The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
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The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Sorcerers. Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever Gollum. Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of ingenuity and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum's "precious" ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.
©2013 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY and THE HOBBIT, names of the characters, items, events and places therein are trademarks of The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Middle-earth Enterprises under license to New Line Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Adding to the burden of the brunt is the controversial decision to extend THE HOBBIT into a trilogy. That approach worked ideally well for Jackson's THE LORD OF THE RINGS, but because THE HOBBIT is a considerably shorter book (more like one third of the trilogy), it doesn't really merit the decision for three two-and-a-half hour movies. A more ideal approach would have been to film the book as a two-part series, not a trilogy. On a technical level there's nothing majorly wrong with Jackson's direction; the casting and performances are both excellent, the cinematography breathtaking as always, and the visual effects, for the most part, are as impressive as ever. The problem is that the movies are just too unnecessarily long.
In fact, it takes a whopping 45 minutes to get Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) out of his cozy home in Hobbiton to go out on his fateful quest with the eponymous wizard Gandalf (Ian MacKellen), as well as a pack of dwarves led by a brooding fellow named Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). En route, we first see a lengthy, ten-minute prologue in which the old Bilbo (played with a wavering sincerity by Ian Holm) begins writing his book about his adventures, starting with the downfall of the Dwarven city of Erebor. The subsequent half hour is basically the first chapter, in which Bilbo's quiet humble life is turned upside down when the dwarves intrude into his household and take over his pantry in no time. The nature of this scene is also noticeably more lighthearted than even the prologue of the first RINGS film, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING. In all fairness, the tone of Tolkien's HOBBIT is more of a children's story and what's on the screen is more or less true to the original, but it also requires a subjective approach. Fans familiar with the book will get the gist of it and more or less be fine, but for more antsy audience members, it does require patience to sit through this scene.
Extending scenes like this aren't the only aesthetic choices that Jackson chooses to approach when tackling the story to screen. Sometimes he ends up culling information from the footnotes of Tolkien's fantasy, even borrowing bits of THE SIMILARION for good measure. For instance, we meet the wizard Radagast, an eccentric fellow who cares for animals and goes around riding on a massive "rabbit" sleigh. There is also a shady backstory involving a conflict between Thorin against a nasty-looking orc named Azgog (a mostly computer-animated villain with a vicious grin and a prosthetic arm). Finally we get a surprisingly long scene at the Elven city of Rivendell in which Gandalf converses with his colleague, the ill-fated sorcerer Saruman (Christopher Lee) about the potential return of Sauron. This is obviously meant to tie THE HOBBIT into THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, which is understandable because this is, after all, a prequel, but again, whether one is willing to sit through such slow scenes depends on the nature.
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY really comes to life during the bits when it actually sticks to the story. The sequence where Bilbo and company are captured by giant trolls does justice to the book. In the second half, we get a scarifying roller-coaster style confrontation with two stone giants (a scene which nailed me to my seat) to a visit to the infamous Goblin City, ruled by a bloated fellow called the Goblin King. But the film's real highlight is the "Riddles in the Dark" sequence, a cunningly choreographed, thrilling confrontation in which Bilbo must outsmart the twisted Gollum (again brought to life by the remarkable motion capture and hoarse voice of Andy Serkis).
Despite the occasional lull in the story, though, I honestly wasn't necessarily bored at all by any of this; I have quite enjoyed Tolkien's stories and I could spend hour after hour in the fantasy world that Jackson still manages to fully realize on the screen, thanks to the luscious sets and aforementioned cinematography. And unlike George Lucas, who obviously was no great "actor's director" when it came to his weaker STAR WARS prequel trilogy, Jackson hasn't lost his ability to extol performances from his cast. Freeman was practically born to play Bilbo, embuing the character's neurotic reluctance with a charm that easily makes even the slowest parts of the film tolerable to sit through. Armitage mostly portrays Thorin as a grumpy, dour fellow who doubts his new charge, but he does so with hints of a tortured personality. Sylvestor McCoy is also quite good as the eccentric Radagast, and the dwarves are all well cast and fitting for their roles. And of course, it's gratifying to see McKellan, Lee, Serkis, and even Cate Blanchett (as Galadriel) reprise their roles.
On a more controversial move, Jackson chose to shoot this HOBBIT trilogy in High Frame Rate mode, in which the speed of the frames is increased from 24fps to 48fps. It's a bold, daring move, and in many ways it works quite well for this movie; Middle Earth looks spectacular and rich in its depth with the 3D format, but other times it gives the feel of a super-polished real-life documentary on TV rather than a film. Having said that, though, the film plays well either way so aside from the frame rate length.
Is this HOBBIT trilogy on par with the original LORD OF THE RINGS? No. But it's still well-made and executed with a style that only Jackson can do. In short, whether you decide that THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY is for you depends on how much you are willing to overlook the eccentric decision to extend what is essentially a shorter story and embark on another adventure. Having said that, though, I still quite enjoyed the movie and if nothing else, it left me eager for the next chapter.
After seeing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The movie was decent. Overall much better than average like a lot of the reviews are giving it. I thought it was far better than the dreadful Star Wars prequel films. The actors are all strong, likeable and do a nice job portraying their characters. The story moved along well. I thought it stole some scenes to similar to The Fellowship of the Ring. Especially with the rock fighting giants, while our heroic party is edging along the side of a cliff with objects falling on them. I thought that whole scene was unnecessary because the film already had plenty of action scenes. The film confuses itself on who the main villain is. Do the dwarves want to get back in their home of the lonely mountain or the mines of Moria? I thought the Dragon Smog was the main villain, but in this film it is a white orc named Azog.
Then the film goes off in another direction with a crazy forest wizard and a necromancer villain who is poisoning a whole forrest. It leads you to the notion that one of the Nasghouls is still alive. I think they are trying to tie in the origins of the Witch King of Agmar. This would be incredibly interesting to see how this plays out in the next film,. It could help form the basis of the following trilogy far better than Star Wars did with that prequel trilogy. The film is a little slow to get things going. It seemed like everyone in the theater was cheering once Bilbo finally leaves his house, and the party gets on its way.
The only part I disliked about the movie was the Goblin King getaway scene. Where the dwarves are chased being chased by the goblin army after in the underground kingdom. This whole scene seemed to much like the chase scene from the Mines of Moria. There is a ridiculous part where they fall down a vast caussom on some planks of wood hundreds of feet in the air down a narrow ravine and no one gets hurt when they hit bottom. The whole battle scene was to much like the "A-Team" for me and requires a lot of suspension of disbelief on the part of the viewer. You never see any of our hero's get injured, or even exhausted from the fighting. After awhile you get the feeling that they are not even in danger. Remember these are supposed to be ordinary dwarves not champion fighters of their race like Legolas, Gimli, Aragon, and Boromir and they mow down goblins like superman, without any effort or exertion.
When Bilbo finds the ring it is set up differently than what was portrayed in LOTR movies. Remember the ring just up and left Gollum in those films and in this movie it just happens to slip right out of his clothing as he wrestles with the goblin. I think the scene in the LOTR movies was done a little better. It would have been kind of cool to have Sauron use some kind of telepathy to abandon Gollum. Since when is Gollum a cannibal? It has been a long time since I read the original Hobbit.
Overall I was fascinated much more by the non action scenes, where you get to meet the characters in the Lord of the Rings movies. You know how their futures will play out. Scenes with Soroman, and the lady of the wood and Lord Elrond are all great. But I was confused in the story who the lead elf king Thranduil was in the film how was he related to Elrond maybe a brother perhaps? What happened to the 3 rings given to the elves? Was he one of the 3 Elves given a magic ring at the beginning of the Fellowship of the Rings movie? The film also does not really explain why the dragon is so attracted to gold. It just leaves it with an open question "when one craves nothing but wealth bad things happen." Though this may be true but it leaves a lot unsaid about what drove the Dragon Smog to make the Lonely Mountain his home. Maybe I just need to read The Simarillion to find the answers to these questions.
You do see scenes and places out of the other films that will be familiar with the audience. Broken Top, Rivendale, The Shire of course. Like the Fellowship the movie is just a setup film to what comes next. I thought it was definitely worth watching but left with the feeling that it was not as good as The Fellowship of the Ring. Another thing that came to mind while watching the end of the film is why didn't the Eagles just drop the party right off at the Lonely Mountain. Also after Thorin is injured by Azog he must have Wolverines healing power to be back up on his feet so soon after being in a big beasts jaws.