Entertainment

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey review

THERE is a sense of sledgehammers being used to crack nuts in the first part of Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy.

J.R.R. Tolkein's short 1937 novel, a prequel to The Lord Of The Rings, has been turned into an enormous Wagnerian epic by Jackson and his collaborators.

>> Hobbiton pub open for business

For all the sound and fury, not a great deal actually happens in this initial episode.

The personable home-loving hobbit Bilbo Baggins (very engagingly played by Martin Freeman) is prised out of his country retreat by Gandalf and the 13 Dwarves and signed up to accompany them on their quest to reclaim their lost kingdom of Erebor.

Much has been made of Jackson's decision to shoot in groundbreaking 3D 48 frames-per-second.

This is twice the traditional frame rate and gives uncannily sharp resolution to the filmmaking.

The problem is that, at least in the initial sequences set in Bilbo's home of Bag End (Middle Earth's equivalent to the Home Counties), the effect is kitsch and alienating.

Watching these super clear but super bland images,  you yearn for the contrast and graininess in old fashioned 2D film.

As The Dwarves plunder Bilbo's larder and Gandalf (Ian McKellen stroking a very long beard) tries to persuade him to join the mission - which isn't very clearly explained - The Hobbit moves along with a complete lack of voltage.

The Dwarves are characterised vividly enough, there is one early fight sequence in which we see in flashback the Dwarf Lord Thorin (a growling Richard Armitage) fighting against the Orcs that have laid his family's kingdon to waste but, overall, the pacing is torpid.

It's only when Bilbo and co. come up against some hungry but dim-witted trolls with a taste for Dwarves' flesh that the momentum begins to pick up.

Thankfully, Jackson's flair for action sequences and bold and complex production design hasn't deserted him.

Huge, snarling dogs and a chase sequence involving a wizard played by Sylvester McCoy being pulled by a sledge of super-nimble rabbits add some bite to the storytelling.

The Goblin King (Barry Humphries) is obese and repulsive. He presides over a hellish goblin kingdom that rekindles memories of Hieronymous Bosch paintings. Jackson throws in more and more swooping, swirling camera work.

Familiar old faces - Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett and Ian Holm among them - are seen fleetingly.

However, one of the very best scenes in the film pits Bilbo against Gollum (Andy Serkis) in a game of riddles.

In this scene, at least, the balance between menace, tension and humour is perfectly struck.

This isn't a film that builds to a natural conclusion.

With two more installments to come, we are only part of the way into the quest and the ending here is strangely abrupt.

You're not quite sure why the film has taken so long - close to three hours - to deliver relatively little in terms of plot development.

There is a suspicion that the producers have cut a sandwich into three that could easily have been served up in two slices.

Even so, audiences are bound to eat it up and come back for more. Jackson's Tolkein adptations have almost a cult appeal among their devotees while newcomers looking for cinematic spectacle over the Christmas period won't feel too badly short-changed either.

Topics:  editors picks lord of the rings movie review peter jackson the hobbit: an unexpected journey



Date nights under $50

ACCORDING to The Bachelor falling in love involves helicopter rides, private jets, shopping trips, and we mustn’t forget the hot tubs.

Brisbane's arts and culture events centre stage

You loved the film, now you're about to love the musical. Don't miss The Bodyguard The Musical in Brisbane this July.

THE arts and culture events you don't want to miss.

Homewares stores to fulfil your Instagram dreams

No Caption

You too can become an Insta-star with these fab stores.

Top 10 Brisbane experiences to cross off your bucket list

Do yourself a favour and get amongst the food truck scene. Eat Street is a great place to start.

A GOOD bucket list doesn’t have to span continents or cost millions.

Six mega sporting events you need to be at this year

Don't miss all the action trackside this season.

IF THERE is one thing Brisbane does damn well, it’s play host.

Insider’s guide to the best rooftop bars

Eleven Rooftop Bar is one to put on your hit list.

SEE the world from a different perspective...

Where to get your hands on the best wings

Try out these bad boys at Buffalo Bar.

IS THERE anything better than a wicked bowl of chicken wings? Nope.

LIVE BLOG: Two debutants in Blues team for Origin I

Jarryd Hayne will return to the NSW side.

The heroes of Cyclone Debbie

TWEED'S HEROES: The story of how John Lawrence, Shyam Bryan and Johnny Norris helped rescue 13 people from the flooded Greenhills Caravan Park is featured in the national book released to raise money for flood victims.

Commemorative book to raise money for victims.

Local Partners

19 dead, 50 injured in Ariana Grande 'terror attack'

NINETEEN people have been killed and at least 50 people have been injured following a terror attack in Manchester

Pitch Perfect star suing Woman’s Day over ‘liar’ articles

Actor Rebel Wilson outside court on Friday.

REBEL Wilson's career destroyed by grubby campaign, court hears.

Seven Year Switch: The boner to end all boners

Johnny’s outraged over claims he has a cracked boner.

She gulps. Her face says it all.

Bay to star in Hollywood shark thriller ‘Cage Dive’

Cage Dive, written and directed by Gerald Rascionato, is now screening in the United States of America. It had scenes filmed in Hervey Bay.

And our visiting humpback whales also make appearance.

Celebrity sex tapes: Where does all that money go?

Basically, did Paris and Kim earn fortunes from their videos?

Cher, 71, and Celine Dion wow world at Billboard Awards

“I’m 71 yesterday and I can do a five-minute plank, OK.”

Judah's return to The Voice stage is a knockout

Judah Kelly performs during his knockout round on The Voice.

QUEENSLAND singer nails Adele hit.

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

WATCH: Take a tour of a tradie's dream home

5a Bruce Hiskens Court, Norman Gardens, going for $720,000. INSET: Lea Taylor.

Huge block with potential for anything

REVEALED: Where it's cheaper to pay off a mortgage than rent

6/190 Ewing Rd, Woodridge, is listed for offers $215,000. Picture: realestate.com.au

Brisbane suburbs where it is cheaper to buy than rent

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!