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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hobbit is not bad, but certainly not great

We went to see the Hobbit at Westchester Commons Regal Theater, not something we normally do, but our daughter had just finished the book. We walked in the theater $60 poorer with a bucket of popcorn and a couple of drinks, that were also in buckets. The seats were comfortable, and the incline steep enough that you can easily see over the people in front of you. Plus, it was easy to get out of your seat quietly and go for more snacks or to the bathroom.

After being hammered for about 20 minutes by previews, which all seemed to be about the end of the world with lots of computer generated images, the movie started. The previews were all the same, it was as if the movie industry has became some giant video game based on gimmicks and some doom and gloom thrown in.

Having never read the book, I did not have any expectations.  But there were a lot of dwarfs, who were the heroes, and they went off to reclaim some lost place they used to live. The costumes and images were spectacular through our 3D glasses, it really showed all the advances that have been made in movie making. The sound was blasting, though not too loud as it turned out.

As the violence started, it felt like the overkill was unbelievable, scabby looking horrible creatures leaped out and attacked so often it lost effect.  I felt like I was in a GWAR movie, and I wondered how you go any further, with two and a half hours of almost non-stop violence. Someone should have pulled the director aside and told him to whack 30 minutes off the entire film, and see if they can create some more dialogue. The movie was morbidly obese with violence, not blood or torture, but still it was a bloated epic that went on too long. The monsters and the journey fighting them seemed to be something Odysseus might experience in a Homer story.

The music was wonderful, and some of the scenes magnificent, with haunting images, spectacular views. Many of the actors looked like members of Led Zeppelin or bands of the era, beards, mustaches, leather, etc. Indeed, there are a number of references in Zeppelin songs about parts of the Hobbit such as Mordor in "Ramble On."

All in all, we did not feel cheated, but on the other hand, we did not feel like rushing back to see the latest blockbuster. We are happy to go out and see movies that might be important to our daughter, but I'm happy to turn on PBS and watch something really good, like Downton Abbey.

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