I was so excited for the first installment of The Hobbit to come out in theaters that I am quite surprised it took me until this past weekend to finally go and see it. We decided to splurge and spend $20/person for IMAX in 3D tickets and I definitely think that it was worth it. There are some expected 3D aspects like things flying out at you from the screen, but I think it was the sweeping vista shots of New Zealand that wowed me the most. Just imagine being able to watch something like Planet Earth in 3D, I imagine parts of this movie is probably the closest they have come so far. There were only certain parts when the objects in the foreground were almost too close to the camera as it was moving along, that I found the images a bit shaky or jumpy, but that didn’t seem to happen very often and overall the visual aspects were just stunning.
I haven’t read The Hobbit in quite a long time so I had some trouble figuring out which parts were from the original book and which was the added material that the writers pulled from The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. It helped to keep in mind that The Hobbit is a shorter and much more playful book than Tolkien’s later published works so the scenes that dealt with exploring the past histories of characters and places seemed to me to be “extras”. There has been a lot of debate regarding Peter Jackson’s insertion of materials into this film and about his choice to make The Hobbit a much more obvious prequel to The Lord of the Rings. Although the books share characters and places, there was never quite the strong tie between them that is shown in this movie. I understand some of the issues that people have raised, but Tolkien himself always saw The Hobbit as a sort of prequel, and in fact, wrote later works that explained the discrepancies between the two works and forged stronger bridges between them. Since Jackson already had access to all of this additional information (and had already filmed The Lord of the Rings films) it only makes sense to me to supplement this film with it. Additionally, I think that this acted to make the fans of the LORT film trilogy interested in this new film. If this was a pure recreation of the book I think it would be too childish and silly for it to be tied to the others.
On a visual level, because the original three films by Jackson were so innovative and filmed on such a grand scale they impressed me much more, but I think that always happens with “the first” time anything new is done. The trilogy really pushed the boundaries in terms of CGI, costuming, set design, you name it, and while The Hobbit is certainly just as amazing in these aspects it does not have that same “newness” to it. Despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed it and only once found a particular scene to be dragging on for a little too long.
Lastly, I will admit that when the first shots of Hobbiton and Bag End came on the screen I actually got a little teary eyed. Yeah yeah, total nerd I know. I just had this real feeling of nostalgia when I saw them which not only ties into me being a big fan of the trilogy but also the fact that Bag End is pretty much my fantasy home. I would love to have a little cottage under the hill!
Anyway, a very good film overall and I would really recommend going to see it soon in 3D while it is still in theatres if you have not done so already. I will now patiently await Part Two which comes out December 2013.
Right after the end credits started rolling I heard someone a few rows up from me explaining to his movie companion how this is just the first of three films and her acting very surprised. I also remember this happening when I went to see the first The Lord of the Rings film and hearing someone exclaim “That’s the end?!” and their friend also explaining to them that this was just one of three films. Does anyone else find this surprising? Do you have to be living in a hobbit hole (see what I did there?) to not know about these movies and know that there is more than one? And if you were going with someone who did not know about the films, wouldn’t it be the decent thing to tell them that this is just one installment of three, prior to going? I would hate for my friend to invest three hours in a movie only to find out after the fact that they have six more hours to go, spread out over two films, a year apart from each other, if they wished to reach any sort of conclusion. Maybe that’s just me.