THE HOBBIT : AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
December 15, 2012
"True courage is about not knowing when to take a life, but when to spare one."
After the enormous success of the three predecessors, it's no harm for fans (or should I say, die hard fans?) to have the highest expectation possible for the newest Peter Jackson's magical prequel based from the first 6 chapters of the magnificent J.R.R Tolkien's 19-chapters book "The Hobbit". But, does it really paid off? Sorry to say, but you may have to lower your expectation a little.
When Peter Jackson makes movie, it's good, then it is good. Jackson's faithfulness towards the book, executing every periods, commas and semicolons into a 170 minutes movie seems to be overlong that may cause some of disjointed scenes. I don't know if it's because LOTR's euphoria or not, but the core elements that are already presented in three megablockbuster previous installments really are distracting everything and making everything looks like a fun time capsule.
Take place in 60 years before the LOTR's events, the story centered in Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) who is living a peaceful life in The Shire, at his hobbit house at the Bag End. Well, not after Gandalf The Grey (still is roled by the awesome Ian McKellen) comes and 'invites' 13 dwarves lead by the almighty Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), the son of Thráin, son of Thrór, the King Under the Mountain to Bilbo's house and have quite a feast. Long story short, they are planning a quest to takeover their home, which was Erebor, The Lonely Mountain guarded by the evil firebreathing dragon, Smaug. Well, easy guess, the quite an advisor and commander, Gandalf 'chose' him to follow their quest. Why? We have no idea. So, will they be succeeded? Watch it by yourself. Well, actually, watch also the next 2 movies, "The Desolation of Smaug" and "There and Back Again" until you can decide.
As you can read above, the story is quite light compared to the Rings' stories. Though the story may appear quite similar with The Fellowship of The Ring, with the same group of heroes on a life-or-death quest through the wilds of Middle-earth, it still is adventurous and highly entertaining. Jackson is really determined to tell everything sequencely, right from the feast at Bilbo's house (as his way to introduce the mightiest and not-easily-deveated crew of dwarves guided by the great Gandalf), then their journey with appearances of three giant trolls, elves, necromancers (that looks more like slender man), orcs, gollums, etc. All of that with quite enormous amount of backstories relevant to the characters and/ events presented. He's also making his graceful move by presenting a mouthful of fantasy heroic battles, with spray of a little magic and earbumping backsound topped with jawdropping-magnificent-beautiful-captivating-eyegasping-flawless-breahtaking-you-name-it visual effects.
What's new in this movie is probably Jackson's choice of using HFR/48fbs format instead of standard 24, even more, topped with 3D, resulting a hyper-realistic visual in an eyegasping 3D. It's a bold move, I can say, but some scenes might have been better with the "traditional" one. For example, in the broad daylight, the movement is too smooth. Then the fire from the dragon and Gandalf's pines look weird. Then the storm giants; their cutting looks a little rough.
The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey has quite few disjoint scenes and characters with lack of purposes. I don't know how does Bilbo's involvement in the crew help; I mean, who knows the purpose for whatever Bilbo does what he does. And the Orcs; do they supposed to be the main villain or what? Will they keep coming as the undefeated? Who knows.
The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey has that slow-but-sure characters building. Freeman nails his role as a smartly modest hobbit with his own bravery. I love how Bilbo retells his adventure in such solid balance of wit, humor and quite a bravery. Richard Armitage does his portion as the mighty and tough-as-nail leader of the pack. Quite sympathetic and ridiculously snobbish he is, but really is determined as a dwarf who lost his 'home'. McKellen does Gandalf as how Gandalf supposed to be : wise, unexpected, and backstone powerful. But, what really steal the attention throughout the movie are probably the cameos. Who knows what's the impact of Elijah Wood's appearance, as well as Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett and Christopher Lee's grace at the breathtakingly beautiful Rivendell; it's all for fans' sake. But then again, Andy Serkis's amazing mocap appearance as Gollum steals the entire scenes; it is soooo great to have him back.
Finally, The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey is a mouthful of gripping actions-battles, intriguing adventures, with a fresh crips humors and well-developed and charming characters, all in favorable visual effects that create one magical eye-entertainment. Judging from its own first part, The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey -personally saying isn't as good as The Ring's. But who knows what the next two will be? We'll see.
RATING : 4 OUT OF 5