Written by Tyler Lamb.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first film in a new trilogy from director Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings trilogy). It stars Martin Freeman (The Office, Sherlock, Hot Fuzz), Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings trilogy, X-Men trilogy), and a slew of other returning faces along with some new ones. It chronicles the first third of the book The Hobbit, a story of Bilbo Baggins (Freeman) who gets dragged along on an adventure, almost against his will, by Gandalf the Grey (McKellen). He is labeled the 14th traveler with a group of dwarves on their quest to defeat the dragon Smaug, regaining their homeland and the riches with it.
The one thing that has to be said immediately about this movie is, like The Lord of the Rings, it is simply beautiful. The cinematography is breathtaking, and it is a joy to be back in the lands of Middle Earth. It seems this time around Peter Jackson decided to pay more attention to the detail of this land, and it shows. The Shire looks amazing by itself, but the woods they traverse through are just as stunning. This immaculate detail was further brought out by the 3D version of the film that I saw. Jackson was noted as saying that he views movies as more of “looking through a window into another world”, and the 3D enhances this. That being said, a movie should not be judged on its visuals alone. We’ve all seen Avatar, and as visually pleasing as it may be, it’s a pretty bad movie.
Yes, the book is in fact a children’s book and written for a child reader. There are silly moments throughout the movie, but some are just too much. I seemed to be the only one in the theater completely disgusted at the fact that Radagast the Brown was housing birds in his hair and, as a result of this, had half his face covered in bird poop. Overall this character was completely ridiculous and unnecessary, especially since he doesn’t even appear in the book.
Aside from this ridiculous character, the story seemed to drag on and on. As mentioned, it is the first THIRD of a book; whereas The Lord of the Rings trilogy covered three books, this trilogy will cover one. The story certainly trudges along because of this and the almost 3 hour runtime definitely seems like more.
All this complaining aside, there were things I loved besides the visuals. Martin Freeman did an absolutely fantastic job as Bilbo. The entire time I was watching the movie I would look forward to seeing him on screen again. Ian McKellen, obviously, brought his usual expertise to the table, as did many returning actors. Of course, out of these returning cast members, Andy Serkis must be mentioned. Serkis does an amazing job playing Gollum, like always, and it is fascinating how he works his facial expressions and movement. In addition, the music was fantastic throughout, as were most of the special effects, besides a few low points (final shot specifically).
Most people will enjoy this movie regardless, since there are bright colors and loud noises. Many will look past any and all flaws it may have just because it is a Middle Earth movie. However, after having a much needed “nerd-out” before watching the movie and just taking it all in, it’s easy to see where it falls short. It is even easier to do so when viewing the previous trilogy beforehand. When it comes down to it, this film, although not the best as a stand alone movie, will most likely fall perfectly within the trilogy its set to start off, even if that starting road was a tad bit rocky.
I give The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:
2 Godzilla movie posters out of 4
Starring-Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis