Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Movie review: "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

This weekend I went to watch "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" with my girlfriend. I must say that I missed all the hype about this movie. I was almost unaware of it until it was out, and even then didn't paid more attention to it. On the other hand, in some ways I considered it as given that I will go to watch it. But in this way I was very pleasantly surprised.

For those few who don't know anything about the movie, "The Hobbit" trilogy ("The Unexpected Journey", "The Desolation of Smaug", and "There and Back Again") tells a story before "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Bilbo Baggins is a young hobbit, living a peaceful and prosperous life. So prosperous that he becomes stale and priggish for his years (60, the middle years for a hobbit). Suddenly his everyday life gets abruptly interrupted by wizard Gandalf and 13 uncouth dwarves. The dwarves are set on journey to free their homeland (the Lonely Mountain) from dragon Smaug, who took it over from them some long years ago. They are in a need of a professional burglar, and Gandalf has chosen Bilbo, who is far away from being burglar as is possible to be. After some convincing and some songs, Bilbo is convinced and their start their journey, where they are awaited by many adventures...

This last sentence sums this movie pretty well. Contrary to LotR trilogy, which was a big epic fantasy, "The Hobbit" is an obvious light adventure fantasy. There is a big goal in future (killing a dragon), but we don't even see the dragon in this movie. Instead, our heroes go on a journey, find some clues and build up for larger adventures. It is really a classical fantasy, which I don't mean in any diminutive way, because I really enjoyed the movie. There is also some history in it (of the Tolkien's imaginary world Middle-earth) and some explanations that help to put this movie in context of LotR. At the same time, they give it hidden epic proportions, if you are familiar to LotR.

For the hard-core fans of the books, "The Hobbit" will be a thrill. I haven't read the book in some time (ten years or more), but I have read it a lot of times before, and I think that it follows the book surprisingly truthfully. I can list only two real changes from the books: Azog and Radagast. And even these are based on the book and fit in the spirit of the movie. All other changes are minor, like the meeting of the White Council (which happened off-screen in the book), or history tales (that are actually part of the LotR appendix). But considering all, "The Hobbit" follows its literary counterpart more truthfully than it was the case with the LotR. At least for this first movie; we will see when next two come out...

There is one thing that will maybe bother some viewers, especially the stiff ones: Radagast the Brown. And his rabbits. It is obviously put here for the kids. But I found it quite funny actually, and I think that it was fitting for this kind of movie. If someone tried to put something like this in LotR trilogy, it wouldn't fit so well (even though that LotR books have Tom Bombadil), but here it felt almost natural.

I haven't watched many 3D movies (I tend to avoid them), but "The Hobbit" was the first movie to impress me. Few times I actually flinched. I was also impressed how they made stone-giants and goblins, even better that I imagined them. Production of the movie was really on high level.

In the end, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" was a great movie, both for fans and non-fans. It is thrilling, funny and interesting through all two and a half hour of movie. I can't wait for the next two movies ("The Desolation of Smaug" and "There and Back Again") to come out.

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