Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Theatrical Review: The Hobbit (3D)

I'll try to make this a regular routine and hopefully I'll be able to post sooner. In other words, while the recollection is still fresh in my mind.
But I'll give the following info every time:

Location: Pocono Movieplex
ShowTime: 11:30am
Duration: 166 minutes (+5 for the one trailer)
Party: 3

I'd say the theater had a decent amount of people coming out to this matinee showing. Also it was a Sunday. I think it'd been ages since I'd seen a show this early (most of which have a noon or 1pm showtime), but we had to wait a couple minutes simply because we arrived early. 
The place wasn't open just yet.

In the theater itself, I'd say there were a couple dozen people, but it wasn't necessarily a packed theater. And it wasn't so packed where people were readily interacting with the movie. If there were any laughs, it was coming from me or the party I came with.
My mom and my aunt, with whom we'd seen a bunch of movies with, mostly the Twilight series because we're all Twi-Hards who loved the series, both movies and books.

Often time, we show up and the picture doesn't start for a while. We arrived as the place was opening and the previews had already begun. The only one we did catch was "Jack- the Giant Slayer" that featured a couple familiar faces, Ewan McGregor among others.
He alone, with his hot Scottish accent, is enough to entice our intrigue.

But we also saw the two Snow White films (although I came with different people to both) and my mom and I enjoy the "Once Upon a Time" series. So the poetic license they plan to take with that film will be the second reason we'll most likely be checking into it.

There is just an example of how much previews can snag one's attention before the movie they actually came out to see begins.

First off, it was in 3D and it was a good thing that our ticket seller remembered to give us the free glasses. I wouldn't want a repeat of what happened when I saw the 3rd Madagascar with my sister, never mind the fact that this movie is going to be LONG.

It took a little getting used to the glasses, but after that, getting used to the overall look of the film took an extra 15-20 minutes. With the characters and the set pieces, I'd compare it to reading a pop-up book with certain things being more pronounced than others.

A lot of reviews have come in and even before seeing the film, I agreed that at 166 minutes, this being the first of a trilogy... Peter Jackson, sir, you need to learn about a little thing known as "editing"

I saw all the Lord of the Rings films in theaters, but had yet to read a single book. Either way, I knew Middle Earth pretty well, although I couldn't tell you which characters are which (forget about the actors that played them, unless you're talking about Bilbo and Gandalf).
It felt like coming back to Hogwarts in each Harry Potter movie. The scenery and the overall look is the same, so you know the ins and outs of it, with a few surprises along the way.

As with the previous films in the series, The Hobbit began with a flashback. 
What little I knew of the dwarves came from my knowledge from the previous films. There weren't many left. The dwarves didn't like the Elves. Supposedly the dwarves lived in this mountain where they hoarded all this gold.
Naturally with so much of it, greed was part of their downfall. But a dragon named Smaug broke into the mountain, took it for himself and the dwarves were left without a home. The disdain of the Elves came about because the Elves didn't offer help when they desperately needed it.
And Orcs and trolls were other races that they've had to contend with in an attempt to return to power.

Comparisons were drawn between the dwarf prince and Sean Bean, who played a king in the previous film. But the comparison could have easily have been drawn about his character from the Game of Thrones series (which I'd never seen). Either way, they said the dwarf prince was no Sean Bean.
He wasn't as regal or trustworthy as him or Viggo Mortsenson who played "the king" Aragon as in "The Return of the King," but the actor definitely had a great presence on that screen. Even though it took until the end of the movie for him to accept Bilbo as part of their group, watching him was quite the experience for me personally.

So during the flashback, Bilbo narrates and puts the finishing touches on writing "A Hobbit's Tale" before showing it to Frodo. This connects the film with the beginning of the previous trilogy and seeing Elijah Wood at the Shire again was a nice extra touch. 

Martin Freeman (who I'd only previously seen in Love Actually and maybe one other film) played  Bilbo through the course of The Hobbit, reminding us why the Hobbits are such a lovable, relatable race. He's the reluctant hero, but has the heart of an adventurer, whether he knows it or not.
Of course Ian McKellan was great as Gandalf. I didn't expect him to be quite as bad-ass in this movie, like the being that had the final say in whether a struggle would amount to anything or not. Translation: he saved our heroes on a number of occasions.

Without Bilbo's knowledge, Gandalf posts an invitation for the dwarves to meet at his hobbit hole. It's hilarious as an outsider to see that entire pantry going bare in record time, all those breakfasts that would have otherwise lasted... phew, I don't even know how long. I don't quite know how much a hobbit eats.
Hilarity ensues, but Bilbo is disoriented, not knowing what the hell is going on other than him being eaten out of hobbit hole and home. 
[Admittedly, this was one part of a few that could have been trimmed down by 10 minutes]

It's an open invitation to Bilbo, but after much pondering, he decides to go on this adventure with the dwarves.
One review I read that morning mentioned a character that got a bigger role than he had in the entire book. He happened to be Gandalf's brother, one of 5 wizards of Middle Earth. He's a bit eccentric, communicates with animals and such, but I thought he was great. Very nice of Peter Jackson to give him a bigger role in this movie, if only as a plot device, telling the heroes about this Necromancer that I'm sure will have more of a part in the rest of the Hobbit trilogy.

Two instances, in addition to Gandalf and a handful of other characters, had me feeling right at home in this movie because they were among the details about Middle Earth I somehow managed to remember all these years. (Although to be fair, I rewatched the trilogy just over a year ago).
I remember Rivendell being the name of "the land of the Elves" and of course the characters there, Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett being so beautiful to look at with the make-up, costume and such. The other side of the coin being we see the other wizard played by Christopher Lee, who emerges as a villain in the other trilogy.

Moments of hilarity were scattered throughout, but except for one scene, none of them were cliché. They just amounted to character interactions and clashing personalities. 
The dark moments were dark, but the funny moments ranged from a few hearty ha-ha's to side-splitting.

Most of the side-splitting laughs came from none other than Gollum. You have to wait a couple hours, but at least 20 minutes is spent with him and Bilbo running through a series of riddles. 
I was quite surprised that Gollum's split personality seemed MORE apparent here, more pronounced than it was in the Two Towers, when I figured it'd be the other way around. Being driven mad by being separated from the ring, not directly possessing it than the actual possession of it.

One great thing about Middle Earth is the unexpected. One such moment involved mountains that came to life and took on one another like rock 'em-sock 'em robots, but with a lot more crumbling.

Other than that, I'd say it's a movie you really have to experience for yourself to appreciate. I don't want to spoil every detail, but those were a few highlights I really liked.
A lot of critics will go on about how it's overlong in places. 
My advice: come in with an open mind and just lose yourself in the cinematography of the film. You have a close to 3 hour commitment to make, so you might as well relax and enjoy what it has to offer.

Rating: A-

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