28, Stony Plain
Date Posted: 2012-12-14
Tolkien Fan Level: 6
Film Format Seen? 3D 48 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes
An Unexpected Journey is everything I was hoping for and more! So many moments had me smiling like a kid at Christmas. The small moments that pay homage to the LOTR trilogy and weave them seamlessly together with The Hobbit were wonderful. Dialogue taken almost word for word from the book (often in surprising places I didn't expect) gave me a goofy grin and a warm fuzzy feeling inside. I admit to more than a little squee-ing inside.
The greatest treasure of this movie is definitely Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins - he is just spot on - I LOVED him! He made me laugh, pulled my heartstrings and made me swell with pride at his personal journey from a homey hobbit to a courageous one. I believe his popularity will outshine many of the beloved characters from LOTR. The dwarves were also wonderful - though we don't get to know all of them in detail, there is still a sense of each personality and the brotherhood they share. The movie steers clear of clichÃ© concerning the dwarves, which prevents them from becoming caricatures or one-dimensional cutout characters. Thorin shines above the others and I can't wait to see his character arc continue in the next two movies. Highlights for me were definitely the Riddles in the Dark - iconic in the book and now immortalized on screen in a sequence that was nothing short of fantastic. The cinematography was spectacular - Peter Jackson's sweeping camerawork has improved by leaps and bounds and the scenery was just so sumptuous that I felt Middle Earth surround me in breathtaking fashion. I have no words to describe revisiting an expanded Rivendell - beautiful doesn't even come close. The humor - something that was sparse in LOTR - comes in welcome spades in The Hobbit and gives the movie as a whole a much lighter, heart-warming feel in contrast to the LOTR darker tone. The things that didn't work for me were mostly technical - the 48 FPS in some sequences was stunning and I can definitely see its appeal, I'm glad I gave it a try, however in the action sequences and with CGI characters it is a bit iffy. The higher frame rate takes a while to get used to and can be a bit jarring sometimes - I would like to compare it to regular 3D to do a real comparison though. Also, I would rather have seen more prosthetic characters than CGI ones in a lot of cases. I felt Peter Jackson used a LOT more digital characters and it didn't always work the best. Having said that, none of the technical issues I had with the film marred the story, which was absolutely wonderful. The changes from the book were minor and the appendices additions were very much welcome in my opinion, fleshing out the story in many cases. This film is definitely a film for fans, who I think will love it. Some casual movie goers may be surprised by the much different tone from the LOTR. It is much more light-hearted and much more fantasy or fable oriented adventure than the quest was in LOTR. The central theme of home and what home means is one that I think all audience members will be able to identify with though, and gave the movie its heart. I felt for Bilbo, very much like I did in the book, as he leaves comfortable familiarity for danger, excitement and the great wide open world. Feeling very much the outsider and the useless 3rd wheel at times, is something we can all identify with and it is encouraging to see how he proves himself over the course of the film. Overall I was thoroughly impressed, there was a perfect balance of action, humor, heart and adventure. I was so happy to not only return to Middle Earth, but to see fantasy given such a wonderful on screen return, not only visually, but with a really good emotional backbone. Not since Return of the King have I been so immersed in a fantasy world and I loved it!
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