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The Hobbit, an Unexpected Journey - Film Review

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by Mike (subscribe)
Freelance writer, aspiring author. See my words of fiction at willkaede.deviantart.com
Published December 29th 2012


Ten years ago, not to the very day, but near enough to make no difference, the world received The Lord of the Rings; The Fellowship of the Ring, and the epic movie was born again. Thirteen years ago, we received an eagerly awaited prequel movie. What we got was Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

But let's not discuss those two things in the same breath ever again.

Part One of The Hobbit brings us back to the realm of Middle-Earth, but we don't walk that same paths the Fellowship did ten years ago. This keeps us in the northern regions of Middle-Earth, far from the mightier realms of men such as Gondor and Rohan, where the Elves rule the forests, and fouler creatures than orcs scurry about in the shadows. The Dwarvern kingdom shown at the beginning of the film is just as massive and glorious as I'd expect from them, and for the first time, I truly appreciated watching a film in 3D. It's not a necessity for the film, but it adds in a layer of depth that really helps bring the world to life.

If the originals are called the Hobbit movies, will these be called the Dwarf movies?


Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, and as sagacious, enigmatic, and ... wizardly as ever. Richard Armitage (pictured above, middle) was entirely believeable, forlorn and noble. Ironically, Richard Armitage was in Star Wars episode one as a Naboo pilot, but we won't be holding that against him. Martin Freeman stars as a young Bilbo Baggins in the first thing I've seen him in since The Office (UK). Awkward, in unknown waters but still retaining the innocence of a Hobbit, he managed to bring the novel's character to the screen in a brilliant way. Dean O'Gorman (picture above, bottom left), no stranger to fantasy settings, having performed in Sam Raimi's Hercules and Xena, Warrior Princess, plays one of the Dwarves, Fili, in a universe as inspired by Norse mythology as The Almighty Johnsons, an NZ tv series in which he plays Anders Johnson, the reincarnated Bragi, god of poetry.

Left to right, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving


There's a slew of cameos, including Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving returning as Lady Galadriel and Lord Elrond respectively, (pictured above Christopher Lee returns as Saruman the White, head of the Istari, not yet corrupted by the darkness as he was in the first trilogy). For those who paid attention to the original trilogy, two of Gimli's relatives are in this. What I really appreciated about this movie was the more fantastic approach to it, and the entirely unsubtle references to the original sources. The whole 'good morning' scene from the book, for those who have read it, is lifted almost directly from the opening chapter. Bilbo's hiding of expensive-looking goods is a reference to Fellowship of the Ring when he discusses one of the Sackville-Bagginses, cousins of his, pilfering his silverware. Even the singing of songs is a reminder of Tolkien's fondness for songwriting and poetry.

David Bowie ain't got nothing on this Goblin King.


The movie is what I'd hoped for, a fantasy adventure. Over mountains high and through caverns deep, goblins and monsters dogging every step. The Misty Mountains (Cold) song struck a chord with me when sung by the Company of Dwarves, the sadness quite apparent. The film uses this song in the basic score to great effect, reminding us that it is a Middle-Earth film, but different to Lord of the Rings, in a great way.



It's a retelling of a classic, with the same direction that gave us that trilogy ten years ago. It brings back the high fantasy adventure in the same way Lord of the Rings brought back the big epic battles and medieval legends and helped create a new wave of novel adaptions.

I haven't felt so enraptured by a movie's atmosphere since James Cameron's Avatar, and that's a hell of a thing. I even spent most of Avatar comparing it to Frank Herbert's Dune, but still the scenery pulled me in. But what I appreciate about the Hobbit more than Avatar, is that the Hobbit is filmed on location. New Zealand is a beautiful country.

The landcape is scenic and beautiful as always.


I thought this movie was brilliant. Go see it, it's worth the price of admission. It's slower paced than the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but makes up for it by being a journey with twists and tumbles, and lighthearted moments between the members of the company and those they meet along the way. Maybe watch it first if you want to take the kids, but if you'd trust them with Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, this should be safe for them.

Keep a watchful eye out for teaser trailers for Part 2; The Desolation of Smaug, due in 2013, and There And Back Again, due for release in 2014.

SCORE: 4/5.
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Why? For enjoyable highy fantasy adventure
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Your Comment
Sounds worth watching
by Oxford Explorer (score: 2|655) 2028 days ago
great movie amd wonderful review!
by Joy (score: 3|1890) 1998 days ago
Great review Mike...My 13 yr old son watched the Hobbit in 3D at the cinema on boxing day with my wife. He came home bubbling with excitement and bright eyes saying "Dad you gotta go see it. Its even better than Lord of the Rings, A lot better" I too also loved Avatar and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. My sons wants to take me to see it as he is happy to see it again, I guess as its going to be very hot this week in Adelaide it will also get me out and i can stay in air conditioned comfort.
by samir (score: 2|126) 2026 days ago
Martin Freeman as the central hobbit is one of the things that is better in this film than in Lord of the Rings. He is also brilliant in the smart, dark British TV series "Sherlock" (the title character is played be Benedict Cumberpatch - great name, no? - who also plays Smaug the dragon). Be warned though - the seasons are short and tend to end on cliffhangers.
by Felicity Banks (score: 1|59) 2026 days ago
I really did love this film and the book. Kinda wish I wasn't half asleep when I went though :/
by Rebecca A. Kerr (score: 1|52) 2022 days ago
Did you see a different film? or never red th book? It was truly terrible. Slow direction, poor characterisation, and ie end up as action sequence after action sequence. A wizard on. Sled pulled by rabbits who eats magic mushrooms? Truly awefull.
by Red63Sprint (score: 1|31) 2017 days ago
Did you see a different film? or never red th book? It was truly terrible. Slow direction, poor characterisation, and ie end up as action sequence after action sequence. A wizard on. Sled pulled by rabbits who eats magic mushrooms? Truly awefull.
by Red63Sprint (score: 1|31) 2017 days ago
Did you see a different film? or never red th book? It was truly terrible. Slow direction, poor characterisation, and ie end up as action sequence after action sequence. A wizard on. Sled pulled by rabbits who eats magic mushrooms? Truly awefull.
by Red63Sprint (score: 1|31) 2017 days ago
Having read the book, my husband was initially reluctant to see The Hobbit as he thought the story would be too drawn out. However we finally went last week and both of us enjoyed it very much. While I have to say that it lacks some of the action of Lord of the Rings, it makes up for it in a great story well acted with beautiful scenery. Highly recommend.
by jillr1 (score: 1|48) 2006 days ago
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