Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

February 6, 2013

Little about "The Hobbit" is "Unexpected"

Rob Cox
Greensburg Daily News

FROM A Texas THEATRE — I wanted badly to like “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

Walking into that darkened theatre, the film seemed a thrilling prospect: Almost three hours transported to a magical world populated by goblins, hobbits, orcs, trolls, elves, sprites, wraiths, dragons, necromancers, wizards, wargs and witche-kings.

Unfortunately, “Hobbit” never quite grabbed me or swept me away like I’d hoped. In truth, I’m not terribly surprised, as “Hobbit” is, for the most part, everything I’ve come to expect from a movie set in Middle Earth and, more significantly, one Directed by Peter Jackson.

“Hobbit” suffers from the same flaws from which the majority of Jackson’s work suffers: Excess and indulgence.

This film is overly long and bloated, and, somewhere near the middle or final quarter of its runtime, I briefly nodded off. Not to worry though; I woke up just in time for the next epic battle of good versus evil as the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins journeys on a quest with a band of exiled dwarves to reclaim the dwarfish homeland inside Lonely Mountain.

Bilbo, who lives a happy, contended home-life in the shire, is tricked into joining the dwarves by the Wizard Gandolf the Grey and drafted to serve as the dwarves’ burglar. The job is important indeed, as the dwarves aren’t merely seeking to reclaim their homeland, but also to recapture their stolen — and quite ample — cache of gold.

“Hobbit” does have its charms, of course (which is also true for most of Jackson’s work), but it’s difficult to recommend the price of a theatre ticket to experience its spread-out and diluted appeal.

Also, one thought kept occurring to me over and over as I watched: This is one of the most unnecessary films I can remember. To that end, it just seemed as if Jackson and his valiant cast were merely going through the motions, ultimately creating a retread of Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy from a decade ago.

I also can’t help wondering where Jackson goes from here. The source novel upon which “Hobbit” is based is far shorter and far simpler than the “The Lord of the Rings.” Yet Jackson has taken a short children’s book and transformed it into a series of three films, which one assumes are also nearly three hours long. It’s a certainty there are plenty more epic battles and goblins, hobbits, orcs, trolls, elves, sprites, wraiths, dragons, necromancers, wizards, wargs and witche-kings to come.

This is a film that is, for all but the most hardcore of Jackson and J.R.R Tolkien fans, likely best suited as a rental or even as a Saturday-afternoon basic-cable diversion.

Rating: Yip

Score: 50/100

Runtime: 169 minutes

Rated PG-13 for dark themes and intense fantasy violence.

Rating System Explained: Rabies = 0; Yip = *; Bark = **; Howl = ***; Lone-wolf howl = ****; Leader of the pack = *****

Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011.