Prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy and set sixty years before, Peter Jackson returns behind the camera to direct one of 2012’s most anticipated films, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first instalment of a three-part film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien‘s 1937 novel, The Hobbit. Focusing on the character of young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian McKellen) has chosen him to accompany thirteen dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), on an ‘unexpected’ quest to reclaim their stolen mountain home, the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, from a dragon named Smaug.
Following a somewhat similar storyline to The Fellowship Of The Ring as a hobbit, a wizard, and thirteen dwarves set off an adventure across Middle Earth, The Hobbit has a bit of everything you love about the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and because of that it’s hard to fault.
Whilst I have to agree with a large part of the criticisms for this film in that it does fall short on story line in places, and that it is padded out by much walking and many, many chaotic chases, I don’t feel that the film ever felt slow or that it became tedious in its three-hour length. With Jackson splitting this one book into three films, we shouldn’t expect anything more; of course, there is going to be a big focus on the journey itself. However, some of these walking scenes were the most epic – the goblin chase, the rock giants, just to name a few. The visuals were fantastic, and whilst these scenes often went on much longer than needed to, the film really did take you along with the adventure.
It even improves with the addition of some much-welcomed comedy, with scenes including the trolls and Gollum’s riddle game really standing out. This journey may be a little less serious than the one Frodo took, but the addition of humour brings something fresh to the similar premise. This time around we can feel like part of the fun because that’s really what it’s all about!
The cast, too, made a considerable improvement in some places, whilst having many actors reprise their roles from the original trilogy. With a brilliant set of new characters, with Martin Freeman, especially, standing out as a much better protagonist to follow than Elijah Wood, the film was very easy to engage with. Of course, we have to mention the dwarves at this point. Whilst none of the actors that played the dwarves were actually dwarves, they were a whole lot of fun. And there really is no other way to describe them. Introduced fantastically, it’s easy to find yourself liking every one of them, hoping that none of them will stumble off a cliff to their demise. Gollum (Andy Serkis), also, looked fantastic, making yet another improvement to the already brilliant franchise.
For many reasons I will always prefer the original trilogy, but this new trilogy definitely had, and is sure to bring more, brilliant moments of pure entertainment. If only we didn’t have to wait a whole year for the next instalment!