The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
An un-expectations reaching journey
Pack your bags boys, we’re going on an adventure! No, really, pack your bags. You’ll be in the theater for a while.
One does not simply walk into a Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings film adaption and without expecting a vigorous reorganization of J R R Tolkien’s original tale. And when the news broke a few months ago that The Hobbit, a standalone novel approximately one fifth the length of the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, was being split into the same number of films its mother series received, it was a no brainer that much reorganization would be required.
However, a line must be drawn when, half an hour into the film, the first chapter of the novel still hasn’t reached its conclusion.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with adding some newly-imagined backstory to the film to make the characters more screen-friendly. But in the case of An Unexpected Journey, there’s a multitude of freshly invented characters, settings, and plot points to go along with the new backstories, almost all of which are interesting (to a degree), yet completely unnecessary. Normally I’d be the last person on Middle Earth to complain about extra story, but Jackson’s drastic expansion of The Hobbit is so obviously more of a cash grab than it is an assurance to accurately tell the story, and the first installment does very little to conceal that “secret”.
Watching the movie, it becomes increasingly annoying how much material was fabricated for the purpose of extending the film’s length (which clocks in at a whopping two hours and forty-nine minutes), and knowing that, despite our annoyance, there’s no way we’ll skip out on its two sequels. A trap worthy of a mountain goblin, Jackson. Well played.
Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is an entertainingly awkward Hobbit (short, large-footed human) who doesn’t realize how boring his life has become. Thankfully for him, wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen, awesomely) appears out of the blue one day to whisk him away on an “adventure.” Gandalf hand selects Bilbo out of every creature in Middle Earth to be the traveling group’s stealthy burglar. Without any guarantee of survival, Bilbo agrees to join the travels, knowing only he will not be the same Hobbit by journey’s end.
Bilbo and Gandalf travel with a group of twelve dwarves determined to reclaim their kingdom and treasure from smoldering, castle-destroying dragon Smaug. Among them is king of the dwarf clan Thorin (Richard Armitage), who desires to win back the dwarf kingdom after it was stolen during his father’s reign. Stirrings of a war echo through Middle Earth as tensions between the dwarves, the elves, and many other species peak, making the group’s quest even more dangerous as they become prime targets.
Jackson released the film with both 24 frames per second footage (the standard for movies) and 48fps, the first film to do so. Unfortunately I was only able to see the 3D 24fps version, though even with the normal frame rates, Middle Earth appeared absolutely stunning. Middle Earth’s bizarre CGI creatures (from giants made out of mountains to ugly, throaty goblin kings to the fantastic return of Gollum) looked as realistic as anything else on the screen. Not a second of the movie is spent in a setting that appears less than breathtaking.
Unfortunately, I wish the film didn’t waste so much of the scenery’s time on empty plot points. The movie’s pacing felt like a college kid struggling to include as much needless information as possible into his essay to stretch it to the required page length. I had to duck out of the theater during a scene where a new character attempts to revive a cursed hedgehog due to a coughing fit (I have a cold). By the time I finished gollum-ing and returned, dude was still trying to fix the hedgehog. These are minutes meant to the ‘Deleted Scenes’ section on the DVD, and frankly I’m horrorstruck at the idea of the DVD containing additional material.
Objectively speaking, despite its overstuffing, the movie is still a strong choice for a holiday movie theater outing. Just make sure to empty your bladders and complete any other necessary preparations beforehand. I learned that lesson the hard way. I was expecting a movie, not a campout.
4/5 stars – objectively
3/5 stars – a loyal fan’s rating
So this is my first post in about three weeks. My first semester of college is now over and I’m on winter break for the next five weeks, so I should be back in business on here for a little while. Thursday was my last day of finals, and to be honest my brain checked out on anything that wasn’t finals sometime last week and still hasn’t come back for anything else so I’m more or less an empty shell right now. I’ve gotten four and a half hours of sleep in the last two days (that’s such an exaggeration) so special thanks to Will for brewing me the nectar of life – black coffee, once my mortal enemy, now my closest ally – and allowing me to stay up long enough to write this. Ironically the first night I pulled an all nighter in college was the first night I finished all of my finals. That’s just unfortunate. But I did it for you guys…
I did it for you guys.