Entertainment

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey review

THERE is a sense of sledgehammers being used to crack nuts in the first part of Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy.

J.R.R. Tolkein's short 1937 novel, a prequel to The Lord Of The Rings, has been turned into an enormous Wagnerian epic by Jackson and his collaborators.

>> Hobbiton pub open for business

For all the sound and fury, not a great deal actually happens in this initial episode.

The personable home-loving hobbit Bilbo Baggins (very engagingly played by Martin Freeman) is prised out of his country retreat by Gandalf and the 13 Dwarves and signed up to accompany them on their quest to reclaim their lost kingdom of Erebor.

Much has been made of Jackson's decision to shoot in groundbreaking 3D 48 frames-per-second.

This is twice the traditional frame rate and gives uncannily sharp resolution to the filmmaking.

The problem is that, at least in the initial sequences set in Bilbo's home of Bag End (Middle Earth's equivalent to the Home Counties), the effect is kitsch and alienating.

Watching these super clear but super bland images,  you yearn for the contrast and graininess in old fashioned 2D film.

As The Dwarves plunder Bilbo's larder and Gandalf (Ian McKellen stroking a very long beard) tries to persuade him to join the mission - which isn't very clearly explained - The Hobbit moves along with a complete lack of voltage.

The Dwarves are characterised vividly enough, there is one early fight sequence in which we see in flashback the Dwarf Lord Thorin (a growling Richard Armitage) fighting against the Orcs that have laid his family's kingdon to waste but, overall, the pacing is torpid.

It's only when Bilbo and co. come up against some hungry but dim-witted trolls with a taste for Dwarves' flesh that the momentum begins to pick up.

Thankfully, Jackson's flair for action sequences and bold and complex production design hasn't deserted him.

Huge, snarling dogs and a chase sequence involving a wizard played by Sylvester McCoy being pulled by a sledge of super-nimble rabbits add some bite to the storytelling.

The Goblin King (Barry Humphries) is obese and repulsive. He presides over a hellish goblin kingdom that rekindles memories of Hieronymous Bosch paintings. Jackson throws in more and more swooping, swirling camera work.

Familiar old faces - Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett and Ian Holm among them - are seen fleetingly.

However, one of the very best scenes in the film pits Bilbo against Gollum (Andy Serkis) in a game of riddles.

In this scene, at least, the balance between menace, tension and humour is perfectly struck.

This isn't a film that builds to a natural conclusion.

With two more installments to come, we are only part of the way into the quest and the ending here is strangely abrupt.

You're not quite sure why the film has taken so long - close to three hours - to deliver relatively little in terms of plot development.

There is a suspicion that the producers have cut a sandwich into three that could easily have been served up in two slices.

Even so, audiences are bound to eat it up and come back for more. Jackson's Tolkein adptations have almost a cult appeal among their devotees while newcomers looking for cinematic spectacle over the Christmas period won't feel too badly short-changed either.

Topics:  editors picks lord of the rings movie review peter jackson the hobbit: an unexpected journey



How to survive a bushfire in your car

IT SOUNDS like a nightmare, but it can happen.

Eight reasons to join the RFS

SPREAD across 93% of Queensland, the Rural Fire Service has about 36,000 volunteers. And you could be one of them.

What if my insurer gives me grief?

CLAIMING your insurance cover after a natural disaster can go one of two ways. It can be a breeze, or like pulling teeth.

Crash causes headaches on the Warrego

Travellers heading to the Somerset and Wivenhoe dams from Ipswich for the weekend were stuck in a huge tailback as they turned on to the Brisbane Valley Highway from the Warrego Highway.

Oil spill may have caused driver to spin out

Why Raj will feed hundreds for free on Christmas Day

GIVING SPIRIT: Indian Mehfil owner Raj Sharma, pictured with wife Prianka and their children Sara and Sohaan, will feed hundreds of the Ipswich needy on Christmas Day at his Ipswich CBD restaurant for free..

Indian Mehfil owner opens his heart so Ipswich needy don't eat alone

I have a big fish for Redbank: Pisasale

BIG FISH ON LINE: Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale has congratulated Asahi on securing a site in Heathwood but says he has big plans for the Redbank Motorway site.

Ipswich misses Asahi but global player in the pipeline

Local Partners

How predictable are your Netflix habits?

Stranger Things is taking the world by storm as a new-age nostalgic Sci-Fi Thriller

The new entertainment binging pattern

Kanye West is on the mend now he's back from hospital

Kanye West is more relaxed since returning home from hospital

WATCH: The young Aussie actor playing Barack Obama

A screenshot of the trailer for Barry, a new film from Netflix.

Aussie teen nails Obama's early university years

Boy George named as a coach on The Voice Australia

Iconic pop star Boy George is to appear as a coach on 'The Voice'

The first Baywatch trailer is here, and it's hilarious

From left, Jon Bass, Alex Daddario, Zac Efron, Dwayne Johnson, Kelly Rohrbach, and Ilfenesh Hadera in a scene from the movie Baywatch.

DWAYNE Johnson and Zac Efron star in TV series reboot.

A little taste of Russia

FUN NIGHT OUT: Innessa will play Studio 188 on Saturday.

A blend of folk and world music at Studio 188 this weekend

Ipswich City Properties asset portfolio retains its value

Ipswich City Council Administration Building, South Street, Ipswich. Photo: Claudia Baxter / The Queensland Times

New website launched by Ipswich City Council

INSIDE STORY: The highlights of your $150 million CBD

GRAND PLAN: The highlights of the Ipswich CBD redevelopment and where they will be located.

Work on city heart's radical transformation to begin next year

REVEALED: Timeline for CBD redevelopment

The new redevelopment of the CBD will take place in stages.

Lindsay gives the good oil on when the work will begin

VOTE IN OUR POLL: Sand mine opponents face serious dilemma

Public meeting for the proposed sand mine at Maroochydore last week.

Coast MP calls on Minister to stop KRA proposal with stroke of a pen

PHOTOS: World class CBD to lift Ipswich

An artist's impressions of the future Ipswich city mall.

Grand plans to transform city heart unveiled today

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!