Lord Of The Films.
Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage & James Nesbitt. Director: Peter Jackson.
2012 has been a big year for films and a hell of a great year for trilogies and other formidable, famous, fantasy franchises based on comics or books. Following Harry Potter's last spell last year this set of 12 months has seen the end of the triumphant 'Twilight' and the 'Dark Knight' Batman saga. The assembling of 'The Avengers' all-together for THE super, superhero film (and best movie this year) and the beginning of 'The Hunger Games'. Now with Disney aligning with 'Star Wars' to give the new 'Star Trek' (look out for the first 9 minutes of 'Into Darkness') a run for it's galactic money, the 'Lord Of The Rings' universe reopens for it's own prequel trilogy of episodes with 'The Hobbit-An Unexpected Journey'.
We expected as much but welcome with open shires this amazing adventure and arguably the greatest and most popular trilogies of all-time, based on one of the biggest and best reads ever. Unlike the cinder block heavy 'L.O.T.R.' trio of books, the starter of 'The Hobbit' reads more like a pamphlet in comparison. Still underestimate the gravitas of this story at your peril, because Peter Jackson know how to take Tolkien to another trilogy with the first of three parts that look to be just as epic and fun and even more special in it's effects and sequences then it's last decade predecessor that truly has to follow this story. Middle-Earth had broken new, out of this world ground. Now this writer must shamefully admit he only watched the 'Lord Of The Rings' trilogy for the first-time this year (in one-sitting for my 'call yourself a film fan/writer' defence), but now he's firmly following the fellowship.
After Elijah Wood takes off the ring British actor/Dr. Watson Martin Freeman takes over as the original one to rule them all as 'The Hobbit' and for anyone who may have doubts or think "what's Morgan Freeman doing in the Shire? Narrating?", Martin makes his mark and proves to be one of the best actors that this class of characters has ever chosen. Armed with his letter-opener he is endearing, engaging, funny and forthright, all whilst fitting in and standing out in all his undervalued talents, the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins and Freeman will win over everyone and anyone involved. Straight out of the frying pan and into the fire this new group is a hotbed of talent whether tried or yet to be tested. Featuring a gang of Dwarfs led by one with Aragorn courage that would make Snow White change her mind about her seven with familiar, favourable faces like James Nesbitt and arrow-men who can hit the bulls-eye without Orlando Bloom's Legolas shooting yet.
Still those who miss Viggo Mortensen and Liv Tyler will be pleased to see Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchet and Christopher Lee still brought to the table and of course there's the great Gandalf. With another crowning moment for Sir Ian McKellen, 100 years younger, kicking ass as well as casting spells. Then of course there's that little precious one. In the last three films this writer treated Gollum with the same type of reverence he'd greet Ja, Ja Binks in 'Star Wars', but here this snivelling little fiend is the best thing about this three hour trip. We couldn't wait until our Hobbit lost his way because Gollum loves games and we do too. Don't we precious?
From a truly infectiously hilarious opening dinner to the meal made out of the awesome action scenes that are choreographed with class this is a formidable feast. With the beginning of familiar, unchanged font and a sublime scenic route of special effects this series is seriously back. Even though we are taken back to the beginning and the basics, everything is stepped up a notch. Sure it may not be as epic and as grand as the bold and beautiful battles of the 'Lord Of The Rings' trilogy, but this is a different set of films, familiar but fresh. In this modern day as well, better special effects and reservoirs of resources help this movie match-up to the 'Rings' legend and overtake the landscape of it's own legacy. Just look at the sensational storm giants fight to see how much this film hits you like a thunderbolt of concrete. You don't need IMAX or 3D to see that those ones with big, hairy feet are stepping back onto the red carpet to rule the roost once again. Potter, Twilight, Batman, 'The Hunger Games' and 'The Avengers' have had their turn. Now out of the dark and into the warm familiarity of Winter comes one to rule them all. TIM DAVID HARVEY.