There and Back for a Fourth Time – Movie Review: The Hobbit: There and Back Again

Photo by James Fisher – (L-r) WILLIAM KIRCHER as Bifur, GRAHAM McTAVISH as Dwalin, MARTIN FREEMAN as Bilbo Baggins, JAMES NESBITT as Bofur and JOHN CALLEN as Oin in the fantasy adventure “THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY,” a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), released by Warner Bros. Pictures and MGM.

By Andrew Turner
Web-Editor and Designer

Much like in Tolkien’s original story, each step Bilbo Baggins takes forward towards adventure in director Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: There and Back Again I was taken aback with amazing visuals, superb characters and imaginative storytelling.

Much like Tolkien’s original story, that adventure takes a good time to start and, at times, is so slow it feels like you’re walking each day, through each valley and over each mountain and through each river with Bilbo, the merry band of dwarfs, and the ever wise Gandalf themselves.

And much like Tolkien’s original story, this movie may have pushed too far into uncharted territory.

Other than a few slow spots and a strange new filming style (more on that later), the good news is The Hobbit is everything Lord of the Rings fans will love, and a heroic and touching epic for anyone. The story starts 60 years before the events of The Lord of the Rings, set in the familiar Shire, a small haven in the dangerous world of Middle Earth. Bilbo Baggins, future uncle of Frodo Baggins, sets forth with Gandalf and a dozen warrior dwarfs and their king to reclaim the dwarf kingdom of Erebor from the dragon Smaug.

What develops is edge-of-your-seat adventure worthy of its predecessors, with beautiful and jaw-dropping special effects. The actors quite easily fill the huge shoes set by Tolkien when he wrote his classic characters. Ian McKellen is back and better than ever as Gandalf the Grey, and Martin Freeman plays Bilbo to a tee, scared but always curious, full of wit and, when it comes down to the wire, he always comes through. Andy Serkis is back as Gollum and is sadistically entertaining, exerting the same terrifying, yet somehow charming, insanity as he did in the last three films. Just wait until you see the riddle scene.

However, this film is different than any other on the big screen before it, which, in the end, I think may be its Achilles’ heel. Almost since the inception of the film industry they have shot and shown films at 24 frames per second—fast enough to give the audience the optical illusion of movement, but keeping the famous movie theater flicker (thus the nickname for movies, flicks). This movie is projected at 48 frames per second, and what results is almost an awkward sense of fluidity. To be frank, it’s new and just seems to throw off the classic feeling from seeing a movie on the silver screen just enough to be a problem.

But let me be clear: the movie still looks absolutely gorgeous and is a wonderful rendition of a classic book. There is no doubt that this is one of the few films worth the outrageous cost of IMAX, even with it’s strange visual flow. Every shot will leave you breathless. Jackson’s prequel to The Lord of the Rings is a must-see for anyone who appreciates a good story and a beautiful movie.

The Hobbit gets four and a half stars from me.