The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ★★★★

Watched in 24FPS and 2D, to hell with your fancy technology.

I've never read any of Tolkein's works, but I am a huge fan of Jackson's LOTR trilogy, so I can definitely compare The Hobbit to them, and believe me it definitely does compare to them. Critical reviews comparing An Unexpected Journey to The Phantom Menace are so incredibly wide of the mark it's ridiculous. While the first leg of The Hobbit trilogy may not quite reach the incredible heights of the Lord of the Rings, to say that it is a failure is just plain wrong.

Visually, An Unexpected Journey excels perhaps even beyond the very high standards set by LOTR. The scenic shots are still breathtaking and the computer graphics have improved vastly. Saying that, I will agree with the criticisms that there is too heavy a use of CGI in close ups - the scenes involving the three trolls and the goblin king are among the weakest in the film. Where Lord of the Rings succeeded so greatly was that the Orcs and Uruk-Hai felt so real, and some of that magic is lost slightly when some of the main antagonists in The Hobbit are completely computer generated.

The other highly mentioned criticism is the film's run time. I'll just say that after perhaps the first 30 minutes, the time will absolutely fly by. As soon as the film leaves The Shire behind, it barely stops as we're moved from one stunning set piece to another. I think I looked at my watch once during the film, and when I saw it had an hour left, I smiled. As far as I'm concerned, the longer I spend in Jackson's Middle-Earth, the better.

If you didn't like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, this is highly unlikely to convert you. But as far as I'm concerned, it's a very worthy successor (or predecessor), and I can't wait to see it continue.