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Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Ringer Review - NAME


37, Allentown
United States

Date Posted: 2012-12-11
Tolkien Fan Level: 5
Film Format Seen?
Will view again in a different format?

‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘ is a fulfilling and entertaining adventure that is sure to please most Middle-earth enthusiasts. Filled with direct book-to-screen moments and some unique new additions, the film stands as a strong first installment of a three-year adventure. If you think of it as a fine art masterpiece in a beautiful museum, it can sit proudly next to its LOTR siblings. Well, sorta. You see, someone chose an overly busy frame with bright colors and fancy patterns that distracts from the essential content. Luckily, in your experience, you can easily swap out the frame.

As you’ll read later, this reviewer suggests this may be the wisest course first-up.

As an adaptation and expansion on Tolkien’s 75-year-old children literature classic — emphasis on children — this film is more fantastic and at times more ‘cartoony’ than its trilogy predecessor. A quick example… while in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring we see the four Hobbits trying to escape Farmer Maggot and falling down a long slope with nothing but a broken carrot, in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey we see the Company of Thorin falling down a 1000-foot crevasse (multiple times) and simply dusting themselves off.

That theme permeates the film. The ‘bad guys’ are not quite horrible monstrosities that cause death and destruction but instead are similar to villains in an episode of the A-Team. You know, where no matter how many times they shoot at our heroes, they never actually hit their mark. It ultimately makes for exciting confrontations, but no real concern the heroes will meet their doom. Some who are not familiar with the childish nature of The Hobbit might find this a bit odd when they compare the drama to the LOTR films.

The acting by the core cast was astoundingly good. Martin Freeman IS Bilbo Baggins and as expected delivers an amazing performance with true emotion, humor and feeling. Ian McKellen is a less serious version of his LOTR-self and in many ways a lot more likable. His sense of humor comes across more in the performance and it is very endearing. Richard Armitage delivers a dead-on performance of Thorin. For those of us who know what the future holds for Thorin, I can clearly state the casting was perfect. Andy Serkis returns as Gollum and provides yet another amazing performance. ‘Riddles in the Dark’ will be one of your favorite scenes – guaranteed!

The dwarves were always a bit of a concern for me because I thought we’d be spending a lot of time getting to know each and dealing with lot of childish humor. This is not the case. They do all get introductions and each has their own distinct and unique contribution to the film. There is of course some ‘potty’ humor, but nothing that is overdone or inconsistent. Ken Stott as Balin delivers a stand-out performance — one that does not go unnoticed and puts him on par with the other key players.

The rest of the cast provide strong performances but some are a bit constrained by the visual performance that accompanies their acting. If you are looking for the awesomeness of The Goblin King from Rankin/Bass, I fear you will be a bit disappointed. And Radagast, while semi-interesting and fun in a childish sense (which is okay!), seems to be just thrown in to have another wizard.

Some of the folks I saw the film with had issues with the ‘slowness’ of the story, but I did not. I was surprised how fast the film felt – when it ended I was surprised at the time.

To avoid major spoilers, I’ll just say that there were definitely a few points where I felt the small things were ‘overdone.’ Take Elrond’s reading of the moon-letters on the map.

The book: …The moon was shining in a broad silver crescent. He held up the map and the white light shone through it. “What is this?” he said. “There are moon-letters here…

In the movie it’s not nearly so simple. You see, apparently the Elves in Rivendell have painstakingly built a ledge on a massive cliff-face complete with a special moon-table. To read moon-letters, you must gather around this table and place the suspected moon-letter document on the table. The table then glows with moon-light and reveals what is on it. I can’t imagine this ledge gets much use — typical of the wealthy elves to be so wasteful with space and function. Heh — yeah, I had a bit of a chuckle at that point.

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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