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Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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A Willful Ring & Pity

Date Posted: 2012-12-29
Tolkien Fan Level: 9
Film Format Seen? Imax 3D 48 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes

My new favorite audiovisual mode for entering Middle-earth: D-BOX 2D 24fps (as I'm now a veteran of IMAX HFR 48fps, IMAX 3D, and 2D Dolby Atmos). Just WOW!!! Loved the added THRILL and 'booster' effect of seat-pumping movement and RUMBLE!! It's just that much more of a WHOLLY immersive experience (BTW, this is one 'self-thinker' who still generally loathes the so-called professional 'critics' yet absolutely adores what Peter Jackson has done with this 'more comprehensive' adaptation of Tolkien's original Hobbit tale: BRILLIANT).

Not to dismiss 3D, of course — also a fun novelty, not to be missed for sure — but in that medium a director all but 'FORCES' your eye where to look, doesn't allow it to WANDER AT WILL, as it might otherwise do while admiring a fine painting or art-piece (NOTE: hopefully all of this highlights what should be anyone's ability, except the occasional lamebrain with a penchant for genuine idiocy, i.e., not a few 'critics' I'm now aware of, to separate an affinity for FORMAT — the way a film's presented onscreen vs. QUALITY of THE FILM itself, i.e., story/screenplay, acting, cinematography, production artistry — the merits of its cinematic retelling): Might not HFR, 3D, and 2D all be, within the same film, artfully mixed one day? Time will tell.

But speaking of FREE WILL ...

What an entrancing image: to witness the legendary One Ring of Power — in a marvellously acted 'introductory' sequence within Peter Jackson's stunningly crafted film — take on its 'willful' character role (as it does in LOTR) 'as it quietly slipped on to [Bilbo's] groping forefinger'. For that living band of gold becomes, in its own awareness of that fateful moment, the 'actor' (and Bilbo the 'acted upon') as it plunges the hobbit into its ethereal world of invisibility and power.

Perhaps later in this new 'Hobbit' trilogy we'll see the Ring commit (as it initially does in Tolkien's 'Hobbit') acts of 'betrayal' or 'abandonment' ('a last trick of the ring before it took a new master' — the Ring's own 'there and back again' attempt, in retrospect, to get itself from Bilbo into the hands of an orc and eventually back to the Ring-Lord Necromancer himself). Or perhaps we'll even see it show 'awakenings' of its ancient ability to seduce and entrap (à la Isildur), thereby binding the Ring more closely to its 'performance' in LOTR (both book and film) with its more malign characterizations that there exist.

And it's wonderful also to finally see filmic expression of Bilbo's transformative, new trait — 'suddenly' born as a comprehending and marvellous mercy: 'a sudden understanding, a pity mixed with horror ... a glimpse of endless unmarked days without light or hope of betterment ... He trembled ... [and was] lifted by a new strength and resolve'.

As John D. Rateliff takes note, Bilbo's sudden insight into Gollum's inner life here (a scene perfectly translated to film by Jackson and the astounding, exquisitely nuanced performances of Freeman and Serkis!) is on a par with the unwitnessed moment outside Shelob's lair when Gollum briefly appears as 'an old weary hobbit, shrunken by the years that had carried him far beyond his time, beyond friends and kin, and the fields and streams of youth, an old starved pitiable thing'.

Thus, Bilbo by his new-found pity immediately sees Gollum 'as a fellow creature' and therefore is unable to murder him, even in self-defense. Rather — upon being suddenly 'lifted' (such as was his 'luck') — Bilbo CHOOSES to make 'a leap in the dark'.

Tolkien himself sums it up, when he observed that the impact of that one perilous episode and choice remains a great wonder of the ages, strange and marvellous indeed: 'how by that game at the dark roots of the Misty Mountains [on 19 July, T.A. 2941] the history [> fortunes] of the Western world and the end of the Third Age was changed...' 'The History of The Hobbit', pp. 744-745, 752.

I absolutely (back to my audiovisual experience of PJ's film) LOVED the D-BOX, though! While I do love the added clarity of HFR (especially in the Erebor, battle/action, eagle-flight scenes), I still am nostalgically drawn by my fondness for the 'storybook fantasy' painted-canvas look of traditional 2D that allows you 'for one brief shining moment' to fully escape 'the REAL world' and become lost in WONDER ...

And it's the most peculiar thing: Having watched it once, THIS FILM has an odd power that makes you want to go see it again ... and again ... and again — it somehow draws you back, for I'm finding myself now far too often (against Bilbo's oft-repeated warning) 'walking out my door' to return to the Shire to begin a quest-journey to Erebor.

Now, if I can only find a theatre that has (for me) the motherlode combo: IMAX D-BOX 2D 24fps with DOLBY ATMOS sound (!!!), I think I will have found my own 'perfect portal' back to Middle-earth, to the reinvigorating powers of its boundless enchantment!

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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