The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at Cineworld Cambridge

Less would have been more.

I was about 11 years old when I read The Hobbit. Didn’t (quite) finish it, and never went back to it. Although I did read Lord of the Rings about 6 years later. (Actually, it took me three attempts to get to the end of that – I kept getting stuck in the middle of The Two Towers.)

So I went into The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with very little foreknowledge of the plot. Except that I knew there were 13 Dwarves, and given the problem I normally have in keeping characters sorted out, I wasn’t really sure how well that would work for me.

As it turned out, they did a good enough job of making the Dwarves distinctive that I was able to pretty much keep them separate. I never did learn most of their names – I got Thorin, but the rest tended to be the fat one, the one with the funny hat, the pretty one with the bow, the big white beard, etc.

I thought Martin Freeman did a great job as Bilbo – he really does portray the ‘everyman’ type, and the reluctant-hero, well.

And I liked Richard Armitage’s Thorin. But it did seem to me (and I thought this even before seeing the film) that he didn’t really look like a Dwarf. I don’t think it’s just a matter of height – I think a fantasy-style Dwarf needs a certain physique. Not necessarily fat, but broad. Where as Thorin basically had the proportions of a tall man, shrunk down (though actually, mostly not, unless he was in the same shot as Gandalf). It was like they felt they couldn’t present him as a heroic figure if he looked like Gimli – he had to look like Aragorn. And so they then threw in a couple of younger, also slim, dwarves just so he didn’t stick out too much. Not that I’m complaining about Richard Armitage’s performance (or looks). And maybe there would have been more of a challenge in empathising with the character if he looked like Gimli. But it felt like a bit of a cop-out on the part of the filmmakers.

I saw the film in 3D, since that was the only option on the opening night in Cambridge. But the cinema wasn’t huge, and it also wasn’t set up for 48fps. So it was just regular 3D, and to be honest, I didn’t feel that it really added all that much to the experience – 2D would have been just as good. (Update: After getting back to Australia, I saw it again at the Macquarie Centre, in a bigger cinema, with 48fps. And that probably was a richer experience. Although there was no particular moment where I felt I was seeing something different, overall I had a much stronger sense of looking through a window into something real. Although since I had the same sense in Hugo – which wasn’t 48fps- maybe it was just the bigger cinema.)

I would certainly say I enjoyed the film. But I would equally certainly say that it was far too long. Aside from the opening with Frodo (a rather self-indulgent, and IMHO not really necessary, tie-in with Lord of the Rings) I don’t think there were any scenes that could have been removed in their entirety: even the singing, which I wasn’t a huge fan of, probably had its place. But some of them could probably have been cut back a fair bit. In particular, the capture-by and escape-from the goblins could certainly have been shorter.

Favourite moment

Would have to be the riddle scene with Gollum. It was the one scene that I actually remembered from the book – even before I read Lord of the Rings and learned that it was important – and it was very well handled in the film.

Bechdal test

Fail. I think Galadriel is the only female character with a speaking part.


3 ½ (If it had been shorter, I would have given it a 4.)

Post a Comment