Peter Jackson takes us back to Middle-Earth in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first installment in the prequel trilogy to The Lord of the Rings. This prequel may not have lived up to the standards set by its predecessors but it is still a dazzling and epic film that entertained me nonetheless.
Set sixty years before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring, the film tells the story of Frodo's uncle, Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo is a Hobbit who lives a relaxed and carefree life in The Shire until he meets Gandalf the Grey who takes him on an adventure. Bilbo accompanies Gandalf and a team of dwarves on a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Eribor that was conquered by Smaug, a villainous dragon. The adventurers must face against trolls, goblins, and orcs on their perilous journey.
One thing I enjoyed about The Hobbit was the performances. Martin Freeman does a great job as Bilbo. Bilbo starts off as a person who is so attached to his home that he doesn't want to leave it. But Gandalf tells him that there is a vast world outside The Shire that he should get a taste of. Bilbo becomes a more adventurous person once he goes on the adventure. Freeman was able to show the relaxed carefree side of Bilbo in the first part of the film and then became a more adventurous Bilbo as the film progressed. Martin Freeman also delivers his lines very well. He pretty much shined. Ian McKellen still has it as Gandalf after all these years. He was excellent and awesome. All the Dwarves had a different personality and the actors who portrayed them were able to show it. Of all the Dwarves, my favorite was Thorin Oakenshield, played by Richard Armitage. He owns the role. He was awesome. Some actors from the previous trilogy such as Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, and Christopher Lee make a return. They're not in the film very much but they still knew how to play their roles. Lastly, Andy Serkis comes back to play Gollum, the role that made him a star. The scenes with Gollum were some of the most memorable parts of the film thanks to Serkis' performance. He was just entertaining to watch. All in all, the cast members did a great job. Everyone impressed.
Peter Jackson is truly one of the great directors of our time. He knows how to take the audience to a whole other film. The Hobbit is an amazing film to look at. The visual effects and production design in the film are vibrant and flawless. The effects have come a long way since the original trilogy. Not to mention the outstanding cinematography. It made me want to travel to New Zealand! The film also makes a wonderful use of 3D. I highly recommend seeing the movie that way. There is a whole lot of depth and it makes the backgrounds pop. I was sitting pretty close to the screen so I felt like I was pulled into the action. The forest where Radagast the Brown lived looked fabulous. The atmosphere was great and the little animals looked cute even if they were CGI. The makeup is great and the motion capture used on Gollum and the Orcs was fantastic. When the characters encounter the goblin king, I was impressed with the visuals. The Goblin King is one of the most grotesque things I'd seen in a while. The film is just visually beautiful. As for the writing, it was pretty good. The dialogue was witty and smart and the actors delivered it well.
The action scenes in this film were pretty dazzling. The scene where they encountered the Stone giants was an amazing sequence. How on Earth did they plan out that scene? Anyways, it came out great. The action scene toward the end had me at the edge of my seat. It was just exciting. Jackson directed the action sequences very well. He builds a lot of tension before and during the scenes. The camerawork was great as well. I did feel that the film was a little too long. The film seemed to have two long climaxes. Some scenes felt like they dragged. I was able to get past these problems. The end made me excited for the next installment but I don't think The Hobbit is a story that needs to be made into three movies. Peter Jackson believes that three movies would tell the story better but I'm pretty sure he's doing it for money.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey may not be as good as The Lord of the Rings trilogy but it is still a great film. The film excites you from beginning to end and the final frame of the film successfully gets the audience ready for the next installment, The Desolation of Smaug, out next year. It's beautifully filmed and well-acted. The visuals are great as well as the 3D. I think critics should have been a little nicer to the film. The Hobbit: An Unexpected is a great and highly entertaining fantasy film.
I could not get around to re-watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy prior to this film's release. Once I take another look at the trilogy, I'll post the reviews. I wish you all a Merry Christmas!
"You can't reason with them! They're halfwits!"