One of the criticisms that the Hobbit has received is that the film started slowly, which is complete absurdity. The Fellowship of the Ring had about the same pace in the beginning and the Extended Edition had an even slower pace. The Hobbit felt like one of the shortest 169 minute films that I have seen. Jackson gave us what we wanted, basically the extended edition in theaters. There were only about 5 minutes that seemed did not seemed 100% necessary, unless the next two are terrible, it is difficult to imagine the film without some of these scenes. It appears that most critics screen the Hobbit in 48 frames-per-second, which many disliked; I on the other hand watched it in the standard 24fps. Although I will not compare the Hobbit to the Lord of the Rings much in this review, it goes without saying that the Hobbit is not as amazing as the Lord of the Rings, nor did I expect it to be. However it did have a very Fellowship of the Ring vibe that was great, and was almost on par with the original three.
The film opened with Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins, who played him in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, preparing for his 111th birthday, were the Fellowship of the Ring film began, followed by a prologue of the Dwarves' history, narrated by Holm. After which Elijah Wood as Frodo made a cameo that put a huge grin on my face during the scene.
While one would think Bilbo that is the star of An Unexpected Journey, Ian McKellen as Gandalf steals the show with the best performance of the year. Being that Gandalf is one of, if not my favorite character of the Middle Earth franchise, it was awesome to see him get even more screen time. One of my fears before watching the movie was that it would end abruptly, similar to the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, since the Hobbit book was split into three movies. Yet it felt like it had a complete and satisfying conclusion, similar to the Fellowship of the Ring. Another misgiving I had before watching the movie was the songs, but they were one of the better parts of the film. "Misty Mountain's Cold" might be my favorite ever to be used in a film. Also the 99% of the humor was spot on hilarious and added some great fun to the film.
Andy Serkis as Gollum was back and the special effects used for him are some of the best I have ever seen. He looked as if he was real and that I could reach out touch him. Serkis' performance was again, Oscar worthy adding more emotion into the motion capture. His scene with Martin Freeman was absolutely brilliant. The character interaction was top notch featuring some excellent scenes of dialogue and the characters themselves were mostly likable. Many of the 13 Dwarves were more background than important plot devices but that was expects with about 5 of them receiving notable screen-time. For those who believes the Hobbit is a "kid's movie" because it is based on a children's book, you are mistaken. There are multiple on screen beheadings and severing of limbs.
There are two extremely minor aspects about the Hobbit that did not seem perfect, which are Radagast the Brown and the Trolls. Radagast's scene is the most criticized aspect from most reviewers, while his introductory scene may have lasted two or three minutes too long. He is far from the "Jar Jar Binks" of Middle Earth that some may claim, although I would have barely noticed anything negative about him if no one else said something about it in their review. The fat Goblin guy in the mines (aka Goblin the Hutt), who were slightly annoying and added silly humor for about 2 minutes of the film. They just did not fit with the rest of the film; however this character did not detract from the overall experience in any way. Also new comers to the franchise should definitely watch the Lord of the Rings first then watch the Hobbit and the few who for whatever reason, did not like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, will not have their minds changed by the Hobbit.
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Genre: Fantasy, Action Adventure,
Release Date: 12 December 2012
Running Time: 169 minutes
MMPA rating: PG-13
The Good: McKellen's performance was Oscar worthy, Howard Shore's score, Amazing action scenes, Realistic special effects, Ensemble cast, Stunning 3D, Excellent use of humor, Serkis as Gollum, Great dialogue, Moving story, Perfect pacing, Nearly everything, Great character development, Epic final act,
Plot: The following plot summary is copied from Wikipedia.com.
On his 111th birthday, the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins decides to write down the full story of the adventure he took 60 years before for his nephew Frodo. Bilbo writes about how, prior to his own actual involvement, the Dwarf Thrór becomes king of Erebor and brings an era of prosperity to his kin until the arrival of Smaug the dragon. Drawn by the amount of gold that the Dwarves have amassed, Smaug destroys the nearby town of Dale before driving the Dwarves out of Erebor. Thrór's grandson, Thorin, sees King Thranduil and his Wood-Elves on a nearby hillside and is dismayed to find them taking their leave rather than aiding his people.
Following this, Bilbo is tricked by the wizard Gandalf the Grey into hosting a party for Thorin and his band of Dwarves, which doubles as Bilbo's recruitment as the Dwarves' "burglar" to help them steal their treasure back from Smaug. Bilbo reluctantly joins the company on their journey to the Lonely Mountain. The group gets captured by mountain trolls, but Bilbo is able to stall the trolls from eating them until dawn, when Gandalf saves the company by exposing the trolls to sunlight, turning them into stone. They search the trolls' cave and find treasure and Elven blades. Thorin and Gandalf each take an Elf-made blade—Orcrist and Glamdring, respectively—with the latter finding an Elven shortsword, which he gives to Bilbo.
Watch the movie to see what happens next.
Plot: 10/10- The Dwarves' story is a very compelling one, and I really felt the reasons they needed to take back their homeland. The pacing was spot on and the tone was more lighthearted as expected. It is not a tale about saving all of Middle Earth; it is more about getting back what rightfully belongs to the Dwarves. The development of Bilbo and Thorin's characters was done perfectly and made Bilbo even more likable near the end of the story. The character interaction between Gandalf and Galadriel, as shown in the trailer, was done very well. Both actors brought such on-screen presents to the scene.
Action: 10/10- As with the Fellowship of the Ring, there was not a lot of action in the beginning of the film however, the last hour was action packed. The way it was filmed by Peter Jackson was absolutely brilliant; it felt as if it I was in the battle, especially in 3D. One flowing continuous action scene with few cuts and always perfectly framed is one of the best action scene of the year. Gandalf had some awesome action scenes doing things that he never got the chance to do in the Lord of the Rings.
Acting: 10/10- As said above, McKellen killed it as Gandalf, no doubt the best performance of the year. He always adds such gravitas and screen presents to his roles, it is nearly unmatched. Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins started off slightly unlikable yet that was how he was suppose to be in the role and it gave his much time to develop throughout the film. Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield was the awesome tough guy warrior Dwarf and did an excellent job in the role. All of the other Dwarves gave fine performances in their somewhat minor roles. Hugo Weaving was awesome as ever as Elrond and Cate Blanchett as Galadriel was possibly even better than she was in the Lord of the Rings. There was one dialogue exchange in the film between McKellen (Gandalf), Blanchett (Galadriel), Weaving (Elrond) and Christopher Lee (Saruman) that were the shear talent of the cast was overwhelmingly fantastic. Four of the best living actors with strong classical backgrounds just talking yet it worked so well. However, the highlight of the film was Andy Serkis as Gollum. He nailed it, spot on perfect. Serkis is Gollum; he looked far too realistic to be computer generated. When is he going to get his Oscar?!
Special effects: 10/10- While I wished that the film would have used more real actors in make-up like the Lord of the Rings, the computer generated characters were mostly fantastic. As previously stated, Gollum looked real (in 24fps); he remains the best computer generated character in film. There was a little too much use of green screen and CGI than I would have liked but it all done well. The height difference between Gandalf and the Dwarves/Hobbits were pulled off seamlessly.
Soundtrack: 10/10- Howard Shore does it again with one of the best film scores ever composed. The main theme is currently one of the best I have ever heard in a film. The song "Misty Mountain's Cold" is fantastic and was used in the film well. Some of the tracks were used from the Lord of the Rings, which was also excellent.
Comedy: 9.5/10- As expected, The Hobbit had a lot of humor, most of which was very funny. While the humor never matched that of the Avengers earlier this year or in the way it was deliver, it nevertheless worked.
IMAX 3D: The Hobbit is only the second modern 3D film that I have seen, first was The Avengers, and the first film that was filmed in 3D (The Avengers was post converted). There were many scenes where I was sucked into the film and felt as film I was in the scene more than any other movie before. One scene in particular was almost like a ride, in a great way. Also the sound in an IMAX is unsurpassed; the use of sound in terms of spatial relationship of sounds was perfect. While I watched the film in 24fps, which is the format I would recommend.
Would I Watch This Again: Most definitely, cannot wait to watch the film many more times.
Overall: 10/10- Overall The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is everything and more that I could have asked for from Peter Jackson, he makes a triumph return to Middle Earth in spectacular fashion.
Closing comments: While almost nothing can top our first forte into the land of Middle Earth, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey nevertheless captures the magic of the original trilogy and is the best thing since The Lord of the Rings.
Rating Clarification: To clarify my rating of a ten. I have seen nine films was deserve a rating of ten which are Original Star Wars trilogy, Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Avengers and Raiders of the Lost Ark, all of which are my ten nine films not necessarily in that order. While The Hobbit is not as incredible as the Lord of the Rings, it is clearly in that top nine and ranks higher on my favorite films of all-time than some mentioned above.
Recommended for: Lord of the Rings fans, Epic fans, Fantasy fans. Action Adventure fans,
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