Team Abulous has a soft spot for Hobbits. We too hail from The Shire*. As a family we are vertically challenged and broad of foot. Dadabulous has remarkably hairy legs. Moreover Dadabulous has been a Tolkien devotee since reading the books in his teen. He was completely captivated by the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) film trilogy and even owns the extended box set – as if the original theatrical releases were not long enough. Also being a consummate tech-head, he was very excited by the new fangled 48 frame per second technology. He moved heaven and earth to get a baby sitter so that we could join his man posse (aka SSBB – Sutherland Shire bum boys*) at Hoyts Broadway last night. Actually he simply asked his mother to mind the kids and she obliged. Thanks very much Grandma for giving us a night off.
We were concerned about being late but needn’t have worried. The pre-movie ads were interminable. Why is it that the longer the movie ( The Hobbit was a bladder busting 169 minutes),the more numerous the ads at the beginning? Once we finally arrived at Middle Earth the kingdom felt somehow different. The LOTR films were an amazing visual feast. However The Hobbit seemed oddly claustrophobic and the fancy 48 fps was to blame. The higher resolution meant the picture had remarkable clarity and this showed up every darn thing. The costumes, make up and prosthetics that wowed us in LOTR simply looked cheap, as did the sets. Clearly they were not cheap. The film had a reported budged of $180m but I felt like I was watching an episode of Dr Who. Infact I was hoping the Tardis would pop in because The Hobbit needed an injection of eye candy.
The plot was apparently true to the book. Basically in days of yore a civilization of dwarves were violently booted out of their prosperous mountain home Erebor (or Lonely Mountain )by Smaug the Dragon. The displaced dwarves attempted to resettle but ended up having serious fisty cuffs with a bunch of Orcs led by the pornographically named Azog The Defiler. I guess it sounds much more menacing that Azog The Regional Sales Director. In the fraccas Thorin, heir to the Dwarf throne, slices off Azog’s arm which pisses him off mightily. You could even say he holds a grudge.
Moving along a gang of 12 dwarves assisted by the Grey Wizard Gandolf (Ian McKellen reprising the role) decide to take vigilante action against the dragon and reclaim Erebor. The hobbit Bilbo Baggins ( Martin Freeman) is roped into the team and the motley crew set off into the treacherous dark wood on their epic quest. Throughout their journey the gang encounter a confusing array of hazards including trolls, goblins and the still peeved Azog. To my untrained eye these creatures were barely distinguishable from each other. Giant spiders made a cameo appearance as did towering rock giants. The team made a mandatory visit to Elves city where robe clad hippies wafted around to the soothing strains of pan flutes and harps. The place reminded me of the new age crystal shop in Bondi Junction.
The inhabitants of Middle Earth have a callous disregard for Occupational Health and Safety. It’s something the Amalgamated Mythical Creatures Union really must get on to. Most of the fighting action takes place on rickety suspension bridges sans safety rails atop gaping chasms or narrow mountain passes in thunderstorms. Arrows fly, mountainsides avalanche, fierce creatures do their nastiest but no one on the side of righteousness gets a scratch. Along the way the team collects various weapons, all imbued with an heroic back story and beast slaying properties. The legendary “one ring to rule them all” finds its way onto Bilbo’s stumpy finger after a tediously long scene with Gollum. Nevertheless its significance is not discussed as the crew are to busy fleeing from goblins, orcs and God knows what else across suspension bridges.
Overall The Hobbit is less satisfying than LOTR. If bored by the relentless battles in the trilogy, you could immerse yourself in the stunning cinematography. Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom and David Wenham provided eye candy to compliment the amazing New Zealand landscape. By comparison the scant perve material in The Hobbit was hidden under layers of prosthetic goop. I found out that the dude who plays the dwarf leader Thorin – Richard Armitage, is a crumpet with honey out of costume.
Apart from looking like low budget BBC sci-fi, it is simply too long. It could really benefit from some editing with chain saw.
Mumabulous Verdict: 6/10
Three hours of orc slaying pushed me to breaking point. The film is redeemed by some humorous dialogue and a very cool scene were the gang are rescued by a flock of gigantic flying eagles. Fans of the book should enjoy it but others will be let down. If your husband wants to see it give him a leave pass and stay home with a Colin Firth DVD.
* Sydney’s Sutherland Shire
* The clique were given that moniker some 25 years ago. No one remembers exactly why.