The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) Directed by Peter Jackson. Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen and Richard Armitage. IMDB says: “A curious Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, journeys to the Lonely Mountain with a vigorous group of Dwarves to reclaim a treasure stolen from them by the dragon Smaug.”
The Hobbit is an amazing film. The world that J. R.R. Tolkien created is ideal for a fantasy movie and Peter Jackson’s filmmaking compliments the feel and wonder of the classic tale. This is aided by the fact that the film is shot in 48 fps. The detail in the sets and sprawling backgrounds is astonishing. When the characters look out on the grandness of the landscape, you know exactly what they are feeling because the detail allows you to feel it too. It takes your eyes a while to get used to the smoothness of the movie, At first, it seems unrealistic because you aren’t used to watching a film that looks like this one. Once you adjust though, it certainly adds to the magic of the film.
If you enjoyed The Lord of The Rings, then you’ll without a doubt love The Hobbit. While you don’t have to have seen The Lord of The Rings to enjoy this prequel, (The Hobbit novel came out first originally) it does add some more emotion to the viewing. Because The Lord of The Rings take place after The Hobbit, there are a lot of overlapping characters and a few intersecting scenes from the original films. They do have more of an impact if you know their significance. Particularity, seeing Gollum/Smeagol and knowing more of his character in depth. His scene is definitely more emotional if you know what happens with his character in the later books.
As you would probably expect, The Hobbit is nearly three hours long. While there are some scenes that aren’t completely necessary to the plot (namely an early musical number), they all fit well into the film. If this is your type of movie, you will be easily engrossed and the length of the film should make you rather glad that you get to see more time watching the world of the film unroll. There is plenty of action too, so it’s more than just story telling to keep your interest.
Overall, I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoyed The Lord of The Rings trilogy or anyone who is looking for a sweeping epic to watch. I would also suggest anyone who is in to film technology to check it out because they will certainly enjoy watching a film in such a fast frame rate.
Let me begin by saying this: The Hobbit blew me away. I’m not a “true” Lord of the Rings fan either. I’m a casual fan. I’ll watch all 3 films maybe once a year, marathon or piece meal over a few days, but that’s my extent. I don’t own the books, I don’t have prop weapons, I don’t have a Middle Earth based chess set, I’m just not into that universe. But I will say this, The Hobbit was such an unexpected surprise that I can’t wait to see it again in theaters and I’ve already gone out and bought a copy of the book. Yeah, you read right. I’m looking forward to seeing a nearly 3 hour film AGAIN in 3D AND I’ve gone and bought the book because I need to know what happens next. Why did I not feel this way about the Lord of the Rings(LOTR) franchise? No idea. But if I had to guess…
The first thing you’ll notice about the film is it looks different. The color pallete, the tone, everything about The Hobbit looks different. Sure we see familiar sets like the Shire and Ravendale, but they look and feel different from the LOTR films. The reason: 48fps. When director Peter Jackson first announced he was filming in this frame rate, I was excited. I knew it was a new generation of high definition that would really bring The Hobbit to life. But I became worried because people began to say it won’t work, projectors won’t be able to handle it, it effects your vision, it will look terrible with the 3D and so on and so forth. Well the naysayers were just that: naysayers.
I joyfully exclaim that the 48 fps left me in awe. I expressed my disbelief aloud in the theatre and they were only showing footage of a village. They hadn’t even gotten to the action yet! Just the simplest of scenes blew me away and I was done. I was instantly hooked and on-board. You could have turned this film into a musical romantic comedy and I would have been delighted to see it. Thankfully that didn’t happen. What did happen was the beginning of the journey, and trilogy, of Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), Bilbo Baggins (a fantastic Martin Freeman), and Thorin, Balin, Dwalin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Fili, Fili, Oin, Gloin, Nori, Dori, and Ori. (But we’ll refer to them as the Dwarves) A journey that will help the Dwarves reclaim their old life at Araborn where a powerful dragon by the name of Smaug resides.
The film begins with a brief history of the Dwarves of Araborn, how they used to live and how the powerful dragon Smaug cast them out. After leaving Araborn, they roamed the country looking for a new place to call home. Their peace didn’t last long as they began to fight and war with the Orcs. Their struggles have led a few of them to Bilbo who has been coaxed into the entire adventure by Gandalf. From there we begin to explore Middle Earth traversing vast landscapes that completely take your breath away. Along the way our heroes run into old frienemies, the Elves, and Bilbo makes a new acquaintance, a young Smeagol. Or was his name Gollum? Either way, it’s a character you’ll recognize from LOTR and he provides some comedic relief as well as enlightening exposition. The film ends with… well, I’m not going to give it away, but it’s an ending all will enjoy.
The performances are across the board solid and the score really amps up anything that’s on the screen. Combining new music with themes from the LOTR films, the score is welcoming to those familiar with Middle Earth and inviting to those who are discovering it for the first time. Most of the dialogue feels like it’s been pulled right from the book and polished to turn wordy run on sentences into understandable dialogue. The action scenes in this film are awesome. The fighting is a lot rougher and the decapitations are more brutal. Jackson has taken the film into a slightly darker realm with the rougher action and more intense looking villains. There are scenes with Orcs riding these devil wolf beast things (I think they’re called Wargs?) that pop off the screen and really show you the danger our Heroes are facing.
The only thing I take issue with is a side plot that takes away from the energy of the film. The film stops cold to trudge through this story for an underwhelming pay-off. They could have easily cut this out and left in the scenes where those characters meet our heroes. Maybe it’s in the book, but I feel like it is not. When Peter Jackson announced that The Hobbit was going to be two films I was okay with that. I can remember being in the 5th grade, reading this book and just having the worst time of my life. But then it was announced he was turning The Hobbit into three movies. In my opinion, Jackson must be pulling story and plot elements from somewhere other than The Hobbit. I can only guess that he is pulling from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Silmarillion. The Silmarillion is like a History of Middle Earth type book and includes a lot of side stories that both directly and indirectly deal with the events in The Hobbit and LOTR. Not that this is a bad thing, but if the next films include side plots that stop the film dead like this one, it could be a cause for concern.
Issues aside, I cannot recommend this film enough. This is a film to be experienced in theaters so DO NOT cheat yourself by waiting for it to come to Netflix or VOD. Also, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, see the film in RealD-3D first before seeing it in IMAX or IMAX 3D. The IMAX versions of this film are not in 48fps, which is a big heart breaker. Why are you still reading this? Fly (to the nearest theater) you fools!!
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is in theaters December 14th.