Saturday, 15 December 2012

My Magical Place: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.'

Thus one of the greatest children's books introduced our little furry footed friends to the world and all were amazed and the world has never gotten over hobbits since.

Peter Jackson takes us back to his beautiful rendition of Middle-earth that we all fell in love with in The Lord of the Rings and from the opening scene it feels like we've never left. I'm thoroughly impressed by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro's story-telling ability; they manage to expertly navigate the line between being true to the source material (thus pleasing us rabid fans) and recreating the story where it is necessary. Jackson and his brilliant team set the bar quite high with The Lord of the Rings and I was afraid that The Hobbit would not live up to that standard - the book, after all, is a written for children and is much less epic in scale. The fact that Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) was involved didn't make me any more comfortable. I like Mr del Toro but his imagination is a bit too dark and twisted for Middle-earth.

I'm glad to report that my fears were unfounded and that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey lives up to Jackson's legacy and that the story is brilliantly told and the visuals are amazing. I'm not convinced by 3D technology yet and the 48 frames per second (over the standard 24) that the movie is filmed in didn't change much for me. Be warned that some people in the audience complained about headaches and dizziness. Bear that in mind when you go see the movie. Initially the movie was meant to be released in two parts but it's been decided on a trilogy now with The Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again being released in 2013 and 2014 respectively. It's a cash-in scheme for all intents and purposes but if the quality's as good as the first offering fans won't mind forking out the cash for more Middle-earth goodness.

Sir Ian McKellan reprised his role as Gandalf and delivers yet another great performance as the wizard, if not better and more subtle. Also returning to their roles are Hugo Weaving as Elrond, the never ageing Cate Blanchett as Galdriel, Christopher Lee as Saruman and Elijah Wood and Ian Holm in cameo roles as Frodo and Bilbo respectively. Martin Freeman (Sherlock) plays the role of young Bilbo Baggins with nothing but charm; he brings the character to life. A very good looking Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and his company of dwarves are very endearing and amusing. One can't help but love them. It's high time the dwarves get the spotlight. Andy Serkis deserves a special mention in delivering another haunting and, dare I say, heartbreaking performance as Gollum. I am especially glad about the inclusion and expansion of the character of the wizard, Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy). His absence in Lord of the Rings was understandable but it was still a loss. My inner fan boy is rejoicing.

If you're a fan of The Lord of the Rings or just want to see good fantasy movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey should be at the top of your list of December movies. Expect a hobbit, adventure, raucous dwarves, trolls, orcs, goblins, wolves, stone giants (uber cool, these), a hint at a dragon and just all-round magic. Some people felt the movie was too long but I felt it was too short. The wait till the next instalment is what is too long.

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