The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (12A)

Film

Fantasy films

Hobbit, the.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Thu Dec 6 2012

Size isn’t everything, but cinema doesn’t come much bigger in scale than when Peter Jackson is telling tales. It’s a decade since the New Zealand filmmaker unveiled the last of his ‘Lord of the Rings’ films and went on to tackle the ultimate movie giant, ‘King Kong’. Now he’s back in the head of JRR Tolkien and applying the latest in technology to ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ (3D and an untried, super-speedy frame rate of 48 frames per second – 24 is usual). It’s the first of three films to be fashioned from the professor’s novel of faux-mediaeval fantasies chronicling how a magic ring (‘the precious’) came to be in the possession of a mere hairy-footed Hobbit in the first place.

The movie may be grand, but lots of its folk are tiny, which makes for unusual juxtapositions, both odd and amusing. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman, squished) is a Hobbit living the pipe-and-slippers dream in the Shire. One night, wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen, towering over the artificially shortened Freeman) and 13 hungry dwarves – many of them with a knack for annoying the audience – come knocking and persuade Bilbo to join them on a quest to win back their kingdom. So begins a journey across wild terrain and back-to-back run-ins with vicious creatures. And all the while Bilbo is wondering what the hell he’s got himself into.

Many have wondered exactly how Jackson has found three movies in one novel. The answer is he opts for the detail and pacing of an extended TV series – an approach that has drawbacks over more than two-and-a-half hours. The initial coming-together of Bilbo and the dwarves feels overlong, and the start of their journey is sluggish and lacks a sense of momentum. There’s a tonal problem, too, as the early dominance of  knockabout comedy gives the film an alienating whiff of kids’ TV (not helped by the softly-softly, artificial look of the set for the Shire). Only a flashback showing the loss of the dwarves’ kingdom recalls how breathtaking these films can be.

It’s during the film’s final third that, at last, we feel a true sense of peril and the dwarves’ journey starts to feel purposeful. The turning point is the entry of Gollum. The more dark it becomes, the more ‘The Hobbit’ becomes compelling as a story, and finds a fitting tone. It doesn’t help that the earlier, lighter scenes (lighter in look, as well as feel) seem overexposed. Or that some outdoor scenes look rooted to a studio set – a knock-on, you assume, of the fast frame rate, which can feel like watching a movie on a shoddy HD TV.

Thank Hobbitses for Gollum, then. And thank Hobbitses for the film’s more involving later scenes, including a showdown between two stone giants and a run-in with a villain who rivals Jabba the Hutt in the beauty stakes. It’s scenes such as these that leave you looking forward to the next one rather than wanting to strangle one of the more annoying dwarves or at least bury him in a hole and leave him behind in the Shire.

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Rated:

12A

UK release:

Thu Dec 13, 2012

Cinemas showing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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City Screen Picturehouse York

13-17 Coney Street, York, YO1 9QL Show map/details

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    City Screen Picturehouse York 13-17 Coney Street
    York
    YO1 9QL

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:7
  • 4 star:6
  • 3 star:5
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|31
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Jay

If there is one thing Peter Jackson is capable of, then that is splicing togther one heck of an enjoyable fantasy epic. Martin Freeman fits the role perfectly, and Ian Mckellen looks as though he never left. These new series of films will not give the Kiwi bearded one another slice of the Oscar pie - the academy were overly generous with the Rings trilogy. It moves at a satisfying pace, but i will be interested to see how Jacko will extend the book into three films - the first one, i must admit, was stretching it. In the end, this should have been one long epic film - we shall see how it comes together with number 3. Kudos to Howard Shore for delivering another monumental piece of music.

TheFellowship

Well Peter Jackson, you have really messed up bad. Here's why: 1) Stiff, pathetic and poor acting - laughable performances from some 2) Visuals ok, but we've seen it all before 3) Toe-curling use of a tense Martin Freeman, who is quite obviously unhappy and wants to be somewhere else than in the shoes of Bilbo 4) Many lines read out like a weak read-through of the script caught on camera - very clunky script 5) No tension or atmosphere 6) Plasticy-looking dwarves, you can clearly see the make-up when you shouldn't be able to 7) Overlong and boring as a Christmas cracker joke. Overall The Hobbit was pretentious, pompous and pathetic. Words I would never want to speak about Jackson, a very talented director and the man behind the excellent Fellowship of the Ring. Two Towers was good, Return of the King disappointing but I still thought it was ok. Hobbit was an embarrassment to LOTR, a trilogy I very much admired in certain ways. I hope the team will give the audience what they deserve in the next film... If you TRULY loved The Fellowship, then you would join me in condeming this mess of a film. Or, you can fool yourselves... for a bit. 4/10

ida

Far too long. Not enough action. Attention span wandered as I got bored.

TREGGLE2000

Well I was expecting a boring slow start! THERE WASN'T ONE!!!!!!! I went to see this film in IMAX 3D and it blew me away, when you go and see a movie in 3D it often ruins it but this one made it better, like all the lord of the rings it blows you away right from the word go, the sounds were perfect the picture was amazing and gripping and all the way through the film I was totally in a magical world somewhere in Middle Earth. Martin Freeman plays an excellent Bilbo and Richard Armitage has the brave strong face to play thorin. the story is extremely gripping and Gollum once again does not disappoint like always. I cant wait until the next two GO AND SEE IT NOW!!!!b4 and a half stars

dizzy

I've just seen the film and after reading all the negative ratings, I didn't set my sights to high but I loved the entire fim! i found no problems with the quality and came out of the cinema looking forward to the next film! I havn't read the books because I got bored but now i have seen this amazing film i am definately going to!!

dizzy

I've just seen the film and after reading all the negative ratings, I didn't set my sights to high but I loved the entire fim! i found no problems with the quality and came out of the cinema looking forward to the next film! I havn't read the books because I got bored but now i have seen this amazing film i am definately going to!!

Yenala

I don't quite understand the harsh review this movie is getting here. I watched it to times, and when you can accept that they changed the story quite a bit (as they did with the Lord of the Rings, btw), it's a very enjoyable film. I don't understand why they made it into 3 movies either, but to be honest I think it works better than I expected, and I can't wait for the other two. I also think it's ridiculous that the time reviewer complains about the movie beeing too light and similiar to kids-TV, when the book is clearly a childrens book. It's not the Lord of the Rings, and it shouldn't be.

james

i know people where giving out about the camera work but personally taught that was its saving grace, was very impressed with it, didn't know they where going to do 48' before i went in, was impressed, think it worked brilliantly on that level. the story was overly long and tedious at times. i accept its part of a trilogy but until the box set comes out its being recommended or not as a stand alone. if your interested in the technical aspects of movies go to see it, if your looking for a bit of escapism for a few hours while this is ok there is probably better movies at the moment for that. gave it 3 stars.

Ivette Fred Rivera

I am disappointed. Seemed like a waste of money and time. After ten minutes, I was bored. I gave it a try for 40 minutes more, and had to leave. As Herzog will put it, too many cuts and camera movements, and no real story forthcoming. I found the movie manichean, and could not tolerate all the violence even for the sake of good against evil. I suppose the Newtown tragedy is taking effect. Good.

Derek J

Was looking forward to it... but it all felt like a live 'making-of' documentry - a kind of studio film of a Time Bandits panto. I hate to say it... but if any of you have seen the dreadful 'Star Wars Christmas Special' - it reminded me of the Wookie family bits! I am being serious. The Pale Ork/Goblin and the wolves looked like X-Box intros. Some better stuff at the end... but the 48 frame film quality is plastic and ironically make s eveything look really fake rather than untro-real. Not impressed. 3 stars at best. A shame.

LindaB

Saw the film yesterday in 3d. Absolutely loved it and no problems with the 3d quality for me. Good performances all round, especially Richard Armitage and Martin Freeman. Left the cinema on a real high.

LindaB

Saw the film yesterday in 3d. Absolutely loved it and no problems with the 3d quality for me. Good performances all round, especially Richard Armitage and Martin Freeman. Left the cinema on a real high.

Al King

The comment you 9 years since the last LOTR epic and it’s time to go back to Middle Earth. God I’ve missed it. So much of cinema is just so bland, so tired. But not when you take source material from one of the most cherished books ever written and put it in the hands of one of the finest directors in modern film. After the success of the LOTR trilogy and the controversy surrounding the decision to turn the much shorter Hobbit into 3 films, expectations were high. Huge in fact. Jackson does not disappoint. He takes both a purist and Director’s Cut approach to the film, relying heavily on Tolkien’s 125 pages of footnotes to The Lord of the Rings. There are also two dwarf songs while inside Bag End (the 2nd one profound). And why not? The Middle Earth universe is so rich in plots and characters, it’s a film makers treasure trove. For those of you that don’t know the story (really?), hobbit Bilbo Baggins is tempted out of his rural idyll by wizard Gandalf and 13 Dwarves on a quest to reclaim their lost kingdom of Erebor. One should also point out that it was a treasure hungry dragon, Smaug, who claimed Erebor, taking possession of the Arkenstone, a precious and powerful gem. Revered by the dwarves. Jackson has reunited with key LOTR collaborators Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens (screenplay), cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, production designer Dan Hennah and the Weta effects shop. The film also follows a similar structure to Fellowship of the Ring, most notably very early on by showing us the back story via the dramatic Destruction of Erebor by Smaug (without revealing the full awesomeness of the dragon of course). While this does lead to a sense of Déjà vu (esp. if you’ve seen all 3 LOTR films around 20 times like me), this is unavoidable given the similarities of the 2 books. Introducing the dwarves and the supper at Bag End is played for laughs and works. As one of the dwarves tells Bilbo while describing Smaug ‘Think furnace... with wings.’ Speaking of Bilbo, Martin Freeman is excellent as the mild-mannered hobbit. ‘What is your weapon of choice?’ dwarf leader Thorin asks him: ‘I have some skill at conkers.’ The real adventure begins once the company leave The Shire, and head East on the quest into more forbidding country. Once again the real star here is New Zealand with more of Jackson’s breath taking camera swooping over, under and through the luxurious landscapes. On the way important plot points are developed including the introduction of The Necromancer, an early version of The Witch King of Angmar, recently shacked up at the ruined Dol Guldur. There’s also Azog, the huge, pale Orc chieftain, seeking revenge on Thorin who chopped his arm off. Best of all is Gandalf’s eccentric fellow-Istari, Radagast the Brown (brilliantly played by Sylvester McCoy), who first noticed that a “dark power has found it's way back into the world� and investigated why the creatures in his forest were dying. True to the books hippy overtones, he’s also a Shroom Head (Gandalf is, of course, a Stoner). Key set pieces are the Troll sequence (comically played out 3 stooges style) and the magnificent Storm giants, given far more persona than the in the book, hewn from the living rock and dramatically altering the landscape around them. This greater departure from the original text is consistent throughout the film. When the party pass through Rivendell, there’s a marvellous reunion of Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman. It’s simply awesome to see these hugely powerful characters on the big screen again. Pure magic. The episode with the goblins under the mountain is very reminiscent of the Urak Hai scences from LOTR, but this time instead of the nasty Lurtz, we have the amusing and Jabba The Hut-esque Goblin King, brilliantly voiced by Barry Humphries. His demise at the hand of Gandalf is hilarious. The arrival on screen of Gollum (played again by the superb Andy Serkis) was greeted with audible gasps. It’s hard to think of greater villain in cinema. Malevolent and pathetic in equal measure, and completely credible. Denied of trophies 1st time around, surely Serkis deserve rich rewards on this occasion? As in LOTR Jackson and his writers are fond of name checking the chapters from the book. On escaping from the goblins under the mountain, only to be chased by some much meaner looking Wargs + Orc riders, Gandalf remarks “Out of the frying pan and into the fire.� Indeed. This leads to a fabulous fight sequence and cliff hanger with the gore count noticeably up a notch with some nasty deaths including a full be-heading. Yes please. Even though we know it’s coming, the rescue by the eagles is spectacular, providing one of the high points in the film. There’s a key moment towards the end of the film when Bilbo understands why the dwarves are willing to sacrifice their lives in pursuit of their homeland; he would do the same. One has to mention the magnificent score by Howard Shore, whose music for the original trilogy has been reprised. You may have forgotten the themes but as soon as you hear them, all the associated emotions come flooding back in waves of glorious sonic equity. The film is apparently a huge technical achievement. I didn’t even notice the much debated 48 frames per second “issue.� I was astonished and engaged for nearly 3 hours; simply lost in Middle Earth. There’s no hint of disappointment or frustration as the film ends either, with the party gathered together on a fist of rock looking East over the vast swathes of Mirkwood towards the awesome Lonely Mountain. The next two instalments will be subtitled The Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again (the original subtitle of the entire novel). There’s plenty to look forward to, but for now just gorge yourself on this.

Al King

The comment you 9 years since the last LOTR epic and it’s time to go back to Middle Earth. God I’ve missed it. So much of cinema is just so bland, so tired. But not when you take source material from one of the most cherished books ever written and put it in the hands of one of the finest directors in modern film. After the success of the LOTR trilogy and the controversy surrounding the decision to turn the much shorter Hobbit into 3 films, expectations were high. Huge in fact. Jackson does not disappoint. He takes both a purist and Director’s Cut approach to the film, relying heavily on Tolkien’s 125 pages of footnotes to The Lord of the Rings. There are also two dwarf songs while inside Bag End (the 2nd one profound). And why not? The Middle Earth universe is so rich in plots and characters, it’s a film makers treasure trove. For those of you that don’t know the story (really?), hobbit Bilbo Baggins is tempted out of his rural idyll by wizard Gandalf and 13 Dwarves on a quest to reclaim their lost kingdom of Erebor. One should also point out that it was a treasure hungry dragon, Smaug, who claimed Erebor, taking possession of the Arkenstone, a precious and powerful gem. Revered by the dwarves. Jackson has reunited with key LOTR collaborators Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens (screenplay), cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, production designer Dan Hennah and the Weta effects shop. The film also follows a similar structure to Fellowship of the Ring, most notably very early on by showing us the back story via the dramatic Destruction of Erebor by Smaug (without revealing the full awesomeness of the dragon of course). While this does lead to a sense of Déjà vu (esp. if you’ve seen all 3 LOTR films around 20 times like me), this is unavoidable given the similarities of the 2 books. Introducing the dwarves and the supper at Bag End is played for laughs and works. As one of the dwarves tells Bilbo while describing Smaug ‘Think furnace... with wings.’ Speaking of Bilbo, Martin Freeman is excellent as the mild-mannered hobbit. ‘What is your weapon of choice?’ dwarf leader Thorin asks him: ‘I have some skill at conkers.’ The real adventure begins once the company leave The Shire, and head East on the quest into more forbidding country. Once again the real star here is New Zealand with more of Jackson’s breath taking camera swooping over, under and through the luxurious landscapes. On the way important plot points are developed including the introduction of The Necromancer, an early version of The Witch King of Angmar, recently shacked up at the ruined Dol Guldur. There’s also Azog, the huge, pale Orc chieftain, seeking revenge on Thorin who chopped his arm off. Best of all is Gandalf’s eccentric fellow-Istari, Radagast the Brown (brilliantly played by Sylvester McCoy), who first noticed that a “dark power has found it's way back into the world� and investigated why the creatures in his forest were dying. True to the books hippy overtones, he’s also a Shroom Head (Gandalf is, of course, a Stoner). Key set pieces are the Troll sequence (comically played out 3 stooges style) and the magnificent Storm giants, given far more persona than the in the book, hewn from the living rock and dramatically altering the landscape around them. This greater departure from the original text is consistent throughout the film. When the party pass through Rivendell, there’s a marvellous reunion of Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman. It’s simply awesome to see these hugely powerful characters on the big screen again. Pure magic. The episode with the goblins under the mountain is very reminiscent of the Urak Hai scences from LOTR, but this time instead of the nasty Lurtz, we have the amusing and Jabba The Hut-esque Goblin King, brilliantly voiced by Barry Humphries. His demise at the hand of Gandalf is hilarious. The arrival on screen of Gollum (played again by the superb Andy Serkis) was greeted with audible gasps. It’s hard to think of greater villain in cinema. Malevolent and pathetic in equal measure, and completely credible. Denied of trophies 1st time around, surely Serkis deserve rich rewards on this occasion? As in LOTR Jackson and his writers are fond of name checking the chapters from the book. On escaping from the goblins under the mountain, only to be chased by some much meaner looking Wargs + Orc riders, Gandalf remarks “Out of the frying pan and into the fire.� Indeed. This leads to a fabulous fight sequence and cliff hanger with the gore count noticeably up a notch with some nasty deaths including a full be-heading. Yes please. Even though we know it’s coming, the rescue by the eagles is spectacular, providing one of the high points in the film. There’s a key moment towards the end of the film when Bilbo understands why the dwarves are willing to sacrifice their lives in pursuit of their homeland; he would do the same. One has to mention the magnificent score by Howard Shore, whose music for the original trilogy has been reprised. You may have forgotten the themes but as soon as you hear them, all the associated emotions come flooding back in waves of glorious sonic equity. The film is apparently a huge technical achievement. I didn’t even notice the much debated 48 frames per second “issue.� I was astonished and engaged for nearly 3 hours; simply lost in Middle Earth. There’s no hint of disappointment or frustration as the film ends either, with the party gathered together on a fist of rock looking East over the vast swathes of Mirkwood towards the awesome Lonely Mountain. The next two instalments will be subtitled The Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again (the original subtitle of the entire novel). There’s plenty to look forward to, but for now just gorge yourself on this.

TrollyDash

Good, but not great. I am a huge fan of the first 3 films which were great compared to this latest offering. Even my patience was tested for the first hour as it was tediously slow at times. Picked up in the middle and finished on a high,leaving you wanting to see what happens next. However, many will notice a very similar generic (almost copy and paste) repeating story line. Even some of the cinematography was the same as (for example) when they escaped the bridge of doom in LOTR, they used the same walking over the mountain range when they escape a mine in the Hobbit. Very similar, but different. Still very watchable and if you are a fan, then it is a mandatory must-see. Would have given it 3 1/2 stars if I could and hoping for better films in the Trilogy,

Ian

The review has it about right. Overall it is a disappointment and the longer the film goes on, and in places it does drag, the more I am convinced that the decision to stretch the originally planned two films to three is about box office revenue and filling film opening slots than actual merit. The filling and stretching isn't as bad as in the last two Twilight films but this will win no awards other than possibly a few for technical excellence. I was in a virtually empty large screen with just a few that looked die hard fans and there was no sense of excitement from anyone as they came out. I fear this will be much like the Star Wars prequels with two disappointing films giving clues to an eventual crescendo in the last half of the third. As a film its like a supermodel great to look at, though the 3D does get to your eyes before the end, but all a bit empty. Worth 3 stars as an event but struggling to get much above 2 when it comes to plot. Probably 6 out of ten. Must do better in the next film.

Levi

Can't wait to see this movie! I've been anxiously awaiting it, ever since Guillermo Del Torro was supposed to be the director. I'm also confident that as epic as this first installment may be, that the following two films will far surpass them in scope. Again…can't wait to see them all!

Levi

Can't wait to see this movie! I've been anxiously awaiting it, ever since Guillermo Del Torro was supposed to be the director. I'm also confident that as epic as this first installment may be, that the following two films will far surpass them in scope. Again…can't wait to see them all!