|The Hobbit, part 1. But why three parts?|
FLIP: This is one of the most eagerly anticipated films of the year. Does it live up to expectations?
Andreas: Well, it’s fun to journey back to Middle Earth, see some familiar faces and plenty of new ones - and in 3D and with double the frame rate, no less. But if you wondered, like me, why a rather slight book needs the same running time, over three movies, as its big brother, The Lord of the Rings, wonder no more.
This is achieved by adding subplots and by dragging out every dialogue scene beyond what is dramatically necessary, throwing in a ditty or two for good measure. The action scenes are sometimes spectacular, sometimes feel like a videogame and are almost always too long. The increased frame rate makes for a super sharp TV picture that I found to be rather distracting. With every detail in extreme focus, it robs some scenes of atmosphere and in the big action set pieces, it makes it hard to direct the eye to what is important.
Martin Freeman makes a great young Bilbo Baggins and the movie comes alive when Ian McKellen’s Gandalf is on the screen. No motion capture character is ever as engaging as Sir Ian lifting an eyebrow and delivering the dialogue with Shakespearean gravitas.
A friend turned to me after the credits and said:” this felt like a very expensive BBC special”, and I had thought the exact same thing.
But don’t take my word for it - go make up your own minds.
Editor's note: The Hobbit - an Unexpected Journey will be in wide release in the USA from December 14th.
You can also see Bob Thompson's technical notes on The Hobbit here: