The Hobbit….Take 2 or 2.0
Another year, and another Hobbit movie has come to remind us why we love Middle Earth so damn much. Which is great, because this is one hell of a fun ride and The Two Towers it is not. I am at times torn over what to think of the film. And while ultimately I will need to see the third installment to decide my final opinion of this film, that doesn’t mean that I’m about to let this one sit by the wayside and not review it until the third one comes out next year. For me there’s a lot to love, a little to wonder about, and just a smidge that makes me sit back and go, “really?” So on with the show.
See this movie….on a giant screen…IMAX if you can. As with the other 4 movies, the shots are breathtaking, the scenery gorgeous, and Peter Jackson’s attention to detail unreal. I’ve always enjoyed how he doesn’t just show you New Zealand in all its glory masquerading as Middle Earth. He shows it in such a way that you could really believe that you were watching this take place in some otherworldly realm. The surroundings are such a part of the story and fit so well that at times it’s very hard to believe that CG didn’t create the wondrous landscapes displayed before us. The setting is as much a part of the stories as the actors and it is something that deserves to be watched on the biggest screen possible.
The actors very much continue to inhabit their characters rather that just perform them on screen, but as with the first one, with a cast so large there are those that get shortchanged, more so for the dwarves in this one that the last one (which is saying something). Little more than half of them seem to speak more than one sentence, and the bulk of the dwarf screen time appears to be split between Thorin, Kili, Balin, and Dwalin, with just a sprinkling of Fili and Bofur. Oin gets a bit of a promotion in that he actually gets something to do this time around, but as it was I’d had to look up which one he was once I got home because I don’t recall his name being mentioned at any time. The others are relegated to once again having single lines, background group speaking, and generally crazy hairstyles in a vain attempt to keep them memorable as they do little more than fill a space in the company. It’s a difficult conundrum when dealing with thirteen dwarfs who even in the book only had a couple standout members, though Peter Jackson does try to remedy this somewhat with some changes to the story (more on that bit later). Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen continue their awesome streak, and Richard Armitage gives great depth to Thorin Oakenshield as we see his character go from semi-brooding dick to caring leader to greedy asshole. It’s great seeing Orlando Bloom crop up as Legolas once more (who at this point if I see him in a movie in normal clothes it just seems wrong), and the inclusion of Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel, Thranduil’s Captain of the Guard, makes for some fun fight scenes and some….interesting twists (again, more on that bit later).
Then there’s Benedict Cumberbatch. Holy fuck. The more I see this guy the more I fucking love him. Giving voice to both Smaug and The Necromancer, he brings those characters frighteningly to life just as Andy Serkis did with Gollum. He’s actually managed to gain entry into that rare group of actors for which if they’re in a movie, even if it looks terrible, I will watch it at least once because I’m willing to bet that even if the movie sucks balls said actor will not, making it worth a watch. He’s a talent to behold, and I can’t wait to see what he does next. But “what of the story?” you may ask, well…