|Please, please, I beg of you. Leave the Shire. PLEASE! I can bloody well take no more of this goddamn peaceful, happy revelry.|
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) dir. Peter Jackson *
Starring: Ian McKellan, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher. James Nesbitt. Stephen Hunter, Andy Serkis, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood
Review By Greg Klymkiw
"You don't seem too excited about seeing this," said my wife as I kept proposing that she and my daughter watch The Hobbit while I see something else in the multiplex. I had walked out of The Life of Pi and Cloud Atlas and was thinking perhaps I should try sitting all the way through one of those or possibly even see Killing Them Softly again - a movie I semi-liked.
"Well look," I reasoned, "Both of you have read the book and I haven't. Seeing as Jackson will undoubtedly be faithful to Tolkein, I'll tell what The Hobbit is going to be all about and you tell me if I've got it right."
Now, keep in mind that the wifelet and child both know I'm anal about not reading reviews, puff pieces or watching trailers for anything I see before I see it. Knowing that and based on previous experience involving my curmudgeonly dismissal over certain movies, they know all too well I might be right. Kindly, though with some trepidation, they allowed me to launch into my plot summary.
"Okay, so we're in the fucking Shire with Bilbo . . ."
My daughter smart-assedly interrupted: "You said you didn't know anything about the movie, how do you know it's about Bilbo?"
"Well, sweetie, I DO KNOW it's a prequel, so who the fuck else would it be about? Bilbo is the likeliest suspect. Now just listen and learn."
"Oh, fuck off, Dad."
I ploughed forth: "Okay, Bilbo's in the Shire. Everything is beautiful, in its own way. He loves his little Shire. Gandalf shows up and wants him to go on some kind of mission - probably because he believes in the little fellow's potential for greatness beyond the Shire. Bilbo prefers to stay in the Shire and doesn't believe anyone would want him for anything.
So basically, the first hour will be a whole lot of singing, Hobbit clog-dancing, all manner of revelry, but punctuated with occasional discussion about whether or not Bilbo should come along on this mission. By the time the first hour is over, Bilbo is on his way with Gandalf and the Seven Dwarfs. There'll be some Viggo Mortensen type who's pretty dashing and there will always be this cloud hanging over everything that Bilbo is fucking useless and shouldn't be there anyway.
Then there will be endless walking around. They'll meet a bunch of people, talk to them, then keep walking. More walking. Walking here, walking there and every so often there's going to be some fight with monsters or those fucking Orks or some crap like that and eventually they go head to head with whoever the villain is.
And guess what? Bilbo saves the day! Everyone who doubted him has egg on their face and they all have to tell him how brave he was and hug him and soon it's going to be some idiotic daisy chain between a bunch of dwarfs."
I look at my wife and child with what I'm sure was an utterly detestable look of self-satisfaction. They are silent. I decide the time is right to go for the jugular.
"Ah, and I forgot to mention, we'll get at least ten minutes at the beginning of the movie with some flashback full of portent that outlines some previous situation with a bunch of characters we don't know yet and a ridiculous amount of exposition shoe-horned in so that we don't really know what the fuck is going on other than things were nice, now they're not so nice and some shit's gotta happen quick to make things nice again."
I was really feeling smug by this point.
"Am I right?" I chortled, "or am I right?"
"Look Greg," said my wife, "Let's just go see a nice movie together as a family."
Now how the Hell can I argue with that?
I WAS, however, right about the aforementioned prognostications about what we'd be sitting through. That said, even I agree that familiar journeys can be just fine on film since it's ultimately the ride that really counts.
Unfortunately, The Hobbit is a lame ride. The movie is interminably boring, the action scenes are surprisingly and rather lamely directed, the special effects are predictably - uh, digital - many of the set-pieces are structured like video game roller coaster rides and worst of all, the stalwart Viggo Mortensen hero-type is unbearably awful and has absolutely no screen presence. None whatsoever. Where they dredged that loser up was beyond me until I checked out his credits after seeing the movie and saw he was a longtime TV actor.
Oh, and it's just under three hours long (not including the interminable commercials and trailers). I assure you that one never gets that precious time back.
If this sounds like something you'd like, be my guest. My wife, who is a Tolkein fan, thought it was "okay" and my 11-year-old daughter really loved it and can hardly wait for the next instalment.
"The Man" wins again.
I give up.
The Hobbit is in wide release through Warner Bros. all over the fucking world.