I just saw The Hobbit (part 1), and wanted to share some first thoughts. Perhaps I’ll do more movie reviewing in this spot.
We saw it in traditional style, 2d and 24fps.
- It is lots of fun. It is also very long, as many critics note. The former usually cancels out the latter.
- Unlike Lord of the Rings, this is definitely best suited for Tolkien fans and sf/fantasy audiences in general. The methods of exposition, the amount of assumptions aren’t really aimed at a general, not-genre-literate audience (cf Slate’s negative review: “As someone with a lifelong resistance to fantasy literature…”).
3: The movie has some classic Peter Jackson humor and gross comedy. We see Bilbo being liquidly sneezed out of a troll’s nose, dwarves headbutting each other in a friendly fashion, one hero killing the goblin king with comic lines. There’s more straight-faced drug humor of the kind we saw in Lord of the Rings: weed-smoking jokes, plus a cute line about someone’s brains being addled after eating too many mushrooms. There are also nice visual gags, like the first glimpse of Smaug being a dragon kite. This kind of playfulness should make us recall Jackson’s early work, like Dead Alive/Braindead (1992) and Meet the Feebles (1989).
4: Hobbit is simply gorgeous to look at, and listen to. Scene after scene offers painterly delights of the kind we saw in LotR, while action scenes are hyperactively inventive. Shore’s score is good, as is the sound design.
5: The movie hews pretty closely to the book. There are some small differences, such as Bilbo doing more than Gandalf to defeat the trolls. The movie’s length is partially due to story expansions based on assiduous fan reading: a Rivendell council, featuring the only female character, not in the book; the wacky adventures of Radagast.
6: In gender terms the movie felt very masculine, more male than LOtR. I’m not sure how this will shape its reception. When I mentioned this on Facebook, responses split into whether or not a very male Hobbit was a good thing or not. I suspect we might see the gender balance appear in critical reviews.