15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Worth the anticipation,
This review is from: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey [Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + UV Copy]  [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
Having seen the LOTR movies, I came into the cinema hoping that Peter Jackson would keep some of the excellent changes he made to the trilogy while avoiding some of the awful, awful changes he also made. By and large, he has succeeded.
I was well aware in advance of the criticism concerning the running length. This is largely unfounded. I enjoyed the time taken at bag end to build the Dwarves characters. Without doing this, the viewer would soon cease to care who's who, apart from Thorin. And that would have been a shame.
The film lives or dies on the main character, and I'm happy to confirm that Martin Freeman was the perfect choice for young Bilbo. The original reluctant hero, he finally gives in to his Tookish side in order to go on an adventure.
Not being a fan of "Useless Frodo", I get the feeling that Freeman's Bilbo is not going to be in any hurry to give away the one ring to the enemy or collapse spontaneously in slow-mo when spotlit. The elves this time around do a little less mincing, though women's hair is still de rigueur for the males.
There are many guest spots for returning actors. Ian McKellan injects Gandalf with a little extra humour, Christopher Lee manages to exude screen presence in his 90's and even Hugo Weaving's Elrond is a little less dour and more generous this time around. Cate Blanchett continues to look stunning but continues to be less Galadriel and more judgemental new age hippy.
At least there's no blast off scene this time around. Or pouty teenage shield-surfing Legolas, both of which are huge pluses. Picking up the bow this time around is Kili. Here's a good example of Jackson taking a big risk which for me pays off hugely.
Not only does Kili (and several others including Thorin) not look like sterotypical Dwarves, here we have a Dwarf using a bow. And it works. You don't get the feeling that you're looking at latex mask #3 obscured by a huge beard. There are some of those in the company, and they are the ones that most fade into the background.
If you do like your Dwarves sterotypical, the best of that lot is Dwalin. Scottish accent? Check. Bald, tattooed head? Check. Axes? Check. Gruffness? Check and grrr. Jackson's managed to please both camps here, not an easy task.
Major changes to the book? The character of Azog has been expanded hugely. For a start, he's not long dead. But there is a clear need for an immediate antagonist and this one suits nicely. In Goblin town is where there were two silly sequences I found jarring. Both involved the party in long falls that were utterly, utterly unrealistic.
In stark contrast to this is the battle of Dimrill Dale where the lonely mountain dwarves are in an epic battle to the death with an orc-horde. One that leaves few survivors, accounting for why this small band is so faithful to each other. This short sequence is the single most powerful one I've ever seen for Tolkien's middle earth. It even managed to eclipse the start of fellowship or the final battle outside the Black Gate. Simply superb.
Acting is of a high standard all around. The best supporting actor is Richard Armitage as Thorin. I saw this in 2D, which I believe suits all the CGIness far more than something that might end up seeming rather fake.
In summary, well worth watching. I will be buying a copy on Blu-ray when it emerges.