Movie Review: The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey

By  December 11, 2012

The first instalment to Peter Jackson’s much anticipated prequel to his legendary The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit – A Unexpected Journey has arrived.

The story is about the hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who is hired by the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to accompany thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on a quest across Middle-earth to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from Smaug the dragon. The journey leads them from Bilbo’s home in the Shire through the Elven stronghold of Rivendell, and through the Goblin infested Misty Mountains where Bilbo meets a creature with an object of mysterious qualities that will change his life, and the life of his family forever. As they continue, they discover that other vile creatures also seek to destroy them.

(L-r) WILLIAM KIRCHER as Bifur, GRAHAM McTAVISH as Dwalin, MARTIN FREEMAN as Bilbo Baggins, JAMES NESBITT as Bofur and JOHN CALLEN as Oin in the fantasy adventure THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

(L-r) PETER HAMBLETON as Gloin, DEAN GORMAN as Fili, JOHN CALLEN as Oin, KEN STOTT as Balin, MARTIN FREEMAN as Bilbo Baggins, JAMES NESBITT as Bofur, AIDAN TURNER as Kili, STEPHEN HUNTER as Bombur, WILLIAM KIRCHER as Bifur, JED BROPHY as Nori and MARK HADLOW as Dori in the fantasy adventure THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

It’s at least 15 minutes before the opening line of J.R.R.’s novel The Hobbit begins, and you will instantly notice that this film looks like nothing you have ever seen before… Jackson’s revolutionary technology that brings you 48-frames per second in 3D – and in my opinion gives the film a ghastly clarity. I felt like I was in a computer game! It has lost the magic that cinema has, and instead has become nothing more than an ‘experience’, like being at an amusement park. I was instantly disappointed, and I remained so throughout.

A significantly shorter novel, The Hobbit has nevertheless being milked by studios into a trilogy. Unfortunately for all concerned, this film is not a patch on The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and at 169 mins it drags. Although it is an altogether lighter tale (complete with and Disney style sing-songs and cute woodland animals), The Hobbit has none of the depth, grit, or darkness of The Rings movies. Even the battle scenes seem childish – the CGI monsters that thanks to Jackson’s 3D, get right up in your face, are not remotely frightening or, dare I say it, believable.

Martin Freeman could be considered the perfect casting for Baggins, but I personally think that the film would have benefited from a lesser known actor playing the role (perhaps in the US this won’t apply). As a comedic actor, (much like Ricky Gervais) Freeman always seems to play a version of himself and consequently, I only ever saw Freeman the actor, and never the character of Bilbo Baggins, which cheapened the film. Perhaps with the exception of Richard Armitage, I found that the cast, which is predominantly made up actors playing various stereotyped characters in a Dwarf clan, seem to be over-acting, and I never felt emotionally connected to any of them.

The best thing about The Hobbit were the scenes with Gollum towards the end of the film. I perked up on seeing Serkis’ genius portrayal of Sméagol/Gollum split personality back in action; giving us the film’s most emotional and also amusing moments.

I have to say that this trip to Middle-earth is one that fans may enjoy, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they are disappointed. I think your regular cinema goer should perhaps avoid The Hobbit this festive season, and spend their cinema money another way.

In cinemas 14th December 2012