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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012 film)

The first part of Peter Jackson's three-part film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's novel which is being shot in 3D.

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Youthful, Lighter and Does Well as the First Movie in a New Trilogy

  • Dec 16, 2012

Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings trilogy” was ambitious, truly impressive in a technical sense and had a whopping over 9 hour combined runtime in movie theaters. Jackson found that the story even lacked several things that he made “platinum extended” editions of his trilogy that came to a near 12 hour runtime. Such an undertaking would have seemed audacious, but given the fact that the original material by J.R. R. Tolkien was a literary epic that had 1,200 pages, such an effort proved justified.

When it was announced that Jackson was going to make a prequel to his trilogy, based on another of Tolkien’s books (a mere 320 page book), “The Hobbit” many were ecstatic while many others became a little put off. Jackson had decided to make his prequel another trilogy as in Lucas’ prequel trilogy to the original “Star Wars” trilogy, many thought that the original material by Tolkien had so much less to work into a trilogy, that it became more an attempt at marketing and money-grabbing than actually about storytelling. In addition, this first film will have an obligatory 3D (please skip the 3D) and will be the first film to be shot at 48 fps (the usual is 24 fps). Now I cannot comment as to how it worked out in 48 fps or how the film fared in 3D, since I prefer to see it in regards to storytelling than all the technical (arguably unnecessary) additions.

                      James Nesbitt as Bofur, Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Stephen Hunter as Bombur, Graham Mctavish as Dwalin, William Kircher as Bifur and Jed Brophy as Nori in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

Finally, the moment of truth is upon us, and “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” has been released. The film begins with Gandalf (Ian McKellen) arrives to enlist the aid of a homebody called Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) for a quest. The goal would be to slay the dragon Smaug just so the land of the dwarves can be recovered. The two are joined by a company of 13 warrior-dwarves led by Thorin (Richard Armitage) and their quest will take them on an epic journey into the many realms of Middle-Earth; into the world of goblins, rock giants, trolls and elves as the band is also hunted by the forces of the white Orc.

                     Ian McKellen as Gandalf and Sylvester McCoy as Radagast in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

                    Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

This first chapter of the trilogy includes Bilbo’s encounter with a creature we have come to know as Gollum (Andy Serkis) and reveals the story as to how Bilbo came about the Ring that will be the main core of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Jackson who co-writes the screenplay along with Guillermo Del Toro, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh, obviously had to make several deviations from the source material. I do not mind adaptations to have certain changes, since one needs to appeal to all viewers, including those who had not read Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”. Here, Jackson seems to have focused on making this new trilogy to directly be linked into his previous trilogy. Some familiar faces from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy make appearances. Prodo (Elijah Wood) is shown in a prologue, Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Saruman (Christopher Lee) and Elron (Hugo Weaving) also make appearances to drive the film’s plot development.

I do have to say that Jackson did show improvement when it comes to his directorial savvy. While it is to be argued that this film lacked a lot of the majesty that made “The Fellowship of the Ring” so impressive 11 years ago, Jackson does appear to be more confident. His shots feel more smoother and his action sequences feel a little more intense and in your face. The film also was able to generate a fair amount of suspense, and the pacing Jackson took into the film was more energetic that made the film go about a brisk pace. I noticed several pacing issues in Jackson’s “King Kong” and “The Hobbit” did not show such issues. For a 169 minute film, it moved very well and I never felt bored.

                      Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

                     William Kircher as Bifur, James Nesbitt as Bofur, Jed Brophy as Nori, Stephen Hunter as Bombur, John Callen as Oin, Graham McTavish as Dwalin, Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Mark Hadlow as Dori, Adam Brown as Ori, Ken Stott as Balin, Peter Hambleton as Gloin in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

                     Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins and Ian McKellen as Gandalf in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

Of course, much of the film’s burden was carried by Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage and Martin Freeman. McKellen is on familiar ground, and as Gandalf, his presence exuded the same familiar presence that fans of the franchise have grown to love. Martin Freeman brings several welcome notes of light humor and playfulness to help along the pace. Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy) also gave good moments of whimsical personality. The company of dwarves connected well with Bilbo, the chemistry and the dynamics felt real, that they could be differentiated from each other. The film also had several moments of emotions, as the screenplay set its groundwork (no doubt for the next two films). This was a film built on what can be seen as realization, the beginning of a journey in which the journey itself is the reward.

Having seen the film in 24 fps, I have to admit that the film looked as good as the films in Jackson’s original trilogy. The costumes and make up were stellar as always, they gave the characters depth in a visual sense. Sorry, I choose not to spend extra $$ for unnecessary 3D. The set designs had that familiar style and the cinematography was as impressive as ever. The creature designs do feel a little uneven. I felt that the White Orc had the appearance of a video game boss-bad guy, but it was not enough to make me like the film less. The troll and goblin designs were as good as they were in Jackson’s first Tolkien trilogy while the moment of suspense with the rock giants was pure visual and aural flamboyance. The film had a good amount action and chase scenes, which aided in the film's brisk pace.

                         A scene from "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

                         Gollum voiced by Andy Serkis in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

Despite the fact that purists of Tolkien’s original book will say that most of this new trilogy is built on ‘fat and fillers’, I doubt anyone can really say that any additions felt or seemed as such things. Ok, it sure felt like a lot of marketing was built around it, but hey, which high-budget movie isn’t? To its credit, the plotting was steady and its flow went smoothly, it did not feel like a ‘long movie’ at all. I have to admit, I am one of those folks who always feel that an adaptation should capture the essence of its source material and to stay within its confines; but I found myself, not wanting to pass judgment just how faithful it is to Tolkien's book until the completion of this new trilogy. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is one film that made me curious that I look forward to its next chapter “The Desolation of Smaug”. The new adventure has began and I will be along for its ride.

Recommended! [4- Out of 5 Stars]

Comic-con promotional poster for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected journey." Poster art for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

Youthful and Lighter Than the Original Trilogy But Does Well as the First Movie in a New Trilogy

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December 21, 2012
For me it was just too damn long. The Hobbit is a simple story that just doesn't require a trilogy to tell its story by any means. And I couldn't get over the fact that Peter Jackson came across as far too self indulgent about it. Although it's not pages that matter in the sense of a book's length. It's the word count (as different font sizes and word length can make a 320 page book be as much as 200,000 words or as little as 50,000... The Hobbit is around 120,000 words I think... last I checked).  There just wasn't enough story in The Hobbit to warrant such a lengthy endeavor.  The Lord of the Rings had HUGE themes to tackle and a lot of characters to try and develop.  The Hobbit has a much simpler story but there are too many characters for me to care about.  It's a good looking movie, but the story suffers immensely by Jackson's decision.  He seems more concerned with (as George Lucas did) with connecting it to The Lord of the Rings rather than telling its own self contained story.  It's a good movie, sure, but it's existence seems to be for the complete wrong reasons.  A trilogy?  For a children's book?  And one for a story this simple?  Really?  How much is Jackson going to add?  But more important, how much of those additions will be necessary?  I'm no stickler for "sticking to the source material."  I couldn't care less in that regard.  But Jackson has a fondness for putting in pointless exposition and overtly long scenes.  So my biggest question is will the things he add to the story be necessary?  Or are they just going to be there so we can have another, "Hey, I remember that from Lord of the Rings," kind of moment?

And how much of it will be there ONLY as Jackson's way of saying, "You guys used to love me for this, remember?"  That's probably why it was harder for me to enjoy this as much as everyone else did.  I just couldn't see the reason behind the decision.  The only conclusion I came to is that Jackson wants to add in a ton of shoutouts and references to the original trilogy.  In the sense that George Lucas was so content to slip in references to the original Star Wars trilogy than his prequels.  And while I hate comparing it to Lucas's prequels... this was part of the same stuff that motivated Lucas (a single movie showing Anakin's fall would've sufficed).

At least it gets off to a good start and I look forward to the next two... but I haven't been sold.  The characters here... are forgettable (save for--surprise!--the characters you saw in The Lord of the Rings) and even the best scene in the movie relies on your love for Lord of the Rings (where Bilbo and Gollum meet).  I usually don't like prequels in general because they're anti-climactic as hell for this very reason.  Jackson seemed a lot more concerned with making sure it connects to Lord of the Rings rather than actually telling a story.  And that's something I hope doesn't get worse with the next film.  But I have no high hopes.  It was a good movie and I liked it, but it was just too long.

Oh, and about the 48 FPS thing.  A lot of the decision was for Jackson to bring the film alive on a more... technical scale.  But from what I've heard (and seen) it only stands to make it look brighter... which makes a lot of the CGI and such really stand out and look fake.  Which, considering what we're watching, is probably a bad thing (the movie already looks incredibly fake with the stuff Jackson has done--The Dwarves are... very artificial, and don't get me started on moments like... characters being perfectly fine when standing on a bridge that falls into a chasm--not possible... I was REALLY annoyed at many of the set piece battles I almost wish I'd seen a movie with nothing but talking). 
December 20, 2012
I love the book so I will be seeing this.
December 17, 2012
As a diehard fan of the books and original trilogy, I have to say I really liked this movie. Not as much as the first three mind you, but it felt right. Like slipping into a comfortable pair of shoes. Sure it wasn't as good as the first three, but those movies are so near and dear to me that I don't think I'll ever see something I'll consider as good. The Hobbit was really good. Radagast was kind of annoying I thought, and there was too much "comic relief" and I didn't get the sense of epicness that the other films gave me, but that's about all I have to say against it. I liked it so much I want to go out and see it again. It was that good.
December 19, 2012
Well said. That is exactly how I felt about this film. I know I probably won't love it as much as the original trilogy (since its premise was just more for me) but this movie was well made, well executed and despite the fact that it has been extended, I really enjoyed it. Yes, the light humor began to wear a little thin after awhile, but it got me interested in the things to come.
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review by . December 21, 2012
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In 2001, The Lord of the Rings kicked off what some say is the nerd takeover of Hollywood.  At that time the idea that you could turn J.R.R. Tolkein's books into films and have them be successful was pretty much a pipe dream.  Yet New Line Cinema bet on him anyway and it actually paid off.  The three films were incredibly successful, being some of the most influential of the decade and paving the way for more fantasy films to come.  Of course, there hasn't really been …
Quick Tip by . September 28, 2014
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Clearly a money move. The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien, was the book that was released before The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the book that set up Middle-Earth. The book is truly fantastic and worthy of a read. However, the reason the movie is a blatant gouge is because they're splitting the movie version into three parts, even though the book was nearly as long as any of The Lord of the Rings books. The movie is boring and contains a lot of complete bullshit scenes which are in there to pander to Rings …
review by . December 13, 2012
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'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'...a 3D trip through Middle Earth at 48fps (Video)
They're back...the orcas, goblins, faires, dwarfs, dragons wizards and Mr. Hobbit, Bilboa Baggins (Martin Freeman) and a camero by Hobbit Frodo (Elijah Wood)      Shot in 48FPS, instead of the usual 24, as well as 3D, Peter Jackson has once again created a visually stunning, exciting, magical film that takes us on a journey through Middle Earth.      The film opens with an aged Frodo (Ian Holm) telling a story.  We are instantly transported to the …
review by . December 11, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Would somebody buy Peter Jackson Final Cut Pro? I am worried he doesn't have the readily accessible editing software that is the industry standard. That is the only rational explanation on how The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is being broken up into three different movies.       You may remember Jackson's last crack at the J.R.R. Tolkien books, The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The series was near-perfect, and while the last movie had eight different endings his hard …
Quick Tip by . May 30, 2011
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To steal a phrase from another classic trilogy that was ruined by horrid prequels and the corporate greed of the director (which seems altogether appropriate), "I have a bad feeling about this."         So, here is my brief overview on The Hobbit film adaptation (including important events leading up to the conception of the film):      1937 - John Ronald Reuel Tolkien's mythopoeic children's novel The Hobbit is published to widespread …
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About this movie


The Hobbit is an upcoming three-part film adaptation of the 1937 novel The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien and will serve as a prequel to The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, is directing the film and also serves as producer and co-writer.

The film will star Martin Freeman, known for playing Tim Canterbury in the BBC comedy series The Office, as Bilbo Baggins and Richard Armitage, known for playing Lucas North in the BBC drama series Spooks, as Thorin Oakenshield. Several actors from Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy will reprise their roles, including Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, and Orlando Bloom. Additionally, composer Howard Shore, who wrote the score for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, has confirmed his role in both parts of the film project.

The three parts, entitled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: There And Back Again, are being filmed back to back and are currently in production in New Zealand; principal photography began on 21 March 2011. They will be released on December 14, 2012,  2013 and 2014, respectively.
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