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Review: The Hobbit (JimmyO's take)

The Hobbit (JimmyO's take)
12.14.2012
8 10

PLOT: After an unexpected visit from a wizard, a simple hobbit is convinced to go on an adventure far from home. Off to what is called the Lonely Mountain, he joins forces with a band of dwarves looking to reclaim their treasure and home from the monstrous dragon Smaug.

REVIEW: There are very few motion pictures that affected me quite like THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy had. Epic and emotional, I grew more and more ecstatic about experiencing each upcoming installment. Yet for THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, some of the excitement lessened as its release grew closer. Whether it was the news that there would be three films made from one book to the seemingly mixed reaction to it being shown in 48 frames per second, I found myself more than a little worried. How would Peter Jackson’s return to Middle-Earth possibly live up to the earlier films? Well, perhaps it wasn’t meant to be as grand a tale.

For Frodo (Elijah Wood, who makes a brief appearance here), he literally had the weight of the world hanging from his neck – in the form of “one ring to rule them all.” Yet years before that monumental trip to Mordor, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) of Bag End was convinced to join in on an adventure. For THE HOBBIT, as dark and sometimes terrifying as the journey may get, it is a much more personal passage. This is more of a coming of age tale – or perhaps a mid-life crisis - as opposed to the grander scale that Frodo and the Fellowship experienced. Gone are most of the epic battles for the most part, as well as the grandeur presented in the first films.

With all my preconceived notions of what THE HOBBIT would be, there was still the fact that I really enjoy cinematically visiting Jackson’s recreation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. There was a sense of comfort returning to the places where the director took us in LOTR. It was also refreshing to once again hear Howard Shore's remarkable score present itself in a familiar yet fresh way. This is a world that was created with such care and detail that as a fan, it was like visiting an old friend. Especially with so many of the original cast members including Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Ian Holm as the elder Bilbo, Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett as the Elrond and Galadriel among others.

The most satisfying returning cast member however is Andy Serkis as Smeagol (and his darker side Gollum). As great as he was technically in LOTR, he is absolutely flawless here. From the visual effects to Serkis exceptional performance, his short on-screen time very well may be the best part of the film. The exchange between Gollum and Freeman is absolutely perfect.

Speaking of Freeman, it is hard to imagine an actor better suited to play Bilbo – aside from the great Ian Holm of course. Martin brings a dry sense of humor that enlivens his character. He carries the film wonderfully as the little Hobbit with no desire to move from his comfortable surroundings. Freeman is a fantastic actor who fully commits to Bilbo through his mannerisms and his many little quirks. Yet there is an emotional core that is easy to relate to. Much like Elijah Wood as Frodo, he also shares a strong bond with the sensational Ian McKellan, who gives Gandalf as much soul and passion as he did in LOTR.

As much as I enjoyed this more personal journey, sometimes the deliberate pacing feels a bit strained. Considering this is the first film, you have to wonder how Mr. Jackson and company will fill the next two features. And while LOTR told an epic battle of good and evil, THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY’s more personal approach occasionally wears thin. In many ways this first chapter feels like the home video “Extended Edition” as opposed to the “Theatrical Edition.” Many of the hard core fans will have no problem with this, yet those that are not quite converted to that level of commitment may feel the near three hours pass heavily upon them.

My only other grievance would be the quick introduction of so many characters early on without really getting a real feel for them. Aside from a tremendous Richard Armitage as Thorin, you didn’t really get a sense of who the Dwarves were. That was not the case in LOTR where most of the cast was utilized incredibly well. In THE HOBBIT, it is hard to really connect with the dwarves on any emotional level. I did however like the couple of musical moments where they chanted and sang, especially the haunting “Misty Mountains.”

My screening of the film was the much ballyhooed 48 fps (frames per second) in 3D. The experience was unique in that it was more akin to watching a mini-series in HD on BBC AMERICA – of course one that is larger than life with incredible special effects. It was a clear and sharp image which was able to enhance a sequence here and there. This is especially true for Gollum as he looked remarkable and felt very real. It is a bit strange to see a film like this look as clear as it would on live TV, so I did miss the more cinematic approach at times. I don’t know if LORD OF THE RINGS would have been as magnificent in this format.

In the end – or shall I say the beginning - THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY is a visual feast with whimsy and charm. The performances from Freeman, McKellen, Serkis and Armitage are fantastic. I didn’t even mind the length, but I do feel that it might be more of a treat for fans of LOTR “Extended Editions” of which I am one. Let’s just hope that throughout the three films, Middle-Earth will still be a pleasant place to visit by July 2014 with THE HOBBIT: THERE AND BACK AGAIN.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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11:11PM on 12/18/2012

Great Movie

this movie is very good, i think is a matter of people expectations..... this movie is like Willow a Family fun adventure.
this movie is very good, i think is a matter of people expectations..... this movie is like Willow a Family fun adventure.
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+0
6:45PM on 12/18/2012

10 out of 10

Just came back from seeing "The Hobbit" - Absolutely Loved it, visually stunning, great story, could not believe just how great it was, Martin Freeman was born to be Bilbo Baggins & Gollum will go down as a movie Legend.
Just came back from seeing "The Hobbit" - Absolutely Loved it, visually stunning, great story, could not believe just how great it was, Martin Freeman was born to be Bilbo Baggins & Gollum will go down as a movie Legend.
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2:44PM on 12/14/2012

10 out of 10

Peter Jackson has done it again. I was worried about them splitting up the movie into 3 but after seeing the Hobbit they could of done the Lord of the Rings into 6 or even 9 movies. It was so awesome!!!!!!!!!!
Peter Jackson has done it again. I was worried about them splitting up the movie into 3 but after seeing the Hobbit they could of done the Lord of the Rings into 6 or even 9 movies. It was so awesome!!!!!!!!!!
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1:42PM on 12/14/2012

Really wanted to love it, but...

...I just couldn't. I knew coming in that it wouldn't be on as large a scale as the LOTR and that it'd be more personal, as I've read the book for the Hobbit and the LOTR books, while also viewing the extended editions multiple times. I consider myself one of the "hardcore" fans. A lot of reviews state that the casual fan won't like it as much, while the rest of us would absolutely love it. I found the exact OPPOSITE to be true unfortunately. My casual fan friends who haven't read the books or
...I just couldn't. I knew coming in that it wouldn't be on as large a scale as the LOTR and that it'd be more personal, as I've read the book for the Hobbit and the LOTR books, while also viewing the extended editions multiple times. I consider myself one of the "hardcore" fans. A lot of reviews state that the casual fan won't like it as much, while the rest of us would absolutely love it. I found the exact OPPOSITE to be true unfortunately. My casual fan friends who haven't read the books or even seen all of the LOTR seemed to enjoy it a lot, while I just couldn't get past many of the unnecessary changes that Peter Jackson was compelled to make. I won't go on a whole rant now, but I was disappointed. The movie did have its moments, but all of the little things added up in a big way, and i can't fathom giving the movie more than a 6.5 out of 10 at the most.
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2:47PM on 12/14/2012
I'm a hardcore fan I thought the changes were good. I love that they are going more in depth about the necromancer instead of it being a foot note like it is in the book. I think you are being way too picky.
I'm a hardcore fan I thought the changes were good. I love that they are going more in depth about the necromancer instead of it being a foot note like it is in the book. I think you are being way too picky.
3:35PM on 12/14/2012
SPOILERS: Maybe I wasn't clear enough because i didn't want to write a whole page about this, but there's a few additions I don't mind, such as giving more of a backstory to the Necromancer and what Gandalf was actually doing when he left the dwarves and stuff. I get that. But ridiculously stupid stuff like making Azog the goblin into the Lurtz (Uruk-hai from FOTR) of the Hobbit was just pointless. In the book, he's already dead by the events of the hobbit. Making it more personal for Thorin,
SPOILERS: Maybe I wasn't clear enough because i didn't want to write a whole page about this, but there's a few additions I don't mind, such as giving more of a backstory to the Necromancer and what Gandalf was actually doing when he left the dwarves and stuff. I get that. But ridiculously stupid stuff like making Azog the goblin into the Lurtz (Uruk-hai from FOTR) of the Hobbit was just pointless. In the book, he's already dead by the events of the hobbit. Making it more personal for Thorin, adding in the cliche' "epic fight" at the very end, making all these unnecessary changes in major events like: the timing of when Bilbo gets seperated from the group in the goblin tunnels, adding in Radagast and his stupid bunny-sleigh, random attacks by goblins and wargs....it's just too much. Jackson forgets that the story is called "THE HOBBIT" for a reason....it's about Bilbo. Not the Dwarves, not Gandalf and his side missions, but Bilbo. Bilbo wasn't much of a hero in this story AT ALL until he chooses to spare Gollum's life. In the book, he starts becoming a hero in the encounter with the trolls, then really comes into his own right before he finds Gollum. I don't think it's being picky to ask to stick closely to the source material.
7:14AM on 12/14/2012

Thanks Jimmy...is ANYONE gonna review the 24fps 2-D version from JoBlo though?

Or if not a staff member, how about linking us to any reviews online?

Or if not a staff member, how about linking us to any reviews online?

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10:59AM on 12/14/2012
I don't think any of the press screenings have been in 24fps.
I don't think any of the press screenings have been in 24fps.
12:19PM on 12/14/2012
Ok...well, then we schmoes will take one for the team and post reviews after we see it in 24fps :)

And once again, I'm baffled by the thumbs down. Only god knows how people's brains work...
Ok...well, then we schmoes will take one for the team and post reviews after we see it in 24fps :)

And once again, I'm baffled by the thumbs down. Only god knows how people's brains work...
+1
6:59AM on 12/14/2012
Great review, can't wait to go see it. I'm an LotR fanatic so this has been long awaited for me. Oh and I don't mean to be nitpicky but we actually get "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug", the second film, next December, 2013. "There and Back Again" is slated to come out in the summer of 2014 approximately 6 months after.
Great review, can't wait to go see it. I'm an LotR fanatic so this has been long awaited for me. Oh and I don't mean to be nitpicky but we actually get "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug", the second film, next December, 2013. "There and Back Again" is slated to come out in the summer of 2014 approximately 6 months after.
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9:40AM on 12/14/2012
Date corrected... thanks for the reminder!
Date corrected... thanks for the reminder!
+5
2:59AM on 12/14/2012
In reading this review, I'm thinking "finally, someone who gets it". I've seen a lot of reviewers talk about this film as if it were some epic on the same lines of LotR and that's simply not the case. This never could be the second coming of LotR because it was never going to be that. The Hobbit is a tale on a much smaller scale with less grandeur, danger, and peril. Whereas LotR was an epic quest to save the world, The Hobbit is more of an adventure that's a bit more whimsical. I also expected
In reading this review, I'm thinking "finally, someone who gets it". I've seen a lot of reviewers talk about this film as if it were some epic on the same lines of LotR and that's simply not the case. This never could be the second coming of LotR because it was never going to be that. The Hobbit is a tale on a much smaller scale with less grandeur, danger, and peril. Whereas LotR was an epic quest to save the world, The Hobbit is more of an adventure that's a bit more whimsical. I also expected this chapter to be more low key, as the best parts come in the second and third film (I am assuming, anyway, with the intro of Smaug and the battle that will inevitably be in the third film). Overall, I really enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun and jumping back into Middle Earth was great. The dwarves were fantastic as well, despite what people have said. As a group, I find the dwarves to be a lot of fun and though they aren't as full developed individually, what we get from them is pretty great. Overall, I'd agree, the film is about an 8.
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12:55AM on 12/14/2012

There's a reason why I love JimmyO...

Oh there it is, up at the top.
Oh there it is, up at the top.
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12:34AM on 12/14/2012

James Horner?

I think you mean Howard Shore.
I think you mean Howard Shore.
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+3
12:22AM on 12/14/2012
Great review as always, IMAX tomorrow, just have to get through work first.
Great review as always, IMAX tomorrow, just have to get through work first.
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