To be honest, I wasn’t able to read the book, so all the critics and thoughts I have made will be based on movie. Before we begin, let’s get the required disclaimer out of the way. This is a review of the movie “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” For those few who don’t know anything about the movie, The Hobbit trilogy (“The Unexpected Journey”, “The Desolation of Smaug”, and “There and Back Again”) tells a story before “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. You should be forewarned that SPOILERS may be involved.
IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND…… there lived a HOBBIT. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort. This was one of the opening lines of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”. Although the movie doesn’t start with them, the famous first lines of The Hobbit are said by older Bilbo as he writes them down in the Red Book. And our first glimpse into the Shire and Middle Earth. In this thrilling story, Gandalf the Grey returns and once again goes on a quest with a hobbit. This time, we look back in time to when a younger Bilbo Baggins, Frodo’s uncle, tries his hand at an adventure.
The story begins with an elder Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) writing his memoirs before his birthday party as seen in The Fellowship of the Ring. Martin Freeman is the young Bilbo, a very content Hobbit, living a peaceful and prosperous life. So prosperous that he becomes stale and priggish for his years (60, the middle years for a hobbit). A hesitant Bilbo Baggins is chosen by a wizard, Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) to be the 14th member of a quest along with 13 dwarfs. The dwarfs, led by the dwarf king Thorin (Richard Armitageas), are leading an expedition to the Lonely Mountain to free their homeland from the dragon, Smaug, who took it over from them some long years ago. The orcs return once again to thwart Bilbo and the dwarfs. Thorin’s old enemy, the Pale Orc, who Thorin left for dead, returns to get his revenge. Bilbo must struggle with homesickness and a feeling of not belonging throughout the movie due to the fact that his newfound traveling companions believe it was an unwise decision to bring Bilbo along. After some convincing and some songs, Bilbo is convinced and their start their journey, where they are awaited by many quests…This sets the stage for an adventure the likes never seen.
The Hobbit comes to life from director Peter Jackson in grand form. And Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was a success in fantastical escapism that took us out of our current wet and windy world and into a sprawling land of dragons, trolls, orcs, dwarfs, elves, stone giants, goblins and, of course, hobbits. J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” was written as a prequel to the original three “Lord of the Rings” books/movies. However, when transposed to the screen, the book was split into three movies. “An Unexpected Journey” is the first installment of the series.
Once again, J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic story is brought to life in an adventure that delights, excites and astounds viewers. We revisit some past characters, Rivendell and the elves, Gollum, and the mountains that pierce Middle Earth. We are introduced to some new characters such as the Pale Orc and Thorin and a new wizard, Radagast the Brown.
The movie was… *drumroll* GOOD.
*Gasp!* What? I didn’t use “amazing,” “wonderful,” “fascinating,” or “awesome”? Nope. But it was good. I think the absolute best thing about it was the humor. This movie is brimming with humor. It is very lighthearted – much more than the LOTR.
The first thing you have to realize is that The Hobbit is a really long movie. It clocks in at 2:50 minutes. I think this will be biggest flaw is its run time of nearly 3 hours. Granted, if done right the 3 hours could be an adequate amount of time for a movie, but here it is too long. Pacing can be a tad slow at times but, an epic action scene pulls you back in soon enough. There isn’t much character development with the new group of adventurer’s however. This is somewhat disappointing as, you really want to know more about them. Gollum’s scene is an amazing standout. I wish there were more of him but, his scene is pivotal. It was really fun to return to Peter Jackson‘s Middle Earth and many of the scenes are beautiful but…not a lot of stuff happens over the course of the film. There’s a lot of talking and a lot of walking. The action scenes are plenty but they’re not ALL really that exciting. I can’t say that I was wowed by, well, anything in the film. That said, I didn’t hate the movie at all. For the most part, I liked it…but, sadly, I didn’t really love it.
The cinematography in the movie was brilliant, beautiful and at times unnecessary. There were sweeping landscapes, wonderful scenery, great music and special effects to take your breath away. It also included many – perhaps too many – characters familiar to fans of the previous trilogy, along with the essential crux of the original story from The Hobbit. Further, many back story tidbits from Middle Earth concerning the early days of the Dwarves of Lonely Mountain were highlighted in dramatic fashion. Costumes, dialogue… there was a lot of good stuff here. Peter Jackson did a great job in giving visual aid to the audience. However, there were many scenes that were extended past their prime and could have been cut short. Visually, the picture creates a world fit for hobbits, dwarves, and elves.
I will admit that they’ve actually got the right actors for The Hobbit for its characters like Tom, Bert and William the Stone Trolls with a cockney accent, and the Great Goblin does a great role too and of course most actors that were in the Lord of the Rings series make a return welcome too like Christopher Lee, Andy Serkis, Elijah Wood, Ian Holm and Hugo Weaving. I’ve actually laughed at quite a few moments my main favorite parts were Roast Mutton and Riddles in the Dark which were both well played and fairly well done for it. There’s definitely a period of time when Bilbo’s role shrinks considerably halfway through…until the stand-out moment when he makes the acquaintance of franchise anti-hero Gollum (Andy Serkis) in a gloomy cave, to play a life-or-death game of riddles. Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman pull off fairly solid performances. Richard Armitageas, the leader of the Company of Dwarves, does not impress me so far. Bilbo, of course, is the heart of the film, and Martin Freeman, who starts off a bit nervily in the early sequences, develops him beautifully as his story progresses. But Freeman’s warm-hearted, unsteady Bilbo isn’t meant to save the world; he only holds out a glimmer of hope.
The sounds are also good…it grabs you! The vocals are incredible; the instruments superb. It drives the movie, and makes you feel the emotions. I especially love Thorin’s song (Misty Mountains? Not sure of the name.) – it is so rich, mystical, and enthralling.
The movie does have its problems, I’ll grant you. I can understand why some people balk at the lengthy runtime, it’s true that it takes awhile for the adventure to get under-way, and there are no female characters of note beyond Galadriel (Cate Blanchett).
That’s pretty much all that I did and didn’t enjoy about the film. Considering that it was almost three hours long, I would say that’s not too bad, and I can easily deal with it. It was very much so worth it to see all the rest of the movie. Oh, but the ending…the ending…. At the end I was all, that’s it?! All I can say about the ending is that it is way too long until Part 2 and 3 come out. It leaves the audience hanging…and I really want to see the rest of the story – even with the minor downfalls! I came out thinking that it was good, but perhaps not as good as I was hoping for, or expecting. It was funny and entertaining. The actors were phenomenal, and the music was enthralling. Oh, and I forgot to mention this earlier, but I absolutely LOVED Gollum! He was incredible in this movie. His self-conflict was so entertaining. If I loved Gollum in the Lord of the Rings, I loved him even more in The Hobbit. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” was a good movie, but lacked the push to be stupendous. It’s worth seeing, but the viewer should go in prepared to watch the movie in a not so unexpected way. It was OVERALL a SATISFACTORY MOVIE.
Here’s the trailer for those who haven’t seen it yet.