A decade ago, Peter Jackson’s phenomenal The Lord of the Rings trilogy secured its spot amongst the greatest of filmmaking achievements in cinema. Its epic scope, incredible attention to detail and many technical merits (not excluding Howard Shore’s stirring music of course) became the benchmark for not only the fantasy genre, but also great filmmaking in general. Satisfied with the success of his magnum opus, Jackson for some time has been avoiding the director’s chair for the inevitable adaptation of Tolkien’s other fantasy adventure, The Hobbit. But after years of production delays, and changes in management, fate made sure the project ended up in his hands regardless. It was a bold undertaking to say the least, and Jackson was certainly not leaving any stones unturned by experimenting with new 48 fps technology. Understandably, fans were a little nervous, and the decision to adapt such a small children’s tale into a trilogy sure wasn’t helping. Whether Jackson ultimately ended up extinguishing such fears however is up for debate.
The first film, entitled An Unexpected Journey, would present the beginning of modest Bilbo Baggins’ great adventure as he joins a company of 13 dwarves led by the vengeful Thorin Oakenshield to reclaim their homeland, Erebor, currently occupied by the vehement dragon Smaug. To say there were great expectations would be a massive understatement indeed, and considering the light-hearted nature of the source material, disappointment was inevitable. Despite success with audiences, critics were not so kind with this new trilogy, and perhaps with good reason. The film impresses visually, with its same high standard of acting, dazzling action sequences and impressive New Zealand vistas. But the final product is far from perfect. The bloated nature of the film owes itself to the poor pacing (the real adventure doesn’t get started till the second half), needless Tolkien fan-fiction and the strangely conflicting nature of the juxtaposition of both the comedy of the source material and the darker atmosphere of The Lord of the Rings. It’s an enjoyable feature, but a flawed one at that. Read the rest of this entry »