zaterdag 3 januari 2015

The Hobbit

First off all: check out the announcement below if you have any interest in Magic: the Gathering! Second off all: yeah, I'm late to the party. I only saw the Hobbit yesterday. Still, I'd like to take a moment to write something about the movie, and how it could've been better. Because while I didn't feel like I had wasted my money, that's about as high a praise I can give it. Entertaining schlock, but the more I think about it the more problems I see.

Let's start with the start of the movie: who on earth thought it would be a good idea to kill of Smaug five minutes into the movie? Yeah, I know the book also has him killed of out of nowhere by a recently introduced character, but it sucked in the book as well. You're building up the meeting with this dragon for the entire book, and then you have him killed off by a random, recently introduced character, only to introduce an out-of-nowhere clash of armies as your climax? As much as I liked that battle in the book, the way Tolkien dealt with Smaug felt stupid and anticlimactic even the first time I read the book. When I was 10.

The letdown is even worse in the movie. Because we didn't get Smaug build-up for "just" an entire book, we got it for six flipping hours! Or, depending on how you look at it, we got it for two flipping YEARS! In addition to that, the scene just doesn't work. We're dropped into the destruction of Lake Town in medias res, and we're suddenly supposed to care about all these characters we can barely remember because they were only introduced in the last third of the last movie. It felt like we were watching a missing scene from the last movie! And sure, they needed a cliff-hanger ending for that one to keep people coming back, but don't you think everyone will feel disappointed when they come back a year later, only for the cliff-hanger to be resolved in the blink of an eye? Ah well, no Hobbit 4 we need them to go see (thank god!), so I guess it doesn't matter. So you could argue it was the right decision from a business perspective, but from a making-good-movies perspective it was dreadful. Here's hoping they transplant the first five minutes from the last movie to the end of the second one for the DVD-box set.

Now, on to the biggest problem with the movie. This guy:

Seriously. This tosspot is the biggest waste of space I've seen in a movie in years. Comic relief was never so painfully unfunny. Everything he did was completely predictable, the comedic timing was terrible, the acting was over the top an annoying, and worst of all: he didn't even get death scene! Had he gotten a particularly gruesome one, being bit in half by a troll, or flattened by a catapult or something, then at least all that time spend making us hate him wouldn't have been a complete waste.

Another waste of time: most of the characterization in the movie. Pretty much all of it was done by cutting from one character staring intently, to another staring intently, back to the first character, back to the second, continue until the audience is bored. The Kili/Tauriel romance was mostly this, an painfully lacking in chemistry. The only characterization bits I really liked were Bilbo dealing with Thorin's growing madness. Even that got a pretty lacklustre resolution though. Pretty much what I described above, only instead of cutting between two characters, we keep cutting from Thorin to slightly crazier Thorin. Lots of quotes from earlier in the films repeated, heavy handed metaphor of him being swallowed by gold... can't the audience by trusted to understand something a little more subtle? We already heard Balin talk about how Thorin's grandfather fell to the dragonsickness, couldn't we get a nice quiet scene where Thorin stumbles upon a statue of his granddad and suddenly realises what he's doing?

Still, if you can whether the crappy humor and romance, you're left with a pretty okay action movie. Lots of cool kills and funny action set pieces. Enough to warrant a 10 euros entry fee I think. One caveat to that though: surely the action gets much more immersive if you can play through it yourself, so the movie is lucky video games are so expensive.

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