With its epic battle score, star-studded cast and spectacular visuals, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
is a film for young-at-heart fantasy fans looking to delight in a bit of adventure. Those of you who want to see more elf love stories and hobbit parties should probably just stick to Peter Jackson
's adaptations of J R R Tolkien
's Lord of the Rings
The first instalment of Peter Jackson's prequel trilogy brings us back to Hobbiton in Middle-earth, where we meet Frodo (Elijah Wood
) and the older Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm
). Bilbo is writing his memoir based on adventures had with Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellen
) and 13 cheeky dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage
Bilbo recalls his "unexpected journey" at a younger age with this motley crew, as they endeavour to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the terrifying dragon called Smaug.
Amid all of this, we learn the history of the war-torn Middle-earth 60 years prior to Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
, and are introduced to the "Gollum" creature (Andy Serkis
) that lurks inside the goblin tunnels protecting his "precious" ring.
from The Office
is perfectly cast as the conservative young Bilbo, while Sir Ian McKellen
is, as always, exceptional as the nomadic wizard Gandalf. Cate Blanchett
also returns as the psychic high-elf Galadriel, Christopher Lee
as the complex wizard Saruman, and Hugo Weaving
as Elrond, the half-elven lord of Rivendell.
I saw the film in 3D at 48-frames-per-second (HFR 3D), which astoundingly removes the discomfort of the blurriness usually encountered in a 3D film at 28-frames-per-second. Some critics have taken issues with Peter Jackson's ground-breaking filming technique, but I find it a sophisticated and advanced tool which will (in my opinion) see us getting more bang-for-our-buck to match those rising ticket prices.
Sure, the heightened quality is at times distracting (seeing the flaws in props and what-not), but it's worth bending our dubious minds in order to witness the elven city of Rivendell looking so beautiful and the characters on screen looking more real than ever before.
The film isn't as long and padded out as some critics are saying. It stays relatively accurate to J R R Tolkien's 1937 novel on which it is based, and has more than enough content for the three-hour stretch.
The Rob Inglis
-narrated audio book of The Hobbit
goes for more than eleven hours, so did we really want this classic book condensed into a meagre three hours? I treat it as a kind of spectacular mini-series and that works for me.
Special mention to the soundtrack, especially the eerie pre-battle dwarf song, 'Misty Mountains', written by Plan 9
and David Long
in New Zealand. Other highlights include the exceptional scores by Howard Shore
, in particular 'Old Friends', which I would imagine we will hear revisited in the next two films in the trilogy.
Watch the trailer now!
In pics: The Hobbit world premiere — Amazing fan outfits!