My dear Frodo, you once asked me once if I had told you everything there was to know about my adventures. Well, I can honestly say I’ve told you the truth, I may not have told you all of it.
All it took was a second of what I have come to called the Shire theme, that light-hearted flute melody that accompanied every happy Hobbit scene in Lord of the Rings, for me to feel right back at home in the Shire. Peter Jackson brings us back to Middle Earth, adapting J. R.R. Tolkien’s prequel of the Lord of the Rings to the big screen. While the film still has very violent and intense content, it is much more light-hearted and humorous than the Lord of the Rings films. Though there is a lot of controversy surrounding Jackson’s approach to the Hobbit, I found the Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to be immensely enjoyable to watch.
Just like in the novel, the film tells the story in one long flashback, the main character reminiscing about the events of his past. The Hobbit’s main character is Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), a minor character in the original trilogy but the grandfather of the series’ main character Frodo Baggins. The events of the Hobbit tell how Bilbo came to be in possession of the original trilogy’s titular ring and explains how Bilbo became acquainted with the great wizard Gandolf (Ian McKellen).
Set sixty years before the first three films, the Hobbit begins with Gandolf arriving at Bag End. Even though Bilbo doesn’t remember him, Gandolf proves that he knows the Hobbit and his family and decides to force Bilbo into an adventure. Making him the fourteenth member in a group of dwarves, Bilbo and the dwarves set across Middle Earth to the dwarves homeland, The Lonely Mountain. Filled to the brim with treasure, the dwarves were long ago nearly decimated by Dragon Smaug. Taking the Lonely Mountain by force and nearly making the dwarves extinct, Smaug took their treason and made the mountain his new home. Now, without recent sightings of the beast, the dwarves travel across the land to reclaim their home and what is rightfully theirs, battling parties of orcs, Azog the devourer, The Great Goblin, a necromancer and a growing ancient evil all before their final battle against the terrifying Smaug.
The main point of controversy behind this film is Jackson’s decision to turn the Hobbit into a trilogy rather than leaving it one film. As a novel, the Hobbit is shorter than each of the three Lord of the Rings books which does make one wonder how Jackson managed to make three films, each one based on a longer book, but needs three for the shorter Hobbit. Originally the series was meant to be two films, one that looks at the journey across Middle Earth while the sequel chronicles the encounter with Smaug. In the novel, there are many portions where main characters like Gandolf are gone for long periods of time, periods of time that are explained through Tolkien’s many appendices. The third film will make use of these appendices, using them to expand the story.
What is great about the Hobbit is that while we are introduced to many great new characters and locations, a number of locations and characters return from the original trilogy. Most notable out of the newcomers, which includes fourteen dwarves, is the dwarven prince Thorin (Richard Armitage). Thinking he killed the other new comer, the white orc Azog that declared war on Thorin’s family, killing his father and grandfather, Thorin is again forced to face his greatest enemy. A new wizard character enters the story, Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy), one of only five wizard in Middle Earth. Hugo Weaving returns as Elrond along with Cate Blanchett as the elf queen Galadriel and, returning in one of the most stunning and well done scenes in the film, Gollum (Andy Serkis) meets a Hobbit for the first time.
I very much enjoyed this film but not quite as much as I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings. There was something a little more childish about the Hobbit. With some obvious visual inspiration from Guillermo Del Toro, the Hobbit did not pull in many Oscar nominations and none for acting, writing or best picture. Nominations were in visual categories such as Best Achievement in Makeup and Best Achievement in Visual Effects. I give this film an 8 out of 10. It was incredibly fun to return to the Shine once more, especially knowing I will get to be In Middle Earth for two films more.