Sunday, December 23, 2012
The Hobbit Review
It can truly be said that the last nine Christmas's just have not been the same without a Lord of The Rings movie coming out. In this way, going to see 'The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey,' the first entry in what is surly intended to be a prequel series to the beloved film franchise is akin to meeting up with an old friend you have not seen in quite some time and rediscovering just how much they meant to you.
Based on J.R.R Tolkien's more condensed prelude to his seminal LOTR series, 'The Hobbit' tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, a timid and quirky homebody who gets swept up in the adventure of a lifetime when a wizard named Gandalf enlists his aid in accompanying a party of dwarves on a quest to reclaim their homeland which has been forcibly occupied by a vicious and nearly invincible dragon. A simple enough objective, though being as this is set in Middle Earth were ghouls, goblins, and a host of other nightmarish creatures lurk around every corner, there mission is quickly beset by a series of hurdles, roadblocks, and extremely close calls. The challenges they face help bring them closer together however as the characters finish out the film with a renewed determination and sense of hopefuleness which, as the last foreboding scene prior to the credits implies, could be misplaced.
Dispite 'The Hobbit' having somewhat of an ignominous 50/50 standing amidst the critical forumn, I really enjoyed this movie a lot. I think it definately suceeded in recapturing the magic of the LOTR and what's more, expanded the world viewers thought they knew. From the folksy, rural charm of The Shire to unmatched elegence of Rivendale these enchanted locales evoke a sense of nostalgia while the film delves, literally, into previously unchartered corners of middle earth such as the Dwarf kingdom of Ebenor, entirely carved out from the inside of a mountain, and a truly macabre and bizarre subterranean shantytown crawling with goblins. With the considerable progressions in visual technology made since 2003, when the last movie, 'Return of the King' was released in theaters, many of the CG creatures, backgrounds, and effects featured in 'The Hobbit' evoke a surprising sense of tangibility that probably would have been lost had they attempted to make this movie a decade ago.
Despite the cool looking monsters and eye catching scenery, it is the cast that really makes 'The Hobbit' shine. Ian Mckellan once again completely owns the role of the pointy hatted, scraggely bearded Gandalf, who having probably seen and done more than can be recounted throughout his many years still manages to maintain a youthful idealism and dreamer-like outlook for wanting to help foster in a better world for the inhabitants of Middle Earth. It is also a treat to see other characters from the previous films reprise their respective roles a decade later. The new cast members also gave very strong performances as well, particulary Martin Freeman, who plays the film's unlikely hero Bilbo Baggins. Evolving from a nervous, flakey, materialistic shut-in who continually doubts himself to someone willing to risk his life in the service of others, Bilbo's development as a character is definately one of the most rewarding aspects of the movie and Martin's nuanced, and charasmatic performance helps sell every moment.
In closing, 'The Hobbit' is definately the most pure fun one is likely to have at the movies during the Holiday season. There is always something interesting going on on screen and despite the film's almost three hour long run time, I was left aching to see what kind of peril Bilbo, Gandalf, & co. would have to get themselves out of next. Now I am trying to come up with a word that adequetely underlines the feeling of having a new series of Tolkien based fantasy movies to escape in to again. I think I will take a que from one of the more infamous characters and leave it at "precious." ; )