Friday, 21 December 2012

An Unexpected Journey: Better Even Than Expected

The first 'Hobbit-movie' has premiered. I have watched it and I have something to say about it that I don't think I have ever said of any film adaption of any book before this: I actually liked the movie better than the book! Now these are some big ass words.

File:The Hobbit- An Unexpected Journey.jpegAn Unexpected Journey
The Hobbit #1
directed by Peter Jackson 
adapted from The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
In cinemas on december 12, 2012
169 minutes
My rating: ★

Warning: This review may contain spoilers and/or might be written in a voice assuming the reader will already be familiar with the story, universe and part of the history behind it. If this is a nuisance to you I apologise profusely. Or not. But in any case, you may now consider yourself warned.

First, A Few Words On the Book

The Hobbit was actually the first book I ever read in English (if you don't count those children's/beginner's books that were dreadfully boring but which you were always forced to read in school). It was my first real novel in English anyway. So, I guess it is a bit of a sentimental book to me. I think I was around twelve when I picked it up, I had had English in school only for a couple of years. Let it suffice to say that I did not entirely understand everything that went on, but it plowed all the way through it stubbornly.

It was an old copy that my parent's had bought in a second hand bookstore many years before. Already back then it had seen better days. Now it is completely falling apart as you can see from my picture of it. It is sad, because I wanted to read it again now that my English has become *slightly* better.

So, in light of the upcoming movie I went out and bought a new more luxurious copy, of course. What else could possibly be done? And see how deliciously stylish it is! I love it.

Anyway, this is not the point of this post. The point is that I have always felt a special relationship with this book (and now movie). It was the thing that introduced me to the charmingly epic writing style of Tolkien, who in turn opened my eyes to the brilliance of High Fantasy.

Without the Hobbit, this blog might not have existed at all. And what a grievance that should have been to the world!

Now, My Review of the Movie

Peter Jackson has done it again. These three Hobbit films will fit perfectly into the legacy that the three Lord of the Rings movies have created. This first installment, at least, bears evidence to that account; I am one thoroughly convinced fan.

The Context of the Movie:
The movie begins happily in the Shire on the day of Bilbo's 111th birthday. Frodo runs out the door (where we are to see him chance upon Gandalf in the first Lord of the Rings movie) in the meantime Bilbo sets about writing down the story of his great adventure. And we are drawn into the tale, starting with the very first words of the book: "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."

The Storyline Compared to the Book:

It is only too obvious by the fact that this one little book has been turned into to three great long movies like the ones made over the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy that a lot of things has been added to the story. But the things that do go according to the book are kept fairly true to it, although some of the additions has warranted that some things be changed. The circumstances of their stay in Rivendell is somewhat altered for example. But that is what happens when making a movie adaption of a book. In this case I think they have done a remarkably good job of it, much better than they did with the Lord of the Rings, where I still maintain that the books are better than the movies.
On various occasions I even caught phrases of speech taken directly from the book, most notoriously I think is Thorin's(?) and Gandalf's exchange: "Out of the frying pan" - "and into the fire", which is the name of the chapter. I could see all the way through the movie which chapter we were in so true did it keep to the story. I quite like that quality.

The Dwarves' Sorrow:

One of the things that has been added to the story is a focus on the history of how the dwarves lost their kingdom to Smaug and how the elven lord would not risk his own people battling the dragon that had already chased away the dwarves from Erebor. We only hear a little of it in the book as the Bilbo questions the dwarves about it - in the movie we see it played out before us. They have managed to take Tolkien's sense of tragedy and entwine it in the movie. You cannot help but feel the pain of the dwarves as they stand suddenly without a home, feeling betrayed by their allies. there is more to the dwarves' story than just the episode with the dragon. We see them try to take back Moria from the orcs that has invaded it. There rules Azog the Defiler, or the Pale Orc as they like to call him. Thorin manages during the fight to make a fierce enemy of him. The dwarves win the battle, but the enemy retreats back into Moria and the field is littered with so many dead that it can hardly be called a victory at all. The dwarves have dwindled dramatically in numbers, but those who survived and saw how Thorin fought the Pale Orc decide to follow him. And those are the ones now journeying towards their lost home in the Lonely Mountains.

The Action: addition to the underlying sadness, the movie is brimming with action. While I love the book, I do think that it seems to be going a bit too slow at times. The same can certainly not be said of the movie. From the time they encounter the trolls there is almost not a moment of peace to be had for them. They are hunted by warg riding orcs sent by the Pale Orc until they reach Rivendell where they hardly stay at any length of time at all. They hurry on only to be caught up in the thunder of the mountains. An especially well made action scene takes place in the goblin-town in the Misty Mountains when the dwarves are trying to flee the goblins. It has to be seen.

The Prelude To The Lord of the Rings:

This is another thing I really love about the movie. It really does in some ways function as a prelude to the The Lord of the Rings. Of course the ring is found. But there is more than that. An evil is already beginning to stir. Radagast the Brown finds a disturbing artefect that convince both him and Gandalf that something is completely amiss. Saruman who also appears in this film summons Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel to a counsel in Rivendell. He wants to stop the expedition and he seems already then to not want Gandalf to look further into some of the things that are disturbing him.
The Beautiful Production:

 Everything in the movie seems to be produced as beautifully as the movies for The Lord of the Rings. The scenery, the picture quality, the music, it all seemed perfectly pleasing to me. There is also quite a bit of humour in play in this movie, which is a greatly desired thing to even out a bit of the darkness and sadness that is otherwise more than a little predominant.

All in all this is an amazing movie. I have only seen it one of course, I am sure that when it comes out on dvd and I have watched it the first twenty times that I will begin to see its faults.

Now I am only sad that I have to wait an unreasonably long time for the next movie in the trilogy. I want to see it now! And I want this one on dvd so I can watch it a hundreth time more like I have The Lord of the Rings, which are undoubtedly my favourite movies.



  1. Nice review! I concur for the most part. The riddle game scene blew my mind. My few problems with the movie were when Peter Jackson went way over the top, like the extended rock giants scene.

  2. Love your review.
    People are condemning this movie a lot, but if people bear in mind that this is a prequel to LotR based on the Hobbit, then they'll look at this movie with a lot more pleasure.
    The only thing I don't like in comparison to LotR is that there are way more CGI effects in The Hobbit. I liked the style of LotR more, but that's the only remark I have.