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Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Ringer Review - NAME

A 'Purist' Exercise to Stretch Imagination

Date Posted: 2013-01-04
Tolkien Fan Level: 9
Film Format Seen? 2D 24 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes

'The first Lord of the [R]ings movie was hard to follow. I found this one really easy to follow... I never read the series and I still enjoyed the movie. My wife read all the books and she also enjoyed it...' ~ Marcus

When we encounter reviewers who've never (they themselves confess) been interested in Tolkien, nor read a single volume of his works in their lives (who, surprisingly enough, are abundantly amongst us in this 'Ringer Reviews' forum), yet who were fully able to 'easily follow' all plot points and storylines in Jackson's UNEXPECTED JOURNEY — from the screen's very first reveal of Erebor to the last — and then, simultaneously, encounter others who, as self-professed Tolkien 'experts', complain that the 'expanded' story structure and presentation 'confused' them, it is embarrassingly sad. For the 'road adventure' nature of the movie IS very simple, straightforward, and 'easy to understand', even for the 'new-comer'.

I'm an open-minded 'purist' who also considers himself well-versed in JRRT's legendarium (having studied in depth Christopher Tolkien's HoME, in addition to most of his father's known works, letters, essays, poetry, etc.), and IF the very least of novices in the 'beginners tier' of Tolkien study/fandom can entirely appreciate, understand, and otherwise comprehend what PJ and his team have been able to accomplish in this magnificent first installment of THE HOBBIT (an incredible phenomenon that's surely not without any dearth of converging complications, 'petty' impediments, and otherwise 'testing' trials before its admirable achievement finally reached our local cinemas), THEN certainly, for the mentally-taxed 'advanced student', a 'good college try' in the very least (in this regard) is called for, to enable perhaps a bit of an invigorating stretch of the imagination to clear the mind of whatever unimaginative cobwebs may yet be lurking there . . .

For this very state of 'being dull' or unimaginative — of being incapable of conjuring colorful, fantastically diverse images, or of sub-creating in such astonishing array as have these Kiwi wizard-artists who've filmically applied ONLY THE VERY BEST of their brilliant conceptions — is anathema to Peter Jackson. The diverse artistic choices ultimately approved and implemented by Peter for his HOBBIT trilogy of films are as original and inspired as ANY that might alternatively have been chosen to take their place (this multicultural director delights in diversity above all). Moreover, those choices, as they informed set, costume and character design — though of necessity they've had to undergo certain changes for timeline and character 'condensation' or 'compression', in order to fulfill the demands of this precise medium (the special requirements of film) — mesh wonderfully with Tolkien's 'canon': e.g., the fabulously eccentric evil-Maia 'Goblin King' who in his dark ambition mortally usurps a giant corporeal form (and 'King's Speech'!) in order to properly 'rule and reign' over a mountain-multitude of Morgoth's minions, or the delightfully humble 'creature caring' conjurer Radagast the Brown, or the boulder-tossing Stone Giants that awesomely give credence to the great mythic tales of the ancient North, and indeed attest, as Bofur exclaims, that 'the legends are TRUE!'

Suspension of disbelief gives us JOY in FANTASY. There are, after all (as Gandalf tells Frodo), many Powers in this World (the filmic One that Jackson has created), and 'against Some' Our Imaginations 'have not yet been tested'. Many reviewers, for instance, have scoffed at Radagast's ability (or perhaps more accurately, his inability) to cross o'er the Misty Mountains in such a 'ridiculous', and also 'ridiculously quick', fashion (in a rabbit-drawn sled, in so short a time, over so treacherous a 'path'). But there is perhaps much we do not know about Jackson's Radagast, just as there is certainly much we do not know about Tolkien's Radagast (for the author never supplied us with much!). His 'magic sledge' may perchance have about it a magician's aura imbued with wizardly incantations or spells of special protection and power. Moreover, Jackson never tells us the time-frame between Gandalf's 'rainy' reflection of the Brown Wizard and the transition to his Rhosgobel cottage whence he discovers Dol Guldur's re-inhabitation by 'a dark power' — scenes that easily might have taken place several weeks, if not months, before the rainy woodland trek of Gandalf and Company on the Great East Road through Eriador, giving Radagast more than enough time, especially considering his appropriately Slavic-inspired mode of transport, to reach Gandalf in the Trollshaws when he did — and without the slightest strain on our 'Real World'-burdened imaginations! For these are flashback-scenes of an unarticulated 'recent past' that bespeak a desperate journey we simply don't 'see'.

Heaven forbid the fantasy director from leaving THAT 'unexpected journey' to our imaginations! :)

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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