The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ★★★★½

How do you possibly review this movie? How do you even *make* this movie, with decades of expectation heaped upon it, the added pressure of the success of the Lord of the Rings, the notoriously fickle 'fans', and the shared experience of the original book?

I trusted Jackson to get this right - and here's my one line review.

This is a self indulgent chocolate fudge Sunday of a movie that you will feel some level of guilt over but you will undoubtedly love every single moment of.

Of course, not everyone will. Hell, not everyone likes the source material, and even some who do will dislike the film. That's fine, it's art, it's fine not to like art.

But this movie is here for people who love the book, the mythology, the pure essence of it all; for people who love fantasy stories, with dwarves and elves and goblins, and for people who want to be part of the tales told by Tolkien.

It gets so much right - the songs, the feeling of Middle Earth before the discovery of the Ring, the dwarves, Gandalf. There's much to moan about if you want, there's a lot of new material, there's a shift in focus, and there's a thread which just isn't there in the book - but this is an adaptation, and as a piece of film making it works.

It's long but it never feels like it. It's funny but it never feels like a comedy. It's full of stuff but it never feels turgid. It's self indulgent but it never feels self conscious.

The stand out moment is the riddle scene between Bilbo and Gollum. Freeman provides a beautiful foil for the role of Gollum, and the animation and pure character of Gollum as he guesses the riddles is the most compelling piece of on-screen CGI I have ever witnessed.

That whole scene is genius, but it is surrounded by vistas and landscapes and sweeping shots of Middle Earth that will make your heart sing if you go in with the right frame of mind.

And of course, all this is preceded by shots of Erebor that will blow you away.

So the question - why not 5 out of 5? Not enough epic speeches, which I'm expecting to be corrected by the third one.

Tony liked this review