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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) Movie Review

December 15, 2012

Some may find the approach Peter Jackson took with The Hobbit to be a bit excessive. While a simple adaptation of the book could have been finished in a single movie, he chose to include a number of additional stories from other sources, giving us an entire Hobbit trilogy. “The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey” is the first in the trilogy and, bolstered by the additional lore, gives a hearty taste of the story to come. Though some may find it overlong, I think it hit a perfect balance. At first glance, the cynical viewer may assume this is another cash-grab from Hollywood after the last Harry Potter and Twilight films were each split into two, but based on the first film, it was a good decision.

Though I read The Hobbit many years ago, before Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings Trilogy” was released in theaters, I can still notice the various stories that are new to this longer film version. Every bit of lore added to this first film is interesting and worthwhile, providing much needed back-story to the epic quest. The characters do take their time progressing on their quest, though it never feels like they meander aimlessly.

Though I am not one to listen to Howard Shore’s music outside the films, I find that it gives them a magical feeling whenever used. Because it takes place before “The Lord of the Rings Trilogy,” many of the musical ideas used will be familiar to anyone who watched the original trilogy. The familiar Hobbit theme is used wonderfully, and brings with it the whimsical feeling of Hobbits taking it easy. The new theme for the dwarves is powerful and inspiring. It is used to great effect in major action sequences. Other familiar themes show up at just the right moments. Put together, Howard Shore’s score is a powerful part of the film that supports it beautifully.

Martin Freeman’s performance as Bilbo is spectacular. He captures the audience’s attention in every scene. Andy Serkis returns as Gollum and when he is on screen is as creepy as ever. “The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey” delivers a powerful foundation to the story with plenty of humor and action along the way. The numerous dwarves are interesting characters and a few stand out as particularly likable. Fans of the world of Middle Earth will find a lot of little nuggets to enjoy, just enough to keep them satisfied until the next installment is released.

4.5/5

NOTE: Though the film was released in 3D and a high frame rate version, I opted for the regular 2D viewing. I can’t comment on whether these features are worth the extra cash.

 

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From → Action, Epic, Fantasy

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