Dec 18 2012

Unreal Movie Review: The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey

Published by at 12:00 pm under Movies,Reviews

There’s nothing wrong with turning The Hobbit into a film. It’s a fun story, and though a bit lighter than the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy, certainly could be worthwhile if brought to the big screen by the same man, Peter Jackson.

But what’s not a good idea? Turning The Hobbit into a trilogy. The story is a bit thin and meandering as is, and stretching it into not only a pair, but a trio of films is a poor storytelling decision, and the result is likely to be a pale imitation of the fantastic trilogy that came before it (well, after it chronologically).

First, a refresher for those who haven’t read the book since middle school. The Hobbit tells the tale of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) sixty years before his nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood in a brief cameo) started his journey to deliver the One Ring of Power to Mordor. When an old wizard named Gandalf (Ian McKellen) shows  up at Bilbo’s doorstep with an lively company of dwarves led by their prince, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), he’s sucked into the adventure whether he likes it or not.

Bibir! Bolur! Oli! Goli! Yeah, I’m just guessing because it’s impossible to keep track.

Their quest? To reclaim their former home, the Lonely Mountain now occupied by an invading dragon named Smaug who butchered their people and currently rests upon piles of dwarven gold. The small company enlists the stealth of Bilbo to help them sneak back into the mountain and slay the dragon, though they encounter many other challenges along the way.

What becomes immediately apparent is that this is not Lord of the Rings. Yes, it’s the same universe, and many of the same characters appear, but it’s clear that this is going to be two very different trilogies. There’s a distinct emphasis on humor this time around, with the company of burping, farting brawling dwarves a more lighthearted version of the mostly solemn fellowship from the later trilogy. Sometimes the comedy works, but most of the time you’ll get a mere chuckle at best.

Everything just feels smaller here. There are no epic battles with entire armies duking it out. There are encounters with a trio of trolls, a herd of orcs and then an underground city of goblins, the last of which is really the only worthwhile action sequence in the film.

As for the rest? A lot of walking, singing, talking and other things that many probably won’t find all that interesting. Though the dwarves are a goofy bunch, nearly all of them blur together and there’s only a few that seem like they have distinct personalities other than Thorin Oakenshield himself. That leaves Bilbo and Gandalf to carry most of the dramatic weight as the vast majority of the dwarf company is present purely for comic relief.

“I keep getting older but they stay the same age.”

The highlight of the film is without a doubt Martin Freeman’s Bilbo. He’s fantastic in the role, and far more fun and likable that Wood’s Frodo from LOTR. He starts out with the right amount of timidity, but slowly gains courage over time, to the point where by the time the film wraps, he’s accepted into the dwarven gang.

The main problem here is the running time. At two hours and fifty minutes, the film is sprawling without doing much to justify that kind of length. The worst part is, when the film ends, they’re still a huge distance away from the mountain and the dragon. this isn’t taking three books and making three movies. This is taking one book and making it three movies. As such, it feels incredibly bloated and ultimately unsatisfying as you sit through three hours of relatively minor events only to end up leagues away from where you thought things would end.

There’s about an hour’s worth of a good movie in here, which includes about ten minutes of the intro and fifty of the ending. The battle in the goblin city was great, and far and away the best scene in the film is Bilbo’s tense interaction with Gollum. The technology has evolved to the point now where you can see Andy Serkis underneath Gollum’s skin, and the effect creates a creepier character than ever. Unfortunately, it’s one of the few highlights in an otherwise uninspiring film.

Best supporting cameo? That should be a thing.

The main problem here is storytelling. There was a way to make The Hobbit one hell of a great film. Yes, it would have required cutting down on Tolkein’s lengthy explanation of many events, but that was something the other films did to great effect. But they’ve doubled down on the “filler” content with news that the third film is actually drawing on the author’s appendices for more material. It makes this feel like a cash grab rather than what was actually best suited for the story. This may have been a fun feature film if edited correctly, but it’s already clear from this first movie that if other films are going to be stretched the point of absurdity like this one, it’s going to make for a languishing trilogy that isn’t remotely close to the quality of the other films.

One final note, I opted to see The Hobbit in High Frame Rate (HFR) which is something new Peter Jackson tried that increases the frames per second from 24 (standard in most films) to 48. The result? Well, remember when I wrote that piece about the HDTV effect that makes everything look like a soap opera? That it looks like you’re standing on the set of a movie rather than watching a movie? That’s how this feels. It’s SO real that  it looks fake, if that makes any sense. Often times you feel like you’re watching a movie being filmed, rather than living the cinematic experience. It’s an effect that takes at least a solid hour and a half to get used to, and ironically the more CGI is on the screen, the more immersed you end up feeling away from actual human actors. It creates a crystal clear picture sure, but it’s an unsettling effect. Perhaps I’ll be an old fogey ranting about “when movies felt like movies!” if this tech is widely adopted, but there’s just something…off about it that had me consider asking for a refund as I didn’t think I could deal with it for three hours.

No, The Hobbit series won’t be like the Star Wars prequel trilogy, as it’s not an abomination, but it’s not going to be nearly as beloved, that much is already clear. It’s sad to see good pieces buried in a bloated film. This is simply a story that doesn’t need nine hours to be told, a decision that won’t please anyone other than the most die-hard fans. Adapting a book for film requires tough decisions, but it appears many of the wrong ones have been made here.

2.5 out of 5 stars

 





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40 responses so far

  • David R

    I actually think if Jackson had trusted the source material more, the movie would have turned out way better. The stuff that slowed it down for me were the appearances by characters from the past trilogy in Rivendell, as well as that tepid revenge subplot featuring Thorin. The Hobbit is a cracking good read; put THAT story onscreen instead of adding your own cliched nonsense.

    That, and there were way too many wink-nudge moments to the LotR trilogy. Especially considering that the continuity dictates this movie come first, those moments felt very much out of place.

    More than anything, I think we just needed someone other than Jackson to take the reins here. He’s not a great storyteller to begin with, and it feels like he’s used up most of his good ideas for Middle Earth already.

  • daria

    Thank you for that review. I completely agree.
    I was very disappointing with both the story and the visualization. Have you tried watching it in 24p? Some say it improves the experience..at least a little bit.

  • http://mihaiborcan.tumblr.com Mihai

    I can’ believe your problem with the movie is that it’s not eventful enough. Maybe you should see it in normal 3D, I thought it was breathtaking. No need to expect more than the film should be, which is an adaptation of a children’s book, set in the same universe as LOTR. If the other movies are as gorgeous looking as this one, I will be happy they extended into a trilogy.

  • DocDoom

    I actually really enjoyed the film as a whole (at 24fps). I agree with a lot of the points you made, but the “Hobbit” book is itself a very lighthearted affair, so I didn’t mind it nearly as much. My only real complaint was that, seeing as how this story is split into 3 movies, we could have had a more natural progression of Bilbo’s character. It didn’t have to happen all in part one. I don’t think they gave Freeman enough to do with the role.

    I also think only two movies would have been great, and from what I hear, movie two will wrap up “The Hobbit” book, with the 3rd movie being extra stuff most likely pulled from the appendices.

    I’d still give it a 3.5 or 4. I had fun.

  • Mark Jr

    I think that this would’ve been done best if split into two movies. A trilogy is too stretched out (as you said), but two movies would be just the right length.

    Anyway, haven’t seen it yet, but I still plan on it. I might avoid HFR now, but I am curious to see if it’s really so unsettling.

  • trashcanman

    “…a more lighthearted version of the mostly solemn fellowship from the later trilogy.”

    The same “solemn fellowship” that was cracking jokes about dwarf tossing and bantering about kill counts during life and death battles? Come on, man. Every review I’ve read about this film has plagiarized from every other review with no legit film fan opinions or original observations. It’s rather sickening. Complain about length? Check. Note that three films is too many for one book? Check. Complain about the frame rate making everything look “fake” when most filmgoers will not notice the difference? Check. Praise for the riddle game? Check. Comment on the actual story, differences from the novel, character development, action scenes, or the weaving of exterior Tolkien mythology into the narrative? Durrr whaaaaaat? Please. I barely read online reviews any more and this is why. Is it too much to ask that if 100s of “professional writers” are going to review something that a few of them actually create some original content rather than just repeating the same bleating (and often dead WRONG) observations like bunch of FOX News anchors?

    The truth from a lifelong Tolkien fan and film fanatic is, The Hobbit is every bit as good as the previous trilogy thus far. After 3 hours I was ready for 3 more right then and there and that is the best thing I can say about any film. I don’t know what the frame rate was and I don’t care. Nobody. Really. Cares. It looked fine to me. The fact that it is accompanied by less hype and that it’s 9 more hours of something non-geeks were well tired of halfway through ROTK is going to lead to a lot of negative reviews from people who couldn’t even make it through the first novel of the trilogy due either to relative illiteracy or a lack of interest. That’s fine, there’s always another Liam Neeson by-the-numbers snorefest or whatever for them to enjoy, but the problem with professional reviewers and pop culture “experts” is they feel they HAVE to watch and comment on things they had best leave to the cultures they represent.

    And for the rest of you who also didn’t do their research, the second film will wrap up the events of The Hobbit. The third will be pulled from Tolkien’s other notes and writings and deal with events between The Hobbit and LOTR. One novel split into two films: not that big of a deal. Seriously.

  • Rascanuvols

    @trashcanman

    Bra-frakking-bo.

    My thoughts exactly.

  • Mark Miller

    I’m going to see it tomorrow, I have to say that the great majority of movies that I have seen in the last few years have felt to short, I come from a background of Reading and Video games as my major sources of entertainment, mediums that have a lot of time to spend on the little things where as Films always seem to rush through everything, for instance I liked the dark knight trilogy, but I honestly believe this it should have been at least 6 movies long.

    The main problem I have with making the hobbit into any kind of movie is that it can’t be done well. I felt the same way about the lord of the rings trilogy and still do; those movies are great on their own but to me they always felt like an awful butchering of a childhood favourite, it didn’t even have tom bombadil for god sakes. What Jackson should have done was take the universe (which is massive and well explained) and created a new story within it.

  • Rubiksman

    I went to go see the HFR version specifically because it was HFR (I like to try out new things). I have issues with high frame rates in movies/TV shows that it was never intended. My dad is a big fan of movies from the 40’s and 50’s and going to visit and watching something like Rear Window with a high refresh rate is off putting. Jimmy Stewart shouldn’t look that good…

    Anyways, The Hobbit in HFR was fantastic. The first 10-15 minutes (especially the WB and New Line logos) takes a bit of getting used to, but you quickly adjust. There were a few moments (close up action) that the picture goes wonky on you, but those aren’t enough to ruin the movie. I also think that the evolved Gollum tech is amazing. It’s really creepy how lifelike he is…

    The length was definitely a turn off when I walked into the theatre. For movies that are 2+ hours I can usually find parts that should have been cut and The Hobbit is no exception. I agree with a previous commentor, Rivendell was a huge drag as well as about 20 minutes at the beginning. But once the credits rolled I looked to my fiancee and said, “That didn’t feel as long as it really was.” There was enough story scattered throughout with enough action that it wasn’t too bad. I think it helps that they have a great cast, and amazing lead in Martin Freeman (man has he come a long way since Ali G In da House). That’s not to say that three movies is a good idea (I’m going to blame Harry Potter for this), but so far its off to a good start.

    Needless to say I’m looking forward to The Desolation of Smaug next year.

  • Hammerfels

    My very first comment here…

    and just to say how much i like what trashcanman is saying! :D

  • wevs

    I have to agree with trashcanman as well. I swear, Tassi, I enjoy your site a lot, but more often than not I’ve been fucking hating every post you make over the past year, maybe more.
    You’ve started taking yourself way too seriously and try to conform with other outlets way too much. To me Hobbit and Cabin in the Woods are tie for my movie of the year because they were first and foremost fun as hell and because they both go the extra length to paint in detail a fascinating universe.

    • http://www.unrealitymag.com Paul Tassi

      I loved Cabin in the Woods, but I see no similarities to The Hobbit.

      As with trashcanman, I think that only “lifelong Tolkein fans” are the ones who will love this movie. It’s faithful to the universe, but to me it’s a poorly told story and far less interesting than Lord of the Rings. Yes, jokes were cracked and what not, but there weren’t multiple slapstick comedy sequences involving dwarven dinners or hungry trolls.

      Yes, the majority of “top critics” in the country agree that the film isn’t great. I happen to agree with them, but that does not mean I am “conforming” to other outlets. My opinion is my own. I went into The Hobbit hoping to love it. I didn’t, and this review tries to explain why. Maybe all of us have the same reasons for disliking the film because they actually are issues that the film has that fans either disagree with or choose to ignore. Maybe splitting the book into three films IS a bad idea. Maybe the riddle game WAS the best scene in the movie. If that pisses you off, I’m sorry, but that’s not my problem.

  • Astrion

    Reasonable review with intelligent opinions about the movie.

    However, I am inclined to agree with those who think the film was much better than what most reviewers, you yourself included Paul, are crediting it. No, it is not the LOTR trilogy. And that is precisely what people need to understand about it. If you go into the theater already thinking that it will be LOTR you have already set yourself up for the fall. In my opinion, The Hobbit was a great movie which succeeds at being what it is: an on screen adaptation of a fun book written by an amazing author.

    I do agree that the decision to make it into a trilogy was probably influenced heavily by the profit they will inevitably make. But what’s wrong with more films in set in Middle Earth? Peter Jackson has yet to bastardize or create an abomination of the source material yet so I see no problems with making a 3rd movie as long as it isn’t just drawing from The Hobbit alone.

    Lastly, while I would not describe my opinions towards your recent posts as #wevs describes as “fucking hating,” I am inclined to agree that within the past couple of months I have been disagreeing more with your opinion/review posts in general. In the past I have usually agreed with your sensibilities and views on different issues/games/films/etc. Your opinion is your own and are definitely entitled to them. Just wanted to give you food for thought since I was surprised that I wasn’t the only one who thought there has been a shift in your writing.

    I thoroughly enjoy visiting Unreality and will continue to do so in the future even if our opinions differ. It’s good to see both sides of the coin.

  • Robert

    @Mark Miller

    What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent reply were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone who read it is now dumber for having read it. May God have mercy on your soul.

  • http://nerd-wiki.de Nerd Wiki

    oh wow, this is really a surprise.

    2.5 out of 5 stars? Really? I mean REALLY REALLY? So you really think that the new Conan movie that everyone else hated is better than the hobbit? I mean you gave that one 3 out 5:

    http://unrealitymag.com/index.php/2011/08/23/unreal-movie-review-conan-the-barbarian/

    I mean, c’mon, man, where is the relation? ;-) The point is: I always love to visit unreality especially for the high quality IMPARTIAL reviews. But now I cannot help but get a very similar feeling as trashcanman. It somewhat sounds as if you just floated with the tide this time. I mean, if you did not enjoy the film as much, thats totally fine, and you are of course entitled to your own opinion on your own page ;-) But with past reviews I always got the feeling that, apart from your subjective view, you always at least tried to give us a far more impartial review additionally.

    After recovering from the shock that critics gave the hobbit 65% on rotten tomatoes, I was kind of hoping that “Paul would, as always, have a more sophisticated analysis for me”. But I am dissappointed. Just pointing out the obvious “hobbit is not as interesting a story as LotR…”

    I just do not get that people do not focus on what P.J. did with this script. He delivered another brilliant piece of breathtaking landscapes, fondness for details, brilliant costumes, perfect cast, and just so much passion for midleearth. I just do not get that people found boring moments in this movie… I mean even if you are not a tolkien fanboy as myself (yes I admit it) this was still a very solid movie with breathtaking visuals and music (dwarf song! Shivers!), nice action and a lot of badasserie where there was much less of it in the book.

    I just have to wholeheartedly agree with trashcanman:

    “…but the problem with professional reviewers and pop culture “experts” is they feel they HAVE to watch and comment on things they had best leave to the cultures they represent.”

    • http://www.unrealitymag.com Paul Tassi

      @NerdWiki

      When I come out of a movie, the question is if I ultimately enjoyed myself. If the answer is yes, the movie is probably getting 3-5 stars. If no, then it’s probably getting 0-2.5. When The Hobbit ended, there was more I disliked about it than I liked. I tried to highlight the positive elements, Bilbo, a few key scenes, but it was just. Too. Long. The film fit together oddly, didn’t feel like a well-told story, and it all did feel stretched, hence comments about the book probably not needing to be two or three films.

      I haven’t had to say this much on Unreality, but this idea of an “impartial review” is BS. What does that even mean? How do you have a movie review without drawing from your personal opinion? That’s what a movie review is, unless you just want to be going over technical specs for the duration. Yes, it can sometimes result in odd scores. I may give The Master 3 stars when critics are giving it 5, or I may give The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift 4/5 when everyone is giving it 1. It comes down to how you personally enjoyed what you saw, and your ability to relay why you felt that way. Usually, that tends to line up with the majority opinion, but sometimes it doesn’t.

      There’s a very mixed consensus about The Hobbit, both among critics and audiences. I happened to come down on the side that found it lacking, but that does not mean I’m being somehow biased or my analysis is somehow less sophisticated here than it is usually.

      Want to read a glowing review of the film? Try my friend Erik Kain over at Forbes: (http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/12/14/the-hobbit-an-unexpected-journey-review-the-best-middle-earth-movie-since-fellowship-of-the-ring/). He has a VASTLY different interpretation than my own, but my reaction wasn’t “he’s just an idiot Tolkien fanboy.” It was more like “huh, well that’s one way of looking at it.”

      The moment I start trying to alter my reviews to please my audience is the moment I should stop writing reviews altogether.

  • http://www.torchship.at Aether McLoud

    Haven’t seen the movie but I’ve said from the beginning that the Hobbit just doesn’t have enough story for 3 full (3-hour long) movies.

  • Tonyctitan

    I like turtles!

  • waelsch

    Paul, thanks for defending yourself when you really really really didn’t have to. This is your website and your review. To not only expect, but essentially require you to like this movie is plain stupid, and then to get mad at you for it is ridiculous. To also be blind to the fact that the movie was far from perfect is also just a little obtuse. I was a little surprised that you weren’t a fan (at all), though. Poor pacing aside, I think this movie was excellent. One of it’s major problems is that it is being done after the LOTR trilogy. The stakes are much lower, and it doesn’t have the gigantic sweeping battles that LOTR had. The Hobbit is a much smaller story, and it is being compared to something soooo huuuuge. I think the 2nd and 3rd movies will be a lot better than the 1st. I’d be willing to bet that you’ll like those a lot more– The beginning of this movie set a really really horrible pace for the rest. I did LOVE the movie, but I could really feel it dragging in the first half, and knew that it would pay for that in its rotten tomatoes score.

    Ultimately, however, I’m with your friend Erik Kain on this one (I was going to link to his article in this comment until you did it yourself!). What I especially loved was that they missed nothing from the book. When I saw the LOTR trilogy, there were a lot of things cut from the story that I missed. This time around they are including nearly EVERYTHING, and some more from the side stories. I hate the way that the extra stories in the movie are being marginalized, as if they’re inconsequential nothings. They play a big part in the overarcing story, and frankly anything more that they want to add (as long as its from Tolkein) is fine by me.

    The technology was a little off-putting at first, but 3D sucks in every movie ever (except for that Star Trek trailer! the use of 3D in that was amazing– did anybody else jump when the spear was thrown at the screen??), I don’t see why anyone expected it to be any different for this. 48fps was awesome. It took some getting used to, but it was awesome. Stronger colors, smoother and more realistic movement? Yes please. The combination of the two was a little wonky, and some of the battle scenes were rendered pretty unwatchable. With all the quick cuts they used I often couldn’t figure out what I was looking at by the time it was off the screen.

  • Roderick

    Everyone is saying that this movie was too long, drawn out, and that you could have made edits and told this story in less time. Well you know what, millions of people who enjoy this universe are so happy to be back in Middle earth and WANT the movie to be AS LONG as possible. Don’t make cuts! We want the extended edition of the Hobbit. Show us as much as possible!
    When there is a film that you enjoy and have payed to see more of, the average movie-goer does not want that film to end. A long running time is a selling point many times. The movie experience is enhanced with length for these type of fantasy/sci fi films where you want to see as much of the world as you can, even small details. It is only film critics that have a problem with the film’s length.

  • Matt

    I enjoyed this movie much more so than any of the LOTR movies. Of course there were little nit-picky things I could talk about, but I find that in every movie.
    My problem with the LOTR trilogy was similar to what I felt with the Star War prequels. The first (last) three films were about some kid and his space pirate buddy and then this girl joins them, with other characters in the mix. While the prequels were sweeping space adventures that lost the appeal of individual for armies and wars of the entire galaxy. The LOTR movies are the same in that sense to me, we could argue that this or that character is the main character but overall it is spread out over everyone and the story is an all or nothing gamble, good guys vrs. bad guys, where only one side wins.
    The Hobbit is a much more small adventure and we know who the primary characters are. The road they walk on is in front of them and the things that happen in the movie are what they face along the way to their goal.
    I did not read the Hobbit though I have read the Lord of the Rings recently and I found it to be one of the rare occasions that the film was better than the book. I do think that even as a trilogy LOTR was far too short and there was too much left out, and I think filling up the Hobbit with new semi cannon is Peter Jackson’s way of giving people like me who enjoy the small details and additions what we missed in LOTR.
    And for me the best scene wasn’t the one with Gollum but one before that when Bilbo decides to leave while they are all sleeping and he is forced to realize that the dwarves are just trying to make their way back home and are not so different than him. The pain that reads on the Dwarf on guards face really got me.

  • Angelina

    Really liked your review, I think it was pretty well spot-on. I’ve said from the beginning that The Hobbit is a kid’s book, it’s a fairly simple story on its own terms, and there’s no need to delve into the whole backstory. How hard would it have been to just make a single decent film based on the book alone? Of course it’s a money grab. Peter Jackson’s starting to remind me of what everyone says about George Lucas, that no one ever says no to him.

    Honestly I went into it thinking, this might be a good story but it won’t be the Hobbit narrative that I know and love. And I was right, it’s not. But overall I did enjoy it and I am looking forward to the next one. If the next one really does wrap up the Hobbit narrative that’s all the better, it means I can skip the third entirely.

    My least favorite character – Radagast. I’m not at all familiar with him but I can’t believe that’s the way Tolkien wrote him. Just way too twitchy and annoying, like he belonged in a different movie.

  • http://None Nathan

    Agree to disagree.

    I have never read the book, never honestly had any desire to. That being said I loved the movie and liked its lighthearted nature. I see where you’re coming from on it being a cash grab. I feel two movies would work better than three but that is without seeing the next two.

    I have high hopes for it and feel maybe your hopes maybe were higher and felt let down.

    As for the higher frame rates… Hate it. The special effects stick out and become eye sores

  • Farrem

    Not just a Tolkien fanboy here, but a Batman fanboy and a Conan fanboy, and I must say:

    I just have to wholeheartedly agree with trashcanman.

    Paul, you don’t have to defend yourself, but… your review was really, really shallow.

    Seriously? Conan 3? Hobbit 2,5? DKR 5?

    Conan was disrespectful to the source. DKR was unfaithfull to the source. The Hobbit was perfect.

    When you’re putting your emotions, your feelings, about the movie in line for the review, you have to accept the feelings of your readers (being fanboys or not).

    You really need to start reading more books and comics and care about the source material (and maybe think a lot about the movie and not just write frantically when you’re just out of the movies). Your reviews basicaly says: To the hell with the “adaptation” aspect, I just want to be amazed like a child.

    Your reviews are really falling apart. You’re clearly not showing any insight that you know anything about what you’re talking about. You dissapoints me. It isn’t your opinion that dissapoints me, it’s your laziness to know more about what you’re talking about. Go read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, (and Sillmarillion too) and then read you’re review and tell me that you stand your ground. I dare you.

    I’m not even going to start to correct you, it’s too much to correct and not being taken seriously.

    Sorry for the bad english, not my mother tongue, but I’m really raging right now.

    Love you’re site however. Keep up the good work.

    • http://www.unrealitymag.com Paul Tassi

      @Farrem

      I don’t subscribe to the idea that if something was faithful to the source, that automatically makes it good. The Hobbit was a fun book, but if you translate it word for word, that doesn’t mean it will be a good nine hour movie. Watchmen was translated practically scene for scene from the comic, though many didn’t like that. TDKR may have changed things about Bane, but they made the new version interesting and engaging, for me at least. Again, you dispute my ratings, but why? To me, TDKR was a five star movie. I enjoyed The Hobbit half as much, if that.

      A movie review does not need to assess how good a film is based on its slavish or lackluster devotion to the source material. That may be a factor to consider, but that isn’t the only one. I’ve read The Hobbit, and though I’m no expert, I didn’t think that keeping every single detail from Tolkien necessarily made for a better film.

  • http://nerd-wiki.de Nerd Wiki

    Paul…

    that was a f****** awesome movie! Just admit that you were wrong you son of a …

    ;-)

    Ok, no, seriously, thx for taking the time to defend yourself here, when clearly you do not have to. But it shows that you care what your frequent readers think.

    And you are right, of course that, naturally, every review must express the subjective view of its maker to some degree. But I think, and maybe that was what I was hoping for, one could say something like “well, even though I did not enjoy myself quite as much, I do see the overall quality and the appeal to fans of fantasy and tolkien.” I mean, I can often put my finger on something I really hated about a movie, like “I just hate colin farell” but I would never let that influence me to condemn a movie that was otherwise brilliant.

    Some people like me are reading your reviews looking for actual advice. Often when I am not sure wether I want to trust a RT score I come here to see if you have a review for me. (that is a praise …) But boy, I would have missed one hell of a movie if I had trusted you this time. ;-)

  • Shiki

    When I went to see the movie i read some reviews before saying all the things that are wrong with the film-boring, too long, frame rate makes me sick and so on. I didn’t have high expectation although I’ve been excitet for the movie since i first saw the trailer or better yet, since i knew they were going to make it. Somehow i forgot all those things when the movie started and 3h flew by like it was 5mins. Somehow I was amazed with the movie and i got the same feeling like I watched LOTR fellowship (which was my favorite one). The supermegagigaultra HD 3d didn’t bother me at all and for me it made a better exp.
    Paul, i was waiting for your review thinking that you would have the same opinion as i, but thats cool. I think the new James Bond movie sucked major balls, but others keep telling me that it’s a masterpiece and that i’m an idiot.
    Maybe i’m just a fanboy, but that is my opinion. If I’m not mistaken it was Remy who wrote on this site somethnig about Star Wars that i thin applies to Tolkien/Middleearth as well. It’s like sex, i’ll take the good with the bad as long as there is another attempt.

  • Max

    My feelings about the HFR was that it made some scenes feel like they where being fast forwarded. But I stopped thinking about it about the time they left the Shire.

    I loved the movie. The only part I didnt like was, unlike you, the fighting scenes with the goblins. They felt like a repeat of the scenes from Moria and too long and repetative, we know gandals can bash goblins from haning bridges and when they cut the ropes of the bridges they dangle for a bit or slide down some huge mountain wall and then jump of at the last second. But I am one of those that always loved the shire and rivendel parts in lotr far more than the adventure parts. I just like the cosy and merry feeling of it all.

    if you expect grand battles like in The return of the king this won’t be a trilogy for you. The hobbit is a more happy and “brighter” adventure type book. Its like comparing the first harry potter books with the last ones. Here the darkness hasnt come out of the shadows. The world is still unaware of what is coming but you beging to see the darkness peeking out from its hiding place.

  • Farrem
  • David Forck

    For curiosity’s sake Paul, what format did you go see it in?

    I ask becasue i just read this: http://blog.vincentlaforet.com/2012/12/19/the-hobbit-an-unexpected-masterclass-in-why-hfr-fails-and-a-reaffirmation-of-what-makes-cinema-magical/

    I saw the movie in 2d, and greatly enjoyed it. I’ve read the hobbit as well and greatly enjoyed the LOTR movies.

    For those that say that there are boring parts in the movie, what, exactly, did you find boring? I’m at a struggle to pick any one scene out that didn’t add to the story or presentation of the movie.

  • RN

    In regards to the review, obviously everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I felt your article was pretty weak and didn’t really convince me of your ability as a writer or reviewer. I thought the movie was good, not great. It was fairly true to the source material, visually stunning, and genuinely fun movie.

    But this review is just one in a number of reviews and articles that have been lacking. I feel you have become more critical and cynical, and it has been showing in your work on here and with Forbes. More so, you seem to have become a bit too pretentious to my liking, especially since this site was something I used to look at for my pleasure. I say this only in the hopes maybe the content on here will improve. As of right now, I’m probably going to look for my enjoyment elsewhere.

    • http://www.unrealitymag.com Paul Tassi

      Critical and cynical has always been my thing, if you’ve followed my writing as long as you say you have. And pretentious? The guy who counts The Fast and the Furious, Love Actually and 300 among his all-time favorite movies? Sure, OK.

      This comment just made me sad. And internet comments never make me sad anymore.

  • Mutt Scruggs

    The problem I found with the movie was not that it was too long (I mean at this point I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t become accustomed to a longer running time from most movies and feel disappointed by anything running under 120), but rather that within that running time there was very little -resolution-, which creates such disappointment and dissatisfaction in even the most dedicated fans. Because Jackson has decided to stretch the source material so thin and include material from the appendices while also dedicating himself somewhat to creating a satisfying prequel to his LOTR films, he has painted himself into a corner, forcing himself to begin several story-archs which will presumably conclude in the third instalment without being able to provide closure.
    This is why as a story it fails because it holds little conclusion. LOTR was published over six books, each containing a full story-arch and important conclusive events, which obviously lends itself to a more satisfying movie translation. The Hobbit film had only one real conclusion in it – the one with the one-armed orc who I don’t even remember what his name was, if he even had one, which definitely felt thrown in just so the audience could feel as though something had been seen to it’s end. The Hobbit story as it is written is fairly chapter-to-chapter. The movie almost feels like reading the first half of every chapter in the first third of a book.
    The spiders in Mirkwood, the Necromancer, the main plot-line with Smaug, all plot-lines which we saw begun in the film. The spiders we may see dealt with in the next instalment if we’re lucky. The Necromancer, being Sauron, will obviously not be “conquered” and had so much time dedicated to it in this film purely to legitimize the prequel aspect of the film (well, not that it’s not part of the story but it certainly isn’t given the gravity to indicate it may be Sauron.. feels more like it could be the witch-king of Angmar or a somewhat lesser evil to Sauron).
    Also as it has been pointed out, we’ve SEEN so much of this film already. Gandalf’s “scary listen-up” stormcloud moves, eagles swooping in to save the day, Gandalf’s bridge-smashing, middle of the night campout staring into the foggy darkness reflecting protagonist, etc. I know these are elements of the story, duh, but they have been presented to us in the exact same way. For all the original and pleasing tricks we were treated to the first time around it was somewhat disappointing to see so many of them recycled.
    I’ve read the books over and over, and seen the LOTR trilogy too many times to count. I appreciate any supplementary material I can get my hands on and love to see one of my favourite fantasy worlds brought to the big screen. I’ll say now that despite my concerns with how the story will be handled over the three films, I was very very happy with the film and will definitely be going back to see it in the theatres. I can appreciate the desire to create a competent sequel (Star Wars anyone?), and I cannot accuse anyone involved in the films of being unfaithful to the source material. As it has already been pointed out, the film is just weak storytelling. It’s a good flick, or will be once it’s available as a trilogy and can be viewed all 10 hours together (yeesh! yeah I’ll do that.), but it’s a weak story.

  • Jasper

    Agreed what is with this whole “not as good as the LOTR” things. Of course its a different story. When Tolkien wrote the Hobbit it was for a younger crowd. Truthfully, I think Jackson pulled off the spirit of the book perfectly. It may have been a little long I will admit but the characters were stunning. I felt they were supposed to be animated and fun. Its like when comparing LOTR books to the Hobbit. I always find the Hobbit a way more fun read whereas LOTR is a more thought provoking book with a much more serious tone. I honestly gave the Hobbit a 4 out of 5 stars. It may not be the best but it certianly caught the mood of the books and gave enough substance to give the novel a good feel. If I was comparing this film to The Hunger Games movie I defiantly feel The Hobbit film captured the spirit of the book much better.

  • bigpartymaker

    “Well you know what, millions of people who enjoy this universe are so happy to be back in Middle earth and WANT the movie to be AS LONG as possible. Don’t make cuts! We want the extended edition of the Hobbit. Show us as much as possible!”

    So you’re admitting that if it was a 3 hour piece of shit, you’d still love it because it’s set in your favorite fantasy world.

    That’s what I’m picking up from everyone crying about this review

  • Diego, from Argentina

    I actually really enjoyed the movie. I must say I was a fan of the books when I was younger so I am not partial but damn…. that was a fun movie! Some notes:
    -To those that say that Peter JAckson “invented things”: it’s clear you have not read the Lord of the Rings appendixes, the Silmarilion or the Unfinished tales. Most of the stuff seen in the movie, if not all, that is not in The Hobbit book, is there. What Jackson did was using the lore that Tolkien invented and correctly applied it to The Hobbit.

    -Lenght: I give you a poing for this one. Even if I really enjoyed, it was, at least, 20 minutes longer than it should have. But cutting it to a 1:30 movie would have been suicidal. I take that the next movies will involve more about the Dol Guldur issue, Gollum’s & Aragorn whereabouts, the Nazgul search…. etc… There is so much in the books… it’s almost incredible one man wrote it alone.

    -Action: Yes, this does not have the type of action from The Two Towers or The Return of the King. Big deal. I guess we can say it equals the original movie.

    -Characters: Great! All of them!

    -HFR: I actually enjoyed it. I never liked normal 3D, but this one does not seem faked. Sometimes the lanscape may seem “too real” but it didn’t make me like the movie less.

    Anyway, just my two cents. I would give it 4.5 stars.
    Bye!

  • Long Time Reader

    I agree with trashcanman & nerdwiki. Having read The Hobbit, LOTR, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, I was quite happy with how The Hobbit came out. As for Paul’s Review, RN sums up what i’ve also been noticing lately, “But this review is just one in a number of reviews and articles that have been lacking. I feel you have become more critical and cynical, and it has been showing in your work on here and with Forbes. More so, you seem to have become a bit too pretentious to my liking, especially since this site was something I used to look at for my pleasure.” I’ve been following this site for years, I probably need to start looking for another one. Oh and BTW, wasn’t there a vote for making a mobile-friendly version of unrealitymag? that never happened….

  • RN

    After commenting on this review and not being on this site for awhile, decided to peek at the comments…

    Read through all of them and, wow.

    Paul – you do not tolerate being wrong do you!

    Pretty rude responses, but I guess I should’t worry about that because “that’s not my problem” right :)

  • http://PS Jake

    I tried not to read your review for a month because I thought it would make me dislike this site since I very much liked this movie.
    I was not expecting it would be like the other LOTR movies. Maybe that helped. It was goofy, yes but it’s a kid’s book.
    I come to the site for some laughs and your videogame reviews. I don’t even bother going to specialized videogame sites anymore, hate their personal expectations getting in the way of an objective review so I come here for your personal opinion. This time was the same, I got what I was looking for… your opinion.
    I accept your views and respect them although I do not share them this time. Maybe others feel dissapointed to see that their point of view is different than yours.
    I’m cool with that review and hope many of the like will come down in the future for all those who care to read.
    I will look forward forward to your videogame reviews. I am starting to believe we have a very different taste in movies given that you liked silver linings playbook and fast and the furious. Again, it’s cool if you did.

    • http://www.unrealitymag.com Paul Tassi

      Thanks Jake, I appreciate your reasonable disagreement. Perhaps if I went in with a more a kids movie mindset I’d have felt differently.

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