Just like the last two years I went to see The Hobbit. Even in its third iteration, the HFR takes a lot of getting used to and personally I’m not taken in by it beyond that it helps the 3D stereo. The latter is actually quite good, but at the same time it sometimes quite obviously reveals how CG-heavy the whole movie is and how rushed and unbalanced some shots were composited. That’s by the way one thing I also noticed recently when re-watching the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. Ten years later it really hurts to see the excessive rim lighting they used to facilitate green screen work and some other sins.
Anyway, the Hobbit movie as such isn’t half bad, though I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece, either. While I don’t mind changes and additions to the story (e.g. the forge sequence in the second part was real fun), there is only so much I can take. This time they were putting it on a bit too thick on the schmalzy side and a few other things like the various characters and references “from/ to the future” (i.e. The Lord of the Rings) seemed forced. As a result, there are some really awful “inner monologue” and “the long kiss goodbye” scenes that are rather unbecoming and diminish the experience because they are so clichéed and poorly written. Other stuff would have been better not spelled out and left to the viewer’s imagination to keep the ominous, mysterious feel why and how things in Middleearth are as they are.
On the good side there are some nice gags and jokes, if on an obvious, slapstick level. Alfred in woman’s clothes and his atomic boobs filled with golden coins are just hilarious! There are also some interesting means of transportation and explanations for a few things that the book only hints at and never explains, which helps make it more believable. At the same time turning something that isn’t even a full chapter in the book into 25 minutes of battle mayhem seems a bit of a stretch, still. Don’t get me wrong, I like those Massive-driven virtual armies as much as the next guy (playing around with the software and their motion libraries to build agents could surely be fun for me), but this feels a bit like Helm’s Deep happening all over again – a few lines of an “in the meantime this and that happened” inflated into a full war movie. Could be even more of an issue when they release the extended versions next year.
Overall the movie is okay if you do not expect too much of it, but it left me strangely unsatisfied and isn’t the conclusion to the series that I was hoping for. One can’t help but feel that doing just two movies as initially planned might have turned out better…