The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – a review

Last night I was fortunate enough to go and see the first in The Hobbit trilogy. I should point out now that there was only ever one book of The Hobbit and that this one book has been divided by Jackson into three films. I state this because last night my friend and dance guru Dan overheard someone saying they had only read “the first hobbit book”. I therefore state that simply to remove some of the ignorance out there.

I feel it is worth commenting that I am quite protective over this story. I think it is one of those that has passed very well from one generation to the next. I know that I only read The Hobbit because it was one of the few books my Dad seemed entirely taken by. I was into C S Lewis and he told me I should read The Hobbit and I went from there through The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.
The fact is that The Hobbit is closer to being a children’s book, it’s intended to be read out and to enthral whereas The Lord Of The Rings (although brilliant) can feel a bit like an endurance challenge.
That’s how I saw it before I went to see the film.

This is one of the few films that had been recommended to me for 3D viewing. A lot of the time I think it’s just a selling point or it is believed to somehow improve the cinema experience. It doesn’t generally. Especially if you wear prescription glasses. As large as my nose may be I struggle to balance two pairs of glasses on it.
The way to look at The Hobbit is to think of it as a depth thing, rather than the Spider-Man ride at Universal Studios.
Remember, Jackson is no conjuror of cheap tricks.

And so, onto the film.
There has been a little creative license at the start of the film to provide back story but I think this helps the flow later on. There is also an appearance from little punching bag Frodo Baggins. Oh sorry, that’s a spoiler I think. From there it’s pretty loyal though. The wonder of The Hobbit is that it doesn’t take itself entirely seriously. Reading it again recently the narration reminded me of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers (or chronologically maybe that should be in reverse). There’s this wonderful commentary to things that should be other-worldly but are introduced in such a curious English gentleman way. That is captured well and embellished with reaction shots that the book obviously couldn’t capture.

This brings me nicely onto Martin Freeman, who I remember best as Tim in The Office. As far as I’m concerned that’s where he gets his comedy chops from and his timing and expressions in The Hobbit are spot on. It’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role, he manages to capture the little characteristics that Holm gave the character and already you can see his bravery showing as he battles orcs and goblins.

I’m still trying to digest the ensemble cast of dwarves. I think I may trip over to IMDB today to work out where I recognised those brows from. That’s near enough all you have to go on when the lower face is bearded. It’s amazing how well the cast has fitted the visions I have had since I first read the book fifteen years ago.

A few other points:
The special effects are amazing. I honestly thought that hedgehog was going to die.
Elves still seem like they had a bad acid trip to me.
I can’t believe they didn’t notice how evil Saruman sounds and looks.
I think I want to be Thorin Oakenshield when I grow up.
Kate and Dan are going to be quoting everything they can remember from that film for the foreseeable future.

In short, go and see it. It’s amazing.

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