Guest movie review: The Hobbit
by Phillip Hall
FOUR OUT OF FIVE STARS
This movie is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
It’s been nine long years since movie goers last visited Middle-earth, the fictional lands in The Lord of the Rings, but with the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, that wait is over. The Hobbit is the prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy which released between 2001 and 2003. For those unfamiliar with the movies or books, it is an epic fantasy adventure created by J.R.R. Tolkien back in the 1930’s. So, yes, it does have wizards, dwarves, elves and orcs, but don’t let that fool you, The Hobbit is a movie about characters and what makes them tick.
The movie follows Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, one of the smaller people in the land of Middle-earth. They are peace loving, laid back folk who shun adventures and excitement. He is visited by Gandalf, a wizard who attempts to persuade him into an adventure. He resists at first but is quickly won over by his curiosity of the world beyond his own front door. He joins a company of twelve dwarves who are on a quest to retake their home from a vile, fire-breathing dragon named Smaug.
This film clocks in around 169 minutes long and does have a few places where the pace is slow. It is all necessary to introduce the characters and the back story. I find these slow places do not take away from the overall film itself as it just drives you to care even more when things do begin to take place. When the action does start, it’s intense and heart pounding, very similar to the original trilogy. The battles, while completely fantastical, feel real.
The beauty of this film is only comparable to the original trilogy. There has rarely been such a beautiful landscape put to film as as seen here. New Zealand, where The Hobbit was filmed, has jaw dropping beauty all around. The costumes, weapons, and props were done by the amazing Weta Workshop. From swords all the way down to buttons on a coat, everything in the film is stunningly realistic.
The Hobbit is a very special movie. The effects, the directing, the actors, and the cinematography are all great, but it’s the story and the characters that rise above everything else. The characters start out in their own tiny worlds and quickly grow to find there is more to the world than they imagined. The movie starts out so very small and builds into a massive epic adventure.
Laughter, cheering and tears were all present in the movie theater throughout this film. When you can hear the entire crowd getting into a movie, you know you’ve got a winner on your hands. There is plenty of violence against fantasy creatures in this film, including several orcs being killed or beheaded. It is never gory violence, but it is something to consider if you’re taking children. The level of violence is comparable to the original trilogy for those who have seen it. I took my children, who have read The Hobbit and watched all of the films, and they were fine. It is clear this is a fantasy movie and the violence is not depicted as brutal or overly wanton.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a winner in my book. The parts that were slow may be a deal breaker for your friend or significant other you drug to the movies with you but for anyone who liked the original films or likes the books, you will not mind one bit as you are immersed deeply into the story. I did see it in 3D and it was done very nicely. It added a little fun to the film but not enough that I’d recommend paying extra for it. So strap on your armor and sword, grab your friends and head on over to Middle-earth. You’re in for the beginning of an awesome adventure.
This Weekend at the Theater
It’s going to be a packed week at the theater as not only do several movies release this weekend, but another group will also be opening on Tuesday, Christmas Day.
First up, this week there are two movies releasing today, Wednesday. The first of these is the comedy The Guilt Trip. Seth Rogen stars with Barbra Streisand co-starring as his mother. The two set off on an improbable road trip where mother and son comedy ensues.
Also releasing on Wednesday of this week is the 3D re-release of the Disney/Pixar film Monsters, Inc. Seeing the ability to claim even more stacks of money from audiences, Disney has been re-releasing many of their films into the theaters lately, and this is the latest in that process.
Now for Friday’s new releases. First up is Jack Reacher, the action thriller starring Tom Cruise. Based on a popular series of books, this film casts Cruise as a hard nosed do-gooder who employs brutal tactics to help people.
Also releasing on Friday is the Judd Apatow comedy This is 40. Featuring characters first introduced in the film Knocked Up, This is 40 focuses on a married couple who find their lives have grown stale. Expect the requisite amount of sexual crudeness and over abundant vulgarity you get in any Apatow film if you’re heading out to see this one.
Releasing in limited theaters is Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away. Anyone who has had the pleasure of witnessing one of these magical shows in person will be the first to tell you that if you are near a theater showing this movie, you should definitely go. The Cirque Du Soleil productions are always filled with great music, amazing visuals, and some fantastic stunts.
Now, on Christmas Day there are three new movies releasing. The first is Les Miserables, a big screen adaptation of the popular musical. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway star with a handful of other big names in this touching musical that has long been beloved by audiences.
The next Christmas Day release is the Billy Crystal comedy Parental Guidance. This movie is about two grandparents who go to look after their grandkids and the usual comedy ensues.
The final Christmas Day release is the Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained. Jamie Foxx stars as a freed slave who becomes a bounty hunter, and the film is already coming under fire for its heavy racial elements and violence.