I think about The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey with a few considerations in mind.
Firstly, this is about Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth and his film-making artistry, as much as it is about the adaption of Tolkien’s works.
Secondly, while being made some ten years after The Lord Of The Rings movies, this series of three movies has to stand on its own, but also serve as a precursor to some plot lines and characters from the Rings movies. History will view them as six movies, beginning here and finishing with Return Of The King. (Though hopefully never as ‘Episodes 1-6’)
Thirdly, though sharing a universe with The Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit is different in plot complexity, character and even intended audience; meaning tonal contrasts are inevitable, and representing an inherent challenge for production of a cohesive series.
That being written, this is a wonderful movie and promises to be a wonderful trilogy, which promises to harmonise with, and lead into The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.
I could simply sit and watch Jackson’s visualisation of Middle Earth on and on and on. It is so amazing to look at.
The way in which musical themes from The Lord Of The Rings movies are incorporated in the score of this movie gives a very deft and subtle linkage between them.
The lighter and more naturally comedic tone of this movie serves as a fitting introduction to what will become a six movie series; the shadows of darkness are these but much more faint, but watching these will add further texture to viewings of the Rings movies.
Jackson’s choice of Martin Freeman to play Bilbo Baggins is genius. Elijah Wood’s youthful Frodo grew into his character. Freeman’s older Bilbo reveals a character which is already there.
The plot, spread over three movies, develops with assured pace, not feeling rushed or cramped (as the Rings movies could have), but never feels padded. (And, again, is so engaging to watch). It also is a reminder of just how much Jackson pared out of the Rings material but still created a dense and fast-moving original trilogy. I assume if pacing continues over the next two, we’ll have six movies that flow from a somewhat measured beginning to the busy, busy, busy pace of Return Of The King.
Returning cast members and the new ensemble cast mix seamlessly together.
If, after the end of these three, Andy Serkis doesn’t win some sort of award for his portrayal of Gollum then surely an award will have to be invented.
The 3D/24fps version we saw looked great, but I could imagine that the 48fps version, Imax version, 2D version, however you see it will all look gorgeous.
It felt like the entire population of New Zealand was mentioned in the credits.
And the big take away was about the importance of home, and how that’s worth fighting for.