The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
"The Hobbit" is easily the best movie of the year
Peter Jackson has done it again, with an utterly brilliant adaption of the first third of the classic novel “The Hobbit”, augmented for the better with material from the Appendix of “Return Of The King.” Ignore the naysayers who say the movie is too slow (it’s not), technically deficient (it has some of the best special effects and production design ever put to film) and lacks emotional punch (try to keep dry eyed during the dwarf “hug” at the end of the movie). The movie is as close to perfect as possible. It starts exactly the way it should with an older Bilbo talking to Frodo just before the start of “Fellowship Of The Ring”, which includes an utterly fantastic flashback sequence involving the destruction of the Dwarven kingdom of Erabor by the dragon Smaug. There is another flashback to a battle between dwarves and Orcs before the Mines Of Moria that is equally stunning. The sequence involving the arrival of Gandalf and the dwarves could not have been handled any better, as the songs sung and humor are not overdone and are just right. After that, things pick up and the movie concludes with a breathtaking one hour of straight action sequences, all brilliantly rendered. The look of the movie is beyond amazing, consistent with, but much better than the look of the “Lord Of The Rings” movies. The 3D draws you in and makes you part of Middle Earth, especially the unfairly maligned High Frame Rate version, which is utterly spectacular. The acting is all first rate. New cast members Martin Freeman as the younger Bilbo Baggins and Richard Armitage (in full bad ass mode) as the leader of the dwarves Thorin, are both spectacular. Ian McKellen is outstanding again as Gandalf, and there are welcome cameos from Cate Blanchette as the Lady Galadriel, Hugo Weaving as Lord Elrond , Christopher Lee as Saruman and Andy Serkis as Gollum as well. Indeed, the only negative comment I have involves the wizard Radacast, as he is a bit over the top and is played as if he wandered in from a “Narnia” movie by Sylvester McCoy. That aside, the special effects, production design, music and cinematography are some of the best ever put to film. The movie ends with a literal cliffhanger, and I for one can’t wait for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” next December. Is it better than any of the “Lord Of The Rings” movies? No, but it’s a very close call. All hail Peter Jackson.