The Hobbit: An Unexpected Enjoyment
I saw the first installment of “The Hobbit” last night at College Square. A preface: when “Fellowship” came out in 2001 I waited in line for hours inside the mall on opening day (which was a Wednesday if I recall correctly), in the hallway where the arcade used to be next to the Cinemas entrance. I loved the first film. During the following summer I read “Lord of the Rings” and loved (to a slightly lesser degree) “The Two Towers” and “Return of the King” when they came out in 2002 and 2003, respectively. I can’t remember when I first read “The Hobbit”, though I know it was sometime after 2003, and I reread it a couple winters ago.
Viet and I went to the theater last night for the 7:30 show. 48 fps 3D screenings are only taking place in Des Moines and Davenport, so we opted for the cheaper 2D version over the 24 fps 3D. We lingered about with six (!!!) other people before the cleaning crew came out and let us take our seats. I was literally aghast and slightly upset by the fact that there was no line for this movie, though I conceded most of the true fans probably gone to the midnight screening (which was not an option back in 2001, 2002 or 2003; had it been, I would have attended). We sat in the second to front row in the stadium.
The movie was pretty good. The first hour slogged along at a mildly boring pace, but I’ve come to expect that from big-budget action/adventure films (like “The Avengers”, the last few Harry Potter films”, the last two Matrix films, etc.). After Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarves depart the Shire, the tempo picks up a little. I know Peter Jackson had to borrow some characters from other Tolkien works to fill out the too-long 170-minute running time for this film, but this didn’t bother me at all. [SPOILER] In fact, I got more of the thrill out of the tiny glimpse of the Necromancer than I did from the glimpse of Smaug at the end.
Like I said, it’s been a couple years since I read “The Hobbit” but I know there doesn’t seem to be enough material to convert into three separate three-hour-long films. Peter Jackson took Azog of Moria (I don’t remember him from the book but maybe he’s tucked away in there somewhere) and turned him into the main villain, the Pale Orc. Martin Freeman is *perfect* as Bilbo. I can’t imagine anyone else in that role (except, obviously, for Ian Holm as the older version). Christopher Lee is back (yay!) as Saruman, and Andy Serkis gives the best performance of the film as Gollum — the scene with him and Bilbo in the depths of the Misty Mountains is by far the best of the film. I’ll repeat what I said of the original trilogy, that Serkis should be given some kind of special Academy Award for the brilliant work he’s done bringing Gollum to life.
Overall, I liked the film, though I’m not sure I’d want to see it again unless I had the chance to see what all the fuss is about regarding 48 fps.