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Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Ringer Review - NAME


22, Clinton
United States

Date Posted: 2012-12-18
Tolkien Fan Level: 7
Film Format Seen? 2D 24 fps
Will view again in a different format? No

I did not go into The Hobbit expecting the grandeur that came with Lord of the Rings: The Hobbit is a much less "epic" of a tale and I think that moviegoers need to go in with this in mind. I had an absolute blast watching the film, my version was 2D, but it certainly was not perfect.
First, the pros. The acting I thought was superb and was certainly the highlight of the film. Newcomers Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage were excellent in their roles of Bilbo and Thorin while old holdovers such as Ian McKellen as Gadalf and Andy Serkis as Gollum were just as good as I expected. The most surprising to be however was the connection I felt towards some of the Dwarves, there is a scene where Bofur (James Nesbitt) has a heart-to-heart with Bilbo that had me nearly in tears. Sylvester McCoy was deliciously wacky as Radagast the Brown, and while some may see him as being a little too silly I think he fit the "kooky hermit" role very well.
I also found the length of the film to be no problem whatsoever and the friend whom I saw the film with and I were talking as soon as the credits rolled about how we wished it would just continue. Were there a few parts that dragged on? Yes, especially the White Council, but on the whole the film was very well-paced and I did not really feel the time at all.
For a Tolkien geek such as myself (you can’t shy away from that after taking two Tolkien-oriented classes in high school), the added material from the Unfinished Tales and the appendices of Lord of the Rings was also a welcome addition. One of the most gripping scenes came where Balin told the tale of how Thorin Oakenshield earned his surname in battle, and between the narration and the incredible battle scenes it was the one scene where I felt myself becoming totally lost in the spectacle of the film. While I criticized the White Council scene as being a little long I think it was important in that it really helps bridge The Hobbit to Lord of the Rings. Also with the addition of the White Council and the introduction of the Necromancer there is a certain weight and gravity added to the film that was not in The Hobbit.
Emotion in general was a big plus for this film as well. Listening to the Dwarves talk about their lost homeland and sing dark songs about their loss, seeing the pain in Thorin’s eyes as he thinks back to Erebor really shows that Peter Jackson knows how to elicit an emotional response from an audience. Even some of the moments that could be seen as cheesy (Bilbo proving to the Dwarves that he is indeed worthy of being on this journey with them) managed to come off as rather genuine and made me at least smile or tear up a little.
Now the cons. There is a problem that I have had with some of Peter Jackson’s work after Lord of the Rings and that is not so much the length of the film, but the length of certain scenes. There is one in particular towards the end where Thorin has a dramatic showdown with Azog the orc and the slow-motion goes on just long enough for me to literally roll my eyes as I sat in my chair. It was almost as if Peter Jackson was making fun of himself: dramatic music in the background, slow-motion, pan to bad guy, then good guy, then bad guy again, then CLOSE UP on good guy! It was not so much that I felt some stuff should be left for an extended edition, some scenes just needed tighter editing in general.
The enemies in this film also just did not come off as intimidating and scary as they did in Lord of the Rings, and I blame the overuse of CGI here. The thing that made goblins/orcs so terrifying in Lord of the Rings is the prosthetics made them appear real, while here the CGI, while good, was always noticeable as CGI. Azog the white orc being entirely white is a terrible decision to me, especially when we had a perfect example to build Azog off of in Lurtz from Fellowship of the Ring. If Jackson and company had followed the model of real world effects instead of digital ones I think that the film as a whole would have held more power to it even if it was not necessarily bad.
Perhaps my biggest complaint is just how many times this film harkened back to Lord of the Rings, leaving it open to comparisons that just simply are not fair to this movie or the story it is trying to tell. I am all for finding a way to connect the two trilogies of films, but to use the exact same camera shots, exact same lines and gags that were in Lord of the Rings you leave yourself open to overexposure. In the first forty minutes of the film alone Gandalf hits his head off of Bilbo’s chandelier, uses his magic booming voice to cast a large shadow over the dwarves when they started squabbling, and every time something like this came up I could not help but think that it was done better the first time around. Perhaps if the references to Lord of the Rings had been more subtle I wouldn’t have been making the comparisons so heavily.
Not a perfect film, but I suggest it none the less! 8/10

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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