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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

As of late, I've been watching The Lord of the Rings special extended edition on DVD, plus the appendices. I've got them on lone from my good buddy Nathan. This is the same Nathan that I went to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with. This movie is the first in a projected trilogy based on the book The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, the same fellow who wrote The Lord of the Rings.

In this movie, Bilbo Baggins (played by Martin Freeman) is a quiet, mild-mannered hobbit living at his home of Bag End in the Shire, when he is approached by the wizard Gandalf (played by Ian McKellen) and a company of thirteen dwarves. Led by Thorin Oakenshield (played by Richard Armitage), the dwarves ask for his help in taking back their homeland in the mountain of Erebor from the evil dragon Smaug. After some consideration, Bilbo signs a contract and joins up with the company as their "burglar."

First off, I would like to make clear that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is very much a lighter and softer version of The Lord of the Rings film series. There's a bigger emphasis on comedy and fun, and the songs from the book are actually used. They're not the exact lyrics, but it's the spirit that counts. This is a slight reversal of what happened in real life, as The Lord of the Rings was originally a darker and edgier version of The Hobbit, which came before The Lord of the Rings.

The second thing I would like to make clear is that this film makes heavy use of exposition to establish back story, explaining in detail why the dwarves are on their quest, and what they're trying to accomplish. It's probably for the best that this adaptation is going to be split into three parts, because there is a lot for one movie to cover while still making the movie good. And I'll say this; this movie is indeed quite good.

What with the large cast, character development is understandably reserved for a select few characters, but all of the dwarves are given their own unique personality. And the characters that do get development are done very well. One of the dwarves, Bofur I think, gives a little spiel that gives character development for the entire company. The main characters of Biblo, Gandalf, and Thorin are a shoo in for character development, all having a new side to their character revealed by the end of the film. This is all bolstered by the incredible acting. The three central actors, Freeman, McKellan and Armitage, kill with their material.

In addition, this film is also visually stunning as well. The long, overarching shots are pure gold. However, that's where some of my complaints about the 3-D come in. The 3-D, I believe, did not add much to the film other than to the length of the receipt. It just made everything a little bit darker. Also, while I enjoyed the back story exposition, there are some who might say that it causes the film to drag on a bit, and I'll have to say I understand why they might say that. There is also a smattering of crude humor.

All in all, however, this is an altogether excellent film. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, it is also incredibly uplifting, extolling virtues such as loyalty, honor, courage, and friendship. I would recommend this movie to anyone who liked The Lord of the Rings trilogy, to anyone who is a fan of the books or the movies. I would also recommend it to all within the film's age range (it's rated PG-13 for a reason, I'm afraid to say). While the The Lord of the Rings was a brooding war epic, this film is a lighthearted adventure story, which I cannot praise enough.

RATING: 9/10

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