14 December 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey [movie review]

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey poster
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Director: Peter Jackson
Studio: NewLine Cinema
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Running Time: 169 minutes
Released: November 2012
2D tickets bought at Cineworld, Cardiff


This is the third and final in a 3-part super post in line with Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Hobbit. Wednesday was my list of things to do while you wait for the movie, and yesterday was my review of The Wisdom of the Shire by Noble Smith.


A movie that needs no introduction, but I'll have a go anyway. Hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) finds his world turned upside down after the arrival of Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) and a company of  dwarfs led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). The dwarfs convince Bilbo to accompany them on a quest to reclaim their stolen treasure and take back the ancient dwarf city of Erebor.

I deliberately didn't go to see The Hobbit in 3D or in 48 fps. After the initial reviews slating how fake everything looked with the new technology, I decided to go old-school. The visuals were stunning; the same calibre that Jackson spearheaded when he made Lord of the Rings. The sets and vistas were epic, and the quality of the digital creations was brilliant (there was only one instance when the CG looked out of place when we see a glimpse of Smaug's tail at the beginning, but that's it).

Towards the beginning of the story, Gandalf tells Bilbo that "all good stories deserve embellishment" and that's exactly what Jackson has done. Rather than make The Hobbit a carbon copy of the book, he's used the story as the basis to tell a grander tale that pulls together tales from Middle Earth that Tolkien wrote only after The Hobbit had been released. We get to see more about the Necromancer, Radagast the Brown and an introductory section taken from Tolkien's "Quest for Erebor" appendix. Peter Jackson has managed to take flitting mentions here and there from Tolkien's works and put them together in a vast and epic world. Bilbo's adventures didn't happen in a bubble; there was so much else going on at the time, and this adaptation of The Hobbit fully explores this.

Martin Freeman did a fantastic job as Bilbo, and played the part of awkward layabout-turned-hero with a passive-aggressive shyness that only the British can master. The dwarfs were all well played, though having such a large cast meant that it was very difficult to remember all of their names. There was a great moment towards the beginning where the dwarfs go from partying at Bilbo's expense to their suddenly sombre "Misty Mountains Cold"; the cinema suddenly went completely silent and people stopped moving to they could hear the haunting song. The best performance from the dwarfs was from Bofur (James Nesbitt), whose sarcasm and blunt nature only makes things worse for Bilbo's nerves.


The Hobbit rings in at not much shy of 3 hours long, which is what we now expect from Jackson's Middle Earth endeavours. There was a lull when the company visit Rivendell that could have been shortened, but I found that there was enough action to keep the momentum. Jackson has also managed to keep a lot of the light humour that made The Hobbit book accessible to children; I never heard an audience laugh out loud during Lord of the Rings, but there were plenty of them here.

The Hobbit is an excellent beginning to the story, and well worth a second viewing. I can't vouch for the fancy-pants 48fps, but it does an excellent job of showing you the wonders of Middle Earth and the adventures of its inhabitants. I plan on seeing it again very soon.

32 comments:

  1. I'm going to see this on Monday, I can't wait! Thanks for the review :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have to say I completely agree with this review! I went and saw The Hobbit last night, not being able to wait any longer to see the movie and I was NOT disappointed!

    Konstanz Silverbow
    nothoughts2small.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you liked it :) I want to go see it again on Monday :)

      Delete
  3. Yay! I'm glad it got your approval. I'm not going to see it in 3D either... I like regular movies better. 3D really isn't that amazing and sometimes makes me dizzy. I remember laughing a few times in The Two Towers at some of Gimli's lines, but I'm glad there is lots more humour here :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gimli was one of the only 'funny' ones in LotR, so it's like that x 13 :P

      Delete
  4. This has to be one of the most impressive reviews I've read. I sense the enjoyment while given it an even-keeled honest eye to the film in all its various facets. Nice job. I'm already eager to watch it, but am now doubly-so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Angela :) I don't understand why so many want to slate the movie; it's like they never wanted it to succeed. Some people are never happy :P

      Delete
  5. Just got back from seeing it here! Did see it in 3D and the visuals were stunning but not overwhelming in 3D. I can understand why some might think it's a little slow, but once into it, I was enthralled. Had some moments of humor and the exchange between Gollum and Bilbo was excellent, as were the battles.
    After owning a 3D TV for over a year, I could've handled the 48fps, but heard the battle scenes were almost overwhelming. It does take some getting used to.
    Overall very enjoyable!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm, I might give it a shot in 3D next time. I've never been able to stand 3D in movies except Avatar (and the 3D was the only good thing about that). Definitely giving it another viewing though :)

      Delete
  6. yay for your review! I was a little worried but now I'm really looking forward to seeing this. thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great review, Jamie. I've heard Freeman does a fantastic job.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He is brilliant in it. He's is the epitome of British awkwardness, and it serves him well here :)

      Delete
  8. Fantastic review! I'm hoping to see it sometime next week. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great review! It's on my must-see list. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I imagine it'll be in the cinema for a little while, so you're good to go :)

      Delete
  10. Thanks for the review! This movie sounds really, really good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you're a fan of Tolkien's world, go see it as soon as you can.

      Delete
  11. The movie clip looks fab. I can't believe its 3 hours though! It seems strange to have a few laughs, but I might just have to go see it before new year :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's much more lighthearted than LotR was. You should give it a go :)

      Delete
  12. The 3D was gorgeous, and the sound in the IMAX theater was just incredible. Worth the extra cost.

    Glad to hear we had a similar experience. I was a bit worried going in and was thrilled to find that I didn't have the experience so many critics did. I was riveted to the screen the whole time and found that any "slow" moments made me just as happy because I was spending more screen time with characters I care about, including the Rivendel scene. I could have worked better but I still liked it very much.

    So happy to have left the theater with a satisfied smile on my face and look forward to trying to see it again in the theater soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hopefully my next viewing will be in 3D soon :)

      Delete
  13. thanks for the review. I'm waiting for my daughter to come home from college so we can see it together. It's hard to wait.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I can't wait to see this! The Hobbit was always my favorite. If that song is the one from the previews, I already know I'll listen intently. I hated reading the songs in the book (skipped them), but it seems wonderfully intoned in the film.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Weirdly, I really didn't like the songs in the books, but I was a little sad there weren't more songs in the movie!

      Jamie

      Delete
  15. I saw it in 3D 48fps and I feel really silly because I couldn't tell what was so different about 48fps. It looked fine to me! I was more pleasantly surprised by the fact that the 3D was so well done (last time I saw anything in 3D was as a kid, at Disney World).
    You wrote dwarfs instead of dwarves! *gasp*
    Or dwarrows :-)

    ReplyDelete
  16. nice to read a positive review, Jamie, I've heard that a lot of people found it too long and boring at certain moments, so I'm glad to hear the film is actually good.

    ReplyDelete
  17. A good review, Jamie! I did end up seeing it, despite my curmudgeonish stance, as my young man was visiting and we wanted to go to the theater -- Cloud Atlas, my preference, was not playing until much too late, so we saw The Hobbit. I was pretty okay with the changes made to the story, and I'm feeling slightly more interested to see the next two.

    However, it's a unique situation since they're essentially making a prequel trilogy after we already know what happens in the "sequel" trilogy LOTR. Well, actually I guess Star Wars did the same thing, and we all know how that turned out... (I kid; I enjoyed the new Star Wars films.) But seriously, they were a little heavy-handed with the foreshadowing. Jonathan coined the term "subtlety hammer" and at several points one or the other of us would lean over and go "They're hitting us with the subtlety hammer." But while that was pretty eye-rolling-causing, it didn't ruin the film for us.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Yay!! Someone who at last agrees with me about the epic awesomeness that is The Hobbit. I loved this movie and can't wait to see it again ad again. Nor can I wait for the other two parts.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting! Feel free to ask any questions you like here; I'll do my best to respond to every comment here.

Super bonus points for creativity and snark, but anything spammy of offensive will be removed (I'm looking at you!)

ShareThis