Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth (or as he likes to call it, New Zealand) in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth (or as he likes to call it, New Zealand) in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Though it’s a familiar storyline with the same setting as the much-loved, adored and multi-Oscar-winning Lord of The Rings trilogy, it’s best if you don’t expect the same from this movie. Here’s why…
So The Hobbit was written as a prequel to Lord of the Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien and thus begins with the story of the most valuable ring in history never to be worn by a woman. Many ridiculed Peter Jackson for making a trilogy of The Hobbit. Considering the book is about 300 pages, it’s not unrealistic to expect a nine-hour trilogy like LOTR.
Even though The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is 170 minutes, the reasons why Jackson did this become clear after watching the movie. It’s a lot of information packed into every scene bringing in detail that most who’ve not read the books would be unaware of.
The Plot (spoilers ahead)
The movie opens with the wealthy Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor before it was attacked by Smaug. It also explains the cold tension between dwarves and elves. You then see Frodo in a cameo but it’s not long before you’re taken 60 years back back in time to a young Bilbo Baggins (played brilliantly by Martin Freeman) who’s quite content with his life until Gandalf The Grey (an aged and fragile, Sir Ian McKellan) appears and turns his world around in a day.
The uninvited dwarves make themselves at home with their disgusting manners and charming teamwork, but it is Thorin Oakenshield who infuses the sense of purpose in the task ahead. Expect to see more of Richard Armitage after this role. I won’t be surprised if he’s the next huge British import. He may not be Aragorn but he’s fuelled by the same motives (though a love interest like Lady Arwen would have been nice).
Similar to LOTR
Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit share a ton of similarities: They are both about a group of people who set off from Middle Earth to achieve an improbable task while overcoming several hurdles along the way, with the help of creatures, characters and people only Tolkien could create. Radagast, Lady Galadriel, Elrond, Saruman and Gollum all have small but important roles to play and they play them to perfection. Watch out for the riddle-face-off between Bilbo and Gollum.
There’s been a lot of talk about Peter Jackson’s decision to shoot in 48FPS. I didn’t find a major difference from a technical stand-point. I quite liked the fact that the 3D wasn’t overdone, although there were times when I blinked an eyelid as objects seem to be hurled towards me. The battle with the orcs, trolls, and the fight sequences in Misty Mountains are all worthy of merit and a credit to how far film-making has progressed as an art.
James Cameron revolutionised film-making in 3D with Avatar and in a few years we may look back at The Hobbit for introducing us to a new style of it. What was especially stunning were the aerial views which truly showcase the beauty and majesty of New Zealand. The Hobbit is the undoubtedly the best advertisement for New Zealand!
What was disappointing was the musical score. Howard Shore puts up a lacklustre effort that doesn’t inspire you or raise your spirits at all, unlike what he did with LOTR. Misty Mountains by Thorin Oakenshield in Bilbo’s hobbit-hole is the best track but when the credits roll, they play a country-version of that song making the Shire sound like Texas. I’ll be surprised if he gets an Oscar-nod for this one. Costume, make-up and visual-effect-wise this movie is sure to make Oscar headlines. The visual effects are so good you’ll want to carry a razor in your backpocket after the film because of the amount of hair you see on screen.
Don’t expect Frodo, Samwise, Aragorn, Arwen, Legolas and the characters and story that captured your heart in LOTR and you won’t be disappointed with The Hobbit. It’s a lovely, enjoyable and well-produced film and a plot that’s setup nicely for Part Two – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug which releases next year.
If I have to give it a rating out of five, I would say 3 and a half.
If you haven’t done it yet, I suggest you watch Peter Jackson’s video blog’s of the making of The Hobbit.