Posted in 2000-2009, Film Review

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

Image is property of Warner Bros Studios and Heydey Films
Image is property of Warner Bros Studios and Heydey Films

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – Film Review

Cast:  Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, Ian Hart

Director: Chris Columbus

Synopsis: After spending years suffering abuse from his aunt, uncle and cousin, on his 11th birthday, a boy named Harry Potter receives a letter to study at the great Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Review: When one Joanne Kathleen Rowling sat at an Edinburgh cafe in the 1990s, and an idea for a story of a young boy finding out he’s a wizard came into her mind, she probably could have barely imagined the power of the words she was writing, of the vivid and incredible world she was creating. Sure enough, seven books later, the world of Harry Potter had millions upon millions of fans across the globe, and Rowling become one very wealthy lady. Naturally, it was almost inevitable that this world would get brought onto the big screen,  and that journey began in 1998 when Rowling sold the film rights to the first four books for a cool one million pounds. Thus, Harry’s journey from book to screen began.

Like the world of Middle Earth, the world of Hogwarts and all the magic that it encompasses is so vast and so rich in detail, even if a viewer has never read Rowling’s brilliant novels, the magic on screen is enough to ensure the viewer is consumed by this world of magic and all that it is has to offer. The place of Hogwarts has so much history and so much backstory to it, it is a world that is immediately enthralling. Director Christopher Columbus brings it all to the big screen, and all of those incredible places the wizarding world has to offer. With a screenplay by Steve Kloves, the filmmakers checked with Rowling to check that everything was correct, and while there are some omissions and changes in certain places, it remains as faithful as it can to its source material, which does pose some problems, but these are not enough to drag the movie down.

Right from the off, Rowling insisted on British actors for the characters, an insistence that resulted in Steven Spielberg passing on the opportunity to take on directing duties. Yet whoever made the final decision on the casting of these characters deserves enormous praise, as the casting is just about perfect. While Daniel Radcliffe may have been a little bit rusty in certain places, he carried the enormous burden of the role very well. Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger were also excellent choices. The chemistry between these three actors simply had to be perfect in order for the franchise to succeed, and thankfully, they did. Similarly, casting Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall, the late Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, and Robbie Coltrane as the lovable Hagrid were further examples of particularly inspired casting choices. Looking back, it is quite hard to imagine another actor playing these roles!

With just about the perfect cast, Columbus delivered a truly magical movie that made every fan who read Rowling’s books fall in love with Hogwarts all over again. The set decoration is just beautiful and you’d think that Hogwarts is a place you can visit. Alas it’s not but the Warner Bros Studio Tour near London is about as close as you can get! This is in no small part down to John Williams’s incredible score, and that beautiful theme that instantly transports you to the magical world of Harry Potter. The Quidditch match, Diagon Alley, and that very climatic final battle with the chess board is all beautifully well realised. The first movie in a franchise is crucial to its success, and this ensured the franchise got off to a very healthy start. It’s magical, intriguing, and every Potter fan no doubt left the cinema on cloud nine, while floating away on an imaginary Nimbus 2000!

Philsopher’s Stone provides the perfect introduction to the franchise for old and new fans alike! With wonderful acting, tremendous magical effects, a beautiful score and above all a superb story at its core.

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Posted in 2000-2009, Film Review

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

All image rights belong to New Line Cinema, The Saul Zaentz and WingNut Films
Image is property of New Line Cinema, The Saul Zaentz and WingNut Films

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – Film Review

Cast:  Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen , Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen , Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett , John Rhys-Davies, Andy Serkis, Billy Boyd , Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom , Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Bernard Hill ,Miranda Otto, Karl Urban

Director: Peter Jackson

Synopsis: While Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas and Gimli lead the charge against Sauron and his armies of Mordor, Frodo and Sam continue their quest to destroy the ring and banish evil from Middle Earth, once and for all.

THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS, SO BE AWARE MY PRECIOUSSSSSS….

Review: The journey to bring The Lord of the Rings to the big screen was one that started all the way back in 1995, and that reached its conclusion in 2003 with this closing chapter of this masterful trilogy. You just did not want it to end, but all good things must come to an end, and there isn’t a better way to close the book on this epic masterpiece than to go and make what is without doubt, one of the best films ever made, and quite possibly the best film of the 2000s. New Line Cinema rolled the dice with Peter Jackson and this adaptation and this gamble paid off big time, with three tremendous movies making one of the best trilogies of all time.

With Saruman and his armies now vanquished, the Iron Fist of Mordor and Sauron’s flaming eye is now firmly focused on Gondor as he bids to topple the world of men once for all. Yet in his path stand the rest of the Fellowship with Pippin and Merry following their victory over Isengard, who briefly rejoin the rest of the Fellowship to celebrate, but that joy is short-lived as the enemy prepares to strike. Gandalf and Pippin depart for Minas Tirith to help Gondor prepare for the imminent war and the rest of the Fellowship to mobilise Rohan and its armies for the grave and massive incoming army that is about to descend on the world of men. Sauron moves to conquer all and only it is in the hands of Frodo and Sam, aided by Gollum who all the while is growing ever more deceitful and treacherous, to stop Sauron consuming Middle Earth in darkness.

Throughout the near ten hour run time of the entire trilogy (not counting the extended editions) Peter Jackson threw some terrific action sequences upon the audience. You thought the Battle of Helm’s Deep was outstanding and a wonder in terms of film-making, the battle of Pelennor Fields is somehow almost on another level. Trolls, Catapults of severed human heads flung at the walls of Minas Tirith, Nazgul, Oliphants, this battle has just about everything, and it’s a cinematic battle of immense quality that could and should certainly stake its claim as one of the finest ever put to screen, featuring among other things, Legolas take on an enormous oliphant all by himself, which leads to one of the best one liners ever said by the great Gimli son of Gloin.

Given the stakes in the movie, the tone is considerably darker here, and this is noticeable from the very beginning with a rather twisted tale of how Smeagol was transformed into the creature otherwise known as Gollum. This dark tone is a recurring one throughout the film’s run time as Sauron’s power seems to be unstoppable for the Fellowship to contain. All the while, the Ring is taking a heavy toll on Frodo as he and Sam move closer to Mount Doom. All the while Gollum, purporting to lead them to Mount Doom, is scheming to try and take the ring back again. The script weaves between the different story lines as brilliantly as it can. Jackson, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh again wrote the screenplay and it was this screenplay that won the trio a well deserved Oscar for their efforts. Indeed the film swept the board at the 2004 Oscars, winning all of the ELEVEN Oscars it was nominated for, setting a record in process, jointly tying with Titanic and Ben-Hur for the most Oscars ever won.

Although no one was nominated in any of the acting categories, everyone on screen gives utterly tremendous performances, right from those who were introduced to us in Fellowship and Two Towers, to those who were introduced in this concluding chapter. Of the new cast, John Noble’s Denethor, the father of the late Boromir and Faramir (David Wenham) certainly makes an impression, and quickly becomes a very dis-likeable man due to his mistreatment of Faramir, who he views in a considerably lesser light than his brother. The extended edition of Two Towers introduces the audience to Denethor but it’s here where he shows his utter contempt for Faramir. Viggo Mortensen shone as Aragorn in the previous movies, but here he really steps up to the plate as he accepts his true destiny, to become King. Also deserving of praise is Miranda Otto as Eowyn. “I can fight,” she says in Two Towers before the Wolves of Isengard attacked, and boy was she right. She certainly showed a woman can fight and own a battle scene just the same as a man. Sean Astin and Elijah Wood are also tremendous but Astin in particular really shone as Sam battles to support Frodo who is becoming corrupted by Gollum’s influence.

There really is no shortage of superlatives that can describe The Lord of the Rings trilogy in all of its magnificence, but Peter Jackson could and should remain immensely proud of what he and his team brought to the big screen. If Tolkien could see what Jackson did with his beloved book, he would surely be thrilled that his masterpiece was brought to life in such spectacular fashion. If you count the extended edition, these movies are just over eleven hours of pure cinematic joy, spectacle, drama and emotion with so many wonderful and brilliant characters. The Lord of the Rings trilogy has cemented its status as one of the best that has ever been put to screen with three perfect movies that have secured their well deserved place in the record books, and will hopefully be adored for generations and generations to come.

The third chapter in a trilogy can so often be a huge let down. Not a chance of that happening here, this is pure cinematic perfection and glorious entertainment, the trilogy took its well deserved crown. One trilogy to rule them all!

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Posted in 2000-2009, Film Review

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

Image is property of New Line Cinema, The Saul Zaentz and WingNut Films
Image is property of New Line Cinema, The Saul Zaentz and WingNut Films

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – Film Review

Cast:  Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen , Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen , Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett , John Rhys-Davies, Andy Serkis, Billy Boyd , Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom , Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Bernard Hill ,Miranda Otto, Karl Urban

Director: Peter Jackson

Synopsis: Continuing the journey as the Fellowship breaks apart, as Frodo and Sam continue their journey to Mordor to destroy the Ring. The trio of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli make a stand against Sauron’s puppet Saruman and his armies who seek to destroy the world of men.

THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING SPOILERS! YE BE WARNED!!!!

 

 

 

Review: The middle mark of a trilogy, sometimes one  that tops its predecessor in glorious fashion, improving every element and every aspect. Or a miserable failure that is often lost in the movie wilderness, never to be spoken about again. Okay there might be middle ground between these two, but in the case of the second chapter in the trilogy of Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings, neither really applies. The first film was a masterpiece in fantasy storytelling, with wonderful characters and a superb adventure that kept the audience glued to the screen for three and a half hours, and that trend continues on into The Two Towers.

The story picks up immediately after the end of the Fellowship of the Ring. The Fellowship itself has disbanded, with the death of the heroic Boromir and after Gandalf fell into shadow. Frodo and Sam continue onto Mordor to destroy the One Ring. Merry and Pippin are captured by Urak Hai and the remaining trio of Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn set out to rescue them. With three strands of the story line, the trilogy continues to thrill in all of its spectacle and brilliance as our journey into the wonder and yes indeed terror of Middle Earth continues as we explore new parts, in particular the land of Rohan and their battle to stop the treacherous White Wizard, Saruman from exterminating the world of Men.

Fellowship introduced us , for the most part, to our key characters. However, this chapter adds some new and important characters into the picture. Namely, Theoden (Bernard Hill) his niece Eowyn (Miranda Otto), Faramir (David Wenham) and of course, the creepy and sinister Gollum (Andy Serkis). All of these new characters are key additions to the story and all are portrayed excellently, with Eowyn giving the series a strong and very capable female warrior, a rarity in Middle Earth sadly. but the most stand out of all of these is Andy Serkis’ motion capture portrayal of Gollum. Gollum is one damaged and wounded creature, and Serkis generated quite the buzz with his performance, with there being talk of a potential Oscar for his work. Gollum’s arrival splits Frodo and Sam’s relationship in half, as Sam harbours strong suspicions of Gollum’s true motive. All the while, the burden of the Ring is really eating away at Frodo and taking a severe toll, thus meaning Sam needs to come to the fore, and he does so brilliantly. The acting from Astin and Wood goes up a gear here, but Serkis absolutely steals the show for his work as Gollum.

On the other side of the world, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimili, aided by a rejuvenated Gandalf the White, are preparing for the fight to stop the villainous Saruman to wipe out Rohan via a considerable army of Urak-Hai. They’re a very unlikely trio but they have great chemistry between them. Through this we are eventually led to the Battle of Helm’s Deep, and what simply is one of the best and most epic battle scenes ever put on the big screen, though some great action scenes do come before it. Whilst at the same time packing humour aplenty with the increasingly amusing relationship between Legolas and Gimli which culminates in a battle within a battle, to get the most kills. It is uproariously entertaining whilst at the same time very gripping, edge-of-your-seat action.  Yet for all those epic battle scenes the scenes with Merry and Pippin and Treebeard, their Ent, tree like companion, can feel very slow and tedious at times. , However while it maybe slow to sit through these scenes, the pay off is certainly worth it.

The cinematography, visual effects and score remain as brilliant as they were in the first movie. The respective story lines do have some satisfying conclusions and the film closes at a perfect point to set it up for the concluding chapter to this magnificent trilogy. The prospect that Lord of the Rings could have been only two films is one that does not bear thinking about, as who knows what would have been butchered from the story to make it into two films. Luckily for us all it did not come to pass and we got our trilogy. For some, Two Towers marks the low point of the trilogy, but it does not bring the movie down at all from being the awesome and thrilling adventure that it is. There are some great pay offs in the respective arcs, but there is enough hanging in the balance to draw the viewer back. Jackson pulled it out of the bag again, and in spectacular fashion my precioussssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.

Though not as action packed as Fellowship wasit provides more character development, more heart, and with one of the best battle sequences ever put on the big screen, the journey continues in majestic and magnificent fashion.

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Posted in 2000-2009, Film Review

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

 

fotr
Image is property of New Line Cinema, The Saul Zaentz and WingNut Films

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Film Review

Cast:  Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd , Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Sean Bean, Ian Holm,

Director: Peter Jackson

Synopsis: When a young hobbit Frodo Baggins receives the One Ring of Power. He along with eight unlikely companions set off on a quest, to journey to the heart of Middle Earth and Mordor and destroy the Ring.

Review: When discussions about films and more specifically film trilogies rage across film schools, and fans of films in general, several trilogies may get mentioned and debated vehemently. Yet, the name of one trilogy that could and should always be mentioned is Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings.  A project that Jackson considered way back in 1995, but through various deals falling through, and tough negotiations that reached an impasse, with talk of it being two films instead of three. It was a tough challenge and despite the production impasses, it pulled through and the final end product is what many believe to be one of the finest trilogies in the history of cinema. and thank goodness it was three films and not two!

Thanks to the brilliance of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, the mastermind behind this incredible world of Middle Earth, came into being, and his trilogy of novels, and it was Peter Jackson who took up the challenge to adapt it for the big screen. With a screenplay by Jackson, his wife Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens, the land of Middle Earth is beautifully realised and the world is established in all of its glory. On top of that, we are provided with some sweet action sequences within the first 20 minutes. Yet there is much to be built up, events to be established in order to bring those who will have not read Tolkien’s works up to speed. Build up can be a slow tedious process, but not here. The world of Middle Earth is so enthralling, it’s just gripping to watch as the audience is introduced to this vast world and all of its key characters, of which there are many.

The cast is quite extensive, but every single performance on show shines and shines brightly. However, it is the main ensemble of the Fellowship all lead the way with sublime performances from each and everyone one of them. However, there are however some stand out performances among the wealth of great acting on show. Elijah Wood as Frodo, who is the one tasked with the seemingly impossible challenge of destroying the ring. Viggo Mortensen as the fearless and strong warrior Aragorn, who is a key piece of the puzzle, and Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey likewise. With the late and great Sir Christopher Lee also showing his tremendous ability and deep booming voice as Saruman the White. Sean Bean also gives a very memorable performance as Boromir the warrior of Gondor. All of the aforementioned give superb performances and the acting from all is of such a top quality, that you do not see the actors any more, you see the characters, and that’s a credit to everyone involved.

The cinematography is beautiful from start to finish. The film is packed with some breath taking shots of Middle Earth AKA New Zealand scenery.   There are plenty of superb swooping shots that to leave the audience breathless. In addition, there is some awe-inspiring visual effects such as the with the battle scenes are also sublime but in terms of battle scenes, the best is saved for later in the trilogy. This isn’t to say that there are some terrific battle scenes here, The score composed by Howard Shore is equally epic in every sense. From the jovial tune that we hear in the Shire to the sinister notes we hear when entering  Isengard. Every scene is accompanied by a beautifully composed tune that captures each scene perfectly. Out of the thirteen nominations received, the film bagged four Oscars for Cinematography, Score, Visual Effects and Make-up, and all were very well deserved.

Fellowship of the Ring was the perfect start for this trilogy and it set the benchmark. There are some great themes packed throughout this film. Friendship, honour, sacrifice and loyalty. It is just simply a joy to behold. Every element of this film hits the spot, and it hits it perfectly. Some may say its too long (not counting the extended edition!) While it is long, it is impossible to deny the sheer brilliance of what Jackson brought to the big screen. We will never know what Tolkien would have made of Jackson’s vision of his beloved trilogy, but one would hope that he would have loved what he saw, as audiences around the world certainly did!

Visually breath-taking, with a riveting and terrific story, some superb action sequences, a fantastic score and a tremendous ensemble cast, the first instalment of this trilogy set in motion one of the best trilogies of all time.

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Scott Pilgrim VS The World (2010)

scott pilgrim vs the world
All image rights belong to Big Talk Films and Universal Pictures

Scott Pilgrim VS The World – Film Review

Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anna Kendrick, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman,

Director: Edgar Wright

Synopsis: Scott Pilgrim is a 22 year old who is on a road to nowhere until he meets a girl he rather likes. Only problem is that in order to win his affection he has to battle all of her exes.

Review: Movies based off video games do not have a good record of being any good, and for the most part, they do struggle to achieve greatness. and some are just flat out terrible. However every so often, one movie comes along that uses elements from video games in order to tell the story. 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow for instance, with the constant re-spawning. Edgar Wright’s 2010 offering, with the screenplay penned by Wright and Michael Bacall, adapting from the series of graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley, also uses video game elements. It does this whilst also telling a love story, and uses them to brilliant, if slightly bonkers results, and one that will make anyone watching, their inner nerd extremely happy.

The focus of the story is Scott (Cera), a guy who no doubt many men who watch this movie will relate to. He looks for the direction in life, whilst striving to achieve greatness for his band, whilst also trying to win the affections of that special girl. Lo and behold he stumbles across the the girl of his dreams, in this instance it’s Ramona Flowers (Winstead.) Yet unbeknown to Scott, this lady has seven evil exes that Scott must do battle with, Tekken and Soul Calibur style, in order to win over her affection. Wright manages to fuse video game like tropes and live action very well, and the battles with the exes are somewhat ridiculous, but they are extremely entertaining to watch. There are some quirky and unique methods that Wright inserts throughout the film in order to tell the story, and sometimes to convey the awkwardness in some situations. The whole fight scenes are just like if video games, anime and movies all merged into one glorious package.

Romance in movies like these can sometimes feel forced and shoehorned into the story, but in this instance, not so. There is strong chemistry between Scott and Ramona, and you want to see them make it work, there is just the small matter of those crazy exes that Scott has to deal with, including battles with a former Superman in Brandon Routh and a pre-Captain America Chris Evans! No one ever said the hero had it easy! Michael Cera gives a great performance as Scott, he’s dorky, and a bit useless, but you just can’t help wanting to root for him. As Ramona, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, also brings her A game as Ramona, she’s not that weirdo ex, but a friend and someone Scott can turn to as he battles through the crazy exes. The rest of the cast including the likes of Anna Kendrick and Jason Schwartzman all play their roles brilliantly.

If you were to try and compare this film to another movie, you’d be hard pressed to find one similar. It’s a very unique film in this regard, and one that if it had been placed in the wrong hands, could have failed badly. Fortunately as it was in Wright’s very capable hands, it passed with flying colours. The quirky humour that Wright is brilliant, is packed throughout the film and it works perfectly. The opening of the movie is a little sluggish and slow to get going, but once the console of the film is fired up, the entertainment and the laughs will carry on all the way to the credits. This is a perfect example of a video game movie done right, even though it is not based on a video game. Nevertheless, for video game lovers out there, this is your movie.

Original, unique and very entertaining, with some top performances and some ridiculously funny fight scenes and video game references aplenty, to make the nerd in all of us extremely happy! 

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

desolation of smaug.jpg
Image is property of Warner Bros, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, WingNut Films and New Line Cinema

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Film Review

Cast: Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Kenn Stott, Graham McTavish, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Aidan Turner, James Nesbitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans

Director: Peter Jackson

Synopsis:  The Dwarven company along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey continue their quest to reclaim their homeland of Erebor. However, the villainous Smaug is waiting for them and evil is beginning to stir in Dol Guldur…

Review: A fiery return to Middle Earth and with the Desolation of Smaug comes a bigger and better adventure than An Unexpected Journey. The first instalment suffered from a slow start and thus it took its time to get going. Despite this,  it was still a thoroughly enjoyable adventure. However, this second instalment wastes no time and immediately picks up from where the first film ended, as the company of Dwarves along with Bilbo and Gandalf continue their quest to reclaim Erebor.

Right from the get go, this film is immediately packed with some great scenes. From being chased from a bear-man to battling spiders that almost feast on our gang of little heroes. From there we have an enthralling chase down a choppy river as the Dwarves flee in wooden barrels, whilst being pursued by the pack of Orcs that continue to hunt them, as well as a group of elves led by Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly). While these two characters did not feature in the work of J.R.R Tolkien, and while that may upset some of the die hard Tolkienites (hardcore fans of Tolkien’s work) they were both excellent characters who were exciting to watch and memorable.

On the subject of memorable, there is a character (or should I say beast) that is very memorable and is one of the best villains that has been put on the big screen in a long time. This beast is of course, Smaug the dragon, voiced and motion captured by the brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch. This beast was ENORMOUS and very menacing. The dialogue that Smaug and Bilbo share in this film is wonderful. With the sinister voice of Cumberbatch that sent shivers down my spine,  this villain was superb and the scenes with him are among the best in the film.

Martin Freeman continued to excel in the role of Bilbo and Sir Ian McKellen was also ontop form as Gandalf.  A number of the dwarves within the company unfortunately do fade into the background, but there are those who come to the fore, Thorin (Richard Armitage) being one of them. He is the strong courageous leader that he was in the first film. Meanwhile the elderly Balin (Ken Stott) is another member of the dwarf company that shines through as the wisest member of the company.

Unlike the first film, this adventure does not suffer any pacing issues and is packed with action in almost every scene. The arrival at Laketown does slow things down but this is not  bad thing as the audience need the time to breath with all the action that leads up to it. Again there were a few CGI issues as some things did not look as authentic as they could have been. However, on the whole, this film is very well executed and is one of the best films of the year. It is packed with great action scenes and boasts one of the best villains in modern cinema. Be prepared for a fantastic cliff hanger that is definitely going to ensure you will want to come back to Middle Earth for the third and final instalment…

The stakes are upped considerably from the first film, delivering incredible action and a magnificent performance from Cumberbatch as Smaug the dragon, can we go back to Middle Earth now please?

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

All image rights belong to Warner Bros, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, WingNut Films and New Line Cinema
Image is property of Warner Bros, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, WingNut Films and New Line Cinema

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Film Review

Cast: Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Kenn Stott, Graham McTavish, Aidan Turner, James Nesbitt, Hugo Weaving , Sir Christopher Lee

Director: Peter Jackson

Synopsis: The first instalment of the new trilogy of films from Peter Jackson. When a younger and more reluctant Bilbo Baggins is persuaded to accompany the great wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves on their journey to reclaim their homeland that has been taken over by a dragon…

Review: Hi ho! hi ho! It is back to Middle Earth we go! Except,  in this adventure we have thirteen dwarves, a brave Hobbit and an awesome wizard on a perilous journey to reclaim the Dwarves’ homeland from a dragon. While this film does not quite match the brilliance of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (LOTR), it is still an exciting and enjoyable adventure. Albeit  an adventure that does take its time to get going.

Through a flashback similar to the one we saw in the Lord of the Rings narrated by Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) we instead get a flashback narrated by Old Bilbo (Ian Holm) who reveals how the evil Smaug (voiced and motion captured by Benedict Cumberbatch) took the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.  With this all said and done we remain in the Shire for a good 30 minutes or so as the Dwarves come to Bilbo’s house to sing songs and throw crockery around whilst doing so, much to poor Bilbo’s annoyance.  Even when the adventure does properly get going it is still slow in parts as more stories are told. However when the adventure does finally get going it is fantastic as we witness some thrilling action scenes reminiscent to some of the great moments we had in the LOTR trilogy.

As the titular character Martin Freeman was tremendous in the role of Bilbo. He was likeable and courageous and you find yourself wanting him to earn his place in the company of the Dwarves.  On the subject of the dwarves, while a lot of them fade into the background, there are a few that deserve special mentions. One of these is undoubtedly Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) As the leader of the Dwarf Company you wanted him to be strong, brave and a determined warrior to win back his homeland,and he was all these things. Ken Stott as the elderly Balin is another dwarf who is memorable for his comic relief moments and to be the wise old dwarf that the company need. And of course we have Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey once again. He was incredible in the LOTR trilogy and he is equally incredible in this film, save for the fact that he unfortunately does not take on a Balrog of Morgoth in this film.

While there is evidently a lot more CGI in this film compared to the Lord of the Rings some of which is a bit bothersome there is still plenty of CGI that does take your breath away.  On the subject of great CGI we must talk about Gollum my preciousssss! ( I hope you read that in  Gollum’s voice) Although he is not in the film long, he is just as brilliant as he was in the LOTR trilogy. The Riddles in the Dark scene with him and Bilbo simply is first class entertainment and a definite hight point of the film, along with the last act of the film which is also incredible. Howard Shore’s score is also first class. Shore scooped two Oscars for his great work in the Lord of the Rings and he’s again on fine form here as the score is of the highest quality.

All in all this film was thoroughly enjoyable and a great watch. While it does take its time to get going, when it does get going it is thrilling with some terrific scenes that remind you what you love about the world of J.R.R Tolkien and Peter Jackson to a certain extent.  While the decision to make it into a trilogy as opposed to two films, has been criticised by some people. While the CGI is in places bothersome in parts, it was still a welcome return to Middle Earth and I look forward to the next instalment of this adventure.

The pacing is a little slow, as the film takes it times to get going but to be back in Middle Earth is a joy to behold, and once it’s full steam ahead, there’s much to enjoy.

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