Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Martin Freeman is Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”

J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic adventure began with a Hobbit who lived in a hole in the ground and an unexpected encounter set an amazing adventure into motion in Academy Award winning director Peter Jackson’s (“The Lord of the Rings trilogy”) latest cinematic installment, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” “Hot Fuzz”),  lives a simple and ordinary life in The Shire  along with his fellow Hobbits until a strange wizard named Galdalf the Grey, played by Academy Award nominee Sir Ian McKellen (“Gods and Monsters,” “X-Men”), arrives at his hole, searching for a brave soul to take part in an adventure.

Bilbo soon finds himself up to his neck in a company of 13 dwarves led by the gallant Thorin Oakenshield, played by Richard Armitage (“Captain America: The First Avenger”) on a mission to reclaim the dwarf kingdom of Erebor and discovers that Gandalf has selected Bilbo to take part in the mission as the role of “a burgler,” for Hobbits are small enough to conceal themselves from danger.

At first, Bilbo is reluctant to take part because he is accustomed to his quiet lifestyle but something inside him changes and answers the call to help the dwarves take back their home. The journey may prove to be more than Bilbo can handle as he encounters wizards, orcs, goblins and warg but in a company of dwarves Bilbo realizes that there is more to him than he realizes and is a worthy member of the company of Thorin Oakenshield.

“The world is now behind you. The world is ahead.”-Sir Ian McKellan as Gandalf the Grey

Ian McKellan guides the company of dwarves as Gandalf the Grey

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is a film that returns audiences to Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Middle Earth and bridges the gap between its literary counterpart and successor “The Lord of the Rings” but unlike the cinematic rendition of “The Lord of the Rings” there is no legitimate gravity that leaves audiences in awe of the visual splendor Jackson creates or detail he goes into when it comes to the story but Jackson is faithful to his subject matter and that fidelity is what gives “The Hobbit” its strength.

This movie has everything it needs to attract fans of Tolkien’s epic saga and Jackson’s vision for Middle Earth but at the end of the feature audiences will be left satisfied rather than exhilarated because they may fall into the trap of expecting another Oscar-caliber adaptation of “The Lord of the Rings.”

To be fair, this is more than likely “Star Wars” all over again; the first trilogy was a groundbreaking achievement in cinema but the new installments feel more predictable since the director is bringing the same visual and thematic styles to the story in an effort to make the story as a whole complete.

Jackson does a good job at blending the new actors with a few familiar faces such as Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett (“The Aviator”), Hugo Weaving (“The Matrix”), Andy Serkis (“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”), and Elijah Wood (“Happy Feet”).

The flaws with the film is there are many subplots within the storyline, most of the dwarves, other than Thorin and Ballin, are so minor in contributing to the story it is easy to forget about them, and as stated earlier, it is somewhat predictable.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is a good movie that unfortunately doesn’t measure up to Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy but it has enough standing to become a classic franchise all its own and it does deserve to be seen. It may not exactly live up to the hype but it is very much likable.

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