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'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' masters special effects (VIDEO)

[/media-credit] The theatrical poster for The Hobbit.

First installment entices excitement

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who is well respected, trusted and never does anything out of the ordinary. So when the wizard Gandalf the Grey appears at his door and invites him on a quest to win a kingdom back from the dragon Smaug, in the company of 13 dwarves, he goes on quite an unexpected journey.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was a very fitting title for the first installment of Peter Jackson’s adaption of the J.R.R. Tolkien novel The Hobbit.

Jackson set the bar very high with the Lord of the Rings Trilogy movies. Many people came to The Hobbit with high expectations, including myself. The Hobbit was something that Tolkien and Jackson fans were looking forward to ever since the movie was announced.

A lot of students at school have read The Hobbit, some two or three times for school. Having a knowledge of the story line and events, some may be confused and surprised with the events in the movie.

The movie starts just a little earlier than when Fellowship of the Ring started. Bilbo is writing a book of his adventures. He tells some back story of the dwarves, their treasure hoard and the attack of Smaug the Dragon. They show the massive mines the dwarves have dug. Already the special effects and sets are looking amazing, showing the majesty and beauty in the mine and home carved under the mountain.

The introduction of Smaug is handled well, teasing the watcher with small glimpses of the beast but no clear view of what he looks like. They show how he is relentless and greedy and how his only care is the hoard of riches in the mountain and how he destroys the dwarves’ home in the process.

This is where the story of Bilbo begins. The audience is shown a much younger Bilbo, played by Martin Freeman, sitting on his front porch, smoking his pipe and greeting a man passing his home with a friendly, “Good morning!”

The man passing his house happens to be the wizard Gandalf, who goes on to ask Bilbo if he meant to wish him a good morning, or that it is a good morning whether he wants it to be or not, or if that Bilbo feels that it is a good morning or if he meant it is a morning to be good on. A flustered Bilbo responds that he meant all of them at once.

Freeman, well known for his role in the Master Piece Theater show Sherlock, handles the role of Bilbo quite well. Freeman is excellent at displaying Bilbo’s frustration, nervousness and home sickness through out the movie along with his courage and sympathy towards the dwarves for having lost their home to Smaug. Smaug the dragon is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, who also voiced the Necromancer in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and plays the main character in the show ‘Sherlock,’ along side Martin Freeman.

The dwarves themselves are very interesting, as Gimli was the only dwarf previously seen in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Seeing other dwarves all with completely different personalities was very enjoyable and gave a better look into the lives of dwarves.

The story itself, like previously mentioned, is quite different from the book itself. Though many events have changed a little, such as when the dwarves are caught by the goblins. Other events have been added to the movie, like the scenes with Radagast the Brown, a wizard who has a love for nature and would much rather be in the company of animals than people.

This can make it a bit confusing at first if the watcher has read The Hobbit , since some of the events were not even mentioned in the book.

A major difference in the movie is the lack of reality in the movie. Granted, this is a fantasy movie but even the Trilogy was grounded in some reality. There were several moments during The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey that made the watcher think in the back of their head “How on earth did they manage to live through that?” This is understandable though, since many of those scenes were very intense and some rather funny and help keep the watcher on the edge of their seat.

Andy Serkis reprised his role in the movie as the creature Gollum, doing the well known scene “Riddles in the Dark.” He does an excellent job making Gollum very creepy and kind of hilarious at the same time. Gollum, who often talks to himself, seeming to have a personality disorder from being corrupted by the One Ring, often fights with himself, telling himself to ‘Shut up!’ and arguing with himself, trying to think of an answer to Bilbo’s riddles.

All these things may be different, but it does not necessarily make them a bad thing. The scenes that have been added are events that have been pulled from Tolkien’s book The Silmarillion and notes on the history of Middle Earth.

One negative thing I noticed was that some of the orcs were CGI. In the Trilogy, the majority of the orcs were people in heavy makeup and prosthetics, giving them a more realistic feel and look. The effects used to make the orcs in The Hobbit were very good but didn’t give the same feeling as the disgusting, evil orcs in the Trilogy. The goblins were animated as well and seemed a bit too cartoony.

The negative effects, while annoying details, are quite outweighed by the positive effects. The acting is brilliant and well done by both actors returning to take up roles in the story of Middle earth and by actors new to the sets.

The special effects were very well done and the soundtrack is beautiful, setting the tone for the movie and creating an iconic theme. The story may have changed a bit but does well at tying it all back together with the book and is wonderful at keeping the audience at the edge of their seat.

The characters are memorable and amusing with many memorable lines both from the book and original. The ending of the movie leaves the audience longing for the second part of the three part installment of the movie.

When the movie ended in the theater, the audience rose and clapped. The fans were buzzing with excitement and discussing their favorite parts of it all. Anyone who is a fan of The Lord of the Rings should see this movie, as it helps to fill in the blanks by adding some depth and history to the movie Trilogy. While it may veer off the path of the book, it manages to stick very close to the original story. It’s laughable, fun and captivating, and is a wonderful addition to the movie versions of Lord of the Rings.

The next movie to be released is The Desolation of Smaug, which will be the second movie out of three.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.

For more movie reviews, read the Nov. 28 article, Historical flick focuses on abolition (VIDEO).

Follow The Feather via Twitter and Instagram: @thefeather and @thefeatheronline. This writer can be reached via Twitter: @ejLadd

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    Tyler LairdNov 6, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Congratulations on qualifying for the next meet, Ashley!