The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Seeing this holiday season is another chapter in the Lord of the Rings film franchise, I thought it would merit a post on the first installment of Peter Jackson’s second trilogy set in Middle-Earth!

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is an epic adventure/fantasy film by Peter Jackson, and the first in a trilogy, based on the famous classic novel by J.R.R. Tolkien.  The story follows a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, as he falls into helping a band of dwarves who plan to reclaim their stolen home and slay the great dragon Smaug.  The film stars Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Sylvester McCoy, with Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, and Andy Serkis.  Directed by Peter Jackson, screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Guillermo Del Toro.  (Running Time: 169 minutes)(Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images)

The Hobbit Trilogy, with each chapter being filmed back to back like the original LOTR trilogy, already shows a mammoth undertaking.  But in order to give a good review of The Hobbit, one should examine the first Peter Jackson impression of the first LOTR movies.

Not just the director, but the entire cast and crew, it seems, deemed to give their all for that trilogy, and went all out to try incredibly hard to make some amazing cinema for us all to enjoy for years and years.  I absolutely love those movies.  I will be watching them for years and years to come.  Guarantee it.  They are so loyal to Tolkien’s vision, but also some spectacular movies that just are so hard to compare to anything every done before!–or since.

The rumors following the years of LOTR were Jackson’s wishes to try and make The Hobbit into a film reality, but declining the director’s chair, feeling the first trilogy had zapped him of all that energy necessary to continue in the job.  He wanted Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Blade II, Hellboy I & II, and Pacific Rim) to direct, since he was already helping with the screenplay.  I was disappointed when I first heard this, not being a huge fan of Del Toro–but that’s just a personal opinion.  I thought he would take too dark a tone on the story of Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves and feared for the memory of the LOTR legacy.  However, due to The Hobbit not being green-lit or confirmed for years, he pulled out, and Jackson tried harder, knowing he could be the only one to step into the chair again.  Ah, happy day!

The Hobbit, by and large, takes a lighter mood than the previous Tolkien movies, relaying on a lot of humor, adventurous action, and not nearly as many scares or perils as Frodo Baggins and company gave us–not offense to this one.  But the taste of the book was similarly so.  A fun adventure for all the family to enjoy.

Although the CGI, sets, and other production values are well done yet again, they all felt a tiny bit lacking in scale, due to the sometimes overuse of the special effects that are almost too obvious at times in the movie.  I don’t want to sound like I am complaining when saying this, but the first trilogy was noted partially for the amount it avoided CGI.  There is also a lot of memorabilia directed towards the first films as well, with subtle references here and there.

Martin Freeman is definitely an attention getter.  He has great timing, both comidically and dramatically.  He does a great job at keeping us in the loop and continuing us to watch through two and a half hours of Middle Earth.  But he and Ian McKellen are big reasons I enjoyed this flick.  And, non-spoiler alert, the scene between Bilbo and Gollum was well-played out.  Maybe the best scene of the entire movie.  It felt like I was watching theatre, rather than film.  I tip my hat to those two for performing quite well for that particular ten minutes.

To make a long-winded post a heckuva lot shorter, I felt that the first Hobbit movie was a little too…extended.  At least, it felt a little forced.  It could have omitted several subplots and stayed more loyal to the book, and I would have liked to have scene the film split into two parts, like they had originally planned.  Than again, I have yet to see the last two installments before I come to a complete decision on the trilogy’s pacing and so forth.

Still, Peter Jackson and the gang did a good job.  If someone else had headed the huge project, I feel it would have been poorly done.  So, thank you Pete for continuing LOTR for Tolkien’s fans’ sake, and yours.

The film was made on a shared budget of between $200-315 million for all three movies, and managed to gross over $1 billion worldwide.  And when the awards season came around, The Hobbit was passed for the big awards and only managed to snag three nominations for Best Visual Effects, Best Production Design, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

In the long run, a high 4 out of 7 stars.  I will come to a full assessment of The Hobbit once I see them all, but I did enjoy The Hobbit.  You could start with this one if you have not seen LOTR before, but I would suggest the first trilogy to begin with.  It has a more impacting impression on its audience, I think.  This one is almost all for fun.  Good clean fun, though.

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About Morgan

January 2016 Update: This blog is under reconstruction. Please be patient while we gradually remove old material, posts, and pages, and create new ones. Thank you.
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