The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Reviews

Our Review

'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit ...'

Yasmin Vought, MovieFix
With its epic battle score, star-studded cast and spectacular visuals, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a film for young-at-heart fantasy fans looking to delight in a bit of adventure. Those of you who want to see more elf love stories and hobbit parties should probably just stick to Peter Jackson's adaptations of J R R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The first instalment of Peter Jackson's prequel trilogy brings us back to Hobbiton in Middle-earth, where we meet Frodo (Elijah Wood) and the older Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm). Bilbo is writing his memoir based on adventures had with Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellen) and 13 cheeky dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage).

Bilbo recalls his "unexpected journey" at a younger age with this motley crew, as they endeavour to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the terrifying dragon called Smaug.

Amid all of this, we learn the history of the war-torn Middle-earth 60 years prior to Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and are introduced to the "Gollum" creature (Andy Serkis) that lurks inside the goblin tunnels protecting his "precious" ring.

Martin Freeman from The Office is perfectly cast as the conservative young Bilbo, while Sir Ian McKellen is, as always, exceptional as the nomadic wizard Gandalf. Cate Blanchett also returns as the psychic high-elf Galadriel, Christopher Lee as the complex wizard Saruman, and Hugo Weaving as Elrond, the half-elven lord of Rivendell.

I saw the film in 3D at 48-frames-per-second (HFR 3D), which astoundingly removes the discomfort of the blurriness usually encountered in a 3D film at 28-frames-per-second. Some critics have taken issues with Peter Jackson's ground-breaking filming technique, but I find it a sophisticated and advanced tool which will (in my opinion) see us getting more bang-for-our-buck to match those rising ticket prices.

Sure, the heightened quality is at times distracting (seeing the flaws in props and what-not), but it's worth bending our dubious minds in order to witness the elven city of Rivendell looking so beautiful and the characters on screen looking more real than ever before.

The film isn't as long and padded out as some critics are saying. It stays relatively accurate to J R R Tolkien's 1937 novel on which it is based, and has more than enough content for the three-hour stretch.

The Rob Inglis-narrated audio book of The Hobbit goes for more than eleven hours, so did we really want this classic book condensed into a meagre three hours? I treat it as a kind of spectacular mini-series and that works for me.

Special mention to the soundtrack, especially the eerie pre-battle dwarf song, 'Misty Mountains', written by Plan 9 and David Long in New Zealand. Other highlights include the exceptional scores by Howard Shore, in particular 'Old Friends', which I would imagine we will hear revisited in the next two films in the trilogy.

Watch the trailer now!

In pics: The Hobbit world premiere — Amazing fan outfits!

Your Reviews

Finn
Finn
The film needed serious editing. There were way too many long, drawn out fight scenes to fill in time and lots of pointless walking over mountains moments (epic music mandatory). The opening scene went on way too long - we didn't need the older Bilbo to introduce the story, just jump in already. Also, the dwarves were hammed up too much and though funny, also became a tad ludicrous (particularly at the start). This should have been one or two awesome movies and not three. The Hobbit was a little book. It didn't need three films.
Mr Pevele
Mr Pevele
This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. I had to walk out of the cinema to stay awake.
Switcher
Switcher
What a load of rubbish.This is one of my all time favorite books and the film is nothing like the book, if I had not known what I was watching I would not have had any idea it was the same. I know things have to change in a film but that was terrible
the bystander
the bystander
Saw this in Asia. Similar to Lord of the Rings, as you would expect, but a little less dark and gloomy, and also a little less frantic in pace. The movie is more leisurely and dwells in places longer than Lord of the Rings did, which I think is an improvement (e.g. they don't even get out of Hobbiton for at least 30 minutes, so as to set up the whole purpose and back-story). The special effects and overall grandiosity has improved with the advances in CGI technology over the last 9 years or so, since the Lord of the Rings was made. As mentioned, it's a little more leisurely than Lord of the Rings, there isn't a sense that one is always rushing somewhere with scenes only 30 seconds long that was in the Lord of the Rings, which is an improvement in my mind. However others see the film as a little too leisurely and drawn out, and too embellished on the book; make up your own mind, but I know the books, and I thought it was fine. There are a few scenes which are not in the book, but 95% comes from the book, if you include the appendices to Lord of the Rings. If you liked Lord of the Rings you will like this film, if you didnt, you won't like this one either, it's very much more of the same sort of thing, but with a whole bunch of new characters, villians, and settings. Actually the big scale of everything,from castles and cities to back story battles, the grandiose vistas, and the depth of the colours reminded me quite a bit of Avatar. It has those same sort of expansive flyovers over huge mountains, battlefields and cities, there are numerous flying creatures, and the enormous variety of creatures and animals in general is also similar in style to Avatar. I honestly thought it lived up to all the hype, it's just that the general public won't see much that they haven't seen in the Lord of the Rings already, and many people might get a little bored with the repetition. The Tolkien fans generally won't have such a problem, looking for the scenes and characters they know from the book, and curious as to how the movie makers have put it all together.

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