Today! Because if Baggins loses, then we eats it whole –
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Lee Pace, Bret McKenzie, Benedict Cumberbatch
Now hang on a second, I know what you’re thinking – The Hobbit? Seriously? But while the unnecessarily expanded prequel trilogy was almost the definition of diminishing returns, I still think that first movie is pretty good. Is it far too much? Yes. But hell, what were Jackson and company supposed to think people wanted, when everyone was snapping up 4+ hour versions of the original films on DVD? They figured the more the better, right? So why not turn a 300 page book into nine goddamn hours of movies? And you know what, good for them. Sure, the whole trilogy doesn’t even come close to the Lord of the Rings movies, but they sure aren’t the complete troll orgies fans made them out to be.
Martin Freeman – perfectly cast. Richard Armitage – as handsome as they could make a dwarf, I guess. All that singing and digressing? Well…the Middle Earth sets are still gorgeous, anyway! And a whole bunch of old favorites pop up to distract from the fact that there’s not quite enough plot to power this thing through. Still, at least we get the full version of Bilbo and Gollum’s riddle contest, which I think was the whole reason this trilogy got made. It’s the standout moment of the book, and it kicks off all the events of the original trilogy, so this is what got asses in the seats ten years later. And it’s great, totally works, it’s just the rest you have to enjoy more for the atmosphere than the storytelling. The hell with it, I like it, and someday I’d like to think they could cut all three of these movies into one sanely length version befitting of the original intention. The reverse director’s cut. This must already exist somewhere, right? The internet has a terrific fan-made James Bond flick smashing footage together from the entire series, to make it look like all the Bonds are trying to kill each other – Die Spy Kill Kill shoutout! – so snipping together the three Hobbit films must have already happened. Please comment below with the requested link, internet hounds!
While it was the first Peter Jackson Middle Earth film to fail to get a Best Picture nomination from the Academy – and rightfully so – it still snagged a couple technical noms for make-up, effects, and production design, but did any guild honor the movie justly with Best Dishwashing Musical Sequence? Up yours, Frodo! You didn’t see anyone scrubbing Boromir’s tea set in Fellowship! Big miss!
Also, this is the first film from the legitimately great year of 2012 – watch, twenty or thirty years from now this will get lumped in with ’39, ’75, and ’94 as one of the best in history. Probably not because of the first Hobbit movie, but maybe it’ll get a quick mention! Much more to come from those halcyon days of the early part of this decade!