Friday, December 14, 2012

The Hobbit - A Review

My 4th entry in 2 weeks! And I thought 2012 would be a dry spell.

But being a movie buff, whenever something truly great comes along, I need to share it with others. :)

It's been a terrific year for movies, and The Hobbit is another in a long line of masterpieces. I'm a huge fan of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, but only film-wise, since I never got round to reading the novels despite having them in my cupboard for eons.

I didn't read the prequel either, but it doesn't matter! Worried about the storyline not being grand enough? Yes, it isn't quite as perilous, but I didn't care!
And what about the dwarves? Not exactly the most popular characters around. Surprisingly, I love them! Even more than the LOTR heroes, who were already pretty cool ( e.g. Aragorn, Legolas ).

I've been reading up on the film in Empire magazine ( aka my movie bible :)). Perhaps it helped with the enjoyment factor, because at least I knew what was going on, and had a rather clear picture of each character's background.

I also kept an eye out for the hunky actors. :)

Here's one: Richard Armitage, who plays dwarf prince, Thorin Oakenshield. Thorin is, essentially, Aragorn's equivalent in this particular tale, but in my opinion, Armitage far exceeds Viggo Mortensen's intense performance in LOTR.

In fact, the former projects such a strong presence, he's probably the reason I had such a fantastic time. He eats up the screen whenever he appears, and even when he's not in a scene, you can't stop thinking about him and wishing he'd return ASAP.

He's also 1.88 metres tall! I'm still trying to wrap my head around that.

Back to the dwarves. I was never a fan of Gimli from LOTR, but absolutely LOVE the motley crew depicted here. Rest assured that you'll be able to pick out individuals easily based on appearance and personality, and will have a roaring good time as you join them on their adventures.

Personally speaking, I consider them fascinating characters when compared to humans and elves. Their various idiosyncracies and group dynamics are hilarious, yet when bravery is called for, they deliver 10 times more than anyone twice their size.

The action sequences are breath-taking! I don't think I've had such a massive adrenaline rush since Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol a year ago! The protagonists battle orcs, wargs, trolls and goblins in nail-biting sequences scattered throughout the movie. Every time you think you can relax, another conflict occurs, with exhilarating results.

These battles marked the turning point in my dwarf appreciation. They demonstrate the lengths to which the pint-sized humans will go to protect their own ( and sometimes, a fellow friend as well ). Gasp in awe as they charge into the fray, facing down giant trolls, vicious wargs and endless armies of orcs and goblins.

I also love how the dwarves' resourcefulness and ingenuity are highlighted, especially in a climactic chase through the goblins' mountain lair. Pay attention to the different methods they employ to escape. It's positively astounding! :)

Do not worry about the lack of a worthy opponent on par with LOTR's evil Sauron. There's a creepy segment where Radagast, the brown wizard, meets a malevolent entity called The Necromancer in an abandoned ruin named Dol Guldur. Made my hair stand!

Last but not least, Smaug the terrifying dragon will debut in Part 2 next year, after a sneek peek in the final seconds of An Unexpected Journey. I do hate cliffhangers sometimes!

However, the review wouldn't be complete without mentioning Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo Baggins. Jackson made it clear in many interviews that Freeman was always his first choice for the role, and he has chosen wisely indeed. I became acquainted with his work through the BBC's updated version of Sherlock, and think he's much more interesting and charming here.

There're remnants of John Watson's high-strung befuddlement, but Bilbo exhibits his own very unique personality, with many traits which add layers to the otherwise straightforward plot. Since I didn't read the novel, the many instances where Bilbo is at the crossroads and chooses the path we least expect makes for extremely compelling viewing. Whether every incident is faithful to the source material, I have no idea, but the end result is inspiring!

The Hobbit would be excellent for the young and impressionable set, but there're too many potentially traumatizing scenes, from decapitations to slit throats and dismemberment, not to mention all the scary monsters. Yet, at its heart is a beautiful message about never underestimating someone's potential, the unbreakable bond of friendship, and the ability to overcome adversity even when the odds seem stacked against you.

The last 30 minutes had me on the edge of my seat! And my bladder was practically bursting after the halfway mark, no thanks to the blasted air-conditioning which was set to Death Freeze mode.

It just shows how freaking amazing the film is, because I couldn't bring myself to leave the theatre, even for a second. Brace yourself for the 3-hour length, but I guarantee 100% that there will never be a dull moment.

Another 12 months till The Desolation Of Smaug. I hope the time will pass very quickly. :)

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