The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey

I enjoyed An Unexpected Journey and had a fun time watching it at a midnight showing. This movie had a different feel than the LOTR trilogy. In the LOTR, the Hobbits were always the comedic element (“What about second breakfast?”), and in this movie this was more fully developed. In LOTR, the world was at risk of being destroyed and Frodo was tasked to prevent that, resulting in a much more dramatic and somber tone for that trilogy. AUJ was more lighthearted and had several moments that were laugh out loud.

While I enjoyed this new adventure in Middle-Earth, at times I felt that I was re-watching FOTR. In various scenes, I was reminded of a similar action or event that took place in the LOTR trilogy. There were also musical cues that were reminiscent of the previous trilogy. I haven’t decided if this is a good thing or not, as I felt it was overdone. I know that this was done intentionally, so as to thematically tie in the two trilogies. I have only watched the movie the one time, up to this point, so I’m not sure if I like this or not. I would have liked these moments to be more subtle than what they were. Who knows, maybe after seeing it again a few more times, it won’t matter.

Overall, I would recommend The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to anyone semi-interested in seeing it. If you liked the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you will like this film. However, you may not love AUJ. While I enjoyed this movie and will watch it again in theaters and will buy the Blu Ray, I did not love it. I compare it to The Two Towers, in that I liked the film, but felt it could have been better. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being totally awesome, I would give it an 8. It’s definitely worth seeing and it is better than the majority of movies out there.

FULL REVIEW:

I was pleasantly surprised to see that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (AUJ) starts off in the same place and time that The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (FOTR) starts off at. A day or two before Bilbo Baggins’ 111th birthday party. We see Bilbo and Frodo Baggins making some preparations for the party and we again see Bilbo at his writing table. Bilbo opens his book and begins writing, presumably a story for Frodo to someday read.

Bilbo starts off by giving a short history of the Dwarven kingdom of Erebor and how they were a successful community living and working under the Lonely Mountain. The Dwarves had amassed such a rich treasure trove of gold and other precious metals, that the dragon  Smaug, attacked their peaceful home and drove the Dwarves out. Now Smaug rules under the Lonely Mountain and no one can approach without being killed by Smaug, who lives to protect his gold from all intruders.

The Dwarves are forced out into the world of men and they attempt to take back Moria, which had been overrun by Orcs sometime ago. In the battle of Moria, the Dwarven King, Thror, is beheaded by the Orc leader, a pale Orc named Azog. Thorin, the king’s grandson, is enraged and attacks Azog. They duel and Thorin loses his shield and picks up a oak branch to use as a shield. He defeats Azog, and earns the nickname Thorin ‘Oakenshield’.  Thorin’s father, Thrain, upon seeing his father beheaded and killed had gone mad with grief and fled. Thorin is now the King, however, they have no place to call home and are left to wander the world of men, finding work where they can.

At this point in the movie, it comes back to the ‘present’ and Frodo and Bilbo are discussing the upcoming party. Frodo tells Bilbo that Gandalf will be coming and that he will go and meet him and Frodo runs off to wait for Gandalf (which is when Frodo meets Gandalf in FOTR). Bilbo then sits down on his bench outside the home and thinks about how he and Gandalf have been friends for a long time. The story flashes back 60 years and we now see a young Bilbo, played by Martin Freeman. Up to this point, we had been seeing the same actor, Sir Ian Holm, that had played Bilbo in FOTR.

I thought that this introduction to the characters was very creatively done and well thought out. Due to the film being written this way, we are introduced to the same characters that we grew to love in the previous trilogy and we were allowed to wax nostalgic for few moments in the good memories that came from the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy. It was great to see Elijah Wood back as Frodo, without it feeling forced into the story. We got to see a little more of the interaction between Frodo and his Uncle Bilbo, which only added to the LOTR movies and the depth of those already established characters.

From here on we begin the journey that is told in the novel, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. We are introduced to some new material that is not in the novel, but was written by Tolkien in other sources, and also parts that were ‘adapted’ by Peter Jackson and his crew. These deviations are small and at times flesh out the story and make it more dramatic.

One of these minor deviations are for example when the group of Dwarves and Bilbo, Thorin’s Company, are attacked by the three trolls. In the novel, they are tricked by the trolls to come to their fire and they are captured by the trolls. In the movie, the group finds that their ponies are missing and they go looking for them. They find the ponies in a pen being readied to be cooked. Bilbo tries to sneak in and release them and in the process he is discovered and captured. The Dwarves rush in to help him and in the process a humorous battle occurs, but eventually they are captured by the trolls and are then prepared to be cooked. As in the book, Bilbo shows his worth by delaying the cooking until the sun rises and the trolls turn to stone. Personally, I found this movie version better and more entertaining. But, I know some purists are up in arms about this and other changes.

Another minor change is after escaping the trolls, the group is discovered by and attacked by Orcs riding Wargs and are forced to find refuge in Rivendell. Thorin did not want to seek help from the Elves and this attack forces them to flee to the Elven city. Again, this change didn’t bother me, as it added more conflict and excitement to the story as the group was being attacked by the Orcs and Wargs.

A minor change that I didn’t agree with would be when Bilbo is lost in the tunnels under the Misty Mountains and finds the One Ring. While hiding, Bilbo sees Gollum attack an Orc and during the struggle the Ring is knocked loose. In the novel (as well as in FOTR), Bilbo is blindly scrambling around and his hand comes upon the Ring. In this movie, Bilbo sees the Ring fall out and goes over and picks it up and puts it in his pocket. While this is such a minor change and the end result is the same in that Bilbo has accidentally found the Ring, at the same time I question, why change it at all?

I enjoyed this movie and had a fun time watching An Unexpected Journey. This movie had a different feel than the LOTR trilogy. In the LOTR, the Hobbits were always the comedic element (“What about second breakfast?”), and in this movie this was more fully developed. In LOTR, the world was at risk of being destroyed and Frodo was tasked to prevent that, resulting in a much more dramatic and somber tone for that trilogy. AUJ was more lighthearted and had several moments that were laugh out loud.

While I enjoyed this new adventure in Middle-Earth, at times I felt that I was re-watching FOTR. In various scenes, I was reminded of a similar action or event that took place in the LOTR trilogy. There were also musical cues that were reminiscent of the previous trilogy. I haven’t decided if this is a good thing or not. I know that this was done intentionally, so as to thematically tie in the two trilogies. I have only watched the movie the one time, up to this point, so I’m not sure if I like this or not.  I would have liked these moments to be more subtle than what they were. Who knows, maybe after seeing it again a few more times, it won’t matter.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie was one of the aforementioned scenes that were ‘added’ to the movie. When Thorin’s Company makes it to Rivendell and they are resting up, Gandalf has a meeting. He meets with Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman. This scene was a great scene to watch, as all the major players in Middle-Earth sit down and talk about the future of the races. It was great to see the chemistry between Galadriel and Gandalf and to see Saruman try to play innocent to the evil that is slowly developing, when we the audience know he is already looking to gain more power. Outside of the mechanics of this scene and the story, it was awesome to see Cate Blanchett back as Galadriel as she plays this character to perfection and hers is one of my favorite performances in the LOTR trilogy. It was also great to see Christopher Lee back in Saruman garb and to hear his booming voice on the big screen again. Sir Christopher Lee is getting older and probably won’t be with us much longer, so if this ends up being his last film, it will be a great ending to a spectacular career.

Another great moment in the film, is the Riddles in the Dark scene between Bilbo and Gollum. They go back and forth telling their riddles and Gollum is such a lovable/creepy character. While it is very subtle, it is noticeable that Gollum is more “innocent” than what he was in LOTR. He has not yet been forced out of his home to find the Ring and hasn’t been tortured by the Nazgul to go and find the lost Ring. This comes through in his interaction with Bilbo and we also get to see the pity of Bilbo. Bilbo’s pity sets the stage for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and sets the stage nicely for the LOTR trilogy that takes place after this one. Andy Serkis plays Gollum to such perfection and deserves professional awards and recognition for this performance.

The film ends with Thorin’s Company being rescued by the Eagles and being delivered to safety. As they regroup, they turn to see the Lonely Mountain off in the distance. We the viewers are then brought inside the Mountain and see the eerie eye of Smaug open as he lays underneath his massive pile of golden coins. As the viewer, we never fully see the dragon Smaug during the film, which I did appreciate as we are held in suspense until a later moment when (I presume) not only will Bilbo see Smaug for the first time, we will too.

Overall, I would recommend The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to anyone semi-interested in seeing it. If you liked the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you will like this film. However, you may not love AUJ. While I enjoyed this movie and will watch it again in theaters and will buy the Blu Ray, I did not love it. I compare it to The Two Towers, in that I liked the film, but felt it could have been better. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being totally awesome, I would give it an 8. It’s definitely worth seeing and it is better than the majority of movies out there.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released on December 14, 2012 in theaters worldwide in various viewing formats. I watched the normal 2D at a midnight showing.

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