The answer is yes, he did. But is the first film any good then? The answer is still yes, but just barely so. An Unexpected Journey will make a busload of money, but it remains to be seen if the second and third parts manage similar feats, because the film has none of the charm, characterisation and newness that made the LOTR movies so great. It offers nothing technically new or aesthetically unique, nor does it justify the existence of three three-hour-long movies for a 275 page children’s book.
The good news is that Jackson is committed to bringing you the best looking movie that money can buy. And though not as heroic and scary as Frodo’s journey towards Mount Doom, Jackson manages to maintain a nostalgic sense of adventure throughout its rather long running time.
Also making a return are Elrond, Saruman, Galadriel but their presence here seems awkward as they seem clumsily padded on into the film for financial reasons. Jackson displays a flash of brilliance when Gollum makes an entry — the riddle game between Gollum and Bilbo is perhaps the most extraordinary movie scene of the year.
The problem is, most of the action sequences exist purely to make things exciting, unlike in the Rings trilogy where they existed to actually move the story forward. My biggest gripe with An Unexpected Journey is the curiously prosaic soundtrack by Howard Shore, which is a rehash of the score from the Rings trilogy. The 3D is sadly unnecessary and does little to immerse you in Middle Earth, the 24 FPS 2D (resolution) will certainly be the best format to watch The Hobbit in.
An Unexpected Journey is a mildly fun return to Middle Earth and despite its first hour never feels boring. However the disappointment is hard to mask, and unless the next two films offer something drastically different, I would be forced to believe that Jackson is now Gollum, Tolkien's literature is his Precious, and over the years it has consumed him and turned him into a disillusioned and slightly evil creature that feasts by stealing from your pockets.
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