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‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” continues popular franchise

Feb 6 • Arts & Leisure • 351

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Gandalf and friends return to Middle Earth in Peter Jackson’s prequel to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Hobbit.”

Unlike J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” series of fantasy novels, “The Hobbit” only contains 310 pages filled with a rich story in which the reader is taken into another world inhabited by hobbits, elves, dwarves and wizards.

However, it is still arguably one of the best fantasy novels ever written, even though it pales in length to any of the novels that make up its older brother trilogy.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” takes place 60 years before the start of the “Lord of the Rings,” where Bilbo Baggins of The Shire accompanies 13 dwarves and Gandalf the Grey on their mission to reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which has been long been ruled by Smaug the Dragon after driving the dwarves away years earlier.

Jackson and his talented filmmaking crew saw the success that the “Lord of the Rings” brought in and decided to give Middle Earth an encore with “The Hobbit,” almost 10 years removed from the original trilogy. Ian McKellen (Gandalf) was rolled out of a nursing home in order to appear in this movie.

Make no mistake, though, Jackson and his crew have come through and made an incredible epic adventure that immerses the viewer into the beautiful world of Middle Earth yet again.

Although it’s not as effective or groundbreaking so to speak as the original trilogy, the visuals in this top the original trilogy.

Some people will disagree with me on that, but it’s amazing what a good 10 years of technological advancement can do to a movie.

The lifelike trolls, orcs and other fantasy creatures that have become so commonplace in Tolkien novels make up a very vibrant and sometimes dark Middle Earth.

You really feel like you’re right in the middle of an adventure and it’s further enhanced through excellent use of 3D.

The cinematic experience is also enhanced through a masterful score, created by none other than Howard Shore, who won three Academy Awards for his work in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Although Tolkien only wrote a few hundred pages in the original novel, the filmmaking crew somehow thought it would be a great idea to release two hours and 39 minutes of footage for the final cut of this film.

And that’s where “The Hobbit” falls short of perfection.

Some scenes, especially in the beginning of the film, seem a little stretched.

The action picks up after a good 40 minutes in the story, however, so this isn’t a huge gripe.

Fans of the series and casual movie-goers who liked the original trilogy shouldn’t find much to complain about the length anyway.

The story is as rich and entertaining as any fantasy film you’ve seen at least in the past couple of years. And it won’t end with this particular film either.

Two more sequels are expected to be released in the next couple of years to complete the adventure of this timeless classic.

 

JACOB TARR

tarr003@knights.gannon.edu

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