Peter Jackson, in my opinion, had done all he could’ve done to launch the series and win a few Oscars in the process.
His original “Lord of the Rings” trilogy was nearly perfect and left generations of children and adults alike with a truly remarkable gift, just as George Lucas had done with “Star Wars” decades before.
But then the MGM studio went bankrupt, and plans were put on hold for the adaptation of “The Hobbit,” and del Toro had to eventually move on after years of pre-production.
So, by the time production ramped up again, they were left without a director, and Jackson returned to the helm.
But we had already seen his Middle Earth.
And that’s basically what we get in this film. Another trip down Hobbit lane.
True, they go to different places, see different creatures, but it just has that “Been here, done that” vibe that’s hard to shake.
It’s in no way a bad movie, just the worst of the “LOTR” movies.
There is a need for some setup for the future films, but for about two hours of the film that’s what we get.
Dialogue scene after dialogue scene with some cute bits and action sprinkled in to make sure you’re still awake.
The set pieces are even more stunning in this one, but it seems as though they just did it because they could and not in service of the plot, which meanders to and fro quite a bit.
The action is fast paced and pretty cool whenever it decides to appear on screen.
The Troll King’s lair and ensuing battle is really breathtaking and exciting, but it’s over so quick you sort of spend the next few minutes deciphering what you just saw.
The only notable performance in the entire film is that of Gollum, played again with motion capture by Andy Serkis, who also takes up second unit directing in the new trilogy.
Gollum looks incredible and is the brightest spot in the film. He’s 60 years younger and a little more limber and youthful looking but still as crazy.
His and Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins’ exchange is both hilarious and dangerous.
And, yet again, the computer-generated creature tugs at the ol’ heartstrings.
He’s just a sad, sad dude.
The music is also good, but it’s Howard Shore putting on his “LOTR” hat again. Nothing really surprising or spectacular there.
Overall, the film is good, but not “Lord of the Rings” trilogy worthy.
There are different ways for you to enjoy the film, though.
And it gets a bit complicated.
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” was filmed at a higher frame rate than any other film in existence.
Most movies are shot at 24 frames per second, this one was shot at 48 frames per second, but can only be projected as so in certain digital theaters.
So, there are six different versions of the film to choose from.
3D 24fps, 3D 48fps, 2D 24fps, 2D 48fps, IMAX 3D 24fps and IMAX 3D 48fps.
Yes, it’s a tad confusing.
I managed to watch it in IMAX 3D 48fps, and it wasn’t really that great of an experience.
What happens when a film is projected at 48fps?
You lose anything resembling the film look you grew up admiring.
The movie looks like a Blu-Ray movie on a cheap TV. Super clear and slightly off.
You’ve seen the comparisons on TVs displayed next to each other at Walmart.
The TVs that make you scratch you’re head and wonder why it looks different.
The movie is super, duper clear and makes anything with real actors look fake and anything with CG look incredible.
After about 30 minutes, your eyes adjust to it, and it seems like a regular movie from then on.
But there’s still something a bit off about it.
Characters move faster than the ones they’re next to.
This is very evident when Gandalf interacts with the dwarves.
He’s sped up and moving faster while the dwarves are moving at regular speed.
It’s a strange occurrence that has popped up in other reviews and has yet to be explained.
And, after taking off the enormous IMAX 3D glasses and walking out of the theater, your eyes are shot.
The clarity of the 48fps image on top of the IMAX screen and 3D kills your eyes.
It took a while before my eyesight was back to normal, but they still hurt long after.
While “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is likely missing my year’s best list, it’s a must for diehard “LOTR” fans who are going to or have seen it anyway.
And since the next one is a year away; hopefully, they can fix some of the glitches.
And maybe my eyes will be back to normal by then.
“The Hobbit” is playing in both 2D and 3D at Rio 6 Cinemas.