“Hobbit” proves itself as work of art

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A return to Tolkien’s fantasy world, “The Hobbit” tells the tale of the adventures of hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

Julius Koch, staff writer

The fall and winter seasons have lately been a treat for any movie aficionado. With many films including ‘Skyfall’, ‘Lincoln’, ‘Argo’, ‘Breaking Dawn 2’, ‘Life of Pi’, etc., the movie theatres have been kept busy. Premiering tonight, Dec. 13, “The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey” serves as the swan song to this rare blockbuster season.

It’s been nearly a decade since fans last journeyed to Middle Earth with the critically acclaimed blockbuster “Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King.” Luckily, “The Hobbit: A Unexpected Journey” provides another opportunity. As a prequel to the Lord of the Rings series, written by J.R.R. Tolkien, the Hobbit tells a story of courage and companionship in the face of endless danger.

A prelude, as included with most of the past films, nicely introduces the film, creating a level of nostalgia and anticipation. The motives behind the “unexpected journey” are hereby introduced, hinting at the story’s rich plot.

The films overall story line stays very loyal to the books, as the series has been known to do, but adds a few minor changes to individual scenes. These modifications simply help the movie flow well and add movie-like qualities to the adventure.

The theme of the story revolves around the quest to take back the dwarven kingdom, which had been previously lost to the dragon Smaug. A company of thirteen dwarves, Bilbo the Hobbit and the wizard Gandalf hereby go on an adventure to reclaim the mountain fortress.

Important to note is the fact that the film is the first part in a trilogy, and therefore only covers the first portion of events. Regardless, it still feels complete and creates a nice segway into the next film.

The cast in the film features a nice blend of returning favorites and newcomers who keep the story fresh. Main protagonist Bilbo Baggins is played effectively by Martin Freeman who gives the story a sense of humanity. Some other roles that stand out include the ever popular Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan), Gollum (Andy Serkis) and the dwarven leader Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage).  There are many side characters who may get a bit lost in mix but that is only expected with such a large cast. The level of emotion that the cast brings to the movie is stunning, appropriately matched by the sound track.

Composer Howard Shore, who created the classic melodies of the first three films, returns once more to the Abbey Road Studios in London, crafting a memorable album of music. From the fast paced violins to the steady beat of the drums, viewers are instilled with a variety of fitting moods.

The visuals are probably the most astounding aspect of “The Hobbit.” From giant vistas and mountain ranges, to claustrophobic caves and tunnels, the set design is flawless. The lighting and special effects emphasize color and depth, especially in the 3D version of the movie. Many characters are created with CGI effects which may sometimes detract from the realism a bit, but over all special effects and animations are well done.

The film is also available in a few movie theaters in 48 frames per second as opposed to the usual 24. Although I have not experienced this for myself, many people describe the experience as disorientating whereas others claim it is more smooth.

All said and done, the Hobbit is simply a piece of art. The great music, visuals, acting and story line make this movie something special.  The story is still a fantasy at heart but the way it is told caters to a greater audience than usual. With an adequate amount of humor, dialogue, battling and feasting, almost anyone should feel welcome.

The first part of this upcoming trilogy does a great job re-welcoming past fans and introducing newcomers. The film as a whole, a two hour and forty minute experience, only left me with the difficult task of waiting for the next installment in the series. Do yourself a favor and experience the journey for yourself. It’s an unexpected (or rather expected) delight.