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Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

December 14, 2012

hobbit_an_unexpected_journeyThe Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

  • Starring:  Martin Freeman (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings), Richard Armitage (Captain America: The First Avenger) and more.
  • Directed by: Peter Jackson
  • Synopsis: “The Hobbit” follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers…
  • Rated: Rated PG-13 for fantasy violence and frightening images.
  • Must-Watch Trailer:
  • Review:

Peter Jackson finally takes us back to The Shire from the beloved Lord of the Rings trilogy. This J.R.R. Tolkein classic comes to the big screen as a first of three films about the journey of Bilbo Baggins that led to his acquiring  of the infamous ring of power and so much more. Several doubted the ability of Jackson to spread out one of Tolkein’s shortest books into three full-length feature films. After watching it twice for you (once in 2D and once in 3D), below you can read my thoughts on the film:Film-The Hobbit

One of the most delightful things about The Hobbit is Jackson usage of the same type of cinematography that worked so well in The Lord of the Rings. The panning shots of gorgeous landscapes, the closeups of the characters, the impressive CGI work, the stunning visuals…it all works together to instantly bring back the enjoyable nostalgia of the wonderful series. That, partnered with an equally gorgeous soundtrack full of emotion and familiar motifs, takes several bits of doubt and distrust away as Jackson shares his take on the classic novel.

While there is definitely something for fans of the entire series to enjoy here, newcomers to the works of Tolkein will also find something to enjoy as the characters themselves receive ample development. And what fantastic characters they are! From the familiar likes of Gandalf the Grey to the mix of new characters such as the determined dwarfs, Jackson skillfully uses the characters in the novel and makes not only their stories but also themselves to be related to in the middle of a fantasy world. Perhaps the best development of is Bilbo himself, played by Martin Freeman, as we see the events that led up to the character we know from The Lord of the Rings.

the-hobbit-peter-jackson-behind-the-scenes-gandalf

Speaking of characters, I can think of no one else that I would rather see play in any of the roles in the film. Sir Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis and more are all completely flawless in the execution of their parts which always adds a great element to any film. Returning cast members and new ones alike all come together as part of the series and seem as if they were a part of it for years already. Well done, Jackson and cast.

the-hobbit-peter-jackson-behind-the-scenes-bilbo-dwarves

While the composed music, camerawork, characters and cast all are equally impressive, one aspect of it all does lack a bit: the pacing of the story. While I am told that the book itself is slow at times (I have not read The Hobbit myself), I found that there were several times that the story suffered from emulating that style onscreen. With the fact that this story is very similar to that of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, very little sets itself apart during the “non-action/adventure” times (and even some of the action scenes are very similar as well) and that sense of familiarity/”been there-seen it” made me lose interest during certain parts of the film. (GASP! don’t throw the rotten tomatoes at me yet!) 😀THE-HOBBIT_-AN-UNEXPECTED-JOURNEY-2-296x300

It is easy to see where some critics have been upset at Jackson for “fluffing” the story in order to spread it across three different full-length movies. I do not see it that way, however, the movie definitely could have benefited from a shorter runtime.

Of course, the parts that are fantastic do more than make up for it. Gollum is, as expected, one of the best parts of the film, along with some of the additional scenes that give a greater insight into the world of Middle Earth and its characters. From Gandalf to Gollum to Goblins and more, Peter Jackson excels in tying The Hobbit into The Lord of the Rings through his use of scenes, characters, and cinematography that lead right into it. So much for fans to pick out and squeal in delight over.

*such as this fun film fact:

Ultimately, The Hobbit is an enjoyable movie that benefits from a cast and crew that I would consider experts on all things Tolkein. It, inevitably, will continue to be compared to The Lord of the Rings and, that being the case, The Lord of the Rings trilogy is better. However, the verdict on The Hobbit trilogy (once it all is released) remains to be seen…and I can’t wait to continue this journey right along side Bilbo.the-hobbit_2422493b

Be sure to check out The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in theaters now (although, I will say that while the 3D is aesthetically pleasing, it is not all that necessary. Seek out a 48fps showing of it instead if you can.)

Score:  3.5 out of 5 stars for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Similar Titles that I have Seen and Recommend (click title for details/review):

Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!

T, The Focused Filmographer

 (For a fun caption game featuring pictures from The Hobbit, click Here)

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. Ted S. permalink
    December 14, 2012 10:30 am

    Nice review T.

    I recently read the book again to get ready for the film and yes the first few chapters were very slow but once the story gets going, it was a lot of fun. Sounds like the film version is the same. I’m going to see it at HFR IMAX 3D first then at 24frame 70mm IMAX so I can see the differences.

    Like

    • December 17, 2012 8:22 pm

      Thanks Ted. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the HFR!

      Like

  2. December 14, 2012 10:51 am

    Good review T. It’s a fun movie that definitely sees Jackson back in his lovely state of happiness with Middle Earth, but still, it feels like it rambles on and on a bit too much. Still, I look forward to the next 2 movies, no matter how unnecessary they really are.

    Like

    • December 17, 2012 8:23 pm

      Thanks man. I look forward to the next ones as well, but I do agree with you that it rambles. Thanks for stopping in

      Like

  3. December 16, 2012 4:55 pm

    Yeah it was pretty good, though I was dissappointed with the dwarf characters…I always consider them to be formidable fighters in fantasy but these guys did not make me believe that.

    Like

    • December 17, 2012 8:24 pm

      Thanks Angel for reading and commenting. That’s a good point on the dwarf characters. Yeah, you’re right

      Like

  4. December 18, 2012 1:31 am

    For me the pacing issues happened in the very beginning. Did we really need 2 prologues? Once Bilbo reconsiders and joins the dwaves the next morning, I was engaged for the remainder of the film. Overall I enjoyed The Hobbit.

    Like

    • December 20, 2012 9:37 pm

      Thanks for joining in, Mark. Yes the 2 prologues were sorta…

      but, like you, I still enjoyed it. Just hoped to enjoy it more than I did.

      Like

  5. December 18, 2012 6:45 pm

    Well said. I loved it! It put all my worries to rest–so awesome!

    I was captivated and engrossed. And how great to be back in Middle Earth–it was familiar and all brand new–all at once. Like you noted, it is still too early to compare to the LOTR and let’s remember that The Hobbit is a children’s adventure story–so, it is 100% different than what LOTR is (a dark, emotional journey).

    At the end, I was like, “Aw, man! That’s it? I want more….now! ” 😀 That says it all.

    Later!

    Like

    • December 20, 2012 9:48 pm

      I loved your review. Glad you liked it so much. I wanted to like it more. ultimately it was fun and, though different from LOTR, it was also a lot the same. Thanks for commenting

      Like

  6. December 20, 2012 3:23 pm

    Great review here, T. I was surprised with how much I enjoyed this film, especially since I went into it with low expectations. I agree that a few scenes could have been reduced or removed entirely (namely a chase/fight scene or two), but the length was never a huge problem.

    So you are a fan of the 48fps as well?

    Like

    • December 20, 2012 9:59 pm

      I wish I could tell you I was a fan of 48fps. I wanted to see it in that format but it is not available. That recommendation comes via the word of our good friend, Fogs!

      I agree that the length wasn’t a problem…just the pacing, for me, at times. Thanks for commenting.

      Like

      • January 7, 2013 5:45 am

        T, am so glad u said it dragged on bc i was wrongly fearing u might just jump on the LOTR bandwagon and give it an unequivocal thumbs up.

        With the caveat that i am often notoriously difficult to please, i will say i wish everybody had given it just 1 or 2 stars to inspire Jackson to adjust his complacent perch and offer some solid entertainment.

        Drags? yes, on and on. to what end? bleh. yes, we know they must defeat orcs and ghosts and trolls and spyders and ultimately a dragon, but i wish they had just done it all in one go or just gone straight to the dragon bit. the dialogue was excruciatingly atrocious and the action scenes were totally unrealistic, with ALL of their party getting through each calamitous situation unscratched.

        HO HUM! Zero stars for me. lost all interest. and this is from a big fan of Tolkien’s novels and the first 3 Rings books. Hope i didn’t dampen ur day.

        Like

  7. sirgustavito permalink
    January 7, 2013 5:49 am

    sorry. at the end of my comment i meant to say the 3 movies (not books)

    Like

    • January 10, 2013 6:54 pm

      ha. No dampening here! I am intrigued by your take on it! 0 stars huh? Wow. I gotta say that it may not have met any expectations, but isn’t 0 a bit rash? haha. You can at least maybe give it half a star for beautiful scenery and half a star for Gollum! 🙂

      thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Like

  8. March 20, 2013 11:15 am

    Nice review! I liked the movie and I’ll probably rewatch it many times because of Richard Armitage being in it (:P) but for me it wasn’t even in the same league as LotR in terms of how much I liked the characters and the story. I hope the next two movies will be as good as the prologue for this one was.

    Like

    • March 20, 2013 2:30 pm

      Thank you, Lady Sati. I appreciate your kind words. You and Ruth both seem to share the same sentiment for Richard. 🙂 I hope the next 2 are great

      Like

Trackbacks

  1. CinematiCaptions #12 (The Hobbit Edition) « The Focused Filmographer
  2. Movie News Monday for December 17, 2012. « The Focused Filmographer
  3. Special Edition of “Take 2 With Terrence”: At The Hobbit Premiere! « The Focused Filmographer
  4. » Movie Review – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Fernby Films

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