Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Hobbit [Movie Review]

Gandalf and the gang are back, and this time the spell is even more powerful - by Nick van der Leek

IMDB gives The Hobbit 8.9/10, a score that puts this film in the company of Inception, The Dark Knight, and the last of the Rings trilogy, Return of the King. I think The Hobbit beats the pants off each and every instalment of the Ring’s trilogy. The cinematography is more completely and crisply imagined, and rendered, the soundtrack is rich and warm, and all of it is beautifully paced, and filled with vivid detail.

What’s it about? Home-loving Bilbo Baggins reluctantly joins a band of dwarves under the guidance of Gandalf (Ian McKellen in fine form). It starts very slowly, but it's wonderful to linger in Peter Jackson's Middle Earth, especially the Shire.  Bilbo's home feels cozy, and the feast at the beginning is a taste of the filmmaking magic that's in store.

In the end it’s a tossup between the epic settings and Gandalf for who steals the show.
Without giving too much away, in The Hobbit, Bilbo retraces much of the path Frodo took in Fellowship of the Rings, through some of the same landscapes, and in a similar order. The context though, is almost completely different, and the mix of new faces and old faces in mint condition, provides a nice touch.
Cate Blanchett - as Galadriel - and Hugo Weaving - as Lord Eldrond - both haven't aged a bit, in fact she looks more ravishing than ever and he also looks quite spry.  But then story is set 60 years before Frodo's adventures with the Ring.

Ironically the story is about a home-loving hobbit who gives up his home comforts (and doilies and dishes) in order to help a group reclaim a home they’ve lost to a gold-loving dragon. The Ring and Gollum make an appearance, but the mythos of this story is focused squarely on a Lonely Mountain and the dragon snoozing in its golden innards. 

Why are fairy tales still so powerful?  Human beings are symbolic creatures at heart, and here the symbolism is that the primal forces of nature (the Dragon) is the proctector of a great treasure.  The treasure represents you.  All the fears and phobias that need to be overcome in order for the hero to realise his true nature, and potential. In order to defeat the beast (that is within all of us) we have to demonstrate selfless courage.  When we do, we gain the treasure, become heroes and the heroes journey is complete. 

This film does brilliantly on so many levels, 10/10 for sound, setting, acting, dialogue, action and awe-factor. It’s a slightly slower pace than we’re used to, but it’s perfect, because you find yourself wanting to languish in the fantasy as much as you can. The good news is there’ll be two more instalments after this one.

My score: a rare 9.5/10.  My only  criticism is the pale Hulk-like evil Orc, Thoruin Oakenshield's arch enemy, who looks like an unfinished plasticine model.

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