I'm not even going to attempt to keep secrets here. Turn back now if you don't want spoilers.
OK you must not care about being spoiled, so here goes.
I think I may have read the book long ago. I know I watched the animated special a few times and enjoyed it. So now it's on the big screen.
The feel - It felt just like any of the Lord of the Rings movies. They even went to some of the same locations, and had pretty much the same encounters with whatever creatures live there. It almost felt predictable when they were in the rocky plains and the *wogs?* attacked. You know, those huge dog things that the orcs like to ride. This was so predictable as to border on inevitability, having seen Lord of the Rings.
The quest - It was a lot like LOR in that they had to travel a long distance through dangerous terrain and weird villains to get to some distant magical place. But it really bordered on the insane. Remember, this is not the Lord of the Rings. In LOR, the orcs were starting to conquer the whole world, so naturally it wouldn't be safe to travel anywhere. In times of peace, like this supposedly was, it should be much much easier to do the equivalent of driving from Idaho to Wisconsin. There shouldn't be 50 monsters per mile trying to kill you.
While we're on the subject, how did these Dwarves ever get to the Shire in the first place? Wouldn't they have had to hike from their destination the whole way back to Bag End? And now they want to hike the whole way back again. It makes little sense to me why this would be. In light of the dangers involved, it strains credulity. At the end of the movie, Gandalf summons the giant eagles and they are Ex Machina-ed right out of trouble to a rocky mound where they could see their destination - the Lonely Mountain. But it was still a good 40-50 miles away. Why not just fly them a few more miles? For that matter, why not have them fly to the Shire, pick up Bilbo, and fly him to the Lonely Mountain where the Dwarves were already waiting? Yes, I understand that if they had flown there they would never have found the cool swords or the One Ring. But that only makes sense if Gandalf knew beforehand that these things would happen so let's walk the whole way.
The characters - mostly forgettable except for Bilbo and the ones you already knew from LOR like Gandalf and the Elves. Thorin Oakenshield stood out among the Dwarves but the rest all blurred into a meaningless gray soup. There was the weird looking one. The old one. The bald one with weird tattoos on his head. The one who looks like he really needs a bath. The other weird one. The other one who needs a bath. Weird one #3. Etc. They mentioned their names, but none of them was really exceptional enough to make me memorize who was who.
The journey - far too perilous for any sane person to travel, even for a mountain of gold. It was to the point where the Dwarves must be just plain stupid. Especially when we hear the back-story of how the Dwarves had to fight the orcs who were trying to take the gold. Duh, let them. Smaug would have killed them all and their problem would be solved. But no, they wanted to fight them first and kill off most of the surviving Dwarf population. Pure idiocy. It felt like nearly half of the movie was scenes of them running through the wastelands.
But what did they eat the whole time? Wasn't this a problem at all? Hobbits are known for their appetites. The Dwarves ate all the food in Bilbo's house at the beginning of the movie. They can eat food. So what did they eat on their journey? I didn't see them eat very much. Even in Rivendale where the Elves decided to feed them, they found most of the food inedible. This wasn't such a problem in LOR because the Hobbits had the Elvish waybread. But there was no mention of that in this movie.
The battles - they were wholly, utterly, and completely unbelievable. In LOR they had far more epic battles but they were for the most part believable. I especially liked how the Dwarf and Elf were competing for kills on the battlefield. It became charmingly comical. Not so in The Hobbit. These Dwarves were not in the same class as Gimli or Legolas. They just weren't. They were bumblers. Amateurs. There was no way that these guys could fight off an infinite horde of orcs, goblins, or whatever, especially on an empty stomach.
TWICE in the movie, the enemy had captured every last Dwarf and was about to eat them. But then yadda yadda yadda they all got free. Wait, what? I must have missed the part where they became awesome. The part with the Goblin King was pretty bad. He was clearly intelligent. So when he captured them, why did he keep their weapons right next to them as he taunted them? It makes no sense, especially if Dwarves are known for their ability to defeat an infinite number of foes in a battle. But then if that was true, then how did the Dwarves lose so many in that big flashback battle? Again, it just doesn't add up. You're either that awesome or you're not.
Also, I must add that if you're running at full speed to get away from an infinite number of enemies (they always were) then it is not possible to defend yourself from them attacking from behind. In LOR, Boromir was a much more awesome warrior than all of these Dwarves combined, but even he fell when he was badly outnumbered. In The Hobbit, the Dwarves were even more outnumbered most of the time, and they didn't fall. I almost wish they had started with 30 Dwarves just so half of them could get killed and make this thing more realistic. Seriously? Not one of these Dwarves died after all that? It's just not possible. Not only that but it undersells the immense danger they were in. Lose half the Dwarves and now it's more of an achievement to reach your goal. It was like those old A-Team TV shows where everyone is shooting machine guns at each other and nobody ever gets hit. Or maybe those lame Star Wars prequels where the battle droids could never hit anything or anybody with their lasers, so why have them? Or in the Land of the Lost series where the Sleestak could never kill anything with their crossbows. Are you sensing a pattern here? Surely one of these Dwarves would have died (really they all should have). No lucky sword thrust. No lucky arrow. Not even so much as an arrow through the forearm so you can say, "It's just a scratch." Nothing like that.
Especially when the rock giants were fighting (for no apparent reason either). That didn't kill any of the Dwarves? They can't be this good or this lucky. Where were these invincible Dwarves in that flashback battle where so many other Dwarves lost their lives?
And just looking at the logistics of it all, what do all these Goblins eat? That Goblin King certainly didn't miss many meals. Do they go out at night and raid the lands for cattle? Do they grow corn? Except for the first half hour or so, and maybe the part with the trolls, this movie glosses over the whole concept of food. A billion Goblins would terrorize the countryside. They can't just hide in a cave. There would be signs up in a hundred mile radius. Nobody would come hear the Goblin lands.
If it felt like half the movie was them running through the wilderness, it felt like the other half was them cheating death by not dying like they should have.
The goal - There it is, the Lonely Mountain! The End.
So wait, this whole movie amounts to us going from Idaho to Wisconsin. In times of peace, not war. Of course we were attacked by literally a billion Orcs and Goblins along the way, because we have those in Montana. You gotta watch out for that you know.
And let's keep in mind that the Dwarves are returning to their home. So that means they had to go through all these dangerous places already, on their way to Bilbo's house in the Shire. Or did they forget all that? If you drove from Wisconsin to Idaho and had to fight a billion Goblins on the way in Montana, would you EVER go back through Montana? No. It would make more sense to go to Oregon, sail around the world, come back to America, and go up the Great Lakes to Wisconsin. Or maybe just go south to Arizona, east to Texas, and then back up to Wisconsin. I seriously can't stress strongly enough how stupid and pointless this journey was from the beginning. That would be a dangerous journey for Gandalf alone, not to mention 13 Dwarves of little renown.
3-D effect - At times it was OK. Nothing to write home about. Nothing to spend extra on.
Overall - What did I just watch? It felt like LOR but it was lacking so much. Like a plot, a decent premise, a semi-believable story where I could suspend disbelief for a second and enter another world, and maybe some memorable characters. Quick - what was the name of the Dwarf with the bald head and the tattoos on his head? I can't remember either. They were all throw-away characters. It might have looked and felt like LOR, but this movie was definitely NOT in the same league as LOR. Lots of eye candy but no real treats for the mind.
And just a reminder, it's not the job of the viewer to suspend disbelief. It's the job of the filmmakers to create a film that allows me to suspend disbelief. When I make reviews like this I'm frequently hammered by people saying I don't have any imagination. No, I have plenty. But you have to make it plausible. In Avatar, I was taken to another world with big blue people and floating rocks. Wow! The filmmakers did their job and created a world where I could suspend disbelief. In The Hobbit, they did not. They should have done their job. It's not my job as a paying customer to cover for their sloppiness and bring my own "suspension of disbelief" just so I can lie to myself and say this was a great movie. It was not. I paid the money to see it. They are supposed to bring my suspension of disbelief. Avatar did. The Hobbit did not.
If I have to bring my own suspension of disbelief every time, then every movie is a 10/10. House of the Dead? GREATEST MOVIE EVER! Star Wars prequels? MAGNIFICENT! Dragonball Evolution? W00T! Starship Troopers 2? PURE BRILLIANCE!
No, it is not my job to change my entire thought process for the purpose of pretending that a sucky movie is enjoyable. I paid good money to see it. I expect a good movie in return. It's not like they were limited by time.
Speaking of time, this movie seemed stretched. Ridiculously stretched. There was lots of fluff, filler, and stretch. The story could be told in one movie. They decided to stretch it out to 3 movies, probably to increase profits. I'm not 100% sure but I think the part about the rock giants was added just to waste time. It added nothing to the story. Nor did it make sense that a relatively safe (ish) mountain pass would come alive with gigantic rock monsters. Why didn't they fight yesterday? Why right now as the Dwarves were coming through? No reason at all, but it looked cool and we had some extra CGI money.
These were the kinds of things I was thinking while watching the movie. I wasn't worried if Bilbo was safe. Apparently he was indestructible like the Dwarves. No, instead I was wondering why they added these fake CGI stone giants into the movie with no purpose or reason in the slightest.
Anything good - I did find one thing appealing, which I don't remember from the book. Young Bilbo strongly resembled Pippin Took from LOR. But then Gandalf pointed out that his mother was a Took. So it really fit. This part of the story line was well thought out, and a pleasant surprise.
Rating - I'm still trying to sum it all up in my head. At best I'd say a 6/10 and at worst I'd say a 3/10. As I write this, I'm probably at my low point (3/10) and I'm forgetting some of the more interesting parts or something. I'll probably end up upgrading it to a 4/10 before I'm done. So let's just stop there unless I change my mind later.
Edit: Apparently the rock giants were in the book, but they still didn't make any sense as presented in the movie. Maybe if they showed some evil villain like Sauruman (sp?) saying, "They are going through that mountain trail. Let's see how they like rock giants!" And then he casts a spell to awaken the rock giants. But then wouldn't Gandalf have sensed him doing that? So even then it wouldn't add up.
Also I never bounced back from my low point in hindsight. It's still a 3/10 as far as I'm concerned.
I read the first few sentences and your review. The thing is for most movies I kept my expectations low, but with one exeption-
The Lord Of The Rings. This trilogy is fantastic and I kept watching the movies over and over. It really doesn't matter what your age is as it's a borderline family movie that tells a story about right and wrong without getting too preachy.
After I watch this Hobbit's tale when the DVD's come out, I hope to sticky this review of yours Dr.Gadget.
The reason I won't go into theaters anymore is that people are loud, the floors are sticky, the popcorn and candy costs too much, and I try not to get interrupted while watching movies, same thing as listening to music.
I thought the first three movies were awesome and I'm surprised that the review here wasn't very good of the Hobbit. This franchise is nothing but a cash cow anyways so yeah they are gonna put in so much stuff that doesn't advance the story so they can justify having another trilogy. Haven't seen The Hobbit yet and I will once it comes out on blu ray. I saw all three LOTR movies at the theater and I have all three extended dvds lol.