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The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey
As this movie is one of the most eagerly anticipated happenings of 2012, it was no surprise that reviews were going to be quite mixed.
The film has been criticised for being slow in places and also for Peter Jackson deciding to shoot the film in 48 frames instead of the usual 24 frames per second. This is known as High Frame Rate and is the next level in digital technology which gives an unbelievable crystal clear definition. The downside being that the format can sometimes have a quality similar to viewing a television production. However, I chose to see it in HFR 3D. I did wonder if I was going to like this format but within the first five minutes I was totally sucked into the screen and the experience was like nothing I had ever seen before.
Let’s face it. If you are going to experiment with HFR then what subject matter could better than an epic fantasy adventure?
Unless you’ve been living in a hole in the ground, you will remember that Peter Jackson’s movie interpretation of The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a massive event in cinema history. So much so, that Jackson thought he would take us back to where it all started with J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 inspired book called The Hobbit.
The film takes us back to Middle-Earth sixty years before LOTR and follows a young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) on his adventure to help a group of dwarves reclaim their mountain home from a fierce dragon. Guided by the wizard Gandalf the Grey (a role reprised by Ian McKellen) they encounter evil Orcs, Trolls, Goblins and a Gollum.
Apparently Peter Jackson always had Martin Freeman in mind as first choice for the role of Bilbo because he had the acting qualities he was looking for. Jackson was so determined to have Freeman play the role that he accommodated the shooting schedule to fit in with Freeman’s TV commitments for BBC drama Sherlock.
Martin Freeman brings humanity and comic relief to Bilbo and personally I would rather watch him than Elijah Wood’s soppy Frodo who quite frankly was nothing without his brave little companion Samwise Gamgee.
It was also good to see some of the original LOTR cast members eleven years on, such as Ian Holm (Old Bilbo), Christopher Lee (Saruman), Hugo Weaving (Lord Elrond), Cate Blanchett (Lady Galadriel) and of course Andy Serkis as Gollum. But this film is the dwarves story with some great new characters. Their leader Thorin played by a moody looking Richard Armitage is the films replacement for Aragon and holds the troop together. There’s also some eye candy for the girls in the form of Aidan Turner (Mitchell the Vampire from Being Human) who is one of the few dwarves not to have his face plastered in prosthetics (funny that!).
I must confess that I was a little worried when we are first introduced to the thirteen surviving dwarves as they invade Bilbo’s home in the Shire and rudely devour all of his food. This scene seems to go on forever. But I could forgive all that as the unexpected journey got on its way and we witness some amazing action scenes and just when you think they have got through it safely, there’s something worse around the corner.
Peter Jackson has expanded the book into three separate stories which were shot back to back. Later in 2013 we can expect The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and then in 2014 The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Some critics have said that this is just an excuse to spread the book out to make money for the studio but who cares? I’ll be queuing up to see all of them.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a stand-alone film so it doesn’t matter if you have not seen any of The Lord of the Rings movies. I found it extremely entertaining and a thoroughly enjoyable cinema experience.
Probably not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ but don’t forget that the back in 2001 The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring received similar mixed reviews but went on the win four Oscars and five Baftas.
A precious 4 out of 5 stars.
In cinemas now.