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Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


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Ringer Review - NAME

Lavinia

16,
Date Posted: 2013-01-05
Tolkien Fan Level: 9
Film Format Seen? 3D 48 fps
Will view again in a different format? No
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Some are calling it a splendid success, and others are calling it an unexpected failure. Despite the extremes, most critics are settling in the middle. Peter Jackson’s first installment of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was definitely…unexpected.
For those who do not yet know the story of The Hobbit, it is a children’s tale, set in the fictional world of Middle-Earth. There lives in the west a gentle, peaceful population of small people called hobbits. The Hobbit follows the story of Bilbo Baggins, just another hobbit, until the wizard Gandalf sends him on a grand adventure.
The cast was great, and I can hardly complain about any actor’s performance. Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman delivered solid performances of Gandalf and Bilbo respectively. Richard Armitage brought Thorin to a whole new level. Thorin’s character, forgive me for the cliché, came to life in the movie. I despised the haughty dwarf prince of the book, but Armitage’s Thorin was noble and honorable with a touch of tragic. The motley crew of dwarves was a bit like a squabbling gaggle of geese, as they were in the novel. And although the plot was a very different interpretation of the story, it still flowed well, with some added help from Howard Shore’s magnificent soundtrack. I had the theme stuck in my head for a good week afterwards!
Unfortunately, some parts seemed as though Tolkien’s beloved children’s tale had been spun into a menacing Lord of the Rings strive-to-be. The film took on the darker tone of the trilogy, leaving behind the cheerfulness of the book a little too quickly. The only positive aspect is that these darker overlays were consistent and rather cleverly woven into the plot. Personally, the main antagonist Azog the Orc Chieftain was a delightful addition (in the book he had already died by this time.) My only complaint is that he need not be animated! Peter Jackson had a lot of technology on his hands, but much that could have been achieved using old school techniques could have stayed that way. Having human actors embalmed in stifling goblin costumes would make the movie seem more down to earth. And down to earth is what we’re shooting for: Middle-Earth, no matter how fantastical and far-removed, must still bear resemblance to our world for audiences to stay connected. Some scenes were too unrealistic, such as trek through the goblin tunnels and Radagast acting as an organic rabbit-driving Santa. These scenes had me wondering how the dwarves could make it through completely unscathed!
One thing the film conveyed very well was the novel’s core theme: character development. The Hobbit can be described as a sort of late bildungsroman; a coming of age story. Through these wild and wacky experiences, stuffy and dignified Bilbo learns to open his eyes to the world around him. As his nephew Frodo quotes him much later, “It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to.”
Overall, the film was a very loose parallel to the children’s book (mind you, this is not a children’s movie.) Many additions were humorous, as extra attempts to return the to the book’s jovial tone. Even die-hard Tolkien fans should give it a shot because film is a completely different medium from text. I recommend seeing the trilogy first, as it really brings into perspective the enormity of work that the film makers are dealing with. It also gives an idea of Peter Jackson’s style, which has greatly influenced our interpretation of Middle-Earth.
Despite some shortcomings that I had not anticipated, I thoroughly enjoyed the Hobbit movie. It took me back to where the Lord of the Rings had left me hanging; back to the beautiful world of Middle-Earth. There is a childish wisdom in this fantastic world that wows me every time. I won’t spoil any more. I definitely recommend seeing it, but beware: it will keep you begging for more!

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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