The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ★★★

Okay, so I'm not the world's biggest Tolkein fan. I read The Hobbit at School (not a choice thing) but don't really remember too much about it as it was forced upon us in about the 2nd or 3rd year of Senior School. It was passable, as far as I can ascertain in casting my memory back that far...

So, onto the film then.

Firstly, I enjoyed/endured the LOTR trilogy... yes, it was spectacular and epic in its style... the battle scenes were intense and immense... the story was fairly straight forward and had enough to keep the viewer enthralled... but it was too damned arse numbingly long! Having read that this 'installment' of the overall Middle Earth series was almost 3 hours in length, I was apprehensive, to say the least... and with good reason as it turns out.

I was forced (due to limited timeslots) to see it in HFR (High Frame Rate) and 3D but went in hoping for the best.

I've no idea if it was the HFR which made quite a few bits look simply too false (I'd even go so far as to say that when Rivendell was revealed in its glory it looked like a bunch of men stood in on a set in front of a painted backdrop) or whether it was the 3D, or even the Director's decision... but it left me decidedly underwhelmed! Some of the action CGI was dodgy, at best, especially the interpretation of gravity acting upon bodies during battle and/or falling tress/bridges... again, it looked almost laughable.

The saviour, for me, was Gollum. Forget the 15000ft (slight exaggeration!) drop that Bilbo somehow survives without even a cut or broken bone prior to him meeting this cave dwelling sub-human... it was all about Gollum.

Brilliantly brought to the screen (and to life) by Andy Serkis, he provided not only some genuine comedy relief but also the only bit of this film that was perfectly paced and just the right length focussed on it... shame the rest was about an hour too long of scene-setting, inane dialogue ("Have you got any chips?"), posing-and-looking-into-the-distance-whilst-trying-to-project-authority-and-gravitas and various other superfluous gubbins.

I will probably see the next two parts to see how the rest is handled, but that's only because I pay a monthly fee to use the cinema whenever I feel like it... if I'd paid nearly a tenner I'd have felt rather robbed, I think.