The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

2012

Adventure / Fantasy

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

Martin Freeman as Bilbo
Ian McKellen as Gandalf
Andy Serkis as Gollum
720p 1080p 3D
1.30 GB
1280*536
English
PG-13
English
23.976 fps
2hr 49 min
P/S 72 / 216
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1920*800
English
PG-13
English
23.976 fps
2hr 49 min
P/S 186 / 683
2.60 GB
1920*800
English
PG-13
English
23.976 fps
2hr 49 min
P/S 11 / 49

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by markdroulston 4 / 10

An unexpected disappointment

"All great stories deserve a little embellishment." So says Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) in the most telling line in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Jackson's return to the world of JRR Tolkien. It's a line that clearly outlines Jackson and his co-writers' intentions, yet it comes off as a veiled apology, as if the film-making team knew that what they have created is going to be problematic for die-hard Middle Earth fans. Sadly, Jackson's new film doesn't come close to silencing the skeptics like his Lord of the Rings films did, and is actually more ill-conceived than expected.

Things that do work well for the most part in The Hobbit are sequences that come directly from the source novel. Iconic scenes, such as the arrival of the dwarfs at Bag End or the encounter with the trolls are handled pretty well, despite being padded out to unnecessary lengths with lame gags and pointless alteration of the original events in the book. Juggling such a massive primary cast is obviously a challenge, and as such the film's best moments involve only one or two characters, with Bilbo's (Martin Freeman) meeting of Gollum (Andy Serkis) and the finding of the ring being a particular stand-out sequence, the only one that seemed like it could have used more time.

However, all of the good work that Jackson & Co do with the direct source material is swamped by the content they felt they had to develop themselves. The great achievement of the LOTR films is how they managed to distill the huge source novels to their most important story beats, only hinting at most of the wider story in a way that brought incredible richness to the world in which they take place. With The Hobbit though, Jackson only has a 300 page novel to start with, and the decision to make three lengthy films, I assume to parallel the first trilogy, is precisely why this first film doesn't work.

The Hobbit should be allowed to stand alone as its own film, but it is structured in such a way, almost identically to the first LOTR entry The Fellowship of the Ring, that it's all but impossible not to compare them. As a side-effect, the much lighter tone will be jarring for a lot of established franchise fans, the very people the film seems to be primarily aimed at. The chase sequence in the goblin tunnels for example is little more than an updated version of the Moria scenes from LOTR. It's exciting enough, but much of the action feels in service of the film- making technology on display rather than the story, and as such none of the stakes of the earlier films are built here.

Where the LOTR films had to keep moving at such a pace to fit everything in, The Hobbit dwells on unnecessary moments which had only the briefest of mentions in the novel to reach its 2 hour 49 minute runtime. Most damaging are the call backs linking the previous trilogy, setting up what is likely to be an almost completely new story bridge between the two trilogies in the third film due in 2014. There is absolutely no reason for Frodo (Elijah Wood), Saruman (Christopher Lee), and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) to appear in this story, yet here they are, taking us away from a perfectly good narrative about a quest to fight a dragon. It reeks of cynical franchise care, and arguably disrespectful to the carefully crafted world that Tolkien created.

There's a good movie somewhere in The Hobbit, and had Jackson shown more restraint we might have seen it. The film could easily lose at least 45 minutes, but it feels as if director feels so beholden to his previous work that he needs to deliver an epic on the scale of LOTR. But that's not what this book is, and we're left with an uneasy balance - the lighter tone to distinguish this as a separate story but a strict adherence to the LOTR structure - but ultimately doesn't fulfill either side.

tinribs27.wordpress.com

Reviewed by dlpburke 1 / 10

Yeahhhh! Graphics! Action scenes! AWESOOOME!

Let's kick off with the score I've given it. 5/10. That's for the reasonable job with the comedy, design, and things not related to story and pacing (with the exception of Gollum and the cave scene). I am tired of saying "The graphics are great, but..." I have rated it 1 here to reduce the average in order to reflect reality and not the fanboy love-in.

I am not going to sugar-coat this film or give it a good review just because people tell me I should. I am sick to death of sheep. I don't care if this is Tolkien or Jackson or how much money it took to make the film. If it's bad, it's bad.

Graphics count for nothing. The reason I watch a film is primarily for a great story and well written characters (I have to CARE about what is going on). I don't get dazzled by graphics anymore (if I ever did at all), and 3D action films do not make a film good. So right there is the problem with The Hobbit. The story is shallow and pretentious and cardboard. Let's run through why the film had me rolling my eyes throughout:

- The introduction is way too long.

-The pacing is dire (and scenes that weren't in the book have been added).

-One brainless action scene after another for no other reason than to eat screen time (because the book is 300 pages and they are trying to maximise profits by having 3 films at 3 hours each). Watching 2 rock monsters fight for minutes is not captivating or cool, it's boring.

-Implausibility factor 10. I understand this is a fantasy. I understand that if everything was ultra realistic it would end up boring, but for heaven sake, that does not mean you can get away with what happens in this film. EVERY single scene shows something that would ordinarily kill someone. Fall down multiple ravines, battle 100's goblins with just a few men, rocks the size of cars flying at you... and no scratches, no deaths. It just doesn't work.

-Lazy writing. You know you are witnessing a lazy-ass story when your heroes are saved at the last minute EVERY time in multiple scenes. Where does that leave us? It leaves us with all main characters intact and no dramatic tension. Every scene you see a massive rock crush a character you know they aren't dead. Every time you see them perilously close to the edge of a cliff, you know that even if they fall, they will be saved and/or survive. Further to this point, smaller problems exist such as Bilbo never handling a sword to suddenly taking on killer beasts like he has been to He-Man training school.

-Cliche crap. The way Bilbo goes from being an outcast to being accepted is contrived and rushed and totally obvious. It just smacks of lazy cliche writing. The acting that goes with it is not good either. Kind of like "I once said... you weren't one of us... OH how wrong I was!" *Roll eyes time*. Then you have the White Orc that Thorin said he had slain, and you just KNEW it was coming back at the end for some sort of showdown, didn't you? Talk about obvious. I blame the film for this because the scenes involved in the exposition were way too see-through... might as well have had Thorin wink at the camera! That brings me onto the whole "Thorin dislikes Elves" angle, where you know the Elves are suddenly going to become important allies just so we can have a totally obvious and expected reversal. Wow, Thorin, you got Bilbo wrong and you got the Elves wrong too! DRAMA.

-Lack of character development (Think Final Fantasy XII if you are a gamer). This was the stake through the heart of this film... Most of the dwarfs are completely redundant and I could not identify or even accept Bilbo. This was due partly to the lack of character development, partly to the script and partly to the actor. Same goes for Thorin except the scenes he is in feel more like a bad soap opera than they do a "blockbuster" film.

It is just dull and lifeless and stupid. You shouldn't do things just because you can. The LOTR trilogy for the most part had decent pacing, and it didn't do things too fast, too soon, or for the sake of it. The original trilogy suffers from some the complaints above AT TIMES, but nothing like The Hobbit does... The Hobbit is in a league of its own. I went to watch an engaging movie and I got a cartoon.

The use of CGI is also glaringly obvious and fake; like with the prequels of Star Wars, when the movie cuts between humans and CGI blobs, your brain is onto it. Stop relying on CGI for everything. It's getting annoying, not to mention OLD. At least Jackson makes real sets so it isn't a total wash out.

There is some real potential in this film and it is squandered; whether that's because Tolkien wrote a flawed book, whether it is because he wrote a book that doesn't take well to a feature length movie or whether it is because Jackson messed it up, that's what we ended up with.

The Hobbit should have been 2 films, and making it 3 has been the final nail in the coffin.

So, I am sat here mightily annoyed that once again graphics and self indulgent, completely pointless action scenes have trumped good storytelling and pacing.

Of course, the film is still entertaining at times and the 3D visuals are fun, but for me it is a massive disappointment.

Visuals can not MAKE a film, but when used like in The Hobbit, they sure as hell can break it.

Reviewed by Hurleyfanboy 1 / 10

Critics are right fans wrong

First came the original trilogy, a popular success and critically acclaimed. Then, some years later, a second trilogy began, a prequel to the original, and the first installment of this second trilogy turned out to be awful. We saw this pattern play out once, with "Star Wars," and now, alas, it begins again, with "The Hobbit," a movie that is exactly one Jar Jar Binks away from being as bad as "The Phantom Menace." The problem may be built into the design. The previous "Lord of the Rings" films were each based on a single book. "The Hobbit" - more like a children's novel than the other three, a kind of "Tom Sawyer" to their "Huckleberry Finn" - is just one book, smaller than any of the other J.R.R. Tolkien books, and yet it is being blown out into three enormous films. This first installment runs 169 minutes.

This puts a lot of pressure on a simple story, especially when you consider that director Peter Jackson and his screenwriters really can't take liberties with the tale, not without incurring the wrath of millions. They must work with what they have, and what they have is quite enough for one pleasing and inventive two-hour movie - or a nine-hour disaster stretched over three years.

This pressure, this obligation to stretch everything to the limits of endurance and beyond, is felt from the film's early minutes. Howard Shore's beautiful theme music, from the previous trilogy, filters in. We see the idyllic Middle-earth countryside and are introduced to Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins - Freeman was born to be a hobbit; he is ideal casting - and we settle in for a magical experience. And then, slowly, a fatal distance opens up between what we're hoping and what we're actually seeing.

Bilbo is a happy hobbit, a homebody who enjoys his creature comforts and doesn't have a violent impulse about him. Yet he is recruited by Gandalf the Grey Wizard (Ian McKellen) to join an expedition by dwarfs to retake their homeland from a dragon. See how quickly it takes to say that? Bilbo is recruited. Period. Yet the movie takes this tiny bit of crucial plot movement and dilutes its effectiveness: The dwarfs show up for an impromptu party at Bilbo's house. Bilbo frets about what the dwarfs will do to his house. Then the dwarfs clean up. Then Bilbo says he won't join their fight. But then he does. The film milks every detail of the text, every hint of vacillation in the main character, to turn water flowing downstream into molasses walking uphill.

It must be said that if you plan to enjoy "The Hobbit," it really helps to love dwarfs. Others may prefer hobbits - they're adorably idiosyncratic, small, chubby, eat all day, have big ears, and they're incredibly sincere. Still others may prefer the Olympian elves - beautiful, pristine, sure and eternal. But there is only one hobbit in the entire movie, and only one brief sequence involving elves. Otherwise you're stuck with the dwarfs, who are like Vikings - boorish, slovenly, hearty and heavy-drinking - and not exactly lovable.

The three "Lord of the Rings" were heavy on battle scenes, but "The Hobbit" is almost nothing but battles. Without a stopwatch, it would be hard to know for sure, but probably 50 percent of screen time is taken up with fighting - perhaps up to 80 percent if you count planning for and recovering from battles. Some of these battles have pockets of interest: A conflict with goblins plays out like a trapeze act, in three dimensions, with the combatants falling through space, landing and regrouping. But most of "The Hobbit" is like looking over Peter Jackson's shoulder to watch a computer screen.

Occasionally, when the smoke clears, we get a glimpse of what "The Hobbit" might have been, had Freeman's quirkiness and humanity been given a chance to set the tone. The movie really springs to life only when Freeman dominates, as when Bilbo falls into a cave and discovers Gollum, looking like James Carville but acting like Peter Lorre. It's an encounter worthy of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy - so is the all-too-brief scene between Gandalf and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett).

If you loved the earlier films, these are moments you will hold on to, but they're very few, and they're not enough.

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