Review: THE HOBBIT: An Unexpected Journey

Hobbit

Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage

Director:Peter Jackson

Indian Express rating: ***

An 'unexpected' journey -- you can call it that. For what else will you call the first part of technically the fourth installment of a successful trilogy, at 170 minutes? Conceited? Confused? Concentric?

Having defied several apprehensions with his Oscar-winning adaptation of J R R Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, making it both approachable and accessible, Jackson has gone ahead and done exactly the opposite with the book that preceded it. The Hobbit is more a children's book in both the story and its concept. However, so much is riding on the film adaptation, from the nearly 10 years of digital enhancement since LOTR and the burden of 3D to Jackson's own reptuation (since enhanced by Tintin) and audience's expectations, that An Unexpected Journey has bloated into a special effect-packed thriller with a body-hurtling-down-a-cliff danger in almost every frame.

What is supposed to be a tale about personal growth and finding courage within oneself allows hardly any time to get to know the characters as it hurtles at kinetic speed between episodes, lingering long only over the once-again stupefying Gollum (Andy Serkis). Bilbo Baggins's Frodo link established in a quiet home in Bag End, the film takes a straight plunge into the story, with Gandalf dropping in bearing 13 dwarves who you are better off not trying to distinguish one from the other.

The only one the film takes some time over is their leader, whose grandfather was the king of the dwarves till their land was run over and their treasure seized by dragons. Played by Armitage, Thorin is a regal dwarf, rendered even more so by the way he is shot against the red glow of a setting sun or raging fires, looking proud and sad at what has come to pass.

... contd.

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