Date Posted: 2012-12-17
Tolkien Fan Level: 10
Film Format Seen? 3D 48 fps
Will view again in a different format? No
It was with great apprehension that I went to the cinema to watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. My first introduction to Middle-earth was The Fellowship of the Ring ten years ago. Since then, my life has changed thanks to Tolkien. I have a tattoo in Elvish and a Master's dissertation on the aesthetics of good and evil; Middle-earth is still where I go for comfort, joy, wisdom and understanding.
So, yes. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was weighted with my monumental expectations. It didn't disappoint. This is a movie that has many, many nods to long-time Tolkien fans, but it's also a movie that keeps anyone on edge, including those who have spent years in Middle-earth and know these stories as well as their own histories. It's a movie that certainly doesn't skimp on the details! While I love the book, the movie gives you much more reason to root for the dwarves, a better understanding of Thorin's motives and behaviour, and a strong sense of the larger world within which this Quest takes place and the politics it forms part of. I disagree with people who think the dialogue was clunky in parts. Even if it was archaic, it was perfectly delivered by some truly amazing actors. Martin Freeman's Bilbo was pitch-perfect, and spoke some of the most unabashedly earnest, heartfelt lines in the movie with such delicate feeling that I defy the most cynical viewer to leave untouched. I've been a long-time fan of Richard Armitage's work and he was magnificent as Thorin Oakenshield, who is a character who is very difficult to like and possibly one of the most ambivalent characters in The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings. Things I liked best: The Riddles in the Dark sequence (which was exactly as I imagined it), the Goblin Town scenes (I loved the venal, ridiculous Goblin King!), the deftly-done undercurrent of humour that didn't take away from the majesty and pathos of the Dwarves' characters and history. I also LOVED the inclusion of the songs! Things I didn't like: Radagast. I didn't think his scenes fit in very well and they were the most draggy bits of the movie. He was also a little too...eccentric for my taste (the bird poo down the side of his face stood out in a film that was otherwise full of stellar design decisions!). The 48 fps wasn't as intrusive as some people made out. For me, it added to the depth, clarity and colour of the movie as a whole and I am totally sold on it. I also like how the landscapes around Rivendell and the Misty Mountains look very familiar and yet... not the same as they do in The Lord of the Rings. I loved the movie. I left the cinema feeling more than satisfied. This a movie that really immerses you in Middle-earth, through landscapes, costumes, characters, language and sentiment. The sheet heart that I go to the Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit for is very much in evidence throughout and that, I think, says it all.
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