11 years after the release of the first film in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits theatres today. As a HUGE fan of both Tolkien’s books and Jackson’s trilogy I find it very difficult to review this film from an objective point of view
First of all, the film was incredible. I absolutely loved it. After all of the drama over the years surrounding who was going to direct the film, I couldn’t have been happier to hear that Peter Jackson would be returning. From the first frame, we are taken back into the same Middle Earth that we left 8 years ago at the end of Return of the King.
To review the film’s plot would be like reviewing a play after only the first act. Fans who were left with a “That’s it?” feeling at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring will feel the same feeling at the end of this film.
While many people have had issues with Jackson turning Tolkien’s children’s book, a relatively small novel, into an epic trilogy, it is important to remember that Jackson is creating a prequel trilogy based on the entire series and universe created by Tolkien. To do so, Jackson dove deep into the appendices of the LOTR books to pull out parts that do not appear in The Hobbit, as well as making up new parts altogether to fill in the blanks. This results in some hits and some misses, most notably around the middle of the film where the storyline seems a bit disconnected.
Tolkien himself had initially tried to rewrite The Hobbit with a more adult tone after the success of the LOTR trilogy but later scrapped the idea, as it just wasn’t what The Hobbit was. While I wholeheartedly approve of and enjoy Jackson’s adaptation, it is sure to upset a few die-hard fans of the book. On the other hand, fans of the original film trilogy will notice that the film sets up many storylines to later tie in to original films which will inevitably result in that 24hr Blu-ray extended edition marathon of all six films. I’m looking at you Tommy.
I do want to note that there were some particularly distracting things in the film that had nothing at all to do with the plot, and everything to do with production. First of all was the 3D. I can’t handle 3D, it gives me headaches. While many directors use 3D for gimmicks like things that fly at the audience, Jackson uses it more appropriately to add depth and beauty to his scenes. Because of this, if you’re like me and 3D hurts your eyes, you can totally skip it and won’t miss anything.
The second thing that distracted me was the 48 FPS thing. I’m no expert in filmmaking but from what I’ve read, for the last 80 years films have been shot and projected in 24 frames per second. Jackson decided to double that for this film, adding a lot of clarity to the film. While it does make things exceptionally clear and amazing to look at, it is quite distracting. I found myself focusing on things that I wouldn’t normally be paying attention to. The small movements of grass, the floating of a hair, the movement of water and many other things that usually result in a bit of a blur appear in perfect clarity and are a bit distracting. I think it’s just something that will take getting used to. I would compare it to the difference between reading a real book, and using a digital e-reader. It’s really hard to describe accurately, you’ll have to just check it out for yourself, but I almost felt like I was ON SET watching the movie be filmed it was SO clear.
All that aside, I am happy to report that this prequel trilogy is NOTHING like the Star Wars prequels that disappointed and angered so many fans. Jackson uses the same technologies that him and his team pioneered years ago. While a bit perfected, it does not give the film a completely distinct and different look than the original trilogy, one of my biggest worries. I loved this movie so much and I can’t wait to go see it another 5 times.
Did you guys check out The Hobbit premiere last night? Let me know what you all thought below!
OVERALL RATING: 4.5/5 stars