The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review (or, On Cinema)

Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Peter Jackson & Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Guillermo Del Toro
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian Mckellan, Richard Armitage, Graham MacTavish and Ken Stott
Run Time: 169 minutes
Release Date: December 14th
Cert:
Rating: N/A

There’s an inherent problem with reviewing films for a living. I mean, naturally it is mostly a great way to spend your time, but it can force you to think in, at times, irritable ways. Obviously in order to do the job you have to really love cinema, you can’t go to the movies 5 times a week, sometimes more (often less, it depends on the season) unless you really love it. But it is a job, you have to think about these films professionally, with a critical eye. You do that for long enough and you can lose sight of what cinema really is.

Cinema is escapism, it’s about disappearing into an entirely different world and gaining all kinds of experiences that aren’t usually open to you. It’s about hearing fascinating tales well told. Getting to know new characters, falling in love, falling in hate. Experiencing emotion not just due to the tale but through the artistry in the visuals, through music which moves you. It’s about being transported somewhere else, for better or worse, just for the opportunity to explore something new.

The skills and talents of so many people go into this process. The instincts of many help mold the experiences of a (hopefully) massive audience. As reviewers we look at these people, we look at what they’ve done before, we look at what other people in their field have done, we break down what decisions they have made, where their instincts have taken them, and if those instincts worked. If enough “right” decisions were made to let their film be immersive. In many ways the marks of a good film are both in how much you want to immerse yourself in it, and how easy the makers have made that for you.

Last night I went to see The Hobbit. My mind, tuned as it is, began taking notes. I was looking at how jarring the crispness of the image was in the early sequences, I was looking at how the film referenced The Lord of The Rings trilogy, how it attempted to connect the two stylistically and also depart. I took note of how well delivered some of the monologues were. And then something interesting happened.

I got lost.

I got lost in this fantasy world full of trolls and dwarves and goblins and scurrying little hobbits. I didn’t see the images, I didn’t watch the performances, I just got lost in a world which for two hours of my life at least, was very real.

There was adventure and song, rolling vistas and hideous creatures. There was Middle Earth and not a darkened room filled with a few hundred other people.

As a film it’s not perfect, there were jarring little moments and a few nits to pick, but none of that matters, because last night I got to go to Middle Earth. I haven’t had a cinemagoing experience so pure since I was a child. No doubt you’ll see plenty of reviews of The Hobbit elsewhere, there will be good points made and bad. Just remember that after all that analysis, after all the deconstruction is done, underneath all of that lies a film. A film that takes you somewhere else. Somewhere exciting.

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