|2012||169 Min||Action . Adventure . Fantasy|
Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit enjoying his quiet life, is swept into an epic quest by Gandalf the Grey and thirteen dwarves who seek to reclaim their mountain home from Smaug, the dragon.
|Actors:||Richard Armitage , Martin Freeman , Ian McKellen , Andy Serkis , Cate Blanchett , Christopher Lee , Sylvester McCoy , Ian Holm , Elijah Wood , Hugo Weaving|
Charming, spectacular, technically audacious… in short, everything you expect from a Peter Jackson movie. A feeling of familiarity does take hold in places, but this is an epically entertaining first course.
I'm holding the filmmaker responsible for getting us all back again - to feelings of excitement and delight. Vital as they are, Gollum and Bilbo can only do so much to keep us enchanted. Is Jackson able to sustain the magic in two more installments? I peer into Tolkien's Misty Mountains and embrace the journey.
As epic, grandiose, and emotionally appealing as the previous pictures, The Hobbit doesn't stray far from the mold, but it's a thrilling ride that's one of the most enjoyable, exciting and engaging tentpoles of the year.
A mesmerizing study in excess, Peter Jackson and company's long-awaited prequel to the Lord of the Rings saga is bursting with surplus characters, wall-to-wall special effects, unapologetically drawn-out story tangents and double the frame rate (48 over 24) of the average movie.
The Hobbit plays younger and lighter than Fellowship and its follow-ups, but does right by the faithful and has a strength in Martin Freeman's Bilbo that may yet see this trilogy measure up to the last one. There is treasure here.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey isn't "unexpected" at all, though between its lighter tone and a decade's worth of improvements in digital film techniques, there should be enough of a novelty factor to delight most fans.
Jackson imposes a sense of grandeur but mostly loses Tolkien's sense of fun.
At nearly three hours long, "An Unexpected Journey" has moments when the caravan seems both overstuffed and out of balance, but it's such a scenic trip that only a stubborn homebody could complain.
There will be opportunities to see the picture in regular 24 frames per second, but I recommend going the whole hog and sampling what Jackson has come up with - a new way to watch movies and a new take on a universe that seemed to have exhausted its narrative possibilities.
Piles on enough eye candy and action sequences to please fans, plus more humor than the three "Rings" films - even if it only occasionally achieves the trio's grandeur.
It isn't as delirious a journey as we experienced a decade ago, but it's still filled with wonder, monsters, and thrills.
The film, still only clearing its throat, hints at a wellspring of emotional riches to come.
If you're willing to just go with it, An Unexpected Journey is a competent ride, but as a whole it lacks purpose, giving the impression of a television program in its later seasons still chugging along while full aware that it has peaked. Needless to say, "Hobbit" fans will find plenty to soak in; others may get the feeling of being bludgeoned by deja vu.
An overlong adventure enlivened by wonders.
By comparison with the other Rings movies - the extremely high bar Jackson has already set for himself - Unexpected Journey falls short and feels muddled, yet too eager to please its fan base with an obligatory swordfight every few scenes.
In this fitfully engaging, but often patience-straining preamble to Hobbit adventures to come, there is one transporting 10 minutes of screen time. It happens when Bilbo meets the freakish, ring-obsessed creature Gollum.
What saves the day is the spidery, schizoid Gollum, again performed by the great Andy Serkis through the craft of motion capture.
Extracting three generously proportioned films from Tolkien's books made sense. But turning the relatively slim 1937 volume 'The Hobbit' into a trilogy, peddling seven or eight hours of cine-mythology, suggests a better deal for the producers than for audiences.
While the production design is impeccable and the journey intermittently involving, The Hobbit is overlong and lacks the enchantment of the Lord of the Rings films.
The downside is that "The Hobbit" no longer looks like a movie at all. It looks like a video.
An Unexpected Journey also proves that it is, indeed, possible to get too much of a good thing.
It's one thing to sit on your couch watching football in HD. It's another to view one of literature's most enduring fantasies in the same manner. The experience that felt so breathtakingly cinematic in Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" series now seems frustratingly fake.
After 170 minutes I felt that I had had enough of a pretty good thing. The trilogy will test the stamina of the non-believers, and many might feel, in their secret heart of hearts, that the traditional filmic look of Lord of the Rings was better.
"All good stories deserve embellishment," Gandalf says to Bilbo before they set off, and one has to ask whether the weight of embellishment, on this occasion, makes the journey drag, and why it leaves us more astounded than moved. And yet, on balance, honor has been done to Tolkien, not least in the famous riddle game between Bilbo and Gollum.
A purist's delight, something the millions of die-hard fans of his Lord of the Rings trilogy will gorge upon. In pure movie terms, however, it's also a bit of a slog, with an inordinate amount of exposition and lack of strong forward movement...There are elements in this new film that are as spectacular as much of the Rings trilogy was, but there is much that is flat-footed and tedious as well, especially in the early going.
Jackson and his team seem compelled to flesh out the world of their earlier trilogy in scenes that would be better left to extended-edition DVDs (or omitted entirely), all but failing to set up a compelling reason for fans to return for the second installment.
My first thought in watching The Hobbit was: Do we really need this movie? It was my last thought, too.
Tolkien's inventive, episodic tale of a modest homebody on a dangerous journey has been turned into an overscale and plodding spectacle.
This is not about a reluctant hero drawing courage from some deep personal well. It's not about dread and danger. It's about visual effects.
I'm afraid that whoever it was in the New York Film Critics Circle who voted for The Hobbit as best animated film had a point. And so did the people who suspected that this whole thing was a bad idea.
To sum it up, there is little that is unexpected in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Rather than an epic continuation of Jackson's Middle-earth obsession, the film seems more like the work of a man driving around a multilevel parking garage without being able to find the exit.
The result is a film that is solid and acceptable instead of soaring and exceptional, one unnecessarily hampered in its quest to reach the magical heights of the trilogy.
You shouldn't be able to read a book faster than you can see it play out on-screen.
The grandeur of the Lord of the Rings trilogy [has] been replaced by something that resembles tatty summer-stock theater.
At any speed, the movie only springs to full life late in the day, during the first meeting of Bilbo and the tragic creature who will come to be known as Gollum (once again played by the sublime Andy Serkis).
The movie lacks majesty. Grand in parts, the movie is too often grandiose or grandiloquent; and the running time is indefensible.
More time in Middle Earth is exactly what The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey provides - so much more that the movie starts to feel like some Buddhist exercise in deliberately inflicted tedium.
The Hobbit is just good enough to make you aware of how it could have been much, much better. If you take your kids-while shielding them from various nonhuman bad guys getting decapitated both repeatedly and, worse, bloodlessly-they'll have a good time. Bilbo Baggins' quest for adventure and Warner Bros' quest for cash will take him through three films. But your quest for epic, truly entertaining filmmaking will be more successful if you just stay home.
It's a bloated, shockingly tedious trudge that manages to look both overproduced and unforgivably cheesy.
If you loved the earlier films, these are moments you will hold on to, but they're very few, and they're not enough.
1. Blunt the Knives ( Performer: Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Graham McTavish, James Nesbitt, Dean O'Gorman, Ken Stott, Aidan Turner )
2. Misty Mountains ( Performer: Richard Armitage with Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Graham McTavish, James Nesbitt, Dean O'Gorman, Ken Stott, Aidan Turner )
3. The Valley of Imladris ( Writer: J.R.R. Tolkien )
4. Torture Song ( Performer: Barry Humphries )
5. Song of the Lonely Mountain ( Performer: Neil Finn )
6. Flaming Red Hair ( Performer: David Donaldson, David Long, Steve Roche and Janet Roddick with Peter Daly, Chris O'Connor, Ruairidh Morrison, Grant Shearer )
7. Bag End ( Writer: J.R.R. Tolkien )
8. Man in the Moon ( Performer: James Nesbitt )
9. Goblin-Town ( Performer: Barry Humphries )
10. Merry Inn ( Performer: Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Graham McTavish, James Nesbitt, Dean O'Gorman, Ken Stott, Aidan Turner )
11. Over Hill ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
12. Roast Mutton ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
13. Radagast the Brown ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
14. The White Council ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
15. Old Friends ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
16. An Ancient Enemy ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
17. A Good Omen ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
18. Out of the Frying-Pan ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
19. The Defiler ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
20. The World Is Ahead ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
21. Under Hill ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
22. The Hill of Sorcery ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
23. Moon Runes ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
24. My Dear Frodo ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
25. Axe or Sword? ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
26. An Unexpected Party ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
27. The Adventure Begins ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
28. Dreaming of Bag End ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
29. Warg-Scouts ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
30. The Hidden Valley ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
31. Brass Buttons ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
32. A Thunder Battle ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
33. Riddles In the Dark ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )
34. A Troll-Hoard ( Performer: Howard Shore Itunes )