The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
Reviewed on 2013 January 21
Mr. Shukti and I finally got to see the long-awaited prequel to the Lord of the Rings saga, picking a post-holiday weekday and enjoying an almost-empty theater. The movie was everything I’d hoped it would be, and more.
We start with an aged Bilbo (Ian Holm), preparing for the party of all parties in The Shire. He tells his nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood) that soon he’ll know the full story of a long-ago adventure, one that still makes some of the Shirefolk tsk-tsk, then we go back in time to Gandalf the wizard showing up on his doorstep. This younger Bilbo (Martin Freeman) remembers the wizard for his great fireworks from other Shire festivals, but today Gandalf is trying to recruit him for an adventure. Bilbo has no interest in any adventures. Nasty things they are, prone to make one late for dinner (not to mention shortening one’s life).
Gandalf disagrees, selecting him as the fourteenth member of a crew of determined Dwarves. The Dwarves had their Kingdom of Erebor stolen from them by a foul dragon, and their king Thorin (Richard Armitage) wants to take it right back or die trying. After overcoming the skepticism of the Dwarves and his own fears, Bilbo follows, accepting his role as “burglar”.
Peter Jackson should be the only one allowed to touch the Tolkien films. It’s fantasy, and even Ralph Bakshi whiffed when he churned out his version of The Lord of the Rings. I know that the critics were harder on this than on Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, and I have no idea why. The acting was spectacular, with Freeman and Armitage especially impressing me. The scenery was great, the effects great, and the Dwarves singing “The Misty Mountain” sent chills down my spine. If you’re a Tolkien freak or movie buff, I think you will be happy. Neither the deviations from the novel to translate it to film, nor the length bothered me. If there had been intermissions and good food, I would have been happy to sit through the whole saga in one night. After the movie the spouse turned to me and said, “three hours and I can’t remember one point when I was bored.” Me either. Now it’s going to be a long, fidgety wait for “The Desolation of Smaug”.
Four chocolate morsels. Hurry up, Peter!