December 14, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Review

The Hobbit: An Unexpected is now in cinemas after  several years of yearning for it. It’s the prequel to the glorious LOTR Trilogy, which had a lot of problems on the way of production. Peter Jackson got ill through stressing himself, Guillermo del Toro dropped the position as regisseur, overcame a boycott of actors who demanded more, got a big budget for whole three long time running movie at a near bankrupt firm and a lot more that we never heard about. That’s a lot of problems for someone who just wants to enters the great world of Middle Earth once again. Is it worth joining him on his journey? Definitely yes, and here is why:

For everyone who is worried. Rest assured, the movie is like the old ones, but different. Sounds weird, but I will try to explain it. It begins slowly with the introduction of the 13 dwarfs, and the fantastical looking Shire.  We feel back at home, like we never left it before. Everything looks like back then, but different. The Hobbit is the first movie with 48 frames per seconds. The animation and movements are in general more smooth, but it only feels weird in close-up views. I didn’t had a bad feeling or problems watching it. In fact the movie with its new cameras and the gorgeous 3D Effects felt more real than anything I saw before, like I was within the movie itself.

The second difference also lies within the picture itself. LotR was brownish, muddy, but the Hobbit is like a comical version of Middle-Earth. The grass looks greener, everything feels like a fairy tale. Kind  like you would imagine the movie version of a children's book, which the Hobbit is alleged to be, but that’s not LotR’s style. The same goes for some parts of the story. We get a lot of jokes, which are mostly funny and just a few felt silly. LotR had some, but not as many. The whole movie feels kid friendlier at first glance, for instance the weird use of Radagast. It’s a few ago I last read the books but he never felt as dorky in them as he is portrayed. He acts and looks like the combination of The Mad Hatter and a homeless guy. His appearance was the worst that happened in the whole movie, so I will turn a blind eye on that one.

On the other hand the movie looks like LotR again. The underground Orc cave was like Moria and had this brownish tone. We fly through loosely build towers of wood and bridges hanging through the air. Goblins and Orcs get beheaded and sliced up. Too gruesome even without blood to let it watch by a teen, but in general to nice looking as it felt truly like an adult one. In the end it is neither one, but perhaps for both? The art style feels similar to LotR, but isn’t quite. The Orcs and goblins are brighter and mostly white. They look even more monster like than in the original ones. Also the Wargs were changed to famish lynx. Not a bad thing, but different. 

The story is also the same as it was in the fellowship. I already mentioned the Moria like cave, but there a lot of more scenes that are common to it, like the beginning in shire and the ending. Despite the fact that the book is a lot shorter and serves for three movies could lead to a lot of stretching. That’s definitely the case. A few scenes could have been shorter or aren’t that important to be shown, so they are perfectly suited for an extended edition. On the other hand Peter used a lot of material from the appendix and other works to add a lot of things. If you don’t know the books you won’t disguise them from the story, which is incredible. They were needed to show some more fighting scenes in the slowly developing journey. Like in The Fellowship where we see some epic scenes, but who already saw the following ones knows that this is merely the tip of the iceberg, at least I hope it is like that.

The world of New Zealand Middle-Earth is rich of fantastic looking nature. It’s pure eye candy in all these total views and give off the feeling of epicness. The same goes for the incredible animation and special effects. Only a few felt too constructed and probably rushed through the time restraint. But all in all the movie is the nice lookings one out there. I also think it was better done than Avatar, which was too similar all the time in its setting. We see rivers, mountains, meadows, cities, castles, and so on. Everything the nerd heart desires in a fantasy flick. I mentioned already the look of the creatures, but there are many more to go, like giants, trolls and the most special one: Gollum!
I read an interview with Andy Serkis in which he replied that he gave it his all to top his previous acting and he really did. Gollum feels more like a living “being”, and he is even quirky funny like last time.  The rest of the cast of Actors did all a splendid job. If it is Ian Mckellen as Gandalf or Martin Freeman as the clumsy Hobbit Bilbo. The cast of the dwarfs didn’t stand out that much because of their group size and similarity but were great nonetheless if they got the chance to shine. A man who shone but never appeared was Howard Shore with his orchestral soundtrack.

The Hobbit is definitely my movie of the year, but like the Followship it is just the beginning of something great. Only an appetizer for what will follow on this unexpected journey. In the end, we had another chance to visit Middle Earth once again, but somehow different.
Feel free to as me questions in the comment section if anything is unclear or in your peculiar interest.

2 Kommentare:

  1. They truly nailed that riddle scene. I'd read that they used more facial inputs for Gollum this time, and I believe it showed. That might have been an even better performance than the LOTR movies, which is a feat.

    1. Gollum was fully hand animated in The Fellowship. The first time they used motion capture was in The Two Towers, which was the start of it itself at that time. The first real chance to use it in a good way was in The Return of the King. You can easily see their improvements on the span of the three movies.

      The difference now is that they not only used his body as a reference and animated the face afterwards but all of him. Besides gollum with his weak structure is a great example to show movements clearly. In the end, it was indeed astanoshing, but that goes for all of their visual effects. None of the orcs/goblins had mask anymore and were fully created by motion capture.