Latest Movie News Headlines

Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Dec. 5, 2012by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: A hobbit, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is recruited by Gandalf (Ian McKellen) the wizard to join a company of thirteen dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on a quest to reclaim their home Erebor from the dragon Smaug.

REVIEW: Nine years after THE RETURN OF THE KING, Peter Jacksons long awaited first installment of his new Middle-Earth trilogy, THE HOBBIT, has finally arrived. This is one of those fanboy dream projects that, for a while, looked like it would never come together, having acquired and then lost a new director, Guillermo del Toro, before the reins were finally taken by the only man who ever really could bring J.R.R Tolkien to the big screen- Peter Jackson.

One thing must be addressed- expectations. I know, from reading tweets, Facebook status updates, stories, etc., that a lot of the hardcore LOTR fans are expecting some kind of masterpiece. I liked AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY- but it's no masterpiece. It's a fun spectacle, but I doubt even the biggest Jackson fans will ever say this measures up to the LOTR trilogy. Now don't fret- this is not THE PHANTOM MENACE all over again, but it does, perhaps inevitably, fall a little short.

Still with me? Good- let's slog on...

Whether or not THE HOBBIT- a less epic work than LORD OF THE RINGS, deserves the three-film treatment is a question we wont be able to answer until the third film hits theaters in (presumably) July 2014. However, the first installment, AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY is likely to please most LOTR fans (and who isnt to at least some extent?) - even if the saga may not be as immediately gripping as it was in FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING. My biggest fear going in was that- at 160 minutes, THE HOBBIT would feel padded out to epic length, as its only based on 1/3rd of a book. Truthfully, AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY does feel a bit like an "expanded edition"- even though I'm sure it'll be even more expanded on Blu-ray. But it was still pretty jam-packed with thrills, chills and chuckles. The Tolkien fans who thought Jackson condensed too much of LOTR will no doubt be thrilled with how faithful he is here (in addition to adding some novelties of his own). Even for everyone else though, it shouldn't be too much of a problem. With Jackson's Middle-Earth films, you either go on the ride, or you don't. I decided to go on the ride.

Reuniting most of the original trilogys team, AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY really does feel like it could have been shot at the same time as the original trilogy. The only way youd ever know ten years have passed is by noticing how the CGI has actually improved- even though it pushed the envelope back in the early aughts. The actors that return for the new trilogy, including Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, and Hugo Weaving- along with a few other surprises, look exactly like they did in the first series, giving it a nice continuity that most other prequels would never get.

The key player in Jacksons new saga is Martin Freeman, who is mostly known stateside for his role on Ricky Gervais original edition of THE OFFICE, along with his role as Watson in BBCs SHERLOCK. As Bilbo, Freeman is an ideal choice, being able to turn from nearly slapstick comedy, to swashbuckling, to a bit of pathos on a dime. Hes absolutely spot-on, picking up beautifully on Ian Holms original performance of the aged Bilbo in LOTR. He anchors the series in the same way Elijah Wood did as Frodo, and its inconceivable to think of anyone else in the part.

If Freeman is this sagas Elijah Wood, a strong case could be made that Richard Armitage, as the heroic warrior prince Thorin, could be THE HOBBITs Viggo Mortensen- although lets not go quite that far yet. However, Armitage is pretty great as the bold dwarf prince, handling most of the big action scenes, and bringing the kind of gravitas and absolute sincerity a fantasy like this requires. Likely, people will be championing him as THE HOBBITs big discovery.

Meanwhile, good old Ian McKellen doesnt miss a beat reprising his iconic role as Gandalf. Its so much fun watching him play the mead-loving, mischievous Gandalf the Grey again, as opposed to the more serious Gandalf the White we saw in THE TWO TOWERS and THE RETURN OF THE KING. Gandalf, even in the midst of battle always has that twinkle in his eye, and McKellen isnt just good in the part- Id say hes downright immortal. The same could be said for Andy Serkis, whos back as Gollum in the films major set piece, which is the famous battle of riddles between him and Bilbo. Gollum looks even realer here than he did the last time around.

Meanwhile, the other twelve dwarves are all a lot of fun, even if none save for Ken Stott as the aged Balin and James Nesbitt as Bofur really has the opportunity to distinguish themselves right away. Many of THE HOBBITs other major new players, including Evangeline Lily, sit this one out (although I may have seen Lily as a flute-playing Elf at one point).

Just as important, in his own way, as Jackson is composer Howard Shore, whose score for THE HOBBIT is very much in the tradition of work on LOTR. Many of his famous themes are reprised here, and overall the score just as stirring as youd hope, although his newer cues may not be as immediately memorable as they were in FELLOWSHIP.

Now- the one thing that absolutely has to be addressed is the whole 48fps issue. I got to see it in this new fangled-format, and Im sad to say I absolutely loathed the experience. To me, the movie- in 48fps, looks like video, as if I was watching a football game on my HDTV, or something on the BBC. Maybe it just takes some getting used to, but its simply not cinematic, and the ultra-fast motion was disorienting, and distracted from an otherwise good film. I have no doubt people will love this realistic approach- but who goes to THE HOBBIT for realism? For me it was a huge drawback, although I tried not to let it affect my rating too much, as I know only about a third of the prints will be affected by the technology. One things for certain- if I see it again itll be in 24fps. Of course, its also in 3D, which is about as good here as the technology gets, even if Im not a fan of the gimmick in general.

That aside, I really enjoyed going back to Middle Earth with Jackson and co. Being that its THE HOBBIT and not LORD OF THE RINGS, dont expect the same ultra-epic battle of good versus evil, as this is a far more lighthearted romp. Still- its a ton of fun, and Im certainly looking forward to the next two installments.

Source: JoBlo.com

MORE FUN FROM AROUND THE WEB

Strikeback
Not registered? Sign-up!
Or

8:31PM on 12/05/2012

Well

I feel the same way about 48 fps. It looks to much like a camcorder and I just can't get used to it.
I feel the same way about 48 fps. It looks to much like a camcorder and I just can't get used to it.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+0
8:04PM on 12/05/2012
48 fps – well, when I got my bluray player and new tv, I noticed that it looked a bit like video also. So not sure why ppl are getting weird about it. Don’t any of these guys own an recent bluray movies?

3 movies – the book is 300-350 pages – depending on the edition, in case you haven’t read it, there is literally something new happening in every chapter. There is almost a new monster to face every 2 chapters. And as an adventure story, there are none that compare
48 fps – well, when I got my bluray player and new tv, I noticed that it looked a bit like video also. So not sure why ppl are getting weird about it. Don’t any of these guys own an recent bluray movies?

3 movies – the book is 300-350 pages – depending on the edition, in case you haven’t read it, there is literally something new happening in every chapter. There is almost a new monster to face every 2 chapters. And as an adventure story, there are none that compare to it. most of the adventure takes place in simple phrases. Something like, they travelled through a forest and saw all sorts of creatures. Well that can be turned into a 5 min sequence if you so choose. Remember that Game of Thrones is 900 pages and the first season is 10 hours. So time isn’t a factor for me if the story is good, and it is.
As for being a gimmick to make money – news flash, all of Hollywood only wants money, so making the Hobbit one movie, a tv show, or a miniseries is all about money.

LOTR vs HOBBIT – hobbit is a simpler story but its pure adventure. Easy to follow and you are just following these characters around and partaking in their adventure, I actually like the book better than LOTR, but that is just personal opinion.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
2:53AM on 12/06/2012
Um, dude? That's not your Blu-rays. That's the TrueMotion setting on your TV. Might wanna turn that off.
Um, dude? That's not your Blu-rays. That's the TrueMotion setting on your TV. Might wanna turn that off.
4:24AM on 12/06/2012
Thumbs up to JayStrang!

People really have to do to their homework on 48fps, crazy how uninformed most of them are.
Thumbs up to JayStrang!

People really have to do to their homework on 48fps, crazy how uninformed most of them are.
6:34AM on 12/06/2012
yeah i know - i assumed most people had it on. LIke that was the point of getting the HD tv. i simply said blurays cause you feel the effect of it more so on that. than on regular tv - i dont have hd tv, just blurays. anyhow my point still stands, ppl should be used to this type of thing by now.
yeah i know - i assumed most people had it on. LIke that was the point of getting the HD tv. i simply said blurays cause you feel the effect of it more so on that. than on regular tv - i dont have hd tv, just blurays. anyhow my point still stands, ppl should be used to this type of thing by now.
-2
3:13PM on 12/05/2012

Mehh

I just cant seem to talk myself into being excited about this one. I mean 3 movies from one book? That's just all about greed, not the story. From everything I've read the first act is really tedious and full of filler. Peter has never been very good with pacing to start with. I think I'll have to pass. I haven't caught Skyfall yet, so I think I will go see that instead.
I just cant seem to talk myself into being excited about this one. I mean 3 movies from one book? That's just all about greed, not the story. From everything I've read the first act is really tedious and full of filler. Peter has never been very good with pacing to start with. I think I'll have to pass. I haven't caught Skyfall yet, so I think I will go see that instead.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+8
1:50PM on 12/05/2012
I am quite looking forward to this. Not living up to LOTR is not a big deal. That trilogy is pretty hard to beat, so the fact that this doesn't quite live up to it doesn't bother me. I know I won't be seeing it in this 48 fps. I heard bad things about that back when they had a preview of the film, and it doesn't seem like that's changed. Glad it's good, though I would be surprised if it weren't.
I am quite looking forward to this. Not living up to LOTR is not a big deal. That trilogy is pretty hard to beat, so the fact that this doesn't quite live up to it doesn't bother me. I know I won't be seeing it in this 48 fps. I heard bad things about that back when they had a preview of the film, and it doesn't seem like that's changed. Glad it's good, though I would be surprised if it weren't.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+2
12:36PM on 12/05/2012
Great review Chris. The Hobbit will never live up to LOTR, but I'm excited to enjoy it for what it is. Although I wish they would've done it as just one movie so I could have an entire adventure in Middle-Earth as one standalone film. But no doubt WB pushed hard for it being three movies now that their two biggest franchises have checked out (Harry Potter and Batman).
Great review Chris. The Hobbit will never live up to LOTR, but I'm excited to enjoy it for what it is. Although I wish they would've done it as just one movie so I could have an entire adventure in Middle-Earth as one standalone film. But no doubt WB pushed hard for it being three movies now that their two biggest franchises have checked out (Harry Potter and Batman).
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
11:50AM on 12/05/2012

Great review!

Like others have mentioned, great review Chris! Honest and straightforward, yet never straying anywhere near spoiler territory. For the life of me, I never understand why people feel the need to say, "The movie starts out with this, then they do this, then this, and ends like this." I look at reviews to see their thoughts on the movie, not a scene by scene synopsis. So thank you for that! Also, a lot of people are critiquing the 48fps more than the actual movie! Why not go see the movie in
Like others have mentioned, great review Chris! Honest and straightforward, yet never straying anywhere near spoiler territory. For the life of me, I never understand why people feel the need to say, "The movie starts out with this, then they do this, then this, and ends like this." I look at reviews to see their thoughts on the movie, not a scene by scene synopsis. So thank you for that! Also, a lot of people are critiquing the 48fps more than the actual movie! Why not go see the movie in regular format first, THEN review the 48fps? Anyways, that's basically what i expected of the 1st movie. I have no doubt that the 2nd and 3rd will considerably up the ante in terms of drama, seriousness, and tone until it nearly matches the LOTR trilogy.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
6:54PM on 12/05/2012
I think WB has been screening the film in 48fps for critics so they don't really have a choice in what version.
I think WB has been screening the film in 48fps for critics so they don't really have a choice in what version.
10:50AM on 12/05/2012

Nice one Bumbray!

I guess I can Trust you with everything except Nolan. Definitely going to see it, but you've confirmed some of my concerns.
I guess I can Trust you with everything except Nolan. Definitely going to see it, but you've confirmed some of my concerns.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
9:49AM on 12/05/2012

A Bit Off Topic

The first time I saw an HDTV was at a computer expo somewhere in Jersey. It was huge and it was showing Pirates of the Caribbean. It was the scene when Capt. Jack was trying to take the ship from the two bumbling guards then has to save Keira Knightley. And it looked like a live television/PBS presentation of a Broadway show. It looked so "live" it was almost 3D without glasses. I have no idea why it looked like that and I have never seen an HDTV image that amazing since. But, if The Hobbit
The first time I saw an HDTV was at a computer expo somewhere in Jersey. It was huge and it was showing Pirates of the Caribbean. It was the scene when Capt. Jack was trying to take the ship from the two bumbling guards then has to save Keira Knightley. And it looked like a live television/PBS presentation of a Broadway show. It looked so "live" it was almost 3D without glasses. I have no idea why it looked like that and I have never seen an HDTV image that amazing since. But, if The Hobbit looks that good then I am looking forward to it. Now, when I see it, I'll probably puke my guts out for typing the above!
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
11:10AM on 12/05/2012
They've doubled the frame rate, which helps eliminate the motion blur, which I really don't care for the way it looks. You're basically removing something your eye sees naturally. Some people dig it though.
They've doubled the frame rate, which helps eliminate the motion blur, which I really don't care for the way it looks. You're basically removing something your eye sees naturally. Some people dig it though.
9:10AM on 12/05/2012

Great Review!

The LOTR trilogy was such an immense part of my teen years, that I almost feel morally obligated to see the Hobbit. I will, however, go out of my way to be sure I see this in good ol' fashioned 2D/24fps. This is how I enjoyed the original trilogy, and I don't need any new-fangled gimmicks. Although if it was shot in 48fps, it remains to be seen how [link] this will be. Damnit PJ, just stick to what works!
The LOTR trilogy was such an immense part of my teen years, that I almost feel morally obligated to see the Hobbit. I will, however, go out of my way to be sure I see this in good ol' fashioned 2D/24fps. This is how I enjoyed the original trilogy, and I don't need any new-fangled gimmicks. Although if it was shot in 48fps, it remains to be seen how [link] this will be. Damnit PJ, just stick to what works!
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
9:05AM on 12/05/2012

Thanks for a clear review

Chris, good review, thanks.
Chris, good review, thanks.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
8:44AM on 12/05/2012

The thing about the 24fps...

...is that even then you'll be seeing digital alterations. Because it was SHOT in 48fps, they have to manually add blurring and other elements to the entire film to "downgrade" it to 24fps. So, from what I've heard, people who have seen 24fps prints are noticing just as many odd and disorienting flourishes to the film. Sadly Jackson's overzealous desire to 'reinvent the wheel' with digital format has seemingly crippled his movie.
...is that even then you'll be seeing digital alterations. Because it was SHOT in 48fps, they have to manually add blurring and other elements to the entire film to "downgrade" it to 24fps. So, from what I've heard, people who have seen 24fps prints are noticing just as many odd and disorienting flourishes to the film. Sadly Jackson's overzealous desire to 'reinvent the wheel' with digital format has seemingly crippled his movie.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
9:02AM on 12/05/2012
That's an interesting point. I had presumed that you could just skip every other 48fps frame and arrive at the 24fps movie, but I can see how that isn't going to work. Too bad PJ didn't run a 2-D 24fps camera in conjunction with his 3-D 48fps camera. Three lenses rather than two. An increase in cost, but ultimately an experiment worth trying...to see if "downgrading" 48fps is more cost effective and better looking than just running in 24fps originally. I was looking forward to 24fps all
That's an interesting point. I had presumed that you could just skip every other 48fps frame and arrive at the 24fps movie, but I can see how that isn't going to work. Too bad PJ didn't run a 2-D 24fps camera in conjunction with his 3-D 48fps camera. Three lenses rather than two. An increase in cost, but ultimately an experiment worth trying...to see if "downgrading" 48fps is more cost effective and better looking than just running in 24fps originally. I was looking forward to 24fps all along..now I'm a bit more tentative about this at all...
2:01PM on 12/05/2012
actually, drexxell, i believe you're right about skipping every other frame to display 48fps in a 24fps environment. there would be no need to "manually" add anything--discarding half of the visual information captured at a 48fps speed to project in a 24fps environment would just be exactly the same as if the camera had only ever captured 24fps in the first place.
actually, drexxell, i believe you're right about skipping every other frame to display 48fps in a 24fps environment. there would be no need to "manually" add anything--discarding half of the visual information captured at a 48fps speed to project in a 24fps environment would just be exactly the same as if the camera had only ever captured 24fps in the first place.
8:43AM on 12/05/2012
Thank you for the very honest review. You put in a lot of good information and it sounds like everything I hoped it would be. There is no way I expected it to be as epic as Lord of the Rings given the source material. I am really looking forward to my IMAX experience in less than 2 weeks time.
Thank you for the very honest review. You put in a lot of good information and it sounds like everything I hoped it would be. There is no way I expected it to be as epic as Lord of the Rings given the source material. I am really looking forward to my IMAX experience in less than 2 weeks time.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
8:27AM on 12/05/2012

as expected

Im not surprised at this rating. really reading the book, the first act is fun and full of lovable characters, but it doesnt have the 'epic' edge that Fellowship lends. FOTR, to me at least, felt like standing on the edge of something huge and frightening. The Hobbit always pleases but, if youve read the book, you wont be surprised to feel like this should have been made first.
Im not surprised at this rating. really reading the book, the first act is fun and full of lovable characters, but it doesnt have the 'epic' edge that Fellowship lends. FOTR, to me at least, felt like standing on the edge of something huge and frightening. The Hobbit always pleases but, if youve read the book, you wont be surprised to feel like this should have been made first.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
7:48AM on 12/05/2012
I'm starting to think that the movie will be overshadowed by the 48 fps issue. I'm starting to think if normal 2D version would have this issue or not.
I'm starting to think that the movie will be overshadowed by the 48 fps issue. I'm starting to think if normal 2D version would have this issue or not.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
7:40AM on 12/05/2012

I knew it wasn't going to be perfect

Here come the fanboys! RUN Chris!! Thank you for giving an honest review!!
Here come the fanboys! RUN Chris!! Thank you for giving an honest review!!
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
5:49AM on 12/05/2012
Chris, can you expand a bit on why you gave a 7/10 to "The Hobbit"? I mean, more about the cons. Because basically the only cons you write about is this whole 48 fps thing, which I think doesn't qualify as something to feel bad about the movie itself. That's an "exterior" issue.
Chris, can you expand a bit on why you gave a 7/10 to "The Hobbit"? I mean, more about the cons. Because basically the only cons you write about is this whole 48 fps thing, which I think doesn't qualify as something to feel bad about the movie itself. That's an "exterior" issue.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
8:58AM on 12/05/2012
I can't agree with your use of "exterior" for this. It's like saying "I saw Casablanca the other day on a broken projector that blurred every frame and gave me a headache, but aside from that it's a great movie!". The STORY may be great, but the STORY and the PRESENTATION are jointly combined to make the MOVIE. So in the above example, the STORY of Casablanca may be great, but Casablanca the MOVIE would suck. Same here. If the presentation is no good, the movie suffers.
I can't agree with your use of "exterior" for this. It's like saying "I saw Casablanca the other day on a broken projector that blurred every frame and gave me a headache, but aside from that it's a great movie!". The STORY may be great, but the STORY and the PRESENTATION are jointly combined to make the MOVIE. So in the above example, the STORY of Casablanca may be great, but Casablanca the MOVIE would suck. Same here. If the presentation is no good, the movie suffers.
3:09PM on 12/05/2012
@dresxxell so chris should release another, seperate review for the regular 24fps version of the movie? He'd give this one 7/10, and the other 9/10....even though its the same movie? i dont think so. they're two seperate things. treat it as such. But @miguel he listed a few other complaints about the movie besides that, like it's not a masterpiece, it falls short of the heavy expectations brought on by the LOTR trilogy, and it feels stretched like its an extended edition...that's enough to
@dresxxell so chris should release another, seperate review for the regular 24fps version of the movie? He'd give this one 7/10, and the other 9/10....even though its the same movie? i dont think so. they're two seperate things. treat it as such. But @miguel he listed a few other complaints about the movie besides that, like it's not a masterpiece, it falls short of the heavy expectations brought on by the LOTR trilogy, and it feels stretched like its an extended edition...that's enough to warrant a 7/10 IMO
+0
5:17AM on 12/05/2012
Well, at least we can be certain that Peter Jackson's created a ride worth taking, on either format.
Well, at least we can be certain that Peter Jackson's created a ride worth taking, on either format.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+4
5:05AM on 12/05/2012
Well, at least we can be certain that Peter Jackson's created a ride worth taking, on either format.
Well, at least we can be certain that Peter Jackson's created a ride worth taking, on either format.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
3:17AM on 12/05/2012

I do feel a lot of critics and snobs want another "Phantom Menace".

So they're trying their damndest to make The Hobbit in to one.
"Why's it gotta be 3 movies?" "Why's it gotta be at 48fps?" It really feels like people are being stallwarts, but I can't call it until I see it mit mine own eye. Maybe the 48fps does suck, I'll have to find out in 9 days.

And as for the 3 movies question, do you REALLY want all of Smaug & the Battle of Five Armies compressed in to one movie? No thanks, 3 films feels like the right choice.
So they're trying their damndest to make The Hobbit in to one.
"Why's it gotta be 3 movies?" "Why's it gotta be at 48fps?" It really feels like people are being stallwarts, but I can't call it until I see it mit mine own eye. Maybe the 48fps does suck, I'll have to find out in 9 days.

And as for the 3 movies question, do you REALLY want all of Smaug & the Battle of Five Armies compressed in to one movie? No thanks, 3 films feels like the right choice.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
10:54AM on 12/05/2012
now I agree mostly with your post, except the "3 movies" bit. The book was really short, it feels like too much of a gimmick.
now I agree mostly with your post, except the "3 movies" bit. The book was really short, it feels like too much of a gimmick.
View All Comments

Latest Movie News Headlines


Top
Loading...
JoBlo's T-Shirt Shoppe | support our site... Wear Our Gear!