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The Hobbit-An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast : Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage

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Synopsis; Bilbo Baggins is swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers. Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever … Gollum. Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities … A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey

Watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Full Movie: When I heard that there was to be a film version of The Hobbit, I was quite looking forward to it as the big finish of Lord of the Rings was still in my mind and, unlike LotR, I had actually read The Hobbit several times many years ago. When I heard that it might be two films I wasn’t surprised but the news that it was to be three did rather dampen my spirits as I don’t know if I had the interest for this story to be concluded as 2016 rolls into town. Regardless I did of course watch the film because it is still a large blockbuster and, at a time of the year normally filled with overly earnest Oscar contenders, I did quite like the idea of returning to this world again.

Watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Full Movie: With this in mind I did wonder why I watched it with a surprisingly detached air and why I wasn’t able to get into it like I should have done. I had some reservations with the first film in the LotR trilogy but this seemed different because it certainly wasn’t a lack of action and forward motion that gave me a problem here. Quite the opposite actually because, once the first 45 minutes or so are out of the way then the action set-pieces come thick and fast and noisy. The opening hints at the power of the dragon to come before settling down for a gentle reintroduction to the Shire and then the characters we will follow; this section I found a little longer than it should have been and I could have done with a bit less noisy banter from the Dwarfs, since the film would provide much more from them. The majority of the film is the journey (or at least that bit of it that this film covers) and it produces plenty of action with great special effects really well integrated into the live action. So visually and technically there is plenty here. Problem is that little of it felt urgent or tense and actually the delivery of the constant action does rather detract from it.The Hobbit  An Unexpected Journey

Watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Full Movie: With Fellowship of the Ring, the group was smaller and the development of the plot better; additionally the action was more scaled down and comparatively simple. Here we have set-pieces where it feels like everything has been thrown at the screen and every inch of every frame has been filled with movement wherever possible. This tended to overwhelm me rather than draw me in though and in effect the noise prevented me really getting into it. Likewise by the time I had seen the characters survive impossible situations and defy gravity for the third or fourth time, the film sort of lost the ability to make me believe there was danger involved – which is a problem given I was already being pushed away by how busy and noisy it all was. Tellingly the scene that worked the best for me was with Gollum; this scene had tension, had uncertainity, had threat and did it all with small movements and dialogue; also worth noting that while Gollum is of course another special effect, you don’t notice it in that scene because you are focused on the content instead of the visual.

Watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Full Movie: The cast sort of fit into this approach as well. While everyone is fine and does as required, at times they do tend to become part of the noise and effects rather than being characters. Freeman is a good Bilbo and his mannerisms work well (which helps negate his limited range) while of course McKellen is always welcome. The dwarfs didn’t make much of an impression on me though, even if they all looked the part and delivered a few laughs. The rest of the cast are all fine but to be honest the effects are the main stars here and technically it is very impressive even if it is a bit overdone at times.

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Watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Full Movie: I didn’t dislike The Hobbit but at the same time I was disappointed in it. The action is noisy and busy but there isn’t enough to draw me into the story or to make the action thrill me so much as it did overwhelm me. Hopefully the second film will see the characters and plots grow me on so that I am more emotionally bought into the films, but for this first one I must confess to being surprised by how much the film seemed content to have me watch from a distance rather than draw me in and engage me.

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The Hobbit (3): The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast : Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage

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Synopsis; Bilbo and Company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the terrifying Smaug from acquiring a kingdom of treasure and obliterating all of Middle-Earth.

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Watch The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Full Movie: I should begin by saying that I am a big fan of Tolkiens work, and have read LOTR and The Hobbit (and his other books) many times. I did enjoy the first trilogy, and thought that the changes Jackson did to the story were sometimes understandable, sometimes acceptable. However, I have no idea what happened with this movie and the whole second trilogy.

Watch The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Full Movie: I am terribly disappointed, and I have no idea whether the changes were necessary simply to milk as much money as possible out of the whole project (spreading out the story to get 3 long movies, even if that meant adding many new things), or whether Jackson actually thinks he knows better than Tolkien… knows better how to explain things, how to connect the Hobbit to LOTR, or how to make a compelling story.

Watch The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Full Movie: And yes, an adaption doesn’t HAVE to be close to the book. However, if you mess with the story, if you include things that contradict the whole story, and if you essentially kill off the charm and warmth and concept of the book the movie is based on, things get dangerous.

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Watch The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Full Movie: The Hobbit was a book written for children, and while there are scenes in the trilogy that will definitely be fun for children (the dwarfs offering a lot of those kinda scenes), the violence and amount of killing and cut off heads make me wonder how suitable the movie really is.

Watch The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Full Movie: However, watching this movie, and having seen the previous ones, these questions came up in my mind: – Is it really FORBIDDEN to make a movie that Doesn’t have a love-story involved? Isn’t the Hobbit legendary enough, hasn’t the book proved often enough it is a great story without a love-story included? Why did Jackson have to create Tauriel, the female ninja-elf and her love-story with a DWARF? Why did this have to be added? Would the film would have so much more terrible (hard to imagine) without a cliché and badly-written love-story that was added by Jackson and Walsh? – I sincerely think that, if the elvish race is capable of doing the things Tauriel and Legolas do in battle, not only could the small group of elven warriors Jackson added to the battle of Helms Deep in Two Towers have totally defeated the orcish army in less than 2 minutes… the history of Middle-Earth would be very difficult if they all could fight even remotely as well. Also, the fighting skills of Legolas in this movie are totally inconsistent to what he was able to do later on in LOTR.

The Hobbit 3 The Battle of the Five Armies

Watch The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Full Movie: Considering that elves live incredibly long, the amount of time that passed between the Hobbit and Lotr is no explanation of why Legolas is a walking “ninja-god” in the Hobbit and much less superman-like in LOTR. – The incredible length of the scenes… it sincerely feels like the movie team was paid by the minutes of film they produced – The worms… I reckon they are based on a small comment by Bilbo, mentioning “were-worms” (a comment that has often riddled Tolkien-fans). Is this an attempt to somehow win over the fans of Tolkien-lore that feel insulted by Tauriel, the changes to the story, the goats, rabbits and deer-mounts, the fact that the WONDERFUL scene of Beorn appearing at the battle in the book and turning the tide, bringing relief and a change to the battle was kinda removed because the ninja-elves prove that Middle-Earth is located in the Matrix? – I really would feel bad for JRR Tolkien if he was able to watch these movies. He felt so much love for the world and characters he created, and put so much time, effort and feelings into his work. All this now was steamrolled over by the production team of this movie. After the rather respectful handling of LOTR, Jackson changed so much about the Hobbit that it feels totally disrespectful to the lifetime of work Tolkien put into his stories.

Watch The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Full Movie: What went wrong? Did Jackson think that, in order to attract and convince all those that haven’t read the books, he would need to turn a wonderful book, written for children with a lot of warmth and charm, into a medieval Transformers (regarding amount of CGI, length of fights, lack of realism, character depth and taste)?

Watch The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Full Movie: Did he really think this was in any way a respectful adaption of the work of a man who invested DECADES into writing, refining and perfecting his stories? Who, instead of focusing on just hours of battle, managed to create a world full of lore, charm, and wonderful characters?

The Hobbit  The Battle of the Five Armies

Watch The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Full Movie: I have no idea what went wrong behind the scenes. Have no idea whether the movie studio said “Jackson, forget about what people love about the Hobbit. Turn it into three overlong movies for more profit, get us as many battles and skirmishes as you possibly can milk out of this, and just to make sure, add a love-story (we don’t care how you do it), add a popular character from the previous trilogy so people will dig that. Oh yeah, the book was written for children, so make sure there is a song or two, bird poo on the nutty wizard who escaped from Hogwarts (Radagast), a dwarf with a pickax stuck in his skull, and funny bits that children love. But don’t forget we want adults to watch it too, so please, add tons of action and cut-off heads, too… gotta hit all those demographics”.

Watch The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Full Movie: I know a lot of Tolkien-fans apparently love this movie and the trilogy. One review even said “…from a true fan”. Please don’t think this is the case in general. I have grown up reading Tolkiens work, and I am simply stunned by how bad, how tasteless and disrespectful this trilogy is.

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The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast : Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage

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Synopsis; After successfully crossing over (and under) the Misty Mountains, Thorin and Company must seek aid from a powerful stranger before taking on the dangers of Mirkwood Forest–without their Wizard. If they reach the human settlement of Lake-town it will be time for the hobbit Bilbo Baggins to fulfill his contract with the dwarves. The party must complete the journey to Lonely Mountain and burglar Baggins must seek out the Secret Door that will give them access to the hoard of the dragon Smaug. And, where has Gandalf got off to? And what is his secret business to the south?

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Watch The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug Full Movie: When you’re a big fan of something, it can be difficult to be objective. Yes, I’m a fan of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit – I liked An Unexpected Journey despite all its flaws. But believe me when I say you’re going to want to see The Desolation of Smaug because, all fan excitement aside, it’s a bloody good film.

Watch The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug Full Movie: Despite a brief flashback at the beginning, Desolation wastes no time in getting straight back into the action. Picking up where Journey left off, Thorin’s company is on the run through the mountains, pursued by Azog and his orcs. The pace rarely drops as the dwarves and Bilbo constantly leap out of the frying pan, into the fire and back again, getting ever closer to the dragon-guarded treasure at the end of their quest.

Watch The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug Full Movie: With more action, it would be easy to say that Desolation is simply a more entertaining film – there are fantastic fighting set pieces, where genuine scares and gasp-out-loud moments are thrown in with a bit of slapstick (at times, there’s an almost Chaplin-esque choreography to the way Legolas dispatches orcs). However, aside from ramping up the action, Peter Jackson has created a more rounded and mature film with Desolation.

Watch The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug Full Movie: It is a true ensemble piece, with parallel plot lines allowing individual characters to develop far beyond the scope of Journey. Having thirteen dwarves in one quest was always going to be difficult – the danger is that most will become glorified extras, and in Desolation some of the dwarves are still overlooked. But still, whilst the first film dealt mostly with Thorin’s character, we now get more from his companions, especially Kili (Aidan Turner). Jackson really expands this character and a wonderful plot strand culminates with Kili delivering one of the most heartfelt speeches of the film, made even more fabulous by the fact he’s got is head in a bowl of nuts at the time. Turner really shines in Desolation and will no doubt attract due interest from fans and critics alike.

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Watch The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug Full Movie: On top of this, Jackson manages to make the new characters feel like real, fleshed out people. Legolas (Orlando Bloom) returns as a prouder, more restrained character than the elf we know. The daddy issues behind this are apparent in Lee Pace’s portrayal of Thranduil, King of the Silvan Elves and Legolas’ dad. Pace alternates between aloof condescension and trembling, swift rage. The whole thing would feel hammy in any other film, but in the high fantasy setting of Middle Earth it comes across as alien and disconcerting.

Watch The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug Full Movie: Meanwhile, Jackson’s original character Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) more than cements her role in the films – Jackson boldly takes her character down a route you really won’t see coming and makes the film far more interesting for it. Not canon but definitely worth the deviation, Lily is a compelling screen presence. Similarly, Bard (Luke Evans) comfortably slots into the Aragorn-shaped hole in The Hobbit, providing us with rugged good looks and ancestral hang-ups galore.

Watch The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug Full Movie: And what about the dragon? When Bilbo finally creeps into Smaug’s lair, Jackson teases us with a slow unveiling of the monster and it’s worth the wait. Smaug is vast and Weta have done their job masterfully in creating something so big yet so organic. Cumberbatch’s computer-enhanced voice lends a chest-rattling depth to the character so that the overall result is both recognisably human and totally other. It is an awe-inspiring creation.

Watch The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug Full Movie: However, not everything is perfect – far from it. Following on from the bouncing-off-walls in the goblin caverns in Journey, the laws of physics only seem to apply sporadically to our protagonists. The barrel sequences are fun but the action becomes cartoonish when gravity is held in so little regard. Even with elvish light-footedness, it’s a bit far-fetched. There’s a couple of off-touches to the feel of the film too – Legolas’ contact lenses are a weird tinge of bright blue, and only serve to distract from Bloom’s acting. Similarly, Ed Sheeran’s end-credits song just doesn’t fit with the film, and just seems like a tip-of-the-hat to celebrity – give me Howard Shore any day. Meanwhile, the climactic showdown comes across as a bit strained – dwarfish Macgyver-ing becomes hard to believe whilst being chased by a dragon, although the final golden moment is spectacular.

Watch The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug Full Movie: It’s in the fantastical moments that Desolation really excels. A cascade of countless coins slowly shifting to reveal a gigantic eye; blue butterflies erupt from a sea of red-gold leaves; shadow incarnate ebbs and flows through the ruins of Dol Guldur. Jackson knows how create a spectacle and his world-building is superb. We are given unbelievably intricate artistry in the elegant architecture of the Halls of the Woodland Realms – pillars and stairs seem to grow organically from the rocks themselves to create an otherworldly kingdom. Meanwhile, the eye for detail in the creation of Laketown is mind-blowing – from a pair of pug dogs sniffing along a quay to the icy water, the whole location feels utterly authentic.

Watch The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug Full Movie: Throughout Desolation, Jackson underpins action and entertainment with bold themes. With a deftness lacking in Lord of the Rings, he explores ideas of addiction, greed, abuse of power, loyalty and sacrifice, and all without coming across as preachy. Far more than any other film he has made, The Desolation of Smaug is a grown-up fantasy for adults, where Jackson invites us to reflect on a world stranger and more heroic than our own.

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