With a press blackout in place, New Line and MGM would normally chide me for publishing a review.
However my aversion to actually watching any movie not already on TCM frees me up for this week’s insight into a long awaited prequel.
But first a word on HFR or high frame rate format (48-frames-per-second).
Director Peter Jackson is said to have employed this revolutionary new method providing superior depth and quality.
However, be warned. This technique was only used to shoot footage for the trailer. The movie itself appears poorly lit—with inappropriate shadows or bright and washed out.
This is precisely the look craved by studio executives.
Though Jackson fought against it, in the end he was compelled to mimic the success of features such as Paranormal Activity I – XV.
As a result, we’re presented with a high adventure set in a mythical world and told via “found footage.”
We open on Hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) filming himself as he sets up black and white security cameras around his house because someone has been throwing apples at his door. Gandalf the wizard (Ian McKellen) strolls up and mugs for the cameras, then lifts his robes and flashes the lens. (SPOILER: He is wearing boxer shorts with prancing unicorns.)
Later inside, more cameras record the grainy arrival of thirteen over-caffeinated dwarves. Over the course of a long series of down angles, Gandalf, Bilbo and the dwarves plot to recover a distant kingdom currently held by an evil dragon.
The next day Bilbo rushes out of his Hobbit house into a bright May morning without a handkerchief but with an 8MM movie camera and a tape recorder that he subsequently uses to ‘document’ his unexpected journey.
While a popular horror film staple, the found footage business doesn’t really set well in the rugged outdoors of Middle Earth. Many scenes appear to have the production values of a 1975 adult film shot in a park.
Based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, The Hobbit, the screenplay was written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro. But the story has been lengthened to a trilogy of features, the idea being that if you liked part of the movie, you’ll keep paying to see the other parts to see the remainder of the story.
In addition, new characters appear such as Clovis the Green, a wizard obsessed with recycling and environmental issues. Whenever a dwarf tosses a mutton bone over his shoulder, Clovis is there to pick it up and issue a snide little remark such as “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, shorty.”
Pointy hats off to Hayley Ness for work as an additional makeup artist. Whenever the call goes out for “more makeup over here,” you can relax knowing that Hayley will be there, trowel in hand, to apply as much—or more—as needed.
Five stars because I never got to review Lord of the Rings and I really liked it.