It was just like the Lord of the Rings movies, only more so. Allysen and I went to see it in 3D for New Year’s Day evening, and came away agreeing: “The parts that were good were great, and the parts that were bad were really bad.” Basically, it was about an hour too long for the story it told, and if you edited out some of the endless battle scenes and Indiana Jones-like theatrics, you’d have a really good movie.
Here’s my bullet list of the good points:
- Martin Freeman as Bilbo (he was great)
- Ian McKellan as Gandalf (of course)
- Cate Blanchett as Galadriel (better than in LOTR, I thought)
- New Zealand as Middle Earth (gorgeous)
- Surprisingly, the added material relating to the evil stirrings in Dol Goldur (I say surprising, because basically Peter Jackson does well when he sticks to Tolkien’s storyline, and generally does badly when he changes it.)
- The meeting of Bilbo and Gollum (beautifully done)
Here’s my list of where it went wrong:
- The pacing (way too slow in the setup, where the dwarves show up at Bag End), and simultaneously headlong and tedious in the overlong action/battle scenes
- Clownish characterization of some of the dwarves, but especially of Radagast the wizard
- Dwarves that looked like men
- Dialogue that occasionally slipped out of Middle Earth and into Jaba the Hutt’s den (“Those dwarf scum are my kind of scum!”)
- Frenetic fight scenes in place of story development
- Did I mention too many fight scenes?
The 3D experience was less successful for me than it’s been in other movies. It has its moments, but for the first hour or so, I actually felt that it intruded more than it helped, giving a sort of cartoonish quality to some of the characters, especially the dwarves as they appeared in Bilbo’s house. I think I might actually have preferred seeing it in 2D.
All in all, a very mixed bag. Great stuff marred by clumsiness and self-indulgence. On a scale of 1-4 elvish swords, I’d give it two swords and a dagger.