The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

In Films, H by Beth Webb - Events Editor

And so arrives the first of the long, lighter, but oh so highly anticipated

And so arrives the
first of the long, lighter, but oh so highly anticipated Hobbit films.


Jackson’s chosen format of the hyped 48 frames per
second is tough to digest in the Shire-based segment of the story but, as the
road gets rough, the cutting edge definition, whereas not necessary, makes the
glorious realms of Tolkien’s Middle
Earth less unreachable.


Driving the first hour of An Unexpected Journey is the
kind of lighter charm best shown in Merry and Pippin’s relationship in The Lord Of The Rings. The dwarves
mismatched band of brothers are likable, though not unlike those shorter
characters of fantasy that have preceded them (one is wise, one dim, one
clumsy) with a couple of handsome additions thrown in to ensure it’s not all
fun and games. Held together by the bonds of battle and led by the headstrong
King Thorin (Richard Armitage) the
unlikely crew, with Gandalf (Ian McKellen)
the Grey and Bilbo Baggins (Martin
) in tow, forge a turbulent path through cliffs, mountains and
forests to claim back their home in Lonely Mountain from the ominous dragon


“Why Bilbo?” Gandalf answers Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel as she rightly asks why Freeman’s
kind faced halfling is joining the quest, “maybe it’s because I’m
afraid, and he gives me courage.” There’s no question that Freeman is
flawlessly cast as the quietly indignant, unsure but potentially ferocious
Bilbo, which is crucial as in this question is embedded the doubt of why a
Hobbit film should come about in the first place. Certainly with Guillermo Del Toro jumping ship as
director back in 2010, the future of Baggins of Bag End seemed cloudy at best,
and with this year’s news that the 320-page story is being spread across three
meaty instalments, the shadow looming over the first film’s release has grown


Followers of the books may be put off by a greater
swerve away from the original material than the LOTR trilogy and some elements
of the narrative do give a bloated effect to the overall experience (Radagast The Brown Wizard appears to be
the Jar Jar Binks of the franchise
and is pretty unnecessary to this instalment.)


Following the prestigious and adored Lord of the Rings
franchise is something of a blessing and a curse to An Unexpected Journey.
Whereas the tone may be frothier in places, the characters less grounded and
the story dragging its feet occasionally, Howard
’s enchanting score and the glee emanating from first sightings of the
Shire, Bilbo’s circular front door and Gandalf’s looming hat create a heady
enjoyment that wouldn’t otherwise exist.


To say that this film is flawless would be incorrect
in this instance and, without the success of the preceding films, it’s
difficult to determine what the impact The Hobbit would have on audiences,
particularly Tolkien fans. Jackson’s comfortable approach to groundbreaking
visual splendour and a brood of likable characters however make this an
appealing, if lengthy watch.