The Hobbit: The Feel Good Flick of the Year– and we sure as hell need it.

First off, my hearts and prayers go to the families suffering from the tragedy of today’s events. A lot has already been said about what has happened, as the nation has placed their 2 cents on what laws to restrict, what amendments to abolish, what conspiracies to take faith in, etc.

All I have to say to you, my fine friends and followers, is.. treat yourself this weekend to a wondrous occasion. For director Peter Jackson returns 9-years post his Lord of the Rings lore with a fresh take on the J.R.R. Tolkien prequel, The Hobbit.

Screen-walking is my second Hobbie, surprised!?

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a film that will not erase the sadness of reality, sadness of mental sickness, or sadness of the costs of movie-going; especially if you decide to see it this weekend in film technology’s latest format, HFR 3-D (a High Frame Rate of 48 frames-per-second, twice the normal fps of 3-D). But, Hobbit will certainly deliver many smiles, giggles and cheers for at least 3 hours this weekend.

That’s if you can handle a complete eye-fuckery of Middle-earth.

Imagine yourself on the New Zealand set of The Hobbit, frantically running alongside the Dwarves, the Hobbits, and the tall Magician guy (Gandalf the Grey, once again, played by the wonderful Sir Ian McKellen) away from Warg-ridden Orcs.. yet completely immersed by the threat of super-viral-tech and spastic reality. It’s as if life turned into a video game over night. Gaming technology’s looming Unreal Engine 3 should be shaking in its boots.

Like it or not, Jackson has done changed the game again. The higher frame rates are so bizarre that they actually make the thing work. It’s as if The Hobbit is in a class of its own — a world of its own — due to the eye-numbing sparkle of the new CGI. Thankfully, the cast is also wonderful across the board, as both humor and heart take as much precedence as the evergreen hills, lavish waterfalls, barren lands, and glowing palaces (Rivendell!) witnessed with new eyes.

Put it this way… the shit looked so real a woman got up and walked into the screen. Or at least tried.

[Hey. it is Hollyweird, after all– and at 1 o’clock in the morning.]

Yesss… it’sss about time they adapted Bill Laimbeer’sss Combat Basssketball!!!

Martin Freeman is the real prince here. While it was neat to catch some cameos from an assortment of the Lord of the Rings‘ finest, the younger Bilbo Baggins brought an A-game to what could have very well been a cheesefest. From his horrifying reaction to the merry band of dwarf comrades; to his conflicted congress with Andy Serkis’ Gollum (who nearly steals the show voicing and controlling the actions of everyone’s “precioussssss” gobin, in addition to serving as Jackson’s second unit director!); and to the licentious bravery that neither came off too miraculous or pathetic, Freeman certainly accomplished what few could have: serving fans with a character they need to love on the level of those from Rings.

While there’s no surprise Bilbo couldn’t handle the awesomeness of the four original hobbits alone, Freeman’s performance should be enough to get fans interested in watching him for another six hours (or 9, if you’re crazy enough to wait for the super special extended Blu Ray edition).

Certainly, The Hob‘s own 3-hours should charm viewers in a flash. That’s as much a positive and, surprisingly, a negative. First, the good news: those questioning why Mr. Jackson would make three 3-hour films out of a book only 297-320 pages (depends which copy you have, hardback or paper) are in for a treat. You see, ironically, it was the studio who questioned Jackson’s decision, not the other way around. Warner Bros. wasn’t asking for three separate cashcows for The Hobbit franchise; Jackson was. In addition to having some of Tolkien’s additional material appendices from “The Return of the King” that help shape the latest story, the writer/producer/director is clearly just great at adapting a couple sentences from a page into one epic 10-minute sequence. A lot of that goes on in this film.

The problem with that approach, of course, is that the world of The Hobbit seems more flash-and-circumstance than the vast, cavernous lands of the Lord of the Rings. In other words, there’s more long talk/quick walk/big action than long talk/big walk/less action of previous films. That obviously makes more sense for this next-gen XBOX/CGI/iPAD-driven world, but this new glitter-and-glisten approach loses the same sense of wonder felt in the three previous films.

And that’s just being nitpicky. There’s obviously so much good yet to go.

Good? On a day like this, you say!? Yes. Our broken hearts could use some cheering. And you’ll do plenty of that watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey follow the righteous path.

Let’s hope a lot more cuckoos out there will be inspired to do the same.

4 (out of 5) Bibles. While it doesn’t quite live up to the level of the Lord of the Rings classics, it certainly lives up to what Peter Jackson tried to accomplish with many a controversy. Check it out in HFR 3-D for a new experience. The set pieces are wondrous, the acting very funny and flowy. Lots of seeds/easter eggs for longtime fans. And, sure, there’s a lot of good movies out there, but none will help you feel warmer inside than this one. I promise you that.

 

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