Film Reviews and Discussion.

Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)



Dir: Peter Jackson

Duration: 159 mins


Carry On Camping. The epic 1st part of this new Tolkien trilogy. Seeing as Peter Jackson is ‘doing a Lucas’, is this his Phantom Menace?

The Lord of the Rings trilogy. What is there to say about the behemoth of the modern cinematic age, with its awards, its ridiculously long running times and its enormous footprint in the sand of the modern movie epic?

Such is the gangly shadow cast over the industry, that since the release of the original of the three films back in 2001, there has been a greater fondness than ever for the fantasy film adaptation. Sure, some credit also should go to the Harry Potter films (2001-2011), but they were not so consistent and did not arrive so fully formed. It wasn’t until the Prisoner of Azkaban in 2004 that they began to operate on all levels and in all demographics. Now, with Harry’s wand tucked up and placed in retirement (which seems a bit young considering he is only about 15), and Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy (2005-2012) drawing to a close with the release of the Dark Knight Rises (which was a colossal indulgence, all told, despite a few focused and good moments), there is a Hobbit-sized gap in the schedules for a new trilogy to begin.

This is where Peter Jackson steps in, and step in he did do, after original director Guillermo Del Toro pulled out, which allowed him to move from an advisory role to that of fully formed director. Thankfully, he has forgotten none of his knowledge, and from the very opening scenes here, seems to relish revisiting the Shire and all things Tolkien.

Well, first to what’s familiar and what’s new. The familiar is introduced in the form of the Shire, which is exactly the same as to what we were introduced to in the Fellowship of the Ring. We are even passed over to Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm returning once again) and Frodo (Elijah Wood) before launching into the back story exposition that provides much of the context for the upcoming tale.

So, now then, to the newcomer.

Martin Freeman, he of the Office fame (UK version), steps into the shoes of the young Bilbo Baggins and is the focus for these features. How does he manage? Well, he is actually very good indeed and wears these Hobbit shoes more like a pair of old slippers, such is the comfort that he exudes. There is a convincing wide-eyed innocence and vulnerability to him, which falls away as he treks through the foothills and mountains of this universe. He balances this in a charming manner and although this is not Al Pacino, Don Corleone growth, it is still nuanced enough that it thoroughly convinces. In fact, all the cast are dependably excellent. Sometimes, this troupe of characters bandy along like truculent and erratic school children on a field trip, hemmed in by a weary and disapproving Gandalf, who stops to take register, making sure all are accounted for and acting in harmonious fashion. There is much affection for this group though, bounding as they do across the land facing different trials and tribulations. Many of the set pieces are expertly handled and curated, propelling a real sense of camaraderie, urgency and danger.

Jackson, arguably a natural successor to George Lucas for helming a detailed and engrossing world of ceaseless imagination and wonder, has followed his lead in issuing a trilogy encapsulating the latter stages of a story before returning to the roots for a prequel trilogy. Where this pair differ, however, is in their grasp of storytelling, dialogue and narrative. Lucas is far from adequate in this field. Jackson has proved his chops to be much more successful and efficient. Nevertheless, there is still a concern that this film could be Jackson’s very own Phantom Menace. Put in other words, a complete and utter disaster.

Reassuringly, whereas Lucas allowed his prequel trilogy to become weighed down by exercises in CGI use, to the point where the story served the CGI and not the other way round, Jackson combines CGI with old-fashioned costumes and decent storytelling to provide a satisfying assault on all senses, not just those of the eyes. He is undoubtedly the master of the panning shot. Managing to provide scale and grandeur with the swooping glide of his camera lens, which becomes a powerful tool when a grand classical score comes walloping behind it, which it does. Often.

Where he stumbles, is when there is room to pare matters down. For an epic, there is not enough pauses where Jackson trusts his audience to have invested enough in the characters to endure a lull without any tricks. Even in the subtlest of moments, there is still a lyrical musical passage guiding the audience as to how they should feel. He would do well to let his guard down occasionally.

Also, the villains are not always convincing. Gollum’s appearance, although welcome and important, sometimes steers a little too close to parody. The trolls also seem to have been lifted straight out of East London, with their cockney mannerisms and mentions to ‘get your laughing gear around this’, which is a head-scratching and bizarre tone. Finally, the opening scenes where the group gather together at chez Hobbit is unnecessarily overlong. Patience is required at this particular point.

Aside from those quibbles, this is a zealous and impressive feature that absorbs and engrosses in equal measure. However, if you thought that the original films were a tedious 9 hour-plus cross terrain walking trip through the New Zealand landscape offering nothing but boredom, chances are you will find this film irritating and possibly even inane. For the faithful, he has done enough not only to avoid sullying his reputation or the original films’ legacy, but whet the appetite for the future instalments. Shot back-to-back, the next one falls in a year’s time. It will feel like a long wait.

They say in life that it is not the destination, but the journey in getting there. Jackson manages to make compulsive evidence that this proposition rings resoundingly true.

You can see the trailer for the Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey here:

2 comments on “Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

  1. Nero Thehero

    What were you smoking when you saw this film? Please tell me. Ill re-watch it once ingested. This was worse than the Phantom Menace. Three hours of Jar Jar Binks? You find this enjoyable?

    • toomuchnoiseblog

      As much as I want to, I’m struggling to get a handle on what you are saying. Are you implying that 3 hours of Jar Jar Binks is a good thing?!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

FILM, FILM and even more FILM! Toomuchnoiseblog is a place for film reviews and discussion. Latest film releases to the cinema and through to DVD and Blu Ray. From American cinema to Asian cinema to European cinema and everything in between. In a nutshell, toomuchnoiseblog is the place for film goers and cinema lovers.

RSS Film News, Reviews and Discussion

  • Kevin Spacey Fields Questions that Female Celebrities Get Asked On the Red Carpet 05/03/2014
    If we’ve learned anything from House of Cards, it’s that Kevin Spacey is skilled at being terrifying. He’s also skilled, we now know, at answering the types of questions female celebrities get asked on the Red Carpet. At the Oscars on Sunday, BuzzFeed threw a series of inquiries at the actor focusing entirely on his appearance and not at all on his work or h […]
    Samantha Grossman
  • Yum-Eh: Watch A Supercut of the Most Awkward Meals in Film History 08/12/2013
    Just in time for a holiday meal with your family, Slacktory has released a supercut of the most awkward meals in cinematic history, including uncomfortable dinner scenes from everything from Annie Hall to Step Brothers to Eraserhead. Is your family supper any more uncomfortable than the one from Lars and the Real Girl where Ryan Gosling’s character forces hi […]
    Melissa Locker
  • Yes, Nicolas Cage Really Did Just Win China’s ‘Best Global Actor’ Award 09/10/2013
    Correction appended, Oct. 10, 2013. It has been decided. China has named Nicolas Cage the Best Global Actor in Motion Pictures at the Huading Awards. And as far as anyone who has seen the actor’s YouTube reel entitled “Nicolas Cage Losing His S***” or is a member of the sub-Reddit group “One True God” is concerned, it’s about time. Cage did win an Oscar for  […]
    Laura Stampler
  • Movie Blogger Dials 911 Over Cell Phone Use in Theater 11/09/2013
    Film critic Alex Billington couldn’t bear sitting through a press screening at the Toronto International Film Festival while a nearby audience member blatantly emailed and texted throughout Ti West’s horror flick, The Sacrament. The cinematic faux paus irritated Billington so much that after complaining to theater managers proved unsuccessful, he called the […]
    Courtney Subramanian
  • NextDraft: Yahoo Buys Tumblr, Prompting 40 Million 20-Year-Olds to Ask: “Ya who?” 20/05/2013
    Let’s Get Ready to Tumbl Today, another large deal was made in a bid to make history in the Internet championship of the world. In this corner, we have Yahoo, an aging heavyweight with a new, compelling CEO looking to get some youthful power in her knockout punch by adding Tumblr, a young company run by a young high school dropout-turned programmer-turned CE […]
    Dave Pell
  • Reading While Eating for Mar. 25: Darlings of the Dance 25/03/2013
    Florida Gulf Coast University Takes NCAA Tournament By Storm. The 22-year-old Ft. Myers-based college became the first No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet Sixteen, taking out Georgetown and San Diego State University over the weekend. (Keeping Score) Is the Political Debate Over Same-Sex Marriage Over? It may well be, regardless of the two landmark cases that the […]
    Eric Dodds
  • Seven Things You May Have Missed at the Oscars 25/02/2013
    Toilet Humor: The Onion, America’s finest (fake) news source, is in hot water this morning for its vulgar tweet about Beasts of the Southern Wild‘s adorable star, Best Actress Nominee Quvenzhané Wallis. The offensive tweet has been deleted, but you can see a NSFW screenshot of it here. (The nine-year-old could very well have seen it too; she’s on Twitter at  […]
    Olivia B. Waxman
  • WATCH: 300 Movies in 7 Minutes: The Ultimate 2012 Supercut 18/12/2012
    Cinematically speaking, 2012 was a bit of a wild card year. For every moment of pure cinematic brilliance and originality (think films like The Master, Life of Pi and Beasts of the Southern Wild), vieweres also had to sit through such boring, bloated blockbuster fare as Battleship and Total Recall. Yet in the hands of video editor Gen Ip, a.k.a. Genrocks, th […]
    Melissa Locker
  • Reading While Eating for Oct. 9: Ruffled Feathers 09/10/2012
    In today's must-read links for your lunch break: The Big Bird saga ruffles more feathers.
    Tim Morrison
  • Friends of ‘Sam Bacile’: A Who’s Who of the Innocence of Muslims Film 13/09/2012
    UPDATED: Friday, Sept. 14, 2 p.m. An Internet clip of an amateurish, virulently anti-Muslim film called Innocence of Muslims is being identified as one of the flash points behind the anti-U.S. demonstrations in the Middle East that led to the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others in Benghazi, Libya, earlier this week. As journalists work to unco […]
    Nick Carbone and Madison Gray
%d bloggers like this: