Movie Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit Movie Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The long awaited return to the Middle-Earth has finally arrived in the form of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of a new prequel trilogy that adapts both The Hobbit and The Silmarillion, does this new film capture the magic of the epic LOTR trilogy or are we facing another Phantom Menace on our hands? Let’s find out!

The main of the film revolves around a younger Bilbo Baggins as he is swept into an adventure by the always badass wizard, Gandalf the Grey, to save the now destroyed Dwarven kingdom of Erebor from the dragon Smaug that now resides in its gold filled hallways.

Aiding them in this dangerous undertaking is a group of 13 Dwarves from all of Middle-Earth, lead by the last living heir of the Dwarven royal family, Thorin Oakenshield, a hardened price who saw the fall of both Erebor and Moria first hand.

What follows is a tale full of hilarity, danger and friendship that adapts the works of Tolkien in a great if not flawed manner.

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If you’re looking for a world saving story line with giant battles between thousands of Humans, Elves and Dwarves, then you might be disappointed in The Hobbit, while there are several flashbacks that do include these massive battles, the main plot is an adventure to basically slay a dragon, not to save the world from an evil dark overlord.

The film is also far more light hearted because of this, you will see loads of people/creatures get cut down, stabbed and decapitated, but the film is also full of humor and I found myself laughing almost throughout the entire film.

Bilbo Baggins or rather the actor playing him (Martin Freeman) delivers a fantastic role as the young and very nervous Bilbo Baggins, at first Bilbo is a standard Hobbit, he has his life style and he tries as hard as possible not to deviate from it.

As the film progresses he becomes more battle hardened and learns that there’s more to life than just smoking your pipe in the Shire and we can already see him become the Hobbit that we see in LOTR.

Ian Mckellen reprises his role as the Gandalf and he is just as badass as you remember him being, we get to see more of him when things were much simpler and he could actually enjoy himself and the tasks that he was undertaking, we also see more of his magic powers and why he is so feared by the lesser beings of Middle-Earth.

Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) is the third protagonist and through him we learn the history and the way of life of the Dwarven people who were mostly absent in LOTR, he witnessed the fall of his kingdom of Erebor, he saw his grandfather die at the very gates of Moria and suffered betrayal at the hands of the Elves.

He has his own character arc where he is very distrustful of Bilbo and the Elves, but as the story progresses we also see him evolve from this cold and thick headed Dwarf into some one worthy to lead his people once their kingdom is freed.

The rest of the characters however fall flat, because most of them are Dwarves, they all look mostly alike and besides Balin, Kili and Dwalin, none of them stand and I couldn’t remember half of their names once the film ended.

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But what the film does manage to improve from LOTR trilogy is that the A and B stories are both equally interesting and feel relevant, im not gonna lie, I hated the Frodo and Sam sections of the previous films and I wish they were completely cut out, I know they were tasked with destroying the ring and save the world, but the Aragon/Gandalf plots were in my opinion much more interesting.

Here the main quest is a fun, light hearted adventure similar to the old medieval stories about swords, sorcery and dragon, while the B story is taken from the Silmarillion and is very fascinating, it deals with the near return of Sauron and the omens that foretell it.

The woods are growing corrupt with giant spiders infesting them, trolls and Orcs are descending from their mountain lairs and are ransacking settlements, and the ancient fortress of Dol Guldur is haunted by the spirits of the Nazgul and a powerful Necromancer (Sauron).

This leads to several scenes that explain where Gandalf went when he disappeared in the book and it gives us further insight into the lore and back-story behind the wizards, Sauron and many of the mythical creatures of Middle-Earth.

I personally cannot wait to see the Gandalf, Saruman vs. Sauron battle that’s going to take place in the next film, though I wish the part where Gandalf visits Dol Guldur himself was kept in the film, you can see bits of it in the trailer but that was ultimately cut out of the film entirely.

Many reviewers have stated that the film could have been shorter and I agree to an extent, the beginning could have definitely been cut down and it wouldn’t have taken anything from the film, it was fun seeing the Dwarves throw around dishes and ransack Bilbo’s house but ultimately it didn’t serve the plot at all and could have made the film a good 10 or 15 minutes shorter.

Another complaint of the film is that new 48 frames per second version of the film, many have stated that the film was unwatchable, too fast and that it made them sick. I agree to an extent, at the first I admit it did move along WAY too fast, but because of the clearer imagine the large battles were much more fierce and looked far more brutal than some of the ones in LOTR.

The 3-D on the other hand is entirely pointless, there are a few scenes where you do see things fly at you from the screen, but those are few in number and don’t enhance the film in any meaningful way.

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Also the main antagonist is pretty bad, we get this big white Orc called Azog who’s setup as this big OMFG ruthless monster only to end up as just another generic Orc who’s just big and white, hell the Necromancer (Sauron) who we see only once is far more intimidating and when you do see him….. Let’s just say it’s creepy and fitting of a dark lord.

Ultimately The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is definitely a worthy prequel to LOTR but it doesn’t surpass them, its a great time full of funny jokes, awesome battles and tons of nods to old sword/sorcery stories that you will have a blast while watching it all the way through.

Just be ready for a some what boring beginning, a pretty lousy main antagonist and some pointless 3-D.


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