The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, 2012


December 14, 2012
Dir. Peter Jackson
Prod. Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson
Genre: Epic Fantasy Adventure
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Graham McTavish, Ken Stott, Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Sylvester McCoy, Andy Serkis, Manu Bennett, Barry Humphries, Elijah Wood

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘hobbit’?

Personally, I think of this:

And apparently when Gandalf thinks of hobbits, he thinks they’re the best companion to take on a dangerous adventure. In the first film in the prequel trilogy to The Lord of the Rings, we are introduced to Bilbo Baggins (Freeman), Gandalf the Grey (McKellen), and thirteen dwarves (Armitage, McTavish, Stott, Turner, O’Gorman, Hadlow, Brophy, Brown, Callen, Hambleton, Kircher, Nesbitt, Hunter). The film follows this company of fifteen as they battle various enemies on their way to reclaim the dwarves home in the mountain of Erebor which has been taken from them by the dragon, Smaug.

In most films, having fifteen characters front and centre majority of the time wouldn’t end well. Things would become too muddled and confusing. However, in the case of Peter Jackson’s, The Hobbit, each of the characters is so individualized that it actually isn’t too difficult telling them apart. The hair, makeup, and costume departs truly had their work cut out for them with this film and they far exceeded any and all expectations. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like for the cast and crew to have to get ready each day.

Of course, this wouldn’t be The Hobbit without some of Tolkien’s wonderful music. One of the things that sticks out in the books is the songs, three of which Jackson incorporated into this first film: “Blunt the Knives”, “Misty Mountains”, and “The Goblin King’s Song”. These three songs all have such different feels to them and the inclusion of them definitely enhanced the film in a way that couldn’t have been done if the music hadn’t been there. An extended version of “Misty Mountains” can be heard during the end credits, performed by Neil Finn. I also can’t really talk about the music in The Hobbit without mentioning the score. There are some familiar melodies in there that anyone who has seen Lord of the Rings will recognize, but there are also some others that are brand new. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was scored by Howard Shore, who also did all three Lord of the Rings films.

Now, there wouldn’t be much of a film without actors. The casting for this film must have taken so long, what with there being so many important roles. However, whether we look at the dwarves, the orcs, or the hobbit himself, the casting in this film was spot on. Martin Freeman is a phenomenal actor and in the role of Bilbo Baggins he truly does a marvelous job. There really is no one else I could picture playing this character. Ian McKellen, of course, came back to play Gandalf the Grey and he is just as amazing this time around as he was in The Lord of the Rings. While the hair and makeup department played a huge role in making the dwarves distinguishable from one another, it really was up to the actors to make their characters memorable and each one succeed. Richard Armitage, who plays dwarf leader, Thorin Oakenshield, particularly did a fantastic job at portraying a character who is both caring of his people and who is ready to kill some orcs at any time.

As someone who is a fan of the book, I will admit that I was worried, despite how good Lord of the Rings is, that The Hobbit would fail to meet expectations. However, it did the complete opposite and far exceeded any and all expectations. Peter Jackson once again brought a marvelous story to life and, while keeping to Tolkien’s original image, managed to add his flair to the tale.

Have you seen The Hobbit? What did you think?

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