The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review

So I watched The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey…

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I don’t know why it took me so long to watch this movie. I think when it came out I just wasn’t in the mood for another Middle Earth adventure and plus, I’d heard that the 3D was so amazing that people were throwing up and I don’t like to throw up so I gave it a miss. But watching it now, I’m filled with more than a little bit of regret about delaying my viewing.

Okay, basic plot: Sixty years before the beginning of The Lord of the Rings, a dragon named Smaug, attacks Erebor – home of the Dwarf Kingdom ruled by Thrór. Smaug runs the dwarves out of their kingdom and claims their treasure for himself. Thorin, the dwarf Prince – grandson of Thrór wishes to reclaim his home from Smaug and assmebles a company of twelve other dwarves and Gandalf The Grey to help him do so. Gandalf recruits a less than likely hero in the form of a hobbit – Bilbo Baggins – to join the company and help them on their quest.

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The biggest reason why I regret waiting to watch this movie is that I missed out on seeing it in the cinema. The visual effects in this movie are triumphant; the cinematography is a work of wonder and demands the scale of the big screen. It’s amazing how real everything feels and how expansive and immerse the landscapes are. Just as with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, this movie is a visual delight. I cannot tell you how many times I stopped and lamented myself for missing out on the opportunity to experience these visuals in the cinema.I have to tip my hat to both director, Peter Jackson, and cinematographer, Andrew Lesnie for the unbelievable work they do in this film. I think we take good cinematography for granted most of the time because a movie looking good is just so expected that you often don’t take notice of it. But in this movie, the visuals are as much a part of the story as the content and the characters. The are numerous tracking landscape shots so you have the opportunity to drink in these visuals.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

Unfortunately, a lot of the time, these visuals are focused on ”nothing” scenes. This is the problem that comes with splitting up a book into more than one movie, especially three movies – you get scenes that would normally have been left out if the movie had it just been a single movie instead of a trilogy; as well as excessive amounts of time spent on scenes that don’t really require it. There were more than a few scenes where I thought to myself “if I didn’t see that, would it have changed the story?” and most of the time I found myself thinking, “no, that scene was unnecessary or excessive.” One could argue that splitting up these movies allows more time for character development and insight and on the one hand, I have to agree with this. There are tons of little side-stories and subplots in this movie that add depth to the characters by giving us more of their history, unfortunately, this often comes at the cost of the overall entertainment of the movie.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

There are a plethora of scenes where characters are just talking or walking or doing nothing really but in the long run this gives you more time to connect with the characters. So I’m a bit torn about this movie splitting itself up and it’s almost three hour runtime. At times this movie feels like a tv series with its patient, almost glacial pace and while frustrating, it does add something to the movie. I know I’m contradicting myself but while this movie was boring at times, I don’t think you could tackle the story any other way. There are so many battles in this movie and pieces of action that are integral to the plot that you can’t imagine them not being there, so therefore, the movie needed this extravagant runtime.

I haven’t read The Hobbit, so i don’t know which characters and storylines were in the book and which Peter Jackson just added for the effect of the movie but I enjoyed seeing all of the characters included in this movies. There are plenty of links to Lord of the Rings and some really great cameos and allusions to Sauron and the one ring. I’m by no means a die-hard LOTR fan but I think Jackson has packed this movie with little easter eggs and references that true fans will love. I think it’s great when a director puts in fan service and acknowledges the original fan base while trying to make a product that the casual viewer can also enjoy.

Overall, I liked this movie more than my rating of it will convey. I think the runtime really hurts it and while I admit that this extravagant runtime was a necessary evil, I still think it could have been better done. This movie is a set-up for later movies and it does give us a lot of character insight but at the expense of some really dull scenes. It’s worth a watch if you’re a fan but if you aren’t, it may test your patience. 6/10

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10 thoughts on “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review

  1. I think this trilogy could/should have been much better. I thought added scenes that were not in the book plugged up the plot and resulted in the omission of some cool scenes from the original story. It WAS entertaining, but I expect more from a treatment of a Tolkien story. There are, of course, different schools of thought on this subject.

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    1. Well I haven’t watched the entire trilogy so I’ll wait to pass judgement but I definitely agree that the story did feel plugged up at times. I haven’t read the book either so I don’t know which characters truly belong and which don’t but I enjoyed seeing characters from LOTR. It kind of felt like seeing Obi-Wan meeting Darth Vader as a child. You know where the story is going to end up but seeing those links that tie everything together is awesome.

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  2. I made a song for people who haven’t seen this movie and haven’t read the book and wanted to know my opinion on it:

    Danger! Running! We’re trapped! Gandalf!

    Danger! Running! We’re trapped! Gandalf!

    Danger! Running! We’re trapped! Gandalf!

    After the second time this happened I pretty much gave up on the film. There was no risk to the group so no tension. Some of the character stuff was nice, but overall I was left going “Eh, it was fun but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone unless they are huge LOTR fans”.

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  3. Sorry it took me so long to comment! I appreciate your honesty. It’s refreshing. I’m a Tolkien fan, and while I enjoyed The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, you raise some very good points. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was at times rather dull. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but Tolkien spends a great deal of time describing the landscape (which I suppose is not a bad idea when it comes to fantasy). I’m guessing Peter Jackson zoomed over the landscape to grace us with a visual image of Middle-earth, just as Tolkien did with words. While I do not think it detracted from the main storyline, I do agree that The Hobbit should have been condensed into one movie—two at the most.

    Peter Jackson did, in fact, add characters that were not featured in the original tale. Tauriel is purely a character invented by Jackson. And while Legolas was one of the characters in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, he was not at all mentioned in The Hobbit. The Mirkwood Elves do make an appearance in the The Hobbit, but only Thranduil, the Elven-king, is mentioned by name.

    Before you decice to watch the remaining two films, be warned that Tauriel and Legolas will detract from the plot. They are what in fiction we call red herring. Also Strider, or Aragorn, is briefly referenced at the end of the third movie. Mind you, Aragorn was only just a child. He could not in any way have been wandering around the woods, as this certain elf is made to understand.

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    1. And I completely agree that the visuals is one of the things that redeemed The Hobbit. The first movie is frankly the most satisfying. The third movie completely veered off the original story.

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    2. I really liked this movie too. I only criticise the length because it’s the only real flaw in an entertaining movie. I think Jackson is well withing his rights to add characters and alter certain plot points. You have to alter a few things to bring a book into the world of film.

      I heard Vigo Mortenson was approached to star in the third Hobbit film but he refused because Aragon wasn’t in the original book. I think that’s pretty admirable for a actor to turn down a paycheque out of respect of the source material.

      Hoping to finish the rest of my return to Middle Earth this weekend. Thanks for suggesting it. 🙂

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      1. I disagree with you in that I don’t think Jackson was in any right to butcher the original story. The Hobbit has enough good material for a film. There was frankly no need to add characters that weren’t even in the original story.
        He didn’t alter a few things; he altered a lot. Also, there is a scene in which one of the dwarves, Fili, falls in love with an elf. That does not happen at all in Tolkien’s world. Elves rarely mingled romantically with humans, much less with Dwarves.

        I don’t mind the length. I really don’t. But I do mind the character of Tauriel. And yes Jackson did it for entertainment reasons, but still.

        And I didn’t know that about Vigo Mortenson. That’s actually really admirable. Let me Google it.

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