The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Movie Review

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Movie Review

Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro, J.R.R. Tolkien (novel)
Stars: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, Graham McTavish, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christorpher Lee, Sylvester McCoy, Elijah Wood, Ian Holm
Epic Fantasy Adventure

The Hobbit Movie ReviewAn Unexpected Journey begins with a hauntingly familiar theme*, leading into a prologue that could have been a missing scene from The Fellowship of the Ring. There is a clever segue to make it clear that Martin Freeman is playing a younger version of Ian Holm’s Bilbo from The Lord of the Rings films.

I was at a midnight showing in a not terribly populated area, and yet there were six, count ’em six, showings (including 2D, 3D, and HFR 3D) in that first half hour. Judging by the crowds, all of them were sold out, too.

The novel The Hobbit was written before The Lord of the Rings –it is a simpler, lighter story. In adapting it the screen, Peter Jackson faced the dual challenge of handling a prequel after a successful sequel and trying to please both fans of the original material and fans of the previous movies. Not an easy task, by any means.

I am a fan of both The Lord of the Rings books and Jackson’s adaption of them, and I was happy to see many of the things I loved about the movie trilogy return. Why argue with success?

Like The Fellowship of the Ring, there is a quest, this time comprised of a group of dwarves led by Thorin Oakinshield (Richard Armitage). The group is not as culturally diverse as the Fellowship, and with fourteen instead of nine, it’s sometimes easier to count than take role at critical junctures. Tolkien also saddled many of the dwarves with similar sounding names: Bifur & Bofur, Oin & Gloin, Fili & Kili. But the filmmakers rose to the challenge, and via clothing and accessories, hair and beard color and styles, jewelry, etc., each dwarf has a distinct look to go with their personality.

Early in the film, Gandalf orchestrates a meeting between Bilbo and the company of dwarves. Like many scenes that are closely adapted from the book, it is exceptionally well-handled and very entertaining. After dinner, the dwarves sing the eerie, haunting, incredibly moving “Misty Mountains.” Later, the melody line turns up as their theme at times of adversity.

Radagast the Brown (Sylvestor McCoy), one of Gandalf’s peers, has an expanded role from the book, and he makes quite an impression, with his quirky mannerisms and odd headgear. Watch for his unusual method of conveyance.

There are a lot of high points within the nearly three hour film. The entire cast turns in top-notch performances, especially Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, and Andy Serkis. The beautiful backdrop provided by Howard Shore’s sweeping, epic, haunting soundtrack. Gandalf (Ian McKellan), Saruman (Christopher Lee), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and Elrond (Hugo Weaving) taking a meeting. Bilbo’s epic encounter with Gollum (Andy Serkis), which could have been a disaster and was so very well done, including amazing facial expressions.

Everything was done with care and superb attention to detail.

I had a few minor quibbles that did not keep me from enjoying the movie. Rivendell still looks like a matte painting when seen from a distance. There was a battle sequence that took place almost entirely over a series of conveniently placed, poorly constructed plot devices that didn’t have a lot of justification for being there.

Overall, it’s a well-done, sweeping adventure that takes you on a real emotional ride. You really want the characters to triumph, and in the end, that’s what it should all be about.

Go see it.

*If it’s not familiar, you’ve missed out on some of the best fantasy films ever made. Go out and rent, buy, or stream The Lord of the Rings trilogy. You’ll be glad you did. Promise.

Reviewed By Elektra Hammond
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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Movie Review
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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Movie Review
In adapting it the screen, Peter Jackson faced the dual challenge of handling a prequel after a successful sequel and trying to please both fans of the original material and fans of the previous movies. Not an easy task, by any means. I am a fan of both The Lord of the Rings books and Jackson’s adaption of them, and I was happy to see many of the things I loved about the movie trilogy return. Why argue with success?
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Elektra Hammond

Elektra Hammond

Editor & Reviewer
Elektra Hammond emulates her multi-sided idol Buckaroo Banzai by going in several directions at once.

Elektra lives in Delaware with her husband, Mike, and the cat herd of BlueBlaze/Benegesserit catteries. When not freelancing or appearing at science fiction conventions she travels world-wide judging cat shows.
Elektra Hammond
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  • Althea Greystone

    Every time I see one of these films I feel the urge to visit New Zealand. Loved it in 3D but I’m sure it would be just as good without it. All the wonderful characters and the actors that played them are back!! Golum was creepier than ever and that is saying a lot. Add me to the list of pro Hobbit audience members.

    • Suzanne Denys

      We all 4 in my house love the LOTR movies. The Hobbit is my favorite and we love to watch the bonus features from the blu-rays as well. Anything with Peter Jackson explaining is fascinating too.

  • John Ryan

    The Hobbit was also a favorite of mine and although I wish it was being made as a trilogy that is because I hate to wait so long between films.

  • Jessica Braverman

    When is the next one coming out?

  • margaretsmith

    Sounds really great. My sons and husband are serious fans of The Hobbit

  • Jennifer Ann Hayden

    Great review. I liked the comparison and contrast with Lord of the Rings. In many ways it is similar but it also is a very different film as well.

  • Bob

    Great movie, can’t wait for the next one!

  • Andrea Cutts

    I loved the movie! The second can’t get here fast enough!

  • Anita Davidson Gibson

    The movie was awesome. Can’t wait for part two and part three to come out. Even my nine years old son loved it.

  • Lindsey M

    My husband and I loved the movie but it was a little long for the kids – I think they’re still a bit young for it

  • Jeane Campbell

    I loved all the books and I feel that this movie did a good job of telling the story correctly. Great job.

  • Barb Stenby

    LOVED IT!!!!

  • brian m

    I loved it!

  • Stephanie Wurtz

    Loved it way more than the trilogy

  • Jessica Tomlinson

    I liked it ok but it was so long! I loved the original trilogy movies but I felt a little let down by this one. I’m still going back to see the next movie though.

  • reasb

    Extremely well done. Cant wait for the next 2!

  • I watched this with my wife. we enjoyed it.

  • Mark W

    We loved this movie

  • Michael

    At first I didn’t know it was going to be a trilogy but now that I’ve seen the first one I can’t wait to see the other two.

  • clynsg

    Haven’t seen it yet, but plan to watch it.

  • Sandra Beeman

    I did enjoy your review. I learned a lot I didn’t know or had forgotten.

  • Jessy Southard Strohmeyer

    I loved the movie! I’m a little worried about some of the new material that’s going to be in the next two, but I have faith in Peter Jackson…

  • John Senkiw

    Truly enjoyed it!!!

  • mail4rosey

    I haven’t seen it, it’s nice you mentioned the quibbles, and that they didn’t deter you from enjoying the movie. I like reviews that are honest.

  • karenmed409

    Very nice review. I like your honest opinions,

  • Todd Lovessweeps

    Good review – I really enjoyed the movie myself. Cannot wait for the sequel

  • staceyg

    loved it! and can’t wait for the next one!!!

  • Emily fedynich

    Love this movie it’s got the best special effects. I really enjoy where Peter Jackson is going with this story

  • Jeanette Jackson

    I liked it and I look forward to the next two movies.

  • Daniel M

    liked it quite a bit, can’t wait for the next chapter!

  • asketcher2

    I liked it and am looking forward to the next movie. I didn’t like the troll scene though. It felt like it was made either for a video game later on or 3d effects.

  • Michelle Tucker

    Thanks for the review. We went to the movies yesterday and even though they had at least 20 showings throughout the day there were huge lines. I guess I’m going to have to go see it. Perhaps in a couple weeks when the crowd dies down a bit.

  • mrcapncaveman

    I loved this movie! Looking forward to watching The Hobbit the desolation of Smaug.