Tuesday, December 18, 2012
REVIEW: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: The IMAX 3D Experience
An Unexpected Journey
Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan
December 14, 2012
New Line Cinema (WB),
2 hours 49 minutes
9 years have passed since 'The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King' closed the successful trilogy with universal praise, lots of money, and 17 Oscars including Best Picture. Fans of the books and the movies have waited for the prequel book to the famous trilogy, entitled 'The Hobbit,' to finally hit the big screen after nearly 7-8 years in the making. Peter Jackson is again in the director's chair, and some of the original cast, including Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis, return to the world of Frodo and The Ring. Instead of the story being about Frodo, this story takes place 60 years prior to the events of 'Fellowship of the Ring' where we meet Bilbo Baggins, Frodo's uncle, at a young age. He is recruited by Gandalf the Grey to be the 14th member of a group of elves on a mission to defeat the vicious dragon known as Smaug. As someone who isn't the biggest fan of 'Lord of the Rings,' I have to say that not only did 'An Unexpected Journey' exceed my expectations, but I also happen to enjoy it more than both 'Fellowship' and 'The Two Towers.' This is the movie that fans of the series have been waiting for. It also happens to be one of the year's best movies.
It clearly shown throughout the movie that Jackson is a true fan of Tolken's books. Every character and creature look stunning and real. The 3D use and cinematography made me feel even closer to the world of Middle Earth than I ever felt watching the first three movies on DVD. The visuals used in the film look nearly lifelike. Despite these advantages to the look of the film, it seemed though that Jackson just wanted to film a lot of things so the film could run nearly 3 hours. The film tends to drag a bit in the middle of the film, which is kind of a shame because of how fast the first hour and the final 40 minutes fly by. I loved being in Middle Earth just as much as my friend, who's a big 'Rings' fan, did. Unfortunately I felt that there could have been things cut out to make this movie 20 minutes shorter than it was. That doesn't take away from the quality of the film though.
The casting choices in these films have always been perfect choices, and the casting in 'The Hobbit' continue that streak. Martin Freeman is excellent as Bilbo, plain and simple. Even though Ian Holm did a fine job playing the older Bilbo in 'Fellowship' and even at the beginning of this movie, Freeman makes Bilbo a character who we can both sympathize with and root for when he decides to go on the big adventure. I personally thought that Bilbo was a more likable character than Frodo ever was in the original trilogy. Overall, I can’t wait to see Bilbo take on Smaug in one of the future movies. Ian McKellan, Andy Serkis, and Cate Blanchett are among the cast members returning to the series, and all are great, particularly Serkis. The “Riddles in the Dark” sequence between Serkis and Freeman is the highlight of the film for me. There are no weak links present in this cast, even from the newcomers to the series.
Other than Freeman, the most notable newcomer to the cast is Richard Armitrage as Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the 14 members of the group. Not only is this character a bad ass, but he's also courageous, likable, and really cool. Despite giving Bilbo a hard time throughout the duration of 'An Unexpected Journey,' Armitrage makes Thorin his own character and someone the audience will want to root for in the next two films in the series. There are other newcomers to the series, like the other 11 members of the group that I haven't mentioned. Unfortunately for them they aren't given a lot of screen-time to be given any praise or enough praise to their characters, especially since some of them didn't even have lines of dialogue. As for Freeman and Armitrage, they are the perfect choices for their roles, and like I said before, I can't wait to see them in the next two chapters of this trilogy.
The flaws in 'The Hobbit' are so miniscule that they can be ignored all together. The acting is superb, particularly from Freeman, McKellan, Serkis, and Armitrage. The script, written by Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson, Guillermo Del Toro, and Philippa Boyens, is filled with goodies that fans of the book will love, as well as things that moviegoers will enjoy, especially if they've seen the other three movies. Sure the film is nearly three hours long, but only one scene in the movie makes the audience feel the length of the movie. Everything else just flies by fairly quickly since you're just so invested in this journey. Thinking about this movie makes me like it even more than I did walking out of my IMAX theater. My theater didn't show the IMAX print in the faster 48fps, but I do want to see the film again in that format to compare the 24fps version and the 48fps. It might be best to first see the movie in 24fps so you can get invested in the story rather than be distracted by the oddness of the look of the film. Overall, I loved 'The Hobbit' just as much as I enjoyed 'Return of the King.' It's a funny, action-packed, fascinating, and magical experience worth seeing in 3D on the big screen. It's also one of my favorite movies of 2012, plain and simple.
PREVIEWS YOU MAY SEE:
A Good Day To Die Hard
Oz: The Great and the Powerful
Jack The Giant Killer
Man of Steel
Star Trek: Into Darkness
(Exclusive 9 minute IMAX Preview)