Date Posted: 2013-01-06
Tolkien Fan Level: 10
Film Format Seen? 3D 48 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes
Before we start, I will first point out that I am a massive Tolkein fan, so I apologise if this review seems somewhat biased.
I believe The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is an excellent film. It isn't the best film I've seen in 2012, as that accolade goes to the latest James Bond film, Skyfall. That said, there are so many positive things that can be said about the Hobbit. One other thing before we get started - if you have read anything by a critic that does not like The Hobbit, please disregard it, because they clearly have no idea what they are talking about. I'll start with the scenery. New Zealand looks absolutely fantastic, and Jackson has done the exact same as he did with Lord of the Rings - you really feel that you are in Middle Earth - the Dwarves journeying across hills and through forests with the mountains in the background - and it looks simply stunning. Areas such as the Shire, Rivendell and even the Goblin Tunnels look brilliant, most of this created on a computer - but I'll look at special effects later. But the fact is that there is hardly any fault to be found with the scenery. Moving on to the characters. Martin Freeman is excellent as Bilbo Baggins, and I really like the Dwarves, and how they have their own personalities. To name a few, Dwalin and Gloin are the warriors, Balin is the seasoned veteran, and Bofur (who I though was very well played by James Nesbit) is clearly (to me) the joker of the company. I also thought Thorin was very good - Richard Armitage had the ability to make him a commanding presence Gollum was once again excellent, and always gives you the shivers. Elrond and Galadriel are great, and I have always loved Christopher Lee as Saruman. And it is great to see Ian McKellen as Gandalf again - I'm glad he didn't want anyone else to play him! I enjoyed the Great Goblin too. He looked absolutely repulsive, and was really well voiced by Barry Humphries (Dame Edna Everage, would you believe!) I also enjoyed Radagast - I really liked his 'slightly cuckoo' character, and I thought critics were very harsh to compare him with Jar-Jar Binks - no character could possibly ever be that bad! There are one or two flaws - they haven't really alluded to why Bifur cannot talk - we know from Jackson's video blogs (which are excellent insight as to how much work and how many people go into making a film)that he has an Orc axe embedded in his head, but if you haven't seen this, then you don't really know why. Moving on to special effects - one word - outstanding. Whether it's the scenery - such as Goblin Town, Rivendell, Erebor etc, or the characters, such as Gollum, the Goblins, the battle scenes, you cannot find many faults - everything looks very natural, and they have very cleverly made characters such as Gollum and Saruman look 60 years younger. I'll talk briefly about the High Frame rate - there are scenes where you do get a slight dizzy feeling, but throughout the rest of the film, it feels incredibly natural - you feel like you're standing right next to the characters. Filming in 3D has also made this effect look more natural, rather than when something is filmed in 2D and then has 3D effects added later - the effect doesn't look as good. I'd recommend going to see the film in this effect - it was filmed this way, meaning you can appreciate it more, and see it as it was intended to be seen. Next comes the story, and here is where there are a few faults. There's nothing wrong with expanding the film, as Jackson has taken from the Hobbit and from the Appendices at the end of The Return of the King, so you can really see the history of Middle Earth, and also really see how much Jackson knows his Tolkien. My problem was the Dwarves being hunted by Azog, the White Orc. Now, if you have read the Hobbit and the Appendices, you'll know that Thror was slain in the Mines of Moria by Azog, which lead to a war between the Dwarves and Orcs, who sought to avenge the death of their king. Eventually, the Dwarves fought the Orcs outside Moria. The story behind Thorin's 'Oakenshield' nickname is true, but not accurately told, although I can undestand this as developing Thorin as a true leader of the Dwarves. But my problem was that, at the time of the Hobbit, Azog is supposed to be dead. Apart from the odd flaw, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a truly excellent film. Jackson has worked his magic again, and I cannot wait to see what he does with The Desolation of Smaug, and There and Back Again. Role on December!
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