't get that benefit. You have 13 new characters introduced right up front, all of the same species. And part of the joke (in the book) is how easy it is to confuse the dwarves with each other. And it's not like - aside from Thorin, Balin, and Bombur - any of the other dwarves are particularly developed. Hell, Thorin's really the only one who IS developed at all. And it's not like dwarves in the book separate into their own stories or get killed , so you don't have THAT benefit of Fellowship as well. So you have to try to do more than the book does, but that takes time.
Finally, the other character issue is Gandalf just wandering off (essentially) pre-Mirkwood. While it's dramatically necessary if Bilbo's character arc is going to progress that Gandalf leave the story somehow, it's also deeply dramatically unsatisfying. There's basically no good reason given in the actual book for his departure at that point. It just happens. So this has to be addressed as well or else, onscreen, it's just not going to work. Seriously. It's basically just "OK, I got other shit to do, see ya!". There's really no way to keep that plot point as it is in the book and make it satisfying. So now that has to be built up and once you've built it up, you've got resolve it onscreen as well. So that's even more plot events.
This is all going to say that adapting The Hobbit is a ridiculously difficult proposition, especially if you try to cram it all into one movie. No matter what way you try to adapt it, that first third is a fucking nightmare. Indistinguishable characters, extremely lackadaisacal, deus ex machina-based plot episodes you can't delete, little character development even on the part of Bilbo (who up until Gollum is basically just...there, and is also just there until the Spiders as well). I mean, you can make the book into one film, and you could probably make it decent-ish, but it would be good in spite of itself. Honestly, the result would probably look a lot like a four-hour version of the Rankin-Bass animated film, which is..fine-ish for what it is, but would probably be laughed out of the theatre if Jackson/et al tried to do THAT. For all the talk of how difficult LOTR is to bring to the screen, it's a much easier and cleaner book to adapt than The Hobbit is.
In a way, structurally, what Jackson/Boyens/Walsh/Del Toro did with TH:AUJ is get all of the nightmare parts out of the way up front, while adding in elements that will likely payoff throughout. Instead of the Goblins suddenly appearing for The Battle of Five Armies, now we have Azog, who's being built up as an ongoing threat. Perhaps not an effective character, but as a device he works. Meanwhile, we're building in with Radagast and the White Council why Gandalf has to leave the Company (and, I suspect, in the film he'll likely be planning a much shorter leave than what actually results).
Furthermore, structurally once it hits this next part, the structure will break down into the more subgoal-based structure that FOTR (the movie) had. Have to get supplies/reorient - go see Beorn. Have to escape the goblins - go to Mirkwood. Each plot element leads to the next in a far more linear, organic, and logical fashion than the previous section does. Too, Beorn's house is an ideal opportunity to reestablish the dwarves (who, without Gandalf in the company, will likely be getting more to do), especially given how they're basically reintroduced there. Meanwhile, TABA looks to have a similar structure to TTT, except sub in Five Armies for Helm's Deep, and a WWI-esque clusterfuck instead of Helm's Deep's Battle of Britain (basically). Little action throughout (seriously, up until Helm's Deep, none of TTT's action beats are really more than a couple minutes aside from the Wargs, and even that's pretty short), building up to one gigantic climax. And while TTT is simple good versus evil, TABA will be about a bunch of character mistakes from everyone - all the good guy races we're trained to root for - escalating until the moment before they all fight. Here's another point where the device of Azog is actually potentially quite effective. Instead of random goblins and wargs out of nowhere, now it's a character/device who's been built up over the course of three films coming in with a goddamned army.
With regards to the dwarves: I honestly doubt we'll be giving a shit about all of them by the time of the battle. But, really, if we care about more than, say, four, that's kind of a triumph on Jackson's part. Hell, Thorin is already massively more sympathetic in the film than he is in the book, which should make the events of the third movie resonate far more effectively. They're also already building up his resentment of the elves, which seems likely to pay off in both coming films. So they are making some very strong adaptation choices, even if we can debate the effectiveness of certain of those choices (I'm not really sure if they could've possibly paid off Radagast and the White Council in this film, but that throughline likely needed some kind of payoff/resolution to set the stage for the next film. Too, it does briefly lose sight of Bilbo in the Rivendell section, where it likely could've used another scene of him there to really drive for home on this film's arc for him).
The skeleton of the book-Hobbit is, of course, about Bilbo and the quest of Erebor. And elements like Azog and the White Council, of course, don't necessarily reflect directly on that quest or character arc. But they do have major effects on it. So from the singular lead of Bilbo in the book, the film is building up a tripartite lead of Bilbo, Thorin, and Gandalf. The Gandalf stuff is, for me, a bit questionable at this point - simply because it's unclear how that's going to pay out. But increasing Thorin's arc is a very, very wise decision in how it's going to play out in TABA. Obviously, it does become a very different animal than the book when you move away from that singular lead. But, based on my personal reading of it, I think it's a legitimate decision that, in my opinion, has worked pretty well thus far.
I honestly don't know if it needed to be three films or not at this point. They've certainly dispatched the book's most troublesome sections and structurally this ought to be a smoother ride from hereon in. Bilbo and the dwarves gain more agency, the set-up additional plotlines begin to payoff, and the structure becomes less episodic and more character-based. I honestly don't know if it could've been one film, if you want that film to be any good or under four hours. It likely could've been two films (the original ending of this one with the barrel escape would've been a strong one for Bilbo's arc), but based on the evidence of this one, I'm interested to see how they develop this material in the next two.
Last edited by Dent; 12-20-2012 at 01:19 AM.
Dent, I really enjoyed your analysis. Thanks for taking the time and effort it surely took to write it. You likely put more effort into this post than most critics did in writing their reviews.