Reviews

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

New Line, MGM, Wing Nut Productions

Mark Haddon

Team Jackson looks outside the novel’s narrative (which, while quicker than Rings, is still rich in detail and packed with incident) to the Tolkienverse yonder, and unashamedly treats The Hobbit as a prequel in which the return of Sauron The Deceiver is foreshadowed ominously. 

Dan Jolin, Empire

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I loved ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy; Not only were the three films full of action, drama and ground-breaking special effects, but they also were a fairly faithful portrayal of Tolkein’s work. So, I was quite excited when I heard Peter Jackson was going to bring ‘The Hobbit’ to the big screen…until I heard it was going to be three films. Yes, three. Nor were these three going to be succinct; Part I, ‘An Unexpected Journey’, clocks in at 169 minutes! When the first film hit the big screen in late 2012, I gave it a miss.

Roll forward 12 months and we are lent ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ on BluRay. A 2hr 49min epic doesn’t seem so daunting when sat at home one Christmas-time afternoon so we gave it a try. We were pleasantly surprised! The quality of the cinematography is, as you would expect from Jackson, very high. CGI has come on leaps-and-bounds since ’The Return of the King’ film was released and it is well used to bring Middle Earth alive again for this preceding tale. However, the CGI has much less ‘wow factor’ in ‘The Hobbit’ over it’s LOTR predecessors because it is now just so common place in film.

The shining star of the cast is without a doubt Martin Freeman appearing in the role of a young Bilbo Baggins. At no point during the movie did I find myself irritated by the Bilbo character, which was certainly not the case with Elijah Wood playing his nephew Frodo in LOTR. In fact, some of Martin Freeman’s English-isms are what really bring Bilbo to life; I always envisaged Hobbits being an embodiment of the habits of old gentrified England and Freeman certainly gives that feel to Bilbo.

The illustrious Sir Ian McKellen reprises his role as Gandalf the Grey, unfortunately one of the characters I found most frustrating; Although that is probably more because of the character than the actor. The Gandalf character has a degree of arrogance throughout both ‘The Hobbit’ and the LOTR trilogy, but here the character is seems to take advantage of Bilbo a little, such as inviting a troop-load of Dwarves to Bilbo’s house without telling him!

The group of dwarves who form the bulk of the characters in ‘The Hobbit’ are a rather motley crew but really do bring the story to life. There are the ‘serious’ dwarves such as Thorin Oakenshield (played by Richard Armitage) who is an exiled King whose kingdom their mission it is to reclaim, through to Kili and Fili (Aidan Turner and Dean O’Gorman) who get up to more antics - not quite the Merry & Pippin of the tale but certain playing some of that role. All appear well cast and give a solid performance but I confess, there are far too many of them to work out who they are, even in a film of this length!

It has been some time since I read ‘The Hobbit’ so I wasn’t easily able to tell which parts of the story were there to embellish / pad-out the film. There wasn’t anything there which felt completely redundant; Certainly some of the subtle references back to the LOTR were interesting. However, I still maintain it could have been cut down to a couple of hours. The viewing did kill some of my apathy towards the films and I do now want to watch the recently released part II, ’The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’. However, I will be waiting until I can watch it in the comfort of my own home. I might also re-visit the book before then too, so I know what is ‘true’ ‘The Hobbit’ and what is Peter Jackson supplementing! 

 

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Reviewed on 05/01/2014 by Angela

 

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