Entertainment

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey review

THERE is a sense of sledgehammers being used to crack nuts in the first part of Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy.

J.R.R. Tolkein's short 1937 novel, a prequel to The Lord Of The Rings, has been turned into an enormous Wagnerian epic by Jackson and his collaborators.

>> Hobbiton pub open for business

For all the sound and fury, not a great deal actually happens in this initial episode.

The personable home-loving hobbit Bilbo Baggins (very engagingly played by Martin Freeman) is prised out of his country retreat by Gandalf and the 13 Dwarves and signed up to accompany them on their quest to reclaim their lost kingdom of Erebor.

Much has been made of Jackson's decision to shoot in groundbreaking 3D 48 frames-per-second.

This is twice the traditional frame rate and gives uncannily sharp resolution to the filmmaking.

The problem is that, at least in the initial sequences set in Bilbo's home of Bag End (Middle Earth's equivalent to the Home Counties), the effect is kitsch and alienating.

Watching these super clear but super bland images,  you yearn for the contrast and graininess in old fashioned 2D film.

As The Dwarves plunder Bilbo's larder and Gandalf (Ian McKellen stroking a very long beard) tries to persuade him to join the mission - which isn't very clearly explained - The Hobbit moves along with a complete lack of voltage.

The Dwarves are characterised vividly enough, there is one early fight sequence in which we see in flashback the Dwarf Lord Thorin (a growling Richard Armitage) fighting against the Orcs that have laid his family's kingdon to waste but, overall, the pacing is torpid.

It's only when Bilbo and co. come up against some hungry but dim-witted trolls with a taste for Dwarves' flesh that the momentum begins to pick up.

Thankfully, Jackson's flair for action sequences and bold and complex production design hasn't deserted him.

Huge, snarling dogs and a chase sequence involving a wizard played by Sylvester McCoy being pulled by a sledge of super-nimble rabbits add some bite to the storytelling.

The Goblin King (Barry Humphries) is obese and repulsive. He presides over a hellish goblin kingdom that rekindles memories of Hieronymous Bosch paintings. Jackson throws in more and more swooping, swirling camera work.

Familiar old faces - Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett and Ian Holm among them - are seen fleetingly.

However, one of the very best scenes in the film pits Bilbo against Gollum (Andy Serkis) in a game of riddles.

In this scene, at least, the balance between menace, tension and humour is perfectly struck.

This isn't a film that builds to a natural conclusion.

With two more installments to come, we are only part of the way into the quest and the ending here is strangely abrupt.

You're not quite sure why the film has taken so long - close to three hours - to deliver relatively little in terms of plot development.

There is a suspicion that the producers have cut a sandwich into three that could easily have been served up in two slices.

Even so, audiences are bound to eat it up and come back for more. Jackson's Tolkein adptations have almost a cult appeal among their devotees while newcomers looking for cinematic spectacle over the Christmas period won't feel too badly short-changed either.

Topics:  editors picks, lord of the rings, movie review, peter jackson, the hobbit: an unexpected journey


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Noosa woman breaking the cycle of poverty in Nepal

GOOD DEED: Laguna Jacks manager John Whimpress (right) is organising a fundraiser for Alissa Hill, with proceeds going to Alissa's orphanage in Nepal called Sunshine Children's Home.

Alissa Hill has helped many children in Nepal thrive

Noosa's welcome is warm embrace

PNG highlander Julie ha never before seen the ocean before her visit to Noosa.

PNG mum says thanks Noosa

Deadly ticks a Noosa threat

Paralysis tick

Noosa tick warning

Local Partners

Step into the World of Lace in Pomona

FOR 35 years, the World of Lace has been making some of the finest laces from a family-owned and operated factory.

Love comes back on course for Katy and Bertie

Katy Dixon and her long lost Berty the once lovesick swan with his family at home on the Noosa Springs lake.

Noosa swan find true love on course

Noosa woman breaking the cycle of poverty in Nepal

GOOD DEED: Laguna Jacks manager John Whimpress (right) is organising a fundraiser for Alissa Hill, with proceeds going to Alissa's orphanage in Nepal called Sunshine Children's Home.

Alissa Hill has helped many children in Nepal thrive

Noosa's welcome is warm embrace

PNG highlander Julie ha never before seen the ocean before her visit to Noosa.

PNG mum says thanks Noosa

Deadly ticks a Noosa threat

Paralysis tick

Noosa tick warning

Turning tables in food supply

The special Country Noosa dinner was a real hit.

Noosa Country serves up food for thought

Melanie is eager for life and wants you to be too

FIT IT IN: Nutritionist Melanie Eager wants others to be inspired to exercise .

Pomona woman runs from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast

Noosa kids take action to help environment

Good Shepherd Lutheran College students are right into the bio learning conference.

Noosa kids take enviro action

Caloundra Music Festival: A decade of highs, lows and great music

Caloundra Music Festival director Richie Eyles before the 2014 event.

Near drownings and cyclonic conditions among festival's history

Angelina is blocking calls from Brad Pritt

Angelina Jolie has reportedly blocked Brad Pitt's number.

Festival's green initiatives capture worldwide attention

The Caloundra Music Festival's BYO Bottle initiative has captured international attention.

BYO Bottle campaign a sustainable success story

Apocalyptica 'seek and destroy' sceptics with 'master' set

Apocalyptica play Max Watts in Brisbane on their Shadowmaker Tour.

Review of final show of Apocalyptica's tour

Rebecca Hall doesn't own a TV

Newspapers, yes. Television, not so much

Caloundra Music Festival: A decade of highs, lows and great music

Caloundra Music Festival director Richie Eyles before the 2014 event.

Near drownings and cyclonic conditions among festival's history

Jaime King 'terrified' by son's heart surgery

Jamie King was "terrified" when her son went in for heart surgery.

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

First stages of $25 million housing development underway

New development on Madsen Rd - The Springs.

The blocks of land are much bigger than usual

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Rocky proves prime real estate in latest REIQ report

Kas Woch sold this Wood St home in Depot Hill for $107,000 in August.

A new investor's market as Rocky house prices hit lowest in state

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record