After The Dark Knight Rises this is my most anticipated film of this year.
I love The Lord of the Rings trilogy; it’s the most visually epic thing I’ve seen on screen. I saw each film at least twice when they came out and each was an incredible experience with the audience cheering, applauding and sitting in complete silence at all the right moments.
When Return of the King came out I remember feeling gutted that I would never see anything like it again on the big screen so have been waiting for The Hobbit with bated breath.
Before I jump into the actual film review, it’s worth mentioning that I did not see the 48 fps version of this film so really can’t debate its benefits and faults. For the return to the screen of Middle Earth I wanted to see it in IMAX and I have already planned to see it again in IMAX on Christmas Eve. That being said, if I do go and see it a third time which is more than likely, I will check out the 48 fps just as a comparison.
So, to the film. A lot of the reviews I have read have been mixed to say the least, most complaining of its slow start and lengthy run time. I am pleased to say though that I absolutely loved The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and it is the best film I have seen this year (sorry Batman).
From the opening credits to the end, I had a massive smile on my face due to the sheer joy of being back in Middle Earth for another adventure. To see those sweeping landscapes of New Zealand, to hear parts of the score from The Lord of The Rings booming through the screen just made me fall in love all over again and brought back those amazing cinematic experiences I had with the other three films.
In terms of the opening being too long and the film taking it’s time to get out of the hobbit hole, I didn’t feel it was overly long at all and I enjoyed the fact that it didn’t just rush through the unexpected party and instead gave us time to get to know Bilbo and the party of dwarves. The moment when they sing the song of the misty mountains is one of the best moments of the film and even though I’ve seen it so many times in the trailer, it still gave my tingles.
We are treated to the back story of Erebor and Smaug too, which is a welcome addition for me and adds a Lord of The Rings epicness to this otherwise small story.
To me this is one of the reasons The Hobbit works so well and Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens have done a great job in giving the considerably smaller story the epic treatment by adding scenes absent from the book such as the battle for Moria which as far as battles go is truly stunning.
Fans of the book may feel that the film is over filled and dragged out but Tolkien purists will have a blast with Jackson using the appendices from Return of The King to create the perfect Middle Earth with its vast mythology.
Critics will say dragging the story out over three films is for money more than anything but I disagree and after seeing the first chapter, can see where the next two will go. Peter Jackson loves Middle Earth and wants to give us an audience as much as possible and despite its three hour run time, I could have easily sat there for another three.
There is so much to love here. Visually it’s the most stunning and jaw dropping film I have seen in a long time and the scene of the fight between the stone giants or Thorins fight with the pale Orc puts anything I’ve seen in the Dark Knight Rises, Avengers or any of the other summer blockbusters to shame.
The performances are great across the board and Martin Freeman is an inspired piece of casting as Bilbo Baggins. He has all the wit, charm and quint essential Britishness to play a hobbit and does a great job in playing the conflicted Bilbo who longs for both adventure and his comfortable home.
Richard Armitage is excellent as Thorin Oakenshield, one of the most interesting characters of the film and his rapport with Freemans Bilbo is one of the best parts. There’s so much depth to this character and after reading the book I can’t wait to see his story develop on-screen.
Ian Mckellen slips back into the role of Gandalf the Grey with ease and has a lot more fun here being the rebellious bad ass that Gandalf is before he becomes the White.
James Nesbitt as Bofur was a pleasant surprise and Adam Browns Ori provides a lot of laughs during the film. However in terms of the rest of the Dwarf party, a lot of the characters we have not yet had the chance to know and I’ll admit I couldn’t put a name to a lot of them just yet but I have every faith that they will get their chance to shine during the other two films.
It was also great to see returning cast members Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee and of course Andy Serkis who all serve a purpose here as opposed to being in it for the sake of being in it.
Andy Serkis’ Gollum is not surprisingly one of the best moments of the film. The second he slinked on screen you could feel the audience were giving their full attention. The scene with him and Bilbo is one of my favourites of the entire film and Peter Jackson does a great job in turning a simple game of riddles into so much more, building the tension perfectly and keeping me on the edge of my seat.
I’m not going to lie, the culmination of this scene had my shed a little tear too, with it being one of the better character moments of the film put to the softer music from The Lord of The Rings. Touching stuff.
By the time the film was close to finishing I could feel myself already wanting more and the final few moments made me want to cheer out of sheer awesomeness and personally the ending itself if far more satisfying than that of The Fellowship of The Ring.
In terms of flaws I really can’t think of any. The score is just as powerful as that from the previous trilogy and I like how they haven’t completely dismissed the music from Lord of The Rings. It has the perfect balance of action, comedy and horror and packs a massive emotional punch at some points.
I am so excited for the next two chapters and can’t wait for the day when I have them all on Blu-Ray and can watch them back to back in one truly epic marathon.
On a quick side note, it’s also worth mentioning that before the film, I was treated to the nine minute preview of Star Trek: Into Darkness. I enjoy Star Trek, more so than Star Wars probably and thought J.J Abrams did a great job with the last one.
Taking four years to make the sequel though has made me lose interest a little. That being said, from what I saw of the film in this preview it looks like it will make for an interesting watch.
In the preview we catch a glimpse of Benedict Cumberbatch’s mysterious villian which is more than likely going to be Kahn, despite what everyone says, before catching up with Kirk, Bones, Spock and Uhura who it seems are in a lot of trouble with some very angry aliens and a very angry volcano.
This all looked great, especially the stuff in the Volcano which was made all the more better by the 3-d embers flying around.
The preview ended on a bit of a cliffhanger before the recently released trailer was shown. So, yet another reason for you to go see The Hobbit in IMAX.