Normally I only do book reviews, but occasionally a film comes along which cannot be ignored. Especially if they’re geeky in nature. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is one of these. It was a stunning film, from top to bottom, and the story was enchanting and utterly transporting.
One thing I love about Peter Jackson’s work, particularly in the last decade-or-so, is that he constantly pushes the limits of what film-making can do. The Hobbit was no exception: he used brand new ‘RED’ 3D cameras filming in 48 fps*. Unfortunately in this case that turned out to be a double-edged sword. an unfortunately double-edged sword.
Mostly it worked, but some of the opening panoramic sequences were shot too fast and came out looking blurry. Also, any faux pas on the part of the costume department were more noticeable because of the added texture (I’m looking at the little gems on Galadriel’s dress!)
This camerawork has also reportedly made a lot of people sick, particularly in 3D. My group of friends and I ran the full nausea test: we went to see it in full bells-and-whistles 3D. None of us felt sick though – not even me and I often do watching 3D films – and perhaps that had something to do with where we sat (middle, near the back). So, if you’re on the fence about seeing it because you’re worried about a delicate vestibular system, I’d give it a try!
Moreover, while the film was designed in 3D, Jackson has done well to make it uninvasive, an addition rather than an annoyance. What he has achieved is the same thing he did with Lord of the Rings: he’s broken through to a new level of technological film-making which the industry will be building on for the next five-to-ten years. Considering he’s been the first on so many fronts with this film, there are remarkably few problems with the end-product.
Personally, I felt the film was well-paced. The media have levelled a lot of criticism at the amount of time spent in Bag End at the beginning, but I think the decisions made by Bilbo there are so important, for me they need the amount of screen time they’ve been given. It had some excellent crescendoes, especially the ‘Misty Mountains Cold’ song, which sent shivers running down my spine.
In balance, the second half rips along at a serious pace, with additions from the Silmarilion, and in some cases Jackson’s own head, adding to the story rather than getting in the way of it. The battle in goblin-town was particularly impressive and entertaining.
The Hobbit transported me completely, with excellent performances particularly from Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman. It’s a much less intimidating film than Lord of the Rings, just like the book was. It’s more of a light-hearted fairy story, making for a compelling and entertaining adventure. It is a fantastic yarn and I thoroughly recommend seeing it – I’m going again when I get home for the holidays!
*As opposed to the usual 24 fps, making the footage much closer to what the human eye actually sees.