"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (2012) | Sam Gall Movie Review Issue #146 Gem Mint 10.0

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey“ (2012)

Director: Peter Jackson

Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro, J.R.R. Tolkien (novel)

Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, 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, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood

Rated: PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images

Runtime: 2h 49m (theatrical) 3h 2m (extended edition)

Genre: Adventure | | Action | Drama | Fantasy

Country: New Zealand | United States

Language: English

Available on: Various VOD platforms

"A reluctant Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, sets out to the Lonely Mountain with a spirited group of dwarves to reclaim their mountain home, and the gold within it from the dragon Smaug."

You might like this if you like: Peter Jackson, Adventure, Fantasy, Dramas, Action, J.R.R. Tolkien, 'The Lord of the Rings', Howard Shore, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, 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, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood

(I insist on watching the EXTENDED EDITIONS)

Also read my 'Lord of the Rings' reviews for full story

Also spoilers

Martin Freeman in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (2012)

I should lead with I usually like to watch the movies first before I read the books. I’ll do a separate topic on why, but that is the case for this one. I let the film reveal all the big points and then I let the book really dive into the details I like the universe enough. Or if I’ve heard the book is radically different from the said adaptation. Point is, I let the three ‘Hobbit’ films tell me the story of ‘The Hobbit’ for the first time and I absolutely fell in love with it. For how much I’d been obsessed with ‘Middle Earth’ from the ‘The Lord of the Rings’, I couldn’t have been more excited to jump back into that world by the incredible Peter Jackson and team!

I remember building this one up pretty big. Trailers and such. Pre-ordering tickets. The digital age which had been only at the frontier last time I’d purchased tickets to go to ‘Middle Earth’. I went with a huge group of friends and readied myself for the new and experimental 48 frames per second projection that the film was shot in. I don’t think any of us had experienced anything like that before, but my only that was that it made it feel more like reality TV but with insanely good visual effects, but it made them look a little weird to the natural eye as we’re very attuned to 24 frames per second projection. Honestly about halfway through the movie I got really used to it and it was plenty interesting enough for me to forget and enjoy the story. My preferred viewing is in 24 FPS when they later had to convert it for DVD, BluRay & VOD and eventually the extended edition which I again am adamantly recommending this is the superb way to watch. The 3rd Extended Edition ‘Hobbit’ film is rated R which was a sell enough for me and was truly outstanding and amazing to watch Peter Jackson go back to some of his dark humored gore roots, but in a high budget fashion.

Back to this one though!

Getting to see Ian McKellen and Ian Holmes back as their beloved characters was something that just warmed the heart and brought back my childhood for me. All of this world being a reminder of why I’m doing what I’m doing.

Ian McKellen in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (2012)

Martin Freeman took me over with his performance as Bilbo. From laughing to crying, and an overall goodness emanating from his smile I couldn’t help but fall in love with this character and his journey. I think I knew he had the humor and wit from the original ‘The Office’ series, but I didn’t necessarily know Bilbo was going to be that funny in his younger age and the way Martin Freeman organically seamed it into his character’s bravery, brains and strength was everything I could want in a leading character. Something I only realized maybe I didn’t have as much in ‘The Lord of the Rings’, though I’m not at all putting down Elijah’s performance, but Martin Freeman just really gave us a more relatable and humorous look at the world of Middle Earth, at least for me.

I will be honest and admit that the dwarves names were pretty hard for me to remember upon the first viewing/only one film. I think by the time the third one came out I got them down decently, but it still just never came as easy to me as the names of entire ‘Fellowship’ did.

The story, the writing, the filmmaking team behind it, all felt familiar and bringing me back to so much nostalgia. Tolkien, Peter Jackson and team were back and that’s really all I could ever want. I honestly couldn’t believe it was happening. Howard Shore scoring again? I was home again. I was excited at every new turn they took (I know some book fans are glaring at me right now), but I just was so ready for me. It’s a safe place, a magical one, one that inspires and gets the creative juices going again. Getting to see something so fantastic that you could never see in real life.. that’s what cinema is for to me. To do what we can’t do off screen.

Richard Armitage in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (2012)

I did miss the practical effects done in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ versus a little too much on the VFX in ‘The Hobbit’ films, but after seeing the production diaries/behind the scenes, I honestly just felt bad for the whole team once I realized it was a project that had problems to begin with sadly. As attached as I am to Peter Jackson’s version, I’d be intrigued to have to seen what Guillermo del Toro’s would’ve looked like.

I was still able to feel like I got new flavors of things, whether it be visually or even story wise. I felt a lot more focused than spread out than ‘The Lord of the Rings’. The focus even more on our lead than ‘Frodo’ I think. Less of an ensemble of Hobbits. More Dwarves, but less time with them. Maybe why it was harder for me to remember the names, at least just from the films.

Radagast the Brown I had heard of before seeing ‘The Hobbit’ films, but really did fall in love with his wizardry, care for animals, and especially his rabbit sled.

Loved seeing Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving and the great Christopher Lee come back.

I think my favorite scene was with Gollum aka Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman in the riddle scene. I know that was word for word in the book, but I loved how it was played out cinematically as well and getting to see the two actors play off each other.

When I saw this a second time with my mom I remember her mentioning her favorite part was the eagle sequence. Hearing Howard’s Shore’s score in the theaters again and honestly those aerial scenes are magnificent in 48FPS and the eagles feathers in the wind, i think it was on IMAX too, it was pretty incredible.

Martin Freeman in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (2012)

I wish my mom got to stick around for the sequels. We both knew they weren’t gonna be ‘The Lord of the Rings’, but it has most of the things we love about them and a few new things for us to enjoy in that fantastical world. I loved the sequels, I think they only got better and better. I think mom and I would’ve had a blast going back to Middle Earth together just a couple more times, but we got one more than the original expected 3 and I’ll always be grateful for that memory. I think we only got to see one more movie in theaters after that together, but that’s for another review for another time.

Written by Sam Gall on Nov 12, 2021

CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0

"Despite a few minor flaws, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a superb (and suitably epic) addition to Peter Jackson's past adaptations of Tolkien's work. See it in 3D and 48fps for the ultimate experience." - Josh Wilding, ComicBookMovie.com

"At the centre are terrific performances from Freeman and Richard Armitage as the dwarf Thorin, plus all the lush scenery, majesty and magic we've come to expect from Jackson - strengths that will have us counting the days until part two." - Jo Berry, The National (UAE)

""Unexpected Journey" runs nearly three hours. That gives Jackson plenty of time to revive its magic [which he does] by triggering our good will toward the "Rings" trilogy. He evokes the trilogy's tone and its rhythms." - Carla Meyer, Sacramento Bee

"'The Hobbit' is another ambitious, gorgeous and faithful trip into JRR's writing - and because of this, it won't win any new fans if you had no patience ten years ago. For those who do, you'll definitely want to go there and back again." - Patrick Kolan, Shotgun Cinema

Official Trailer:

Behind the Scenes:

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