Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Running time: 169 mins
Director: Peter Jackson
Release date: 12 December 2012
Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage
It’s what we’ve been waiting for since 2003. After the success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson had a tough act to follow. Luckily he’s been doing the series of films for long enough that he knows what he’s doing and has brought another great movie to the table, thrusting New Zealand landscape, and talented Kiwi actors and crew into the Hollywood limelight yet again.
The Hobbit is a prequel to the films we’ve already seen; we follow a much younger Bilbo Baggins (Freeman) who reluctantly ends up being recruited by Gandalf (McKellen) to leave the safety of his home and his crockery for an adventure. An ‘unexpected journey’ to assist a lively crew of dwarves led by exiled dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield (Armitage) in reclaiming their stolen mountain home from a fearsome, and from what we can tell, rather large, dragon called Smaug.
Bilbo is recruited as their ‘bandit’ due to his hobbity light feet and small stature which help him to go relatively unnoticed in dangerous situations.
Seeing the film in 3D certainly felt like it enhanced the experience, and the new 48-frames-per-second which is receiving criticism from a number of seasoned film critics (and armchair critics alike!) doesn’t cause much of an issue for the untrained eye even though it does feel like something’s a little off throughout the movie.
The only downside is that a number of impressive fighting scenes feel a tad long which is somewhat surprising when the post-production process usually keeps cutting to get film scenes as tight as possible. One does wonder how the three Lord of the Rings books made three films, and the single novel of The Hobbit can also be stretched out into another trilogy.
These aren’t major issues though and this first film certainly feels like it has laid out the story well, preparing us for a lot more action in the remaining movies to come. Ian Mckellen’s enjoyment for the project shows through in his return on screen. The character construction of Thorin Oakenshield is the most interesting and Armitage’s performance is great; it already has us rooting for the unlikely group of heroes – his band of devoted dwarves, Bilbo and Gandalf.
Special moments include some fantastic, humorous scenes involving the dwarves invading Bilbo’s home to feast on his pantry contents, an encounter with a band of horse-thieving hungry trolls in the forest, and Bilbo’s first encounter with Gollum. The breathtaking view of the Elven kingdom is idyllic fantasy, while the forests, mountains and open plains of New Zealand make you realise just how great a country we live in.
Definitely entertaining. Can’t wait for round two.
Image / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – Idea go