THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY Review

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In our cinematic age of superhero and sci-fi films, director Peter Jackson is doing his part to shoulder the fantasy genre with a return to Middle Earth in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The first in a trilogy of films adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” An Unexpected Journey sets out to tell the tale of titular protagonist Bilbo Baggins and a company of Dwarves on a quest to reclaim their ancestral home from the grip of the fearsome dragon, Smaug. The film also serves to establish an origin point for the events leading up to and through Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a classic adventure quest in the making; packed with colorful characters, gorgeous settings and plenty of action, the only setbacks are technical ones.

Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett and Andy Serkis, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens in 3D December 14th. Hit the jump for my review.

the-hobbit-martin-freemanGoing in to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, it was difficult to hazard a guess as to how much of the source material I’d be seeing on screen. With Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, he kept the book-to-film ratio at 1-to-1, with a moderate degree of variation. For The Hobbit prequel trilogy, Jackson and screenwriters Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro portioned out Tolkien’s original tome to suit the needs of all three films (though it was originally only two).  Judging from An Unexpected Journey, I think it’s safe to say that we’re in good hands, as far as story goes.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey starts off with a prologue that explains a bit of backstory, much like the opening of The Fellowship of the Ring. (The comparisons between the first films in each trilogy are quite striking; we’ll get into that more later.) This time, instead of a history lesson from Galadriel (Blanchett), we’re treated to a narration by an elder Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm). In the chronology of the overall story, this is just before his long-awaited party in the early part of Fellowship. What might be my favorite sequence of the entire film comes within the first few minutes, as Bilbo narrates over the destruction of the ancient Dwarven kingdom of Erebor by the fearsome dragon, Smaug. We also get the introduction to our secondary protagonist, the serious and driven leader of the Dwarves, Thorin Oakenshield (Armitage). Armitage is positively heroic in the role and Jackson gives him plenty of camera time to shine.

But what this picture really comes down to is right in the title: Hobbits and unexpected journeys. Freeman plays a version of Bilbo who is 60 years younger than that of Holms’ and does so with a reluctant and nebbish quality. As Gandalf (McKellen) and the company of 13 well-armed and armored Dwarves storm into his Hobbit hole and ransack his wares, Bilbo attempts to turn them away, equipped with only strong words and sulking expressions. Freeman portrays the reclusive Bilbo quite well, but comes alive as the Hobbit who remembers an even younger version of himself who was obsessed with adventure (thanks in part to an appeal from Gandalf). Bilbo, who is recruited into the company as their thief, never becomes an expert swordsman or skilled warrior, but he eventually finds the courage to take a stand and fight, making his character arc in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey more fulfilling than that of Frodo’s in The Fellowship of the Ring.

the-hobbit-an-unexpected-journey-dwarvesWhile most of the Dwarves are window-dressing as far as character development goes, they do provide a good portion of levity within the film…perhaps to a fault. As “The Hobbit” novel was originally meant for children, its tone is lighter and its story is less dense than that of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Jackson has adapted that lighter tone of the book as well as the story within it, leading to a lot more laughs than Lord of the Rings, but also an over-indulgence on silly humor. There is a scene in which a named villainous character is cut down by our heroes, but takes the time to utter a cringe-worthy one-liner. (Imagine if the Balrog had stopped to quip with Gandalf before the wizard smote his ruin upon the mountainside and you’ll get the idea.) The humor of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is mostly on par with that of Lord of the Rings but there are moments clearly meant for kids in this more family-friendly installment (though it is rated PG-13 and there are a surprising number of decapitations…). The Dwarves may belch and cuss, throw plates and juggle, eat too much, drink too much and fight amongst themselves too much, but that’s all welcome fun within a company of Dwarves. Thorin Oakenshield, however, is a Dwarf apart.

As I previously mentioned, Armitage brings gravitas and solemnity to the role of Thorin, especially when surrounded by the clownish Dwarves in his company. Thorin’s backstory is steeped in blood and fire, loss and longing, and he is doomed to lead his people in search of a new home after Smaug took up residence in their ancestral halls. Though Thorin also struggles with his grandsire’s affliction with the “dragon-sickness” (an obsession with treasure), this is only cursorily mentioned in the first film. Rather, Thorin’s main objective is to keep his company in one piece while making their way to the Lonely Mountain. If he gets the chance to sever the head of Azog the Defiler (Manu Bennett), a pale orc chieftain who slew his grandsire, then so be it. While Thorin is a strong and capable warrior, he still has more to learn as a leader; Bilbo manages to help him with that and much more.

richard-armitage-the-hobbit-an-unexpected-journeyAn interesting comparison exists between Bilbo and Thorin in An Unexpected Journey and Frodo and Aragorn in The Fellowship of the Ring. While the supporting characters are much stronger, more fully realized and therefore more easily relatable in Fellowship, the relationship between the Hobbits and the “wandering Kings” gives a strong undercurrent to each film. Upon repeat viewings, I think it’s possible to match up plot point for plot point, but in summation: the wandering King thinks the Hobbit a childish and burdensome addition to his quest but takes him along at the behest of the wizard Gandalf, then is surprised to see the Hobbit prove himself in unexpected ways over the course of the story, only to regard said Hobbit as a worthy comrade and welcome friend by the picture’s end. There you go, film majors, I just outlined your thesis for you.

As for the supporting cast, most of your old favorites are back, along with some new surprises. New additions include a mostly-silent Lee Pace as the Elven King, Thranduil; Sylvester McCoy as the zany and entertaining, but oddly-used wizard, Radagast the Brown; Barry Humphries as the Great Goblin (what a weird character, both in terms of ill-conceived design – you’ll see – and as a plot device since he served little purpose),  not to mention Peter Hambleton, John Callen, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, James Nesbitt, William Kircher, Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown and Stephen Hunter as the Dwarvish company, who all did fantastic jobs, but weren’t given much room to breathe. Hopefully, now that they’ve been introduced, they’ll get some individual moments in the future films. Bombur (Hunter) is sure to be a kids/fan favorite and Fili (O’Gorman) and Kili (Turner) do their best to steal the show, though I preferred McTavish’s gruff warrior, Dwalin.

hobbit-unexpected-journey-ian-mckellen-1And, of course, McKellen is fantastic as Gandalf, a role he was surely born to play. As the meddling wizard, he’s as charming and manipulative as ever. McKellen also continues to show great range as both the soft-spoken advisor, the knick-of-time rescuer and even as the upstart challenger to his superiors and mentors. There’s a great scene that reunites McKellen’s Gandalf with Galadriel (Blanchett), Saruman the White wizard (Christopher Lee) and Elrond (Weaving), all who happen to be more powerful than Gandalf. Not only does it connect the characters throughout the entire arc of Tolkien films, it establishes their relationships and actually manages to strengthen the Lord of the Rings series because of it. A small scene, but a well-directed one. And I can’t forget Serkis, who is brilliant as usual. The scene between Gollum and Bilbo is, not only iconic, but exemplary of Serkis’ performance abilities.

A note on 48fps: I saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 48fps and 3D in a Warner Bros. studio screening room, so my review can only speak to that experience as a reference. (I’d like to see the film in 2D at 24fps and 48fps to see how it compares, but we’ll see.) Here’s my take on 48fps:

  • Pros: Incredible clarity and sharpness of detail. Characters and objects in the background are nearly as clear and defined as those in the foreground of a shot. It makes for absolutely gorgeous establishing shots and exploration of new settings (Erebor, the Dwarven Kingdom before Smaug’s attack, is amazing. I’d love to see a film just about the Dwarves and their lives under the mountain). It’s great when steady or slow-moving camera work is applied. Beautiful for scenery or landscape shots; would make for excellent documentary applications.
  • Cons: Definite “motion sickness” potential during scenes of chaotic action or fast-movement; the increased clarity often feels as if you’re standing on set with the actors/characters, so when they take a crazy tumble down a rabbit hole, for example, you feel just as disoriented…which might not be too pleasant for some. There is a bit of an adjustment period for 48fps; I was jarred by it at the start but warmed up to 95% of its usage over time. 48fps means you cannot hide mistakes…period; there were some poorly-rendered VFX sequences that were unintentionally comical and resembled the old-school tactic of filming a stationary actor in front of a moving background. These effects were bad, bad, bad; there’s no way around it.

peter-jackson-the-hobbit-an-unexpected-journeyI admire and support Jackson’s decision to use 48fps and 3D going forward, but there is still some work to do to make it seamless. If you want more technical explanations of 48fps, head over to PC Mag’s explanation (via The One Ring). Another quick note on a technical aspect: most of the enemies simply had no weight to them. Goblins were tossed aside like paper dolls with the Dwarves flicking them out of the way without breaking a sweat. I can only think of a handful of instances of this happening in Lord of the Rings, such as the surge down the stone ramp leading out of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers or parts of the massive Battle of the Pelennor Fields in Return of the King. But for An Unexpected Journey, there was no sense of real danger during most of the fight scenes, right up until the end. This is strange, because the flashback battles were, for the most part, epic and brutal and heavy, with real emotion tied in to the loss of believable warriors. On the plus side, the costume and make-up design for the flesh-and-blood characters and creatures was phenomenal, even managing to surpass the original Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The greatest achievement of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, is how well it ties in with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, much better than, say, the original Star Wars films and their prequels, which are widely-considered to be inferior. As we recently discussed in our Star Wars podcast, watching the films in episode order is not only visually jarring, it ruins the dramatic tension of the whole arc. At first blush, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey appears to avoid this pitfall. The film is set up in such a way that new viewers are briefly introduced to Bilbo and Frodo, but regard them only as an old storyteller and his nephew, nothing more. Returning viewers of the Lord of the Rings feel a bit of nostalgia for the old films and are transitioned into the new films by having a familiar starting place. This introductory scene, which some early reviewers cited as unnecessary, links the trilogies together in a much stronger way. I don’t know how Jackson plans to end his Hobbit trilogy, but the opening of An Unexpected Journey and Fellowship of the Ring are already neatly tied together.

the-hobbit-richard-armitageAlso, “Easter eggs” are not just there for fun; they actually refer to each other in the films (depending on which order you watch them in), as well as to the source material in the books. Without giving too much away, An Unexpected Journey enriches the relationship between Gandalf and Bilbo (and, by extension, Frodo), as well as Gandalf and the elder powers of Galadriel, Elrond and Saruman. The film also explores the reasons for the deep-seated hatred between Dwarves and Elves, Gandalf’s connection to nature, the desecration of the Greenwood, the secrets of Saruman, the origin of some of the famous weaponry in the series and, of course, the lore of the Ring. So An Unexpected Journey manages to pay homage to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, while forging strong introductions to the themes that are explored in the chronologically later-occurring films, especially for first-time viewers. It’s evident that much care was given over to consideration of how to weave these two tapestries together and it’s brilliantly achieved.

Special attention must be given to the musical score of the film, both for original pieces (such as “Misty Mountains,” the haunting yet stirring theme for the Dwarves) and incorporation of the themes from Lord of the Rings. The musical cues go a long way to reinforce the connection I mentioned above. While the Misty Mountains theme pervades the film, there are also ties to the Shire, the Ring and even a heroic bit of music that I won’t spoil here, but will come as a welcome surprise.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has set a high bar for the next two installments, but if the Lord of the Rings trilogy is any indication, I fully believe that bar will be surpassed. Moving forward, I’d like to see the films become a bit more serious, especially since Bilbo is now in possession of a certain ring and all the grave consequences that portends. It would also be a more gradual transition into the Lord of the Rings trilogy and would allow new fans to mature along with the entire six-film arc, much like the Harry Potter films so expertly achieved. While The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is destined to be a stand-alone adventure classic in the vein of The Neverending Story, Willow and Legend, it is surely strongest when viewed as a satisfactory part of a greater whole.

Rating: A-

For more on The Hobbit, here’s 6 clips from the film and twenty minutes of behind-the-scenes footage.

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  • Grimcicle

    I guess Matt Goldberg didn’t hate it enough to review it.

    • Alan

      Goldberg’s review began: “Peter Jackson doesn’t understand Middle Earth …”

      • Zack

        Lol

      • stove

        hahahaha priceless.

      • Brett

        Haha.

      • Fran

        It’s funny because it’s true.

        Out of interest, can anyone give me links to pieces Matt Goldberg has written about Lord of the Rings? I tried some googling and searching of this site, but came up with nothing. Thanks.

  • Dylan Cuellar

    So my friend wants to see the movie with me but she wants to read the book first. She doesn’t have time to read all of it though and I know this will only encompass a portion of it. Anyone know where it’s going to end so she can just read that section?

    • Grimcicle

      My friend says the first movie will probably cover up to a point in the book where they fight some dragon.

    • Ted

      This film only covers the first six chapters of the novel.

    • Rowena

      From the review, it looks like they get up to a part where the dwarves and hobbit meet some elves in Mirkwood. I’d advise just reading as much as possible before going to see it to be on the safe side though.

    • Ryan Wilson

      It’s supposed to end a bit after the eagle rescue. About a third of the book. The elven king mentioned in the review I believe is only the prologue in the form of a flashback. No dialogue apparently from him.

      • Marissa

        I can confirm it. And there’s a slight change Peter Jackson made to make the film more conclusive until the sequel. That’s why I said earlier that I think I like this film more than I do ‘Fellowship of the Ring.’ It feels like it can stand on its own if it really wanted to, and important story-arcs are complete. I admit I teared up at the end.

        Critics will be critics. My theory is that they just wanted to see another ‘Lord of the Rings’ when they don’t realize that this is a different story altogether. If you liked the book, the film will not disappoint (in fact goes beyond the book and balances the humour of the book with the drama of the LotR trilogy very well)!

  • Sam

    I can’t wait to see this! To think that I saw the Fellowship, a movie that impacted me immensely, in theatres when I was 11 and now get to see the Hobbit now eleven years later for some reason blows my mind. It’s going to be a very emotionally satisfying day on December 14th.

  • Sam

    To think that I saw the Fellowship, a movie that impacted me immensely, in theaters when I was 11 and now get to see the Hobbit now eleven years later for some reason blows my mind. It’s going to be a very emotionally satisfying day on December 14th.I can’t wait to see this!

  • David B.

    @Dylan Cuellar,

    My best guess (partly based on the promotional materials) is that it covers chapters 1-6, or roughly the first 3rd of the book.

  • Matt

    ‘The Hobbit: Unexpected Journey’ ends with Bilbo, Gandalf, and the Dwarves being rescued by the eagles (not the rock band) after escaping from the Orc’s in the burning trees. Read up to the Eagle rescue…

  • Northern Star

    Having read a few reviews of this now, the general consensus seems to be that great action setpieces notwithstanding, ‘…An Unexpected Journey’ is simply far too long and which takes a veritable ice-age before it gets down to brass tacks… I just can’t shake the feeling that Peter Jackson should have shot this story like the LOTR films hadn’t been made yet, and kept it to two films with a tight running time for each rather than three bloated and overlong films as I fear is the case now.

    • Jay

      Some would say the same thing about the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And I wouldn’t call those people fans.

    • Deadpool

      For me. The more time I can spend in Middle Earth the better. I just don’t want it in 48fps.

    • Sam

      @northern Star…did you like the LOTR movies…they must have been a bore at three and a half hours of tedious pace…go back to your twilight and leave the genuine fans alone!

      • Northern Star

        I absolutely LOVED the ‘…Rings’ trilogy, Sam dude, I just have a concern that the ‘Hobbit’ movies might be padded out to make them into a trilogy when two movies would have sufficed, that’s all… although I’ve went back and looked at some of the appendices that Jackson and co will be including – the battle of Dol Goldur and the White Council to name but two examples – and it might yet prove a roaring success, as long as each film isn’t too long in itself, that is!

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  • Fran

    “book-to-film ratio at 1-to-1″ – haha! Good joke!

  • Steve

    I can’t wait to see a real Superman trailer!

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  • Strong Enough

    i won’t believe anybody else’s review except for Matt Goldberg. he doesn’t suck up to studios or tell everyone what they want to hear. he is straight to the point.

    • Jake

      Exactly. He’s a smart ass, which I really like. But I think I mainly enjoy his reviews/articles just because he tells it like it is, and doesn’t care what the fuck anyone else thinks. Everyone else tries so hard not to step on any toes. Then there’s Steve who gives everyone who he encounters free blow jobs and lap dances. He’d pretend to cream his panties in an interview with Uwe Boll just to make him feel better about himself.
      Matt Goldberg for Pres.

  • Ryan Wilson

    It\’s supposed to end a bit after the eagle rescue. About a third of the book. The elven king mentioned in the review I believe is only the prologue in the form of a flashback. No dialogue apparently from him.

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  • Marissa

    I saw it last night, and I have to say I agree with essentially everything you said (a great review, by the way). Honestly, I was not without issues with ‘Lord fo the Rings’, but they’re issues I can get over because the pros outweigh the cons so substantially, it’s difficult not to love. That’s how I felt about ‘The Hobbit’. Sure there were one-liners I cringed at (I know which one you were referring to, and I admit the character was slightly disappointing to me as a whole), disgusting scenes I turn away at, and visual effects I rolled my eyes at. But honestly, I just couldn’t not love it anyway. You feel the energy of the filmmakers at every scene, and in a way, the fact that the 48fps made it look like a film set sort of helped with that. (I won’t comment much on that; my likes and dislikes are the same as yours…very much worth it for the aerial shots, Gollum scene, and fight between the rock giants, but the Radagast chase and some battle scenes were painful.)

    Point being both Fellowship of the Ring and Unexpected Journey are both sort of the experimental films to me. Excellent, but the flaws are most prominent in the first of both trilogies. I expect- or at least hope for it to just go uphill from here. :)

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  • MyrtleMartha

    Thank you for separating your opinion of the optional 3D HFR technology from your review of the movie itself. Great job.

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  • chauvelin2000

    I must say, this certainly is one of the more sane of the ‘early’ reviews out there … well-balanced, and there’s a true ‘ring’ or sense of refreshing candor, with no hidden agendas. Thank you. One thing is for sure: These early ‘Hobbit’ reviewers need to get on the same page about a couple of things. Someone’s clearly not being honest here, for how are these relatively few ‘first’ media columnists so wildly disparate about, just as an example, the film’s ‘pace’? Some say ‘slow and boring’, ‘overlong, overblown’ (Hollywood Reporter, Box Office, Cinema Blend), others say ‘robustly entertaining and well-paced’ (Empire Online, Screen Daily), ‘engrossing, action-packed’ (Hollywood.com), ‘engaging, winning’ (Playlist). So is it slow or well-paced? Which is it? Can these people be watching the same movie? And how is it that they focus so heavily on the film’s FORMAT (which is only one of many!!!: HFR 3D, IMAX 3D, IMAX, 3D, 2D)? Especially in view of what each KNOWS will be the many and varied CHOICES by which a person may tailor his or her VIEWING of the film to personal taste, what has FORMAT got to do with how these critics ‘judge’ the CONTENT of the film — that is, the MOVIE ITSELF (which it is their job to focus on: the story, actor-performances, direction, costuming, cinematography ITSELF: not how the film is PRESENTLY formatted, as this will be variously, inevitably different for everyone: it will CHANGE) and which seems to so heavily ‘weigh in’ on their ‘bottom line’ or final analysis? How trite to judge an entire film, allow such a factor to impact so dramatically on final verdict, by focusing on its format! FORMAT IS NOT THE FILM! Go see it in 2D traditional ‘flicker’ mode and THEN TELL ME WHAT IT IS — not how a particular viewing mode (which you may loathe) makes it, for the MOMENT, look (I’ve got choices just like you, so don’t tell me how I’m destined to see it: I may see it in a wholly different mode, and who knows, I may LIKE the very one you hate). In any event, here’s to what one reviewer perceives in the film to be a ‘purist’s delight’ and ‘mythologically dense’ Yeah!! Want more of THAT baby! — Bring. It. On. Mr. Jackson!!! And I’ll be the judge myself, thank you.

  • Gigolo Joe

    Creative implications of making it into 3 films aside, the aesthetics of increasing the frame rate is the most worrying sign of cinema’s future, much more so than 3D.

    It’s already difficult to find a 2D showing of new releases, the inferior and cheaper brand of digital projection is also becoming the norm. But 48 frames per second is a fundamental departure from the the established language of cinema. The ‘film look’ which used to be the holy grail of independent filmmakers and is what we’ve all grown up regarding as a mark of quality (contrasted with tacky TV soap opera video etc) – is all of a sudden being sacrificed by an industry scrambling to make up for the creative deficit ingrained in the vertically-integrated movie franchise “product”.

    The multi-national corporate structure of today’s Hollywood realises that they are running a production line with a business model centred around high short term sales and repeat business coming from a marketable range of products (movie sequels/prequels/spinoffs). It’s a risk averse approach to maximise profits as quickly as possible before the punters realise no-one will be watching these products 10 years from now. Transformers anyone?

    Films like Lawrence of Arabia are treasured and re-released 50 years later continually making a profit, this risk taking approach to epic filmmaking probably ended 10 years ago – Lord of the Rings being the final example of the old Hollywood.

    Now we have a media industry so deeply integrated – one division buys advertising from another division of the same company – promoted on their own TV networks and creativity disintegrates.

    The marketing ‘experts’ are so important that the story/script cannot proceed without extensive market analysis.

    The art of Filmmaking is reduced to a brochure of cinematography, editing, music and design styles, so much that every genre, every story, has the same colour template, applied to it – ever notice the orange and blue look nearly every movie has? – not to mention the shaky cam etc..

    Add to the mix the obsessive paranoia of piracy and you have an industry that will continue to clamp our eyelids open with 3D 48fps HFR technologies – desperately trying to convince us that it will blow your mind. Clearly with some morons this approach works.. Not to mention the casual film goers who don’t know or don’t care about the aesthetic implications.

    The fact is though – a great many people cannot stand 3D – it does cause visual problems in a significant number of people. Also many people already hate the look produced from 100hz or ‘pure motion’ or whatever crap is shoved into most TVs but marketed as an essential new feature – just so they can sell the latest model. Fortunately in most cases you can turn these things off. But it is depressing to see Directors such as Peter Jackson falling into such an obvious trap and implementing these gimmicks at the production stage.

    This demonstrates an ignorance – or a contempt for the cinema language we all know and love. You don’t hear anyone complaining about a properly filmed movie projected in the way perfected over a hundred years – so why are these filmmakers alienating a huge percentage of people, potentially forcing them out of cinemas for good? My guess is that they’re only really counting on teenage boys to flock to blockbusters aimed squarely at them. Particularly James Cameron, Peter Jackson, Michael Bay have all but given up on adults anyway. The rest of Hollywood will follow..

    24 frames per second is part of film’s visual language and it’s beauty – you subconsciously register this as familiar to how we see the world (motion blur, judder from eye and head movements) but slightly removed from reality – almost like a dream. This elementally helps you suspend your disbelief at what you’re seeing, blending perfectly with narrative storytelling.

    48 frames per second breaks this illusion in the same way as nearly every TV show ever made looks hyper-real which, in the same way that digital effects tend to render everything in focus, ignoring depth of field, draws attention to itself – breaking the illusion. Of course, many US shows, despite the TV signal being 50/60 frames per second, 24fps is still chosen because of it’s aesthetic superiority. The alternative is everything looking like a soap opera.

    Most of the Hobbit will look like a behind the scenes feature – or a live broadcast version of a movie, but it’s guaranteed that a chunk of the audience will convince themselves that they don’t need to adjust their eyes – what they’re seeing is not a shameless gimmick but spectacle.. Surely this is the intended effect, because when you throw away your creative voice, spectacle is all you have left!

    Maybe we’ll only have the art-house scene tempting anyone over 25 back but personally I’m still waiting for another great Die Hard, grown up sci-fi or even another Star Wars or Spielbergian adventure (Star Trek is the closest there’s been for years)

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  • D. McHugh

    LOVED the film! Jackson had a HUGE challenge going in. He had to make a children’s book mass marketable to both and adult and kid audience without pandering too much to one or the other. That’s very difficult and Jackson hit all the right notes to satisfy both groups. His other challenge is that, having given us the LOTR trilogy,; audiences have already been introduced to much of the Tolkein world. So, there’s not that AWE factor of seeing orcs, elves, Rivendell or the other marvels for the first time. Still, The Hobbit is a terrific adventure that’s like taking a trip back home to see dear old friends you haven’t seen in years. I loved seeing all the old characters. Armitage is AMAZING as Thorin and a worthy hero in every respect to Aragorn. Freeman is in great form as Bilbo and Radagast is a terrific new, crazy character.

    Funny. The review is right on. I even felt that ONE small negative…which barely registers for me…was the hokey punchline the “certain bad guy” says when he gets cut down…but that’s 1 second in 3 hours of greatness. I’m already planning on seeing it again.

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  • Josh

    The movie is great – especially for people who are encountering Tolkien for the first time. Even though I am very familair with Tolkein’s entire body of work, I went to watch the movie as one who has never read a word of Tolkien – to experience the pace, the plot enfolding, the characters’ growth and so on. From this vantage, Mr. Jackson is spot on, and has truly captured the essence of Tolkien’s reason for writing Bilbo’s adventures…even though the story is only about 75% true to the book. Oh…yes. it is very very entertaining.

  • Anonymous

    very vary god

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  • Arnold

    I’ll give it a 3.5 to 4. It had it’s good points and not-so-great points!

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