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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey | Movie Review

First off there are no movie spoilers in this review. If you've read the book or have seen the Lord of the Rings Trilogy then you're good. Also I didn't see the film in HFR or 3D, so I won't be speaking to that. With that out of the way let's get started.

I loved The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I liked it even more than The Lord of The Rings Trilogy, which are easily some of my favorite movies. I couldn't get enough of them and love the extended versions because I get to spend more time in that world. Also of the three films the first one, The Fellowship of the Ring, was my favorite. The reason? We get to see The Shire. Its beauty and goodness that is in a way what everyone is fighting for in the rest of the movie. I love spending time in the Shire. Knowing I would get a bit more time there in The Hobbit makes me super excited right off the bat. So that's where I'm coming from. Coming to The Hobbit I was also very excited because I liked the book way more than the Lord of The Rings trilogy of novels. I tend to read a lot more of fun adventure stories than long dark epic tales. I read and write a lot of Young Adult literature. While reading The Lord of the Rings was very rewarding, parts of it were a slog for me. Every time I have read The Hobbit I want to turn back to the beginning and read it again as soon as I get to the end of the story. I love it.

I finished my third reading of The Hobbit the night before seeing the film. It was cool to have the novel so fresh in my mind because I could spot the differences in the movie and understand what was happening on screen with a deeper level of understanding. I was happy to finish many of the dialog sentences in my mind because they were taken straight from the book. A lot of little things like characters speaking out the name of a chapter as they delve into that part of the story were fun easter eggs for readers of the book.

There are many small things they chose to change in the movie. None of them really bothered me, and in most cases I think the changes they came up with made for a more enjoyable movie to watch. Would I have changed it from the book? Probably not - but that's why I'm not a big time movie director. I was never mad about the changes. It was more of a "Hmm . . . interesting . . ." Also, even though as I have said I LOVE the book I did think a few times while reading it that certain scenes could have been much more exciting or dramatic. Some big events are glossed over with a quick paragraph in the novel and in making the movie it would render those scenes as flat and uneventful, especially to an audience of 2012, if they would have stayed totally faithful to the narrative of the novel.

In general I felt that they did an amazing job adapting one of my favorite books into a movie. One thing I was worried about going into this film was that it would borrow too heavily from The Lord of The Rings in tone. The Hobbit was written for children and is a much lighter tale. In my opinion they did a great job with this. I laughed a ton during this movie - way more than in a lot of comedies I've seen. At the same time while rereading the book I was surprised at how many scary and dangerous situations the characters find themselves in. While The Hobbit has a lighter tone, it is still a tale full of frightful scenes. Again they did a good job with this as I found myself just about holding my breath at times, cringing to see how the characters would get out of their dire situation. They struck a good balance of keeping it lighter but still having the darker scenes suspenseful. I wonder how many people who argue that they made the film too much like The Lord of The Rings would say so after reading The Hobbit again. They might be as surprised as I was at what they find in the book.

Okay so now that I've gushed over the film I will hit on the bits I didn't like. There were a few times they went too far with the action, breaking my suspension of disbelief. Some scenes that were not in the book were cool to see but didn't add much to the story. These should not have been added even though they were fun to watch. Sometimes the way the characters fought or escaped from bad guys was over the top enough for me to be pulled out of the story. It was very fun to watch and really entertaining, I'm sure even more so in 3D, but it was over the line for me. They could have made it exciting and kept us on the edge of our seats as they did so well in other places without pushing it so far as to be unbelievable. Okay, that's all you're getting out of me. If you want more on what was wrong with this movie, read other reviews. There's tons of haters out there.

Two characters really stand out to me in the movie. Bilbo is brilliant. I love him in the book, and I love him in the movie. He is a very likable character and it is fun to root for him. Martin Freeman could not have done a better job. Even in reviews I read that come down hard on the movie they feel that his performance was amazing. The scene where Bilbo gets the ring from Gollum is fantastic. As Frodo proves himself to the dwarves and wins their affections, he does so to the audience as well. He shouldn't be on this great adventure fraught with peril. He is a Baggins of bag end and belongs in his comfortable hobbit hole. But his Took side comes out and he proves to himself and everyone else that maybe he really should be on this journey and that it wouldn't be a success without him. Against all odds, this little hobbit proves to be a great addition to the company on their quest to slay Smaug the dragon.

The other character who stands out is Gandalf. I feel like I know him more from this one movie than all three of the Lord of The Rings films. He seems more well rounded as a character, more of a person than a mighty wizard protecting everyone with his great magic. One of my favorite parts of the film is when he explains to someone (I don't want to spoil anything) why he chose to bring Bilbo on the adventure. It was a very inspiring speech. It made me want to be a better man and try harder to live my life in a way that benefits others.

I could say so much more, but like I said I don't want to spoil anything. Obviously the story has been out since 1937, but I don't want to spoil the movie in the ways they chose to portray the book. So I will end by saying - yes I realize I'm a bit biased with the novel being one of my favorites and that I am a fan of Peter Jackson, but I absolutely loved the film and would easily give it five out of five stars. I can't wait to see it again and again and again.

Please feel free to leave comments on what you thought of the movie. I'm sure your opinions differ from mine. How so? Do you think the fact that I saw it in the traditional 24 frames per second helped me to enjoy my first viewing of this film? I hope to see this movie in the HFR of 48 frames per second and see if it changes the experience for me. I'm interested to see what people think of the movie who haven't read the books, so jump into the discussion in comments. As always, thanks for stopping by.


  1. Did the spreading it out over 3 movies cause a strangeness to how this one ended? We will have to talk about this.

    1. My first comment from the esteemed Did Not Finish Donald! Yes indeed. Even though I wanted to see the second movie right away - I left very satisfied. They told a good story in the first movie and left you in a good place. I could see the three act structure well used for this first part of the story. I fear you would be a bit heart broken about certain things. I don't know if you'd like it mostly because of the character Azog. There were a lot of little changes from the book, but as you read they didn't bother me much.

  2. I keep hearing people say that they were surprised at how much they liked the film. A lot of people have plenty of negative things to say about this movie, but why do I keep hearing "I was surprised that I really liked it?" It's like everyone is just out to hate the movie before they go and see it. I don't get that. Even after hearing all the reviews of this movie, some quite negative, I still to my review. I loved it and really want to go see it again, and in the HFR 48 FPS this time. Yes there are things I think should be cut from the film, but they don't make me change my review of 5/5 stars.