"I'm going on an adventure"
Movies based on the themes of fantasy and mystical environments have always enthralled audiences worldwide and have gained significant acceptance. The concept of exploring an unknown world which does not exist has always been intriguing as well as appealing. In the year 2001, Peter Jackson came up with a spectacular vision in film making. He laid grounds for a trilogy so powerful which would stand against the sands of time in film era and which would be hailed as one of the most epic trilogies of all time- The Lord Of The Rings. The trilogy was an instant hit and appealed to audiences both on an emotional as well as imaginative level. It had everything-a great story, a powerful ensemble cast, terrific performances and some of the greatest visual effects of all time. The films were based on J.R.R Tolkien's novel of the same name and for the most part remains true and faithful to the book. Personally, I enjoyed the trilogy and own the complete extended blu -ray collection of it. For me the movie was complete,perfect and everything I hoped for. It stands today as one of my favorite trilogies ever. One of the things which got me excited in 2011 was when I heard that Jackson is about to come up with a prequel to this trilogy based on the novel once again. Back was the awesome feeling, and back was the excitement that I will be returning to middle-earth once more. Did my excitement payoff in the end?
It certainly did. While not as much as I had in the Lord of the Rings trilogy but it certainly did. The movie certainly brought me back to Jackson's way of storytelling and it made me realize that any movie related to the concept of middle-earth or Tolkien's work has to be taken on by him only because it is Jackson who understands it best and it is he who can direct it best. For people familiar with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the film follows the adventure of the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) as he joins with Gandalf, the wizard (Ian McKellen) and the company of 13 dwarves,led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) as they try to reclaim their lost kingdom, Erebor which was taken over by a ferocious dragon by the name of Smaug. Thorin has an old deadly grudge with one of the orcs, Azog the defiler, who killed his father during a battle and who has put a bounty on his head. The rest of the film follows their epic journey through various exotic and dangerous locations of middle earth as they head for the "Lonely Mountain" inside which their city is situated.
"So....this is the Hobbit"
The film is unique in itself due to the reason that while keeping the core elements of the Lord of the Rings at heart its not dark or carries the apocalyptic theme as the previous movies did. Jackson in an interview stated that he wanted the film to have a different feel than former ones. And he succeeded on that. The movie is smart, funny and at the same time tries to connect with us on an emotional level just as the same way LOTR did. James Horner's awesome soundtrack is back and contributes on a different level to the score while keeping the basic themes the same. In other words, the movie keeps some of the core elements of LOTR the same while modifying the rest of them for a completely different set of trilogy. The pacing of the film is good and Bilbo and Thorin are successfully made into well fleshed out characters whom we really care for. We see the transformations taking place in Bilbo as he sees the world outside his home and we also realize the fact that he won't be the same Hobbit he once was when he is back. Gandalf acts as a successful guide much as the same way he did (or will) to Frodo and Sam in the LOTR films. Some of the characters are also back from the previous movies like Lord Elrond (Hugo Weaving), Saruman the White (Christopher Lee), Lady Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and my personal favorite of all time-Gollum (Andy Serkis). All of them add to the richness and detail of the story and at the same time we are also given foreshadowing events of the future which do a great idea of explaining the events of LOTR. The film is filled with tons of action sequences with dwarves battling orcs, goblins with a sense of humor involved in them. I also liked some of the small details which Jackson filled for those who loved LOTR to the core, for example-the three trolls who turned to stone when sunlight shone upon them. They are clearly seen in LOTR still standing there. The journey although filled with action also took a break in between in which the characters had talks of sentiment and value which made the characters more caring for the audience.
"Do you smell it? The scent of fear...your father reeked of it"
One of the biggest things I loved about this film apart from the things stated above were the villains. I thought that Azog was a perfectly developed villain. He was scary, threatening as well as menacing. Not to mention the scars on his face and body made him look more deadly. In the LOTR trilogies, I never found orcs to be threatening as the entire movie was focused on the fear of Sauron. But in this movie, I found myself for the first time being truly threatened by this orc and always rooted for the characters to run away from him. Not to mention, the final fight between him and Thorin made was emotional and tense. Another one, whom I personally loved in the LOTR trilogies was the return of Gollum, who is one of my favourite anti-villains, the character with which I was always in a cross between sympathizing and unsympathizing. The moment between him and Bilbo was truly one of the most outstanding scenes in the movie and my personal favorite. Once again, I won't spoil it for you but its funny and cute but also threatening at the same time. Also, it had one of the most sympathetic scenes in it when Bilbo decides not kill him and spare his life which (which leads to the events of LOTR). For those of you who always wondered how the ring ended up in Bilbo's hands, this moment answers it for you.
However, with everything being said I still had some minor complaints with this movie. Considering the impact which LOTR made in our minds with the help of rich characters and their development, I felt that apart from Bilbo and Thorin, the rest of the dwarves were plainly sidelined. They were never given much screen time and when they were it was very hard to recognize who was who. Aside from recognized 1-2 of them, they all ended up being a random mess which was left for us to solve. During the battle sequences, there was no tension involved as we never cared for them the same way we did for the characters in LOTR. That should not have been ignored due to the fact that the film was basically revolving around the theme of Dwarves and their lifestyle. I hope Jackson fleshes them out in the next two movies which are to follow. I have yet to check out the 2nd movie.
"What has it got in its nasty little pocketses?"
Overall, Jackson brought us back to the land of Middle-Earth which hasn't changed much since the last time we saw it in 2003. This time we get an "old wine in a new bottle" with the film being more light in tone with small foreshadowing events of the future. I would recommend everyone to not compare it to LOTR as this trilogy is a little different in the way of themes and storytelling. As a standalone film, it is much more enjoyable, epic and at the same time nostalgic to the previous grand trilogy.