The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey (2012)

The Hobbit? But this is a horror web site. Yeah, well it's my horror web site so fuck you. I'm  a huge Tolkien guy, so get used to seeing Hobbit related reviews on the DW.

'The Hobbit' is the sole reason Mr. Joshuas family bought a VCR way back in the mid-80's. Seriously. Mama Joshua was a early 70's hippie-esque Tolkien freak. When she heard Fox would be airing the 1977 Rakin-Bass animated version of the story, she absolutely had to preserve it for posterity. Pops Joshua returned a short time later with said recording device. One problem though, no one knew how to set something up to record, hence the first 3 to 4 minutes from our poorly recorded copy were missing. Still inspired by what I saw, at 6 years old I decided to read 'The Hobbit', it took me a year to finish it (hey, I was 6). That triumph was followed in yearly successions by one book each of the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy. By 10 I had pretty much finished up the main Tolkien cannon and have been hooked on his works ever since.

Twenty odd years later, Peter Jackson has taken over the Tolkien-verse, releasing three extremely well received films based on the 'Lord Of The Rings' and building a reputation as one of the best story tellers in film today. It's been ten years since 'Return Of The King' was released in theaters essentially closing the door on the trilogy. A somewhat troubled pre-production process (the lawsuits, the Guillermo Del Toro disaster) left the film very much in doubt for a long time. Luckily the stars lined up just right and 2012 has seen "The Hobbit" finally come to fruition.

The film begins in familiar territory. Ian Holm as Bilbo gives us a voice over talking to Frodo about his adventures. Elijah Wood shows up for a brief cameo, giving the bookend proper timing, in this case the day before Bilbos going away party. Frodo leaves to meet Gandalf and we are taken back 60 years to Martin Freeman as young Bilbo, and his simple hobbit life.

You should know the story from here. If not stop reading this, go read the book and then come back. I'll wait....are you ready? O.k. lets continue then. Gandalf stops by Bilbos place they talk of adventure. Then the Dwarves show up and it's awesome. Jackson and co-writers Fran Walsh and Philipa Boyens actually take the time to craft wonderful personalities for the Dwarves, something Tolkien didn't even really do outside of Thorin, Balin and fat Bombour. We learn of the fall of the Dwarven kingdom of Erebor at the hands of the dragon Smaug. Bilbo is recruited as the 14th company member, the burglar if you will. To say he is reluctant would be an understatement. Bilbo comes around and catches up with the Dwarves as they leave the Shire, setting the rest of the film into motion.

One of the wonderful things that Jackson and Co. are able to do, even more effectively than the LoTR trilogy, is the ability to fill in the gaps that exist in the original book with bits and pieces from Tolkiens notes and revisions. Professor Tolkien was notorious for his revisions. For instance Tolkien mentions Radagast and his growing concern regarding the fortress Dol Guldur, but Jackson flushes out the story. Radagast becomes a major part of the film and the growing darkness of "The Necromancer" becomes the secondary driving point of the movie if you will.

The film looks awesome, 2D looks great, 3D looks great, 24 FPS looks good, 48 FPS looks better. For some reason it's become the "cool, hipster" thing to hate Peter Jackson films. And I'm calling bullshit. Fuck you for disliking something just because some hipster douche says it's not cool anymore. Go watch 'The Djarling Unlimited' or whatever the fuck it was and leave the rest of us alone. Admittedly, this film is full of "Jackson moments". He certainly loves long scenery shots of characters walking and there is plenty of melodrama, but it's just simple nitpicking if that ruins your movie going experience.

Those critical of the fact that a 300 page book is stretched into 3 movies clearly know nothing about Tolkien or the structure of the story. Like I stated before, the film series encompasses so much more than just the words in "The Hobbit." It really is just another entry in the Middle-Earth history cannon. This one just happens to be driven by the "Hobbit" story.

"The Hobbit" is an achievement not in just technical film making but the film going process as well. If you are looking for some high quality entertainment, then look no further. If it's your desire to live with 6 other people in a 400 square foot apartment in Brooklyn, and only drink micro-brews from some underground Oregon brewery, then wait until the next Wes Anderson film is playing at the art theater in your neighbors basement. For the rest of us, sit back relax and enjoy Middle-Earth all over again.

****1/2 stars out of  *****

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