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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This is an adaptation of Tolkien’s small book of the same name, but much expanded, though not padded, with scenes not shown in the book itself. We get an opening scene based on the that of the Fellowship of The Ring, as Bilbo is busy writing his memoirs and hiding the valuables before the Sackville-Bagginses arrive for the birthday party, and Frodo setting off to meet Gandalf, who is bringing the fireworks; and then it is sixty-years earlier, and Gandalf makes his first appearance, soon followed by a company of dwarves. We get an extensive view of the Dwarves struggle to survive Smaug’s attack on their city under the Lonely Mountain and their epic battle with the Orcs that gave Thorin Oakenshield his name. We also get the story of the Brown Wizard fleshed out prior to his meeting with Gandalf. The film ends with Bilbo and the Dwarves getting their first sight of the lonely Mountain in the distance:
Bilbo: ”Well, the worst of it is behind us now”.

It is also fun trying to work out who is behind some of the faces; two of the dwarves sounded like Ken Stott and James Nesbit, and I knew I’d heard the Goblin King’s voice before, but couldn’t place him until the credits rolled. The dwarves are an odd bunch of accents, with Thorin sounding just like Sean Bean, and the others being a mixture of Scots and Irish.

It does feel like a lighter film than the Lord of the Rings, despite the Orcs, Wargs, Trolls and Goblins, though the shadow of a certain dead sorcerer does slowly start to make its presence felt.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I was very impressed by "Hobbit". Below you will find the reasons why I liked this film so much, with some limited SPOILERS.

1. A successful combination of great fidelity to Tolkien's vision with some skilful alterations. In second part of LOTR ("Two Towers") Peter Jackson allowed himself some very considerable liberties with the characters of king Theoden of Rohan and captain Faramir of Gondor, and as a consequence he harmed this one part of his great trilogy. He clearly learned his lesson and in this film, even if there are some differences between the scenario and the original book, those modifications were done with a great skill, good taste and in deep respect with the general vision contained in Tolkien's books in general.

Amongst those successful modifications are a greater development of the story of Smaug's coming to Erebor, of dwarves wanderings and their wars with Orcs from Moria (those last elements are taken from original annexes to "Lord of the Rings") and a larger inclusion of scary and extremely creepy Dol Guldur fortress (which is only briefly mentioned in the book). There is also a longer and more dramatic chapter devoted to Great Goblin's caves, a brief but impressive look at stone giants (creatures only suggested in Tolkien's lore) and last but not least, some real screen time devoted to Radagast the Brown, an extremely odd but very, very attaching character. Radagast also shows in this film that he is definitely a force to be reckoned with and not just a sidekick - although, as Saruman venomously suggests it, he also appears to be all the time "tripping on 'shrooms"...)))

There is also more place devoted to the White Council (with Saruman, Galadriel, Elrond and Gandalf present and Radagast and Cirdan absent) and those passages come in fact from the annexes to LOTR rather than from "Hobbit" itself. Finally, even if many good jokes are included, the general tone of this film is more serious than in the book, with the dwarves being a little less comically represented and their leader, prince Thorin Oakenshield, being a much more impressive character, conserving a very great dignity and majesty even when being stuffed in a troll's bag...)))

Finally, the leader of Moria Orcs at the time of dwarves expedition is still Azog the Defiler rather than his son Bolg - but I forgive willingly Peter Jackson this change, as Azog is a really IMPRESSIVE creature! On another hand, and this is one of the very few things I found a little objectionnable, Orcs seem to not fear sunlight in this film (Goblins of Misty Mountains on another hand still fear the light of the day) - but after all it is a rather minor thing.

As you can see Peter Jackson changed the story for the needs of his "Hobbit" trilogy, but he did it with the greatest care and by showing this time the greatest respect to the general spirit of Tolkien's works.

2. A great mastery of the visual aspect of the film. The images of Middle Earth are breath-taking, the creatures (good and evil) are excellent and the costumes and weaponry simply perfect.

3. Gollum; All the chapter about Bilbo's meeting with Gollum is pure perfection and in this film we finally can realise how REALLY DANGEROUS this creature is!

4. Tom Troll, William Troll and Bert Troll. Hilarious and scary in the same time, their moment in the film is simply a treasure.

5. Goblins of the Misty Mountains. In this film we have a real insight into goblin's government (tyranny), administration (anarchy), strategy (mostly blunt force trauma) and communications, although the little pearl about this last point, you will have to discover by yourself...)))

6. Dwarves/elves mutual cultural shock - one of the best scenes of the film...)))

7. Music. It mostly uses the same themes than in LOTR (ex. Shire theme, Rivendell theme, Ring theme, Company theme, etc.) which gives a familiar feeling of continuity, with just enough new elements to underline the fact that we are in a different chapter of Tolkien's tales.

8. Action scenes - they are many and of excellent quality, thanks to some modifications of the story by Peter Jackson (see above). They help also to set a rather fast rhythm of events, once the initial Shire chapter is concluded. If you think that to make a trilogy out of "The Hobbit" Peter Jackson had to drag things and slow the events, well, think again... This is a reasonably long film but I didn't feel the time pass.

9. Actors. Unlike in LOTR II "Two Towers" (when he seriously blundered by casting Miranda Otto as Eowyn), in this film Peter Jackson didn't commit any mistakes in the choice of actors. Martin Freeman is more than perfect in his interpretation of Bilbo - for me, after two minutes, he WAS Bilbo. All right, OK, maybe they just should have given him ten pounds more around the waist in the first part of the trilogy, but this is just a detail. Ian McKellen is of course perfect as Gandalf. Richard Armitage as Thorin is THE revelation of this film. Hugo Weaving and Christopher Lee are of course brilliant - and Cate Blanchett swept me of my feet in this film (something that didn't happen in the LOTR...).

The one objection I could have is that I didn't quite picture Balin, the friendliest of dwarves, as being that old - but this is a very minor detail.

10. Clever little details of the scenario. Peter Jackson put in the scenario some little but significant details which explain better some important questions, like why did Gandalf wanted SO MUCH to help Thorin Oakenshield in his quest and why exactly did he choose precisely Bilbo Baggins as the "burglar" for the Company. Those little details didn't figure in the book, but they are VERY faithful to the spirit of Tolkien's story - and it is a very precious thing...

CONCLUSION: Since attacking the LOTR Peter Jackson learned a lot in last 10 years and he put all this experience to good use in "The Hobbit" - and the result is immediately visible on the screen. This film is on the same very high level of quality as LOTR I and III and BETTER than LOTR II. In some aspects he even did a better job than in LOTR, because here he had to manage a Company larger than the Fellowship of the Ring (15 characters instead of 9) - and he succeeded very, very well indeed. I loved this film and I cannot wait to see "The desolation of Smaug".
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362 of 394 people found the following review helpful
on 17 November 2013
As usual with my reviews, I will limit my comments to the product advertised, in this case the steel-book limited edition blu-ray of the extended version of The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey. Hopefully helping you to make the decision on whether the extended cut of the film is really worth the expenditure, especially if you, like me, already have the theatrical cut. I will also give you a run-down of all the additional scenes.
The packaging itself is the usual black plastic box sandwiched between metal covers, and in all honesty looks cheep when compared to the extended versions of the original trilogy in their book-style, individually coloured sleeves. Inside are the two-disc 3D version of the film; a single disc containing the extended blu-ray version and two discs containing the appendices which are numbered parts seven and eight, to fall in with the nomenclature of those in the extended version of The Lord Of The Rings, and hints at a box set containing all six films and their appendices in the not too distant future.(No surprise there then).
The quality of the blu-ray, as you'll already know if you have the theatrical version, is second to none, with dazzling colour saturation, perfectly solid blacks and stunning detail, as one would expect from twenty first century high def'. And the additional scenes or partial scenes fit in seamlessly. I can not comment on the effectiveness of the 3D version as I do not have a 3D player and have little love for the medium in any case.
Subtitles are included on the Blu-Ray version, as are various language options which include: French, Italian and Spanish.

The scene-extensions are as follows:(Please read no further if you want it to be a surprise)

1. During the prologue, the Elf-king Thranduill is shown a chest of stolen elven treasure when he confronts Thror, King Under The Mountain, which further explains why the elves are reluctant to help the dwarves when attacked by Smaug.
2. During the dragon attack on the town of Dale, we glimpse some of the large arrow-firing machines that form that towns defense.
3. A firework flashback during old Bilbo's narrative at the beginning of the film proper, reveal the origins of Bilbo's friendship with Gandalf.
4. The afternoon following young Bilbo's stressful meeting with Gandalf outside his Hobbit hole, Bilbo goes for a wander through Hobbiton searching for the wizard in the hope that he has truly gone. This is the longest of the additional scenes, and is a wonderful opportunity for us to get a lingering look at Hobbiton market. For every Hobbit-loving person, this is truly a magical addition, though does nothing to add to the story as a whole.
5. During the dwarf dinner scene, we get to learn a little about Biffor, and how the axe that remains embedded in his head has effected his speech.
6. As the dwarfs and hobbit approach Rivendell, we get a sense of Bilbo's character as he talks to Gandalf of a magical feeling he has as he looks down on the Last Homely House. Gandalf begins to sense that there is more to this hobbit than meets the eye.
7. There are a few additional scenes during the dwarf's stay at Rivendell, these include: kili winking at an elf who he thinks is female, only to be told that in fact it is a male elf. The dinner scene itself is extended with a food fight as we watch the growing irritation of the elves with their rowdy guests, during which Bofur sings a song. Interestingly the song, 'The Cat And The Fiddle' is a song originally sung by Frodo Baggins in the book, The Fellowship Of The Ring, as he dances on a table in The Prancing Pony, prior to his finger slipping into The One Ring ad his introduction to Aragorn. So for all Lord Of The Rings aficionados, this is an interesting little addition and nod back to the books.
As the dwarves feast, Bilbo's growing affection for Rivendell is revealed as he wanders off along tree-lined balconies and through open rooms, where Elrond finds him and invites the hobbit to stay in Rivendell if he so wishes. This little addition gives us a better understanding of why Bilbo should later want to return to the elves when he finally decides to leave the dwarves as they sleep in the porch of the goblin cave.
Following the feast, the dwarves finally test their hosts patience to the limits, as they strip off and dive into a fountain in the centre of Rivendell to bathe, overlooked by stunned elves.
8. A meeting between Gandalf and Elrond, where they discus Thorin's past, is overheard by Bilbo and the dwarf leader. This further helps to explain Thorin's decision to leave Rivendell unannounced and unexpectedly.
9. The meeting at Rivendell between Gandalf, Elrond, Saroman and Galadrial, is extended, and we get some important information about the missing rings of power and how the dwarves fit in with the One Ring story.
10. Finally, we get another song, this time sung by the Gobblin King, which does little in my mind but add length to an already overly-long story line.

So there it is, a breakdown of the extra 13 minutes in the extended edition. They are all nice little scenes, with the expanded views of Hobbiton, for me the highlight. But none of the extended scenes really add anything to the storyline, with only the background information on the One Ring and the missing rings of power, really adding anything to the narrative subtext of the overall story of Middle Earth, and which ties in with later events in the 'Ring' trilogy.

What really counts in this extended edition however are the appendices. Nine hours of extras which I am still wading through, all shot in wondrous high-def' and a vast qualitative improvement over appendices one through six of the original trilogy.

I promised myself when purchasing the theatrical edition of the Hobbit, that this time around I would not buy the extended version when it was released, as I knew there would be nothing important added - the Hobbit storyline having been already stretched to breaking point. In the end I couldn't resist it. Was it worth the £17.00 I paid for the steel-book? The jury is still out as I have only watched it through once at time of writing. I'm certain in time that the question will be irrelevant however, as I will certainly get my monies worth out of it in the end, having already watched the original blu-ray some fifteen times. I'm certain I will never grow tired of The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey.

If you have enjoyed reading this review, please read my others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is an adaptation of Tolkien’s small book of the same name, but much expanded, though not padded, with scenes not shown in the book itself. We get an opening scene based on the that of the Fellowship of The Ring, as Bilbo is busy writing his memoirs and hiding the valuables before the Sackville-Bagginses arrive for the birthday party, and Frodo setting off to meet Gandalf, who is bringing the fireworks; and then it is sixty-years earlier, and Gandalf makes his first appearance, soon followed by a company of dwarves. We get an extensive view of the Dwarves struggle to survive Smaug’s attack on their city under the Lonely Mountain and their epic battle with the Orcs that gave Thorin Oakenshield his name. We also get the story of the Brown Wizard fleshed out prior to his meeting with Gandalf. The film ends with Bilbo and the Dwarves getting their first sight of the lonely Mountain in the distance:
Bilbo: ”Well, the worst of it is behind us now”.

It is also fun trying to work out who is behind some of the faces; two of the dwarves sounded like Ken Stott and James Nesbit, and I knew I’d heard the Goblin King’s voice before, but couldn’t place him until the credits rolled. The dwarves are an odd bunch of accents, with Thorin sounding just like Sean Bean, and the others being a mixture of Scots and Irish.

It does feel like a lighter film than the Lord of the Rings, despite the Orcs, Wargs, Trolls and Goblins, though the shadow of a certain dead sorcerer does slowly start to make its presence felt.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 April 2015
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” comes across as an extended piece of LOTR (Peter Jackson version) fan fiction. The characters are essentially the same, so are the situations. Both the good, the bad and the ugly from the original LOTR films has been included: the heroism of warriors, the loyalty of Hobbits, the supernatural wizards, the evil orcs and the comic relief which often borders the ridiculous (think dwarfs in Bilbo's cabin or Radagast's rabbits from Rhosgobel). The combination of all these elements strikes me as somewhat weird! The plot is strikingly similar to the first LOTR film, with the main characters forming a brotherhood, visiting Rivendell, and being chased by evil creatures both above and below ground. Although I'm finally starting to like the LOTR concept, I'm honestly not sure what to do with this particular little detour through Middle Earth, so I tentatively give it three stars. Funny detail: when “The Hobbit” was recently shown on Swedish TV, the translation was based on Åke Ohlmarks' ditto, which both J R R Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien and their loyal brotherhood of fanatical Swedish fans loved to hate. Ha ha ha, it seems “The Necromancer” has returned…
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 June 2015
Tiresomely uneven. Unable to tear itself apart from its LOTR predecessors and conjure the charm and innocence that distinguished The Hobbit from its big brother. Po-faced pontificating, terrifying orcs juxtaposed with CBeebies Radagast and cartoon goblins, bipolar dwarves - too many wrongs stretched out for too long. And overall, a strange re-tread of Fellowship of The Ring - start in the same place, scrapes en route to a dreary Rivendell, scrapes in the mountains, come out the other side and park it for part 2. Kerching.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 June 2015
While it was a great coup for tLotR to be made as three separate films, the relatively short Hobbit surely can't satisfactorily fill more than two, and with a well written screenplay perhaps one would have been adequate. It's all about money I suppose, but I've found that when economic interests are the main concern, the art itself suffers. Usually this comes from having too little money, although in this case I suspect they had too much and were too intent on making more.
The movie begins at a sedate pace and isn't at all bad for that, though there were too many dwarves I couldn't identify even by the end, and scenes were becoming more and more like the life of Gollum: too stretched out and too thin. The Azog figure became more ridiculous at each appearance and Radagast was overused. There was too much copying from the Rings trilogy, eg. the manner in which Bilbo first wears the ring is a clumsily obvious replica of Frodo in the inn at Bree.
I feel like I've eaten a not too well prepared starter and am waiting with mild curiosity rather than eager anticipation for the main course.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 December 2012
It's epic, all the critics that say they were wrong to shoot at 48 FPS are idiots, it looks amazing. My only criticism is I wish they did Azog for real with prosthetics, he just doesn't come across very realistic being totally computer generated, it's like watching a cartoon sometimes. Some of his movements are too smooth and fluid and just very unnatural looking, Gollum and the other CG characters don't really suffer from this problem (or for some reason it is not as obvious) but most of the time Azog just doesn't look quite right, maybe it was a case of Peter Jackson dumping too much work on the CG guys again.

ADDITION - After watching the full making of documentary on the extended edition it seems my last sentence wasn't too far off, they did initially do Azog for real (a bloke with prosthetics) but after the film had been shot they decided they didn't like the design of Azog so at the last minute they redesigned him and patched him in as a full CGI character.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 October 2013
I enjoyed all the Lord of the Rings films but my expectations were not high because I read the "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" reviews and they weren't great.

The film explains how Bilbo got the ring of power and the action is similar to Lord of the Rings: the dwarfs lost their kingdom which was taken by a dragon and now 13 of them plus Bilbo and Gandalf are trying to get it back.

Their journey is full of hidden dangers because the dark power grows and they must fight against orcs and goblins.

In conclusion: a film with a lot of adventures and epic battles between Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarfs on one side and dark forces on other. You will find a lot of well known characters from the Lord of the Rings films like Saruman, Bilbo, Frodo, Gollum and Gandalf. Although is not as exciting as Lord of the Rings it is definitely worth seeing. And arm yourself with patience because this film is quite long.
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on 24 November 2012
He's also now added the same mistake he made in King Kong of indulging in excess - and I'm not referring to the length. The problem is not the length but that everything is over the top, from the size of the trolls, wargs and orcs to the scale of the special effects and the set pieces like the battles.

But what are these mistakes he made in LOTR? Well the ones now anyone can even see from the trailers and clips for this new film are the ones that struck me first in the other films, namely: too many facial close-ups; too much zooming and panning, too much swooping moving-crane or airborne camera always in perpetual movement; excessive use of the wide angle lens which distorts space and perspective; the old fashioned dubbing of the actor's voices; and in particular too much close-miked dubbing of Gandalf's voice which has him sounding as if he's muttering to himself, or as if we're meant to be 'hearing' his thoughts. The tendency towards using too many close-ups means that we seldom get enough shots of figures in context which would allow for some impressive framing and contribute to a sense of atmosphere. But at least the close ups aren't quite as much of a problem as they were in LOTR.

As usual we have to put up with New Zealand instead of Tolkien's intended English landscape. The English countryside, landscape and atmosphere is a very important part of Tolkien's imagination and we've not enough here which can be mistaken for the real thing even in the earlier stages of the journey.
Like all big budget action films these days it's all too much 'in your face', and surely it should be obvious that this is not the right visual style for 'The Hobbit' the book. These constant camera movements, sometimes violent, and the fast editing, are all very familiar anyway having been used increasingly for the last 20 years, but here they are really overdone. The almost continual movement here is no doubt the result of trying to get the max out of 3D - as is the number of times things come suddenly towards you and jump out of the frame. It's also obvious that the battles are overdone with far too many evil goblins against so few in the company of dwarves, resulting in the unbelievable, yet nauseating, slaughter of the many by the indestructible few.

In addition much of it looks very artificial with the dwarves looking either like Disney cartoons brought to life or like good looking actors dressed up to look like romantic Vikings, or some such, and not dwarves at all - everyone seems to have too much make-up on. Still these things are perhaps not fatal to the final effect of the film because after all The Hobbit is not the sacred book that LOTR is, and this is going to be a big family movie. On the other hand Martin Freeman looks not much more like a Hobbit than the actors in LOTR did - for a start he's not fat enough and what's more he looks just like Martin Freeman. It seems to me this sort of casting alone condemns all the films to inevitable failure for the true Tolkien enthusiast, and this and they would have been better family films if an effort had been made to look for some fairly small unusual looking people to play the parts. In any case we certainly don't need to have recognisable actors like Ken Stott and James Nesbitt who obviously make suspension of disbelief impossible before we've started.
This film and LOTR had no business with being about actors and acting and would have been better off with total unknowns in every part. And everyone knows that Bilbo looked something like a younger Paul Simon, don't they?

And then there is the music. We have been subjected to the same old music all over again, which those of us who disliked it the first time around, finding it inappropriate in tone, style and scale, as well as poor in quality, inevitably feeling it even more intolerable to hear again. In fact IF this music was going to be repeated why would we want to see the film at all, if we know and love the book, or indeed the old 1968 BBC radio serial?
But even if there had been new music I suppose that given the same composer it was always going to be the same overblown all-purpose generic BIG film music that we hear all the time for any subject that isn't trying to be 'cool' and contemporary. And surely one of the worst things about the music in the case of the LOTR films was that the Hobbits in the Shire were given music with a strongly Irish or Scottish flavour. Now even one of the Dwarves has an unmistakable Northern Irish accent and another one a Scottish. But why should we be surprised when it seems so often that any film maker setting out to make a film 'entertaining' also feels that he can forget any need to achieve a sense of reality (albeit what Tolkien called 'secondary reality') other than by means of costumes and CGI
This kind of soundtrack makes any sort of detachment - upon which enchantment depends - extremely difficult. And enchantment is a large part of what a 'secondary world' is all about (we have Tolkien's word for that).

Anyway the music is mostly just the same stuff we were given in LOTR and which alone would have been enough to ruin the final effect of however good a film it might have been. But there is at least some more space in the texture in places so that, for example, sometimes we hear only horns. Since we are mostly spared the 'Fellowship Theme', and leaving aside the Hobbit music which is confined to the early parts, the worst of the music this time around is the music which uses a chorus where an effect of the sublime is aimed for. It's identical to the music in LOTR and countless other films where it is used in the same predictable way. Like the rest of the score it's film muzak and can be produced by the yard.
I said that the music is in the wrong style anyway, but it's not that I don't love the late-Romantic style when it's done well as it used to be by John Williams, and he CAN do enchantment too, but even he wouldn't be right for LOTR or The Hobbit. What is needed I believe is something much more pared down, and that could be something more contemporary in terms of serious music (contemporary classical music if you will) or it could be something in the ancient manner like our medieval music, or the classical music of some other cultures. A blu-ray disc could even give us a choice - or no music at all.

I do realize that most of what I have called faults are just the sort of thing the film industry now demands when it wants a huge box-office and marketing success to rival all the superhero films based on comics. This is why the current style of film music in action films, with all its heavy dependence on sudden physical shocks (produced by the new bass technology and 5.1 surround), is all of a piece with fast and constantly mobile camera movement in three dimensions and fast editing, and why the commercial film industry insists on so many close-ups.The frequent close-ups are also related to the close miking and dubbing of the voices as a strategy for the total immersion which is supposed to provide the maximum possible manipulation of the consumer. It can be appropriate for some subjects where the emphasis is on character and acting but it doesn't work for epic narratives like LOTR and I don't believe it will work for an equally extended three part Hobbit which, with otherwise good justification, is obviously intended to represent another part of the epic story of the Ring. Epic requires some distance, and so does enchantment.

I strongly recommend everyone listens to the 1968 BBC radio serial of The Hobbit which has been available for some time on a CD set. It has a magic this film can't achieve, and the theme music and the Dwarves' song are just right. I also recommend its wonderfully idiosyncratic Gandalf. It has no great aspiration to the epic any more than did Tolkien's original book and is much more in keeping with its style. I have no objection to the the narrative being upscaled to the epic for this new film but for the reasons I have given I don't think has succeeded much more than the LOTR films did. I am not recommending the BBC radio serial of LOTR from around 1982.

But Gollum is still a wonder of at least one aspect of the film industry, and at least one way it has done Tolkien justice.
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