The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Part one of The Hobbit arrives in Peter Jackson’s new cinematic format HFR 3D and I’m happy to report it rarely makes the film look like a sitcom and only made this viewer feel nauseous on a couple of occasions. Technical innovation aside, for a large part of its bloated running time, the director is following in the footsteps of his Lord of the Rings trilogy, to the extent of certain scenes almost being shot for shot remakes of ones from a decade ago.
There are wonderful child-friendly scenes derived from the book, including dwarves having a knees-up in a hobbit hole, complete with singing, burping and spinning of plates, and a terrific career-redefining role for former Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy as a wizard turned vet, who nurses sickly hedgehogs back to health before flying away from giant spiders on a sled pulled by rabbits. The problem is, these scenes are juxtaposed with endless ruminations on the footnotes of the earlier trilogy, with returning cameos from Elrond (Hugo Weaving), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and Saruman (Christopher Lee). But at least, Andy Serkis again steals the show – and deserves another set of awards – with his extended cameo as Gollum. The film also ends with a typical Jackson cliffhanger that leaves the audience wanting more, but perhaps only one film more rather than two.