The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Love The Hobbit book and fun to see it on screen, Gollum/Bilbo scene

Too long, dull

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey

Studio:  WingNut Films

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  December 12, 2012 (New Zealand)/December 14, 2012 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

the hobbit an unexpected journey gandalf bilbo ian mckellen martin freeman

Not cool, Gandalf…not cool…

Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) is recalling his adventures in a story before his birthday and remembers what led him to the Ring.  The dragon Smaug had overtaken Erebor inside of the great Lonely Mountain and forced the dwarves away from their home.  As the years past, Thorin (Richard Armitage) has joined forces with Gandolf (Ian McKellen) to assemble a group of dwarves to retake the mountain.  At the behest of Gandolf, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) was selected to be the group’s burglar.  Things are happening in the world and darkness is rising…will a lone wizard, a hobbit, and a group of dwarves be able to reach the Lonely Mountain and defeat Smaug?

the hobbit an unexpected journey trolls bilbo martin freeman

Make a wish!

Directed by Peter Jackson, The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey is the first part of a second trilogy of films following Jackson’s award winning The Lord of the Rings.  It adapts J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 novel The Hobbit which served as a prequel to The Lord of the Rings which was published in 1954 and 1955.  After a production hell (lots of other directors were tied to the film including Guillermo del Toro), the film was finally released in December of 2012 to mixed to tepid positive reviews.  The movie was nominated for three Oscars for Best Production Design, Best Make-Up and Hairstyling, and Best Visual Effects.

Growing up, I actually liked The Hobbit more.  I was familiar with the story from the Rankin and Bass cartoon and always wanted a film of it.  When I heard they chose to make The Lord of the Rings instead of The Hobbit, I figured I’d never see a Hobbit film…now, I have three.

the hobbit an unexpected journey gandalf galadriel saruman elron ian mckellen cate blanchett hugo weaving christopher lee

We WILL tie in The Lord of the Rings if it kills us

I enjoyed The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the extended versions released after the film went to DVD…that being said, I don’t think I could ever sit through one of the extended films in the theater.  Despite a running time comparable to the original theatrical films, this feels like one of the extended films.  Jackson in order to stretch it out to three films through everything into it.  He took different threads and references in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in addition to Tolkien’s The Silmarillion which further explored Middle Earth.

This has a positive and negative effect.  Scenes like the Council of White with Gandalf the Grey, Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Elrond (Hugo Weaving), and Saruman the White (Christopher Lee) did feel like they expanded the story and gave greater ties to The Lord of the Rings.  Scenes like Doctor Who’s Sylvester McCoy helping a hedgehog as Radagast the Brown and then riding around on a rabbit sled, felt tedious.  It also led to aspects of the story that just don’t make sense in a stand-alone movie like the introduction of the Necromancer who feels just thrown in there in this film.

the hobbit an unexpected journey riddles gollum bilbo martin freeman

Riddle me this…how long can this movie be?

Part of the problem with The Hobbit is that the book has a completely different tone then that of The Lord of the Rings.  It is lighter and even a bit more musical.  I think that the producers wanted a recreated Lord of the Rings…it just isn’t.  The movie did add some of the music, but I was rather disappointed that we didn’t get the “funny looking birds” song when the orcs are burning the trees…instead we had a forced fight to ramp up the action at the end.

Another controversial aspect of the film is that the film was shot at a 48 frames per second compared to the normal 24 fps.  It gives a lifelike quality (think how sporting events look on an HD television), but it also gives it a fakeness that especially doesn’t work well with special effects.  This version won’t be seen at many theaters do to projectors, but many have said they disliked it, and a few people have mentioned it made them a bit ill.

the hobbit an unexpected journey gandalf vs goblin king

Gandalf: Swordsman

Fortunately, Martin Freeman is a great fill in for Bilbo Baggins.  He brings a lot of humor to the role and seems to get the character.  Ian McKellan is still good as Gandolf, but the script in general seems so rosy and happy.  Over sappy music and hiking through multiple beautiful landscapes sometimes takes away from anyone’s character development.  The scene with Gollum (once again performed by Andy Serkis) probably was the best scene because it really was about acting for the two characters (and it was the best part of the book).

The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey is a tough film.  I know the story so well that it is fun to see it on the screen, but painfully slow and over-the-top in unnecessary action sequences to compensate for spreading the movie into three films.  I know in the future, I will see it again, but I don’t think I’ll be running back to the theater to make a return showing like I did with a few of The Lord of the RingsThe Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey is followed by The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug in 2013.

Related Links:

The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

The Hobbit:  The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

The Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

The Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers (2002)

The Lord of the Rings:  The Return of the King (2003)

The Hobbit (1977)

The Return of the King (1978)

The Lord of the Rings (1978)

The 85th Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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