The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Flick’s Review)

Posted on | December 18, 2012 | 1 Comment

4 1/2 stars

Bilbo Baggins, an adventure hating hobbit lives quietly in the Shire. That is until a company of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield and overseen by Gandalf, turn up at his door. They are looking for “a fourteenth member of their company”, as thirteen is unlucky. Gandalf believes he has found that member. What say the other dwarves? They couldn’t disagree more. But, Bilbo joins and their perilous journey to take back the dwarf”s home begins.The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey is not your average blockbuster. Peter Jackson, the director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, is helming this epic saga. Saga? That’s right! Jackson’s initial plan was to split J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit in to two films. The same was done for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the same will be done for the next Hunger Games film, Catching Fire. And the same was also done for the final Twilight book, Breaking Dawn. So it didn’t come as much of a surprise when Jackson gave us the news. So why is this Hobbit film business so unlike anything else? That’s because Jackson uncovered roughly 125 pages of notes from Tolkein, “deleted scenes”, if you will. He will be interspersing them throughout the films, and has already included some in An Unexpected Journey. Jackson thinks that with all of the notes he has found he’ll have enough material for a third film. “Count em’ on all three fingers: it’s what we call epic!” That’s what some think of this plan. While others are leaning towards “HE’S GONE MAD! MAD! JACKSON IS A MAD MAN!” Personally, I do think that the scheme is aimed to make money and will result in at least one very, very poor film. But for now we can merely speculate about this first film. So I will…

After all of the hullabaloo about the fact that this is going to be a trilogy, can we actually enjoy this film? I can and I did. I think the film is entertaining, and found it to be surprisingly funny. Jackson included just about everything from the first six chapters of the book, climaxing with a Gandalf, dwarf, and Bilbo vs. Orcs battle. Plus, there are some extended and added parts from the notes! Because there is not a central villain in the book (except for Smaug towards the end), Jackson has decided to add an Orc who has a long and dark past with Thorin. I’m not sure if this was found in the notes or what, but it works okay for the film. I don’t have too much of a problem with adding this character, but I would prefer for Jackson not to tamper with the books so much. The Rivendell sequence, on the other hand, is gloriously designed. Characters from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy that were not in the book are included in this sequence. They include Elrond, played by Hugo Weaving, Galadriel, played by Cate Blanchett, and Saruman, played by Christopher Lee. The actors are all wonderful and their is some humor and mystery thrown in there, so all in all, it adds up to an enjoyable sequence, if a bit long.The film received a mere 65% rating from critics on rottentomatoes.com. Many critics found it boring, tedious, and way too long. And, of course, they are remembering that two more films are on their way. But I, for the most part disagree. Yes, the film could have completely cut about three of the action sequences. Some of the sequences are beautiful, especially with the glorious IMAX and 3-D .

The film does at times start to feel, not boring, but certainly tiresome. The nearly three hour running time starts to show and my popcorn was gone long before the halfway benchmark. And I’m not a fast popcorn muncher! Let me explain how I could help Jackson out in the editing room. Jackson uses the 3-D to great effect when Bilbo and the dwarves are struggling to stay on the cliff. That’s exciting and wonderfully choreographed, but the moments of the rock giants bashing each other is not nearly as exciting. I would rather it to be replaced with…nothing! Jackson and his longtime editor, Jabez Olessen could have trimmed a good half hour. If Smaug was thrown into the climax this could have ended here! Okay, okay, I guess that’s not correct. There are many more moments to cover: the dwarves in the river, more added scenes, the final Smaug confrontation, and much, much more. And yet…as I sat in the theater watching the film, I couldn’t help but think in the back of my mind: two more three hour IMAX 3-D extravaganzas will be coming soon!

I said that I would get to the IMAX and 3-D critiques later. So now I’ll get to them.  First off, the IMAX. Originally, the plan was for us (Flack, our family, and I) to view the film in IMAX and only IMAX. But at Providence Place theaters, you can only watch the film in regular format or IMAX and 3-D. Nevertheless, we saw the IMAX and 3-D version. I will admit that the IMAX screen is unbelievably massive. I know all critics say this and you’re probably not believing me (I didn’t believe the critics), but it really is about seven stories tall and you can tell. There were several moments during the film where I could feel the ground literally shake. My shirt moved a centimeter or two. Even though you have to empty your pocketbook for this massive screen and “earth shattering sound”, I think for a film like this that you can truly title an event, it’s worth it.

Onto the 3-D! I don’t dislike 3-D as much as some do, but I will admit that the glasses I was given at this showing were unusually annoying. But after the first hour, I did get used to it and I managed to just sit back and enjoy the show because this 3-D is spectacular. It’s absolutely thrilling in every sense of the word. There are a few scenes in particular that stand out. They include: rocks chipping off mountains falling into your eyes as rain drips down and Bilbo and co. struggle to keep their lives and the final climactic battle is given an interesting depth that involves flaming pinecones (I don’t want to give anything else away). There is also a very long trailer for J. J. Abrams’ Summer 2013 sequel, Stark Trek Into Darkness that uses 3-D wonderfully (more on that in the future).I’ve told you about all of the 3-D and IMAX and chit-chat about the fact that this is a trilogy, but is there any emotion behind the action? Yes, in fact there is. I will be purposefully vague as to not give anything away, but I will say that there is a nice portion of emotion at the end and every so often throughout. In other words, on the whole, this is a journey worth taking. WARNING: SOME UNEXPECTED THREE-DIMENSIONAL ROCKS MAY MAKE YOU JUMP. JUST A WARNING!

My favorite character is Bilbo because of his human qualities. He is the central protagonist, but fortunately Jackson paints him as a human and relatable character. Plus, he has some fun action scenes and those hobbit ears…Oh my!

My favorite scene is the adaption of “Chapter 6: Riddles in the Dark” because of…GOLLUM! It’s been nearly a decade since The Lord of the Rings Trilogy began (I haven’t seen the films, but I can judge from photos and trailers), so the Mo-Cap technology has evolved enough to create a truly creepy 2012 Gollum. Howard Shore’s score is just about at it’s best here with the track merely titled Riddles in the Dark. The last reason? That wonderful quote: “What has Bagginses got in it’s pocketses?”. Pure, genuine Gollum.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is rated PG-13 and I agree. There are some creepy off-headings that will push you to keep the youngsters home.

A cinematic event if there ever was one. A true spectacle with some emotional tidbits. Highly entertaining, if overlong.


One Response to “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Flick’s Review)”

  1. Abid
    December 19th, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

    I did see the lord of the ring and I liked it simply because it was entertaining and I have not put the Hobbit on my must see movie yet. But I will see it sometimes.

    By the way your review is very good.

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