The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey [2012] – Movie Review

The Hobbit Movie Poster An Unexpected Journey Peter Jackson

Q: What do you, as Hollywood, do to a movie series that has garnered tremendous commercial success and massive critical acclaim?

A: You revisit it. Of course.

The Hobbit will surely be a massive commercial success. But it won’t garner any significant awards like its Middle Earth predecessors, which are its successors story-wise. The Return of the King has won a record 11 academy awards.

Set prior to the events of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit, their prequel, follows the story of Bilbo Baggins, Frodo’s uncle, as he travels with a group of dwarves who, with the help of Gandalf the wizard, will try to recuperate their kingdom Erebor from a dragon named Smaug that has overtaken it many years prior.

Peter Jackson, who also directed the Lord of the Rings trilogy, uses state of the art technology in shooting the movie.The first cinematic feature to be shot in 46 frames per second, The Hobbit is visually stunning. The art direction is impeccable. The colors feel richer and the scenes crisper to look at. The movie’s dwarves, orcs, goblins and hobbits are, of course, superbly executed. The battle scenes are gripping set-pieces. The locations in New Zealand, similarly to its predecessors in the series, chosen to shoot the movie are absolutely breathtaking, making for a Middle Earth that still feels enchanting although it’s not as absorbing as the one we had in the previous three movies.

At a running time of almost three hours, The Hobbit sports many side-plots that don’t serve the main story at all – and all these side-plots are dragged out in extensive scenes that only serve to increase the movie’s length without offering anything in value to it. The overall results becomes an overly stuffed movie that could have had so many absolutely useless moments removed, making the overall product tighter and more polished. Alas, that is not the case. Instead, you get prolonged long shots of our heroes as they travel through mountains, hills and lakes with many seconds and minutes added to scenes that have already ended for an extra artistic effect such as taking the camera slowly upwards to capture the head of a statue while the movie’s protagonists stand under it. It could be this overly slow pace at times that takes away from the movie’s grandeur and from the story’s spine.

What you are left with is an enjoyable movie – but nothing that reaches the levels of epic that oozed from every single moment of The Lord of the Rings. What you get is a movie that, while it manages stands on its own, can’t escape the comparisons from much worthier predecessors. The overall tone of the series has also changed into something less dramatic at times and more comical. That’s not necessarily a good thing.

The movie’s best scene, which, unlike many other moments, stays true to its equivalent in the book, is the first encounter ever between Gollum and Bilbo Baggins which grips at you and doesn’t let go. It doesn’t disappoint. And even though that scene’s outcome is already known, the emotional aspect that’s portrayed by a brilliant Andy Serkis as the emaciated hobbit Smeagol (Gollum) who’s even better than in Lord of the Rings and a great Martin Freeman (Baggins) still manages to resonate and pack a punch. That riddles game is just too good on paper not to be good cinema. And how could anyone resist my precious?

And just because it’s awesome, here it is again. My precious.

As the movie ends, Bilbo Baggins says “I do believe the worst is behind us.” I certainly hope that the upcoming two movies are better – but I’m not holding my breath. The problem is that the story on which this movie is based is not substantial enough for it to be turned into three movies. The add-ons which were brought from other Tolkien-related books aren’t giving the story depth but making it feel bloated. Some single sentences in the book were turned into full-blown scenes. The end result can be explained in the following way: The Hobbit is like an overly stuffed and overly cooked meal that you love. You can’t help but compare it to previous times when the meal wasn’t as stuffed and overcooked. And once it’s done, it leaves a bitter aftertaste that you can’t shake off. But there are still some bites there that make you go: man, this is good. It’s a damn shame.


Top 13 Movies To Be Excited About in 2012

Since 2012 is a few days away, I figured I’d make a small list featuring 13 movies that will be released in 2012, which I am personally excited about. So without further ado, let us begin:

13 – Titanic – 3D

This movie is on my list simply because of the magnitude of its initial version. Like it or not, think it’s been turned into a useless cliche or not, it was until very recently the biggest movie in history.

12 – Men In Black III

Because the first two are fun. Hopefully the third one won’t put a damper on the whole franchise.

11 – Snow White and the Huntsman

This movie is on my list simply because Charlize Theron looks (and sounds) absolutely chilling in it. “Hair black as night, lips red as blood. Give me your heart my dear, dear Snow White.” Also, the TV show Once Upon A Time has boosted my Snow White interest as well.

10 – The Avengers

Most superhero movies we watched were a preparation for this. We liked some and hated others. This, however, should be brainless good fun.

9 – The Master

Amy Adams joins Philip Seymour Hoffman in a 1950s-set drama about a cult leader. What more can you ask for? I’ve decided to include this movie even when there’s neither a poster nor a trailer available to it, mostly based on the caliber of its cast, coupled with the intrigue in its story.

8 – The Amazing Spider-Man

A reboot of the franchise. I hated the third movie but hopefully this will be a much needed return to basics.

7 – Prometheus

Gladiator Ridley Scott’s newest movie. I am a big fan of Scott with his movie screen and TV screen work (The Good Wife for instance). So this movie is definitely on my list.

6 – Skyfall

The new James Bond movie. I personally loved Casino Royal and hated Quantum of Solace. So third time will be the charm for Daniel Craig’s bond.

5 – Les Miserables

We’ve all read the book. We’ve also watched the Liam Neeson version many times when we were younger. But there’s a new version coming to theaters and Victor Hugo’s masterpiece will hopefully be more than well represented. Again, this movie has no trailer nor a poster.

4 – Kill Bin Laden

I hated Kathryn Bigelow’s last movie The Hurt Locker. But this movie, about the operation leading up the assassination of Bin Laden from a Navy Seal’s perspective, looks more interesting and promising. No poster and no trailer available for this as well.

3 – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Having read the book, I can safely say this will be a brilliant movie. The trailer can’t but get you über excited as well. And it’s Peter Jackson at the helm after all. You simply can’t go wrong with anything Lord of the Ring related.

2 – The Hunger Games

I really can’t wait for this. March is just so far away when it comes to The Hunger Games. The books are epic. The trailer looks brilliant. The song of the movie is stunning. It has Jennifer Lawrence, one of my favorite new actresses. What more can you ask for?

1 – The Dark Knight Rises

Because no other movie deserves to be here other than this. One of the most anticipated sequels to one of the best movies I have ever watched. Christopher Nolan’s Batman is back.

Is there any movie you think should be on this list that I’ve missed? Let me know.