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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Extended Edition)

de Peter Jackson

Sèrie: Peter Jackson's The Hobbit (extended 1)

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Let me be clear -- the film has a lot of issues, first and foremost of which is the pacing, which is worsened in the extended cut. Let me also be clear, to my subjective enjoyment of this film, that matters surprisingly little. If they'd done the sensible thing and made two terrific 2.5 hour films instead of three middling 3 hour films, the result would have been much, much better films, to be sure. (And I happily admit I would rather that they had done this.) But I would then have lost out on a lot of the little moments, the great character bits and lovely connective tissue that they use to pad them out now, and that would have saddened me in its own way.

Even so, there is a lot of stuff that should be tighter here, even by my very generous and forgiving standards. The dwarf invasion of Bag End could easily be a good 5 minutes shorter without really losing a single joke or moment of significance. The songs are mostly very forgettable (I do really like "Misty Mountains Calling", I will admit) and grind the action to a halt each time one comes around. Less and shorter songs would have helped the pacing further. Lots of the action sequences are also needlessly long (the escape from the Goblin Town in particular could be nearly halved without much fuss). It really is too long to be a full hour into the film before they even leave for the titular journey.

But so much stuff makes up for this. First, the film is absolutely gorgeous to look at. There's a shot I'd have loved to use as my desktop wallpaper every few minutes like clockwork. Second, the score is as rousing and haunting as that of the original trilogy. Third, I'm in the minority camp that find the plot additions (loosely based on the LotR appendices) nearly uniformly a positive. It deepens Gandalf's character and motivations, provides very engrossing connections to the original films, hints at the bigger picture that Bilbo is not himself seeing, and generally makes the world feel larger, more real and more exciting. I love the White Council scene, I love the Pale Orc hunting them, and I love Radagast (though his scenes are among the ones that could stand to be trimmed a bit in length, I would hate to see them cut outright). I love adding Gandalf tricking Thorin into visiting the Elves against his will, I love the flashback glimpses of the battle of Moria and (most of all) Smaug's attack on Erebor, and I love starting the film right before Bilbo's birthday party in "Fellowship of the Ring". These are all excellent choices in my opinion, that enrich the narrative, providing a great backdrop cementing it in the more realistic world of the other films while allowing the main storyline to retain the simpler, fairy tale-like feel of the book.

My only real complaint among these scenes is probably Azog's look. He looks so much more fake than any other Orc, and it bothers me greatly since he gets more screentime than the rest combined. I don't understand why they botched him so much when everything else looks great (though they did even more horrid choices with Beorn in the next film, so I guess everyone screws up sometimes). It's a minor peeve, but one that continues to come up as the character returns and returns over and over in the narrative. I also feel they play very fast and loose with Orc fear of daylight in this film (sometimes it seems guaranteed protection, other times Orcs are clearly out and about following them in the daytime), but oh well, it's not like they ever established a hard rule for it.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoy this film, and for all its flaws, it makes me so genuinely happy every time Freeman pants out "I'm - going - on - an - adventure!", I can't bear to focus more on its many weaknesses than I do on its (in fairness even more numerous) strengths. ( )
  Lucky-Loki | Sep 12, 2020 |
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