The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review
Rating: 3.5/5 stars (Three-and-a-half stars)
Star cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett.
What’s Good: The breathtaking visuals; some dialogues; the entire adventure; the music.
What’s Bad: The length; some extended scenes.
Loo Break: No way.
Watch or Not?: Don’t miss this fantastic adventure!
“Good stories deserve embellishments,” says Gandalf when he’s trying to convince Bilbo to join their adventure. For once, the wizard isn’t entirely correct. And maybe Peter Jackson shouldn’t have taken him so literally.
You don’t have to be a Tolkien/Peter Jackson fan to grasp The Hobbit, but if you’ve watched the LOTR movies, you’ll enjoy this one more. Rather than nitpicking on the earlier trilogy, we start off directly with The Hobbit. The wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) calls on the hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) to join thirteen dwarves on their quest to reclaim their land (and subsequent) gold that was usurped by the dragon Smaug. Initially hesitant, Bilbo joins the unruly group and sets off on an unforgettable journey.
While Bilbo was worried about getting incinerated by the dragon, that should have been the last of his worries. This mishmash group of old warriors, a king, a wizard and others have to escape from a group of dangerous but slow trolls, survive climbing atop a thundering horde of stone giants, battle through an entire city of gruesome goblins, fight with a murderously vengeful orcs… And since you have two more movies in the franchise, there’s also an underlying evil “necromancer” whom you’ll probably get to see and know more of later.
There’s also tension between the king of the dwarves, Thorin, and the elves after the latter refused the dwarves any kind of aid after their kingdom was plundered by the dragon (whose glistening scales is all we’ve got a glimpse of yet).
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review: Script Analysis
You get a bit suspicious when you know that screenplay writers Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro have spread J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel ‘The Hobbit’ into three movies, whereas the earlier trilogy easily accommodated the author’s three books in three movies. If you’re a stickler to the books, you’ll find a few additions to the movie that are there just to be carried off in the next movie as well. There are times in the movie (for ex: the introductory group dinner) when the extension of certain parts just makes the trilogy-trick too blatant.
The screenplay moves at a leisurely pace. It takes more than thirty minutes in the movie for the group to actually show signs of any adventure.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review: Star Performances
This hobbit is way better than the snivelling whiny Frodo we had to bear in the earlier films. Martin Freeman is excellent as Bilbo as he bravely embarks on this journey. He’s funny with his irritable twitches, adorable as he tries his best to be brave and when he rises to the occasion. Ian McKellen reprises his role as Gandalf and is flawless as the towering wizard with a few tricks up his sleeve. A surprising entry is that of Richard Armitage as Thorin whose looks are as dashingly make-you-weak-in-the-knees as his acting. Andy Serkis does brilliantly as the slimy Gollum with the perfect mix of revulsion and pity. Revulsion mostly. Cate Blanchett does well as the beautiful and mysterious Galadriel.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review: Direction, Cinematography & Music
Peter Jackson takes on a book and lifts it to grandiose levels. Every scene has such attention to detail – be it the journey through the mines, the dragon amidst the gold, the elven surroundings – it’s hard to take your eyes off the screen even for a single moment; much of the well-deserved credits go to cinematographer wizard Andrew Lesnie, Dan Hennah’s magnificent production design and the art direction. The only bone to pick with Jackson is with the unnecessary length that makes you wince a bit when you think about the two films that are yet to come. No doubt, Jackson will be as magnanimous with the length then too.
Jabez Olssen’s editing is good. Howard Shore’s music is too familiar with the earlier The Lord Of The Rings movies but it’s still wonderful and conveys the innocence, adventure and foreboding danger excellently.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review: The Last Word
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will require a bit of patience with the lengthy storytelling, but the visual treat, excellent performances and action make it worth the effort.