Tag Archives: Bilbo Baggins

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Film Review #film #review #filmreview

13 Dec

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For anyone who is looking at the Hobbit posters that are plastering our walls, buses and underground stations, and wondering whether or not its worth your time (about 2.5 hours) and money to sit in a dark room throughout party season; I can categorically tell you it is!

Forget the first installment of the film franchise and all its appalling high frame rate filming and dull overly long set up plot lines, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a triumph! What was lost in the first film is the distinct transportation to another world (its pretty hard to get lost in a film when the clarity of the filming is so high you can see the prosthetics covering each characters faces) and more frighteningly a lack lustre sense of action and adventure. Luckily part two brightens up all our woes and keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish!Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 15.42.19

I know its always a good sign when I remember to check my watch and realize that its already over two hours through. I had been so preoccupied before hand with everything going on, I didn’t even think I stopped to take a breath let alone look at the time!

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the continuation story of Bilbo Baggins the dwarves and Gandalf the Grey as they continue their journey to reclaim their rightful homeland Erebor, from the fire-breathing dragon that is Smaug. Unbeknown to the rest of the group, Bilbo is also in possession of a magical ring which gives him extraordinary powers and makes him a brave and valuable asset on this quest.

First and foremost the action is amazing. Whether it is a newly tweaked version of the 48fps or indeed the standard 24fps version, you will be dazzled by the intricacy and excitement of each action led sequence. One key highlight has to be the battle with giant spiders, which with added 3D gives them a new monstrous perception and will make you shudder out of reach in your cinema seat. Secondly, is the incredibly impressive river barrel sequence, with prancing elves killing Orcs with “endless” amounts of arrows, the logistical reality does not come into play in any way within this sequence as its 15 minutes of glory is truly breath taking.Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 15.42.54

Each character that we have seen in the first installment of the franchise becomes more developed in their own right in this film. Bilbo has an increased level of confidence thanks to his secret weapon, Gandalf goes off to fight his own battle against Sauron, and there is an interesting start of a love triangle between Killy (Dwarf), Tauriel (Elf) and Legolas (Elf) which is left hanging ready for the conclusion in the third film.

And finally, we get to Smaug – Benedict Cumberbatch is superbly cast as the greedy dragon resting in the Misty Mountain awoken by Bilbo. The detail that is used to create the dragon is some of the best out there, each scale is clear to see and the fire in Smaug’s belly prepares you for a visual feast of fire and gold.

To round up, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug brings Peter Jackson back to Tolkien’s original fantasy and his directing best. Fun for all the family, this film is THE go to film for the Christmas period and not one to miss.

4 Stars.

 

The Hobbit – What an unexpected journey that was!

11 Dec

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In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit… for two years JRR Tolkien never wrote further than those few lines, but when he eventually put more pen to paper, along with the consultation of his good friend C.S. Lewis, he drafted what was deemed by the 1954 New York Times as the “best childrens book of the Twentieth century.” Hoards of fans would agree with this statement, and when Lord of the Rings (LOTR) was drafted, Tolkien became one of the biggest literary figures in history.

So now, just over ten years have passed since its first cinematic offering and audiences once again can be looking forward to the dominating force of the only man brave enough to take on LOTR and win every award going. – well nearly but 17/30 Oscars isn’t bad! So you can only imagine the excitement of this early screener at 9am on a Sunday morning in Leicester Square. There was not only press in the audience, but a number of the British crew and cast who had helped bring The Hobbit to life, the pressure was on…

The Hobbit is the story of a young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) a Hobbit, content in his hobbit hole, educated well enough to think he knows the Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 13.12.26world around him, without ever having to step further than Bag End. He is a Hobbit who knows what he likes, nothing more, nothing less. That is, until, Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) greets him one sunny day and offers him an adventure. Politely refusing this offer, Bilbo retreats to his hole, but as of that night and the arrival of thirteen dwarves, his life will change forever…

Fans who have read The Hobbit will know that this story is far shorter than any of the Lord of the Rings books. Yet at 174 minutes on film, it’s a bum shuffling, watch checking journey in itself, to get only a third of the way through the book to the first appearance of the dragon Smaug. A little long winded you might think? Well, brace yourselves, as there will be two more installments over the next couple of years.

Having said that the narrative, although drawn out, is enjoyable and the acting is strong from all characters. Freeman is an excellent choice for Bilbo, charismatic, dandy-esq, but not an annoying buffoon, which is the balance any actor must strike with this character. Richard Armitage’s Thorin, Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 13.12.38leader of the Dwarves, is the biggest revelation and commands every scene he is in with brooding wonderment. It is also great to see some of the characters from LOTR too, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, and a surprise cameo from Christopher Lee and Elijah Wood. The dwarves, although difficult to name individually, each have their own personality and James Nesbitt and Ken Stott perform particularly well in these roles. The absolute standout in everyway however, has to go to Andy Serkis’ Gollum – everything from the acting to the much more advanced visual portrayal of the character is breathtaking and award worthy. By far the most engaging scene from the whole movie, is the simple two hander by this character and Bilbo at the bottom of the Goblin cave.

No one is doubting Peter Jacksons vision and the world he has created, every place you visit from Hobbiton to the Dwarf kingdom of Erebor is beautifully mapped out and delivered, and from that point of view, viewers will not be disappointed. The problem of this film however, comes in the shape of how Jackson has tried to shoot it.

You may have seen lots of comments on the 48 frames per second (fps) issue since screenings in this country have begun. We now live in a post Avatar world, so the technical magic of LOTR now has to be upped in order to compete or seem innovative or groundbreaking. So you can see why Jackson took a risk in showing his audience something very different, but whether or not this is the right choice still remains to be seen. However, early reactions, including my own, is that this unfortunately proves to be more problematic than not. It is very apparent from the first quarter of the film that you will need to adjust to this dramatic change in format.  The more scathing reviews will tell you that it reduces what you see on screen to a bad 1980’s television fantasy. I can understand where this statement is coming from and it is utterly distracting.

Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 13.13.3448fps, is supposed to help not only with 3D eyestrain for the audience, but also to make transitions in the film much smoother as you’re taking in almost double of what you would normally watch. Unfortunately, the end result feels unfinished and too crisp to the extent that you feel as if you are watching on set, through a peephole as they are rehearsing some scenes. You also tend to notice the jump cuts and other transitions from scene to scene, which jars your viewing enjoyment and prohibits you from getting lost in the film you are watching. It also feels as if there is no grading at all carried out on the film, and it’s the brighter shots such as outside in Bag End that feel the fault of this the most. In short the cinematic quality is lost.

This along with Jacksons decision to split the film into a three part money making trilogy are the two biggest risks taken, and at this early stage does not feel like either have paid off.  Having said that, you cannot deny what a brilliant story this is to be told. Unfortunately the format in which it is presented takes something away from the adult who grew up reading this as a child, and feels more like something much suited to a child who needs to be pacified when their favourite episode on CBeebies comes to an end. A harsh final thought? Well unfortunately there are costly mistakes which have been made, and the army of Hobbit fans may feel let down unless they get to one of the far fewer screenings running the film in either 2D or standard 3D without the extra hassle.

The Hobbit hits cinemas on the 13th December.