Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Very Unexpected Adventure

Yes, I dropped into Middle Earth and took this picture myself

Yes, I've finally gotten around to watching 'An Unexpected Adventure' and liked it so much, I'd like to watch the next one in a theater.

Curiously enough, the trilogy The Lord of the Rings seemed to me like Tolkien's second attempt at The Hobbit; now The Hobbit is Peter Jackson's second attempt at The Lord of the Rings.

At first glance the thing that hit me immediately was the incredible attention to detail at every turn. I'm sure The Lord of the Rings had a similar attention to detail, but perhaps seeing The Hobbit on a better screen made me more aware. The filmmakers left nothing to chance like they did with The Lord of the Rings; I had the distinct impression that they knew what they were doing this time. The script was thoughtful and the visual effects were honestly stunning; light years ahead of the somewhat cumbersome work in its predecessors. I'll probably never tire of watching the wind ripple through the CGI feathers of the eagles in the final scenes.

The casting is excellent. Through the movie's nearly three hour run time I didn't notice a spot of bad acting. I'll never forgive Viggo Mortensen's horrific acting, or Liv Tyler's; Even Elijah Wood with his iridescent eyes was bland. In contrast, Martin Freeman as Bilbo was a streak of genus and I don't wonder at Jackson's persistence in getting him to accept the part. The thirteen dwarfs (oh wait, that's 'dwarves' isn't it?) are in a category of their own. Peter Jackson put off making the Hobbit for so long because of the dwarves; it was going to be a little like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, only worse. I was frankly lost in the novel what with Filis and Kilis, Gloins and Oins running about in an unordered mass. Fortunately, the wait paid off; each of the dwarves has a distinct personality and appearance, breaking into little pieces the rule that all dwarves must be fat, dumpy and ugly. The fan girls must be pleased.

When I first read The Hobbit back when I was twelve, I was disappointed. The plot seemed a little pointless; it appeared that it was just a pack of greedy dwarves off to take back a treasure that wasn't entirely theirs (killing the dragon wasn't even in the mix). In the film (actually, I shouldn't call it that) a new meaning has been infused; there's more at stake than the gold, and adding the subplots from the appendices (which I have not read) is extremely intriguing.

Of course with all its strong points, there are weak points as well. Like The Lord of the Rings the thing moves slowly in places and the battle scenes are often excessive and less than believable. I don't mind a few dead enemies, but our heroes plow through hundreds of them in a death defying manner and come out without a scratch at the other end (their swords are still shiny, too). I understand they have to leave the blood out in order to keep it PG-13, but wouldn't a few high quality sword fights have been better?

I watched the movie a second time (which is unusual for me), doing my own editing and ended up enjoying it even more than the first time around. There are a few scenes from The Lord of the Rings that I'll always remember; the Charge of Rohirrim, with the very earth shaking under my feet and the frankly heart rending death of Boromir, but now, I'll also be remembering the hauntingly beautiful Over the Misty Mountains Cold sung in the rumbling voices of the actors themselves.

To put it in a nutshell, I enjoyed it and I'm awaiting the next installment eagerly.


PS: You've probably all seen this, but I couldn't help putting it in...

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