Release Date: 13 December 2012
Running Time: 169 minutes
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Peter Jackson
Screenplay: Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Guillermo del Toro; based on J.R.R. Tolkien
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Graham McTavish, Ken Stott, Aidan Turner, Dean O'Gorman, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Andy Serkis
Plot: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey follows title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior Thorin Oakenshield. Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever... Gollum. Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths ofguile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum's "precious" ...a simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.
The first part of the Hobbit begins with an unexpected gathering of the company of 13 dwarves led by Thorin Oekenshield (Richard Armitage) and Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) in the hobbit hole of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman). Bilbo is tricked and reluctantly joins them as the official ‘burglar’. The company plans a journey to the Lonely Mountain where the last dragon of the Middle Earth, Smaug resides. Once, the Lonely Mountain bore witness to the glory of Erebor, a once mighty and wealthy kingdom of the Dwarves that was destroyed by Smaug which was drawn by the amount of gold in the nearby town of Dale. While Thorin determines to reclaim the city, words from elsewhere about the presence of the dark magic practitioner known as “Necromancer” at Dol Guldur began to spread.
The truth is; The Hobbit is meant for a different world in within that same world we know about. Even so, The Hobbit becomes one of the most important series in the stories from the Middle Earth that J.R.R. Tolkien has created yet also the strangest one among the lots. But translating a well-beloved book into a silver screen adaptation is always a risky business in Hollywood. There is almost no certainty that underwriting or overwriting of what is based on the original material can be the jeopardizing or the menacing reason. I will be relieved that they do not ruin the masterpiece into crumbles, but the scenario about The Hobbit is rather complicated. Perhaps it is noteworthy to understand that the book spans into two movies while the third movie came from the additional notes Tolkien has written about The Hobbit. But the co-writers billed in the credit put in a rather neutral substance and chemistry into it.
The new trilogy begins with an exhilarating but exhausting 166 minutes runtime. I would not profess my absolute love or my absolute disappointment for the movie but I believe that this is the best idealistic approach it could have resulted with given the scenario surrounding this movie. The plot is well-developed but it has some issues of attempting to establish an early reliability and good pacing. For almost an hour, the plot revolves only around Shire and is barely moving. There are some jarring and awkward moments too that could have healed through proper polishing. The pacing is too slow initially and will make some feel bored. But once Bilbo made up his mind to join the company, I was relieved that the pacing gets better with the story unfolds on its own naturally throughout the progression. Trolls, goblins, orcs and the rest of familiar elements show just how Jackson is in control of the imaginative world of this one. His styles of film-making is still as good as ever, tantalized by the geekiest technique affair.
But even as Jackson has decided long ago to expand the story embedded within the scope of that book to a new limit, his treatment along with co-writers including Guillermo del Toro is still short of that adequate momentum to lift the movie into an epic level we hoped for. If one expects for a grandiose level of epic proportion, no you will not get that. It is highly and equally possible that The Hobbit may not end up as a movie that many fans may have expected. But I think many forget how The Fellowship of the Rings goes for the same doses of epic before it builds up. But the journey of the company from Shire to the Rivendell and to the chanted forest of Greenwood, is a mesmerizing adventure with occasionally warm and humour-fused, simpler narrative story to follow and makes use of every opportunity to give a build-up impact.
One of the most things talked about issues in The Hobbit must have been the use of high-speed frames. The 48 fps which doubles the normal has attracted plenty of reactions – some appraisal and some critical. The new technology is supposed to reinvent the digital filmmaking technique but not at now I guess; which leaves us to the point of having the normal 24 fps as adequate. Once again, of all the CGI-creatures, Andy Serkis brings Gollum into perfection.
In the end, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is still a great movie to watch with plenty of familiar faces around, great acting and good plot development, even when there are some disappointments in terms of the epic scale of the plot and the tiring experience of 166 minutes.