Date Posted: 2012-12-15
Tolkien Fan Level: 2
Film Format Seen? 3D 24 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a welcome return to Middle-earth, though it feels much like an extended version offering overstretched scenes and extra trimmings that critics and non-Ringers alike won't have the patience for. I firmly believe that a two-film adaptation would have achieved the perfect balance between character development and plot, but three films is pushing it. In satisfying three films, the less-than-welcome presence of Radagast the Brown and the dreadful addition of Azog, a CGI monstrosity were warranted. Though they are each mentioned only once or twice in the book, the blessed appendices in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King elaborate on their affairs, which Peter Jackson is more than happy to incorporate into his movie, if only in a less cringe-worthy fashion. Azog is a bland, videogame-ish villain (who not to mention bears a striking resemblance to Kratos, the character from the God of War series) that the screenwriters saw fit to resurrect despite him being dead in the book. He along with all the 'orcs' in this film do not speak English and are all computer generated as opposed to actors in make-up like we are used to in Peter Jackson's Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Doing away with 'bigatures' and other good old fashion filmmaking tricks that served the Rings films so well consequently yields a less gritty movie. Nevertheless there is much technical wizardry to gape at. Gollum is the one CGI-laden character that works spectacularly, thanks to the masterful Andy Serkis who ought to at least receive an Oscar nomination for his efforts. Though Gollum steals this film, performances all around were excellent, particularly those of Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, and Richard Armitage which were a trifecta of perfection. While recycling many familiar themes, Howard Shore still delivers an impressive score that complements the film wonderfully. Overall I give this movie a B-, and recommend you all see it in IMAX. I'm now interested to see how Peter Jackson takes the criticism of this film and applies it to The Desolation of Smaug, which I'm now desperately anticipating.
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