By JAKE GOODNIGHT ♦
Ranger Reporter ♦
More than 75 years ago, J.R.R. Tolkein began his beloved novel, The Hobbit, with the line, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” After reading that line, millions have been hooked on the world of Middle-earth as imagined by Tolkein in The Hobbit as well as his Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Anyone who has not been living in a hole in the ground for the past 12 years will recognize the film as a prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy released in 2001-2003, which won a total of 17 Oscars.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first of a three-part series of films that serves to fill us in on the adventures of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), the solitary hobbit who is dragged into adventure by the great wizard, Gandalf (Ian McKellen).
Baggins struggles throughout the film to prove his worth to the leader of the dwarfs, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) as well as to himself. He is met with various trials from orcs and goblins to sparring rock-giants that push him to the edge of himself. Baggins also finds an infamous ring that we’ve seen before when he encounters a certain cave-dwelling creature named Gollum.
While the film is a worthy effort, it is one that should have been made before The Lord of the Rings. Unfortunately, it feels like an unnecessary extension of its predecessor, almost like watching the special features of a boxed-set DVD. You want to watch it because you loved the previous film so much. You may even enjoy watching it. But it is not really what you came to see.
The director of all the films, Peter Jackson, made a bold decision to shoot this one at a higher frame-rate than the traditional 24 frames per second in an effort to push the envelope and show the audience Middle-earth in even higher than high definition. Although that decision may get the HD geeks excited, it arguably is a disservice to the feel and style that we have come love and expect from Hollywood.
Even amid the un-avoidable comparisons to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the film was fun to watch. It was cast well, and the visuals are quite stunning.
For lovers of The Lord of the Rings, if nothing else, it is another chance to look in on the world of Middle-earth.