The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


Photo by Courtesy of Google images

Bilbo Baggins is overwhelmed by the dwarves in his home.

Jeff Newbold and Maverick Roskelley

Kili, Fili, Oin, Gloin, Dori, Nori, Bombur, Bofur, Balin, Dwalin, Bifur, Ori, and Thorin Oakenshield. In the new movie ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’, these thirteen dwarves set out with the Wizard Gandalf the Grey and Hobbit Bilbo Baggins to reclaim the dwarf kingdom of Erebor from the dragon Smaug.

With Richard Armitage as Thorin and Martin Freeman excellently portraying Bilbo, a group dynamic is created that can be felt across the theater as J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters come to life. ‘The Hobbit’ takes place in Middle Earth as a prequel to the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of ‘Lord of the Rings’ was one of the most successful film franchises of all time, and producers hoped to carry that success over to ‘The Hobbit’. They accomplished that, as the film made $37 million on its first day alone and $84.8 after the weekend.

‘The Hobbit’ was filmed in HFR (High Frame Rate), showing 48 frames per second as opposed to the customary 24. Though this method has been considered to be quite innovative, not everybody is particularly keen on it. In fact, most film critics are not; they argue that the film almost looks like a documentary or even a soap opera. However, Jackson realized that not everyone would be excited about the new HFR style, and also released the film in the traditional format. The CGI (computer generated imagery) has also been criticized as being excessive, and many fans miss the realism of orcs and goblins being played by actual actors. However, the scenery is breathtaking, even when computer generated, and the actual New Zealand landscape is gorgeous as always.

The movie does a good job of pleasing audiences with little to no knowledge of Middle Earth as well as long-time Tolkien fans. It doesn’t stray too far from the book, and the majority of the additions made the story more interesting and exciting. Though there are several references to the ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘The Hobbit’ is its own story, and therefore has a different feel to it. What many fans of the previous films fail to realize is that ‘The Hobbit’ was originally written for children, and even though the film has many of the same characteristics of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ franchise, it is at its best when it is not blatantly trying to imitate its predecessor.

At 2 hours and 49 minutes, this movie does drag on a bit at times, and some scenes could have been considerably shortened. However, it more than makes up for this with an exciting plot, witty characters, and a magnificent soundtrack.

With many returning cast members to the movie, most notably Ian McKellen as Gandalf and Andy Serkis as Gollum. Both actors reprise their roles wonderfully, and the scene with Bilbo and Gollum is clearly the highlight of the film.

One of the most interesting decisions Jackson made was to expand certain obscure sections of the novel. Some of the additions include characters called Radagast the Brown and the Necromancer. These additions somewhat expand the Lord of the Rings universe past what was depicted years before in the original trilogy.

Overall, ‘The Hobbit’ is an excellent movie that pushes the boundaries of filmmaking. Its few flaws do not at all detract from the film as a whole, and fans look forward to two more installments in the trilogy to be released in 2013 and 2014.