Summary: 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. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers. 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 of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities…
A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 26th December, 2012
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: USA/New Zealand
Director: Peter Jackson
Screenwriter: Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro, Peter Jackson, J.R.R. Tolkien (novel), Fran Walsh
Cast: Richard Armitage (Thorin), Timothy Bartlett (Master Worrywort), Manu Bennett (Azog), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), Jed Brophy (Nori), Adam Brown (Ori), John Callen (Oin), Benedict Cumberbatch (Necromancer), Martin Freeman (Bilbo), Mark Hadlow (Dori/Bert Troll), Peter Hambleton (Gloin/William Troll), Ian Holm (OLd Bilbo), Barry Humphries (Great Goblin), Stephan Hunter (Bombur), William Kircher (Bifur/Tom Troll), Christopher Lee (Saruman), Sylvester McCoy (Radagast), Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Bret McKenzie (Lindir), Graham McTavish (Dwalin), Michael Mizrahi (Thrain), James Nesbitt (Bofur), Dean O’Gorman (Fili), Lee Pace (Thranduil), John Rawls (Yazneg), Thomas Robins (Young Thrain), Andy Serkis (Gollum), Conan Stevens (Bolg), Ken Stott (Balin), Jeffrey Thomas (Thror), Aidan Turner (Kili), Stephen Ure (Fumbal/Grinnah), Hugo Weaving (Elrond), Elijah Wood (Frodo)
Runtime: 169 mins
Dave Griffiths’s ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ Review:
While ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ is one of the most eagerly anticipated films of the year, it also has the potential of becoming one of the most frustrating films of the year. Many audience members will find themselves being blown away as director, Peter Jackson (The Lovely Bones, King Kong) once again takes them on a journey into Tolkien’s Middle Earth world but sadly the film is also let down by the fact that Jackson has experimented with a new of film-making.
Closely following the original novel ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ begins with Old Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) writing down more of his adventures for Frodo (Elijah Wood – TV’S Wilifred & TRON: Uprising). This time around he tells a story that occurred sixty years before the events of the original ‘Lord Of The Rings’ trilogy.
This new adventure sees young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman – Animals, Pirates! The Band Of Misfits) selected by Gandalf (Ian McKellen – Miss In Her Teens, TV’S Doctor ho) to take up the part of ‘burglar’ in a group led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage – Captain America: The First Avenger, TV’S Strike Back) that has the mission to returning to a once grand Kingdom (now known as the Lonely Mountain) that belonged to the Dwarves and then to defeat a Smaug the Dragon that took control of it and the gold that it contains.
But when they begin their journey they soon realise that there is a dark rising in Middle Earth. While this means the group is constantly under threat by a group of Orcs led by the war-chief Azog (Manu Bennett – TV’S Bikie Wars: Brothers In Arms & Spartacus: Blood And Sand), a meeting with a wizard known as Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy – The Academy: Special, Eldorado) also reveals that a new evil has emerged, an evil known as the Necromancer (Benedict Cumberbatch – Wreckers, War Horse).
And while not giving away any spoilers the journey also sees the group meet up with old favourites including Elrond (Hugo Weaving – Cloud Atlas, Happy Feet Two), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett – Hanna, The Last Time I Saw Michael Gregg), Saruman (Christopher Lee – Dark Shadows, The Hunting Of The Snark) and Gollum (Andy Serkis – Arthur Christmas, The Adventures Of Tintin) while also introducing new characters including the Jabba The Hut like Great Goblin (voiced by Barry Humphries – Kath & Kimderella, Mary And Max).
To the credit of Peter Jackson and the team of screenwriters (which included Guillermo del Toro) that helped put together ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ the film’s story carries quite well. Yes there are some slow moments before the journey actually begins but they are necessary to set up the characterisation of those going on the adventure. Others may find the singing parts (especially the stacking of the cutlery) a little too Disney, but others will also see this as an important part of bring Tolkien’s world to life.
The story does provide a great deal of suspense as various members of the small troop have their lives put at risk on a number of occasions although if you are thinking about seeing the film in the 48FPS format you should probably reconsider. At times the picture is too crisp to be believable and this format of showing the film leads to an annoying optical illusion that at times makes it feel like it is being played in fast-forward. The format does although enhance some of the battle scenes and it is almost virtually impossible to tell what is CGI and what is real but then at other times ruins the film by clearly showing that some of the backdrops have been made from cardboard or polystyrene while the rabbit sleigh sequence looks so bad you could be excused for believing that you are watching a badly made 1980s music video clip.
If you want to see ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ looking at its absolute best go and see it in 2D or in standard 3D form because the 48FPS will only ruin an otherwise brilliant film for you.
When it comes to the casting Peter Jackson has hit the nail right on the head. Martin Freeman is likable as the younger Bilbo Baggins but to be honest you never feel as close to his character as you did with Frodo in ‘The Lord Of The Rings’, but the real star here is Richard Armitage who brilliantly portrays Thorin, so well in fact it is a truly memorable performance.
If you choose to see ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ in the right kind of format you are in for a truly magical experience, but be warned if you see it in the 48FPS format you may be in for a disappointing time.
Other Subculture Media Reviews of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey′: Check Episode #13 of our The Good The Bad The Ugly Podcast for a more in-depth review of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’.