I’d been looking forward to the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey since word first came out ages ago. I rather religiously followed casting rumors (next time, David Tennant. Next time.), kept up with release news (three movies? Really?), and attended most of a Lord of the Rings trilogy viewing party. So when I say that I was not disappointed with this movie, take it as the praise of one whose expectations were certainly high to begin with.
I will grant you, this means that I went in to the theater looking for things to love, and I found them in spades. Martin Freeman was spot on as Bilbo Baggins, the reluctant hero and titular character. While you can certainly see elements of John Watson peeking through, Freeman’s performance gives Bilbo a relatability that invites the audience to put themselves in his place and start this long journey with him.
The rest of the cast seems made up of gems of the British film and television stable of actors. In addition to the return of Lord of the Rings actors, including Sirs Ian McKellan and Christopher Lee, we’re introduced to a whole new host of characters. Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who) was a fantastically quirky Radagast (in an admittedly expanded role from the source material), and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking for Aidan Turner’s (Being Human) Kili in most group shots, despite his horrifically un-dwarven lack of beard.
Early reports of the filming said that the doubled frames per second makes the 3D clearer and easier to watch. I’ve never been a fan of 3D movies, but I have to agree. I’m thankful that the technology is becoming common enough that Jackson never feels it necessary to employ the cheap trick of aiming projectiles at the camera to impress upon the audience the awesomeness of 3D. Instead, it simply gives the film a richness and depth that it might otherwise have lacked.
Admittedly, this first installment is on the long side. Go for the smaller drinks at the concession stand, unless you feel compelled to sit on the aisle. You can see in a few places where material has been added to expand a relatively short book into three full movies. However, I rarely found the new material tedious, and only a familiarity with the book led me to start looking for natural endings afer the two-hour mark. I did feel that a good bit of the added material was included to make absolutely certain that the audience knew this movie was related to Lord of the Rings. It took some effort to get Frodo in this movie, and while it was fun to see the character again, it seemed unnecessary.
That being said, I’ll likely be seeing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey again and waiting excitedly for parts 2 and 3!
Review by: Jennifer Steele