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Monday, 24 December 2012

The Hobbit - A semi-unexpected experience

 Have you ever met with an old friend after many years, went out and
had a great time reminiscing about the good old days, while also
making plans for the future, making sure that it won't be another 10
years until you meet again.

This is how I felt yesterday (last week by now) revisiting Tolkien's Middle Earth in
Peter Jackson's "The hobbit", the old characters being now an integral
part of my life.

For those of you who have lived in a whole in the ground (see what I
did there) for the last 70 years, the Hobbit is the predecessor of the
LOTR trilogy. It's the story of how Bilbo met Gandalf, 13
dwarfs (with names as funny as equally easily forgettable) and how he
travelled to the east seeking Eremor. I will not go into further
details about the plot, read the book people!! Interestingly enough,
the book by itself does not provide enough material for 3 movies.
Especially for 3 three-hour long films. Jackson found a truly genius
way to get around that, he added bits and pieces from Tolkien's "The
Silmarilion" - the official how-it-all-begun bible of Middle Earth.
That is truly inspired and will have all Tolkienians drooling over
mentions of Ungoliath, Morgoth and Ballrogs. What's not so inspired is
the arbitrary expansion of screen time for characters from the book
that never had more than 2 lines of mention. I know this will not
affect the uninitiated at all, they may even find great, the fact that
we get to enjoy more of Radagast the Brown, but for me
and probably for all the hard-core fans of the book, it is equally
damaging and offending as having Elves in the battle of Helms Deep.

Speaking of pointy ears, the elves in this film have a small part,
mainly that of gay vegetarian musicians - Moby?! - that are so far up
their own asses, they could not be bothered to slay a few thousands of
Orcs and help the few thousands of dwarfs  to reclaim their ancestral
home. But what the fuck...they are elves, their robes are so pristine
and ironed, one would expect to see them on a fashion show, not in

The movie resembles the first part of LOTR in more than one aspect.
They both start of at a torturous slow pace and build up momentum as
they go along, all the way to the epic last confrontation/battle right
at the end. The one major difference between the LOTR saga and
The Hobbit trilogy is the picture quality. But what a difference it
is!!! The 1080p BRD version of LOTR was by in-itself a visual
masterpiece, even more when viewed on the proper TV screen. The 48fps
 3D version of The hobbit makes Avatar look Avatar-ded(sic!). In LOTR we had Moria, here we have the Goblin kingdom - and the Goblin King, personal favourite figure from Disciples II.

The Goblin kingdom sequence is also the one containing the most CGI rentered
scenes, truly testing the limits of the HFR technology. For me it failed to
deliver a clear image in comparison to analogue, propped stunt work VFX shots or
even compared to some 2D 24fps CGI action sequences - the "Matrix: Reloaded" freeway chase scene comes to mind. The camera movement is so fast, it creates motion blur and chopping, not to such extend mind you, to deem the whole thing unseable, but still quite irritating and confusing. I preferred the 2D Moria escape sequence, it was much more detailed, fluent and clear than this one here, still I will leave it up to you to decide. Bear in mind that HFR 3D technology is in baby steps here, hopefully by the 3rd instalment we will see some truly mind-blowing action sequences in all their 3D glory.

The main protagonists once again are the insanely beautiful NZ landscapes. That place is out of this world, I'm inclined to believe that Tolkien has travelled there before writing his books. I can't explain it differently; this furthermost south island IS Middle Earth - "Middgard" in the Norse mythology. And wait until you see it in HFR, you'll be picking your jaws up from the carpet.

Returning to the actual acting taking place by animated objects - eeh, I meant actors... - it is non-critical to any aspect of the film. Sir Ian MacKelen is the one outstanding character there - pun SOOOO intended - but the rest of the cast might as well been CGIs, would have drastically cut production costs. It is the same argument as with the 13 Oscars from LOTR:III, all the noise but nothing to say, not a single actor nomination. In Hobbit the argument is even easier justified, having the 13 out of the 15 main characters buried under a ton of prosthetics, hair and armour. THE HAIR...all the hair...I would not have thought that one man could have so much hair on him... Might as well have the Ewoks in Middle earth!!

Concluding this week’s movie rant - I will consider it a major victory over my procrastination if I deliver a review within 5 days of viewing  a movie - "The Hobbit - An unexpected journey" is an expected patchwork of ambition, vision, visual greatness and acting mediocrity. Like all the first steps into the unknown, be that a new continent, new filed of science, a new love or just a new technology, it takes courage, determination and above all an "I-don't-give-a-fuck" attitude towards criticism to take that step. Jackson's latest opus displays these qualities in spades, proving that the fire of adventure still burns bright and strong in us, even if we come out of the most orderly, secure and uninteresting hole in the ground. In the end "The Hobbit" is just a story about stepping out of your comfort zone and experiencing the world with all its aspects. Fuck the comfort zone, live your life!!

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