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12-15-2012, 02:45 AM
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The Lord of the Rings, Episode 1: The Albino Menace (2012)

Although I write that in jest, I believe it is a lot more helpful to approach the movie in this way rather than just an adaptation of "The Hobbit". This isn't "The Hobbit" as we know it, but a prequel for the events of the Lord of the Rings much in the same way, quality aside, the Star Wars prequels were. The focus is different from the book and the sense of stakes is substantially higher. Once we get by that this isn't solely about Bilbo's adventure we can move on to see if this adaptation of the origins of the Lord of the Rings has any merit.

The answer for me is mostly yes. This is a solid adventure film, not nearly on the level of the original trilogy but it does enough right to keep its head above water despite the myriad of problems. There is way too much fat on this movie, it moves around too quickly to keep the tone in check, it has poor character development, and I thought it borrowed a little too much from the LOTR, as well as a bunch of other complaints I could make. Nothing major just several little inadequacies when combined just bring down the overall quality. What I did really love was the sense of fantasy Peter Jackson was able to bring, and given what we know of the Lord of the Rings and the unnecessary intro to the events that led to the Dwarves abandoning the mountain, I thought that was rather impressive. I felt the movie moved quite well for it's time despite the astounding amount of easily, easily, cut-able scenes. Also for the most part I enjoyed the performances, new and old. Particularly Martin Freeman as Bilbo.

I saw this in 3D at 48 fps and for me this was one of the most interesting parts of the film. The 3D is useless here, completely irrelevant. The framerate though was very interesting. I agree with most when they say that it felt off. Many minor movements felt like they moved too quickly, short cuts were hard to comprehend, and in general it looked like a soap opera. I don't want to say it looked bad even at its most uncomfortable because something this new may be just the audience associating it with a low-quality product (Soap Operas or behind the scenes footage) because at it's best I thought it looked amazing. The depth of that was able to be brought to the screen absolutely astounded me. It felt like Peter Jackson was taking me inside the action of some grand play live right before my eyes. It looked spectacular. With how good some of it looked I really think this is the future, maybe not 48 fps, but some advanced number than the norm now. The problem with "The Hobbit" is that I don't think Peter Jackson has any clue how to use 48 fps. I think he was just making a regular movie that happened to be in that format, causing many scenes to look awkward. It may be awhile but sooner or later people are going to figure out how to frame, light, and move around with this and I can't wait for the results.

Finally, I think I have to come down on the pro or con side of the direction Jackson decided to take with this movie. Not doing "The Hobbit" as a standalone, or 2 trim, films and going with something that connects to the Lord of the Rings. It is impossible to give a decisive answer right now and with the best parts of "An Unexpected Journey" coming at the end, I think The Desolation of Smaug has a very good chance of being better. On the other hand I think it is easy to see how indulgent Peter Jackson is being with this material. I hate to make this statement because I have no clue of what the entire trilogy is going to look like, but I think it is crazy how they edited this movie. The fact that they didn't have the balls to cut so many unessential scenes just shows the viewpoint of Jackson to the material, a viewpoint he has stated, that this is the last time he's visiting it so he wants to get everything in. I don't think he is able to make the necessary cuts and thats the reason this has ballooned from one or two films to a nine hour trilogy. So, unfortunately I wish they just stayed away from everything non-hobbit, despite me liking this movie overall and having higher hopes for the next two.

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