HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
HTS Overall Score:88
Finally, after years of waiting, fans have finally gotten to be transported back to Middle Earth once again. Immediately after the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy was complete there were rumors and mumblings of Peter Jackson considering doing “The Hobbit”. Years later, and several legal battles over profits that were do him, Peter Jackson launched himself back into full gear creating a duo of movies that will center on Bilbo Baggins’ youth and acquiring of the Ring of Power. Closer to the release date of the movie we find out that Peter Jackson is not doing splitting the novel into two parts, but rather creating another trilogy. Whether that is a good sign, or a milking of the fan base is still to be determined this early on in the game. I’ve been a rabid Tolkien fan since I was in middle school and read “The Hobbit” for the very first time, and was ecstatic when I heard that they were going to adapt my favorite book regarding Middle Earth into a film. As you can tell, I’m not the only fan who decided to go see the movie in theaters being that it grossed over 1 billion dollars worldwide.
It’s once again that point in the past (or future for this timeline), the same day as Bilbo Baggins’ fateful party where he vanishes into the night amidst a flurry of theatrics. While preparing for the party Bilbo decides to leave Frodo his legacy, the story of how it all began, as it would be known later as “here and back again: a hobbit’s tale”. Bilbo Baggins was not always the wild adventurer he was rumored to be, back in his younger days he was more than willing to putz around his hobbit hole and smoke pipe weed all he wanted, without a care in the world. That was all about to change when Gandalf the grey decides to rope poor Bilbo into the adventure of a life time. It seems that the Dwarves of Erabor had lost their home decades ago due to the invasion of a fire dragon named Smaug. Driving them from their home Smaug laid claim to the Dwarven fortune and has guarded it’s richly adorned walls for years. However, a part of 13 dwarves, led by Thorin Oaken shield, heir to the throne apparent, has formed in secret to take back their home. Warriors, tinkers, tailors and toy makers, they have come together to find out if Smaug is dead, or whether they need to fight to reclaim their home once more. One member of their company is missing though, they happen to be in need of someone small, light on their feet and unknown to the dragon. As fate would have it Bilbo fits the bill perfectly. Setting out on their quest they must battle Orcs, Goblins, a mysterious necromancer and above all, their own fears.
“The Hobbit” is both similar and dissimilar to the “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy in many ways. “The Hobbit” was originally a fun adventure romp, rather than a dark and deep story as with the later written trilogy regarding the ring of power. The movie showcases the more light hearted feeling of the film as well as trying to blend itself into the look and feel of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy as well. As a result the film can feel a bit disjointed a times, with some of the more humorous aspects of the film seemingly out of place among the more serious moments. The scene with the Goblin king meeting his demise comes to mind, his lines almost jolting me out of the epic battle and causing me to shake my head.
On the flipside, what the movie does right it does RIGHT. The characters are near flawless and Martin Freeman does an amazing job at portraying a young Bilbo, I was actually worried that casting another actor as Bilbo would be a bit Jarring, but the transition went smoothly and without any feelings of miscasting. Thorin was stunning as regal and frustrated Prince, albeit too “human” like to be seen as a dwarf in my opinion. Gandalf was epic as he ever was in the trilogy and his character played a perfect blend of lighthearted humor and somberness that helped keep the movie both adventurous and serious without seeming TOO disjointed. I’m not sure if going to 3 films from the original plan of only doing two was a good idea, being that we went through and incredible amount of the book in just under 3 hours, leaving us with only the prologue to the ending battle with Smaug. This makes me think that Peter Jackson has a few things that he’s created outside the book to create some filler for the next film, but as yet that’s only conjecture.
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Oh my, can we say GORGEOUS? Peter Jackson’s cinematography in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy was absolutely phenomenal and it’s obvious that he hasn’t lost his touch. “The Hobbit” is a stunning display of digital mastery, shot on 30 digital RED EPIC cameras at 48 fps it is a shining example of just how good digital can look. Unfortunately for us, Blu-ray and DVD don’t support 48fps, so we have to make do until a new format emerges that can fully realize the potential of the cameras. Don’t let that limitation fool you however, even without 48fps’s judderless ability “The Hobbit” looks as stunning a transfer as one could hope for. Detail is absolutely incredible and both long shots and close ups are a sight to behold. Facial detail is crystal clear and makes you feel as if you were standing in the company of 14 yourself. The rich New Zealand country side is ripe for eye candy and doesn’t disappoint here as it didn’t in the trilogy before it. Blacks are deep and inky as can be and shadow detail is spot on. Contrast and facial colors are natural and satisfying, the only slight thing to be aware of is the fact that Peter Jackson tinted this film with the same green tint that he used on the remastered versions of the LOTR trilogy.
Not to be outdone by the video, the audio roars onto the scene with a thunderous monster of a 7.1 DTS-HD MA audio track. Gorgeously balanced it gives proper credence to both subtlety and pure aggressive battle mode. Voices are locked in the center channel and the surround usage is through the roof. The thundering footsteps of the wargs echo all around and the simple crunch of leaves underfoot are clear as a bell. The scene with Gollum in the goblin caves is a perfect example of fantastic directionality of the mix among all 7 speakers. Howard Shore’s beautiful score fills the room with sounds of Dwarven melodies and epic battle songs. The LFE was fairly mild in the first 40 minutes of the film, so mild that I checked my subwoofers to make sure that I had these puppies turned up. However, once the trolls came on scene the subwoofers started and just wouldn’t stop vibrating my house (albeit mostly in the higher frequency range). The Rock giants made my pant legs vibrates and the thunderous sounds of battle echoed throughout the whole house. A fantastic audio track that is just nigh perfect.
• The Desolation of Smaug Sneak Peek Access Code
• New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth
• Video Blogs
• Game Trailers
A fantastic romp, “The Hobbit” is a wonderful adventure that will appeal to anyone who enjoyed the “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy years ago. With fantastic audio and video scores this is a must buy for certain. The only real flaw to the presentations is in the fact that there are next to no special features, which pretty much sets us up for the eventual double dip that occurs when the inevitable extended cut comes out in a year. Overall, a highly recommended film for people of all ages.
Starring: Sir Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 7.1, Spanish, French, Portuguese DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 169 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: March 19th, 2013
Buy The Hobbit Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: BUY It!
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