Oh Hobbitses. It has been a long wait for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel (1937) to hit the screen. Director Peter Jackson’s rendition of, The Lord of the Rings, took the world by storm nine years ago, and hype for The Hobbit, indicates a similar path.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, takes place sixty years before, The Lord of the Rings, and follows the adventures of Bilbo Baggins (Frodo’s uncle). Bilbo lives happily in his tidy home in the Shire, until Gandalf the wizard puts a strange mark on Bilbo’s door. Before the respectable Mr. Baggins can blink, his home is awash with dwarves – and they’re eating everything in his cupboard and using doilies as dishrags.
Bilbo barely recovers from the shock of his unexpected guests before he’s whisked away in the company of the dwarves and Gandalf, bound for The Lonely Mountain to recover the dwarves’ home from the fierce dragon Smaug. Bilbo is out of his depths, but as the company will discover, his quick wit gives him strength much larger than his size.
Like, The Lord of the Rings, Jackson has created another beautiful rendition of Middle-earth. The scenery is gorgeous, the visual effects are top-notch, and the stunning landscape of New Zealand can’t be beat.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, is the first movie to be shot at 48 frames per second (films are usually 24-29.97fps). While this brings nearly everything into detailed focus, the images are almost too sharp. The beginning of the film is hard to watch as your eyes struggle to adjust to this higher frame rate, coupled with the 3D effect and the plethora of quick action shots that leave you disoriented rather than letting you delve back into Middle-earth. Once the scenes slow down the 48fps rate isn’t bad, though we’d recommend the normal frame rate if you can.
It’s a tough act following The Lord of the Rings. As Jackson wanted to make another trilogy, he split The Hobbit (one book) into three films. In doing this he has stretched a lot of the plot and added a few scenes which might annoy Tolkien fans. With that need to lengthen the story however, Jackson could have paused a bit with the action scenes, and given more time for character development. A nearly constant stream of action hardly gives a chance to breathe, before Bilbo and the dwarves blunder into another catastrophe. I know the novel is plot driven, and Bilbo and company have their fair share of mishaps, but with the insistence on three movies there could have been room for a bit more air.
Issues with editing aside, the actors are superb. Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf, Martin Freeman does an astounding job of a young Bilbo Baggins, the cast of dwarves are a riot, and Gollum creeps back to the screen for one of the best scenes of the film. The Hobbit has been one of my favorite books since I was thirteen, so I’m going to be a bit picky. Overall though, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, is a fun adaptation of Tolkien’s novel and a great way to wander back into Middle-earth
Join Bilbo Baggins on a little adventure. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, in cinemas now!
Category: Film & TV