Thursday, December 18, 2014

Movie Review: "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (2012)

Image Source
Movie"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
Director: Peter Jackson
Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 49 minutes

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) enjoys his home life in The Shire in his cozy Hobbit hole. When the Wizard Gandalf the Gray (Ian McKellen) shows up unexpectedly, Bilbo's life is about to change forever. That evening, Bilbo gets some more unexpected visitors in the form of 13 Dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), heir to the throne of Erebor. Gandalf has suggested that Bilbo work as a thief for Thorin in order to steal the Arkenstone from the Dragon Smaug, who has taken over Erebor. Reluctant at first, Bilbo is eventually convinced and sets out for the adventure of a lifetime on the perilous road to The Lonely Mountain. 

With this first film of three in the beginning saga of Middle Earth (which should have been a two-parter at most, in our opinion), Peter Jackson is at the helm once again to bring us only one third of a story in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," which is adapted from the book and the horribly creepy animated film that still gives me nightmares to this day. Martin Freeman stars are a young Bilbo Baggins and proves he was the ideal and perfect casting choice to play this role. His slightly sarcastic demeanor, quick wit and striking facial resemblance to Ian Holm are just a few of the many reasons why Freeman kills is a Bilbo. We couldn't see this part going to anyone else with the same impact that Freeman had on the movie. Ian McKellan reprises his role as Gandalf and is always fantastic. He hasn't lost a beat since the original trilogy. Newcomer Richard Armitage really helps bring Thorin Oakenshield to life in all his angsty, brooding, dwarfy glory. His facial expressions range from stone-cold serious to deep-in-thought stoic and it had to be hard for him to very rarely ever smile in this movie. Each individual dwarf has a specific uniqueness about them, and together, they all form a weird, mismatched, zany but fun-loving clan and family. The story itself is a grand one and everything that a life changing journey should be. To us, changes to this story don't matter as long as it is well executed on film and manages to remain entertaining. Also, "The Song of The Lonely Mountain" is spectacular, as is the entire score for this film.

It's easy to knock this movie down a couple pegs when it gets compared to "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, but realistically, any movie would get knocked down a couple of pegs when compared to "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. To us, this original series is one of the apexes in not just film making, but in storytelling, too. Just because "The Hobbit" does not meet that very, very, very high bar of greatness does not diminish this movie as also being great and fun. Many casual "Lord of the Rings" fans and critics have been and may continue to be disappointed with this new set of "Hobbit" movies because of Jackson's favoring of CGI over practical effects, which is part of why "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy is so spectacular and magical. Some of the CGI aspects are well executed, while others, like Azog the Defiler, fall completely short and look hokey. We have seen what Jackson's original prosthetics looked like, and because of his choice to film this movie in a higher frame rate, the prosthetics were largely dropped by the wayside. We would have loved to see it done the other way around where Jackson favored practical effects over everything else. A lot of fans of the book have complained about Jackson's expansion of the story and re-imagining of some details, as well as the addition of new characters, but we happen to like many of these changes as "The Hobbit" film is not simply an adaptation of the book, but a full prequel to "The Lord of the Rings." These many additions help completely tie "The Hobbit" into the older trilogy where previously their only connection would have lied with the Precious. That being said, this movie is quite long and didn't need to be. As we mentioned above, this trilogy could have easily been split into two parts as was originally intended Peter Jackson. At the behest of the studios involved, Jackson was forced to expand it into a trilogy, a little to its detriment. Despite all of this, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" still manages to be a fun beginning to Bilbo and the dwarves' journey to The Lonely Mountain.

My Rating: 10/10
BigJ's Rating: 10/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 64%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!
To see our review of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," click here.

To see our review of "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment