The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, 2012.
Directed by Peter Jackson.
Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis, Christopher Lee, Sylvester McCoy, Barry Humphries, Lee Pace, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown and Benedict Cumberbatch.
A younger and more reluctant Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, sets out on an “unexpected journey” to the Lonely Mountain with a spirited group of Dwarves to reclaim their stolen mountain home from a dragon named Smaug.
Having not gotten round to seeing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the cinema (that was an unexpected journey in itself trying to get to there thanks to the M25!), I jumped at the chance to watch it on DVD. I wasn’t disappointed.
The film opens in an impressive fashion with Smaug the dragon and his taking of the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor and it’s treasures. Thror, the Dwarf King (Jeffrey Thomas) tries to gain the help of his ally, the elven King Thandruil (Lee Pace) who declines and thus enrages Thror. As a result, the Dwarves are forced out of their home and, in a quest to reclaim Moria, a former Dwarf territory, Thror is slain by the huge, pale Orc known as Azog (Manu Bennett). Tharin, Thror’s son, played fabulously by Richard Armitage, then fights Azog believing he has killed him.
The film then cuts nicely forward in time 60 years later to just before Gandalf (Ian McKellen) arrives and ties nicely in to the start of The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring. It shows Bilbo – reprised by Ian Holm – putting down the story of his adventure for his nephew, Frodo (Elijah Wood). The film continues with the reversal back in time and 13 Dwarves, together with Gandalf, descending on Bilbo Baggins’ home as they start their quest to reclaim Erebor, now known as The Lonely Mountain. At first Bilbo, played fittingly by Martin Freeman who could easily be mistaken for a young Holm, is reluctant to join them. Upon waking the next morning all have set off on their journey. Seeing that Tharin has signed the contract for Bilbo to join them, he runs after them and joins the quest.
The group set off on their journey confromting trolls and goblins and are continuously pursued by Azog on his white warg with his band of Orcs. They visit Rivendell where Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving reprise their roles as the currently good Saruman, Galadriel and Elrond. Then come across the Stone Mountains which turn into giant stone men and start throwing rocks at each other, putting the group into peril. This scene had me shouting at the screen – a sign of a good film for me (although I tend not to do this at a busy cinema!) – as well as the following scenes where they are fleeing from the attacking goblins. All befitting of a big screen experience. This is also where Bilbo meets Gollum and they have a battle of riddles and Bilbo first comes across the ring. The film climaxes with a final showdown with Azog and his crew of Orcs ending with some beautiful scenery which I would have loved to have seen at the cinema.
Overall this is as good as I expected. The scene with the dwarves arriving at Bilbo’s abode is longer than it should have been. My daughter, who was watching the film with us summed it up by saying ‘Mum, when is this film actually going to start?’! The music is beautiful and fitting, the scenery was stunning and the performances all very good. There were some scenes which were overly long and could have been cut down to make for a more sensible running time without detracting from the film. A notable performance for me was from Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown with his rabbit-drawn sleigh! This film is definitely one to watch and it shows me that cinema is still an important medium for films like these. I’m looking forward to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug due for release later this year, which I am determined to make it to the cinema for. Another job well done Peter Jackson.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Victoria Welton is an Actor, Writer and Driving Instructor and resides in Berkshire. She also blogs as Verily, Victoria Vocalises and is a finalist in the Most Innovative Category at the MAD Blog Awards: http://www.the-mads.com/awards/