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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Chronicles

Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Ringer Review - NAME

A. FilmicWonder

United States

Date Posted: 2012-12-29
Tolkien Fan Level: 9
Film Format Seen? 2D 24 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes

The acting, general look and pacing of THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY were all superb. The time literally flew by (what, three hours — really, where d'it go?!), and the delightful surprises were non-stop: Thranduil riding an Irish/Eurasian elk on the lowland ridge of a truly magnificent Erebor was a grand touch. Gandalf's counsel of Bravery, when to take or spare a life, and Bilbo's subsequent mirroring moment of 'Pity in Peril's Midst' are JEWELS. And who knew it was Frodo who nailed up Bag End's 'No Admittance' sign?!

The film's endless gorgeous detail (quite apart from its exquisite costuming) was astounding — Total LOTR Recall: from the colossal dwarven sentry-statues lining the glorious halls of Erebor's mighty Kingdom under the Mountain to 'halfling leaf' mind-slowing references (as applied to Rhosgobel mushrooms!) to Bilbo's forshadowing hearth-pinecones to Gandalf's enchanted silver-glistering scarf! Rivendell was as stunning as ever: How about those equestrian Elves?!! And the helmless riders galloping into Imladris immediately behind Elrond 'Star-dome', could these be his sons, Elladan 'Elf-man' and Elrohir 'Elf-horsemaster'; or the lordish blonde one, Glorfindel 'Golden-hair' perhaps?

The serendipity of Elrond's 'chance' discovery here of the vital clue of the moon letters on Thror's Map is of an order comparable with Bilbo's later 'chance' discovery of the Ring: For one particular phase of the moon would only coincide with a specific night of the year roughly once per century. This was on Durin's Day, 'the first day of the last new moon of Autumn on the threshold of Winter ... when the last moon of Autumn and the sun are in the sky together', in keeping with the Celtic calendar, which began the new year on 1 November ('The History of The Hobbit', pp. 121-26).

What Jackson might have done to add continuity and a nice touch to his trilogies' Rivendell scenes, is to include (with his mother Gilrean?) a ten-year-old Aragorn, the rightful king of Arnor and Gondor, living at the time of the Erebor-quest under the name of Estel ('Hope') in Elrond's household. Could it be that Bilbo's lifelong friendship with Aragorn began during his Rivendell visit (either on the 'there' or 'back again' trip)? Might this episode be held in reserve (as many other things) for the film's Extended Edition or for a future installment (for the final film's return trip from the Lonely Mountain perhaps)?

LOVED the Stone Giants scene — Jackson's take on part of what made possible, according to his 1937 publishers, Tolkien's astounding recreation of 'the atmosphere of the ancient North' as found in Nordic lore ('The Annotated Hobbit', pp. 15, 25). The boulder-tossing giants may be seen as a cinematic reflection of what they probably were for Tolkien: a nod to the perilous and destructive, though not necessarily cruel, 'winter' giants of ancient lore — who in Tolkien's canon were among the 'Children of Morgoth', just as the 'good'-natured Ents (i.e., Treebeard, or even Gilim and Nan of 'The Lost Tales') are perhaps Tolkien's 'summer' giants, harking back to the fire-giants and frost-giants of Eddic lore, or even to the storm-spirit 'rübezahl' of German folk-lore who, in the words of Andrew Lang, 'amused himself by rolling great rocks down into the desolate valleys, to hear the thunder of their fall echoing among the hills'. Whether called ogres, trolls, cyclopes, or giants, giant-folk loom large in the folklore of Europe; but with Tolkien they, as a group, occupy a neutral ground, neither good nor evil as a race, but varying from individual to individual. Dangerous, certainly — but as Gandalf points out in speaking of Treebeard, 'powerful' and 'perilous' is not the same thing as 'evil' (see 'The History of The Hobbit', pp. 143-46, 150-51).

Speaking of what IS evil, I relish the symbolism in Jackson's film of the vicious bats that come flying out of Dol Guldur's portals in pursuit of Radagast: for the Necromancer (Sauron) as Melkor-Morgoth's mightiest servant (whose ancient tower in Beleriand Beren and Lúthien destroyed) had once taken the shape-shifting form (in addition to that of a mighty werewolf) of a great vampire bat: 'great as a dark cloud across the moon, and he fled, dripping blood from his throat upon the trees, and came to Taur-nu-Fuin [meaning 'Mirkwood']' ... 'a new throne and darker stronghold there to build' ... and he 'dwelt there, filling it with horror...' ('Lays of Beleriand', p. 255; 'Silmarillion', p. 172; 'History of the Hobbit', pp. 20, 73). Sauron becomes anew the master of undead servants (that is, by his foul necromancy and mind-controlling enchantments, he raises them from the dead) — not only the Nazgûl but also, Tolkien tells us, werewolves, phantoms, wandering ghosts, and misbegotten or spell-wronged monsters that, in the deepening shadows of his Mirkwood fortress and under the spell of his 'glamoury', now 'work his bidding dark and vile' ('History of The Hobbit', pp. 73, 81-84).

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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