Friday, May 16, 2014

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey review

Hey guys... Sorry I haven't blogged in 2 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days.  But truth to be told, very few people read my blog, so the chances are that you're probably not bothered!
I've almost finished a part time English Course that I've been doing and my final homework is to write a persuasive piece of text on whatever subject I like.
I have chosen to write a review of the first part of a trilogy of films. The trilogy is based on a beloved children’s book called ‘the Hobbit’ by J.R.R Tolkien. It is also a prequel to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy of films. I’m reviewing the first installment, which is called ‘Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’, directed by Peter Jackson. I’m going to be looking at how it works as both a film and an adaption of J.R.R Tolkien’s original tale. Through writing this review, I hope to answer the question, “Can film directors remain true to famous authors’ characterisation and exceptional story telling while dramatizing the scenes for the cinema world? Here we go!

My feelings towards it as a film are that it’s a very fun and entertaining ride. It is able to take you into a great fantasy world full of Hobbits, Wizards, Dwarfs, Goblins, Orks and Elves. It also feels like it’s being made by people who genuinely respect, love and care for the source material.  It’s full of excitement, and is a really well made and put together piece of entertainment.

Now, let’s talk about how well it works as an adaption of the book. Overall, it follows the book pretty well, and it certainly has the Spirit of the Hobbit book. However, it’s not an extremely close adaption! There are changes that have been made. I’m ok with most of the changes, and I even really like some of them. A film experience is quite different from a book, so when adapting a book into a film, certain things need to be changed to make it a better film experience. For example: in the book, Gandalf asks Bilbo to go on an adventure with him, because his mother 'Belladonna Took' loved going on adventures, so Gandalf thought Bilbo’s Tookish side would have a chance to come out when on the adventure. In the film however, Gandalf asked Bilbo because he remembered that as a child, Bilbo loved adventure and danger. But when Gandalf came back, he was disappointed because Bilbo had become stuffy and conservative! I think this change gives Bilbo a more interesting character ark. There are also a few other changes to the story, but for the most part, it is fairly loyal to the book. Some scenes are even just like watching the book on screen.

The film doesn’t just take content from the Hobbit book. It draws from some of Tolkien’s other writings. It’s about far more than just the titled character. There is also other backstory and changes from the book added to make the Hobbit fit in better with the already existing Lord of the Rings trilogy. Some book purists don’t like the fact that they’ve done that, but I personally like it. One very important thing to remember is that the Hobbit book and the Lord of the Rings books (despite the fact that they take place in the same universe) are just so different in tone. The Lord of the Rings is epic, dark and terrifying, whereas the Hobbit is a more light-hearted adventure for children.

The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings don’t line up that well when you read them together. There are quite a few continuity errors, and things that don’t add up. So Peter Jackson has made the Hobbit darker like Lord of the Rings. He has also made changes to make it fit better with the Lord of the Rings, but it still isn’t as dark or as epic as the Lord of the Rings was. It still has a more light-hearted tone. It still feels like the Hobbit, but the tone is more like The Lord of the Rings than the book was. 

The fact is that they really had to make it darker, because if they hadn’t, hardcore fans of the Lord of the Rings films would go into the Hobbit expecting another Epic like Lord of the Rings, and they would find themselves disappointed. Even as it is, people have been disappointed that it’s not as dark as the Lord of the Rings is, and that’s when the tone has been darkened. In my opinion if they hadn’t changed it at all, it simply wouldn’t work as a prequel to the Lord of the Rings.

However, because does have the Spirit of the book as well as a more dark tone like LOTR, one problem is that the tone is quite inconsistent. It feels like it shifts all the time. One scene it feels like a kids film, and another scene it feels much more like its for adults. But because there's so many people to please, it would be hard to find a way round that. The Desolation of Smaug's tone is far more consistently dark, but I felt like that instalment departed a little too far from the book, but I'm not here to talk about that yet. 

To conclude, I would say that An Unexpected Journey is a great film that follows the book fairly well, but it still has changes if it is to fit better with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I'm going to give An Unexpected Journey 9/10. I wouldn't say it's a perfect film, but is near perfect to me if that makes any sense. There are some pacing issues, and the tone can be inconsistent at times (which was an issue even in the Lord of the Rings films to a certain extent), but I personally was fully entertained by it. It's not up to the high level of the Original trilogy, but neither is the book. 

Now, back to the original question, “Can film directors remain true to famous authors’ characterization and exceptional story telling while dramatising the scenes for the cinema world?” To answer this, I’d say that some books are easier to adapt into films than others. Whatever book you’re adapting, the chances are changes are going to have to be made in order to make it a better film experience. Books and films are rather different from each other. What may work in a book may not work in a film and vice-versa. I’d still say that most of the time yes, film directors could stay true to the authors’ intentions with their final film product. Obviously some book-film adaptions do this better than others. For example, the film Eragon did a horrible job of adapting the book it was based off into a film, but when there’s enough care and effort put into the film script, I believe that it can be done.