DVD Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (PG)
- Credit: Archant
Review by Toby Lattimore
It’s expected, and obvious from the outset, that The Hobbit is a pageant of visual wonder and in this respect it doesn’t disappoint at any stage during its journey. The sets are amazing, the landscape breathtaking and the scope of the history of Middle Earth mind blowing.
Tolkien’s first fantasy book, written for children about Hobbits, has been broken into a trilogy, some say cynically to make as much money as possible from the franchise. This first instalment runs for about two and a half hours which will make, if the others are of similar length, over seven hours of fantasy enthrallment. For any normal book to be made into three films seems excessive but we are not dealing with a normal book or any normal background. With the Lord of the Rings Trilogy already a box office success and this following on from that, although it is set before in the timescale, The Hobbit already has an army of supporters. With The Hobbit, a modern classic, having been written by J R R Tolkien it also has a hardcore of fantasy fans intrigued to find out more.
The film has a simple premise and it doesn’t hide behind this fact. It is about a journey and the band which take it on. Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman (Hot Fuzz), is surprised to have a band of Dwarves turn up at his home and as they arrive one by one they take over his comfortable Hobbit Hole and devour everything in his pantry. Gandalf, once again played by the noble Ian McKellen (X-Men), also arrives to reassure Bilbo and shed some light on proceedings. It is soon revealed that they are to journey into the wilds with the Dwarves to help them reclaim their home in the bowels of the Lonely Mountain. There is a problem though, a mighty Dragon named Smaug has moved in and claimed the gold and land for himself.
The leader of the Dwarves, the Prince Thorin Oakenshield, is played by the grim, handsomely bearded, Richard Armitage (Captain America: The First Avenger). He carries the weight of responsibility of a whole race on his shoulders and he storms around fearlessly and there are many fears on the way. The band battle orcs and goblins, outwit trolls and become caught up in an epic stone giant punch up. The film weaves story and myth and the sense of grandeur is visually matched with snippets of great battles and long drawn out fight sequences. Perhaps the pick of the dwarves is Bofur played by James Nesbitt (Millions) who makes a connection with Bilbo and who’s striking voice matches his outlandish moustache.
We are treated to a world rich in heritage and complex characters who have their own goals and weaknesses and all the while there is a sense of foreboding. Then Gollum, played by Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), appears and we are reminded of the corrupting influence of the Ring of Power and the war that is to come. At times the Oscar winning director Peter Jackson indulges in the visual world he has created but he has every right and we can sit back and be part of that world and enjoy something special and very difficult to come by; a great story.
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