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 56 / 231
2.50 GB
1920*800
English
PG-13
English
23.976 fps
2hr 49 min
P/S 153 / 665
2.60 GB
1920*800
English
PG-13
English
23.976 fps
2hr 49 min
P/S 15 / 40

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by gorbadoc25 6 / 10

An Unexpected Disappointment

I was convinced the (many) criticisms I read beforehand were exaggerated and wouldn't bother me. To my surprise, quite some criticisms seemed justified in the end ...

***THE SCRIPT***

ADDITIONS: On paper, the additions looked like a great way to create added value. However, while I understand why they included them, they all feel out of place.

- Opening scene: Ian Holm just looks too dissimilar from his appearance in FOTR (especially his haircut), which is really distracting. The frame story doesn't blend in naturally and the history of Erebor has too much to show in too little time.

- Radagast: He appears as suddenly as he disappears. His scene in Dol Guldur really threw me out of the movie.

- The White Council: I know the screenwriters want to underline the growing dark powers (hence the - preposterous - finding of the Morgul blade), but the empty talk about things of which we all know how they've played out in the LOTR films isn't convincing at all.

- Azog: An appallingly one-dimensional character, who feels most out of place (the fact that he looks like a creature from a cheap horror movie also doesn't help ...). His scenes have a strange "un-Tolkien" vibe, particularly the battle of Azanulbizar (the worst scene of the movie), which doesn't feel like a fierce and thrilling battle at all.

FROM THE BOOK: The episodic structure prevents the film from having a fluid narrative and squeezes the tension out of every new dangerous situation: the events just leave you cold.

In the book, we experience everything through Bilbo's eyes, which creates a strong connection between the reader and the main part. This is missing from the movie: Bilbo even seemed to have more or less disappeared between the troll encounter and the stone giants' battle. His homesickness, his doubts, all of this isn't really developed in the script.

The emphasis on Thorin is a good thing, but also not perfect: during the enclosure by the Wargs, I didn't buy Thorin's charge towards Azog and especially Bilbo's sudden "action hero saves the day in the nick of time" intervention. The latter seemed like a very inappropriate way to illustrate Bilbo's courage.

There were actually only two great scenes: Riddles in the Dark is amazing, but ironically, it also painfully shows how mediocre the rest of the movie actually is, because this is the only moment that comes close to the level of LOTR. Also, Bilbo's speech after they've escaped Goblin Town is a very welcome, for rare touching moment.

***THE PACING***

It's quite astonishing some people complain about the pacing, because the film was over before I knew it. In fact, I think the pacing is about just right and proved it would have been really difficult to adapt the book in just one fully-fledged movie. But since I didn't like the additions, I'm doubting whether a third film is necessary after all (but I suspend my judgment until 2014).

***THE CINEMATOGRAPHY***

One of the biggest (unpleasant) surprises is the cinematographic style. I'm not talking about the bright colors or the digital images, but the (lack of physical) camera use. Whereas LOTR has stunning "real" camera movements and an extremely accomplished "handicraft" feel, AUJ often feels like a video game. The camera is flying and whirling so limitlessly that it just doesn't feel like an authentic movie anymore. This is particularly apparent during the Orc chase and above all the absurd Goblin Town escape. The CGI is perfect, but too much is just too much.

***THE MUSIC***

After my long list of complaints, I'm truly relieved to say there is at least one thing that unconditionally gets my support, which is the score. The people who unfairly label Howard Shore's work as a "re-hash of LOTR" obviously didn't pay full attention, because when you listen to the score multiple times (and I admit it also took me several spins to really appreciate it), you discover a new rich and diverse musical tapestry once again masterfully woven by Shore. OF COURSE you hear the same themes when EXACTLY THE SAME places are visited as in "The Fellowship of the Ring" ... If someone deserves credit for "The Hobbit", it's Shore: his music is in my view the only aspect of the movie on par with the level of LOTR.

***3D & 48 FPS***

- The 3D was good, no complaints about that. However, although I have no problems with watching movies in 3D, I start questioning its necessity.

- I am bewildered many people claim that 48 fps creates a "TV-look" with "actors with clear make-up on a fake set". I didn't have that feeling at all, but on the other hand - and this was the most surprising - the difference with 24 fps isn't THAT spectacular. After 30 minutes, I even had to remind myself: "Oh, I'm watching 48 fps, right?". Yes, the images look very clear and it does smooth fast movements, but the latter (which is positive) only sticks out a couple of times (and no, the motion never comes across as "sped up", so I was never distracted by the higher frame rate). All in all, I consider 48 fps to be an improvement over 24 fps (without diminishing the "cinematic" look of a film), but I didn't have the feeling I had witnessed a "revolutionary new cinema experience".

***** CONCLUSION *****

I didn't expect (or want) a replica of LOTR, but while "The Hobbit" isn't a bad movie, it isn't good either. I'm still perplexed I don't feel any urge to go see it again, unlike the LOTR films. We can only hope that Jackson recovers in time to save the next two films from unnecessary additions, lack of focus on Bilbo and a video game feeling. Well, at least we have new brilliant music to listen to!

Reviewed by Eric 1 / 10

Huge LOTR fan and very disappointed

Peter Jackson's return to the world of Tolkien is rather weak. At first I was against the idea of such a small book being made into a trilogy. I still am. Many say not to compare this film to the far superior "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Well, it's hard not to considering Jackson has tried so hard to recreate the style of the original films because that's what the audience wants. But he fails big time.

The bizarre, unfunny, slapstick humor is painful. This involves snot jokes, burping, poop hair, and lame one-liners. Don't give me the "it's based on a children's book" crap. Sure, the source material was written for children but I'm talking about the movie. Adding all this stupid humor really messes with the tone; it doesn't feel like it belongs in the LOTR universe which "The Hobbit" is trying so hard replicate. The film will go from trying to be epic to pathetic gags. It doesn't work. I don't mind a little humor occasionally but this is just overdone and it makes the film feel very unbalanced.

Now to the pacing. Many say the beginning is slow but they're wrong. The entire film is slow! Radagast's involvement is pointless and his bunny sled is ridiculous. We also get to see Saruman and Galadriel in a boring scene that has absolutely no relevance to the main narrative. Wait, what exactly is "The Hobbit" about again? Apparently Jackson is trying to make connections with LOTR, but "Fellowship of the Ring" already explains past events pretty well. Seriously, all the LOTR fanboy pleasing scenes could have been left out (including Frodo). But no, we need them in order to have enough material for the trilogy. Not good.

And I understand that Jackson is taking material from the appendices of LOTR. I wouldn't have a problem with this if all these extra scenes actually advanced the plot. But the White Council just talks and they never decide to act on anything. Also, that scene has NOTHING to do with the dwarfs reclaiming their homeland. At least in "Fellowship" the plot makes major advancements but in "The Hobbit" the story hardly goes anywhere.

Let's discuss the action. It's like watching a video game. The main orc villain, Azog, looks fake. Everything is CGI overload; there's no tension. Characters survive unbelievable situations. Compare the ending orc scene in this film to the one in "Fellowship." Huge difference. Unfortunately everything in "The Hobbit" is cartoonish. Not to mention most of the action has no impact on the story whatsoever.

Now to the characters. Gandalf is great but that is to be expected. Martin Freeman does fine as Bilbo but his transition from weakling to hero happens a little too quickly and feels unrealistic. Thorin is your typical warrior like character; I didn't care for him too much. Bifur is probably my favorite of all the dwarfs (hold on, I just searched his name and realized I got the wrong one, his name is BOFUR, my bad). All the other dwarfs are just there and if you were to ask me to name them and describe something about their character, I couldn't do it. And I'm sure you couldn't either.

But the film does have some good. We get to see Bilbo and Gollum interact in an iconic scene. The finding of the Ring is also significant and is really the only scene that should have any connection with LOTR unlike Galadriel, Frodo, etc. And that's about it. Honestly, nothing really happens. While watching "The Hobbit" you kind of forget about the main adventure because of all the padding. Then at the end you're like, "Oh yeah, there's a dragon." Maybe the second film will improve.

It's such a shame that "The Hobbit" ended up being a drawn-out, bloated, boring mess that lacks compelling characters and an engaging story. I really wanted to love it but it's hard not to ignore the many problems. I couldn't wait to return to Middle-earth but now I'm not sure if I want to go back to this new cartoon version. Hopefully improvements will be made in the sequels but after witnessing this my hopes aren't too high. All these years of anticipation and this is what we get...

*IMDb auto corrects the plural word for "dwarf" when it really should be dwar(ves)

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.

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