‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ review

Posted: December 22, 2012 in Movies, Reviews

After the success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it was just a matter of time before Warner Bros. and even Peter Jackson took up the reigns to make a Hobbit film.  The precursor story to the original trilogy starring Bilbo Baggins was in trouble of not being made just as recently as 2010 when Guillermo del Toro dropped the film and Peter Jackson picked it up.  However, that’s a story meant for the past, as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is out now and is bound to make hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Hobbit didn’t need to be made, nor were people really expecting it to be made but, like I said, it was only a matter of time.  The story of Bilbo Baggins’ great adventure with 13 dwarves and the wizard Gandalf the Grey as they sought to steal back a great treasure from the dragon Smaug was far to great to go untold.  While “The Hobbit” book was relatively short by J.R.R. Tolkien standards, Peter Jackson has turned his Hobbit films into another trilogy, starting with An Unexpected Journey.

The film starts with Bilbo Baggins (played by the always perfect Martin Freeman – Sherlock) as he’s approached by Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan, reprising his role from the original LotR trilogy) about going on a great adventure.  Bilbo’s reluctance to leave his home in the Shire brings 13 dwarves to his quaint hole in the ground.  Peter Jackson, taking much liberties with the pace of the film knowing that he has three films to tell his complete story, spends at least an hour fleshing out his characters while in Bilbo’s house.  The dwarves spend so much time at Bilbo’s house that they have time to sing two complete songs.  The dwarves are led by Thorin (played by Richard Armitage – a rather popular UK television actor), heir to the throne of the dwarf kingdom stolen by Smaug.  They enlist Bilbo’s help to be their burglar on this unexpected journey.  Of course Bilbo’s reluctance to do anything that might disturb his quaint life leads him to realize he could use some adventure in his life.

Once Jackson brings the film past the Shire and into the vast scenery of Middle Earth, this is where the film truly finds its footing and feels like magic all over again.  Their journey leads them to being caught by a couple of half-wit trolls, back to Rivendell, and finally through the goblin caves of the mountain side.   Bilbo’s discovery of the One Ring in the goblin caves – and out first introduction to Golem (wonderfully acted again by Andy Serkis) – sets the tone for the follow up two films and right into the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I will admit, the first hour of the film had me skeptical of Peter Jackson’s intentions but the second two thirds of the film found me longing to not want the movie to end.   The scenery, CGI, and cameo appearances by characters we’ve already met before make The Hobbit feel like an extension of the original trilogy rather than a prequel.  While I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing, I do know that December 2013 can’t come soon enough.

If you’re a fan of Tokien’s books and of Peter Jackson’s original trilogy you’ll not want to miss An Unexpected Journey.

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