Wednesday, December 19, 2012
In Theaters: THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (2012)
(US/New Zealand - 2012)
Directed by Peter Jackson. Written by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro. Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Sylvester McCoy, Graham McTavish, Barry Humphries, Manu Bennett, Lee Pace, William Kircher, Stephen Hunter, Dean O'Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown. (PG-13, 170 mins)
Other than greed, hubris, and self-indulgence, is there really any need for J.R.R. Tolkien's 300-page book to take three three-hour movies to play out? After a long pre-production delayed by lawsuits and MGM financial issues, and a change in director from Guillermo del Toro to Peter Jackson, the eagerly-awaited prequel to Jackson's landmark LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy is finally here, and not without controversy. Jackson initially planned THE HOBBIT as a two-part film, but it was expanded into a trilogy of its own. If this first installment is any indication, there's definitely a sense of bloat and overkill, especially in the way Jackson brings in elements that weren't in Tolkien's book (incorporating some material from The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, including most of the backstory for the eccentrically disheveled wizard Radagast the Brown, played by former DOCTOR WHO Sylvester McCoy) as a way of giving what was a smaller-scaled, significantly less epic-feeling tale the same heft and spectacle of the original trilogy. The 1977 animated, Rankin-Bass produced TV-movie of THE HOBBIT managed to get the story across in about 80 minutes. AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY has assorted detours, asides, and completely new elements that aren't entirely necessary (and it's in higher-priced 3D) and really only seem to be there as a way to get as much money out of moviegoers as possible.