Review: The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey (2012)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (dir. Peter Jackson, 2012) – Bilbo Baggins is off on an adventure when the dwarves engage his help to reclaim their stolen land.

Verdict

Revisiting the Middle-earth comes with great expectations, matched with this enchanting and faithful retelling of Tolkien’s tale.

4/5

Review

In a little Hobbit-hole in the ground of The Shire lives Bilbo Baggins. He has lived his quiet routine for years and years, until thirteen dwarves come knocking at his door. The company invite Bilbo on a quest but he declines, reluctant to leave his comfortable home. When he awakes to an empty house, he soon realises he may never have a tale to tell if he chooses to stay.

“I’m going on an adventure!”, cries Bilbo Baggins as he decides for a change, lets go and runs off into the blue.

It is in this that the tale captivates us, as we root for the little hobbit with huge hairy feet throughout his unexpected journey. Like Bilbo Baggins, many of us grow used to living in comfort and avoiding the unknown. Yet it is only when we dare venture into uncertainty will we experience life as it is.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Credit: New Line Cinema / James Fisher

The Hobbit is no Lord of The Rings. Preceding the epic trilogy as a children’s book, it is both lighter in tone and smaller in scale. Still, there is much charm to be found in song, humour and the wonderful visuals. Reconstructed from pure imagination of the brilliant JRR Tolkien, the Middle-earth is nothing short of stunning. Incredible details of the universe and its mythology never cease to amaze. 

HFR IMAX 3D made Middle-earth look absolutely lush in its vividity, though it takes a while to get used to the sometimes fast motion. But what fun it is to watch the company’s battle with the Orcs and the Goblin King in sharp detail. All remain thoroughly engaging, as we root for the spirited dwarves.

Richard Armitage’s  moody presence well embodies the leader of the company (and my favourite dwarf) Thorin Oakenshield. The other dwarves are each eccentric and likable in their own varied ways. Having thirteen in the company means some are more prominent than others. Then again, there are two more films to flesh them out.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Credit: New Line Cinema / James Fisher

The most fitting casting has to be the outstanding Martin Freeman, as the perfect Bilbo Baggins. Forget about making any references to John Watson or Tim Canterbury. Every little thing he did – the manner of his speech and his endearing movements – made him one with the hobbit character. The game of riddles in the dark is where he shines, never outdone by veteran Andy Serkis as the ever memorable feral Gollum.

Three movies seem excessive for a 300-page book and additions do sometimes feel unnecessary. But hindered little by the lack of source material, new scenes point to the original movies to the delight of fans. They also add much to the dynamics of the large cast, both old and new.

There is just so much fun to be had in this adventure that is as much ours as it is Bilbo’s. With great dragon Smaug and the sinister Necromancer still lurking in the shadows, the triumphant return to the Middle-earth just might get better from here.

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