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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

PG-13   |    |  Adventure, Family, Fantasy


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) Poster

A reluctant Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, sets out to the Lonely Mountain with a spirited group of dwarves to reclaim their mountain home, and the gold within it from the dragon Smaug.

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  • Cate Blanchett and Peter Jackson in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
  • Dean O'Gorman at an event for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
  • Peter Hambleton at an event for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
  • Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
  • Peter Jackson in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
  • Richard Armitage and Dean O'Gorman in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

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2 January 2013 | JohnWelles
9
| Let the Magic Begin...
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" simultaneously takes director Peter Jackson in two different directions. While at first glance it may seem that he is travelling over familiar ground, again tackling the fantastical world of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth after his vast and Academy Award wining "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy (2001 – 2003), he is actually experimenting with cinema itself.

Of all the art forms of the world, film is the one most invested in technology; created by scientists, not artists at the end of the nineteenth century. It was only at the dawn of the last century that people like Georges Méliès realised the potential of this medium. So it is appropriate that Jackson is here breaking new ground with the very way we watch films. Instead of shooting at the normal speeds of twenty four frames per second, he has doubled it to forty eight frames a second so when viewed you have an astonishing clarity of detail as well as smoothness in camera movement with no motion stutter or blurry jerkiness when shown in 3D.

However, this raises a problem for the filmmaker. For a film set in a mythical fantasy land, any poor special effects or sub-standard computer generated imagery will stand out glaringly. So the effects work from Weta Digital is all the more impressive and astounding; from skin textures to the manifold buildings of Rivendell, it's sometimes hard to believe it's not all real.

The acting, from Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen to Christopher Lee as Saruman and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the dwarfs, are all very good, inhabiting their roles with conviction and passion. Stand out though is Andy Serkis as Gollum, the famous riddle scene from the novel imported virtually word for word, and is all the better for it. Serkis has an uncanny ability to play these none too human characters with an enormous amount of vicissitude, a feat he pulls of here again with aplomb.

This is primarily a visual motion picture, but the characters are not ignored and the extensive opening sequence set in Bilbo's house serves as an introduction of sorts to not just the people but the themes as well.

Jackson directs with huge scope and a true feeling for the vast land he is creating, shot on location in New Zealand. The sweeping cinematography from Andrew Lesnie is suitably epic, making the landscape another character in the film.

The film does have its flaws, mainly due to the fact that this is an introduction to a trilogy and not a self-contained movie; people might also find Radagast the Brown, a wizard, as played by Sylvester McCoy, to fall on perhaps the wrong side of immaturity. Still, this is a fantastic piece of entertainment and it's hard to imagine a better Christmas film.

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Adventure | Family | Fantasy

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