It's been a decade since movie goers were last transported to J.R.R Tolkien's fantasy world of elves and wizards, dwarves and hobbits but has Peter Jackson's return to Middle Earth lived up to all the hype?
Maybe I was too young, maybe I should have read the book or maybe it's just not my thing but I didn't get the original Lord Of The Rings trilogy. I was not very interested in any of the characters, so I would switch off and lose track of the plot about 10 minutes in to the film. Also I was a massive Harry Potter fan so maybe I just didn't have any room left in my heart for Lord Of The Rings. Even though I wasn't a fan I was excited to see this prequel because I felt ready to give Tolkien another chance.
An Expected Journey
The Hobbit has been one of the longest anticipated films of our generation. It's no wonder expectations were so high especially after the original Lord Of The Rings trilogy was such a success. But fans and movie buffs did start to question The Hobbit when it was first announced that the reasonably short book was going to be stretched out into a movie trilogy. Well may they have been wary, because I found The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey extremely ponderous until the appearance of Andy Serkis's magnificently realised Gollum. On the whole very little actually happens in the way of plot development considering the film is close to a bum-numbing three hours in length. It takes us nearly an hour just to get out of Bilbo's burrow, during which time we are rather laboriously introduced to the 13 dwarves who need his help to regain their homeland.
There has been alot of speculation about the 'innovative' decision to use double the frames-per-second while filming. It was meant to increase the realism but I found it had the opposite effect making the sets, costumes and make-up seem fake and tacky. I didn't get used to the process til way into the film by which time it was starting to piss me off. Also it cost me extra money just to be disappointed. (mini-rant: It's really annoying the way film companies keep finding new unnecessary ways to charge you more money for your ticket and branding it as a 'viewing enhancement'!) There is no point for HFR, VueXtreme, VIP Seats and even 3D.
I found the characters a lot more relatable than in the original trilogy. Martin Freeman makes a much more charismatic lead than the drippy Elijah Wood. The interesting characters made up for the fact that the quest storyline has become cliched. I think Peter Jackson did a good job at making something old seem new again.
That said, Ian McKellen was amazing as Gandalf but it was starting to annoy me the way he would always appear right at the last minute to save the other characters whenever they got into trouble. It might have seemed unexpected when the story was originally published but now it's a trick that has been used many times before. If the other Hobbit films follow the same formula it's going to get very old, very fast.
The Hobbit definitely delivered on the action scenes. The amazing and brilliantly chaotic escape from the goblin caves was a highlight and so was the fighting mountains. I'm interested enough to want to see the next instalment but I definitely wont be bothering with the HFR version. That wasn't as 'precious' as the £3 price hike would have you believe.