The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is Peter Jackson’s take on the wonderful novel ‘The Hobbit’ (Prequel to The Lord of the Rings) by J.R.R Tolkien. Martin Freeman is cast as the protagonist, Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit who gets caught up in an adventure to take back Erebor, with a group of warrior dwarves, but is this adventure too much for the peaceful, home-loving Hobbit?
10 years ago Jackson brought The Lord of the Rings trilogy to our screens, so it only seems fitting that this man should bring us the prequel as well. An Unexpected Journey is nearly 3 hours long and is only the first in a line of 3 major movies, but the story is so full of detail I assure you it will be worth every second of your time. Some critics have said this is just another way for Peter Jackson to get more box office hits but personally, I think that is a naive way of looking at all the hard work that has been put into this trilogy. Peter Jackson is the first director to push for the brilliant High Frame Rate (HFR) 48fps recording which enhances the viewing quality for the audience and creates a sharper, more lifelike image. Filmed in New Zealand, the High Frame Rate does wonders for the scenery, especially if you watch it in 3D where you can fully immerse yourself into the landscape. Since the 1930s we have been using 24 fps, half that of this new technology and it really shows, the transformation is incredible; it creates a truly superb image. I applaud his innovation and strongly believe this is a much needed change in cinematography which we should embrace, not fear.
The battle scenes are long, but the camera angles and swooping really make it look realistic and dramatic which added together with all the actors’ skills and the mind of Peter Jackson, allows these scenes to be intelligent and exciting. Despite these dramatic battles the most tense moment comes when Bilbo encounters the strange, slightly paranoid Gollum (or Smeagol, as the case may be) and the nail-biting tension comes when Bilbo attempts to escape the caverns with The Ring.
The entire cast is truly wonderful; perfect for each and every role. I don’t think anybody could have played young Bilbo Baggins as well as Martin Freeman did. I am a huge fan of Martin’s previous roles mainly the comedy performances: Sherlock, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Office, however, I feel that every viewer will understand why Peter Jackson put off filming until Martin had finished the second series of Sherlock and fully dedicate himself to the gruelling 18-month filming schedule. Martin Freeman gives a charming performance as the timid Hobbit which is exactly how J. R. R. Tolkien had described in the books, which adds a degree of authenticity to the literature fans. Although the trailers for this film showed rowdy, rude Dwarves their characters are all slightly different and constantly in flux between hard warriors and jokey-goofballs, whereas Gandalf is exactly like he was in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but perhaps a little more scared (let’s not forget that this is the first adventure in Tolkien’s books so he would naturally be more scared!).
Many critics seem to place the only fault at the feet of the Director, Peter Jackson for choosing to cover this relatively small story with 3 long movies and claim it could have been done in 2, but if that is the only complaint I see no reason why this film wont acquire many awards and bring all of the cast into their well-deserved spotlights. If you haven’t seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I highly recommend you do, not least because of the hype but also because it is a film that is difficult to disappoint.
Overall Rating: ★★★★★
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is in cinemas from Friday 14th December 2012 with early screenings in HFR-3D cinemas on Thursday 13th December 2012.