The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (New Zealand/ USA, 2012)
Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is such a milestone in fantasy filmmaking that any attempt to re-approach the Tolkien universe was bound to generate anxiety. As more stories about The Hobbit's production came to light, it seemed increasingly unlikely that the end result could ever come close to matching Peter Jackson's original trilogy. An Unexpected Journey is very much a flawed first part, but it is still enjoyable and balances out its flaws with enough nice touches to justify some of its running time.
The Fellowship of the Ring. This isn't so much part one of The Hobbit as 'the first volume of the rest of the history of Middle Earth'.
Sir Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett returning as the characters only they could play.
Andy Serkis. It also demonstrates the terrifying tragedy of Gollum as a character, showing him to be capable of great violence but also utterly broken. Serkis described Gollum as an addict in interviews, and as the tense scene wears on we understand clearly what he meant. The way that Gollum changes from fearful to angry, and pathetic to vengeful so quickly breaks our hearts even as we are compelled to run away.
Check out my WhatCulture! articles on Christopher Lee and Andy Serkis here and here.
NEXT REVIEW: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)