The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

hobbit an unexpected journey poster 2012 movie
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:  MGM/New Line Cinema/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

hobbit an unexpected journey gandalf bilbo martin freeman ian mckellan

Not cool Gandalf…guilt trip

Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) has led an amazing life.  Now as time is growing short, Bilbo has a danger…he must give up the ring.  Bilbo remembers being tapped for an adventure by Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to help liberate the kingdom of a dwarf Thorin Oakenshield II (Richard Armitage) from a dragon known as Smaug.  Most Hobbits shy away from adventure, but Bilbo (Martin Freeman) found himself on the adventure of his life.  With the Lonely Mountain as the goal, Bilbo discovered himself in the role of a thief…but darkness was rising in the land.

Directed by Peter Jackson, The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey is a fantasy film.  Adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 novel The Hobbit, the prequel film is the first part in a three part trilogy following Jackson’s Academy Award winning Lord of the Rings trilogy.  The film went through multiple production problems including director changes and was released in December 2012 to mixed to positive reviews.  The movie was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Production Design, Best Make-Up and Hairstyling, and Best Visual Effects.

hobbit an unexpected journey trolls bilbo martin freeman

Make a wish!

Growing up, I liked The Hobbit more than The Lord of Rings.  As a kid, my sister tried to read it to me and I refused to hear the ending when a character died…leaving my sister angry.  The Rankin and Bass cartoon was always a favorite, and I wished that The Hobbit had been tapped first for production…but now it has and I ended up with three of them.

The Hobbit never should have been three movies.  It probably would have been one very long movie or only two films, but the film was stretched and this first entry feels it.  The Lord of Rings released extended versions of the films after the theater and this first film felt like an extended film (there later was another extended edition released for each of The Hobbit films).  Things were removed from The Lord of the Rings for the relevance, but it feels like everything was shoved into this movie to create filler.

The lengthening of the film has advantages.  It creates bigger ties to The Lord of the Rings (like through the Council of White), but scenes like Doctor Who’s Sylvester McCoy helping a hedgehog as Radagst the Brown and the rabbit sled seem tedious…plus, you get the things that don’t make sense in the context of the film (if you were to consider it a standalone) like the Necromancer added…it doesn’t help as much as it hurts.

hobbit an unexpected journey bilbo gollum andy serkis martin freeman

Let’s have a riddle

The Hobbit also has a completely different tone than The Lord of the Rings in the novel.  It is very musical and much more whimsical and fun.  The movie has the difficulty of deciding if it should incorporate this and it hedges its bets.  You get a goofy dishwashing song, but you don’t get something like the “Funny Looking Birds” song which I liked as a kid…it feels really unbalanced.

The cast however is good.  Martin Freeman is a good fill in for Ian Holm (who filmed a flashback sequence for the previous trilogy).  Ian McKellan is still a solid Gandalf but the script is a bit too rosy.  Actors like Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, and Christopher Lee return, and Benedict Cumberbatch also provides a voice for Smaug and the Necromancer.  The movie (like the book) is loaded with the dwarf characters that never really feel completely developed outside of Richard Armitage’s Thorin.  Andy Serkis returns as Gollum in possibly the best in the film due to the strength of the scene which was always a fun aspect of the book.

hobbit an unexpected journey gandalf vs great goblin

Gandalf: Goblin Fighter!

The visuals were on par with the previous film, but Jackson experimented with a 48 frames per second shooting style opposed to the standard 24 fps (think of how a sporting event looks on an HD TV).  It gives the film a strange “fakeness” to it that doesn’t work well with the special effects.  In addition to that, most theaters couldn’t project it in the way it was intended.

The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey is a tough film.  I know the story so well that it is fun to see it in live action but painfully slow and over-the-top in unnecessary action sequences to compensate for spreading the movie into three films.  Watching the film again, it is slightly better (without the anticipation) of what to hope for…but it wasn’t the book I loved.  The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey was 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/Instagram/Letterboxd @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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