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 Post subject: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:10 am 
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Any Lord of the Rings Fan who had loved watching Peter Jackson's rendition of the trilogy over a decade ago will feel right at home in this 2012 interpretation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit." Tolkien's nearly 96,000 word entrance into the lands of Middle Earth has often been called a prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and to many watching Jackson's movie today - it seems like that's exactly what it is.

"An Unexpected Journey" begins with Ian Holmes as Bilbo Baggins writing the book about his life. Quotes taken directly from Tolkien's "Hobbit" story helped to sculpt the opening. As we discover, he writes the book on the morning before his one-hundred-and-eleventy-first birthday party (the delightful opening to the "Fellowship of the Ring").

The audience is soon transported 60 years into the past where they meet Ian Holmes' younger self, Martin Freeman. There young Bilbo interacts with Gandalf and is soon set on a path that will take him across Middle Earth to help twelve dwarves reclaim their homeland.

To begin this review in full, I shall discuss the characters.

Other reviews of the movie have been accurate in the idea that the eleven "minor" dwarves that become apart of the quest in the film blur together somewhat. You can't find emotional connection with twelve characters whose names are so similar that they meld as one. However this affect is something that appears in the book as well. The book offers little to no interaction between the characters that isn't done in pairs. Fili and Kili are almost always lumped as one. Ori, Nori, and Dori are another set. Etc. The more a name rhymes the more they'll most likely be working with that person. The movie represents this very well and is a good reflection of how the book reads.

As in the book, Thorin Oakenshield becomes the main dwarf that is brought to the forefront of the audience's mind. While the book doesn't offer much intext information regarding Thorin's life beyond the boundaries of the quest, the movie does expand on his heritage and lifestyle prior to the quest's beginning. In fact, more about Thorin (taken from the appendices) has been added to this movie to allow the audience to connect with him on a deeper level.

Gandalf appears much as he does in the lord of the Rings. His seems almost omnipotent and his magical ability relies mainly on small (but useful) tricks. Flashes of light, momentary wind gusts, bursts of fire, and magic letters seem to be the extent of his skill in that regard (something that Bilbo teases him unconsciously about during the film). What Gandalf lacks in any great magical ability he makes up for in leadership and cunning. He successfully manages to convince Bilbo to travel with the dwarves while also keeping the company together in great danger.

Bilbo Babggins is one of the truly delightful parts of this film, however. Beautifully cast, Martin Freeman plays just the amount of insistent awkwardness that exists in all hobbits. His nervousness, desire to go home, and his moral values are what parallel very well throughout the story and accurately portray Tolkien's work.

Small appearances (cameos) by Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, and Christopher Lee appear during a meeting of the White Council. Where Tolkien neglects to show this council in his book (instead relegating it to an appendix), Jackson expands on the information provided to discuss the growing darkness in Middle Earth. The foreshadowing that leads up to the adventures in the Lord of the Rings is clear throughout, and the White Council is the start of the suspicion that something is not all together right in their land.

There are numerous parallels to Jackson's other movies, and I won't go into them here. Needless to say, if you've seen Jackson's trilogy you'll recognize devices and moments that are reused in "An Unexpected Journey" (particularly in "The Fellowship of the Ring").

Jackson's cinematography in this film has often been questioned. The massive rumors regarding how 48fps (frames per second) would appear on screen and the "nauseating effect" that it was said to cause was troubling going into the film. While I watched it, I kept careful note of everything that could be related to the frame rate in order to give an objective view on it.

Frankly: I don't understand what critics are saying about the frame rate. A brief poll after I watched the movie in regards to this supposed "nauseating effect" revealed that no one felt sick, had a headache, or was otherwise impaired by watching the film. In fact, the only critique in that regards that anyone had about it was that when the camera gave broad scenery shots: it was actually a little blurry! The best excuse that I could come up with, was that we became so used to the intrinsically detailed experience of 48fps that when we were shown something at a high rate of speed that generally was blurry - we thought that it looked wrong! Had the same scene been shot in the standard 24fps we probably never would have noticed the difference to begin with.

The level of detail added to this film was so impressive that the 48fps was nothing short of a success. It was beautifully rendered, and added so much to the visual experience that I didn't notice I was missing before. The texture of a statue in the back of the frame was visible, the leaves of the trees was visible, heck - the pores on Martin Freeman's skin was visible!

In that regard, make up for this film was also brilliantly done. Because 48fps picks up so much detail determining how much makeup needed to be added to the actors so it didn't become overdone must have been very difficult. It almost seemed as though no make up was used at all, as there wasn't even a hint of eyeliner or stray blush that was egregiously placed on any of the characters in the movie.

As always the set, miniatures, and graphics that were used throughout the film were blended together to recall lost moments from the Lord of the Rings series and bring fond memories back to the forefront of the viewers mind. Seeing Hobbiton, Rivendell, and so many more environments that the audience saw in the last three films was delightful.

Perhaps most delightful of all was how separate the movie was to the trilogy. One does not need to watch the trilogy to understand "The Hobbit," just as one does not need to read the books to understand it either. It's very well put together structurally and could easily stand alone. At the same time, it's lovely to see them all together.

The length of the movie has been a complaint to many viewers as well. Some claim it is far too long, and that it should have been split up far before the point that it had been. I can only imagine that these viewers were the same as the ones who insisted that Jackson didn't put enough details into the Lord of the Rings movies. The ones that said that he skipped "the most important part" and the poem with the can jumping over the moon. You can't please everyone.

Yes, the movie is long. Yes, it takes three hours to tell. The end result, however, was a cinematically gorgeous event that encapsulated the true heart of the book. Songs were song, poems read, councils held, and characters were revisited. Appearances by Radagast, who was only mentioned it the book, helped shed light to the structure and fear of the world. It sets up the next movie (and the world as a whole) very well.

As to the violence, I have heard two contrasting arguments. The first: the violence is gratuitous and unnecessary. The second: the violence was present but done so in a jovial manner that was detracting from the story. I've even heard of the dwarves being compared to ninjas!

The fighting in the movies was present. However it contrasted heavily to the all out warfare that was in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. There, the orcs were brainless and uneducated. They were dottering around and simply fighting for the sake of being brutal and awful. Here, the enemies were generally overweight and almost comical in their appearances. They weren't necessarily scary, so much as they were just...ookie.

The dwarves did have an alarming number of near misses, but that appears throughout the book as well. Their success has always been based on luck and happenstance, and that comes across in the movies.

My mother, who cannot stand violence and refuses to watch anything involving it, refuses to watch the Lord of the Rings because of the amount of blood and gore that is present within them. When she watched the Hobbit with me, she closed her eyes four times, for thirty seconds - one minute each time. She missed perhaps four minutes of the movie total. That's it.

If four minutes of violence is what the greatest complaint of this three hour film is, then I do believe we have a successful enterprise on our hands here.

I give this movie a solid A+ for its outstanding acting, beautiful cinematography, glorious effects, delightful gimmicks, and also a stand out music score by Howard Shore. I would highly recommend it to you all to see.

I watched the 2D version, but it's clearly made for a 3D audience. You'll notice that immediately when you see it, and to anyone who does see the 3D version I would very much like to hear of what you thought about it. I'll be going again to watch the movie in 3D at a later date, and if no one posts again I'll be sure to discuss its effects here.

Another great rendition by Peter Jackson and his Wingnut team - it was simply delightful.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:28 am 
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I really hated the camera work, it cut to different angles a lot imo it took away from the viewing, also I had noticed scenes where it looked like it was in fastfoward motion. It really took away from my enjoyment of the movie. For the most part it follows the same format of the fellowship of the ring, which I never read The Hobbit so I am guessing at this. Overall I give this a D+/C- at best.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 6:01 am 
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I'm actually really glad you brought that up. I noticed the similarities right off the bat, and in fact - I think you're absolutely right in saying that the Hobbit reads much like the Fellowship of the ring. In fact, if you actually look at the book - its purposefully designed that way. The Fellowship is Frodo's tale, but it was also published in 1954 - 14 years after the Hobbit was published in 1937. In many ways, Frodo's experiences in the Fellowship are meant to be a mirror to Bilbo's. The LOTR series is the much darker and more painful reflection of the happy and "less complicated" times of Bilbo and his company.

Very purposefully Tolkien wrote Frodo's tale to mimic Bilbo's. You're absolutely right when you say that it seemed familiar - it was!

The Fellowship of the Ring shows Frodo as a character, but he's only different from Bilbo in the fact that he joins this quest to destroy something, not to heal it. That difference is reflected in how dark the LOTR books are compared to the Hobbit which is far lighter. It's part of the reason why the darkness that Tolkien has in Middle Earth is kept largely in the appendecies. He doesn't want to encroach on the much lighter Hobbit's tale. But you're right - he wrote the fellowship almost exactly like the Hobbit. That's not a Jacksonian issue, that's a Tolkien phenomenon.

As for the camerawork. The angles were done largely by the size of the ensemble. There was nearly twice as many people in Thorin's company as the Fellowship, and the camera needed to keep all fourteen of them involved and memorable throughout the story.

I'm not sure that alone is enough to drop it down to a D+/C- rating though. Especially because Jackson was following the book almost word for word throughout it.

The only story differentiation was the fact that the
Spoiler: show
the pale orc - Arzog, doesn't actually exist in the book. Instead, the goblins chase the dwarves for no apparent reason. Arzog's presence at the very least gives some structure and understanding to why the dwarves are pursued for the rest of their lives.
. Everything else, I believe was very accurate to the book. And truly, if he hadn't followed the book as closely - people would be saying that that was a problem!

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 2:40 pm 
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Yea I mean I liked the story and I liked the characters, I did enjoy the scene where the
Spoiler: show
Dwarves first meet at bilbos house
, but for me the bad camera work took a lot away from the movie, and the look of the dwarves only Thalin looked realistic, all the dwarves had this fakeness to their skin almost clayish, they didn't look right, that could be because of filters though. I don't know what went into the makeup process..

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:18 pm 
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The hair and costuming was actually something very unique. I did some research on the film and found that because of the higher fps rate all the makeup needed to be amplified by a lot so that it would come across more clear. As for the hair and strange way that they looked - because there are twelve dwarves I think they wanted to make each one completely different from the other in order to help fans keep track of them. Kili and Fili for instance, though brothers and similar were differentiated by one being blonde and the other brunette.

I'll have to rewatch the movie again to really see if the prosthetics didn't come across well enough. The only one that I noticed was that the Hobbit feet looked far bigger in this version than I remember them in the LOTR - probably because the camera picked them up so much more.

Still, I didn't think the makeup was distracting from the film.

Also, something to take note of for the camera angles - this film was made primarily for 3D audiences. So a lot of the angles were done to enhance that experience. Did you watch it in 2D or 3D?

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:39 pm 
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I watched it in the high res 3D.

Rivendell still looked amazing, I'll give it that.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 8:07 pm 
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Was it cool? I'll have to rewatch it in 3D, but I could see everything they were trying to do to incorporate the 3D experience. :)

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:38 pm 
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The 3D was cool, the beginning with Lonely Mountain was quite neat

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 2:03 am 
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im one of the biggest lotr fans you will ever meet and boy was this movie a disapointment.
it was really boring to me,the story deviated far too much from the book and while funny at times it was an all round silly experience.
now credit where its due obviously gandalf is flawless, bilbo is fine and most of the dwarves delivered but i dont think they could do much more with the vision the producers and director had for the movie


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