Movie Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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I went and saw this movie with a gift certificate from my sister inteded as a birthday present. I was exceptionally grateful because I was unsure if I could afford to go see the movie at the theater otherwise. I saw all of the LOTR movies in the theater and I was eager to continue the tradition. I do think there is something to be said for the large screens capable of portraying Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth. I was not disappointed in this respect, the  movie was visually stunning. I was nearly squealing in glee at the prospect and actual immersion into the world of the Hobbiteses and Dwarves. Three hours flew by and only when I stood up and my knee hurt did it sink in that I had been sitting for so long. Because I’m old now.

Bilbo Baggins lives a quiet, peaceful life in his comfortable hole at Bag End. Bilbo lives in a hole because he is a hobbit—one of a race of small, plump people about half the size of humans, with furry toes and a great love of good food and drink. Bilbo is quite content at Bag End, near the bustling hobbit village of Hobbiton, but one day his comfort is shattered by the arrival of the old wizard Gandalf, who persuades Bilbo to set out on an adventure with a group of thirteen militant dwarves. The dwarves are embarking on a great quest to reclaim their treasure from the marauding dragon Smaug, and Bilbo is to act as their “burglar.” The dwarves are very skeptical about Gandalf’s choice for a burglar, and Bilbo is terrified to leave his comfortable life to seek adventure. But Gandalf assures both Bilbo and the dwarves that there is more to the little hobbit than meets the eye.Sparkle Notes

*This story has been around for literally ages, please don’t expect me to not spoil it. I don’t think you can spoil something that is this old. I think everyone should have at least had the opportunity to read this at some point and so I almost didn’t post a synopsis. However, if telling you where this movie cuts the story into a third is a *SPOILER* then you have been warned. (Honestly how is that a spoiler? Really. I want to know.)

I’ve read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien at least three times, but the last time I read the book was probably a decade ago, maybe more. However, I did recognize when the narration was word for word (or nearly) from the book, and those parts made me especially happy. I knew going into the theater that Jackson had chosen to use information from The Silmarillion and guessed correctly that it would be back story to the main plot. (I’ve never read, nor had the inclination to read The Silmarillion.  I enjoy the magic of the series as written.)  So, I wasn’t surprised by the additional parts, but it did slightly take me out of my happy place when my brain tried to match up what I was seeing with what I remembered reading. I quickly set those thoughts aside and settled back into the seat to enjoy myself. There were three major times I had to do this, and it made watching the moving slightly disjointed in a sifting sideways kind of way.

The dwarves were such fun characters in the book and that was definitely brought out in the movie. However, I feel that the movie concentrated on only a few and made some them a little bit gimicky, as they seemed to serve purely as comic relief. So they were quite fun, but sometimes that went a little overboard and made them seem not true to the story. But I loved Armitage’s portrayal of Thorin, he was magnificent,  kingly, and very much the leader needed for that motley crew.  Martin Freeman as Bilbo was just delightful, and I was expecting much of him. His facial expressions are very telling and even though there were entire scenes were he says very little, he quite stole the show (as he should). His bit with Gollum was exceptional, and I remembered how when reading the the book I was like, and if he had just killed the bugger everything would have been better. (Which really isn’t true, but is how I felt when reading the book). However, with Freeman’s emotive portrayal of the situation stretching across every small fold on his face I realized of course he couldn’t kill Gollum. Which just goes to show how well he played the part, that I let go of otherwise unknown subconscious belief about Bilbo in mere seconds.

The movie was great and wonderful and I thought the timing/pacing was fine. I’ve heard some ramblings about frame rate issues. Not sure what that is about, but I will say that some of the spannings of Middle Earth overwhelmed my eye receptors and caused me to get a small and painful brain ache. In the end my eyes compensated by letting the entire scene go blurry and I had to blink several times to see properly. I discussed this with my friend Keith who says he thinks its because the CG is far too detailed, and if there had been a focal point to follow with the rest blurred, more like what the eye normally does in spanning something, that wouldn’t have happened. The other thing that kept me snickering was remembering my best friend’s review of the movie where she wrote:  Hot dwarves. Never thought I’d see them, but I certainly don’t mind being wrong. So, whenever Aidan Turner was on screen I smiled to myself.

After seeing the movie I’m still upset that Jackson felt it OK to wheedle more money out of people by making it three movies. I could have understood, but not been happy, with two movies that included background from The Silmarillion. I have to agree with Alise from Picture Me Reading that the attempt to make it so similar to the LOTR trilogy and spread out the story made it feel like it never really established itself as the excellent tale of danger and friendship and loyalty it is meant to be. Does it do an excellent job of recreating the scenes as they happened in The Hobbit, yes. Is that necessary? I don’t know. I think sometimes when there are more movies or books on the line to come out and make up for the lack of something, people get a little less worried about making something complete in and of itself. While I am looking forward to having several more hours immersed in Middle Earth, I’m not quite sure it makes them good movies just because they contain everything.

Here is HISHE. The song at the end is the best part, so be sure to watch it all the way through!

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15 thoughts on “Movie Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

  1. This is a great review, really well worded and intelligent! It is a immensely entertaining film in spite of the expanded content…ROFL I love how you mentioned the hot dwarves..that was I admit a bit jarring but I have decided on the whole I am okay with it *ahem* ;>

  2. Pingback: From Book To Movie: The Hobbit « Picture Me Reading

  3. Haven’t seen it yet, but I do understand your point about the “wholeness” of it. A movie’s a movie, and a book’s a book. I’ve seen plenty of movies that have been so much better because they filter out parts from the book for the sake of a more coherent and tightly-paced tale (ie Let Me In).

  4. The whole 48fps issue is definitely a tad scary, I’ll admit, but you may get used to it and like it. However, if you don’t you’re going to be stuck with a movie that’s annoying almost every 5 minutes, so in that case, just stick with regular 2D. Nice review.

    • Thanks. I saw the movie in 2D so perhaps that is why I didn’t understand what people where speaking about. I think my eye had trouble adjusting to the spanning that was going on, but my companion did not. I’m still glad I saw it in the theater. 🙂

  5. I have to agree with you about Armitage and Freeman. They were awesome in their character portrayals. I loved them.

    And sadly, I gave up with reading The Hobbit when I was younger, and never got around to reading LoTR, something I feel ashamed of. So hopefully at some point this year I’ll put that straight.

    Great review! 🙂

  6. Pingback: Book to Screen (1) – The Hobbit « thehopefulheroine

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