Hey everyone! Roddy here, with a new series of reviews!
To kickoff my 'series' of reviews, where better to start than Middle Earth? I'll be reviewing every film in the Middle-Earth saga, and afterwards.....I haven't got a clue. If you want an explanation of my Roddy Rating system, you can find it on the right.
Anyway, ON WITH THE REVIEW.
Anyway, ON WITH THE REVIEW.
The first half of this review will just be a general summary, to get across my immediate viewpoint. I'll delve deeper into the plot and characters in a bit.
You can tell right off the bat that this is more of a studio film than a Peter Jackson film:
- The overuse of CGI
- The obvious cliche tropes that somehow found themselves in the film despite never existing in the books. (I'm looking at you, Tauriel and Kili. I'll tear you two apart when I get to you.)
- Even Pete himself hated filming it:
- The bastards made Ian Mckellen cry! You do not make Gandalf cry, EVER.
Most of this was due to the safe, easy routes that the hobbit films took, e.g CGI as much as possible and use blue screen whenever a backdrop might involve a hint of effort. These are just ways for the studio to make even more money, the CGI makes it look more cartoonish and appeals to the kids, and the fangirls will have some eye candy in the forms of Thorin, Thranduil and Legolas. Oh and Kili. An Unexpected Journey seems like a pretty solid film though. Lots of genuinely funny moments, a decent cast, the dwarves have more character than even the book (which pretty much ignored all of the dwarves except Thorin and Balin) which allows you to look past these obvious studio moneygrabs.
The pacing is this film's downfall. The beginning just drags too much and it takes too long to get the ball rolling. Which again, is the studio's fault. If it were two films, the pacing would have felt much more natural and flowed more nicely. But alas, for we must milk the movie cow as much as we can.
Back to the point. The film is riddled with unnecessary plot points and flashbacks, and just general filler. Did the troll scene really have to go on for that long? And what the hell was up with those stone giants? Necessary? If Pete could fit those stone giants into the film, then why did he not have enough time to put Tom Bombadil into the Fellowship of the Ring. Gah. Despite it feeling dragged out quite a few times and forced a bit, the characters, humour, and just general charm do make it bearable.
Lots of the dragged out scenes still play through quite smoothly; it's never at the point where it gets boring. You always manage to stay invested in it and care about what’s happening. Overall, it’s a fun time, even if half of it is unnecessarily stretched out, and it stands as a solid, good film. Which is also its weakness. The studio planted themselves in this safe, solid spot but never going that extra step and taking a risk and making it epic. It’s just good.
And now into the detailed section, where there will be lots of spoilers. So yeah. Skip to the bottom if you wanna just see the rating and whatevs.
So we start off in the Shire (I’m ignoring that exposition flashback to Erebor, which is actually really cool. Again, it drags though) which we actually hardly see anything of. Instead it’s all going down in Bag End, where we’ll spend the next half an hour. And I just have to say, Martin Freeman is an excellent Bilbo. Seriously, perfect casting.
We’re also introduced to the Dwarves, which, as I said before, have more personality than the books. There. I said it. A single aspect is better than the books. Come at me Tol Ki En (a group of Tolkien fanatics). But of course, the studio took the lazy route and instead of using those awesome camera angle tricks, decided to computerifically put Gandalf in with the Dwarves. No idea how they did it though. Computerifically.
Half an hour later, we finally leave the Shire, and….we meet Radagast? That was, what, 5-10 minutes into the journey and we’re already going on tangents? Apparently he’s a character worthy of lots of screentime now. And who can forget Sebastian the CGI hedgehog. Quality performance from that guy. And… Radagast was annoying in this film. Luckily we don’t get to see much of him, and he’s toned down in the later two films but…man he’s obnoxious in this film. That’s all I have to say about Raddy.
And then we have the Azog and Moria flashback, and…yeah, that happened. Badass flashback, by the way. Even if it goes on for too long. And then we see some sinister Orcs literally STRAIGHT afterwards. Wow, I wonder what they are doing here. This is such an unpredictable plotline. What will happen next.
Next, we meet the trolls, Tom, Bert and William. Which I personally really enjoy, their banter is quality. Until it goes on for too long. A repeating trend in this film. But seriously, the troll scene is really well-done, with some good laughs, and it’s just a fun scene.
And now it’s Radagast time again, where he delivers some comedically groundbreaking moments like the stick insect on the tongue, had me in stitches that did. And his Rhosgobel rabbits are seriously quality, and I mean proper quality, the CGI on them is…
ok I’ll stop now.
We get a pretty cool warg chase scene, which again goes on for too long, but with some cool action and a somewhat decent sense of tension. Albeit which is ruined whenever Radagast comes onscreen, but thankfully he vanishes.
Before they know it, our heroes find themselves in Rivendell, which…isn't as nice as the Lotr films:
- It looks really nice and pretty, but too obviously CGI for a film coming out 11 years after we first saw it, and you know that's a bad thing.
- Rivendell goes on for too long, with unnecessary filler (fun and good filler, but filler all the same).
- I actually don’t hate the subplot with Gandalf and the White Council though. It’s a good way of both creating a story arc for these films and setting up the Lotr films. More on that when we get to it though.
But, as our heroes are heading towards the Misty Mountains, the sky goes dark, we're at Weathertop (because Lotr references) and the sinister unpredictable Orcs from earlier are talking to someone. An evil trumpet sounds as....the horror covers your face as you realise who they were serving. None other than Azog of course! What a twist that was! Millions of audience members' minds can be put to rest upon that truly mind blowing reveal. Thank you Pete. (Note: Yes, I'm being sarcastic, in case that wasn't obvious)
Next: Stone Giants. Completely unnecessary, the book has literally 3-4 sentences on it. That's all I have to say about them; they're a waste of time. Too long man.
And now for Goblin-town, which is really sort of hit and miss:
- Goblin town itself looks pretty bad, it’s too bright and in-your-face, and cartoonish, with the CGI being really blindingly obvious, like it literally looked like a game at some points.
- The goblin king himself is realllly comical, but has his good moments where he is genuinely funny, but for a villain, he's never properly threatening, just a fun villain.
- Everyone will universally agree that the best part about Goblin-town is Gollum. Amazing, amazing scene. You see his funny, innocent, quirky light side which shows who he used to be is still down there, that little playfulness, but you also see it mixed with the insanity of being alone and owned by a ring for 500 years. Andy Serkis is truly a brilliant actor.
Once we get out of Goblin-town (and yes, the escape drags on, but the fights are pretty well choreographed and creative, not just boring like the third film), our heroes find themselves being chased down by Azog and his wargs, which is a really good action scene with lots of tension, which was, again, non-existent in the book.
The part with Thorin running down the tree during the fire is also really intense, not quite the level of giving you chills, but a badass scene, even if it completely rips off the Nazgul theme. And him getting destroyed immediately after is a bit of a 'lol' moment and comically ruins the intensity, but still, really good scene. Things are starting to look bleak as Thorin is getting his arse handed to him by Azog, and Bilbo's being useless and everyone's about to fall to their deaths.
But all hope is not lost; what happens whenever our characters are in inescapable danger during a Tolkien story?
That’s right, baby. The eagles are coming! The… pretty badly CGI-ed eagles in this film. I mean, man they look bad in some bits, especially when they're picking up the Dwarves. They look really good in other bits though, like when they're dramatically flying with that pretty Lotr nature music. Bloody Pete and his inconsistency. Actually, I can’t blame him, he hated filming the damn movies. Oh well.
We then get our happy ending, where Bilbo ironically says "I do believe the worst is behind us". Hahahahahahahahhahaaha. The audience joins in on this ironic laughter as we pan over to Erebor, then suddenly we get an epic-looking Dragon nose pop out, and an eye open. Smaug, has come, but I shall talk about the epicness that is Smaug when I actually get to him.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. What else can I say about it? It’s a good, solid film which is badly hurt by the studio’s decision to push it into 3 films instead of 2, but still no properly terrible moments. In that sense it’s the most consistent, but still definitely not the best one.
Overall, I am going to give the Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey a Roddy Rating of 7/10.
Thanks for reading, anybody who made it this far! What did you think of it? Was it good? Was it boring? Crap? Great? Let me know what you thought and again, thanks for reading!