Okay, so I have taken some writing courses but I am no expert. Still, I will try and write up a review of the movie with some skill, and if not I will try and fake it. I am no Movie Bob or Curt Spinder but I will do my best.
My daughter and I saw "The Hobbit" this evening. It wasn't planned so I guess you could call it "An Unexpected Journey". Or maybe not.
I have read the book numerous times, it is one of my favorites, and she has not read it even once. Not once. I have tried to get her to read it but it has been no use. I had hoped seeing the movie, only one third of the book, might convince her to read the book. When I pressed her on this issue she replied with "I saw the cartoon." Dang that 70s cartoon in all it's glory!
We went and saw the movie in 3D and in HFS. HFS stands for High Frames per Second, it means they have more frames whizzing by every second than movies usually have. The movie standard is 24 frames per second, that means you get 24 different images every second. I saw "The Hobbit" at 48 frames per second which means I got twice as many images every second than I am used to. This led to an interesting viewing, but I will get to that later.
The movie itself was very good. It followed the book well, though it took a few liberties. It starts out with the old Bilbo, played by Ian Holm (from the Lord of the Rings [LotR] movies) writing a book about his adventures. It is his birthday and, if you have seen LotR you know this is how that trilogy starts. It takes maybe fifteen minutes before we see old Bilbo Baggins change to young Bilbo Baggins (played by Martin Freeman) and the adventure begins.
Bilbo joins a group of dwarves who are on their way to free their homeland from an evil dragon, Smaug. He is supposed to be a burglar, though it is only because Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen, also reprising his role from LotR) wizard says it is so.
Hobbits don't like adventure, they like safe, stable homes. Bilbo, however, has a bit of something in him (explored in the book but not in the movie) and decides to go along.
The movie brings to us more than the book, it shows events that happened in other Tolkien stories, things that although happened during "The Hobbit", were not explained in detail until later works. Things like the Necromancer, mentioned in the book bot not fully brought to light. And the Brown Wizard Radagast who I don't remember from the book at all except being mentioned. They also throw in a side story about a grudge between a dwarf and an orc, something to help with the story arc no doubt but not in the book at all. It flowed well and really just added to the movie seamlessly. I have no qualms about what was added at all, and the fact that nothing I can think of was missed, I am happy.
Wait, one thing was missed. When Bilbo finds the ring and regroups with the dwarves, he tells a tale of his daring escape. In the movie Gandalf sees him pocket the ring, but in the book it is not mentioned. Instead, in the book, Gandalf says of Bilbo's story that "it has a ring of truth". This line, this perfect line, was not in the movie. Too bad. Though if you hadn't read the book you would not miss it.
I don't want to go into the story too much, it is really good and the movie does a fine job of translating the page on to the big screen. The characters are well done, the dwarves even but even look like Tolkien's illustrations thanks to modern day make up and special effects. I do think, however, that some of the dwarves looked a bit too 'human' and could have used a little more face work. Though they did a great job making them look small, going so far as to give them puffy fingers. No matter how human Thorin looks (he is the King under the mountain, the leader of the group) when you see is slightly pudgy fingers and how he looks compared to a huge orc, you see him as a dwarf.
I had no issues in believing the dwarves, and hobbit, were half the size of the humans and orcs. The special effects have only gotten better since LotR.
We were sitting in the theater next to a group of 4 or 5 older peoples, maybe in their 60s or or 70s, and I think they had read the book. They laughed at parts I laughed at, where others did not. There are certainly parts that are very good because you read the book, but you will not miss out if you haven't. The only part I laughed at that no one else in the theater seemed to get was towards the end. The group of dwarves, including the wizard Gandalf and the "burglar" Bilbo, and running from a group of orcs that are hunting them. Gandalf says "We are out of the frying pan" and I believe it is Thorin who finishes his sentence with "and into the fire". I laughed, I got the very subtle joke. This is the name of the chapter in the book, "Out of the pan and into the fire". Maybe I have read the book a few too many times.
So, the movie was good, very entertaining and worth seeing. How about the 3d? It was fantastic. After a while you don't even remember it si in 3d until something gets thrown at you. That;s not to say it is forgettable, it's to say it becomes natural to watch and might be worth the extra cost if seen early in the day when prices are lower. I don't like paying to see 3d when it jacks the ticket price up to $15 or more!
As I wrote above, we also saw the movie in 48fps. This I have mixed feelings about. Parts of the movie, mainly the start of it. seemed to move faster than it should. When the showed old Bilbo writing and reaching for things it seemed unnatural and sped up, like a digital movie trying to catch up to the soundtrack. However, once I got over it (i.e. used to it) I didn't notice it too much. Along with the movements seeming odd at first, the lighting seemed off as well. The best parts were scenes when the lights were low, when it was bright the movie looked almost cheap. Not that the characters and details were cheap, but that the scenes looked like a low budget and high lighted movie.
After the movie I asked my daughter what she thought about it and she didn't really notice anything. BUT when I told her the movie looked like the BBC version of "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" she agreed with enthusiasm. The movie was highly detailed, HIGHLY, but not being used to 48fps I think it just looked, well, different.
I recommend this move. If you liked LotR, you will like this movie. If you like the genre, you will like this movie. Peter Jackson did a great job, along with the rest of the cast and crew, and you should see this movie. If you want to see details you have never seen from a movie before, see it in hfr, but if you want to see a movie like all the other movies in your past, see it in the regular 24fps.
As for 3d... I can take it or leave it. It looks good but I don't care about 3d. It has it's moments, and the previews looks pretty fracking good (in 3d) but don't pay extra for it unless you love 3d.
I don't think I will get my daughter to read the book after watching the movie, though maybe if I read it again she will gain some interest, but I know she is looking forward to the next one.
So am I.
(Here's hoping once these are done and released we will have a new Star Wars movie (trilogy) to see... here's hoping indeed!)
edit: Keep an eye for the seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) who has a small part. Not too small as to not notice him, if you are a true Who fan. :)