“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” – From the smallest beginnings come the greatest legends.

While that tagline may be a bit misleading, Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth is definitely a nice precursor to his “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Featuring plenty of cameos from the first go-round, an excellent score that in my opinion rivals some of the music from the trilogy, and tons of prosthetic noses, “The Hobbit” proves that it has a place among my DVD shelf (when it comes out on extended edition Blu-Ray, that is).The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

A lot of people were skeptical during the pre-production of “The Hobbit”, with most of the buzz being “No! Don’t ruin the trilogy!” or “Peter Jackson is stupid. He’s going to make the longest movie out of the shortest book,” or “Bilbo sucks.” All of these, at the time, were valid arguments that I, too was nervous about. However now that I sat through all two hours and 46 minutes I can easily put those to rest. First off:

He didn’t ruin the trilogy. Nor is he going to with the rest of the installments.

“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy has already gone down in history as one of the best trilogies of all time, second only to “The Mighty Ducks”. Side note, if you don’t believe me then give them a re-watch. I’ll choose Charlie Conway triple-deking and scoring the game winning goal over Frodo’s incessant whining any day. But I digress. LOTR (Lord of the Rings is getting too long to type) is very standalone. Sure, “The Hobbit” sets it up by referencing Bilbo’s adventure with the dwarves and him finding the ring, but other than that you could see it without previous knowledge of the trilogy and be perfectly content. In fact, I would almost advise the younger generation to start with “The Hobbit” first, just so you can watch the entire story grow.

“The Hobbit” is the longest movie but the shortest book.

This has always been a debate among film-lovers when it comes to book adaptations: which is better? Teachers will almost always say that the book is, and for most of the time they’re right. However it still boils down to an opinion of the viewer and in some cases it turns out to be the other way around. For instance, I have read “Jurassic Park” twice and listened to the audiobook once, yet the movie is still second to none for me. It did for toilets what “Jaws” did for the ocean in my case, something I couldn’t get out of the book. So when production started on “The Hobbit”, the only Tolkien book I have actually read, I was excited. Sure it’s not that long of a book, but that’s also because books don’t include sweeping scenes of the characters walking places, or a face-stuffing montage of dwarves singing and eating. Since so many people had mentioned to me that the movie was going to be too long, I went in expecting it to be but came out happily surprised. There are plenty of fillers that just add to the time because they are fun to watch; nothing is taking away from the story. Oh, and the studio probably asked him to do it. And finally…

“Bilbo sucks.”

Well, sure. But at least he isn’t whining the whole time. And Martin Freeman is actually English.

So those points aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. However there is something else that I believe needs to be touched on, and that’s the viewing experience. Peter Jackson went against the curve and shot a lot of this movie in 48 fps (frames per second). Movies are generally shot in 24 fps and that is what gives them the cinematic look. Anything above that and it starts to look like a Blu-Ray advertisement at Best Buy. After looking at the movie times we decided on seeing the 48 fps HD XTREME 3D RAGETACULAR edition. I had read a review going into it saying that the 48 frames isn’t for everyone, and it definitely isn’t. I’m not a fan because it makes it feel as if you’re standing next to the camera watching everything be filmed. Maybe some like the “live” feel but I don’t. Cinema is classic and I’ll always want the cinematic touch. So take that with a grain of salt but I urge you to see it in 24 fps if you have the chance. The 3D is a nice touch as he actually had some stuff fly at the screen, and I’ll admit that I may have had the tiniest dodge at one point.

08_the_hobbit_fili

Don’t miss the pivotal scene in the beginning about dishes.

Now just a quick paragraph about the movie itself. It’s great. I didn’t remember anything from the book since it’s been years since I read it, and while Jackson may have added plenty of his own touch, it is quite the spectacle. Yes, there’s a lot of CGI but the action scenes are fun and wouldn’t have been possible without it. I also mentioned the music earlier, which is much more haunting than Howard Shore’s earlier work on the trilogy. I find myself humming “The Misty Mountain” quite frequently as it becomes a base for the whole film. Honestly, the movie made me want to go on an adventure myself.

DIRECTOR’S CUT: The 3D and 48 frames is not necessary to enjoy this prequel, but hopefully you’ll be upset that it’s over by the time the credits start to roll. Even if most of the film is reminiscent of a large World of Warcraft battle.

FLICKCHART RATING: 119/1963

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