The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review

by Brodie Marchant Featured 30 Comments 32 Votes 8913 Views 28/12/2012 Back to Articles

The Hobbit, written by J. R. R. Tolkien for his children, was published in 1937 and was the first glimpse of Middle Earth we were ever given. It was released 17 years before Fellowship of the Ring.

The biggest problem audiences face with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is that we all watched Lord of the Rings over a decade ago. We are accustomed to Middle Earth in it's most dire of times. Taking place 60 years before dear Frodo's first steps out of the Shire on his quest to save Middle Earth and destroy the one ring, The Hobbit is a much lighter in tone tale about a group of Dwarves on a quest to reclaim their home which has been taken by the nasty dragon Smaug.

Director Peter Jackson takes a more fittingly cartoony approach for his adaptation. Creatures such as the Goblin King aren't designed to be lifelike and scary, but stylistically cartoonish. There is a lot more CGI work this time around, things are more animated than grounded. Though a radical change from what we're used to, this certainly plays to The Hobbit's effect.

You won't be tearing up over the struggles of these characters, but you'll be grinning like a fool and giggling along with their antics. An Unexpected Journey, for the most part (my one and only gripe with this film is the overly long Rivendell sequence, which really does drag), never stops being an absolute cinematic blast. The camera soars through action sequences similar to 2011's TinTin, the Dwarves sing and fool around and Martin Freeman as Bilbo is the most delightful onscreen presence in years.

Freeman deserves to be truly commended for his performance. He takes Ian Holm's performance as the older Bilbo and then makes it his own. He is charming, modest and adorable. The Riddles in the Dark sequence in which he verbally battles Gollum, reprised by Andy Serkis (Who was also the Second Unit Director on this trilogy), is one of the most masterfully acted scenes of the year. It's tense, it's funny and Peter Jackson even tweaked it to grow Bilbo's character even further.

Another main concern people have had is that this small 300 page book has been split into three movies. The book is very condensed, so this was never really a problem, but Peter Jackson has added extra material to the movies. He introduces two more subplots pulled from Tolkien's appendices, both of which are welcomed and compelling. One is the Necromancer which leads into the ressurection of Sauron, and the other is Azog, a villain opposing the leader of the Dwarves, Thorin. Neither subplots will likely resolve until the third film, but it's clear they are going to pay off and enrich the story in the end.

The Hobbit has been filmed in 48 frames per second, as opposed to the usual 24 which we've used in movies for over a century. It's the first film that has ever done this, and a technological leap forward that enhances and gives reason to digital filmmaking. A lot of general audiences and critics alike have already disowned this new format, as it looks too much like a video game or a soap opera television program. It will definitely bother some, but it's the future of filmmaking and needs to be seen and reconsidered.

The 48 frames, or HFR (High Frame Rate) as they're calling it, creates a much more immersive experience. Because it doesn't feel like a movie, and more like a set, it feels real. There were moments I forgot I was looking at a wall and not through a window into this beautiful and expansive world. One thing that really struck me was that every single swing and slash of a sword felt disturbingly real, even though it was usually directed at CGI characters. This, coupled with some of the best visual effects ever put to screen, especially the noteworthy new facial animations on Gollum (Which put Avatar to shame), simply make this the best looking film of the year.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is only the first third of a trilogy. It was hard to fully appreciate The Fellowship of the Ring until we saw the catharsis finally come two movies later. Journey is an exceptional starting point though, if this level of quality is matched for the next two movies then we will have a trilogy that could possibly be even better than The Lord of the Rings.

Bring on The Desolation of Smaug next December, with a healthy dose of HFR!

By Brodie Marchant

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
5/5
5.0
DirectorPeter Jackson
StarringMartin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving
RatingM
Length 169 minutes
MMGN movie reviews are rated out of 5 stars
Link to us http://movies.mmgn.com/Articles/the-hobbit-an-unexpected-journey-review
Tags: 48 An Brodie film fps hfr Hobbit Jackson Journey Lord Marchant movie of peter review Rings the Unexpected
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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review Comments

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Shocked at how much I enjoyed this. It has very few of the issues I have with LOTR and I think I'm going to like this trilogy a lot more.

And HFR 3D was spectacular [Derp]
Nice to see some highly positive comments about this! Saw a 3/10 review yesterday in the SMH (I think it was there anyway) which really disappointed me.
Lots of haters out there that don't appreciate the technology. They also forget that, hurr durr, you can watch the movie without all the fancy 48fps.

People also saying it "starts slow" and that it doesn't achieve much.

Are people forgetting LOTR: FOTR?

The first movie is supposed to set the standard, lead in to the middle and the epic conclusion.

Haven't seen it yet but will in the next week. Can't wait!
I'm going tonight but only in standard because my friends weren't keen on 3D. From the sound of this review I think I'll have to go see it again in 48fps.

Krycek said: I'm going tonight but only in standard because my friends weren't keen on 3D. From the sound of this review I think I'll have to go see it again in 48fps.

I don't think 48fps will work on a repeat viewing, it has to be your first. From what I can gather, those that are hating the tech hate it because they were focused on it. If you are going to see 48fps, you need to forget it is there and focus on the film and the story.
My problem isn't with the technical side, but more with the pacing of the story. After the first hour, it was just action scene after action scene, with a few talking scenes to progress the plot in between, and was missing a lot of depth that FotR and the other LotR films had. Not that I'm saying it wasn't great, but they lost quite a bit of the majesty that the book gave the story.

I don't know why I decided to not bother with 48fps, but now I'm desperate to see it before it goes out of cinemas.
Loved this movie- every part of it. Sure, it starts 'slow' but it's not really slow, I felt it was more like 'Setting the scene' a lot like FOTR.

Was great to see Gandalf again and to be back in Middle Earth! I can't wait for the other movies.

:D super enjoyable!
Is this movie going to be really enjoyable for me? Because I loved the LOTR series and I don't think this series will quite match the intense and epicness tone of the LOTR series. I keep thinking to myself that this series is going to be ALOT more shallow than its predecessors :(
Go in with an open mind and just enjoy it. Don't worry about anything else. Just expect a more light hearted middle earth tale.

Killjoy said: My problem isn't with the technical side, but more with the pacing of the story. After the first hour, it was just action scene after action scene, with a few talking scenes to progress the plot in between, and was missing a lot of depth that FotR and the other LotR films had.



I agree. I think it would have been nice to see more dialogue between Bilbo and the other dwarves. Before the end we really need to see Bilbo develop a strong relationship with them.

@Shiversul You mention you thought Rivendell was too long. For me the only scene that felt like it wasn't needed was the scene with Frodo. Completely unnecessary in my opinion.

@Milky I hope you are wrong and that I can enjoy the 48fps. I'll just have to go in and try not to notice the higher frame rate.

Krycek said:
@Shiversul You mention you thought Rivendell was too long. For me the only scene that felt like it wasn't needed was the scene with Frodo. Completely unnecessary in my opinion.


Are you guys sure you don't mean the Shire scene? Frodo wasn't even in the Rivendell scene, nor was it long at all.
You're right, I meant the Shire scene.

My post could have been clearer. I should have said something like I didn't find the Rivendell scene too long but the only scene in the movie I did find unnecessary was the Frodo scene. I was trying to use Shiv's comment as a launching point for discussing unnecessary scenes. I actually didn't find Rivendell too long at all, it was interesting to finally see all of those big middle-earth powers all together.

Makra said:

Krycek said:
@Shiversul You mention you thought Rivendell was too long. For me the only scene that felt like it wasn't needed was the scene with Frodo. Completely unnecessary in my opinion.


Are you guys sure you don't mean the Shire scene? Frodo wasn't even in the Rivendell scene, nor was it long at all.


I definitely mean Rivendell. The Shire sequences length didn't bother me in the slightest. I was actually annoyed they skimmed over the Dwarves.

Rivendell was right in the middle of the two big action sequences in the film. They took so long to leave. And even when they all did Gandalf just stuck behind and talked for 10 minutes.

I just wanted to get to Misty Mountains real bad at that part.
I cannot wait to see this. Your review made me even more excited for it.
Saw it earlier today and loved it. Just seemed to fly by and I can't wait for the next ones.
Didn't feel like 3 hours when I saw it. Felt really quite short. The CGI was awesome and I feel like the 3D was really good unlike some other movies that boast 3D tech.
Wow this movie surpassed my expectations completely... Loving iMax now (love)
I saw it today and loved it
Would not see for ONE DOLLAR

Bloard said: Didn't feel like 3 hours when I saw it. Felt really quite short. The CGI was awesome and I feel like the 3D was really good unlike some other movies that boast 3D tech.


Really? I liked it but it was too long for me.
The Tolkien nerd in me screamed "The Dwarves look too human" when I saw on set photos, but the movie itself blew my freakin mind! It had songs, awesome humour and the action was great.

Honestly, it was just awesome being back in middle earth again.

ps: It did feel a bit long at 3 hours, but I enjoyed every moment of it. Especially the riddle game.
I gotta say, I'm really glad heaps of people are loving it, and even HFR!

Honestly thought this review would be filled with comments disagreeing with me, as a lot of the early critics have been hating on the film and HFR.
I really REALLY don't see how people can hate on HFR so much. It was nowhere near as noticeable as I expected, and it made it look so much better. There wasn't any of that 'fake' look I was worried about, and after about 20 minutes I'd almost stopped noticing any difference to 24 FPS.
We're talking about critics who have spent more hours watching 24fps movies that they have doing anything else in their life.
I'm not totally sold on HFR. At first it was distracting - the characters moved strangely and it reminded me of low budget straight to dvd movies I've seen. After 15 minutes or so I didn't really notice it though. For me, this is its greatest weakness, if I can't tell the difference what is the point of using the higher frame rate? There were some scenes that had a strange stage-like quality, as if I was in a theatre, but overall it didn't seem that different to the 2D version I saw a week ago. Hardly the future of cinema.
Loved the 48fps, it was so smooth, looked so much better. Hopefully all 3 will be in this format. This is far better than movies shot at 24fps with all blurring when there are fast scenes and you can't see anything.
5/5 [WTF]

It was good, but not that good [Shifty]
My view count agrees with me :)
I loved the cartoonish turn of events this took compared the LOTR without taking too much away. It really made me feel I was taken out from the serious middle earth to this gorgeous world filled with mystic beings and to still call it middle earth. I was completely immersed in the experience. Freeman was the IT actor. I cannot even comprehend to think anyone else more fitting. His character just evolves from this stubborn hobbit to the most ambicious character I've ever seen in cinema, truly a credit. My favourite scene was with Gollum and the riddles that did take place. I had no nails left, it was intense yet humorous. I had nothing but high hopes for the movie, and it exceeded my expectations further then I had thought.

So basically what shiv said :P
(love) (love)

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