J.R.R. Tolkien has created a world unlike anything anyone has seen when he wrote The Hobbit and the follow up trilogy, Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson finally brought the trilogy to life in 2001, but there’s more to the story than was shown. Now, Jackson returns to Middle Earth with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first film of a new trilogy.
Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is a hobbit who loves his books, his garden, good food, and peace. Adventure comes looking for Bilbo in the form of the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen). Gandalf recruits Bilbo to join in an adventure with a group of dwarves, led by Thorin (Richard Armitage), to travel to the Lonely Mountain and retake the dwarves’ lost kingdom of Erebor from the dragon, Smaug. Along the way they encounter other wizards, trolls, orcs, elves, goblins, and a very familiar ring.
When I first heard that The Hobbit was going to be three movies, I wasn’t too thrilled to hear it. I automatically assumed that it was all a cash grab and that the movie was going to be so strung out and thin that it was going to be not as enjoyable. In the beginning of the movie, I believed my suspicions to be true because it took so long for the story to get started. I really enjoyed the scenes with Bilbo trying to stop the dwarves from destroying his house, but I also ready for the actual adventure to start. As the movie progressed, however, I realized that there is so much to tell in this story that three movies actually seems appropriate. Once the adventure got started, I was completely sucked in.
Middle Earth and its various creatures look better than they ever have. Every effect is detailed to what seems like the point of obsession. This makes the experience of seeing this movie so much better than it could have been if time and effort weren’t spent making these creatures look the way they do. Gollum, played by Andy Serkis, has the best scene of the movie where he engages in a battle of wits with Bilbo. His facial expressions and movement look as clean as ever. A lot of tho might have to with the movie being shot in 48 fps. I did notice the difference between the typical 24 fps and the quicker 48. There are scenes that are so crisp, I couldn’t help but notice. Some people are complaining about this, but I was quite pleased.
The tie in with the Lord of the Rings made me giddy. I loved seeing Elrond, Galadriel, and even Saruman interact with these characters 60 years before the events of the trilogy I have grown so familiar with. I loved putting the connections together and thinking about their characters now as opposed to how they are in the other films. There was a lot more references and cameos than I thought there was going to be, and I really appreciated all of the actors getting back together to travel once again to Middle Earth (or New Zealand).
To me, it’s too early to compare The Hobbit with Lord of the Rings because one is a trilogy and the other just has one film out. I will say that I was nervous I wasn’t going to be too impressed by The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but I was blown away once again by Peter Jackson. He has recreated Middle Earth and it looks better than it ever has before. While the movie is a little slow out of the starting gate, it soon picks up and becomes an excellent adventure/fantasy. I can’t wait until next December to continue the story, but for now, I’m very happy with this movie.