The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Sylvester McCoy, Cate Blanchette, Hugo Weaving, and Andy Serkis.
As I’ve blogged several times before, I never quite embraced The Lord of the Rings. The books are just so dense with exposition. That being said, I love love love The Hobbit. Count it as one of my favourite books. The exposition is kept to a minimum while we focus on the adventure. So I was thrilled when Peter Jackson and company decided to continue what they’d begun with The Lord of the Rings by doing a movie version of The Hobbit. But, my heart sank somewhat when I heard that they were pouring through Tolkein’s notes and appendixes to fill The Hobbit with more exposition…and pad it out to three films. Would what bothered me with The Lord of the Rings now bog down The Hobbit?
Our hero, Bilbo Baggins, is just relaxing on his front porch one day when he’s approached by the wizard Gandalf. And before long, Bilbo is playing host to a band of 13 dwarfs. These dwarfs, led by king Thorin, seek to go on a quest to reclaim their kingdom, which was conquered by the dragon Smaug. Gandalf convinces the band that Bilbo is burglar, that they will need to sneak back into the kingdom. And before long, Bilbo is joining these dwarfs on their quest. It’s a quest that takes them to the magic elf kingdom of Rivendell, a battle of wits with some nasty trolls, a battle in the underground kingdom of goblins, and before long, Bilbo finds himself face to face with a curious creature named Gollum. Will Bilbo prove his worth to Thorin, and to himself? And what are these whispers of a greater evil growing?
What I Liked
I really did geek out for this more than I thought. It was nice seeing some of these familiar characters on the big screen again. The game of riddles between Bilbo and Gollum is truly the highlight of the film. The scene with the trolls, one of my favourite in the book, is depicted on the big screen quite nicely. I didn’t find the pacing problems that some are reporting, and found that it moved along quite nicely. That being said….
What I Didn’t Like
The added material seems very extraneous and could easily have been trimmed. We get stuff with another wizard named Radagast the Brown, Thorin gets a personal arch-enemy in the form of an orc king, and this new evil threat that’s mentioned really doesn’t add much. I also found a similar problem to the Star Wars prequels. The filmmakers seem obsessed with making this film match its counterpart in the original trilogy. Similar story beats are hit at the same time, certain scenes are re-created with a wink and nudge. Sometimes it’s cute, sometimes it’s distracting.
I really, really enjoyed this, despite all the new added material. The fun thing about expanding this the way they have, I don’t think anything’s going to be missed. Bring on Part II!