Courtesy of James Fisher-Webb
Peter Jackson has returned to Middle Earth in the first part of “The Hobbit” trilogy. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” brings “The Lord of the Rings” film trilogy fans back to a simpler time in the Shire for this epic prequel.
Fans of the original trilogy will be pleased to see the familiar faces of Frodo, old Bilbo, Gandalf and Gollum, among others, as well as the addition of Martin Freeman (“What’s Your Number?”) as a younger Bilbo. Freeman was fairly faithful to the characterization of Bilbo in the book. He provides much comic relief to an intense tale, though he has his heroic moments as well. The dwarves were a little less brilliant, and many seem to lack personality in “An Unexpected Journey.”
The film starts out bit slow, but this is to be expected, given how the book was broken into three parts. But once the action picks up, the audience will quickly become enthralled with Middle Earth, and Freeman proves to be a lovable protagonist caught in bizarre circumstances.
The cast was amazingly arranged, and the cinematography was as excellent as one might expect of a film of this stature. The only thing that perhaps leaves something to be desired in terms of accuracy is the main plot in “An Unexpected Journey.” Given that “The Hobbit” was cut into three films, naturally there will be inaccuracies to make each film able to stand on its own.
In the first movie of “The Hobbit” trilogy, smaller details were pulled out to give the film a more cohesive plot. “The Hobbit” also has a lighter tone than “The Lord of the Rings,” as demonstrated by both the characters and the generally more vibrant colors featured. Despite this slight difference between the feel of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit,” “The Hobbit” remains loyal to the Tolkien universe and certainly matches well with the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
While the ending leaves a clear indication that the story will continue on into another movie, the audience leaves feeling fulfilled as the first arc closes. “An Unexpected Journey” is enough to catch viewers and give them a taste of the main plot, making them eager for the following films.
Another important detail of the film is that graphics have certainly improved since “The Lord of the Rings,” and “The Hobbit” is the first film to be shot in 48 frames per second versus the traditional 24 frames per second. This is a drastic change, which can be difficult to adjust to at first. While this did improve wide shots and action dramatically, making them more lifelike than ever, close ups and slower scenes looked not unlike soap operas. This should be less of a shock for those who are accustomed to viewing non-HD material on HD televisions, but others may find that these scenes look too real.
On the whole, “An Unexpected Journey” provides new insight into a classic tale that will please those unfamiliar with the book as well as those not entirely book purists.
Mike Silangil contributed to this report.