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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

"From the smallest beginnings come the greatest legends." A younger and more reluctant Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, sets out on an "unexpected journey" to the Lonely Mountain with a spirited group of Dwarves to reclaim their stolen mountain home from a dragon named Smaug.

Firstly, I have to make a statement- the LOTR movies, for me, have set an impossibly high bar both in this universe and within the movie world as a whole. Their cinematic beauty and value cannot be denied.The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, however, is an entirely different movie. Sure, it's set in the world of Middle Earth, but that's really about all it holds in common with the aforementioned trilogy, alongside a few familiar faces. Many members of the audience I was in complained that the movie took a long time to get going, but it actually was paced rather well, with a suitably sized introduction with Ian Holm and Elijah Wood making way for the current storyline. The first thing you notice as a viewer is that this movie is notably funnier. Whilst the LOTR trilogy had it's lighter moments, The Hobbit revels in the lighter side of life, with lots of genuinely hilarious moments interspersing themselves with scenes of real peril.The visually stunning moments are still there, and whilst I saw this movie in 2D, some moments would have been absolutely perfect in 3D. At first, it's a little difficult to get into, especially when the light-hearted opening with the countless visiting dwarfs gets underway. However, if you can remind yourself as a viewer that The Hobbit was a book written for a much younger, impressionable audience, then you'll likely have a good time watching this. That said, it is far from childish, and although it is a lighter, more fun affair, there are still many parts within the story that an adult audience can relate to.Martin Freeman has been a firm favourite of mine since his humble beginnings on British terrestrial television, and seeing him here on the big screen is both a welcome and bizarre experience. That said, his demeanour and technique are perfect for the role of Bilbo Baggins, as he exudes the homely, simple manner of a Hobbit very effectively. Ian McKellen is perfect as everyone's favourite wizard, and Richard Armitage (another former British television star playing his trade to the silver screen)is a brilliant Thorin (son of Thrain!), mixing a toughened heart with a tortured soul. If anything, Thorin may turn out to be the true hero of the piece. The rest of the dwarfs are also brilliant, and many of them are the highlights of the movie.The special effects are once again spectacular, with the eye wateringly stunning rock giant battle a particularly memorable moment. The makeup effects are up to the job, too, and the attention to detail is ridiculous, right down to the individual scratches and weathered look of the weapons the characters wield. If you enjoyed the LOTR trilogy, then Peter Jackson will have you in awe again, although The Hobbit trilogy looks set to be a much more relaxed and 'fun' adventure. At the end of the day, the only complain to be made about the movie is that it simply isn't LOTR. Those movies set such a high level that even Peter Jackson himself can't seem to top them with this effort, but that's a minor complain for what is otherwise I very well made movie.Cinematic, adventurous, enjoyable and epic- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey knows its audience and caters to them very well indeed.
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