Movie Review – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first chapter of the Peter Jackson Hobbit trilogy. It introduces the viewer to Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit, and begins his adventure with a Gandalf and a group of dwarves as they attempt to reclaim treasure that was lost years ago to a dragon.


I must first preface this entire review by saying I have never completed any films in the Lord of the Rings film franchise. I began watching The Fellowship of the Ring years ago and got up and left about forty-five minutes in. I am usually not into the whole wizard, sword battle, elf, dwarf, etc genre. I probably was REALLY not into it that day.

Having said that, I tried my damnedest to go into The Hobbit with an open mind, and I sort of enjoyed the experience of being a blank slate for this film.

I’ll try my best to not spoil anything…

First off, surprisingly I wasn’t bored throughout the entire film. The ways in which the primary three characters; Gandalf, Bilbo and Thorin, are explored is very well done. It was as if Peter Jackson and the other writers of this script knew that non-Lord of the Rings fans were going to have some interest in this film. I found myself forgetting what the journey was, and became very interested in Bilbo and Thorin’s internal journeys.

The battle scenes are very epic and well crafted. At no point did it feel like an over crowded flurry of swords and fire. Gandalf really is an absolute badass, Radagast is probably my favorite character in this universe for reasons that will be apparent when you see it, and the beards in this movie… Don’t even get me started on the beards in this movie!

Minus Thorin, this is your comic relief

Minus Thorin, this is your comic relief

One thing that really bothered me, and did so even from watching the trailer, was the attempt to make this movie comedic. There are jokes centered around characters burping, shooting snot out of their noses, and falling down is silly ways that seem completely directed at children. This might be the case, but the entire rest of the movie is either epic, violent battle scenes or dwarves talking about how much of a bummer their past was while they walk to a mountain. It isn’t that any of the battles were overly violent for me, nor was it that I was ever bored by the conversations, it’s just that these incredibly childish attempts to be funny are so frustrating when I was expecting any humor involved to be witty. There are other attempts to get a laugh that would spoil some stuff, but you’ll know it when you see it.

The aforementioned battle scenes left me very curious about how this film only got a PG-13 rating. There may not be blood, but there are so many decapitations. Kids LOVE decapitation, right? I only bring this up at all because there were plenty of children in attendence at this screening.

While I have never been a fan of 3D, I can say The Hobbit, did an ok job of using it. The battles seemed more chaotic, in a good way, with the layers of Dwarf on Orc action. However, the subtitles in the film are given their own place in the 3D world and it just made me wonder why? Text doesn’t need to be coming at me. In fact, there were several moments when it felt more like the creators of this film were playing with the fact that they had the ability to use 3D, rather than using 3D in a smart artistic way. Far Beyond Metal contributor and nickname enthusiast, Katie Lady Laumes Kaos With a K Mezmiro, said it best, “it’s like the Shire consists of three layers of hills!” If I could go back and have a choice of 3D or not, I’d say no, only because it isn’t nessesary to enjoy the movie.

One thing in the press surrounding this movie is Peter Jackson’s decision to shoot it in a 48 frames per second frame rate. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, it’s ok. It essentially just means that the visual presentation is unbelievably clear. It almost feels like you are there in a Hobbit hole staring Bilbo in the face, which can be a little awkward (or sexy?). This added clarity was equally amazing and annoying. Some of the CGI characters and settings early in the film border on Polar Express level soullessness. However, the rending of Gollum looks unbelievable in this new clear world, and so do the images of nature that are not CGI. At times, the clarity sort of looked like it was live TV or from a soap opera, but after some time I got used to it. If this becomes the norm for future films, I’m ok with it.

The film rep introducing the film said that there have been some reports of motion sickness because the clarity alongside the 3D can be jarring. There was no motion sickness in our group, but those who are easily nauseated should be warned.


Has this film converted me into a full on fan of the Peter Jackson hobbit-filled film franchise? No, not really, but I am a little curious about the upcoming parts of the story. I will likely see those. Also, between now and the release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug next December, I’ll try to check out the original trilogy. I guess I get the appeal, but it’s not for me.

Fans of the franchise will probably be unbelievably stoked about this film and see it numerous times, non-fans it’s hard to say. If you actively hate it Frodo and Friends, you’ll probably hate Bilbo and his Buddies. Anyone in between should come with an open mind, but have Kevin Smith’s idea of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in your head. It is a film about people walking, but I’d say a good film about people walking.

There is some awkward dialog and little things that caused me to question motives and parts of the story (Why the hell does a dragon want gold? Do dragons share the same currency as dwarves? Are there dragon markets where they exchange gold coins for pre-cooked horses or something?), but I am able to accept these little imperfections and focus on what works, and there really is a lot that works.

_Daniel Cordova
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