Most people think that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the story of Bilbo Baggins and how he comes upon the “one ring to rule them all.” The prequel story is actually about the adventures of Bilbo and a company of dwarves determined to take back the dwarves’ home from the evil dragon Smaug and reclaim the treasure that rightfully belongs to the leader of the dwarves, Thorin Oakenshield. Thorin and the company of twelve loyal dwarves recruit the hobbit, Bilbo, at Gandalf’s request. Bilbo is naturally taken by surprise and quickly refuses because Hobbits are not people that go looking for adventure. In the end, he accepts the challenge and embarks on a journey that will change his life forever.
With loads of special effects and computer animation, the assumption could be made that the acting wouldn’t be focused upon. Martin Freeman, which some of you may know from the popular BBC series Sherlock, was the perfect choice to play Bilbo Baggins. In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo was portrayed as a fragile and wimpy hero that needed a support system in Samwise. It was one of the parts that frustrated to me about the original trilogy. Bilbo, on the contrary, is portrayed that way in the beginning, but quickly grows into a strong hero that can take care of himself. Richard Armitage does a fantastic job acting as the strong, dwarven soldier Thorin Oakenshield, as do the rest of the twelve dwarves in playing their parts as the hilarious and bumbling dwarven company. The dwarves are great and are each given their own personalities to act with, and have very funny chemistry with each other and toward Bilbo.
Gollum is back and in a big way. He emerges in what is probably the best scene in the original trilogy and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey combined. It was the scene that I was looking forward to most after reading the “Riddles in the Dark” chapter in the novel. Andy Serkis is back playing Gollum, the iconic former hobbit corrupted by the power of the one ring. It is a scene full of tension and fear for our main character and the moment when Bilbo finds the ring of power. Serkis is long overdue for an Oscar and once again gives us one of the best performances of the year following his last performance as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
The overall tone of the film is what initially threw me off. I went in expecting more Lord of the Rings. I was expecting the dark, gritty feel of a fantastical story with mature undertones, but what I got was a brighter, light-hearted story with juvenile undertones. There are hints of serious and thrilling fight scenes, and some of the set pieces are the grandest in the series, but the movie utilizes more computer animation and has an overall more colorful and brighter look compared to the original trilogy. I have read The Hobbit and that is exactly what the book portrays but with Peter Jackson directing once again, I expected something similar to the original trilogy and what I got was much different. Although it is different, it is not a bad different. Once I wrapped my head around the fact that The Hobbit was going to be more light-hearted, I had a lot of fun and enjoyed the movie even more.
I went in with expectations that could not be met by what the story of The Hobbit is. What I came away with was an urge to see the movie again and watch it for what it is trying to be. It is clearly a great film that I believe is hindered by the overuse of computer animation and the choice to not use the realistic make up and effects chosen in the original trilogy. I loved the interaction between all of the characters, and the dwarves and Bilbo were awesome. It takes the skeleton of The Hobbit book and transforms it using some of the other works from the great J.R.R. Tolkien. Everyone who loves The Lord of the Rings will not be disappointed by the first installment of The Hobbit trilogy, An Unexpected Journey.
Article by Tyler Comstock