Friday, 14 December 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

One day, a curious Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, meets wandering wizard, Gandalf, who persuades him to share an adventure. Bilbo embarks on a journey to the Lonely Mountain with a vigorous group of Dwarves to reclaim a city stolen from them by the dragon Smaug.

Anyone who has read Tolkien’s beautifully crafted books might recall that “The Hobbit” is incredibly thin, especially compared to the classic trilogy of the Lord of the Rings. Thus I found it hard to believe hat Peter Jackson, the acclaimed director behind 3 Lord of the Rings movies, which won lots of different awards and made New Zealand famous, managed to collect enough material to make 3 movies out of “The Hobbit” book. Honestly, this looks more like a filthy attempt to steal the money from Tolkien fans around the world than a diligent way to condense the book which sets the scene for the LotR trilogy which still is the golden standard in fantasy writing

It is a bit too early to judge as to how well Jackson will manage 3 movies out of a book thinner than “The Fellowship of the Ring” – it remains to be seen how much exactly material there is. But the first instalment totally lives up to expectations and does not let down. It reminds of the first movie in the trilogy, and this is actually Jackson’s idea. It has a similar slow start, it has a little bit of history of the universe, mesmerizing and disturbing at the same time, and then the journey begins.

Jackson’s talent of transferring Tolkien’s fantasy world on the screen has not vanished after the last LotR. In fact, it has actually become sharper – Jackson learnt his trades so well. The movie is easily watched in one go despite its mind-boggling length of almost three hours. It is extremely low on content, in fact, main plot points can be counted on the fingers of one palm, but, it is never boring, it manages to entertain the audience constantly and it never allows you to sit back and analyse. Instead, you experience full immersion in the universe that Tolkien created, and it is a fantastic experience.

It feels more of an amusement park rather than a conventional movie. The ways to entertain the audience that are employed are numerous: you will find funny sketches, a little bit of singing, breathtaking scenes whenever the nature is involved (the scene where rock giants are fighting is absolutely awe-inspiring), roller-coaster, charismatic characters (the Goblin King is probably the most likeable villain of this season), games, fights, dragons, orcs, animals, old friends, new friends, old castles, glowing cities, manuscripts in the moonlight and many many more. It feels as if Jackson plays with you: “Tired of dwarf party? Here is the serious bit. Don’t get carried away, here is a funny bit again”.

And the cast seemingly enjoys the action unfolding around. Martin Freeman is totally up to scratch for the role of Bilbo Baggins – slightly insecure but kind and big-hearted. Ian McKellen is like a fish in the water, radiating the usual calmness and security of an almighty wizard. Cate Blanchett is a heavenly creature (again), and Hugo Weaving shows how elves really look like and behave (again).

But above all of this, there is one wizard that keeps the magic happening. Jackson had a very ambitious project, and he not only fulfilled the expectations, but actually far exceeded them. He again created an interesting, fascinating and enjoyable universe in which we would want to spend time and to which we would want to return. It is one of the best fairy tales out there, a journey worth embarking on.

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