An Unexpected Debateable Movie (part 1)

Note: Do not read this post yet if you have yet to see The Hobbit, but please come back and comment afer you've seen it.

Well, I am arguably the biggest Tolkien fan I know, and have the LOTR posters on my wall to attest to it. So, I went into An Unexpected Journey assuming the dissatisfied critics were wrong, like most fans of a big fandom probably do. Need I say, I came out of it giving those critics much more credit than I had thought possible.
To review: The source material, The Hobbit, is written for preteens. (The original reviewer is said to be the publisher's six-seven year old son.) the text is full of asides from the narrator, humor of dialogue, and is mainly about how Bilbo grows as a character and by extension learns to appreciate what he has.
In consequence, AUJ has no business being what it is, which is a dark and stormy action flick mainly concerned with Thorin's unjustified beating-down of Bilbo's character, with very little humor of the clean kind.
To start off, my two biggest complaints were the recurring instances of what my brother refers to as "walls of text," wherein somebody is monologuing, and absolutely nothing is going on in the background. Walls of text are fine in novels, because they are often employed to give a complete description of the setting so that the action may continue unhindered. Ivanhoe, Ben-Hur, and Les Miserables are classics full of wall-of-text descriptions. However, monologues are definitely not something that really works in film. But AUJ has at least 3: Bilbo's superfluous prologue narration, Gandalf's modified-to-fit-your pronoun recitation of the "legend" of Bullroarer Took and the game of Golf, and Balin's recitation of Thorin's life story, which would have been slightly longer yet would have fit better had it been delivered by Thorin himself. But enough of this.
my other big complaint was that my first hunch regarding the clip from the trailer of Galdriel's and Gandalf 's dialogue was correct. It was spilling over with sappiness. Remember guys, Gandalf is a higher power in Middle-earth than Galadriel. She's only an elf. He's an "angel-thing." So you're going to say hi to the attractive lady? So do that, nicely, but you, Gandalf, have no respect for us fans if you're going to say something like "I'm never happier than when I'm staring at [Galadriel]" Ooh sappiness burn. and then it continued from there. By the end she was saying "I'll come when you need me" When he needs you?! WTB (what the blank)! Are you kidding me?! Hello! This is Gandalf we're referring to. Mr. Fire Wizard is by nature more powerful than Mrs. Mind Reader lady! And then she vaporized? While he was in a trance staring at her? WIGO(what is going on)?
To continue, there was the business of the languages. Yeah it was fun to see (and sort of hear) characters speaking elaborations of Tolkien's languages on-screen, But there were some hiccups. Namely, Elrond's entrance. I could not figure out why he was bothering to speak Elvish half the time, and then at the end of that scene where he invited the dwarves to dinner in Elvish just so they could get angry with him? WIGO? (side note: Did anybody else get a laugh out of Elrond's addiction to bright purple? Even his armor is purple) ;)
I am trying to restrain myself from hating on it, but there was just so much that jumped out at me... Like for instance, the map. In the film they cut the explanation of why the key and the map weren't given directly to Thorin. (Answer: because Thrain, who had them, was locked up in Dol Guldor and had lost his mind.) So Gandalf just hands them over and they cut Thorin's mostly justified shock, as in "Why do you have my stuff" Then later when they reach Rivendell, Elrond takes the map and glances at it, and then says "There are moon-letters here." even though the moon to see them by was behind a cloud at the time. ; /.
I liked seeing Radagast, mostly, but I couldn't get over the bird-mess in his hair and in the general story of part one he just seemed superfluous.
Also, I am very disappointed in the score for AUJ. I expected to come out clamoring to buy it or be gifted it, whichever came first, but by the end of the film, I realized that, aside from a couple of melodies that were too deep in pitch to crack my hearing level, I already own the score. Yes, it was the father of all occurrences of self-plagarism by my favorite composer, and I have heard several. Besides which, due in part to the fact that it either wasn't original or I couldn't hear it, the music did not help the movie, nor can I really remember any of it. Epic music fail. I did however, enjoy what I could hear of the songs lifted from the text, and the dwarves' Rube Goldberg mechanism sequence of clearing the table and washing up was very entertaining.

(whew. I 0guess I'll need another page to continue ranting about everything. To be continued.)

1 comment:

  1. This is why I avoid reading books before watching the movie because I am a film fanatic. I watched it yesterday and absolutely loved the movie! I did not have a problem with the monologues, it felt like the prologue to FOTR. Looking forward to your next part about this.