Well, I finally finished the animated movies so it is time to start the Peter Jackson marathon. When I heard that Peter Jackson was making a live action film for The Hobbit, I wasn’t surprised. However, I will admit to being a bit skeptical when it was announced that it would be broken up into three movies. Two movies I could kind of see, but three honestly sounded like he was being greedy. Still, I enjoyed watching The Lord Of The Rings trilogy and I knew I would be watching these movies anyways so why not just enjoy them. So let’s get started on our journey through Peter Jackson’s version of Middle Earth with today’s movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
The plot: As Bilbo Baggins is preparing for his 111th birthday, he reminisces about his fantastic adventure, and the events that led up to it. Long ago, the dwarf king Thror ruled the kingdom of Erebor, located in the Lonely Mountain, which was experiencing a time of prosperity for many years. However, after finding the Arkenstone, Thror’s love of gold begin to become a sickness, foreshadowing the evil that would soon come. A short time later, the dragon Smaug arrived, laying waste to the nearby town of Dale, before attacking Erebor and forcing the dwarves to leave their city. As Thorin, Thror’s grandson, leads the dwarven people out of the city, he notices Thranduil, the wood-elf king, and his men on a nearby hilltop and asks for their help, but the wood elves turn around and leave. Years later, Bilbo Baggins is smoking a pipe outside of his house when he is approached by Gandalf to take part in an adventure but Bilbo refuses. Later, as Bilbo is fixing dinner, he finds his meal interrupted by Gandalf and twelve dwarves (Balin, Dwalin, Fíli, Kíli, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur). After they have all eaten, Thorin arrives, having traveled to speak to his kin in the North, with news that Thorin and his company are on their own. After Thorin and Gandalf manage to quiet the dwarves down, they give Bilbo a contract to sign, while Thorin tells Gandalf he cannot guarantee Bilbo’s safety. Hearing what the dangers are, Bilbo chooses not to sign the contract and goes to bed after hearing the dwarves sing about Lonely Mountain. When Bilbo wakes to an empty house, he sees the contract on a table and grabs it before rushing out of his house and eventually catching up to Gandalf and the dwarves. When they stop for the night, Bilbo hears something cry out in the night and Fili and Kili tell him it is the sound of orcs. Thorin doesn’t like their joking manner regarding orcs and Balin informs Bilbo and the two dwarves about why Thorin hates orcs. After the dwarves left Erebor, Thror attempted to retake the dwarven kingdom of Moria, but they found it had been taken by a group of orcs, led by a white orc named Azog. Azog beheaded Thror but Thorin faced him and, using a oak branch as a shield, managed to cut off one of Azog’s arms and led the dwarves as the chased off the orcs. As Balin finishes his story, the group is unaware that they are being observed by a group of orcs, who send word to their master that they found the dwarves. Meanwhile, Radagast the Brown, another wizard, is troubled by some things he has seen in the forest and as he is healing a sick hedgehog, a group of giant spiders appear and briefly attack his house before they continue on their way. Elsewhere, Gandalf and Thorin argue about whether they should go to Rivendell, and Gandalf ends up leaving the group. That night, Bilbo, Fili, and Kili notice that some of their ponies have gone missing and soon discover a trio of trolls nearby have taken the ponies. The dwarves send Bilbo to try and steal back the ponies but he ends up getting captured and the dwarves rush in to rescue him but end up being captured when the trolls threaten to tear Bilbo in half. As the trolls argue about how to cook the dwarves, Bilbo stalls the trolls long enough for Gandalf to appear and split a rock, allowing the morning sun to turn the trolls into stone. Looking around, the group finds the trolls’ cave, and the treasure inside, with Gandalf and Thorin each taking an elven sword while Gandalf hands Bilbo an elven shortsword, which he gives to Bilbo. Suddenly, Radagast appears and warns Gandalf about the spiders and says they came from Dol Gulder, a formerly abandoned fortress that is currently home to a Necromancer. Suddenly, a pair of warg scouts attack the dwarves and after the dwarves kill them, Radagast leads the orcs away while Gandalf, Bilbo, and the dwarves make their escape. However, the orcs soon spot the dwarves and begin to close in on them, until Gandalf finds a hidden passage in the rocks, which they use to escape while the orcs are attacked by a group of elves. Gandalf, Bilbo, and the dwarves follow the passage to Rivendell, and though Thorin is unhappy about asking the elves for help, they make their way to the city and are met by Elrond and his party. After greeting Gandalf and Thorin, Elrond leads the dwarves inside where, after dinner, Thorin shows Elrond his map of Erebor. Elrond notices that there are moon runes written on the map and, after they become visible, he reads out how to enter the secret passage of Erebor. Meanwhile, the surviving orcs return to their base, where their leader, Azog, has the pack’s leader killed by some wargs then orders the rest of the orcs to spread the word that there is a price on Thorin’s and the other dwarves’ heads. Back in Rivendell, Gandalf and Elrond are joined by Galadriel and Saruman, who question Gandalf’s motives for helping the dwarves. Gandalf shows them a Morgul blade that Radagast brought him, which proves that the Necromancer is linked to the Witch King of Angmar, but while Elrond and Galadriel believe things should be investigated, Saruman is doubtful about it. While this is going on, Bilbo and the dwarves leave Rivendell and head towards the Misty Mountains. As a storm rages, the group is caught between several rock giants that are battling among the mountains but manage to find shelter in a cave. After Thorin comments that Bilbo never should have come, Bilbo decides to leave but as Bofur tries to dissuade him, they notice the blade of Bilbo’s sword glowing blue, just as the ground opens up beneath them. They all fall into a cavern, where they are captured by goblins, but Bilbo becomes separated from the others and, after fighting with a goblin, ends up falling into a crevice. The dwarves are taken to the Goblin King, who informs the dwarves that Azog is still alive and will pay for their heads. Meanwhile, Bilbo comes to and sees the goblin he fought being attacked and killed by a creature called Gollum. When Gollum leaves, notices a ring on the ground and picks it up, then follows after Gollum. When Gollum approaches Bilbo, Bilbo holds him off and asks Gollum to show him the way out, and Gollum decides to play a game of riddles, and if Bilbo wins, he will show him the way out but if Bilbo loses, Gollum will eat him. After they each guess several riddles, Bilbo wonders aloud as to what is in his pocket and Gollum is unable to guess in three chances. Gollum begins searching for something but when he is unable to find it, he believes Bilbo has it and chases after him. As Bilbo runs, he trips and the ring falls onto his finger, rendering him invisible. Back in the upper levels, the goblins discover that Thorin carries Orcrist, the Goblincleaver, and proceed to beat down the dwarves when Gandalf suddenly appears and helps the dwarves fight free. As they are making their escape, the Goblin King attempts to stop them but Gandalf kills him and they all end up falling down a hole and finding a passage that leads them outside. Meanwhile, Bilbo follows Gollum and sees Gandalf and the dwarves leave but as he is about to kill Gollum and escape, he takes pity on him and chooses to leap over him and make his escape, with Gollum cursing him. Still invisible, Biblo catches up to the dwarves and hears Thorin speaking ill of him, but he takes the ring off and approaches the group. Thorin questions why he returned and Bilbo explains that he does miss his home but the dwarves don’t have a home and he wants to help them reclaim theirs. Suddenly, the group finds themselves being chased by orcs and wargs and they eventually climb up into some trees to escape. Azog appears and orders the wargs to attack the trees, knocking them down until the dwarves, Gandalf, and Bilbo are all in one tree on the edge of a cliff. Gandalf uses his magic to set some pinecones ablaze, which he and the dwarves use to chase off the wargs when the tree starts to tilt over the cliff. Thorin chooses to face Azog but Azog easily defeats the dwarf. Azog orders one of his men to take off Thorin’s head, but before he can, Bilbo leaps forward, killing the orc and standing guard over Thorin’s body. The rest of the dwarves go down to help when suddenly, the great eagles appear, chasing away the orcs and carrying Gandalf, Bilbo, and the dwarves to safety. The eagles carry them to the end of the Misty Mountains and after he awakes, Thorin apologizes to Bilbo and thanks him for saving his life. As the eagles fly off, the group looks out over the ledge they are on and see Lonely Mountain off in the distance. As they watch, a thrush flies past them and after reaching Lonely Mountain, it begins tapping on a rock outside. Deep in the mountain, Smaug stirs from underneath the gold he is sleeping in and is shown to have woken up.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was met with mixed to positive reviews from the critics, currently holding a 64% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The main consensus is that the movie was “an earnest, visually resplendent trip, but the film’s deliberate pace robs the material of some of its majesty.” The movie was nominated for three Academy Awards, as well as several other awards, several of which were won by Martin Freeman for his performance as Bilbo. Just like The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, this movie was a box office success, earning over $1 billion dollars, making it the fourth highest grossing film of 2012 and the 18th highest grossing film of all time.
Say what you will, but Peter Jackson’s recent movies (since 2001), are some incredible visual movies. That being said, I really enjoyed this movie but I did have a few problems with it. The acting was pretty good, with Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage both doing a good job as Bilbo and Thorin respectively. Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, and Christopher Lee all reprised their roles from The Lord Of The Rings, as did Andy Serkis, who I think gave his creepiest performance as Gollum in this movie. The plot did differ from the book because it included some subjects that were found in the appendices of The Lord Of The Rings books, primarily the character of Azog (who was only briefly mentioned) and the mentioning of the Necromancer. The effects and settings in this movie were incredible and make the movie worth watching just for those. I never expected it to be a 100% accurate retelling of the book but I was definitely happy with what I got.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5