Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

The Hobbit: Reheated Rings make for a long, tiresome journey

As Tolkien epic The Hobbit is premiered to eager cinemagoers, our reviewer Joe Nawaz finds even chirpy Jimmy Nesbitt can’t save it from being a clunker

James Nesbitt and family arriving for the UK Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the Odeon Leicester Square, London
James Nesbitt and family arriving for the UK Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the Odeon Leicester Square, London
Cate Blanchett arriving for the UK Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday December 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd (right) arriving for the UK Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday December 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
John Callen arriving for the UK Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday December 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
Rebecca Ferdinando arriving for the UK Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday December 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
Adrian Adepitan arriving for the UK Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday December 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
The Duke of Cambridge arriving for the UK Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday December 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
A man proposes to his girlfriend (names not known) as they arrive for the UK Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday December 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Cate Blanchett attends the Royal Film Performance of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' at Odeon Leicester Square on December 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Cate Blanchett attends the Royal Film Performance of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' at Odeon Leicester Square on December 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Nick Cave and guests attend the Royal Film Performance of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' at Odeon Leicester Square on December 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Graham Mctavish attends the Royal Film Performance of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' at Odeon Leicester Square on December 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Rebecca Fernando attends the Royal Film Performance of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' at Odeon Leicester Square on December 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Rebecca Fernando attends the Royal Film Performance of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' at Odeon Leicester Square on December 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Lucy Pinder attends the Royal Film Performance of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' at Odeon Leicester Square on December 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Stepehen Fry attends the Royal Film Performance of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' at Odeon Leicester Square on December 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Sir Ian McKellen attends the Royal Film Performance of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' at Odeon Leicester Square on December 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Cate Blanchett attends the Royal Film Performance of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' at Odeon Leicester Square on December 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Dominic Monaghan attends the Royal Film Performance of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' at Odeon Leicester Square on December 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Katie Jackson and Peter Jackson attend the Royal Film Performance of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' at Odeon Leicester Square on December 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: Andy Serkis (C) and guests attend the Royal Film Performance of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' at Odeon Leicester Square on December 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
Cast members Cate Blanchett (3rd right), Sir Ian McKellen (right), Martin Freeman (centre), James Nesbitt (3rd left), Andy Serkis (left) and Richard Armitage (2nd right) with Peter Jackson (2nd left) arriving for the UK Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday December 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire

It started promisingly enough, a mysterious being with fantastical ears greeted a band of sturdy dwarves.

It turned out it wasn’t the start of the long-awaited first instalment of the Hobbit, but Prince William greeting the cast, filmed live from London for somebody’s pleasure.

What really kicked off the premiere of Peter Jackson’s much discussed prequel to his epic Lord Of The Rings trilogy was a bit of a visceral spat between dwarves and orcs.

It immediately set the back-story for the first part of the Hobbit trilogy, and dumped us back slap bang into the middle of, um, Middle Earth, the land of swords, guts, stirring strings

and uncanny New Zealand-like geography.

That’s when the 3D kicked in, as an effigy of Pete Burns on an elk (yes, an elk) and his merry band of elves galloped too late to rescue.

It was as if the horns were in the auditorium with us.

And so began this relentlessly serious, elongated and curiously muted take on the classic kids’ tale of derring-do, dwarvish gold and hairy feet.

We didn’t have to wait long for the first glimpse of the Coleraine contingent of Thorin Oakenshield’s company of dwarves.

It seems James Nesbitt as Bofur was there for the light relief, and as such he topped the

lines-per-dwarf quotient since Freddie Mercury’s infamous 40th birthday party.

Looking like the lovechild of George Harrison and Genghis Khan, his cheerful regionally tinged quips included “Bless me, the legends are true — storm giants” and “Oh aye — he’ll take the flesh off your bones in the blink of an eye”.

Where ever there was danger, there was a chirpy bit of north Antrim banter from old Bofur.

In truth, the dwarves were a pleasing bunch of accomplices, and Martin Freeman as Bilbo served up an endearing slice of Hobbity fun.

But Mssrs McKellen and Blanchett seem to be busy trying to recapture something of the gravitas they brought to Lord Of The Rings, but without the aid of the ponderous, end-of-everything events in those films.

There are way too many “meaningful” scenes of people (by people I mean elves, wizards, dwarves, wargs, orcs, trolls) looking menacingly, fearfully, hopefully, sadly, waggling inscrutable eyebrows in time to the overblown score.

There are saving graces — namely the so-stupid-it’s-awesome rabbit-led sled of Radaghast the Brown, and the CGI eagles are a hoot.

The biggest cheer of the night came not for Nesbitt but for Gollum. He, of course, lost his Precious, setting us up for a showdown three films back but 20 years in the future— that’s the problem with follow up prequels... so confusing.

In short — excuse the dwarf pun — An Unexpected Journey is disappointingly slow, ponderous and often feels like reheated Rings. But there’ll be a part of Eredor that’s forever Coleraine...

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