The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Summary: Before the one ring of power went on it's final journey with Frodo it belonged to his uncle Bilbo Baggins for a time. How he got the ring is a story but how he ended up under a mountain far from the Shire is an even more interesting story.
The Good: I was really surprised by some of the new stuff in this film, I've never read the appendixes (to Lord of the Rings) or The Simarilion so I didn't know the specifics of what Gandalf was doing when he was separated from the group and from the little bits shown in this movie I'm really excited to see what happened. All of the acting seemed spot on (and the extra material really helped me understand why Thorin acted the way he did, I remember being confused by his actions especially near the end of the original book so this is a really great thing) and all of the dwarves seemed to have a good amount of screen time. Not equal amounts of screen time of course but by the end I felt like I knew what at least half of the dwarves were like, in the book they really weren't that distinguished from each other so again, this was a really great thing.
The Bad: Good god, did I accidentally watch the director's cut instead of the theatrical one? I did like some of the stuff that wasn't in the book The Hobbit but was in other material* but some of the stuff that was completely original (I have a friend who thinks tha the pale orc was in LotR but this subplot was completely new) was unnecessary filler and there was plenty of other stuff can could've been trimmed down (like the dwarves at Bilbo's house or the parts with Radagast the Brown). Honestly it's enough stuff that I almost want to recommend people to wait for the DVD to come out (and given that the film came out almost a month ago it might be out of theaters soon anyway) but even then there probably won't be a shorter cut of it on the disc. I can't remember being this frustrated at a movie for this problem (tv show or anime? Sure, but even then few I've enjoyed have had THIS much filler) and I'm convinced you could make this a two hour film without losing anything, this is a huge problem.
The Audio: I, like everyone else it seems, really love that Misty Mountain song (in all of it's different incarnations, from the dwarf song to the credit song to the fan version which takes 15 minutes to go through all of Tolkien's verses, plus all the other fan recreations of the song) and need to go buy it off of itunes. All of the other pieces of background music also worked very well but let's face it, the Misty Mountains is the piece that everyone is going to remember by the time the next film is out.
The Visuals: There was one weird thing in the visuals for me, in the first five minutes there's a panning shot around/through the dwarf kingdom which is entirely CGI and everything actually looked blurry to me. I asked the other people I saw it with and they said it looked blurry as well, I'm confused if they made the shot blurry on purpose (to hide unfinished CGI) or what, it really stood out to me. Otherwise, no complaints, the movie did a very good job advertising how gorgeous New Zealand is and how everyone should visit (
So, there was good stuff in here but it was buried under a lot of, well, superfluous stuff (and I'm kind of wondering how many deleted scenes there will be on the DVDs at this rate, how much stuff is there left?). So, only three out of five stars, please oh please let the next film have better editing.
*Bilbo narrating how the dwarf kingdom fell? Excellent, don't think there would have been a good chance to work that in later. Adding in the stuff with the council about the Necromancer? Also great, it even helps set The Lord of the Rings in context by showing just how long it had been since Sauron was a threat and how, by coincidence or fate, he began to rise again when the ring began it's journey for the first time in at least a century.