The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey / Richard Armitage / HFR: First impressions [spoilers]

rahobbitgiftbombforcharitynov2612gratianal In my opinion, there has never been a more appropriate time.

Please offer congratulations to Richard Armitage via JustGiving!

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Feeling like Shehecheyanu.

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It’s very late and I am exhausted, so this is being written in bullet points. Also, the spoiler designation will remain in Hobbit: Unexpected Journey posts until 12/25/2012. I’m definitely going to need to see this film several more times. It’s hard to see how I will be able to write about anything else for awhile.

Context:

No secret to anyone approximately where I saw this film — you know where I am at the moment and that there are only two theaters in the state showing the film in 48 fps. I drove to one of them, in a city I’m very familiar with, as opposed to the other, which is in a city I don’t know well. Here were the specs of my theater:

Screen shot 2012-12-13 at 9.59.29 PMScreen shot 2012-12-13 at 10.12.27 PM

Beyond seeing this in IMAX, this was probably the “highest tech” I could do. I was seated about 3/4 of the way up in the stadium seating in a seat about 15 degrees off center — an excellent seat. There was also some spiffy award-winning surround sound. I had a reserved seat so felt no need to skulk outside the theater, which I was grateful for; it’s not that cold for here, but I was able to spend the waiting time with a friend, from whose Internet connection I am posting, and who graciously allowed me to sleep on her sofa. The ticket cost $16.00 plus a dollar surcharge. I bought three other tickets as I wasn’t sure where I would be and was able to give two of those to friends; the third one went unused but I called the cinema to tell them they could sell it again if they wanted. They said they couldn’t. Even though I didn’t want a refund. (So yeah, actually, $16.00 would have been fine. I also had to burn half a tank of gas, roundtrip. And I had dinner. Not that I mind. I’m still within my means financially on this hobby.)

Sweet moment: as I was standing in line to pick up my ticket, the usher was saying to the woman in front of me, with two teenagers, “It gets out at 3:11 a.m.” The woman said, “OK, be standing outside, I will be here.” One teenager, a boy said, “Thank you, mom, this is the best birthday present ever.” She said, “Have fun, honey, I love you.”

This was a major event. There were chartered buses in the parking lot. The average age of the crowd in the lobby was probably sixteen and there were many clothed in various costumes. The average age of the crowd in the HFR screening I was in (one of five auditoriums at this theater for this film) was somewhat older — probably college age, though there were also noticeably more people who were above thirty. I sat next to two guys who were twenty-two.

I had no problems with nausea or disorientation — but I never have had any problem watching 3D films in the past, either. My depth perception was a little off when I got up to go, but it corrected by the time I took two steps.

48 fps:

No way around it — whatever you think of it, this film is very visually impressive. It’s definitely worth the effort to see it in HFR 3D. And I admit / remind you, I was skeptical. Honestly, I don’t know exactly what about this film was improved by the HFR, so what I am about to say is majorly unqualified. I’ll have to see a 24 fps version before I can make a comparison that’s very meaningful.

I understand that the major criticisms are that the images in the film are too light, look like TV, and have too sharp a definition. I can’t see why anyone would say this film looks television. It doesn’t; I was never reminded of television while watching it. Honestly, most of the time I wasn’t even thinking about the frame rate question — I was caught in the vision. I didn’t rewatch the LOTR films before seeing this, but to my remembered picture in mind it is, indeed, a much “brighter” color palette than those films. But there’s also plenty of dark. Honestly, there were only a handful of times where I thought that the film was too “bright” or the definition of the images was “too sharp.” So, yes, there were a few scenes where I thought, “oh, I am being special effected here and I am noticing it.” There’s a point in the Bag End scenes where the camera is wobbling, for instance, and you notice it, or sometimes when the camera gets really, really close to a face. Most of the points at which I found it jarring were either battle scenes or flashbacks. OTOH, I thought the brightness of the scene between Gollum and Bilbo — this was a scene I was prepared to despise, see below, it is one chief reason I never really liked the book — really contributed to the effect, and I was convinced by the scene. Also, there were frankly at least four places where I thought an arrow was being shot into my eye or had some perception of motion significant enough to make me jump back in my seat.

I understand one thing that 48 fps is supposed to do is smooth out action and make it less choppy. On that I can only say: this film made me feel old in that I thought it was another film made for the video game generation. If the HFR improved those scenes, that’s great, but most of them went by so quickly that it was hard for me to see what was happening. OTOH, Armitage has a few spectacular action sequences (similar to my perception of him in Captain America), and you can not only see him moving, you can also see his face. I’m sure those scenes are a combination of Richard Armitage and Mana Davis, Mark Atkin, and seven computer programmers, but it’s Armitage at the core, and it’s impressive to watch. I wonder what he thinks of it — a very different, but very effective, kind of “dance.”

I don’t know if I will get to see it again in 48 fps; the next times I see it will be in 24 fps, either 2D or 3D. It was a pain to get to this. But it was worth it to me, anyway.

The film:

[For those who have been really worried: No one need fear that they’ll have wasted their money or be hugely disappointed by it. It’s not going to be any embarrassment to Armitage’s career. I mention that not because I feared this, but because I know some readers did.]

My reaction: I really liked it, and although I felt it was occasionally uneven, in that there were a handful of scenes that bugged me, it was uneven at a very high level. And it has some absolutely fantastic moments. There is a ton of visual detail, as Armitage has been saying, that suggests that one will continue to view it just see new things — one thing that caught my eye immediately: the dragon kites in the scene just before Smaug attacks. Or one of the dwarves trying to roast a big cabbage leaf over the fire at Rivendell. The script is really well done, in my opinion, and sets us up for a conflict between Thorin, Bilbo and Gandalf that is not foregrounded in the book and which makes the film very exciting from the beginning. It falls down a bit in the scenes at Rivendell, where it occasionally feels preachy in a way that Tolkien never is, but picks up again once the dwarves are moving and have to resolve their issues with Bilbo. The script tends to be better in its dialogues than in its monologues, and above all, it really shows a transformation change in both Bilbo and Thorin in a way that shows the scriptwriters really got both the fundamental rules of dramatic character arcs and found a way to almost “enhance” matters that are in the subtext of Tolkien. It’s clear a lot of work went into it and, as I have thought before with Peter Jackson’s work, provides an interpretation that gives me a more enticing window into the work of an author that I have always found fairly opaque. Jackson’s Middle Earth may not be “your” reading of Tolkien, but to my taste, it is a strong, effective, compelling reading nonetheless.

One thing I appreciated about the film was its tempo. It never drags, despite the length. It has an attention-getting beginning, makes a humorous segue to the scenes at Bag End, and although I find all the different encounters in the book rather tedious to read, the film doesn’t have that quality at all — moving from humorous to ominous to dangerous to violent and back with a very sure touch. It gives you time to breathe when you need it, and keeps you on the edge of your seat as well. There’s plenty of hair-raising action, but I never felt plot was sacrificed just to give us one more frightening visual effect or see what else the CGI artists could do. It is, above all, I think: entertaining.

Scenes that are memorable apart from ones involving Armitage — obviously, the scenes at Bag End after the dwarves arrive — this is drawn out and simply done fantastically. Loved the dwarves throwing the dishes around. The scene with the singing is more like Tisha B’Av than Passover, but still tremendously effective, almost chilling in its intensity. They really got how that particular kind of quasi-religious singing goes — there are leaders, but there’s also interchange in the singing between the singers. Loved the ensemble play between the dwarves in the scene where they are to be eaten by something (trolls? I have a hard time telling all these beings apart, frankly, and the film didn’t change that). Loved the cure of the hedgehog by Radagast, and the scene after the stone giants sequence (visually impressive again, esp. now that I know how rough it was to film), where Bilbo tries to run away. And the two final sequences — with Azog & Co., and then looking over to Erebor — are each gripping in their own ways.

True confession: when I have reread the book, I have skipped “Riddles in the Dark” because as a reader, I find this scene totally odious. I hated it as a girl (sorry, Mr. Armitage, I know you said that was your favorite chapter), perhaps because it was pushed at us so firmly as something we should love — and all the explanation of classical and mythic parallels and the history of the riddle game have never fixed it. Gollum I found annoying. It is the point in the story at which I least like Bilbo, as well. Of course, it’s one of the climactic scenes of this film — but I will say that it’s really well done here and made it more than palatable to me. Some humorous moments are added to it (although I still don’t see how they guess the riddles so quickly, no matter how used they are to playing the game), but above all, I see for the first time how desperately afraid Bilbo must have been. So kudos to the group for fixing this for me.

Individual performances, leaving out Armitage — all the actors are strong, but there’s no huge strikingly standout performance that makes you think, wow, I will never forget seeing this performance. If anyone gets a nomination out of this, IMO, it will be Andy Serkis (who probably deserves it on principle). Martin Freeman was well cast, and seems basically to be playing a slightly nicer version of himself — he’s fine, but it’s not stunning. McKellen isn’t doing anything new here. Of the shorter performances, I thought Sylvester McCoy was the best — he’s just so crazy crazy crazy, and those eyes! Other actors I thought were great: Graham McTavish, Ken Stott, Adam Brown, James Nesbit (this surprises me, he usually annoys me). Aidan Turner and Dean O’Gorman are cute, but nothing special. Well, Aidan Turner is really cute.

Audience reaction where I was: Admittedly, anyone who makes the kind of effort to see a three hour film at midnight the night it opens is predisposed to positivity, but this is a part of the country where people still clap at films when they like them, and the film got rousing applause, as well as lots of laughs throughout — people sometimes laughed to the point of suppressing the next dialogue line — and plenty of gasps. (Admittedly, I’m not in the target audience, so I might have been more impressed by it than members of the video-game generation.) It is quite violent, however / IMO, and I will not be taking my nieces (9 and 8), who I can imagine might be ready to see it when they are, indeed, thirteen.

What you were waiting for — Richard Armitage:

Given how I was looking for Armitage in every scene, I have to concede that I am not the most objective reviewer. That said:

I was frankly surprised at how much time Thorin / Richard Armitage got — the script was really written to give him a role that wasn’t quite co-equal with Bilbo, but close. I don’t think he gets enough screen time to garner an Oscar nomination, but based on his work here, I can see that the studio might think if they start pushing him now they might get him there by the third film. His performance is chopped up — it’s really a film about the triad Gandalf, Bilbo, Thorin — but he’s better than Freeman, who seems basically to be playing himself, and at least as good as McKellen. Above all, Armitage gets better lines than McKellen, who spends a lot of time preaching the lessons we’re supposed to take from the film, so Armitage has a lot more potential to do something interesting with it.

The opening sequences — the backstory to Thorin — introduce the character to us, and Armitage gives us a clear sense of how Thorin is affected by events, above all in his eyes, but also in the way that he drops his cheeks in horror and surprise, as well as in his action movements (pulling people in to save them from Smaug). By the time you get to the scene in that opening sequence where Thorin’s been dispossessed and is working as a smith (OMG), you can see all of the elements of the personality built into the character: pride, humiliation, fatigue, determination, thwarted power. There are a few scenes that are just fantastic (although the one that Armitage described as a favorite, where Thorin realizes he’s got the key and the map and all the pieces are falling together was not necessarily on my list). In particular, his exchange with Dwalin Balin — where Dwalin Balin tells him that he’s met his responsibility and built a life for the dwarves in the Blue Mts. that is just as good as Erebor — and you see Thorin rejecting this possibility in his eyes and his demeanor. This was the only scene that brought me to tears but it was a really sudden emotional jolt. The way he begins the song at Bag End. The scenes with McKellen are uniformly excellent — I don’t what McKellen thinks of Armitage’s work, but boy, does Armitage get a rise out of McKellen.

My favorite scenes of his, and this surprises me a bit, especially given some things that Armitage has said, were those in which Thorin was encountering Azog — both in the initial fight, when Thorin believes Azog destroyed, and then when Thorin encounters him again near the end of the film. The latter one is particularly moving, and I’ve been sitting now for an hour trying to figure out why. I think it’s because everything coincides — the face, the clear motion of emotions across Armitage’s face, as if it were a screen (from anger to rage to fear to spite), the motion of the body in swordfighting — and the amazing way that Thorin walks out of that tree to come back and confront Azog, that is a walk for the ages, given that you know what the odds of Thorin triumphing must be, and he goes right into it, anyway — and what we see in Armitage’s wounded body when we believe that Thorin has lost. It’s like everything works together in these scenes (and seems amazing because most of it must have been done with effects, as Azog is fully animated), the timing of everything is perfect, and the division between emotion and action is gone — it’s just all feeling somehow. When I go back to the theater I will be looking at these scenes again.

One thing you have to say — the camera just loves Armitage’s face, and Jackson must have seen that early on. This is not to say that how Armitage looks is the most significant part of his performance — I don’t feel that at all — but from the first moment you see him, you’re glued to the screen. He really has an astounding big screen magnetism and I wouldn’t have necessarily guessed that from having watched him on small screens all this time. But all the things we love about his features and eyes come to best advantage here — the sclera, his capacity to narrow his eyes from the bottom almost unnoticeably but in a way we immediately notice (if that makes sense), his look up from under the eyebrows, the occasional eyebrow flutter of distress, and then, at the very end, the brimming-eyed smile. The effectiveness of the eyes is built up by how often we see Thorin with a dirty face. Yet, although I can recognize pieces of Armitage I’ve seen before, Thorin is his own man, his own character, in ways much more starkly than (say) Lucas North or John Porter — while Armitage is still playing the pride / humiliation axis like nobody’s business, he does it largely without hand gestures, which I found really interesting. If there was a clear escalation of stillness as he moved from his early TV roles to Mr.Thornton, Armitage has moved even further here. The result is an oddly stark emotionality that we haven’t seen before from him and that is often hugely effective. I can see the possibility that some critics might find his face too still, but there’s a striking, at times deafening simplicity in his features. It’s peculiarly effective in the scene where Bilbo tries to steal away, ends up talking to Bofur, and Thorin is supposed to be sleeping, but is silently observing the exchange.

All in all — Armitage’s is one of the strongest performances in this film. I want to say that if there is a standpoint performance in this film, it’s Armitage and I think that’s true even laying aside my fandom, but I’m not that confident anymore of my objectivity. In any case — for a first big screen outing in an important role, this is amazing. People are going to see this and remember it. But I think, above all, that Armitage will see this and remember it and learn. It’s something he can really be proud of. When he’s on the screen, he fills it up.

Me personally:

I was immensely moved by parts of this film: as I said above, Thorin’s refusal of Dwalin’s compliment. In particular one quote stuck with me: Gandalf to Thorin as they enter Rivendell: “The only ill will you will find in this valley is that which you bring with you” (paraphrasing). The whole question of what it is that Thorin is willing to accomplish and what kind of companions he needs to help him. There’s a lot here for me. Not just the swords.

~ by Servetus on December 14, 2012.

54 Responses to “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey / Richard Armitage / HFR: First impressions [spoilers]”

  1. I watched it yesterday and am going to post my impressions shortly – albeit fairly basic ones. I was a bit of an emotional wreck when I left the cinema…and I’m not sure that I can fully explain why. The scenes that moved me were at the end … in particular, the eagles. That is a scene I believe RA said had moved him almost to tears on one of the occasions he had watched it and as I watched it, that thought crossed my mind and I felt so choked!

    Wonderful film!

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  2. Thank you for confirming all that I expected. I get to see the film Monday night in Sevilla and I can hardly wait. Phooey on objectivity; I am ready to be stunned.

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  3. Awesome review- I quite agree with you!

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  4. Perhaps I’ve seen too many movies lately, but alas I wasn’t as impressed, despite my fandom. HFR is absolutely not a problem for me, my local cinema* is showing all 3 formats and for my second viewing I’m opting to go see the regular 2D. I can see where the 48fps added extra layers, but overall I did not love the effects it achieved. It succeeded in showcasing the impressive beauty of NZ, but to me personally that was it.
    Of course this is about the overall look of the movie, not the story itself. There were parts where I felt the movie lulled and could have been edited better. Radagast is charming, but I wasn’t enamored with his stint. I really did like Thorin’s backstory, I was worried in how they were going to explain his quest. Riddles in the dark was very well done, but the one true character I’m truly curious about is Beorn. Alas that will be pt.2 and I will have to wait a year to see that portrayal.
    All in all I had rather mixed feelings, I was absolutely prepared to love it, but went away finding it merely OK. Good but not great.
    Of course it could also be that I’m just overly critical.

    *I must add, my local cinema doesn’t require a long trek, it’s within walking distance. So our preparations to go see a movie couldn’t be more different. 🙂

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    • I could have seen it in 24 fps 3D within easy driving distance — the 48 fps was only showing in two theaters in the state. I wonder if they have plans to expand that. I think it contributed to my nervousness because the whole thing had to be planned with fairly strong precision.

      Rereading this now after sleeping on it, I think I am still in synch with what I said in this review as initial impressions (probably will be till I see it again). I would probably state more strongly my feeling that the film slows (too much) at Rivendell, particularly in the scene with Saruman. I also found the scene where Gandalf is preaching about how the thing to do is small deeds of kindness tedious last night and more tedious upon reflection. In essence, I agree with the points the character makes, but having them preached is annoying. As is the scene where Gandalf tells Bilbo that knowing when not to kill is a sign of something or other (bravery? greatness?). We could have had this point made extremely well just watching Bilbo debate whether to kill Gollum — we wouldn’t have needed the sermon beforehand.

      I would say that as a film, it was better than OK, but I didn’t leave the theater thinking, wow, this is the greatest thing EVER. (But not because I didn’t like the HFR, either). This is not the kind of film I tend to like, though, especially. I did leave it very satisfied with the experience and wanting to see it again. And like ItsJSforMe, I wondered how I will wait a whole year!

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      • Agreed, Rivendell could have been edited tighter, much tighter, but I think they stretched it so PJ could give Cate Blanchett more than just a minute cameo.

        I’ve just seen the regular 2D version, and my opinion on the movie has improved. I definitely was more in the story than I was with the HFR version. So I think I’d rather opt for the regular 3D & 2D, the finer details distracted me just too much to enjoy it fully.

        There’s also an IMAX version, but that one is in another town. Never done that before, so that might be another option. 😉

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        • I’d be curious to see it in IMAX simply because most of the IMAX films I’ve seen have been really spectacular. Will be seeing the 2D version soon.

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          • Just saw TH in IMAX 3D, 48 fps and it was astonishing! There were two or three brief moments where it felt as though background or periphery were blurred, but overall the film looked great in this format. I usually dislike 3D and felt the standard rate 3D previews giving me a headache, but that was not the case once the feature presentation started. I think the higher frame rate makes a much smoother 3D viewing experience. And there is nothing wrong with a very, very clear image of Thorin!

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  5. Also- part where my heart broke- Thorin dropping the Oakenshield. The whole movie could have been crap and I wouldn’t have minded, that part just beautifully illustrated that PJ and RA knew exactly what Thorin and his Oakenshield was about. And a beautiful/heartbreaking bit of foreshadowing, a perfect way to end Part 1.

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  6. ohhhhhh I loved reading this …. and made me laugh with what looks like Tisha ve Av , I hope they send me the DVD and it will take time, but I think fasinante everything all that you tell … the truth is that Richard’s eyes speak for themselves

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    • I read your post last night where you said you were nervous but didn’t know why and my take on that was it’s like going to see your children in their school play. You’re nervous about them remembering their parts and hoping they don’t do something to embarress themselves (or you — my kids tend to do the unexpected). Most of the reviews I’ve read haven’t given RA great reviews, but not bad either. I wasn’t planning to see the movie until next week, but after reading your reactions I may have to see it sooner — I’m starting to get really excited now. And I noticed this morning, The Hobbit is everywhere — local radio, TV, internet. It is done.

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      • That’s a great simile, sloan — and I think, yeah, I came back to my friend’s house (hi, FRIEND!) with a huge feeling of relief as well as having enjoyed it.

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    • None of the actors are Jews, so it surprised me a bit — that scene has a sort of sad, niggun-like quality to it, as when someone takes up a melody and then people join in but the melody takes on its own trajectory, except in a sad way (not like Shabbat), which made me think of people sitting on the floor of a shul at Tisha B’av, humming a mournful melody. It’s really striking.

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  7. Even though this is not a ringing endorsement of the film, you’ve made me even more anxious to see it — and very glad to hear that it was so appealing re: RA! What a great, painstaking, and kind review. I’m off to see it this weekend if I can garner a ticket….

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    • it’s so hard to review things when you’re replaying them in your head. I took a pencil along and a notepad but I stopped taking notes after the first fifteen minutes. Was enjoying it too much. Really eager to know what you (and Partner) think.

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      • Oh, you’ll be hearing from me. I’m so excited that RA’s role is so large — I really think this is going to be a huge break for him.

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        • Excellent!

          I think it’s already been a break for him. Of course, he’s been very quiet about what he’s doing next.

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  8. A great review! Thanks! My hubby and I will see it in 3D 24fps this evening–no 48 fps within a 2 hour driving distance. But I can’t wait to see it!

    Chicago is our nearest 3D HFR. So, I will definitely have to go again to see the film in 48fps. Any RA gal pals up for joining me at the movies if I road trip to Chicago some Saturday for a matinee?

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  9. I once feared to see the film, thinking I might be disappointed or too nervous but that faded when Richard started doing the interviews and was so keen for everyone to see it I thought it could not be all be hype.
    I saw it in 3D 24fps and its great. The time flew by and when it ended my youngest was sad. We could have watched another hour!
    Graham Norton on TV with Martin Freeman. I might watch and try not to get too mad.
    Back to the film loved the Troll scene especially when Thorin kicked Kili to stop him spoiling Bilbo’s attempt to stop them from being eatien because they were worm ridden.

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  10. Great review, Servetus! I totally agree. I was really looking forward to your analysis, so I’m glad you enjoyed it as much as you did. But I want to pick a nit: The wise old dwarf to whom Thorin speaks the lines about loyalty, honor and a willing heart is Balin. He’s got the long white chin-strap beard.
    His brother (the Hell’s Angel dwarf) is Dwalin.

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    • Sorry about that. Fixed it. Loved his line: “we’ll see it done, laddie.”

      Although I felt like all dwarves are either Scots or Irish …

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      • Evidently, that was a deliberate choice — John Rhys-Davies, who played Gimli in LOTR, did a Scots accent, so there’s that precedent. Then within the gang here, the different family groups have different accents: Bofur (James Nesbitt) Bombur and presumably Bifur, if he spoke, would all speak with an Irish accent. Balin and Dwalin, both played by Scotsmen, have Scots accents, and so on. Not sure what accents Dori Nori and Ori have, but they would be another family unit.

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  11. I was awaiting your review/comments thinking that I would have to wait to see it until Monday when an opportunity presented itself and I was able to see it yesterday (Friday) in 24FPS 3D. Since my husband and I adopted our daughter 4 years ago, we haven’t had many chances to go to the movies and yesterday I remembered how great it was to really lose yourself in a movie. I really enjoyed the scenes that took place either in nature or on a set; I liked less the scenes where a lot of CGI was used – they seemed overdone (so many goblins!) It was thrilling to see RA in something new and he looks and acts really regal here. But in many scenes, I kept waiting for him to use his forehead and eyebrows to express what he was feeling and I couldn’t help thinking that he was hampered by the prosthetic. In other work he has done, he has so effectively conveyed his emotions with these muscles, that I almost felt a sense of loss here (I’m not trying to be dramatic.) As you mention above, he made good use of his eyes. Did you get this impression at all?
    The theater was hushed during the singing (except for the woman behind me crinkling a plastic bag – ha ha) which nearly gave me chills.
    I may have a chance soon to see it in 48FPS 3D (in French, which I suppose is better than nothing, but I am sure the voices used for Thorin, Bilbo and Gandalf won’t compare with the originals.)
    Thanks again for keeping us up-to-date.

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    • Thanks for weighing in calexania — I’m glad you had such a good time.

      I think the prosthetic was at work, but I also think that he’s been on a general trajectory for years of editing his facial expressions. What I saw here that I never saw before in his characters was an incredible amount of scorn, arrogance, etc. — and I don’t know how badly he needs his eyebrows for that. I thought the look of arrogance on his face, and especially in his eyes, the first time he enters Bag End, was astoundingly powerful.

      So I don’t know, will have to see it again.

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      • To be honest, I have long thought that he crinkles too much. So if he crinkles less, I won’t mind.

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      • I am revisiting this comment now that I have seen The Hobbit 4 times in all formats, except IMAX, which I just discovered is playing in the Transport Museum in Lucerne in English (and I am now trying to figure out the logistics of a trip there.) I am now almost completely convinced that the minimal or near absent contraction of the muscles in the forehead by the actors playing the dwarves is deliberate; the physionomy of dwarves seems to include a dominant brow structure (and I remind myself that they are not human.) And I think it possible that the overall tone of the movie is one of reduced emotion or at least one of reduced emotion as expressed by the face (think of the elves.) I have always thought that RA, compared to other actors, uses all of himself while acting (his body, his voice and his face) all while remaining very still which really draws the eye. I think he has been challenged here to use other parts of himself – I really noticed how he uses his voice and how, as you mention above, he uses his eyes, looking up from underneath his brows and showing a lot of the white under his irises (which can’t be easy to do.) I know I say it each time I comment, but I really do appreciate you keeping us up-to-date with all things Armitage (no. 4 on IMDB – WOW!) Now, do you think my family would mind if I slip away from our Xmas trip to the Valais for a few days in Lucerne?

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        • I agree — upon repeated watching you can see Armitage’s actual forehead in some scenes. He’s not moving it as much.

          Good luck!

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  12. Thanks for your review! I went to the website of the next cinema that offers HFR and was greeted by Andy, Martin and Richard! So I’m considering that now…

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  13. […] Premiere in London, and then premiere of the film for general audiences. I immediately buried my own review but it’s here. […]

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    • I had butterflies in my stomach when I went to see the Hobbit last night because I was finally going to see RA on the big screen after waiting for over 2 years. But I will have to say again, I wonder what would have been if Guillermo del Toro had directed the movie (not sure if he’s jewish or not).

      Unlike most of the critics, I liked the beginning better than the last two thirds. I didn’t expect to see so much of Thorin in the opening scenes and RA was beautiful to behold — his charisma literally filling the screen during the opening battle scenes. Martin Freeman was delightful as Bilbo running around fretting while the dwarves tore up his hobbit hole. I laughed out loud during those scenes. And then Thorin showed up and things got even better — especially the singing of Misty Mountain.

      It was when the journey started that it got boring for me. After awhile I felt like I was watching a different version of 1960’s movie Jason and the Argonauts – right down to the one-eyed monsters. I tried to stay awake during the riddles scene with Bilbo and Gollum but wound up falling asleep during the visit with the elves. RA was riveting in the beginning so it was unfortunate he didn’t have more to do than stare longingly into the distance for most of the movie.

      I imagine you need to be a technical geek to really want to see this movie and maybe if I’d seen the movie in 48fps I would have been more impressed. However I wasn’t impressed with the 3D version. I couldn’t tell the difference when I had the glasses on and when I didn’t and actually preferred the image without the dirty 3D glasses.

      I knew going into this the Hobbit wasn’t my type of movie, so I’m hoping RA does with Thorin what he did with Guy and by the time the 3rd movie rolls around Thorin will be a fleshed-out character I care about.

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      • I think the Wired review agrees with you on the “Argonauts” point. I didn’t have that issue, but I can understand why someone might make that point — it’s a sort of typical plot in a children’s book that might not translate well to the screen, but at the same time as part of the myth, can it really be left out?

        I thought the elves scenes were also mostly superfluous.

        I’m optimistic w/r/t your last point. I think he made a big step in that direction so far. Particularly with his arrogance — everytime he meets another ruler he’s rude — it makes me wonder what in his life has made him uncharitable and sort of directly unregal.

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  14. […] on twitter for the first time. Watching the production diary of Richard Armitage in the powhiri. Getting to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 3D HFR after waiting for so […]

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  15. […] Didn’t get to see the film until two weeks later, but it didn’t disappoint. […]

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