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Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


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Ringer Review - NAME

Jacqui

24, Manila
Philippines

Date Posted: 2013-01-02
Tolkien Fan Level: 7
Film Format Seen? 2D 24 fps
Will view again in a different format? No
 Rings!

I thought of writing this review the typical way: with a summary of the events of the movie But I figure it’s going to take away from the parts I want to highlight most. So I’m just going to jump right into everything that stood out to me in this excellent adaptation.

Erebor. If there was anything the LOTR movies lacked, it was an adequate representation of the Dwarf legacy. We see the striking elegance of the Elves, the durability of Men, and the rustic charm of the Hobbits, but nothing that speaks distinctly of the race Gimli stands for. With the depiction of the Dwarf kingdom here, finally we understand. The halls of Erebor are nothing like Minas Tirith or Rivendell, but they are equally awe-inspiring—from Thror’s throne room to the inner rooms depicting the mining and crafting activities, everything has its own elegance and personality. When it is razed with Smaug’s fire, the destruction struck a sad and horrific chord. If I had lost a home like that, I probably would not let it go either. And speaking of understanding, the (movie) answer as to why Elves and Dwarves dislike each other so much is revealed. Thranduil’s appearance in Erebor is non-canonical, certainly, but this deviation is quite welcome as it helps to explain Gimli’s attitude towards Elves in FOTR. It also adds a new dimension to the depiction of the Elves, who, up until this point, have been shown in the films as wise, graceful, strong, benevolent allies of Middle-Earth. This interlude, despite its brevity, tells us something important: the Elves can be jerks too.

Bilbo. If Martin Freeman gets no recognition for this role, it would be a travesty. He takes just enough from Sir Ian Holm’s admirable portrayal to tie his Bilbo to the older counterpart—his shout of “I’m going on an adventure!” sounds so much like Sir Ian Holm, I got chills. At the same time, he brings so many new things to the character—his hilariously scared-stiff reaction to the idea of going on adventures, his confusion as he is thrust into unknown territory, and his organic growth into the quick-witted, heroic hobbit he is by the end of the movie. He balances beautifully both the “Baggins” side and the “Tookish” side, and we have a Bilbo that is so relatable and root-able.

And of course there’s Riddles in the Dark. Without a doubt, this is one of the absolute best parts of the entire film. Martin and Andy Serkis play off each other like they’ve been working together forever. The scene is chilling, dramatic, and suspenseful in the right places. One would think we’d seen all we could see of Gollum in LOTR, but Andy continues to refresh this character—as he engages in the riddle game with Bilbo, there’s a childlike side to Smeagol we haven’t seen before. The Gollum side trying to rein in the other personality is beautifully acted, and Bilbo’s sensitivity to this makes for an exciting back-and-forth contest. And the progression of the scene to the point where Bilbo must decide whether to slay Gollum or not is set up very well—it’s clear that Gollum is an unbalanced, murderous obstacle between Bilbo and his way out. At the same time, there’s that small, good Smeagol side that’s just confused and lost in his solitude. Martin displays this inner conflict with amazing skill, and when he escapes, the resulting rage and anguish displayed by Andy’s Gollum is piercing. It really is a shame there’s only one Riddles in the Dark sequence in The Hobbit.

Fortunately, there’s no lack of Gandalf. It must be strange playing the “younger” version of a character 10 years after you’d played the original character, but Sir Ian McKellen pulls it off with aplomb. Definitely no rust on this reprisal. AUJ’s Gandalf the Grey is distinctly more light-hearted, more doubtful of himself, and more of a “rookie” than LOTR’s version. But he is still the same Gandalf who can pull off miraculous rescues, offer remarkable life lessons to young hobbits who might be standing around, and kick Orc butt.

And there’s Thorin. My inner purist must bow to Peter Jackson’s vision of Thorin. He is much younger than he should be, but it’s hard to care about that when Richard Armitage brings such incredible depth to the King Under the Mountain. He’s a very very tragic character in how he carries all this bitterness and grief with him, but at the same time, these very things add to what makes him feel kingly. When he got down from the burning tree, took up Orcrist and his oakenshield, and faced off against Azog, that was my favourite Thorin moment. It feels like an allegory of him going toe to toe with the past he must defeat if he is to succeed in his goal…yet he is not yet able to do so.

I, for one, can’t wait to see how Jackson will choose to take the rest of this journey. The story of The Hobbit is well-known to many, yet the movie brings many new, unexpected twists. When the film ended with Smaug’s opening eye, I knew I had no choice to stay alive until 2014, until There and Back Again has come out.

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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