Last night The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was on the Dutch television and this time I had the time to pay good attention to the film so I could write a proper review!
In the Shire lives a hobbit called Bilbo Baggins. Hobbits don’t like adventures, but Bilbo is an exception, he only doesn’t know it yet. When the great wizard Gandalf shows up he wants Bilbo to join an adventure along with 13 dwarves. Leader of the pack is Thorin Oakenshield, the true King of the Lonely Mountain. The only problem is, they need to reclaim their mountain home – and the gold within it – from the dragon Smaug. But first, the reluctant Bilbo needs to be persuaded to join the party as their burglar. Then the journey will start and along the way there are a lot of obstacles like the White Orc Azog and goblins. For Bilbo it will be a journey which will change him forever.Director Peter Jackson, who also made films out of the Lord of the Rings books, decided to go back to Middle Earth (New Zealand) and make a new trilogy out of one book: The Hobbit, written by J.R.R. Tolkien. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first film in this trilogy and takes place 60 years before The Lord of Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. There are some old characters but a lot of new ones as well. Ian McKellan returns as Gandalf, but looks a lot older than he was in the last The Lord of the Rings film. Other old characters are Elrond (Hugo Weaving), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Sauron (Christopher Lee) and Gollum (Andy Serkis). The first three all are supporting roles while Gollum does have a more important part in the film. It was also very nice to see the same actors playing Frodo (Elijah Wood) and the old Bilbo (Ian Holm) in the intro scene. It could feel like coming home for the true fans! But the lead characters are of course newbies Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and dwarf King Thorin Oakenshield played by Richard Armitage.
Just like The Lord of the Rings, the special effects, the landscape, the make-up and the music – composed by Howard Shore – are truly amazing! It was also interesting to see how different some actors look without their make-up and large ears and nose! Just like seeing the old actors, it was nice to here the familiar tune. The new song, ‘Misty Mountains’ is a new score in this film and keeps coming back the entire film. It gave a very interesting vibe when the dwarves started singing this song. But besides the actors and music there are other references to that trilogy. Bilbo’s house is the same, the intro almost starts where The Lord of Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring also begins: Bilbo’s birthday party. We see the other dwarf Kingdom Moria and some references to Mordor and the upcoming evil. Sylvester McCoy plays the brown wizard Radagast: the weird man in the woods who discovers this evil first. With his bird’s nest and bird droppings on his face, he’s a really strange man. But the return of Andy Serkis as the even more strange and weird creature Gollum was truly brilliant! If you look closely you can actually see Serkis’ face. At one point I really felt sorry for him, Serkis’ did again an amazing job with his facial expressions! It was also very interesting to see, and not in flashbacks or memories, how Bilbo found the ring – which is also a reference to the The Lord of the Rings. The whole scene with Gollum and Bilbo was really well made, the riddles still keeps me guessing.Old Bilbo introduces the film when he starts writing his book for Frodo – which is almost on his birthday – and explains the history of the dwarves. This is very detailed, so it’s almost impossible to have questions afterwards. We get to see the amazing and mighty Kingdom called Erebor, the city under the mountain with lots of gold and diamonds. Following some very mysterious glimpses of the new King under the mountain: The evil dragon Smaug. We only see some shadows and it takes the whole film for us to finally see some more of him! Despite of Smaug, 13 brave and funny dwarves wants to reclaim their home and need Bilbo as their burglar. From the moment Bilbo decided to join these dwarves, we see some character developments but he also stays true to himself. He loves his home, his books and chair but also wants adventure and help the dwarves to get heir home back. But the rightful King Thorin Oakenshield doubts him and he often lets him know that. Thorin is most of the time mad and a bit moody so therefore it’s good to have some background information about him. We get that along the way, so we understand him better as the film continues.
But they aren’t there yet, not even close. They still need to face orcs, goblins and what else? This first film in The Hobbit trilogy takes long and for me it was a film to get trough. The film is close to perfect. The acting, the music, the special effects, the make-up, the storyline and the references to The Lord of the Rings, but unfortunately I’m not overwhelmed by it. The Lord of the Rings films also never made me that enthusiastic. I don’t know why, I can’t put my finger on it. But I will continue this trilogy and review them both! I look forward to see the dragon in its entirety and Luke Evans’ character. One final word: I really loved the two dwarves Fili (Dean O’Gorman) and Kili (Aiden Turner), who gave an extra dose of humor to the film!