The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey – film review

IMAX poster for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey", featuring the character Gollum.
IMAX poster for “The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey”, featuring the character Gollum.
The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey is the first release in the new Hobbit trilogy from Peter Jackson. I had mixed feelings when I heard they were going from two films to three in this series. As the original novel, The Hobbit: or There and Back Again is fairly short, I couldn’t imagine how Jackson was going to stretch it into more than two films. The novel divides nicely into two sections right after Bilbo and his cadre of dwarves finish their respective encounters with Gollum and the orcs. After seeing the film, though, I feel much more at ease with Jackson’s decision to make three films.

As you’ve probably already read in one or more places, Jackson and his writers are including materials from the appendices of The Lord of the Rings and a couple other places in order to flesh out the story and connect it better with the Rings trilogy of films.

While this may seem a little strange to mess with the flow of a perfectly good and enjoyable book, Jackson has a great touch so far with making it work. I though the “extra” bits he included worked well with the film and didn’t slow it down at all. The dwarves were great, Andy Serkis is great again as Gollum, and the insight into the orcs was interesting as well. I really liked the flow of the plot in The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey and give kudos to Jackson and his team for doing an excellent job.

Now, about the new 48-frames-per-second version of the film: I’ve now seen the film in both the regular 2D version and the 3D HFR version. There has been some complaining about the loss of the “cinematic feel” in the HFR version, and this is most noticeable in interior shots and in shots with heavy use of CGI. However, at least for me, I noticed this less and less as the film progressed.

Whether that was due to it being done better later in The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey or my just getting used to it, I couldn’t tell you. The detail in the HFR version was amazing, however, and it made for an extremely immersive experience. HFR is a new technology, so it will take some work before the CGI artists are able to really take advantage of it and perfect their ability to make it blend into that “cinematic feel” to which we’ve become accustomed.

Overall, The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey was an excellent film, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the “first” trilogy. Jackson gives it its own legs to stand on, and this is definitely not just The Lord of the Rings: The Prequel: the music has its own feel (with nods to the Rings trilogy, and the characters are their own. Go see this film.

Release Date: December 14, 2012 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13

MySF Rating: Five point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 80%

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (some alcohol with meals)
Language: 1 (minor expletives)
Nudity: 0
Sexuality: 0
Violence: 4 (some fantasy and battle violence)

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