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‘The Hobbit’ scores at the box-office, but is it too long?


While I do not believe The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey had sufficient reason to broach the three hour mark –there were too many stalls between set pieces- I feel I cannot judge it harshly until the series is finished. Part of the reason is this story is so much different than what preceded it, The Lord of the Rings. While some might argue that the book may have deserved one long film, or perhaps two as originally envisioned, it’s still a great accomplishment in expanding small passages in the novel so that nothing is left out- something that was forced in Jackson’s take on Tolkien’s later trilogy. Because, in a sense, where first series was expansive, with so much more hanging in the balance, by comparison, The Hobbit is smaller, more personal adventure. Or, as someone else put it, The Hobbit is small war story, versus The Lord of The Rings end of the world scenario. So the scale is much different, the goals are smaller, and it’s held together through Martin Freeman’s role as Bilbo Baggins as well as Richared Armitage’s fine performance as Thorin Oakenshield and Ian McKellen’s return as Gandalf. It shows that you can take a franchise and still make it beautiful, compelling and fun without resorting to paint-by-number tricks. Even the in 3D, Jackson does not resort to throwing things towards the screen. Well that’s partially untrue. I noticed many times that he had birds and debris trying to break out, but nothing that obvious.

The best part of the film is when Gollum shows up, and without a doubt this scene between him and Bilbo is the crown jewel of this first film.  Like the original trilogy, to believe the CGI character of Gollum to be real, you need the performance of the actor to shine through. Andy Serkis –who will now probably be long remembered as the Godfather of motion capture- delivers another extraordinary performance as Gollum. There is subtly, there is horror, and there is heartbreak with in this tortured soul, and Serkis is able to capture that in his voice and the animators are able to translate it.

Meanwhile, the film took in a December breaking box-office record of nearly $85 million, the best opening of a film in that month since 2007’s I Am Legend. Worldwide it took in an additional $138 million, giving its first week gross at over $217 million. While it was not the slam dunk some analyst hoped for, in the long term, this series should easily make gross enough for Warner Bros to make a profit eventually on DVD/Blu ray sales and merchandising.

Beyond its length issue –which begs the question since two films are becoming three, will those be shorter films- it’s still a worthwhile film. But I will agree that the film is being marketed wrong –its connection to LOTR notwithstanding, there should be a design to entice new viewers. I think that’s what affected its potential box-office total here –too many non-fans are taking a wait-and-see attitude I think.

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  1. Chris Davis says
    December 18, 2012, 1:08 am

    The one thing I always hate is when critics say the director did not follow the book or its way long and last but not least the script is so bad all the stars are wooden and it a combination of the director and screen writer. This movie is everything I wanted it to be on all levels. I know Peter Jackson took me back to middle earth and I thank him with all of my heart. He tells his story so well and so beautifully the time the end came I found myself wishing the second movie would start up this is only complaint that I could not pay to see them all in a row. People who say Peter Jackson took to much liberties with the story that the book was short so the why the long movie I would like to believe he did it for his fans. When I hear people say foul I like the book I say stay in the damn library . I saw the movie Firestarter I hated it because I read the book many times and my visions of the carectors were so far from the moviei hated it but it was a well made movie I think that’s what’s going on here so many people want the book word for word I say stay out of the theaters and spend there time in the libraries . I enjoyed all aspects the casting the story line the stars Peter Jackson just made 3d worth buying again it worked so well throughout the whole movie not just hear and there the frame rate gave us just a breath taking event


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