I did not expect to like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Honestly, I didn’t expect anything at all. Aside from the experiences we’ve all had with prequels to classic trilogies, I hadn’t given it much thought. Don’t take that for indifference to Lord Of The Rings. I love Peter Jackson’s first trilogy. The Two Towers is a masterpiece of storytelling, acting, cinematography and on and on. These are great films.
It is a bold choice to revisit the universe after such success. Much less integrate all the same cast and characters without mucking up the original intent or your own mythology. I can’t think of a single prequel, reboot or reimagining that did due credit to its source. Again, no expectations.
Which is why it’s such a delight that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is so much fun. So much unexpected fun! I had no idea I wanted to know more about Gandalf, Elrond or Saruman. It didn’t occur to me that we had never seen any of these characters interact outside of the context of a magical apocalypse.
And boy howdy was it gratifying to see Bilbo as something other than a ring-hoarding crazy guy. There is so much here that informs Lord Of The Rings in a meaningful way. And all the standard fare remains. The cinematography is beautiful and the 48 frames per second doesn’t hurt. Ian McKellan’s Gandalf is a charmer and show-stealer. And I hadn’t realize how much I missed Peter Jackson’s patented have-a-bunch-of-people-running while a camera captures it from helicopter.
Which is a gift and a curse. I’ve been told that The Hobbit was intended to be a children’s book, which probably explains why the heroes were able to use flaming pine cones to fight an Orc war band.
The purists may not be happy as I suspect some light revisionism is in use to further connect the new trilogy with the old. But I can’t tell and, honestly, I don’t care.
And now I’m, unexpectedly, invested in the ending. I have NO IDEA how this trilogy is supposed to end. Or how they can squeeze two more movies out of this story. It’s a mystery! I would almost be tempted to read The Hobbit if it wasn’t The Hobbit.
I recommend this film to everyone, though parents should be aware that there is a lot of violence and some moments children would find terrifying.
Highlights & Questions
- Dragons are assholes
- Gandalf will kill you with a sword
- Gollum is menacing as hell
- Will Peter Jackson’s professionalism win out against the ever-constant urge to retool his first trilogy for symmetry’s sake?
- Saruman, while not evil, is still a dick
- I bet Elijah Wood never thought he would wear that outfit again.
- If giant eagles are always around to help why not just fly The One Ring to mount doom?