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Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Date Posted: 2012-12-20
Tolkien Fan Level: 2
Film Format Seen? 3D 24 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes

Imagine you're sitting at home writing your diary as Bilbo does, thinking over a grim scene with a group that happened years ago. You remember them as troubled by their own flaws, demons and sorrows and reject good intentions. First impressions of them can give a distorted perception. Best not to hammer on the distortion as being the truth, yet grab the chance to adjust. No time is wasted to make two people friends. Heck, be a Dwarfleader about it: "I could never be more so wrong".

Middle Earth isn't that big in scale when you do leave your hobbit home. You will never know if you ever come back, but isn't that part of the adventure? You might find friends who will travel with you for some time. Friends you won't normally recognize as such. Just help them find their gold back and grieve with them over their losses.

So, here I am at Bag End, cheering at Richard Armitage's success, together with ardent RA fans and customized Hobbit enthusiasts, I open the door for you, as long as you promise no to throw with my plates.

An unexpected journey

An unexpected journey it will be, so I advice you to travel light. As I have learned in the course of following The-Hobbit-We-Love-Making-Franchise, it's best to avoid TV spots, reviews, interviews and red carpet flirtations. Take the trailer with you, that's all you need. Even Sir Pete's Vidblogs are best to ignore as various shots were not even used in this first movie of this trilogy. Don't read that hobbit book. If you must, read until chapter six. Be warned, knowledge distracts the thoughts.

The prologue: meeting Thorin, or, rather 'Thorin'

Meeting the Dwarves was quite an experience. The two LOTR-fans who wanted to see it with me, couldn't or wouldn't go, so I went alone. Did I initially choose to buy a 2D-ticket, I managed to change it in time for the later that evening showing in 3D 24fps. Then I found myself seated at the edge of the row slightly at the back next to a bearded man of roughly my age. 'Thorin' informed me that only 23 seats were unsold of the 400-so seats. The majority of the audience, 2/3 were male, aged 20-30, up to 40+. the rest were females of the same ages. 2D would be much calmer to watch as 3D unsharpened the fast movements in the action scenes and it made the dutch subtitles lavitating.

First half

The movie starts off with Ian Holm as Bilbo in his hobbit home. A peaceful setting and he is writing in his diary. Then I didn't take notice for one or two sentences, because suddenly, the scene got replaced by a dark, grim fortress which got violently attacked by what? And there is Thorin/RA! WHOAH! Wasn't this later on? Forget the book story, throw it out the window! Thorin being powerlessly defeaten, the gold is stolen, it really pains him, the overwhelming useless attacks on his people, which made me root for him instantly, is all very effectively done and moving.

Then, back to the hobbit home, boring, oh it's sixty years earlier, and there's Martin Freeman, yay. Then the scene which is in the trailer, but now extended, the encounter with Gandalf the wizzard and especially the Dwarves who come in one by one, sort of. Totally forgot from the book that Thorin had a meeting, this came across as a casual remark, no image at all of a round table type gathering to show how important this was. So possible it was just a regular meeting. The plates throwing by the Dwarves was a nice show-off of effective teamwork, although Bilbo didn't like it and Thorin would ignore it. The two songs were great and especially the Misty Mountains song made the audience quiet. Bilbo gets a contract which horrid conditions makes him faint, which was played funny by MF.

The fight with the Orcs was wonderful with Thorin, and the sleepover on the hill was witty and scary.

The empty barnhouse where the group touched the porch, made me wonder that in the book they all went inside and met a character and only then Gandalf said he had to do a detour of some sort, so that ate my memory.

Radagast the brown wizzard was like a fairytale figure with these cute animals.

Conclusion first half: clear stand-out scenes by introducing different characters, moods and settings. Ended the first half with one tear in one eye.

Losing it

The second half was like sitting on a galloping horse. Too much impressions.

PJ likes threesomes. Thorin has three fight scenes with The Oakenshield, a piece of wood which RA suggested for his character, according to his promo interviews. Bilbo has three scenes in which he lies on his side and awakens in a closeup shot.

The Eagles were beautifully and realistically filmed, like watching the Earthflight tv series.

The Sacromancer looked like it was designed by the CGI people of the Avatar movie.

The eery, dark moods of the place where ghosts were brought to life was well pictured. The knight's statue looked like the statues of those at the gate of that lake in LOTR.

The stone-throwing giants were amusing yet impressing, like the walking trees in LOTR.

The Goblin king looked delightfully gross, while Dwarves don't need to burp!

A lof of room for violent action in the second half, and it was not a moment too long, yet I dearly missed the cross-country banter between the Dwarves and Bilbo, to awkwardly get to know eachother, and also as viewer to take in and enjoy their unique appearances. Maybe it was in there.

Overall conclusion

The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey in 3D 24 fps: 8.5/10

Impressive, funny, moving, crowded, a galloping horse.

After years of struggle Peter Jackson finally brings The Hobbit to the screens. The public relations machine showed a humble director, writer and cast thanking the fans in advance for their trust.

The first hobbit movie continues carrying PJ's visual signature, recognisible from the LOTR movies.

While the book's story is told straightforward without much explanations, the movie has a wonderful showcase of digital fantasy. The real landscapes of New Zealand were breathtaking just as the fantasy landscapes, and seeing all these weird creatures. However when it mattered to be breathtaking, there were moments in The Hobbit that felt off, on first viewing. Those moments were felt when Bilbo, or some Dwarves, hung unto their dear lives on edges or at the wizzard's stick in abysses, which did not evoke a feeling of nailbiting urgency. The Goblin's cave showed an endless depth, which caves not necessary have. Dark caves with fragile bridges are a bit typical in movies.

The Dwarves have fantastic individual looks which were promoted far in advance, yet in this movie there was not enough banter between the Dwarves; the story of the film preferred action scenes. In total shots the focus was hard to find.

Martin Freeman as Bilbo is a natural choice and although his profile may skyrock after this movie, it doesn't seem to be a big leap to act on world stage. For the other actors who didn't appear in LOTR, it will certainly give them a bigger profile, with Richard Armitage playing Thorin as the stand-out guy. His portrayal as Thorin as the proud, yet defeated king was epic and moving. Andy Serkis brought the beloved Gollum back to life to play riddles with Bilbo.

However all in all an effective tearjerker was missed. Not much sentimentalism was played out in part one of The Hobbit movie which merely gave an introduction of the characters and settings. PJ will no doubtedly get there in The Hobbit part three as he did in the final movie of the LOTR trilogy.

Next up: part Two and Three

More Thorin! Not enough in part one! And this is not me being biased about some actor.

I don't know if I will shed a tear for Thorin. I give RA not the chance to make me teary.

My eyes watered seeing movies like The Bucket List (2006) and The Ultimate Gift (2006).

A whole year to wait for the next movie: The Desolation of Smaug (with devastating Thorin!) and and another half year for part 3, The Battle of the Five Armies (spoiler: the war on the stolen gold).

Thankfully, in the tenth Vidblog, PJ was so nice to promise he will keep in touch - and otherwise the 'Warner Brother suits' will remind him.

The Ratings
The Other Ratings
Martin Freeman 's performance as Bilbo Baggins?
Richard Armitage 's performance as Thorin?
The Overall representation of The Dwarves ?
Andy Serkis' performance as Gollum?
Ian McKellen's performance as Gandalf?
Bilbo's retelling of the history of Erebor and of Thror/Thrain/Thorin
The Eagles rescue sequence?
The Goblin King ?
Initial impression of Thranduil?
Hugo Weaving's performance as Elrond?
Radagast's portrayal in the movie?
The representation of Goblintown?
Cate Blanchett's performance as Galadriel?
The Bag End Supper scene?
The scene of the Trolls?
The representation of the Arkenstone?
The Stone Giants?
Escape from the Goblin cave?
Riddles in the Dark scene?
The return to Rivendell?
The attack on the party by the Wargs
The first glimpses of Smaug?
The ending of the movie; in regards to leading well into the next film, and serving as a good ending point.
The overall pace of the film
Peter Jackson's vision in bringing the Hobbit to the big screen.

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