Scott here. I went back to Middle Earth a few days ago for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and I have purposely waited to write the review. There is so much going on in The Hobbit, that it is almost a prerequisite to see it a second, maybe even a third time. The problem with this is that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is an expectantly long journey. Clocking in at just under 3 hours long, you better get that 5 hour energy ready. If you are a fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you know exactly what awaits you. If you aren’t a fan, well lets just say you will be checking your watch more than a few times.
The story itself is pretty straightforward. Bilbo Baggins ( an excellent Martin Freeman) leads an uneventful life. He is a hobbit that doesn’t get out much. Bilbo likes to tend to his garden, read his books, and rarely ever leaves his home in the shire. One day Gandalf the Gray ( Ian Mckellen) a wise old wizard, chooses Bilbo to be the 14th man in a crew full of rambunctious dwarves that are about to go on mission to overthrow an evil dragon that has taken over their kingdom. After a long scene in which the uninvited dwarves descend upon Bilbo’s home and pillage all his food, he reluctantly joins the cause.
Its is only when Bilbo and the crew hit the road that The Hobbit truly takes flight. Jackson has treated us to a visual spectacle that is the equivalent of being pounded over the head with a sledgehammer. I don’t mean that in a negative way, it’s just a lot to consume in one sitting. I saw the film in the much discussed new 48FPS. To say that this new way of filming is overwhelming is an understatement. There are scenes involving rabid wolves and giant hawks that will blow your mind. These scenes in 3D make Avatar look puny. The problem with the 48FPS way of filming is that there are a lot of scenes that look like you are watching your friend play a video game on a PS3. Everything is much clearer. Much like how high-definition changed the way we look at something as simple as a newscaster on television, or a Blu-Ray film, the CGI in some parts are really exposed. That being said, Robert Zemeckis had to experiment with motion capture computer animation on films like The Polar Express and Beowulf to mixed results before other directors got it right. My gut tells me Peter Jackson has led the way for a new animal of film making that will only get better with time. I highly recommend you seek out this version of The Hobbit so you can judge for yourself.
The Hobbit is a lesser version of The Fellowship of the Ring. It is also important to remember that this is the first act of a three-part trilogy. It has a less serious tone and an almost goofy vibe. You will be entertained but be aware that there is a price to pay. Was The Hobbit as great as I expected? Probably not, but Peter Jackson set the bar pretty high with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. In hindsight, to expect more would be unrealistic. Although there are some bumps in the road, The Hobbit is a journey well worth taking.
Final Word – 3 Stars