The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey

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The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey

Post by foxrock66(Roadkill) on Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:44 pm

Where to begin. I'll start by saying what everyone is itching to hear. Yes, The Hobbit is a superb piece of filmmaking. Peter Jackson has once again brought Tolkien's Middle-Earth to life in a truly fantastic way. The Hobbit is a wonderful experience much akin to visiting an old friend and at the same time making new ones. It's fantastic, it's gripping, it's beautiful, and the expanded focus on Tolkien's lore is a joy to watch. The decision to include the subplot involving the Necromancer, Dol Guldur and the wizard Radagast the Brown is one of the greater ideas to be included, and I'm excited to see what other details from the appendices will be brought into the trilogy.

The returning performers - Sir Ian McKellen in particular - are as perfectly in character as you remember from the original Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and the addition of a few brief cameos from favorites like Frodo Baggins and Saruman the White are a welcome surprise. McKellen's return as Gandalf is masterful. There are several "You shall not pass!" moments that remind you of just how formidable an opponent the Grey Wizard is, and his returning wry wit is a highlight of McKellan's performance.

The new cast members, on the other hand, are a bit of a mixed bag. On the whole, the company of Thorin Oakenshield - and Thorin himself - are great in their respective roles, though a handful of the characters' designs border on silly rather than fantastical. Characters like Balin, Dwalin, Kili, and Fili ring true and are a joy to behold as they bring the story to life. Other members of the dwarven company such as Bombur, Bifur, and Nori are still entertaining, but they come across as a bit larger than life at times - no pun intended. Richard Armitage's performance as the leader of the company, Thorin Oakenshield, is a great highlight of the film. Armitage embodies the dwarven prince as if he were born for the role. From the intense battle scenes to the late night song-gathering in Bilbo Baggins' home, Thorin is ever the staple member of the group, capably pulling the viewer back into the fiction whenever a particularly unfeasible happening occurs. I could not think of a better choice for the part.

As well, Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins is an inspired decision. I was apprehensive when I saw he was chosen for the part, as my previous experience with his work was limited to the comedies Hot Fuzz and Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. Both great films in their own right, but not at all the tone of cinema I was expecting for the prequel to the excellent LOTR trilogy, so naturally I was skeptical of how Freeman would present Bilbo. Thankfully, he brings the character to life in a believable and lovable way, perfectly portraying the reluctant, somewhat neurotic hero. He may not yet be Elijah Wood's Frodo, but he is within reach of that high standard. When we finally see Bilbo obtain the One Ring, and consequently engage in a game of riddles with the creature Gollum, everything at once feels familiar and fantastic, bringing to mind fond memories of the previous films.

Speaking of Gollum, though his screen time is brief, it is the epitome of what we expect from the character. A tortured soul, kept captive by his "Precious", lovable, funny, and tragic. His scenes are some of the most memorable of the film, and it will be interesting to see if and how he will be used in the next two installments.

Visually, the film is a treat. Set design, cinematography, costumes, and most of all, the lighting, all come together in a truly beautiful splendor, creating some of the most visually glorious scenes I have had the pleasure of seeing in quite a long time.

For all this though, the film is not perfect. The screening I viewed was in 3D, which for the most part was handled well, but in action heavy scenes it often resulted in horrendous amounts of motion blur. As well Peter Jackson has filmed The Hobbit at a whopping 48 frames per second. That's twice the rate if normal films, and the hyper realistic frame speed can at times be jolting and hard to follow. I spent the first ten minutes or so of the film wondering if the characters were hurrying through their scenes before my eyes adjusted.

As well, there is a much, much heavier focus on the use of CGI this go around. Most of the creatures, Orcs, Wargs, Goblins and the like are mostly if not entirely CGI instead of the beautifully created work that the WETA Workshop provided in the original films. Most of the time this isnt a terribly large issue, but often enough, it's distracting and unneeded. One central villain in particular is entirely made of CGI when his appearance could have just as easily - and more believably - been accomplished with make-up and prosthetics. As well, many of the creatures have received makeovers, now only slighlty resembling their counterparts in the original trilogy. Goblins especially - truly threatening and horrific in The Fellowship of The Ring - are small, white skinned bat-like beasts this time, and far less frightening than we remember. When we meet their king, what should be an intimidating experience is instead laughable at best, and disgustingly goofy at worst.

Because of small discrepancies like these, the overall result feels more lighthearted, less dark, and arguably less mature than its predecessors. I would have preferred the tone to be more in keeping with grit and psuedo-realism of the Return Of the King, but this is more preference than anything

All in all though, the return to Middle-Earth is a triumphant one. I am greatly looking forward to the rest of the trilogy. A year is far too long to wait to experience the rest of this wonderful cinematic adventure. This is one Unexpected Journey you don't want to miss.

9/10
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Re: The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey

Post by Denjie on Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:08 pm

I. FREKING. WANT. TO. SEE. IT!!!!!

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Re: The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey

Post by Deviss on Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:50 pm

foxrock66(Roadkill) wrote:The decision to include the subplot involving the Necromancer, Dol Guldur and the wizard Radagast the Brown is one of the greater ideas to be included, and I'm excited to see what other details from the appendices will be brought into the trilogy.
From the readings I've done already, it looks to be as if Jackson is pulling everything from the Appendices and Tolkien's unfinished work that is related to The Hobbit. That, and the undoubted money-grubbing, is the primary reason behind this new trilogy.

For my part, I'm very excited to see Dol Guldur in a theatrical sense. The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-Earth II's version was nice, but I never got the overwhelming sense of foreboding or downright evil from it.


foxrock66(Roadkill) wrote:Richard Armitage's performance as the leader of the company, Thorin Oakenshield, is a great highlight of the film. Armitage embodies the dwarven prince as if he were born for the role. From the intense battle scenes to the late night song-gathering in Bilbo Baggins' home, Thorin is ever the staple member of the group, capably pulling the viewer back into the fiction whenever a particularly unfeasible happening occurs. I could not think of a better choice for the part.
When I first saw Armitage as Thorin in the first trailer, I knew he was going to be one to focus on. A friend of mine said as much in his review, but Thorin is this trilogy's Aragorn. And I for one am perfectly fine with that, so long as there isn't a gross overlapping. Aragorn was one of my favorites. I'm really looking forward to seeing Armitage's ongoing performance in this installment and the following two.

foxrock66(Roadkill) wrote:As well, there is a much, much heavier focus on the use of CGI this go around. Most of the creatures, Orcs, Wargs, Goblins and the like are mostly if not entirely CGI instead of the beautifully created work that the WETA Workshop provided in the original films. Most of the time this isn't a terribly large issue, but often enough, it's distracting and unneeded. One central villain in particular is entirely made of CGI when his appearance could have just as easily - and more believably - been accomplished with make-up and prosthetics. As well, many of the creatures have received makeovers, now only slightly resembling their counterparts in the original trilogy. Goblins especially - truly threatening and horrific in The Fellowship of The Ring - are small, white skinned bat-like beasts this time, and far less frightening than we remember. When we meet their king, what should be an intimidating experience is instead laughable at best, and disgustingly goofy at worst.
This, the somewhat protracted length aside, will be my biggest issue with AUJ. Some of the best moments from the original Lord of the Rings were the moments involving the Orcs or Uruk-hai. This overusage of CGI is upsetting but not a total deal-breaker. From the announcement that The Hobbit would be adapted to film, my biggest point of interest is how they'll adapt Smaug and the Battle of Five Armies.

Overall, nicely done Fox. I'm happy to see my interest in reviewing has rubbed off on a couple of you guys, even though I know you won't outrightly say so.

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Re: The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey

Post by foxrock66(Roadkill) on Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:56 pm

I've reviewed things for years, just haven't posted them here. Lack of interest in the past
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Re: The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey

Post by Deviss on Fri Dec 14, 2012 4:35 pm

Well I'd certainly be interested in seeing more from you man.

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Re: The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey

Post by Tempest on Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:06 pm

Seriously aweeesome movie guysos! I'm already ready for the next one NUUUU!
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Re: The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey

Post by Denjie on Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:58 pm

1. Likin' the av there girl.
2. Nice Daft Punk sig
3. WASSSUUUPPP GIRL!!!
4. @Dev, since when did we not like saying things to you outright?

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Re: The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey

Post by foxrock66(Roadkill) on Sat Dec 15, 2012 10:32 am

Always? You know about his big head <4
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Re: The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey

Post by Tempest on Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:52 pm

Denjie wrote:1. Likin' the av there girl.
2. Nice Daft Punk sig
3. WASSSUUUPPP GIRL!!!
4. @Dev, since when did we not like saying things to you outright?

Razz

Srs though guys, see this soon as you can! Soooo much good
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Re: The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey

Post by Churminess on Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:02 am

While I love the Lord of the Rings universe and story and I want to see this film because of that, a major part of it is to check out the 48fps. I have noticed films seem low frame rate, normally when I go straight from a game running at a full 60fps, but still I'm curious as to how this progresses as a technique.

From the sound of your review, they need to change some of their filming methods to compensate. What were your thoughts on it after your eyes had adjusted? Did you think it added anything to the experience?

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Re: The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey

Post by foxrock66(Roadkill) on Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:08 am

Not really, no. Once my eyes became used to the speed, I hardly noticed the change. However, in action heavy/fast paced scenes, the film became blurry and hard to follow


Last edited by foxrock66(Roadkill) on Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey

Post by zeb k on Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:08 pm

I really want to see this movie! Might be going to see it tonight. I'm exited, but at the same time hoping it will live up to the Lord of the Rings movies levels.
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Re: The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey

Post by Churminess on Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:27 pm

foxrock66(Roadkill) wrote:Not really, no. Once my eyes became used to the speed, I hardly noticed the change. However, in action heavy/fast paced scenes, the film became blurry and hard to follow
Hmmm, that's quite disappointing and unexpected, if anything I expected there to be less blurring. With any luck it'll be refined with time.

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