I find The Lord of the Rings problematic. Obviously, I’m a fan and I enjoy it greatly . . . insomuch as I can ignore that it’s not my interpretation of the book. Mostly my issues lie with The Return of the King and it’s not really surprising since that’s my favorite “part” of the book. Anyway, I didn’t soak up every tidbit of news on The Hobbit that I could find as I did when LOTR was in production, but that was just as much because I’m not a college student procrastinating on homework as it was the fact that the news itself wasn’t instilling me with much confidence and, well, honestly I just didn’t have a great amount of enthusiasm to see this. Shocking, I know.
I’ll put your fears to rest: I enjoyed it. Mostly. At the very least I wasn’t disappointed and I definitely felt that way after walking out of The Return of the King. And I didn’t fall asleep, which I can’t say the same for my first viewing of The Two Towers. (What? It was the midnight showing and it was finals week!)
In a lot of ways the movie feels like a continuation of LOTR. You know, in case you’ve never read the books or seen those multimillion dollar films from ten years ago. Anyway, this starts off with what is basically an extended scene from the extended edition of The Fellowship of the Ring. It’s nice melding, but it’s also just the beginning of lots and lots and lots of padding. And because of this, the movie almost has two beginnings and they’re both kind of slow, which is pretty much how most of the movie plays out.
For what it’s worth, I will say that I really enjoy Martin Freeman as Bilbo. I don’t entirely enjoy this version of Bilbo, but I also haven’t read The Hobbit in about ten years so maybe I just remember him a bit less bumbly and rude. As far as casting goes, though, I have no complaints. Same for the score, which I’ve been listening to for about a month already. Likewise for basically anything that Weta was responsible for because really it’s a breathtaking film with a ludicrous attention to detail.
Well, except maybe all the CGI. I’m generally not bothered when it’s done well, and this was for the most part, but there was a lot. The most obnoxious were the obvious 3-D gimmicks or the obligatory video game pandering. Really that entire bit towards the end running through the orcs was cool, but it gave me the same irritated feeling as Legolas taking down the mumakil in ROTJ that part of me could have walked out right then. I get it the technology has advanced in the last ten years and it’s awesome, but at some point it just gets cheesy and this was, for me at least, over that line. I also found some of the creatures were a bit too cartoonish; Azog especially was obnoxiously CGI.
What I was even less pleased with were the supposedly funny bits that really were just not. I’m not a total Tolkien snob, but I’m enough of one to find groin shots completely inappropriate. And I couldn’t help but feel what was intended to be funny was so intentional that it was more laughable because it was pathetic than actually hilarious. It was kind of randomly smattered throughout the film, too, so just when I’d think things were actually serious there would be some stupid joke thing.
I knew going in that the film was long. Almost three hours. What I don’t understand is how there’s another 20-25 minutes (or more?) that PJ is packing into the extended edition because by golly does this film just go on and on and on. I really could have used an intermission during this. Better yet, about an hour less padding. I hated the padding. I didn’t like all the walking shots. (We all got the memo, New Zealand is gorgeous.) I really could have had far less talking. (We also got the memo that there’s another trilogy that comes after this one.) And the entire Azog subplot was really bizarre. I wouldn’t have cared if his creation and insertion into the film had some resolution as a stopping point, but that’s not what happened. In fact, there were at least three times I thought the movie was ending — even though things were largely unresolved — and then there was like an hour more movie. And when it finally did end it was just as random of a stopping point as any of the other places I thought of. Maybe more so.
So, yeah, I’m certainly not even slightly obsessed. I didn’t love it, but I liked it well enough, I suppose. I’m glad I didn’t jump right into seeing it opening weekend, though, because the theater was packed yesterday so much so that Uschi didn’t have even an inch of extra space. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll check out the extended edition on Blu-ray, but I doubt I’ll see this again in the theater. I’d rather lounge on my comfy sofa, have snacks that don’t cost more than the price of admission, and be able to pause to use the bathroom. Honestly, that said I’m not sure I want to see The Desolation of Smaug in the theater either. We’ll see.