The Critic – The Hobbit

The Hobbit 1

I got the chance to see this movie the day it came out in AVX, this meant two things: First, that I am a massive geek who has to see movies like this the day they are released. Second, that I saw the film in 48 frames per second (FPS), and sadly in 3D but that’s not the point. What does this mean you ask? Well fictional question person, let me explain it to you. Human beings see things in 60FPS and that is what makes things look, for lack of a better word, real to us. Movies are filmed at 24FPS and that’s why it has a different look and a different texture almost to it, it’s what we are used to seeing in movies, television is filmed at 25FPS and it does make a very slight difference which you can normally tell. Now, with The Hobbit, Peter Jackson has doubled the frame rate and is the first director to film a movie in 48FPS. What does this do for the movie? I’m glad you have many questions fictional person! It changes the entire way you view the movie, it turns it from the regular experience of seeing  a movie and being disjointed from the actual film itself and turns it into an entirely new experience.  Upping the frame rate not only gives you a sharper, more clear picture but, because the frame rate is so much closer to what humans see it looks more realistic than you can imagine until you’ve seen it. You mean like how every time CGI makes an advance it looks more real? No, no I don’t. What I mean is that it looks like you are actually watching the movie unfold in front of your very eyes, it looks like you are looking at people who are in your actual line of sight. It’s something that everyone should see. Anyway, that’s enough drooling over the way the movie looks, on to the rest of the review.

The Hobbit 2

In case you have been living in a hole your whole life I’ll give you a bit of a run down of what The Hobbit is. The Hobbit is the prequel to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings which Peter Jackson turned into an award winning trilogy in the early 2000’s. For a few years the idea of making The Hobbit into a movie was in limbo and when it finally got the green light it was going to be made by Guillermo del Toro but it kept getting pushed back and pushed back until, as far as I know, Sir Ian McKellen said that if it didn’t start being made by the end of 2010 or 2011, I can’t remember what year it was, that he would not be doing it. This prompted Jackson to return to Middle-Earth and start making The Hobbit. He initially decided to split the film into 2 parts but then, a few months before the release of the film announced it would be split into 3 parts and a lot of fans did a collective sigh and figured that it was now going to be even more of a money grab than it already was going to be. Then Jackson announced that he would be pulling parts from The Silmarillion (a book written by Tolkien that covers the history of Middle-Earth), the appendices from the end of The Return of the King, and The Unfinished Tales, after that most of us took a deep breath and relaxed, knowing that Tolkien’s work was once more in the hands of the ever capable hands of Peter Jackson.

The Hobbit is the story of a young Bilbo Baggins, played by the amazing Martin Freeman, as he goes on an adventure with a team of dwarfs to regain their home and their treasure from the evil dragon Smaug. Of course, initially Bilbo does not want to have anything to do with this, but then, as the book puts it, his Tookish side takes over and he leaves last minute with the company of dwarfs and with Gandalf. This leads to them meeting trolls and elves and another, crazy, wizard named Radagast the Brown (played by Sylvester McCoy, aka The Seventh Dotor, who pulls a smear of bird mess in his hair the whole film). There are many parts to this movie that were taken from The Silmarillion, the appendices, and The Unfinished Tales, Radagast for example does not have a large if any bit of  apart in The Hobbit novel but he is set up to have a huge part in the films after this first one where he has seen a Necromancer. An addition to the story I really enjoyed is that they called Mirkwood, Greenwood in the movie and when Radagast appears you hear him saying that because of the things that are being done to it, it is become the Mirkwood.

The Hobbit 3

I’m going to start off with what I didn’t enjoy about this movie, there are very few things so I think it makes more sense. The main thing that bothered me was the main orc in the movie, Azog The Pale Orc, he was FAR to CGI for my liking, all of the other Orcs in LotR and in The Hobbit are quite obviously people in fantastic make up, but for some reason Azog was entirely computer generated, it just didn’t sit right for me. For how important to the story he was he just seemed like an empty character, but that is understandable as that was one of the parts added in at the end of filming after Jackson decided to push for 3 films, that shouldn’t be an acceptable excuse, but it does make sense. Another problem is that because Jackson is doing 3 films this one felt like “Butter spread over too much bread” it was all setup for the next two movies and it just seemed a bit long, not uncomfortably long, but you could kind of tell it was a long movie. But in the end, for me at least, the goods outweigh the bads.

So what are those pros? The story, it’s a classic, I love The Hobbit, it is a wonderfully fun story with interesting characters and a bit of scary fun for younger kids. That’s another thing you need to remember, The Hobbit was written as a children’s bedtime story but The Lord of the Rings is more adult, so here Peter Jackson had to deal with a children’s story but make it work in the same world that he created for his LotR trilogy, I think he did very,very well. One of the biggest, most frequent complaints I’ve heard about the movie is that “The Orcs looked really bad” at that I was confused, then when I found out what they were talking about I realized they mean the Goblins, not orcs. Then I ask them in what format they watched the movie, if they saw it in standard or in 48FPS, for this complaint the answer was always standard. Right there is the issue, if you are watching it in a standard theatre then  you are going to see a 48FPS film, dulled down to look like it is 24FPS and that will just make things look…off. That’s a reason you need to see this movie the way it was shot, if you don’t you miss out on an amazing experience which I’m sure is going to become more popular very quickly. In fact James Cameron has expressed interest in filming the next two Avatar films in the higher frame rate, not that I care as I am not even close to a fan of Avatar.

The Hobbit 5

All in all I think the film was very well done, I didn’t really feel how long it was when I watched the movie, but that’s probably because I was just giddy at the prospect of seeing all these things I’ve read about so many times happen, especially the scene with the trolls, which was brilliant and just so great! I loved the look of the dwarfs, I enjoy that they all had very unique looks to each of them. The only problem was that because of time constraints, which is a funny thing to say in a nearly 3 hour movie, we didn’t get to know all of the dwarfs and for the most part only three or four of them got much screen time other than at the party at the beginning of the film.

Do I recommend this movie? Of course! If you were a fan of the LotR films or books, and/or are a fan of The Hobbit then this film is a must see, it looks gorgeous and is going to be the first of many films done in 48FPS in the coming years. Fair warning though, when I watched it though I spent the first half hour deciding if I liked the look of the higher frame rate, when it came down to it I really decided I liked it and am looking forward to more films in this style. It just takes some getting used to. Check this movie out as soon as you can!

Pros:

  • The higher frame rate, it may take a bit to get adjusted to, but it really pulls you into the world
  • Casting choices were great, for Bilbo specifically
  • The look of the Dwarfs, giving them very different looks makes them more real then ever before
  • Of course the story always has been brilliant, and it seems to translate really well to screen

Cons:

  • Azog looks terrible and is just awkward to watch in this beautiful movie
  • Too little content that is going to be stretched into 3 movies
  • This first film was all set up for the next two movies to come

The Hobbit 4

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: 8.5/10

***

This is the part where I do a bit of shameless plugging, so just bear with me for a bit. (Sorry if you’ve read this already)

My friend C.W. Sanders, from the podcast Classy Ring Attire, and I have started up a new podcast called America’s Hat/Canada’s Shorts. It’s a podcast where we sit down and talk about cultural differences between our two countries and about things that may not have crossed the border in the same way if they did at all. Our first one came out on Christmas Eve Day and on it we talk about accents and holidays, it’s been a lot of fun to do and we hope you will listen, I’ll be posting them on my blog posts and on the TUG Facebook page as they are released. Check out episode one HERE.

Also Today is a double review day! Every year my mother and I catch a double feature at the theatre, this year we saw Les Miserables and Django Unchained. Click up there (where it says Les Miserables) to check out that review. The review for Django unchained will be up next Monday. As for this Thursday I will be reviewing the graphic novel The Underwater Welder. So glad to be back! See you on Thursday everyone!

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Follow Nathan on Twitter @Nait93.

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