Sunday, December 23, 2012

Review - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen and Richard Armitage.
Directed by Peter Jackson.

When developments for a Hobbit film was announced in 2005, Middle Earth fans including myself became ecstatic. At first it was announced that Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo Del Toro would take the helm as director but he eventually shyed away from the production to focus on his other projects. He did however help with the screenplay but it was officially announced that Peter Jackson will once again take us back to Middle Earth. I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan; they are my favorite movies of all time. What Peter Jackson did with J.R.R Tolkien's books was nothing short of extraordinary. The characters, the scenery, the screenplay, the musical score, the emotions and the special effects were right on point. I was pretty much excited when I heard Jackson would take over the production of The Hobbit.

So The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first part of a three part series. We follow the story of a hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) who partakes in an unexpected journey and adventure with thirteen gleeful dwarves and fellow associate wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen). They seek to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the dragon Smaug. As you know, 'The Hobbit' is a 300-page book. It does not have that dark tone like The Lord Of The Rings but rather more charming, playful and will appeal to younger audiences as well. So if you go into this movie thinking it is dark, serious and a masterpiece like LOTR, prepare to be disappointed.

When this movie was released on December 14, it opened to a backlash from film critics. I see complaints about the film's length, I see complaints about the pacing and the movie being too slow, I see complaints about the new 48fps format, I see complaints about the movie's CGI effects and I see complaints about the characters. However after watching the film for myself, I was wondering if we actually watched the same movie. I'm not saying that The Hobbit is a perfect film, it does have its flaws but what I see most persons complaining about was really not much of a big issue to me.

I did not get to experience the much talked about new 48fps format because my theatre showed it in the standard 24fps. However the clarity, the scenery and imagery were breathtaking. In the scenes where Bilbo and the dwarfs are travelling across open lands, we get see that beautiful New Zealand/Middle Earth landscape that we had so grown accustomed to and loved. We have entered into an age of movies where CGI effects is what sells so it is no surprise that The Hobbit was more CGI heavy than the previous films. There were a few scenes which were pretty laden with these effects but at no point did I feel like it was severely over the top. However I did have a slight issue with the CGI orcs and goblins. Although they kept that terrifying orc persona well, at times they looked too fake and messy. I believe that Peter Jackson could have stuck to makeup and costumes for these characters in small groups, instead of using CGI. I thoroughly enjoyed the action sequences. The Dwarf battles were great and I must say at times I felt they were much more enticing than those in the first trilogy.

The character development is not as great as Jackson's previous Middle Earth films but we get to know a few of our new characters and had fun with them along the way. The dwarfs were fun although a few of them remained hidden and we didnt see or hear much of them. Martin Freeman played an excellent free-spirited Bilbo Baggins and Ian McKellen was as always, an excellent Gandalf the Grey. We see past characters from The Lord Of The Rings trilogy being featured who definitely had me drowned in Middle Earth nostalgia. We see characters like Lady Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Lord Elrond (Hugo Weaving), the white wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee) and the lovable but despicable Gollum aka Smeagol (Andy Serkis). Just like the book, these characters were much more light-hearted and lot less serious than in the original trilogy. Richard Armitage plays a brave and valiant Thorin Oakenshield. He is perhaps the most serious character in the movie and he gives off this Aragorn-like aura, which I liked. I must mention that the character Gollum actually looks more life-like in this film and he captured every scene he was in.

Seeing that the book will be split into three films and it is a prequel story, it's no surprise that the movie contains fillers and more links to The Lord Of The Rings. The movie stuck to the events of the book nonetheless and the additional material was integrated nicely and did not affect our unexpected journey. In fact it brings forward more development and brings us deeper into Middle Earth. The story-telling was solid with the fillers and all; the movie even explains points which were left unexplained in the book. The pacing of the film was fine and at no point did I feel like the story lagged or was drawn out or anything - it kept flowing. The ''Fellowship of Erebor" is what I call them and they kept me entertained dialogue-wise and action-wise. I love the musical score of this film and that Dwarf song really set the mood as well.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey isn't a masterpiece but I had fun being back in Middle Earth and I was not disappointed. It's funny, entertaining and I do think it's a solid start to an "unexpected trilogy". It could have used a little better CGI effects on the orcs/goblins and more character development but hey, Peter Jackson was still able to capture the essence of The Hobbit book and Middle Earth well.

Rating: 8/10

1 comment:

  1. Poor me never get fi see it in theatre cause mi nah no money :( I shall have to download it :'( But i know i definitely missed out on this one