Hello my friends! It’s Robbie K back with another review after coming off of a two week dry spell, and what a movie to return to. As many know, this weekend belongs Peter Jackson’s newest installment The Hobbit, another tribute to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings world. Now The Hobbit might be one of my favorite fantasy books, so I was very excited to see Jackson taking on the challenge of bringing the Middle Earth to life once more. Yet with his plans to make three movies based on this book, I was worried that Mr. Jackson may have added some extra footage that took away from the movie. So let’s get to work as I review The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
With a good book, comes great characters and with great characters come big expectations, and in my opinion, this movie meets those expectations. While the Hobbit has many characters, I have limited space to complement on a few actors that brought the traveling company to life. My first actor to talk about is Martin Freeman, who played the protagonist Bilbo Baggins. Freeman has already had experience portraying legendary characters like Sherlock Holmes’ Dr. Watson, and has impressed me with his work in the past. I’m happy to say that Freeman has done his job again, using his natural awkwardness to bring Bilbo’s shy and cowardly nature to life on the screen. I felt that Freeman’s facial expressions were perhaps the strongest tool in his arsenal, using it to represent the internal emotional struggles Frodo faces in the book, while solidly delivering his lives. The legendary Ian McKellen returns to play Gandalf, using his enchanting voice to bring the wit and wisdom of the wizard out to entertain the masses. Of all the characters, he was the most diverse, as McKellen manages to deliver well timed lines with just enough emphasis to make it funny. Even McKellen’s look portrays wizard, as he goes from joking, lovable hermit, to wise and fearless warrior. To finish up the actors section I’ll talk about Richard Armitage playing the lead dwarf Thorin. Bringing a hero of the dwarf world to life was no easy feat I’m sure, but the casting crew did a great job picking him for the part. Not only does Armitage have the look of headstrong, proud warrior, but he also has the voice that I pictured the character having. Armitage managed to capture pride, emotional recklessness, and determined nature of dwarf leader, which kept me hooked into the story Jackson was portraying.
However, acting isn’t the only strength of this movie. Like many fans, I wondered how Jackson could extend this story into three parts. I feared that like some of his other movies, Jackson was going to put in extra detail that was a dragged out boring mess that was merely used to extend the movie into some obscenely long time. With the Hobbit though, I think he managed to get the balance right, as the extra scenes I saw made the story even more interesting. Though I do not remember everything about the book, the film contained some plot elements that were new to me. Jackson managed to integrate these scenes well, making them key parts of the story that set up more adventure for the later installments. Some of these scenes though are a little tough to understand at this point though, as some of these extra scenes are left unexplained leaving them a little out of place in this movie. Despite these extra scenes though, Jackson did a decent job capturing the immense detail this book contains and in a decent amount of time. Although there is almost a three hour price tag with this film, it didn’t feel like I was in the movie for that long. Unlike its predecessors, The Hobbit’s pace stays decent moving from one challenge to another quickly, yet making sure to address the backgrounds and plot elements that are necessary. Yet like the book, the beginning is a little slow, with Jackson taking a little too much time on the Baggins home, especially the unneeded Frodo cameo. Yet my friends and I agree, once the quest has started, there are very few lack of a better phrase “long feeling” scenes that will bore you out of your mind. I’ll go ahead and answer the question of how is the Action? Like the earlier installments, Jackson’s crew has gone above and beyond bringing the battle to life. Whether it is flashbacks or troll bashing, this movie had a decent amount of sword swinging, axe smashing, and arrow shooting chaos to open up a new trilogy. Fans will be pleased with the teamwork of the dwarves, and may appreciate the focus on individual combat styles of the party instead of the clashing army swarm fights many movies like to use.
What else is there to say about the Hobbit? One thing is the camera work, which captures the beautiful wilderness frontier, though a few scenes may cause some motion sickness. The digital art and creation of the various Middle Earth kingdoms was also impressive, as the computer generated lands were stunning. The intricate details of the dwarven halls, the polished finesse of the elven castles, and the rugged waste land of the frontier were all designed to capture the emotion of the scene. Though what are visuals without music? Fear not my friends as the Hobbit has another award winning soundtrack that will take your breath away.
Overall this was my favorite movie of the four Middle Earth films. With great balance, a fantastic pace, beautiful visuals, and some entertaining characters I have no doubt the other two movies will be great. Do yourself a favor and go see this movie in theaters, preferably 2D, and enjoy the world Peter Jackson has created once more. My scores for this film are the following:
Movie Overall: 8.5-9.0