The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

19 Dec

Having watched Peter Jacksons’ Lord Of The Rings trilogy on DVD a few years ago, I was keen on watching  The Hobbit or the prequel to the whole LOTR saga.

Martin Freeman was well cast as Bilbo Baggins, and really captured the essence of the character I had visualised in my own mind – a humble, modest, reluctant adventurer, who, at the beginning, is torn between remaining in his home County or seeking new thrills and adventures at the suggestion of Gandolph.

Ian Mckellan reprises his role as Gandolph, but in comparison to the LOTR trilogy, this time he appears to play him with less intensity and mystique and there is a slight campness to his role, almost like a watered down panto dame.

The roles of the dwarves is “padded out” and some scenes or lines are provided so that the audience becomes more familiar with their characters. The first half of the film just seemed to plod along, and time was given to create character development and a comparison to how things were and how things became  since the King of the Dwarves was thwarted during an earlier battle.  And it was the battle scenes which really bolstered the film and gave it the impression that we were watching something epic. Otherwise it seemed like a  slow burning drama. However, the pace soon picked up with the appearance of  a much less “sinister” and more humane Gollum in the dark caves. The scene in which Bilbo first meets him added some humour with riddles and expressions which brought titters and chuckles in the auditorium and I almost felt sorry for the sad, pitiful and lonely creature with his teary, large blue eyes and wide mouth full of nine teeth, ready to gnaw into any flesh he found. That. for me, was the “standout” scene.

Cate Blanchett as Galadriel makes what appeared to me, an unnecessary cameo appearance, as her character does not even appear in the novel. Christopher Lee makes a brief return as Saruman The White or the Head of the Order of Wizards but comes across as more of a rambling old man rather than a powerful and authoritative figure.

The CGI effects in creating the Trolls, Orcs, Wargs and Goblins provided a real sense of evil, menace and creatures that lived in a Kingdom of darkness and cruelty.

Cinematography and visuals were simply stunning and once again, using the fantastic landscape of New Zealand really was truly breathtaking in parts.

However, in comparison to the LOTR trilogy, The Hobbit was a more “lightweight” adventure, many scenes of Middle Earth looked whimsical and colourful but I assume that is deliberate in this instalment as there are another two planned and they may become “darker” in the storytelling.

Overall, rather than it being a snooze fest as I initially thought it would be, it turned into quite an enjoyable saga with several doses of  adrenalin rush. I look forward to seeing the next instalment but would I be in a rush to watch it at the cinema or wait for it to be available on DVD? Time will tell…

The Learned Kat

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