The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
I saw this at midnight yesturday so I took some time to dwell on what I saw, especially considering the lukewarm critic reviews it has been getting, and make sure my review was not my reaction but a fair and honest critique of how good of a film it is, and how enjoyable it is to watch. I also do not want to compare this to the Lord of the Rings because comparing those would be like comparing Tim Burton's Batman and Christopher Nolan's the Dark Knight, both were good movies on the same characters and source material yet both two completely different adaptions of it.
It is similar with the Hobbit in the fact that it's tone, stakes, and such are all different than the Lord of the Rings, if Bilbo died middle earth wouldn't have been doomed like it would have been if Frodo failed, in fact (although you know later in the story Bilbo is essential to the Dwarves expedition) in this movie it seems if Bilbo died it wouldn't hurt even the Dwarves expedition which gives more of a personal touch and relativeness with Bilbo (who was brilliantly portrayed by Martin Freeman, in one of my favorite performances by an actor this year).
With this the Hobbit is in and of itself its own movie and should be reviewed as such and not as a prequel to the Lord of the Rings (because all though it may serve that purpose, the Hobbit is not essential to enjoy the Lord of the Rings nor the Lord of the Rings to enjoy the Hobbit. It just gives a more complete experience if you have seen them both), and when you take the burden away of having to reach the same level the Return of the King reached, and expecting the Hobbit to have a similar tone and portrayel, the Hobbit is much more enjoyable and can be viewd as how it is intended to be viewed. (Which most critics didn't since pretty much every negative review was because of 48 fps and that the Hobbit was no Lord of the Rings)
Now as for the movie itself, the visuals first are absolutely stunning (and im curious to see how the 48 fps changes or enhances that) and it is complimented with a great soundtrack with some of the familar Middle Earth vibes but also completely new powerful anthems that live up to the old ones. And although there is some CGI that looks a little iffy (such as the Goblin King and the Defiler) for the majority of it the CGI is blended well with the realism and was a great benefit to the film. (especially with the new look for gollum which looked even more real and stunning). I also loved then nods to the book's songs without making The Hobbit a broadway esque musical which it didn't need to be.
Next, the acting is brilliant especially with Freeman (as Bilbo), Mckellan (Gandalf), and Serkis (Gollum), every actor played their roles perfectly and had an extrordinary artistic appeal to how it was spoken in regards to three I mentioned above. And although there are a couple familar thematic points of the Lord of the Rings in this (Gandalf's speech about sparing a life to be the most obvious) it really does shine, especially with some strong and powerful moments near the end of the movie (Riddles in the Dark and Bilbo's escape, and the end Out of the Frying Pan scene with Bilbo's unexpected actions that caught me by surprise but I also unexpectedly approved of).
If I really had to shed any true complaints about this movie, it's that although I know Radagast's part in this, I found his character to be portrayed awfully cheesely, and I by no means am calling The Hobbit's binks or anything close to that, I am saying he was a low point for the movie. I also wasn't fond of the defiler orc character, he had his part to play, but I felt like they could have done him better and that they could have made him a bit more menacing than he really was.
Overall, The Hobbit is a very strong movie that stands on its own two feet and gives a good solid ground for the next two in the trilogy which I eagerly await. And although this wasn't a perfect movie, it was a very, very strong one which is regarded as one of this years best (though not really the best for me this year, sadly) despite it's lukewarm controversy it has wrongly been recieving putting it really as a vastly underrated movie by critics, although it seems that it will definitely be something that every Tolkien fan, and even casual moviegoer will adore.
8.75/10 for The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey.