Home > Uncategorized > Cheap Ferret vs. The Movies – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Cheap Ferret vs. The Movies – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

January 22, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

It’s the cinematic event of the century! Yes, Peter Jackson is back again after his successful adaptations of the “un-adaptable” Lord Of The Rings trilogy and he’s picking on Tolkien again, this time attempting to adapt The Hobbit, the prequel to LOTR.

First off, it should be said that I’m not much of a Tolkien acolyte. Hell, I’m not really into the whole wizards ‘n’ dragons aesthetic of the fantasy genre as a whole. I can appreciate the escapism it affords, so I understand the success of LOTR and the Game Of Thrones series, but as far as I’m concerned, you see one sprawling tale of swords and sorcery, you’ve seen ‘em all.

So naturally, I never approached LOTR or The Hobbit with any kind of urgency, particularly as I’ve never read the books (do I have to hang up my geek title now?). They seemed like they’d be entertaining, but none of it was particularly exciting to me. That said, I gave LOTR a fairly respectable review over on Sven vs. The Movies, but made extensive reference to how god damn long the franchise is.

Indeed, this seems to be my major issue with Tolkien, and in turn, much of the fantasy genre. Everything is a BIG DEAL and affects everybody, which means we end up seeing how everybody is affected. For nine long hours (longer if you’re watching the extended editions). It leads to things dragging a little at times, as the attempts to show how big things are result in endless scenes of people travelling across big mountains in real-time.

So, The Hobbit. I went to see this simply because my girlfriend and I wanted to go to the cinema together and that was by far the best option in a post-Christmas slump for film. I did get a little wary when the film’s reviews started trickling out, proclaiming it to be a long-winded, drawn out bore-fest that made Lord Of The Rings feel short. The fact that it too was getting three films was a worry, especially since the original LOTR book was actually three, and each was a doorstop-sized tome in itself, so three films made sense, whereas The Hobbit novel was actually pretty short by comparison, so I was beginning to think the accusations of stretching the plot were pretty well-founded.

Fortunately, upon watching, it didn’t feel that way. While in retrospect the plot-stretching accusations seem to hold some weight, actually watching the film didn’t feel as much of a chore as the parent franchise did. I checked my watch for the first time two and a half hours in, out of curiosity rather than boredom, believing the film to only be halfway through, not half an hour off being finished. That’s a good sign. There have been ninety minute movies I’ve reviewed for SvTM that have dragged more than that.

I think part of it is down to the fact that The Hobbit feels more light-hearted than Lord Of The Rings. While LOTR was Tolkien’s magnum opus, The Hobbit has always been the silly little cousin. Casting Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins was no accident; it was an effort to really bring out the humour of the story. Certainly helps that the rest of the cast is mostly dwarves (even if one really doesn’t look like a dwarf at all) and even Shakespearian Ian McKellen shows that he has excellent comic timing as he returns to play Gandalf.

Maybe this is why I enjoyed The Hobbit as much as I did. While not much actually happens (yes, the plot really has been stretched out and it’s noticeable), it feels a lot more entertaining than the often po-faced LOTR. Everything seemed so damn IMPORTANT in LOTR to the point where it felt like it was taking itself too seriously, so a silly three hour romp was a bit of fresh air.

I was particularly fond of Gollum’s return, since the scene with him and Bilbo testing each other with riddles was genuinely entertaining, and quite possibly my favourite scene in the movie. However, what was less welcome was the return of several major characters from LOTR, namely the likes of Saruman and the elves, since their appearance felt a little too much like the movie was saying “hey, remember these guys? Well, here they are again!”

I am curious about how they plan to stretch this out over two more movies though. One more I could possibly see, but we feel so much like we’re at the halfway mark that I think the second movie may be the real drag. Only time will tell, I guess.

For more movie stuff, take a browse around Sven vs. The Movies, one man’s attempt to watch the 1024 films that apparently need to be seen before we die. I’m on #150, so it’s gonna be around for a while!

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