The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I feel like we’ve been waiting forever for The Hobbit. When I saw the Lord of the Rings movies in the cinema, I was young enough to be watching as part of a birthday party (the sort that you were obliged to bring a wrapped up present to) and, even then, we were talking about whether they’d be making a film adaptation of The Hobbit. And here it is, Peter Jackson’s follow up to his record breaking trilogy is an equally epic movie that draws primarily from the central novel, which gives it a more child friendly tone, but heavily embellishes it with darker material from the appendices to The Lord of the Rings. The result is a colossal work of cinema and a triumphant return to Middle Earth.

Martin Freeman takes up where Ian Holm left off as the titular Hobbit. I think we all knew he was going to suit the role and he’s every bit as Hobbitish as you could’ve dreamt. The biggest introduction to this film is the band of Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield. They’re cinematically tricky- they don’t look like real humans and have a slightly different aesthetic to Gimli in The Lord of the Rings, but, largely, they work (although only about five of them are given any real screen time). What they do create, however, is a slight tonal uncertainty- when the dwarves are feasting and bantering it’s very light-hearted and childish, but when the Wargs, orcs and goblins attack, it’s every bit as dark as its predecessors (indeed, the 3D often makes this more visceral). As a result, there’s something of a dichotomy between light and dark in this film and though it largely works, it’s not quite perfect.

 

As I slightly alluded to there, the 3D is very important to this film. Jackson shot The Hobbit at 48fps, which has drawn a lot of comment from people who don’t quite understand the technology. Essentially this is twice the normal frame rate (24fps) and what this means is that the action being filmed doesn’t have the normal motion blur. Whilst this might be a problem for a 2D movie, it suits 3D to a tee, as it gets rid of the problems of ghosting and makes it much easy to focus on the action onscreen. Visually, the whole film is a delight, the production design and location filmmaking are of the very highest order. I fully recommend trying to see this film in 48fps and 3D- a recommendation that you should all take hugely seriously, given the fact that I generally enjoy 3D about as much as having my eyes scratched out by a crow.

The Hobbit is by no means perfect. In addition to being tonally uneven, it’s also far too long (we’re talking 30 minutes too long), especially given the fact it’s only the first part of a very stretched trilogy. But it’s enormous fun for the entire family (probably 12+) and has been made with enormous care and dedication by the same team who created a fantasy revolution with The Lord of the Rings. It’s worth seeing for its ground-breaking technology but it’s also worth seeing because it’s a fantastic tale that stretches across a huge canvas and is glossed in with such impeccable attention to detail that’s it’s hard to not be impressed.

The Hobbit is a success for all involved, even though it hits a different sort of height to its big brother. Visually and creatively stunning.

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Title: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, fuck load of dwarves including James Nesbitt and Ken Stott
Running Time : 473 minutes
Certificate: 12a (take under 12s at your own peril)

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