Tuesday, December 18, 2012

dwarfs and a dragon

When I heard Peter Jackson was filming The Hobbit, I wondered why.

Well, I knew why.  It is a charming book that English-readers throughout the world know almost by heart.  The book that leads directly to Tolkein's major work -- Lord of the Rings.  And, of course,it was bound to earn a dwarf-ransom in revenue.

But there are certain problems.  First, the order of production.  The Hobbit is introductory.  It introduces us to characters and concepts that were eventually spun out by Tolkien in his larger work.

What should be a prequel runs the risk of seeming simultaneously derivative and smaller than the first three films.

Second, the story is smaller in scope.  Filming it as a mere introduction would diminish the very charm of the tale.

On both scores, Jackson has scored a hit.  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey -- the first of a three-part tale -- is now in theaters.  That means it is at the multiplex in Manzanillo.

The piece is a  visual wonder.  Just as you would expect from the director who gave us Lord of the Rings

But it s more that that.  The look.  The sound.  The music.  The story.  All come together to tell a tale a lot broader than Tolkein's little book.

To make a proper prequel, the screenwriters mined other Tolkein works to weave a back story every bit as broad as Lord of the Rings.  This is a moral tale of man's struggle with good and evil.

It is not a perfect film.  The narrative drags a bit.  That is probably inevitable with all of the threads that are mixed together with the book's original simple tale. 

Christopher Nolan managed to make the exposition in Inception interesting.  I would mark it as one of the most successful I have ever seen in a film.  The screenwriters here settled for talking heads backed up with action shots.  A bit like a Power Point presentation in a board room.

And the manner in which the film was shot (I will spare you the technical details) makes all of the stuff we know was generated by a computer (but we want to believe was not) look like stuff we know was generated by a computer (and we cannot avoid realizing it is merely a special effect).

But both of those are mere quibbles when compared with the visual grandeur Jackson has created.  New Zealand welcomes us back to a very real landscape where the forces of good and evil can do battle with one another in one of our favorite stories.

It is good to have you back, Peter.  I am looking forward to the 2013 and 2014 releases.


Debi Kuhn said...

I too enjoyed The Hobbit, first read back in the 70's.
I've seen the Hobbit movie twice now. I enjoyed it thoroughly, although a few small things, the texture seems almost completely CGI at times, is that because of the el doble frames per second thing? And sometimes the action is set too close to the screen so that it moves by so quickly I can't focus on it.
The dwarves are much more man-lIke in their appearance from the LOTR.
I enjoyed the way they treated the transitions in the beginning. I re-read The Hobbit a few weeks ago in preparation for the release of this film, and now must go read it again, for there were things I don't now recall.

can't wait for the next one - there is talk of July rather than December.

Steve Cotton said...

You are correct. The "frames per second" are doubled. To my eye, the live action against CGI then looks more artificial.

You are also correct about some action being very close to the camera lens -- all to enhance the 3D effect.

But, like you, I am looking forward to the next release.