Young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) joins a ragtag group of dwarves in an attempt to help them reclaim their home under the Lonely Mountain.
The first part of the prequel trilogy to The Lord of the Rings, An Unexpected Journey is a wonderful film that is in every way a worthy successor (albeit prequel) to The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Let me just say for the record that it was amazing to be whisked back to Middle Earth and I enjoyed almost every moment of this film. Almost every moment. While the beginning dragged on a little bit, and the film took a little bit of time finding it’s footing, once it did it transported me back to the realm of Middle Earth and it’s wondrous locales and creatures. I watched the film with a smile on my face and wouldn’t cut a minute out of it.
Chosen by Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan), Bilbo Baggins becomes a member of a ragtag group of dwarves who are attempting to take back their home and treasure from the dragon Smaug, who years earlier attacked their home and took up residence. The dwarves were scattered by the attack and this small group is now led by the grandson of the king who was overthrown by the dragon, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). Together they set out on a quest to reclaim their home. Along the way they will face orcs, trolls, a Goblin King, and there will be riddles in the dark which has a direct impact on The Lord of the Rings trilogy . . .
Once again directed by Peter Jackson (The Lovely Bones, The Frighteners), An Unexpected Journey is a bit more of a lighthearted affair than the previous films. The story is nowhere near as dire, and doesn’t affect the entire world; the fate of the world doesn’t hang in the balance. This is the story of a group of dwarves seeking revenge and the reclamation of their home.
After a decade of waiting for this film, through all the legal battles and extensive production, I can happily say that Peter Jackson has slipped right back into Middle Earth, much like putting on an old shoe. It feels as though we never left, and it is amazing to behold on the big screen. The love for the source material is clearly evident in the film, as it was in the original trilogy. While some of the special effects aren’t as great as they could have been if they went practical instead of digital, it is still a amazingly fun romp through Middle Earth with some amazing set pieces and wonderful action sequences.
Along the way, we are introduced to some characters that we are familiar with from the original story. Elijah Wood and Ian Holm reprise their roles of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, respectively, in the beginning of the film. Ian McKellan reprises his role of Gandalf, as does Cate Blanchet as Galadriel and Hugo Weaving as Elrond. Christopher Lee joins the proceedings as his character of Saruman the White, and Andy Serkis is once again Gollum. The inclusion of these characters beings us back to that familiar place we all know and love and not a one of them looks any different than they did over a decade ago.
I know some people have complained about the length of the film, considering that the novel is actually quite short, and have questioned why this book will be three movies. I for one do not question. Peter Jackson has earned my loyalty after The Lord of the Rings trilogy. What Jackson is doing is tying The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings by including material from The Silmarillion and the appendices of the Return of the King to tie the two film series together as one cohesive package. And I couldn’t be happier. More Middle Earth is right as rain in my book.
While the beginning does drag on a little bit, and it takes a little bit of times to get moving, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a wonderful film and a treat for fans of Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is not as jarringly different as the Star Wars prequels were, and Jackson and his team have created a rich, vibrant fantasy world that I couldn’t be happier to come back to again and again.
***1/2 out of ****
*NOTE* There has been a lot of talk about the 48 fps that the film was shot in. I cannot comment on that because I saw it in the standard 24 fps. 48 fps is not available where I live. I did see it in 3D, and the 3D effect was ok in the film. I am not a huge supporter of theatrical 3D, but it didn’t detract from the viewing experience. I don’t feel it improved it either, though. I would recommend saving the couple bucks and just see it in standard 2D.
*NOTE 2* I usually include the trailer for the film at the end of my reviews. Seeing as how I have covered this film extensively and every trailer I could scour has already been posted, I will leave you with this song from the film. In my opinion, this is the greatest part of the film, and actually elevated the film even higher. Much like Aragorn’s song in the extended cut of The Fellowship of the Ring, this is an amazing piece of filmmaking.
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey UK tv spot (bizzammovienews.com)
- Re-edited The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 7 minute trailer (bizzammovienews.com)