The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey DVD Review

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I’m starting to feel a bit sorry for Peter Jackson.

Strange as it may sound to have sympathy for someone as talented, successful and rich as the Kiwi director undoubtedly is, I’m not sure he can win with his new paean to middle earth.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey tells the story of Bilbo Baggins fantastical adventure to help some dwarven lads reclaim their homeland.

This may sound fairly routine, until you throw in some mountain trolls, a swarm of goblins, a trio of wizards old and new, some massive stone giants as well as a white orc with a thirst for vengeance and a penchant for beheading dwarves.

And I haven’t even mentioned the shadow cast over middle earth by some necromancer, a returning bug eyed villain with a love of riddles and a treasure loving dragon by the name of Smaug.

Jackson’s first instalment of his new middle earth trilogy focuses on Bilbo proving his mettle to a bunch of battle hardened and warrior shaped band of brothers, although, as there are two more films to come, it wouldn’t take Gandalf to work out whether Baggins senior pulls this off.

So The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey rests upon the fantastical nature of Bilbo’s adventures with Gandalf and co more than unpredictability, with Jackson throwing more magical creatures into his adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s book than even the South African born author could manage.

Taking material found in the appendices of the Lord Of The Rings books, Jackson has crowbarred new elements into the original story of The Hobbit in an effort to make it more cinematic.

But while this mostly works, choosing to turn The Hobbit into another epic middle earth trilogy is not without some drawbacks.

Apart from the obvious need of an editor with any sort of backbone to tell Jackson what should have been left on the cutting room floor, leaving precisely nothing on the cutting room floor means there’ll be no extended versions of these new middle earth films.

Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings trilogy not only raised the bar for cinematic spectacle, but with its exhaustive collection of bonus content and features, these films set the benchmark for home entertainment releases and still do.

Both as a film and as home entertainment event, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey simply can’t live up to these heady expectations Jackson’s previous excellence demands.

So everything that can be done to make this new middle earth saga more enticing to an adult audience has been, it’s just the source material’s not as rich as the Lord Of The Rings.

Add to that a noticeably less stellar cast than found on previous middle earth yarns, and some technically impressive yet predictable and convoluted action scenes to the equation, and you might find yourself being a tad underwhelmed by Jackson’s new trilogy.

After all, there’s only so much action you can make believable with twelve dwarves.

At least Jackson’s fancy 48 frames per second thing can’t distract you on the DVD I watched, but some of the detail for the big action scenes looked really poor compared to the all singing, all dancing 3d version.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a pretty good story, brilliantly executed the man who made middle earth cool.

Just don’t be surprised if it makes you long for the precious times you had with an older cinematic flame.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

April 2013