The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

At Christmas we like to go see some epic movie in English. Three years running we saw the Lord of the Rings, so it was fitting to go see "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" this afternoon. We sprang for the 3D version.


I repeatedly looked at my watch, to determine how much longer I would have to suffer.

I had wondered how such a thin book as "The Hobbit" could be extended to a three-film sequence. Well, every half-page skirmish is drawn out into a looooong battle. And there is nothing new here, lots of ugly trolls and some dirty-looking dwarfs and some beautiful elves. Oh, and nasty Orgs and their toothy tigers or whatever it is that they ride.

The film is riddled with continuity errors. The list on IMDB is long, but doesn't contain half of the ones I saw. Bilbo has his rucksack on, then off, then on again. It gets dirty, is miraculously cleaned up, and is dirty again. Bilbo's clothes suddenly end up clean and pressed as well. Only the buttons popped off remain off, it seems. And we never see the feet of Bilbo much, so they could have just saved all the fuss with the foot makeup.

In LotR it was magic to see how Gollum moved. Motion-capture is old hat now, as is computer animation. So many of the scenes were obviously SFX. Lots of little figures that were probably dolls, so many computer-generated fighting scenes.

Oh, right, we paid for 3D. What was the point of that? There was depth to the scenes, but I felt that when there were multiple people in the scenes that they seemed flat, somehow. In perspective, but without being embodied. Oh, there was the odd bird and butterfly that seemed to be introduced into the story just so there would be something 3D-ish to ooh and ah about. But Avatar already had that, so what is new? Okay, the 48 fps maybe made things smoother, I didn't get motion sick.

The credits mention rotoscopers -- how quaint! And scores of TDs, are they all "technical directors"? Then there are "scale doubles" - are these midgets that look like the main characters? And how are they different from "body doubles"?

The only interesting bits were the attempts at character development and dialogue, but that was only about 30 minutes, max. 

Anyway. I was glad to be released from an uncomfortable chair and to get out into the wonderful winter wonderland outside. It's supposed to all melt by tomorrow, but it was much more exciting to walk through the snow, catching real snowflakes on my tongue, than to watch this movie.

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