UK Release date: 13th December 2012
Watched at the Cinema Friday 14th December 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
Having successfully avoided all reviews of this one before seeing it, you can feel safe that all opinions that follow are actually my own and haven’t been subliminally affected by outside influences. I attended a matinee viewing, mainly to avoid the crowds; I needn’t have worried, some truly awful weather ensured an attendance of just seven. So I took my favourite seat, right in the middle, and settled down for an epic (almost) three hours.
This time I won’t give you a plot summary as I feel if you’re reading this then you have most probably read Tolkien’s novel on which the film is based. We begin in the Shire where Old Bilbo (Ian Holm) and Frodo (Elijah Wood) give the audience a reminder, if indeed one is needed, that this tale and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ are linked. Of course all the dwarves eventually arrive at the door of a much younger Bilbo (Martin Freeman) at the behest of Gandalf (Ian McKellen). They are; Thorin (Richard Armitage), Balin (Ken Stott), Dwalin (Graham McTavish), Bifuf (William Kircher), Bofur (James Nesbitt), Bombur (Stephen Hunter), Fili (Dean O'Gorman), Kili (Aidan Turner), Oin (John Callen), Gloin (Peter Hambleton), Nori (Jed Brophy), Dori (Mark Hadlow) and Ori (Adam Brown). From here the adventure begins, but there are several departures from Tolkien’s book that make for quite a different journey than I was expecting. Without giving too much away, a lot is made of an evil making its presence felt in the world and several different characters, some familiar, some not, appear. All this makes for quite a departure from the original novel but all of the important parts are still there.
Of course it’s all very well made, very much in the style of the LOTR films with plenty of CGI. I should say, for the record, that I watched it in 2D and at the normal frame-rate of 24 frames per second. A really nice score by Howard Shore, again, brings back echoes of the LOTR films with several familiar themes cropping up here and there. All the performances were very good, but those that stood out were Martin Freeman as Bilbo, Richard Armitage as Thorin and Andy Serkis, reprising his role as Gollum.
The things that struck me about it were one, it’s very long, and it’s very long because; two, the pacing is pretty slow for the most part. Yes, there are some spectacular set-pieces (the rock giant fight being my favourite), but there is an awful lot of stuff in-between these gems. But then I guess that’s Jackson’s adopted style for these films. Did I enjoy it? Yes… Would I buy it when it comes out on DVD? Again, yes… Am I looking forward to the next instalment? Hell yes!... It’s a Hobbit movie after all!
SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED
My score: 7.9/10
IMDb Score: 8.8/10 (based on 26,068 votes at the time of going to press).
MetaScore: 58/100: (Based on 38 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 81/100 ‘Liked It’ (based on 148,951 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Gandalf: You'll have a tale or two to tell when you come back.
Bilbo Baggins: You can promise that I will come back?
Gandalf: ...No. And if you do, you will not be the same.
Bilbo Baggins: My name is Bilbo Baggins!
Gollum: Baggines? What is Bagginses?... Precious.
Elrond: So this is your purpose; to enter the mountain!
Thorin Oakenshield: What of it?
Elrond: There are some who would not deem it wise.
Radagast: A dark power has found its way back into the world.