THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY IMAX 3D
Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) lives a simple life with his fellow hobbits in the shire, until the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) arrives and convinces him to join a group of dwarves on a quest to reclaim the kingdom of Erebor. The journey takes Bilbo on a path through treacherous lands swarming with orcs, goblins and other dangers, not the least of which is an encounter with Gollum and a simple gold ring that is tied to the fate of Middle Earth in ways Bilbo cannot even fathom.
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish
Release Date: Dec 14, 2012
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.
Runtime: 2 hr. 49 min.
Watching Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in IMAX 3D is a bit of an undertaking, it’s like trying to eat a cake in one bite. Trying to take in all the grandeur and majesty that Jackson poured onto the screen take some effort at first. It’s a film that has more than a few noticeable flaws but I found it far more accessible than the first Lord of the Rings film. Jackson, as he does when in Middle Earth, takes his time with everything, slowly acclimating us with the prequel story while laying the ground work for the Lord of the Ring story along the way. The opening portion of the film can be a bit of a bear to trudge through but once the story gets moving in earnest you’ll find yourself rather enveloped in a massive action piece after another one. The story’s more straightforward nature makes it easier to digest. Martin Freeman brings an instant likeability to the younger Bilbo. Freeman isn’t saddled with the angst Elijah Wood had to deal with as Frodo so he’s free to be a bit more easy going and easier to connect with. Richard Armitage is appropriately billow-chested and stoic as the leader of the dwarfs. Armitage fits the hero mold perfectly and he delivers fine work throughout. Ian McKellen returns to his role as Gandalf The Grey with noticeable ease. McKellen could have just phoned in his performance and honestly nobody would have complained but he takes the opportunity to add more layers of emotion and doubt to Gandalf The Grey. Thankfully, these three deliver strong performances because that’s it. The rest of the cast simply fades into the background; we barely know their names but not much else, only Ken Stott’s Balin gets a substantial scene. Even Bilbo fades into the background during the middle and first part of the final act. There are a handful of returning actors (along with Andy Serkis as Gollum) from the original trilogy, serving as threads leading into The Lord of Rings. I understand why Jackson felt the need to include them but they bring the main story’s forward momentum to a grinding halt. Lastly, the film suffers from the same issue the first 2 films from The Lord of the Rings, it’s merely an opening act and ends as such. The latter is to be expected and while there are a handful of issues The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey delivers an impressive cinematic experience which reminds you why certain films should be seen on a big screen.