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Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Ringer Review - NAME


58, Canbderra

Date Posted: 2012-12-26
Tolkien Fan Level: 5
Film Format Seen? 3D 48 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes

The hobbit arrived late to Australia, and Canberra in particular there was a couple of weeks of intense anticipation, and of course my wife and I were not let down at the first screening in Canberra in High Frame Rate (HFR what 48 fames/second are called here). A few things then to comment after reading a lot of hullabaloo about the movie and HFR, mainly from US critics. The 3D experience as one who does not usually watch 3D was great, largely due to the clarity of the images. If you are a 3D person then go the HFR option.

The film itself was magnificent and of course we will see it again probably in 2D (cheaper) next week, and then of course wait for the Extended DVD version. It is hard to fault the film. The prologues about Erebor and the reflections from Balin on Thorin were absolutely essential to setting up the film. Having old Bilbo and Frodo in spliced on from Ian Holme being filmed in the UK (like Saruman but a longer and more complex scene) was simply amazing.

To have Azog or not to have Azog has been a subject of impassionate debate among reviewers. In the book Azog's son, Bolg, appears at the Battle of Five Armies, but the film had a different interpretation. Having Azog (resurrected seemingly by the necromancer) rather than his son, and having him hunting down the dwarves in his warg packs given additional drama and suspense.

Radagast is another character who will be there throughout the trilogies. I recall one reviewer comparing him to Jar Jar Binks, which is an atrocious act and the reviewer should have his/her tablet confiscated. Radagast, played by Sylvester MCoy (one of the Dr. Who’s), is wonderfully portrayed as a timid but powerful wizard who is more comfortable with animals and plants than people. Not simply a comic relief, as shown by his ability to repel the spiders which were invading the woods, as well as beating off the Witch King. Being a bit odd made Radagast the brunt of Saruman, the role reprised by Christopher Lee, who interpreted his role in The Hobbit as a cautious, prim and proper bureaucrat. As my wife put it, he gave standard bureaucratic answers as to why nothing should be done when an exasperated Gandalf points to the evidence of a great evil presence emerging in Middle Earth, at one point even made the accusation that Radagast ingested “too much mushrooms” (a reference not lost to the audience).

Galadriel (the luminous and ageless Cate Blanchett) made a delightful reappearance, and while brief, the scenes suggest that she will be back for the subsequent films.

The other changes all made sense, having Thorin enter nobly rather than under a pile of dwarves at Bag End as in the book looked better for a king in exile. There is much tension between Thorin and Bilbo throughout the film, as the former kept doubting Bilbo’s capacity and courage. Of course, Bilbo proved him wrong on many occasions, including a dramatic showdown between Bilbo and Azog, who, after getting over the shock of a thumb-sized challenger, quickly swept him off. Having Thorin apologizing and reconciling with Bilbo at the end of the film was a nice touch, as it will no doubt heighten the emotion later on when the pair has another fallout.

Perhaps the eagles could have had a few words to say, but as they don't speak in Lord of the Rings then having them as quiet nobility is fine, though we start to get the feeling that they simply serve as rescue helicopters. Adding a few chase scenes gives the film a good pace, and builds tension and moves it to a darker space.

The film set the arc up for the next two films as well. From the preview trailers (not shown in this film) Gandalf goes to Goldogur to follow up on Radagast's visit and finds more scary stuff (empty king tombs etc) which will be in the third film for sure with the battle of five armies. Azog and Thorin will have a final showdown in the third film and maybe be Azog will be around in the second but hard to see where unless it is in a showdown the Beorn.

All in all worth a few visits.

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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