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Thorin Oakenshield

Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Ringer Review - NAME


Date Posted: 2012-12-22
Tolkien Fan Level: 1
Film Format Seen? 2D 24 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes

The Hobbit is an unexpected movie.
Not because it’s a letdown. It’s unexpected because it’s not a letdown at all.
Peter Jackson had a few critical decisions to make adapting the Hobbit. Either film a single three hour epic version of the novel showing the entire story or in 3 segments. The entire story in one might be what many critics would have preferred. But I for one would be disappointed. Jackson knows that the majority of filmgoers will have experienced LOTR BEFORE experiencing the tale of The Hobbit. To me, he was handcuffed into expanding the story to fit the greater world he already established with his LOTR movies. Jackson essentially wrote LOTR first and the Hobbit second. This is paramount in understanding An Unexpected Journey. I guess that Tolkien would have written The Hobbit very differently had he written the Hobbit AFTER LOTR was published. The adaptation succeeded for me because I went in understanding this.
It’s about 75% novel adaptation and 25% supplemental material. The key in making it work is how Jackson connects the two story lines and their effect on each other. It’s easy to see the ‘straight’ Hobbit adaptation that could have been, and the key is IT’S STILL THERE. I don’t think Jackson is going to sacrifice the Novel storyline at any point for the supplemental one.
The special effects, makeup, music, set design, cinematography are all on par with Lord of The Rings. There is no visual or audio disconnect between the original films and An Unexpected Journey that I can detect. More CGI characters is there, it seems a good choice in the much more colorful and youth orientated tone of the film, Which mirrors the book. I think the tone is about right for a prequel. We know the world and returning characters will survive. It’s a classic fish out of water story peppered with equal parts character growth and redemption. The road is epic and the character arcs are powerful. But the world is not tipping toward ruin. Tension must come from the relationships within in the film and must not rely on the larger conflicts in the LOTR trilogy.
The movie is edited with this in mind and it can hurt the pace a little. The film is determined to establish Thorin and Bilbo’s character almost to a fault. At the end of AUJ I completely understand their backstories and motivations… this took the movie away from pushing us forward (plot wise) to build these characters. The power of this story is in the characters not the plot. And there will be intense character payoffs in 2014! It’s a recipe for a loosely plotted adventure and it shows up in the movie's 160 minute run time. If you are there for characters expect to be delighted, if you are there for plot, expect some frustrations.

I don’t think (like many reviewers) that Azog is in the movie to ‘Drive the plot forward with a false sense of danger’, but to drive Thorin’s character forward. Aragorn did not have a central antagonist in the LOTR movies. Much effort was made to shoehorn Sauron into the role but the effort never really succeeded or connected. Azog gives Thorin an enemy with a payoff. Thorin’s arc will be the same (I believe) but pride has replaced arrogance in it (which feels truer to his film backstory). To those who are calling him Aragorn 2.0 can you name a time where Aragorn is prideful, arrogant and dismissive of Gandalf’s advice?
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the expected result of some key decisions Peter Jackson made. I think he has succeeded in giving us the Hobbit Part One that we demanded of him. For years people will talk about the 3 hour single movie Hobbit that could have been, but for fans of Jackson’s LOTR films it is obvious we are getting the very best possible treatment of Tolkien’s first journey into middle earth.

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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