The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review

I’ve been waiting for a very long time for this movie. The Lord of the Rings is the deepest inspiration I’ve ever had. From the time I was 11, immersing myself in Middle-earth with the elves and the dwarves, singing songs in the forest to pass the time, and going on adventures that will never leave you the same has been predominant in my mind. Of course, when I was 11 I also waited for my letter to Hogwarts, but alas, my adventure is still in the works.

That being said, however, I feel like this movie is a lot like the book for me. The Lord of the Rings I love; The Hobbit I like. Ish. There are things I like about it, and things I don’t. Sometimes I feel like I’m forcing myself to like it because of my love for The Lord of the Rings, other times I like it because it’s actually entertaining and good storytelling.

It was much like that for this movie.

Before I get too into it, I do want to state it was amazing. I loved it. It was well worth the wait and all the build up coming up to this. Like the book, though, there were times when I was asking myself if I was actually enjoying it or if it was just because I would feel like a terrible fan if I didn’t. I think it was probably an even mixture of both, but I’ll go ahead and dive in with some negatives and positives (I’ll start with the negatives first. I like ending things on a happy note.)

Also, since I’m not a pro, fancy reviewer, I can’t exactly get screenshots from the movie yet, so I’m going to utilize my handy-dandy Hobbit-themed Rolling Stones magazine for some pictures so this isn’t just an insane batch of words.

The Bad(s)

It was long. I understand that seems relatively pointless to say because Lord of the Rings took longer to finish than a melting glacier, but The Hobbit doesn’t need to be like that. I was reading an interview with Peter Jackson, and he was discussing how they were having a difficult time separating this movie from The Lord of the Rings films, because that was kind of what everyone was expecting. I understand that, but a huge difference between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books is how they’re written. The Hobbit is pretty easy. It’s essentially a thick-ish children’s book. My copy stands at just over 300 pages, but it’s also got artwork on nearly every other page to help guide us through Middle-earth. The Lord of the Rings, however, is more difficult to read, and a lot denser. It’s not necessarily for “adults”, but I know when I was 12 or 13 The Hobbit was easier for me to understand because it didn’t have all the deep, dark themes to it The Lord of the Rings does.

I feel like they could have captured that more in this film.

I'm glad we got to see more of the Hobbit Hole because I wish I could live in one.

I’m glad we got to see more of the Hobbit Hole because I wish I could live in one.

It was darker than I thought it was going to be. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I feel like it partly took away from the magic behind The Hobbit. It would be like if they made Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone almost exactly like they made Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It wouldn’t be the same. You expect Sorcerer’s Stone to be magical, uplifting, young and fresh. The story of a character who is chosen to go on an unexpected journey (no pun intended) and you watch as they rise to the top. The Hobbit, of course, captured that as well, but they focused a lot more on the darker back story of the dwarves than they did the magical journey of Bilbo. (Which isn’t necessarily all bad, but I’ll get to that on the positive stuff.)

The back story is part of the reason it went on for too long, and part of the reason I’m still iffy about the fact there are two more 3 hour movies. I was really hoping my anxieties from that would be subdued once I actually saw the movie, but they’re not. I’m not going to ruin anything and say where they left off because I don’t want to throw in any spoilers right now, but let’s just say I’m not sure how they’re going to make what’s left from the book itself instead of just the interpreted appendices into two more films without making it drag in an unnecessary, potentially even painful plot line that is totally going to ruin these films. I was happy about splitting it into two. I got behind that. I’ve never supported three. Especially now that I’ve seen one.

My name is Thorin Oakenshield, and I am one bad-ass mothertrucker.

My name is Thorin Oakenshield, and I am one bad-ass mothertrucker.

Out of all that time they spent on the back story of the dwarves, though, everything was just about Thorin. Thorin Oakenshield is a BAMF, don’t get me wrong — but I didn’t even really know who was playing which dwarf. The first four or five introduced themselves, but when the rest of them showed up piling into Bilbo’s house, they were never introduced. Throughout the film, Gandalf would just count them as they moved on and that was it. If I was shown a picture of all 13 dwarves, I would be able to name probably four. I even had to come home and look up the dwarves names because I forgot them. While I understand that Thorin has a lot of back story to be told, and I’m happy I can understand his character a little more, there are 14 other main characters in that movie, and they didn’t even mainly focus on the character the movie was supposed to be about. It’s called The Hobbit, not Why Thorin Oakenshield is Raging Pissed. Bilbo’s character stayed very book-like — and what I mean by that is he was written in the same childish way he was written in the book. He almost seemed out of character completely, because the book shows his struggles and explains why he is the way he is. Obviously in the movie he’s supposed to be out of character and out of place, but they didn’t spend enough time focusing on him for the audience to be able to fall in love with him because they were too busy focusing on how bad-ass Thorin was.

The Good(s)

Visually, this was one of the most amazing movies I’ve ever seen in my life. The 48 frames-per-second thing I haven’t actually experienced yet — I don’t think. I saw it in a normal, relatively boring theater at the standard 24 frames-per-second, if I’m correct, so I’m not sure how that actually effected the visuals of this movie. If the 48 isn’t a good option, then I’d recommend you seeing it again in 24. Because it wasn’t overproduced, it wasn’t too detailed, it wasn’t some crazy I-can’t-believe-this-is-actually-happening-because-I-feel-like-I’m-there-with-them experience. But like I said, I may have seen it in 48 FPS. I didn’t ask. I just enjoyed.

I'm sooo happy I got to go back to Rivendell...

I’m sooo happy I got to go back to Rivendell…

The acting was spectacular. I think they did an excellent job casting all of the dwarves (even though I can’t really remember who’s who.) If they had decided to expand every character, I think it would have been really hard to choose a favorite. Everyone brought such a uniqueness and they were all so clearly 14 different personalities and by the end of the next two films we’ll probably be in love with all of them. The first movie hopefully was the only one that solely revolved around Thorin, because he’s not the only character we’re interested in.

There’s a chance the next paragraph may contain some spoilers. Not laid out like “This person said this before this happened”, but some things that may not want to be known until you actually see the movie. You’ve been warned.

With that being said, however, I’m really happy they put in the back story. I know I was just complaining about it under the bads, but the only reason it was bad was because it took up most of the movie. I’m glad, though, that I finally understand why the dwarves and the elves hate each other. I never knew that before watching The Lord of the Rings or ever really reading the book. (It could be in there, of course, but like I said I was 11 when I read them and while I loved them I didn’t understand them and I’m now at a point where I have time to re-read them and I’m working on it. Don’t judge me.) I’m glad we understand why Thorin is such a douche. I knew from The Hobbit book he had been through some stuff because they were trying to recover their homeland from being taken, but I’m glad they delved into the war and the greed and all of that. I knew going into it the audience would have a better understanding of dwarves outside of Gimli from The Lord of the Rings, and I’m glad that was delivered to us because now I love the dwarves even more. Also, I kind of wish they would have focused a little on Gloin as well, being Gimli’s father. I don’t even know if he spoke at all during the film. If I didn’t know he was Gimli’s father, or he didn’t look almost exactly like Gimli, I would have never known. Focus on the other characters too, PJ. But this is the goods, not the bads…

In taking a 300 page book, adding in all of the appendixed information no one ever read, and expanding it to help the audience understand why everyone acts the way they do, the audience is able to move with the story and jump on the bandwagon. It isn’t just presented like “Smaug took my home and this orc guy pissed me off let’s go fight.” It’s an in-depth look at all the paths that led to where The Hobbit starts, and for once they actually follow the plot line of the book. It may not seem like that for someone who didn’t go in knowing they added all of that back story, but I think having an understanding for why they developed Thorin so much helps the audience understand why this is all happening. Since The Hobbit lacks the magic of The Lord of the Rings (books), I think they did what they could to bring that magic over to this film so audience members would be able to join on Bilbo’s journey the way they did with Frodo. Thankfully, as well, it wasn’t like when Star Wars came back with their prequels, and it was hard to believe all of that took place before, because all of a sudden everything was way more high-tec. When this is finished, audience members will be able to start with The Hobbit and move into The Lord of the Rings, and if the next two films don’t deliver as well, at least the storylines of the six movies will work well and intertwine with each other.

One final note: Go see this movie.

And, just in case you get confused on who’s who, follow the picture(s):

He looks just like Gimli, no?

He looks just like Gimli, no?

These are my favorite.

These are my favorite.

Bofur is hilarious.

Bofur is hilarious.

I like the fat guy's beard.

I like the fat guy’s beard.

 

 

 

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