I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. To me, the most important thing was for the story to be told in a beautiful, touching and exciting way, and it was.
So, total win.
If you’re read this blog before, here’s what you probably want to know: Yes, Richard Armitage was superb. Thorin’s pain and anger and doubt shimmered right off the screen, and I almost didn’t need the backstory that laid out the reasons for his character’s inner turmoil. Well, of course I enjoyed seeing Erebor and the battles and stuff, but I felt I understood this lonely and tormented person even without all that.
RA’s ability to vividly convey his character’s emotions is why he’s so captivating to watch, and seeing him play a passionate, burdened soul like Thorin is a treat. He really does fill up the screen with feeling, and Peter Jackson is with him every step of the way, showing his haunted eyes and his heroic stature at every turn (which probably wasn’t all that easy to do, dwarves being so short and all). Considering the entire three movies, though, I have a feeling that this movie will be my favorite part of Thorin’s story — when he’s heroic and purely good, despite his stubborn, proud and antagonistic nature.
Credit Where Credit Is Due Department: Martin Freeman was also great. His acting job has to be subtle, because Bilbo just doesn’t do searing, epic emotional stuff. He’s human (okay, he’s a hobbit) so he’s got to be real. So his performance is all about timing and balance, and MF really knocks it out of the park. He was perfect, so fussy and funny and terrified and resourceful and brave.
And of course, Ian McKellen was a joy and a delight. Gandalf was even better this time around, because he really got to be one of the guys on the quest. He gets pissed off at Thorin, he fights goblins with panache, and he is generally wise and witty and warm. (Note: What is it with me and conjunctions today?)
I haven’t even gotten to Andy Serkis, who was also brilliant. Total Oscar-worthiness, with the complex range of emotions he brings out — the loneliness, the craziness, the murderousness. The Riddles in the Dark sequence was brilliant. Brilliant, do you hear me, Academy people?
Okay, there were a ton of wonderful performances. I liked Radagast a lot! Could have done without the bird poop, but his manic hippie wizard was so cute. Also Elrond, Galadriel, all the dwarven company (my special faves were Balin and Dwalin. And Ori. Fili and Kili were cool, too. And…oh, I’ll shut up now, they were all good). I especially liked the Goblin King, whom I didn’t expect to like at all. He was a great bad guy.
Which leads me to the one thing I wasn’t thrilled with: Azog. I thought he was boringly one-dimensional, especially in comparison with the Goblin King, who could have been every bit as underdeveloped but was totally awesome instead. In contrast, Azog was very useful for goosing the story along and making the dwarves run when they could have been walking, but he was a big zero, personality-wise. It just makes you think how much meat a good actor can put on the bare bones of a character.
Still, despite the fact that Azog = Relentless Evil, the climax of this installment was epic and exciting. Then the whole story was topped off with a wonderful moment in the developing relationship between Thorin and Bilbo. This is what made this movie great for me, that there was a good balance between the action/adventure and the emotional journey of the characters. It’s actually an improvement on the book, which doesn’t do a very good job of character development.
Now, this is what I wish I hadn’t done: Seen so many spoilers. I spoiled myself silly, and it’s all my fault. It lessened my enjoyment of the movie, because I’d seen quite a bit in the trailers, clips, vlogs, reviews, speculations, interviews and sneak peeks. I should have limited myself to just the production vlogs and avoided seeking out all the other stuff. But I reasoned that it was okay, since I didn’t want to be too blown away the first time I saw the whole movie. Next time, I won’t get spoiled. As much.
Motion sickness? Well, some of the swooping camera shots kind of made me queasy even in 2D, but it wasn’t that bad and I suspect that any problems people experience are not related to HFR but to the way the camera is handled.
I will be watching it again, and probably in 3D and HFR, because I think it will be even more beautiful than in 2D. But no matter what the format, I think the way the story of The Hobbit is told here is nothing short of a masterpiece, and I’m ready for the next installment.