To be honest, I’m a little bit shy to tell you that I watched this one of the most awaited films of 2012 just yesterday, concerning that I have even re-watched the three films of “The Lord of The Rings” trilogy as a preparation for this one. It’s a luck for me that “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is still showing in the cinemas nearby, although it’s only the 2D version. I guess yesterday was the last day show of “The Hobbit”, I don’t even expect to watch the High Frame Rate (HFR) 48 fps version because having a chance to watch it right in the cinemas is, indeed, a luck. So, if you have waited for me to review it earlier (if there is any of you that have waited for it), well, I am so sorry.
Adapted from a similarly titled book by J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is the first film of a prequel trilogy of “The Lord of The Rings” trilogy. It centers on a younger Bilbo Baggins (played by Martin Freeman), a Hobbit of Shire, who was approached by Gandalf the Grey (played by Ian McKellen) to join a team of thirteen dwarfs led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield (played by Richard Armitage), to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor that was long occupied by Smaug the dragon. Although Bilbo refused to join at the first place, he really wanted to help the dwarfs to get their home back so he joined the company and was ready to face any challenges along their journey.
"True courage is about knowing not when to take a life,
but when to spare one." - Gandalf
The decision to split a 297-page book of “The Hobbit” into a trilogy can be either a good or a bad decision. It’s a good decision, for it will amuse and satisfy all the Middle Earth fanatics who missed such an amazing and marvelous adventure they had before in “The Lord of The Rings”. Yet, it could be a bad decision because it will lengthen sub-stories (which weren’t relevant and important enough) into such a significant duration. See, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is 169 minutes long! If each of the next two films is as long as the first one, it will take almost 8.5 hour just to retell a single book. I’m neither a fanatic nor a hater of this Middle Earth epic story, but of course putting it into a very stretched duration is pointless. It’s like you’re watching an extended version although you’re not. The opening part, for example, is something that truly can be shortened if Peter Jackson wanted it to be. Asking Bilbo to join the journey takes almost half an hour because of addition scenes like an unexpected party of the dwarfs, the dwarfs’ song, and more. Luckily, this stretched stories were not that tiring. Peter Jackson wrap them in a very tidy, rapid, and pleasuring sequence so you will probably choose a longer way to understand such a short plot. After watching it, you will be settled to agree that the story is so long that it takes two and a half hour to be told, although it’s not. IMDB cited the reason why Peter Jackson intended to split such a thin book into three films: it is not only as a service to the big fan-base of Lord of The Rings, but also that the trilogy won’t just state itself merely as an introduction. This new prequel trilogy is gonna be expected to bridge “The Hobbit” to “The Lord of The Rings” so both will be interconnected as a whole big story, not just a different story with a similar pack of characters and location.
Is re-watching “The Lord of The Rings” trilogy compulsory before watching “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”? Maybe, but I think the more you understand the situation and rule of Middle Earth by re-watching the previous trilogy, the more (you think) you found plot holes in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”. There is a small relevance to “The Lord of The Rings” trilogy, and if you think that there is a thing that doesn’t match between in “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of The Rings” (like some scenes around the ending), I suggest you to see the IMDB’s FAQ page about this film. Bilbo Baggins, who was played by Ian Holm before, is replaced by Martin Freeman to portray a younger version of Bilbo. Martin Freeman put young Bilbo Baggins into a more likable, somewhat stupid, reckless, but brilliant character. As the leading role, he is firmer and better; although his appearance is less interesting than the thirteen dwarfs. The dwarfs, well, are too much to be characterized deeply—and hard to be mentioned by name—one by one (except Thorin whom I think is too good and too charming just to be a dwarf, haha), and that’s why they were nicely introduced from their looks. Their big, wide, short bodies, with their plaited and overly-stylized hairs, were hilarious and interesting.
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” will so much amuse you, Middle Earth lover. It’s addressed to you. If you enjoyed “The Lord of The Rings” trilogy, you will enjoy this one. Well, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is obviously seen as a very stretched story, but it will make you sit still and enjoy. I bet the 3D and HFR version will be much more glamorous and incredible, although some reviewers suggested to watch the 2D version due to a better view. But, I hope they will still use the HFR technology for the next films!
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY | COUNTRY USA YEAR 2012 RATING Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images RUNTIME 169 min GENRE Adventure, Fantasy CAST Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchette WRITER Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro (screenplay); J.R.R. Tolkien (novel) DIRECTOR Peter Jackson IMDB RATING 8.3/10 (Top 250 #132) METACRITIC 58/100 (Mixed or Average Reviews) ROTTEN TOMATOES 65% MORE INFO