Warning: squealing fangirl ahead! And maybe some spoilers.
So I went to see The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey. Naturally.
And I absolutely loved it. Naturally.
I haven’t read any reviews of An Unexpected Journey, but I’ve heard it has received some harsh critique. I don’t know what they’re saying, but as far as I’m concerned I’m more than pleased with this movie.
You have to make some though choices when adapting a book to a movie. Filming is a completely different medium with completely different rules, of course there will be differences, shortcuts, and sacrifices. Not to mention the pressure of making it profitable and palatable for a broad audience – a huge production like this needs to be an equally huge success.
Is the story a bit warped in places? Yes. Are some parts left out? Yes. Are other parts added/embellished to create additional material? Yes. And it’s ok. Because this is not the book – it’s a movie. And it’s beautiful.
Peter Jackson proved with LOTR that he was capable of making epic successful movies without loosing track or respect of the original story and in my opinion he has done it again.
I read The Hobbit as a kid, after I had already read the whole The Lord of The Rings trilogy. The part I liked best about The Hobbit was, first of all, that so many questions that I had while reading LOTR became answered. The story as a whole became clearer, seemingly loose threads suddenly fixed.
An other part I liked about it was the lighter, more humorous tone. The rest of Tolkiens works, including LOTR, is rather heavy. The story is dark and grim and very very complex. I’m not complaining, it’s my all-time favourite literary works – but having The Hobbit in the middle of it all is like getting a coffee break. It was originally intended to be a children’s book, and as such the story is a bit simpler, a bit more light-hearted and with more comedy.
This is where I think Peter Jackson did a really great job. An Unexpected Journey is not The Fellowship of the Rings, the visual style is the same but the feeling is slightly different. Not much, just a little bit, just like The Hobbit is slightly different.
Martin Freeman as Bilbo is perfect in every single way. Everything about him, the way he looked, the way he talked, his body-language… it was exactly like I imagined Bilbo in my mind the first time I read the book!
His reactions when the dwarves invade his home at the beginning had me laughing out loud and the scene where he plays a game of riddles with Gollum was flawless. Bilbo jumping over Gollum instead of killing him with his letter-opener sword was heart-wrenching. This man was born to play this character, seriously.
Everyone else was great too. It was a little sad seeing Sir Ian McKellen looking considerably older than in LOTR. I don’t want to be reminded that he’s actually mortal.
I’ve heard complaints about the look of the dwarves, but I think their design is great!
Some of them look more dwarf-ish than others, sure, but to a movie audience the most important things is to make them recognizable. You need to be able to tell them apart, they can’t all look like Gimli-clones. Especially since many of them have similar-sounding names. Dwalin is the most badass-looking though, I like his appearance the most. And Bifur and Nori, because they both look bloody insane, haha!
Although, I must say both Richard Armitage (Thorin) and Aidan Turner (Kili) are really way too pretty to be dwarves. Especially Aidan Turner. Damn.
There are, however, a few things that bothered me…
1.) The looooong action scenes. It’s totally cool watching the group fight their way through the goblin city but… does it have to take what feels like half the movie? 50 dramatically collapsing bridges later I can’t help but look at my watch and wonder if they really shouldn’t be out by now?
2.) The goblin kings execution. I actually cringed over that scene. How he says “That’ll do it” just before Gandalf cuts his throat. Just killing him would have been enough, the movie was funny enough already. They really didn’t need to add more.
3.) I know dwarves are though, but these guys are borderline invincible. Falling through caves and landing on stone platforms is apparently no big deal, neither was having a king-sized goblin falling on top of you from a considerable height… I now assume they all have mithril shirts under their tunics.
4.) The wargs. The animations and their bodies were ok, but what happened to their face, their jaws and teeth in particular? But at least they look a little less retarded than in LOTR. I actually laughed the first time I saw the wargs in The Two Towers!
But the movie was still wonderful. These few flaws can’t erase the wonder of being back in Peter Jackson’s Middle-Earth. In the beginning, when old Bilbo starts writing his story and he said “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit…” I almost started crying. For real. And I’m not even ashamed to admit it.
When the last LOTR movie came out it was over, there was like… nothing more to look forward too as far as movies are concerned. And now it has started again! Guys, IT’S STARTED AGAIN! *bouncing*
(Btw, the theme song is amazing.)