Monday, 7 January 2013

Film Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I've been cautiously looking forward to the film of The Hobbit ever since they first announced that it was going to be made, quite a few years ago. The Hobbit was one of the first books I remember reading at the age of six, and it's one that I've revisited regularly over the years. Since I was about sixteen I've made an effort to reread it each year.


Unfortunately, living on an island makes it a little tricky to get away to see films in the cinema. The days that I originally planned to go we had to cancel because the weather was bad and the boats were affected. In the end though, it was probably for the best, because we went on the 5th and it couldn't have been a more perfect day. And I discovered that by booking the cinema online, I saved 10% (and as we were seeing it in 3D that basically covered the cost of the glasses).

Now, just as a little warning, there will be spoilers in this post. If, like me, you've not had a chance to get to see it yet, I might give away something that you don't want to know. If that's the case, go and check the screenings at your local cinema and then come back to read this later.

I thought that the beginning of the film was very very clever. It's basically happening right at the beginning of Bilbo's party in The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo's got the same outfit on and puts up the sign on the gate as he leaves. It's a nice little way to tie everything together.

Martin Freeman as Bilbo is perfect. A little bit of me kept on seeing him as his character in Nativity! He does blustering very well. It's quite funny because while he was talking to Gandalf at the beginning, during the 'Good morning' exchange, I couldn't help but be reminded of Billy Boyd as Pippin in the Lord of the Rings films. When Gandalf mentioned that Bilbo's mother was Belladonna Took, I thought 'oh, that'll be it, it's the Took in him', hehe. I was obviously sucked in pretty quickly.

I was unsure about the Dwarves when I first heard about them making a film. In the books there are a couple who stand out; Thorin's the leader, Fili and Kili are the young ones, Bombur's the fat one, but otherwise they're kind of just a group of general dwarfness. But they were definite characters. Some have bigger or smaller roles, but I didn't have any trouble telling them apart and by the end of the film I could pick out pretty much who was who in each case. I especially loved that Gloin looked very similar to Gimli, that was a neat touch.

I was expecting to find Fili and Kili attractive, because, well, they're obviously designed to be the eye candy in this film. What was surprising was the fact that I found myself being slightly drawn to Thorin as well. I knew that Richard Armitage was hot from his time in Spooks, but I've never really thought of the Dwarves as good looking. He reminded me of Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn and I think I might be developing a slight crush... I wonder if Mr Click will let me put a post up on the bedroom door like I used to during my Lord of the Rings days.

Speaking of Thorin, I did catch one little goof. During the bit when he has been thrown by the white Warg, his sword is blade up to his head and he struggles to reach it. When the eagle picks him up, it's lying on his body with the hilt by his head. It's probably just a little continuity goof, but it does make me wonder if maybe there will be an Extended Edition, it's probably fairly certain that there will be and I can't wait to see what's been left out.

My favourite scene was perhaps the Riddles in the Dark bit. It's my favourite chapter in the book and I've been half looking forward to, and half dreading, seeing how it will be tackled on the screen. I mean, on the one hand, it's a huge pivotal point in the story; on the other, it's two short guys with big feet quizzing each other. It was done so well though, even though I knew how it was going to end, it was just perfect and I think that's how I imagined it in the book, it's certainly how I'll be imagining it from now on.

And Gollum, well, maybe it was because we were seeing it in 3D, but he seemed better than ever. I completely forgot that I wasn't watching a real person, he seemed so real. Speaking of the 3D, I know it's been a bit divisive, but I loved it. It's only the second Real 3D film I've actually seen and it didn't take me long to get absorbed into it. We'll be going to see it in 2D locally soon and I'm curious to see how it compares.

There were obviously changes made from the book. I think I was probably more aware of them because I'm so much more familiar with this book than I was with The Lord of the Rings when I first saw The Fellowship of the Ring. I was a little bit worried about the addition of the White Council and Radagast, but it fitted in well. It's true to Tolkien because it's based on things in the other books and appendices, and it helps to flesh out the story as well.

I was also worried about what Mr Click would think of it. He enjoys watching the Lord of the Rings films with me (but often falls asleep and sometimes struggles to keep the plot straight). The Lord of the Rings is a more complicated story than The Hobbit, I think even with the added strands it's far more simple. The fact he enjoyed it, possibly as much as me, takes away all my worries that these were going to be a series of films which are aimed at fans of The Lord of the Rings. I quite hope that this will suck in some fans who may have been two young for the first trilogy.

The scenery was perfect. I think that everything was pretty much how I've imagined it. I'm really looking forward to Lake Town (to see if it's how I picture it when I read the book) and Mirkwood. I loved seeing Hobbiton and Rivendell again and lots of the walking was pure scenery porn which makes me want to go to New Zealand more than over. Actually, lots of it look just like Scotland which makes me look forward to our trip to Oban for my birthday that we're currently planning, because that involves driving through very similar scenery.

I'll wrap this up with a mention of one other little thing that made the film for me; the music. I'm so glad that Howard Shore scored this film again; from his interviews on the Lord of the Rings films it's clear that he's a fan and really understood how the story could be told with music. My heart soared when I heard the Hobbiton theme at the start of the film, the Ring's theme is there as well and then there's the new music for the Dwarves. They've got the dwarf songs in the film and the song for the end credits is definitely up there with May It Be, Gollum's Song and Into The West, I mean, just listen. (I've just ordered the Special Edition soundtrack, I can't wait for it to arrive).

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