In a hole in the ground, there lived a Hobbit.
That famous phrase instantly brings back memories of one of the most marvelous books ever written by JRR Tolkien. The story of an unlikely “burglar” hired to assist dwarfish warriors. Peter Jackson, the director, has undertaken a challenge himself. To recreate the story of the hobbit in the art form of film… This is part one.
The quest of the Hobbit is to retake their ancient kingdom from the terrible dragon called Smaug. But in order to arrive at the ancient mountain, they must first travail the numerous dangers of middle earth. Trolls, orcs, goblins, and more threaten their success and their lives.
However, a darker power is making its way into the depths of middle earth. Giant spiders begin to be spotted in Mirkwood. Orcs and Trolls venture down from the northern lands. And there is rumor of a dark lord… A necromancer, who can bring back the dead kings of Morgul.
Mr. Bilbo hired, the horses saddled, and with Gandalf leading the way…
The quest for the retaking of Erebore has begun.
Things I liked
Like the Lord of the Rings Trilogy of the past, many similar heroic traits are portrayed. The company of the thirteen dwarves risk their lives over and over for each other and the halfling. Bilbo also finds his courage, and manages to save a few of the dwarves. All the characters grow. Some learn humility, others self control, others selflessness.
Gandalf, never needing physical protection himself, is full of wisdom. He shares this wisdom with the dwarves and bilbo. He stands up for what he believes is right against the elves and white council. He is also kind and listens to the people who are considered crazy or worthless to others. A protector, mentor, and friend… Gandalf embodies all of these traits, as a true wizard of middle earth should.
The journey itself is also an honorable one. The dwarves are on a quest to defeat the evil which destroyed their home decades ago. Bilbo eventually realizes this,
“I do think of my hole, my shire, my books… Because that is my home. You dwarves, you don’t have a home. It was taken from you. I will help you take it back if I can.”
That is when Bilbo begins to add to the company, instead of hindering it.
There is never any doubt what evil is in Middle Earth. Orcs, trolls, goblins and the like are nasty beings. They live in such filth and depravity, you almost (but not really) feel sorry for their miserable existence. One thing I continue to enjoy watching the Lord of the Rings, and now the Hobbit, is the clear divide between good and evil.
There was absolutely no profanity.
Mr. Jackson introduced several songs written in the Hobbit, and recreates them in an incredible manner. It is a fantastic little addition to the film, and adds a lot more depth to the characters as they sing.
Things I didn’t like.
The dwarves meet a lot of evil enemies. A lot. And they kill even more. Something I believe Jackson missed in making the hobbit is losing the childlike appeal. The hobbit is every bit as violent as the past films. Hundreds of goblins are killed… in every manner possible. Crushing, beheading, being thrust though. One goblins neck is slit, then stomach cut open. Thankfully though, there is no gore or blood. We do see arms being cut off and other maimings of the goblins/orcs/etc. There are large Hyena type dogs. Those are killed as well.
Amazingly, the dwarves escape, for the most and most of the time, with a few scratches.
In addition, we see Gollum brutally beat a small goblin to death with a rock for food.
The humor is a bit crude. The refer to the Dragon’s derrière in am spirited exchange of how they personally will defeat Smaug. Another makes a crude joke referencing the equipment of croquet.
Every director takes artistic liberties when adapting a book to film. Whether they should or not will always be debated. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is definitely and adaptation where artistic liberties are taken.
Not so much in the changing the characters’ personalities, not removing crucial parts of the story. Peter Jackson has brought The Hobbit to life in a beautifully done way. He does however add quite a bit of details which are not in the original book. He brings in extra characters mentioned in the Silmarillion. He tips his hat numerous time to “The Fellowship of the Ring”. He does not take away, but rather adds to what has been written.
This resulted in a movie which was the hobbit… But had a more mature feel. If anything is lost, it is the childlike feel found in the book. The added subplots take the lighthearted adventure with some dangerous moments and create a tense movie where there is more action than story building.
In my opinion anyway.
That being said, I did enjoy the movie. The complete lack of sexual content and profanity was a pleasant change from other films of late. The story is solid. The worldview sound. The dark spots are the excessive amount of fighting scenes and the added crude humor.
So, to say the least, the movie lives up to the title. The journey was unexpected, and not like you might expect.