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Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Ringer Review - NAME

Namarie Going Under

31, Dallas
United States

Date Posted: 2012-12-15
Tolkien Fan Level: 5
Film Format Seen? 2D 24 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes

Overall: 4 out of 5 rings, a satisfying return to Middle-Earth. Breaking it down, though...

Make-up: Superb. The Dwarves come alive as a living, breathing, fleshed out race with its own style and culture, even moreso than they did in LOTR, and everything looks as it should in Jackson's interpretation of Middle-Earth. Each dwarf is distinct while still looking part of a common race, even the brothers tended to resemble each other. Prosthetics and wigs/facial hair as good as I've ever seen on film, which is quite a feat considering we're dealing with some very fantastical characters with some pretty extreme prosthetics.

Music: One of the only minor letdowns for me. Other than the what seems to be the main theme (the theme the dwarves sing over at Bag-End) everything else seemed a bit rehashed. I think more original elements with reminders of LOTR themes peppered in would have been a better approach than primarily old themes peppered with new ones. Still, not bad by any stretch.

Art Direction: Flawless. The world of Middle-Earth has never looked this vibrant, awe inspiring or Tolkienesque. Better than the LOTR Trilogy in my opinion, which is saying a lot.

Acting: Very good. Martin Freeman slips into the role of Bilbo effortlessly, and Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis and Richard Armitage all turn in excellent performances. The Dwarves that were given any real dialogue and face time-- James Nesbitt, Aidan Turner, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, Dean O'Gorman and Adam Brown-- were all great as well, very likeable and charmingly Dwarvish. The rest were just kind of there. Hopefully they get their chance in the next two films.

Cinematography: Excellent. Epic and sweeping, elegant and intimate, almost flawless really. The camera moves with that flowing, stylish Jacksonian skill.

Costume Design: Best. Dwarves. Ever. Nuff' Said. Well, I could've done without Rhadagast's bird poo hair streak, but other than that Nuff' Said.

Directing: Very good as always with PJ; his visceral instincts and storytelling sense are firmly intact, though I think he may have gotten a little carried away at points with storylines that diverged from Bilbo's quest. While I enjoyed the extension of both Gandalf and Thorin's stories, I thought they distracted a bit too much from Bilbo's journey, making him seem more a co-star in an ensemble piece than the main protagonist of the story. If I had my way I'd probably have ditched expanding on the White Council and the Necromancer. There was something really nifty about the way it's glossed over in the book, the idea of this huge struggle between powerhouses taking place offscreen as this little Hobbit beats his way through the wilderness.

Seeing it onscreen confirmed the fears I had when I heard they were adding it; that it would make the films lose focus, trying to hard to serve too many masters when a simple linear telling of Bilbo's quest would ultimately have been better. I hope Jackson makes me eat my words by having that arc play out in a fantastic, well told and well integrated way across the next two films, but the way it seemed to distract from more than add to my enjoyment of the first film makes me think that's doubtful. We'll see.

Editing and Screenplay: See Directing.

Special Effects: Top notch. Weta, the best effects house in the business, pull all the stops. The cgi creatures are splendidly done and exceptionally well integrated, whilst digital scenery and background is seamlessly interwoven with Weta Workshops absolute technical brilliance. You really aren't going to find better effects than this anywhere.

To sum up, as a longtime Tolkien (and PJ) fanatic I'm completely psyched and sated with the way it turned out. My gripes are few, my kudos and props are many, to me that spells success.

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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