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Construx Conspirators- @shanewastestime The Hobbit Review

9:49:00 AMPaul

97. The Hobbit

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Sometimes it's helpful to go into these things with lowered expectations. Early reviews and work of mouth on The Hobbit effectively all but quashed any enthusiasm I had for it. Supposedly it was overlong, stretched too thin, and with a deadly first hour. I tended to believe these reports since Peter Jackson's King Kong remake was the definition of overlong and stretched too thin, and its first hour was the deadliest in recent memory.

So, I'm happy to report that I had a really good time at The Hobbit. God knows it's not perfect (for starters, there may be more instances of deux ex machina than I've ever seen in one story), but, despite its nearly three hour running time, I wasn't ever restless or bored, even with the exposition explosion than comprises its first half. In this case, it may be a good thing that I never fully read the novel. Not being very familiar with the story, I didn't notice the padding that Tolkien readers are complaining about. It just felt like a very thorough backstory to me, with Jackson's usual attention to minute details.

Martin Freeman only seems capable of playing a "Martin Freeman" type, but I'm not tired of that yet, and he has a bunch of nice comedic (and a couple of heroic) moments. Ian McKellan seemed to be enjoying being back in the Gandalf business again. And I also enjoyed Sylvester McCoy's Radagast the Brown, a wizard with an affinity for animals who gets around via rabbit-drawn sleigh. But holy crap, you guys! The real star of The Hobbit is Andy Serkis and his Gollum. He looks more lifelike than ever, he's both funnier and crazier than ever, and is also scary as hell, in a way that he wasn't quite in the LOTR movies. His scene with Bilbo is one of the best scenes of any movie this year.

The Hobbit never really solves the dwarf problem that I had been wondering about (why does there have to be so many of them, and how are you supposed to tell them apart?). But they really are a merry lot, as Gandalf says, and it ultimately doesn't matter very much if we get to know them as individuals or not. There's plenty of time to do that in the next two (two!) installments anyway.

For what it's worth, I saw this in 24fps 3-D. I was (and remain) curious to check out the 48fps, but there seems to be near-unanimous pans for the higher frame rate, and I already have a bias against images that look too video-ish. I would be curious to hear what anyone who saw it in 48fps thinks of it.

Ultimately, watching The Hobbit felt like coming home again. And I hadn't even realized I was homesick. But it was nice to revisit some of the old characters (including awesome giant eagles!) while getting to know some new ones (hello, Sebastian the hedgehog!). I certainly had my doubts, but now I will be looking forward to the next two (two!) chapters. 

Grade: B

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