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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Movie Review

Reviewed by on Dec 07, 2012
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld goes on the new quest. Here’s our take on “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”

By: Lynn Barker

If you were a quiet homebody and a cool group of good guy adventurers showed up challenging you to take part in an amazing quest, would you go?  That is the choice little hobbit Bilbo Baggins has to make. Can he be a hero?

Bilbo gets his swordBilbo gets his sword

The Call to Action

In Middle Earth, all is well in The Shire where young hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) lives until wizard Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellen) recruits him as a burglar on a quest to regain the lost Dwarf Kingdom or Erebor. Seems a giant dragon named Smaug has ruled there but is rumored to have died. Now everyone will want the kingdom and its riches. Bilbo is reluctant but finally joins the quest.

Courtesy of Warner Bros

On the Road

On their way to Erebor perched on the Lonely Mountain full of gems and riches, the thirteen dwarves, led by the mighty warrior Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), Bilbo and Gandalf face peril at every turn. The Orcs are on their trail, another wizard needs help because all the animals in his forest are dying, Trolls capture and want to eat the dwarves and Bilbo is given a cool Elfin sword for protection.

The TrollsCourtesy of Warner Bros

Will the Elves Help?

Feeling that they were abandoned by the elves years ago, the dwarves are reluctant to accept their aid but in the Elf Kingdom Rivendell, Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) offers Gandalf her aid while powerful wizard Sauron (Christopher Lee) poo poos Gandalf’s danger warnings about a true evil they’ll all face.

Gandalf and BilboGandalf and Bilbo

The Trek Continues

Climbing a mountain, the heroes face a battle between stone giants and baddie Orcs are close behind. The dwarves are captured by Goblins and Bilbo has fallen into a dark cave…

Gollum and The Ring

In the cave, Bilbo meets Gollum, a misshapen little creature who holds the true Ring…until he drops it and Bilbo pockets it.  Bilbo tries to encourage Gollum’s “good” side and they have a battle of riddles. Bilbo hopes Gollum will lead him to safety if he wins. While Gandalf and the dwarves are trying to escape the Goblins, the Ring ends up on Bilbo’s finger and, turning invisible due to its power, he escapes Gollum and can’t bring himself to kill him.

Gollum in his caveGollum in his caveCourtesy of Warner Bros

Respect for Bilbo

Reuniting with Gandalf and the dwarves, who think he has gone home and abandoned them, Bilbo finally convinces them he can be a hero and he will finish the quest with them. Together the gang fights off the Orcs and Gandalf conjures up a flight of giant birds that fly them to safety. Atop a pile of gold, deep in the Lonely Mountain, we see that the dragon Smaug is very alive indeed!

Wrapping Up

This first part of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy of films takes a while getting started but once the dwarves, Bilbo and Gandalf are on the road, well-executed 3D action is just about non-stop. The film contains way too much exposition (people telling us the backstory that sets up the action), making it very long.. almost 3 hours! Purists who love the novels, however, will be delighted. The rest of us…not so much. Early scenes in which we “get to know the dwarves” are intended to be funny but get old fast.

During the quest to regain the lost dwarf kingdom, there are tons of very awesome special effects; monsters galore… so many that I got the trolls and the goblins mixed up, some really fast giant rabbits pull a sled and giant birds come to the rescue!

The dwarf armyThe dwarf army

Fans of weird little Gollum will be glad to see him back and, as Andy Serkis plays him (using the motion capture technique) he has more facial expressions and delightful dialogue than in the “Ring” movie series.  Martin Freeman, as Bilbo, makes a convincing reluctant hero and you do root for the gang of dwarves to succeed.

Bilbo (Martin Freeman) with Gollum (Andy Serkis in Motion Capture suit)Bilbo (Martin Freeman) with Gollum (Andy Serkis in Motion Capture suit)

Overall, I feel that Jackson could have tightened the film up quite a bit. Young audience members will especially have a hard time sitting through the “boring” stuff to get to the more visual action. Without the romance between Arwen and Aragorn and the strong friendship between Samwise and Frodo, this earlier tale doesn’t make us as invested in the heroes but, for the most part, the film succeeds in launching the new film series. We’ll go four stars.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: 4

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey PosterThe Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey PosterCourtesy of Warner Bros