The Hobbit: A Unexpected Journey (2012) Review

I never really liked the Lord of the Rings. Some people call it the greatest trilogy ever made, while others will even argue they are some of the greatest films ever. The people who believe in the latter will usually be huge Tolkien fans, knowing the book inside out and satisfied that Peter Jackson did a fantastic job of putting all the intricate details on the screen.

For that reason, I felt a bit excluded by the whole trilogy. I was interested in the journey of the Hobbits and the battles, as many as there were, were brilliant to watch, but it felt very drawn out and there felt a whole chunks of the story that were unnecessary.

Which brings us to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. This should be a film which I feel a lot more comfortable watching. It’s not a book with huge, various stories, each intertwined and interlinked in different ways. It’s not even a book which should span two films, let alone three. I was looking forward to a movie that was less complicated, more straight-forward but no less of a spectacle.

I was looking forward to a film much simpler and straight-forward than the original Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Except Peter Jackson has decided to link these films with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The book is smaller than one of the Lord of the Rings books but Jackson is drawing this story out over three films as well. There were a lot of scenes that link the Hobbit with the Lord of the Rings, much more than actually telling the story of the dwarves getting to and reclaiming their mountain home. This means that there are scenes that aren’t even in The Hobbit that drew the films running time to at least two and a half hours.

I don’t mind a long film but not when it feels like its been padded out with unnecessary, irrelevant, story. The film felt like it was more suited to Tolkien fans, trying to appeal to the people who want to see everything Tolkien wrote on-screen. This seems like something that would be much better as an extended Blu-Ray or dvd extra scenes.

As always, Middle Earth looks amazing and is shot brilliantly.

It means I was waiting for the film to end when the final act came, rather than focusing on the amazing effects and brilliant story which was being told. Lord of the Rings was a fantastic spectacle and The Hobbit is no different. It’s incredible how the world sucks you in and how in awe of some of the set-pieces I was. A battle with the goblins is a particular highlight, as is a huge fight between mountain giants, with the dwarves stuck in the middle.

The best scene of all was the one involving Gollum. A scene as simple as a riddle game between the two key characters seems to steal the whole film. Gollum is even more intriguing to watch this time and its a shame, if my understanding of the book is right, that we won’t be seeing him again for the rest of the trilogy.

The scenes involving Gollum manage to steal the film, which isn’t an easy task.

It’s all down to Andy Serkis’ brilliant performance, which seems to have stepped up a level from the Lord of the Rings movies. He is in good company and its great to see British talent out in force. Martin Freeman, the man who the whole trilogy rests on, takes it in his stride with ease. He balances comedy and drama fantastically and I hope this reach into Hollywood doesn’t mean he’ll be off British tv screens.

As well as Freeman, the Dwarves have their fair share of brilliant British talent, Richard Armitage being the man who shines brightest of all, taking on the task of being a troubled, purposeful, heroic leader, not unlike Viggo Mortensen’s character in the original trilogy.

Richard Armitage is fantastic as the leader of the dwarves.

The performances and the events of the movie were amazing to watch and Peter Jackson has a great ability to bring the fantastical world of Middle Earth to life. The only issue is his desire to bring the whole of Middle Earth, everything Tolkien wrote, to life. This means that as exciting and engrossing as The Hobbit story is, it’s also padded out and drawn out with moments that feel irrelevant and unfortunately, eventually, tedious.

Overall, Peter Jackson has successfully brought Middle Earth to life again. He presents the events of The Hobbit story fantastically and has cast each character perfectly too. Unfortunately, there is far too much of the film which is trying too hard to link to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, something that feels unnecessary and in some places, tedious.

Rating 3.5

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

As long as it is, the film is fantastic and sets a high benchmark for the rest of the trilogy.
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